A small booklet reprinted from a manuscript written about 1810 by Esek Esten, believed to be the great grandson of Joseph & Esther Jenks of Pawtucket.
A SHORT SKETCH OF THE
FAMILY OF JENKSES.
Joseph Jenks who settled Pawtucket, R. I.
and some of his descendants.
FRANK J. WILDER,
28 Warren Avenue, Somerville,
(Boston 42, Mass.)
Dec. 1st, 1926
While in Providence recently, the writer visited at the home of one of the descendants of Joseph Jenks, and was shown the original manuscript of the following sketch.
The only form in which this ever appeared in print was in three issues of the Pawtucket Chronicle, dated December 12, 19 and 26, 1834, Vol. IX, Numbers 50-52, and was written by Esek Esten, Esq., some 20 or more years prior to its appearance in the paper.
Esek Esten seems to have been the son of Cornelius and Rachel (Jenks) Esten, (Number 6, of the widows referred to in the sketch).
As the above numbers of the Pawtucket Chronicle are not available for general reference, in fact, only a few copies being known, I deemed it advisable to reprint it for the benefit of all interested in Jenks family ancestry.
This contains considerable information hitherto unobtainable about the family, although some of the facts stated herein are at variance with William Jenk's letter to Alonzo Lewis of Lynn, Mass., dated June 5, 1855. This letter was intended for publication in the 2nd edition of his history of that town, but was never used. It was later printed in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Volume 9, Number 3, July, 1855.
FRANK J. WILDER.
Limited Edition of Fifteen Copies
Of which this is No.
A SHORT SKETCH OF THE FAMILY OF JENKSES.
The Hon. Joseph Jenks, Esq. of worthy memory, was born 1632. at Colebrook, (so called from the River Cole, because it is here parted into four currents, but is joined together by four Bridges; a Town in Buckinghamshire, 17 miles west from London. See Bailey's Dictionary). From thence he emigrated to Lvnn, Massachusetts, from thence he came to, and planted Pawtucket in Rhode Island. He was a Forgeman by occupation and built a forge for manufacturing Iron, and had the same burnt down by the Indians, in King Philip's war. He and his four sons, viz, Joseph, Nathaniel, Ebenezer, and William, built a Dwelling House for each of themselves, and they are all now in tolerable good repair.
The house built by Gov. Joseph Jenks is now (1926) occupied by Dr. N. Manchester. The second house stood in the rear of D. T. Carpenter's Shoe Store and was torn down some years ago. The third is now known as the Stone-chimney-house in Mill lane. The fourth is near the Iarge elm tree at the head of Main Street, and owned and occupied by Major James Mason.
The above genealogy of the Jenks family was written 20 or 30 years ago by Mr. Esten.
The family of Jenkses in general from the first settlement to the present day, have sustained the character of an industrious, honest, and civil people. In giving a more particular history and description of their character, I shall take them by succession of generations and priority of birth in each generation. Joseph Jenks, the great grandsire of the family, justly acquired considerable wealth in the Town, and respectability in the Colony, having sustained several important offices therein, especially an assistant in the General Assembly. He died gn the 4th day of January, 1717, in the 85th year of his age. It is probable he was the first white person buried in Pawtucket.
Joseph Jenks, the elder brother of the second generation, was born in 1656, he was of a large stature and well proportioned; a man of most grave and commanding countenance.
He was of great utilitv in the defence of Providence against the surrounding Indians. Thence he gradually ascended from an Ensign to the Chief Colonel of the Colony.
In 1708 he was one of the Committee to settle the Northern line between this Colony and the Province of Massachusetts. On the 10th of August 1719, he was commissioned by the Governor and company of Rhode Island an agent to prosecute before the King or any authority or Judicature that may be committed, the Colony's appeal against the Colony of Connecticut for their encroachments upon said Colony. He had success in the business. He was then chosen Deputy Governor for a number of years. In 1727 he was chosen Governor of the Colony and served five years. He was solicited to serve the Colony longer as their Governor but with heartfelt gratitude he told them that he could perceive his natural faculties were abating and if he should continue in the office a few years longer it was possible he should not be sensible of their decay, and in that case perhaps he should not be willing to resign. He therefore deemed it most I beneficial for the Colony and prudent for himself to resign in season. He was a distinguished member in Church as well as in State. While in London he not only attended at Court, but also at Church, and ascertained the true state of all the Baptist Churches, both general and particular in London.
He was blind for several years before he died. "And as a shock of corn cometh in his season, so likewise he came to his grave in a full age." Upon which is the following Epitaph.
In Memory of ye Hon. Joseph Jenks, Esq. late Governor of ye Colony of Rhode Island, Deceased ye 15th Day of June, A. D. 1740, in ye 84th year of his Age. He was much Honoured and Beloved in Life and Lamented in Death. He was a bright Example of Virtue in every stage of Life. He was a Zealous Christian, a Wise and Prudent Governour, a Kind Husband and a Tender Father, a good Neighbor and a Faithful Friend, Grave, Sober, Pleasant in Behavior, Beautiful in Person, with a Soul truly Great, Heroick and Sweetly Tempered.
Nathaniel Jenks, the second brother of the second generation, was born in 1662, he was famous for strength in many ways and at different exercises. He lifted the great forge hammer of 500 pounds weight, together with seven men thereon and the handle thereof, one man whereof lifted up under the drone beam with all his might to react against him, a proof of great, very great strength indeed!
He was very active in the defence of the Town against the Indians. In the military line he ascended to the office of Major of the Colony. He died August 12, 1723; aged 61 years.
Ebenezer Jenks, the third brother of the second generation, was born in 1669, in Pawtucket in the Township of Providence. Ordained in 1719, when he took on him the care of the church, and wherein he continued to August 14, 1726, when he died aged 57 years. He was a man of parts and real piety. He refused every public office, except the Surveyorship of the propriety of Providence, which required no great attention or time.
William Jenks, the fourth and youngest brother of the second generation, was born in 1674. He was an industrious honest man also of sound sense and judgment. His talents were manifest in the Colony. He was chief Justice of the Providence County Court at the first organization thereof and presided therein for a number of years. He was a pious member of the Baptist Church. He died Oct. 2, 1765, in his ninety-first year.
Obadiah Jenks, the eldest brother of the House of Joseph of the third generation, resembled his father in stature, and was an exceeding strong man.
Nathaniel Jenks, second of the House of Joseph, of the third generation, was famous for strength. He lifted upon his back, on his hands and knees, a stick of timber judged to be Thirty Hundred weight. He was a Captain in the Militia. In his Day a certain occurrence took place, worthy of memory, viz. There was a strong high board fence erected across the west abutment of Pawtucket Bridge, with a gate and lock and key thereunto, to prevent the people from bringing the Small Pox from Boston into the Colony. In a very dark night a certain man came to Capt. Jenk's who was gate keeper to get his Horse through the Fence. The Captain told the stranger he could not be admitted because the bridge was taken up to the eastward of the Fence; whereupon the man said he had rode from the eastward to the Fence and did not discover the bridge to be taken up; neither could he be persuaded that it was so. The Captain also did not believe the report; But upon Ocular Demonstration they were both convinced that he had rode over the Falls upon a single string piece! Behold salvation is of the Lord.
John Jenks, the third and youngest brother of the House of Joseph, the third generation, was a Doctor in Physic, and an accomplished gentleman. He went with his Hon. Father to England for the purpose of perfecting himself in his Profession.But alas he caught Small Pox and died in London.
Nathaniel Jenks, second brother of the House of Nathaniel, of the third generation was a very tall man, hence he was distinguished from his cousin Nathaniel by the name of LONG NATHANIEL. He died December 13, 1739 in the 40th year of his age.
Ebenezer Jenks, eldest brother of the house of Ebenezer, of the third generation was born Sept. 17, 1699. He impartially discharged the duties of a justice of the peace for many years'. He was also a Peace maker and was a member of the Baptist Church for many years. He died Nov. 1786, in the 88th year of his age.
Daniel Jenks, second brother of the House of Ebenezer of the third generation, was born October 18, 1701.. He was a very liberal man, hence he gave one thousand dollars toward founding the College in Providence. He also gave one thousand dollars towards founding the Baptist Meeting House. He was truly a man of great influence both in Church and State. He might have said as Job did, "Unto me men gave ear, and waited, and kept silence at my council.',
"After my words they spake not again, and my speech dropped upon them." Upon his tomb is the following epitaph.
In Memory of
The Hon. Daniel Jenks, Esq.
who departed this life
on the VII Day of July AD MDCCLXXIV in the LXXIII year of his Age.
He descended from a very respectable family to which his great usefulness added Lustre.
He continued a
Member of the Baptist Church Forty Eight
years without Censure
Forty years he served his country as a Member of the GENERAL ASSEMBLY and near thirty years as Chief Justice of Providence County Court. He was a Man of great Activity and judgment in Business whereby by the divine Blessing he accumulated a plentiful Estate with a fair Reputation.
In his domestic Connection
He was prudent peaceable and happy.
In his Life
He was agreeable and Useful and
was regretted by all.
who knew him.
William Jenks, eldest brother of the house of William, of the third generation, was a man of good sense and worthv Justice of the Peace. He kept a respectable Tavern in Smithfeld. He died in July 1765.
Jonathan Jenks, the second brother of the house of William, of the third generation, was an industrious, honest man. He was a sound pillar in the Church for many years. His house was a house of prayer wherein you might frequently and freely hear the sound of the gospel.
John Jenks, the third and youngest brother of the house of William, of the third generation, was an excellent Physician. He acquired great wealth and had a numerous posterity.
I now descend from the third to the fourth generation; after taking a view of an intermediate line of worthy and solitary widows.
1. The Venerable Katherine Turpin, eldest sister of the house of Joseph, of the third generation. She was of great age, and had lived with an husband about twenty seven years, within which they kept a Public House, when and where the General Assembly and Court of the Colony and County, and Town Meetings were frequently held. After which she was refined in the Furnace of Affliction. And she was a widow of above Fourscore and eight vears which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayer, night and day.
2. The Most Ancient Katharine, widow of Capt. Nathaniel Jenks of the house of Joseph. She was not a member of the Church, but was a virtuous woman, and expressed an humble desire to touch the hem of his garment; and we hope and trust she has been made whole. She died in her ninety-sixth year.
3. Bridget, widow of Nathaniel Jenks, of the house of Nathaniel, died in the 89th year of her age. She was a zealous member of the Congregational Church in Providence.
4. Experience, widow of Ebenezer Jenks, Esq. was of a great age. She had lived with her husband 61 years. She was a widow of more than 90 years. She also was an Ancient Mother in Israel.
5. Joanna, widow of Daniel Jenks, Esq. died March 13, A.D. 1796, in the 93d year of her age. She was a member of the Baptist Church more than 50 years.
6. Rachel, widow of Cornelius Esten of the House of Ebenezer, was an ancient member of the Baptist Church.
7. Mercy, widow of Philip Wheeler, of the house of Ebenezer. She was about 80 years old. She was a member of the Baptist Church in Swanzey.
8. Freelove, widow of Jonathan Jenks, was about 80 years old when she died. She was an ancient member of the Baptist Church.
9. Mercy, widow of Thomas Comstock of the house of William, was about 90 years when she died. She did not believe in an outward adorning, of plaiting the hair, of wearing gold, or putting on of apparel; but she appeared without any sneer, to be adorned with a meek and quiet spirit.
10. Patience, widow of John Olney, Esq. of the House of William, was about 80 years old when she died. She was a member of the Baptist Church.
These were all cousins by blood and marriage, and we hope and trust were all Holy Sisters in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Ebenezer Jenks, son of Obadiah of the house of Joseph of the fourth generation was a gallant Captain in the former French War.
Joseph Jenks, son of Capt. Nathaniel, of the house of Joseph, of the fourth generation, is an honest man. He is a member of the Baptist Church in Pawtucket.
Benjamin Jenks, son of Dr. John Jenks, of the house of Joseph, of the fourth generation, was a meek, pious Christian. He was a member of the Baptist Church in Swanzey.
Capt. Stephen Jenks, son of Nathaniel, of the house of Nathaniel, of the fourth generation was a liberal man, especially to the widow and orphan. He presided at the business of his town about 30 years.
Ichabod Jenks, son of Nathaniel, of the house of Nathaniel, of the fourth generation, was a man of sound sense and judgment. He was of great stature and strength, whose height was six feet and seven inches. He was a man of might and famous with the scythe and sickle.
John Jenks, son of Daniel, of the house of Ebenezer, of the fourth generation, has the following Epitaph upon his tomb.
In Memory of
JOHN JENKS ESQ.
who departed this life January 2d, 1791.
aged sixty-one years.
Suffice it to say that he was
A firm Patriot,
A sincere Friend,
A real Christian and an honest Man
Mark the perfect man, and behold the up-
right, for the end of that man is peace.
William Jenks, son of William of the house of William of the Fourth generation, was an industrious, honest man and a man of property. He was a fervent preacher of the Everlasting Gospel. He is alive in the eighty eighth year of his age, covered with grey hairs, going down to the grave.
Jonathan Jenks, Esq. son of Jonathan, of the house of William, of the fourth generation, was a man of letters, bred a merchant, and was a Justice of the Supreme Court. He transplanted himself and family to Winchester, New Hampshire and died January 31, 1787.
Your fathers where are they? and the Prophets, do they live forever? One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh. Notwithstanding the fourth generation have almost passed away, there is a remnant of the fifth and sixth generation, through the long suffering and tender mercies of God yet in being, and in general appear to be doing well in their respective vocations, and sustain the character of an honest and civil people. Yea, the seventh generation is also in existence, progressing in the arts and science. Yea even the eighth generation in several female branches are likewise in being. For instance Katharine Turpin of the house of Joseph, of the third generation, married Capt. John Hopkins by whom she had Sarah who married Commodore Abraham Whipple by whom she had Katharine who married Col. Ebenezer Sproat bv whom she had Sarah who married Lawyer Sibley, Esq., by whom she had issue, being the eighth generation who are transplanted into the State of Ohio.
It is probable that more than TEN THOUSAND people, including male and female branches have descended from the Hon. Joseph Jenks Senior;