Southold's John Ledyard
by Dr. C.A. Wood. first
Appearing in the Long Island Forum, September, 1953
Once the name of John Ledyard the world famous Traveler of Southold lineage
and childhood abode was more familiar than now. Much better remembered
there is the name of his mother Abigail Hempstead Ledyard Moore, parent
of local Methodism. There is no museum at that ancient settlement
to perpetuate, as there might well be, the memory of Ledyard known to history
as the American Marco Polo who accompanied Cook on his last Pacific voyage
and who envisaged the opening of the Northwest by Lewis and Clark and also
of Africa by Livingston.
there at Southold any unblessed marker in the front yard of any home site
on which his forebears once lived claiming that he was born there, nor
is his birth across the Sound at Groton - a great grandson of Southold's
first minister - annually commemorated.
Ledyard's mother was a native of Southold and lived there all her life
except for a dozen years, and died there. He spent several years of his
boyhood at Southold with his mother. He attended school there and explored
its creeks, bays and forests.
Later he visited in the parsonage home of Rev. Ebenezer Prime whose second
wife was a sister of Ledyard's grandmother. He also tarried awhile on two
occasions in the East Hampton home of Rev. Dr. Samuel Buell.
Ledyard's two brothers, except while one at least was sailing the high
seas, spent their lives at Southold, married, died and were buried there
leaving several descendants in the town. So also did their one sister whose
memory is perpetuated by a conspicuous marker in the old village cemetery
where rest many of their relatives.
Their three half - sisters were all natives of Southold. One died young
and the others left many local descendants.
Truly John Ledyard does really "belong" to Southold. The final toast at
the celebration, of the 200th anniversary of Southold, belatedly held in
1850, was to Ledyard The Traveler, whose executor it was said, was a royal
society of Great Britain and the world his heir, "now we claim the spot
most dear to him of all, his home." The house in which he had lived
with his mother was in 1850 still standing as it was for long years thereafter.
Ledyard the so-called Traveler was the third John Ledyard in immediate
succession. John Ledyard the grand sire was a Welshman who came to Southold
in 1716 or 1717. The latter was born at Bristol, England, in 1700. He had
traveled some and for his age and time was well educated.
At Southold he first taught a "Latin School". Afterwards he became a small
trader in dry goods. He was a competitor, assistant and finally successor
of the local Huguenot merchant Benjamin L'Hommedieu, grandfather of Southold's
Ezra L'Hommedieu the father of the New York Board of Regents and the old-time
Because of a short-sighted policy against trading across the Sound the
senior Ledyard in 1727 removed to Groton, Ct. That same year at the age
of twenty-seven he married a Southold girl, Deborah Youngs a descendant
of Rev. John Youngs.
At Groton Ledyard acquired his own wharf near the cross Sound ferry. He
evidently prospered as a trader for in 1732 he subscribed twelve shillings
toward the building of Shelter Island's first church. Six years later he
visited England in a new boat built by one Jeffers.
Around 1748 or 1749 after the death of his wife Deborah he located at New
London. There he married Mary Avery, widow of John Avery, a relative of
Humphrey Avery of Patchogue's lottery fame.
For eighteen consecutive years the former teacher and trader at Southold
served New London as a justice of the peace. Later he removed to Hartford
where he served as mayor. He was prominent in the earlier stages of the
He gave liberally for the establishment of Dartmouth College, founded by
his friend Rev. Dr. Eleazer Wheelock, the institution at Hanover, N. H.
that owed its existence largely to Sampson Occum, the one time Indian preacher
This earlier John Ledyard became the father of ten children, five by each
marriage - five sons and five daughters. His son Ebenezer Ledyard was one
of the committee that built Fort Griswold at Groton, of which Ebenezer's
brother William was made commandant. Their brothers Youngs and John Ledyard
(father of The Traveler) were both mariners and were both lost at sea.
Their father, the former mayor of Hartford who had spent his early manhood
at Southold died at Hartford, Sept. 3, 1771 at the age of seventy-one,
wealthy and honored. His body was interred in the old Central Burying Ground.
The Traveler's maternal grandfather was Robert Hempstead a farmer and public
official at Southold, justice of the peace and town clerk. In pre-Revolutionary
days it was he who petitioned the Continental Congress that Capt. Daniel
Griffing of Southold town and Capt. John Hulbert of East Hampton town and
their vigilantes be permitted to remain and guard the exposed stock at
Orient and Montauk.
Squire Hempstead's homestead was on the north side of Southold's main road
east of present Youngs Avenue known earlier as Cooper's lane, Bachelor's
Lane and Railroad Avenue. In modern times the Hempstead house became the
home of Dr. Joseph M. Hartranft. The large structure has since been divided
into two houses. One stands at the northeast corner opposite the Savings
Bank and is still in the Hartranft family. The other stands on Youngs Avenue
a little to the north and is owned and occupied now by Mrs. John Kenney.
Robert Hempstead of Southold was the great-greatgrandson of one of the
same name who was among the original settlers of New London in 1643. He
is thought to have come later to Long Island where according to tradition
the village of Hempstead was named for him. He died in 1654.
This first Robert Hempstead and Joanna Willie Hempstead had as their second
child Josnua Hempstead who was born June 6, 1649. Joshua Hempstead and
Elizabeth Larraoee Hempstead had a son Joshua Hempstead born Sept. 1, 1678.
Robert Hempstead of Southold was born Nov. 30, 1702, the third child of
the last named Joshua Hempstead, who died Dec. 22, 1758, and Abigail Bailey
who was born in 1676 and died Aug. 5, 1716.
At Southold Squire Robert Hempstead married first in June 1725 Mary Youngs,
born Aug. 2, 1701, the daughter of Judge Benjamin Youngs. Hempstead married
second Aug. 20 1768 Mehitable Reeve, widow of Samuel Reeve.
Mary Youngs Hempstead was a sister of Deborah Youngs Ledyard. Experience
Youngs, born Nov. 6, 1699 sister of Mary and Deborah, became Nov. 12, 1730
the second wife of Rev. Ebenezer Prime of Huntington. She died Jan. 1,
1734. Rev. Prime married Mar. 11, 1751 as his third wife Hannah Wood Platt
Carl daughter of Richard Wood of Southampton.
The residence of Judge Benjamin Youngs, maternal grandfather of John Ledyard
The Traveler was on the north side of Southold's main thoroughfare directly
opposite the home in later years of Capt. Benjamin Wells. The home of Judge
Youngs was later the home of Squire John Frank.
Abigail Hempstead, who became the mother of The Traveler, was born 1728,
the daughter of Squire Hempstead and Mary Youngs Hempstead. Her name came
from her grandmother Hempstead. Her father had a sister born Jan. 4, 1711
or 1712 also named Abigail who married Clement Miner.
In the diary of Joshua Hempstead of New London one may read that his son
Squire Robert Hempstead of Southold on Saturday May 5, 1750 sailed across
Long Island Sound " in quest of his daughter Abigail."
It appears she had "come away privetly (from Southold) with John Ledyard
of Groton (that is the son of the one time teacher at Southold). This "because
her parents Refused to give her to him to wife".
Squire Hempstead on this occasion stayed with his father until the following
Wednesday. Not having found his daughter early that morning Squire Hempstead
started to sail back to Southold. Then it happened he "met Daniel Youngs
Brown with Jon Ledyard Junr and his daughter Abigail in the Boat a coming
home" from Setauket across the Sound.
The runaway couple at Setauket had obtained a "Lycense of Doctor Mawason
(Dr. George Muirson) who had Blanks to dispose of from the Govr". They
had been "maryed" Sunday night at Setauket. Dr. Muirson married as his
second wife Mary Woolsey daughter of Southold's third minister, Rev. Benjamin
Young John Ledyard, the eldest son of Hartford's one time mayor and his
"beautiful and accomplished" wife, two years his senior, established their
home on the Groton estate of his father. He soon was in command of a vessel
engaged in the West India trade. They had four children John (The Traveler),
Thomas, George and Fanny.
On March 17, 1762 in the prime of life Capt. Ledyard was drowned at the
age of thirty-five. Their Groton home fell into the hands of others. Left
destitute, Abigail and her four children returned to Southold and they
lived for three years in her girlhood home with her father.
When in January 1765 she married Dr. Micah Moore Abigail and her children
made their home with the village physician is what durirg the years was
known as the Moore-Case house. It was situated on the north side of the
main road east of what is now Boisseau Avenue, formerly the Greenport Road.
The next younger brother of John The Traveler, Thomas, in 1781 was one
of a posse of Southold young men who attempted to round up in the Ashamomoque
forest a local renegade named Elnathan Burts. Thomas Ledyard saw his friend
Joshua Horton, who was, foremost in the pursuit, killed by Burts who took
refuge with the British encamped thereabout.
Thomas Ledyard married April 19, 1795 Hannah Prince widow of Benjamin Prince
whom she had married Oct. 29, 1782. Benjamin Prince was a son of Joseph
and Mary Vail Prince and had died March 25, 1789.
The Prince-Ledyard one and one half story house stood on the northern half
of the home lot of the first Southold minister, Rev. Youngs. The house
had a front room and a kitchen in each end. Rev. John Luckey while pastor
of the Methodist Church occupied the east part. Thomas Ledyard died Sept.
15, 1820. His widow Hannah Moore Prince Ledyard lived as late as 1830 with
her stepdaughter Hannah Ledyard in the west part in the kitchen of which
she wove rag carpets.
George Ledyard the other son of Capt. John and Abigail Hempstead Ledyard.
like his father and his brother John The Traveler also went to sea. When
quite young he was shipwrecked on the coast of South America. Taken captive
by natives he escaped and signaled a vessel from England. He finally reached
Southold where he spent the remainder of his life.
He married first Eunice Goldsmith who died Oct 28, 1794. In August 1796
he married as his second wife Phebe Boisseau daughter of John and Hannah
Vail Boisseau. She was a sister of Ezra Luckey Boisseau, and was born Jan.
Their home was in a small house which stood just east of his mother Abigail's
home after her marriage to Dr. Moore - the old Moore-Case house. About
1833 that house was moved to Peck Hill next west of the present Public
Library. It was for a long time owned by Samuel Hazard Moore and was occupied
by his father Hazard Luther Moore until the latter's death June 21, 1841.
A few years before 1878 it was moved south of the railroad tracks and east
of the academy on Horton's Lane.
George and Phebe Boisseau Ledyard had one son John Wesley Ledyard who married
Emeline Horton. George and Phebe lived opposite the Southold Presbyterian
(Old First) Church in the house with Dutch doors which now stands on Oak
Lawn Avenue opposite the High School. He died Aug. 22, 1886 aged seventy.
John Wesley and Emeline Horton Ledyard had three sons, George Banks Ledyard,
John Wesley Ledyard and Charles Moore Ledyard and three daughters Sarah,
Abigail and Phebe. The Banks in the name of the great nephew of The Traveler
came from Sir Joseph Banks of London a patron of The Traveler..
George B. Ledyard, a veteran of the Civil War, married first Feb. 13, 1369
Ella Terry sister of Jonathan Barnes Terry a one time president of the
Southold Savings Bank. George B. Ledyard's second wife was Mary Adelia
Burch of Eat Marion. He had several daughters and one son Charles Wesley
Ledyard who died at Buffalo June 12, 1912 aged twenty-one. George B. Ledyard
had previously died in that city Oct. 27. 1902.
John Wesley Ledyard brother of George B. Ledyard was a hat merchant in
Philadelphia. Charles Moore Ledyard for many years was a produce dealer
at Soathold. He went to the west coast for his health and died in San Diego,
Calif. and was buried in Willow Hill Cemetery, Southold.
Sarah Ledyard sister of John W. and George B. Ledyard, who lived at Southold
from 1836 to 1901 married a Frenchman named James Edward Teague, born 1839
and died 1871, who came to work in the Southold Foundry near the railroad
depot, which burned May 26, 1860. They lived, as did widow Teague for many
years after her husband's death, in the small cottage on Main Street next
west of the present Catholic Church now the home of John W. Montgomery.
They had a son Frank Teague and three daughters Emma, Annie and Abigail
Teague, all deceased except Annie who has long resided at East Marion,
now one of its sprighteliest octogenarian residents.
With Sarah Ledyard Teague lived her spinster sister Abigail Moore Ledyard,
born 1834, for a great many years. "Aunt Abbie was dressmaker to many of
the "first families", first more in the sense of priority rather than opulence.
The impassionate soldier the Civil War Monument at Tuckers Lane for years
was known as "Abbie's man," because of her activity in the erection of
Sarah and Abigail Ledyard had a younger sister Phebe Naomi Ledyard born
Dec. 1, 1838. She lived until 1905, dying at the age of sixty-six. She
married first one Wilson and second, April 1, 1869 Simeon Benjamin Horton
born July 12, 1823. He conducted Southold's first meat market. They had
Lydia W. Horton born Nov. 7, 1869 and Clara Adelia Horton, born Dec. 7,
Lydia W. Horton, great, great niece of The Traveler, born Nov. 7, 1869
married Nov. 1, 1887 at the Southold Methodist Church, Capt . Charles T.
Brooks of East Marion born June 20, 1864, a former supervisor of the town.
Their children May Ledyard Brooks born Aug. 27, 1891, widow of Russell
Tabor, Myron B. Brooks of Belle Rose, Aueens County, born Opt. 26, 1896
and Sheldon Horton Brooks of Greenport, born July 24. 1910, are great,
great, great niece and nephews respectively of The Traveler. "Aunt Clara"
Horton, after the death of her parents at Southold, lived many years in
the home of Capt. Charles and Lydia and was a second mother to the children
of her sister. She married Nov. 23, 1943 Clarence Ashton Wood. Lydia died
Nov 17, 1929 and Clara July 4, 1947.
Ledyard, brother of The Traveler, and the former's wife Phebe Boisseau
Ledyard had one daughter who was given the name of her Aunt Fanny Ledyard
Peters the only sister of The Traveler, Thomas and George Ledyard. Fanny
Ledyard was the last occupant of the historic old Barnabas Horton "Castle"
which stood until the late 1870s at the corner of Hortons Lane and Main
Street. On its site now stands the house which has since been the home
of Dr. Amos L. Sweet, Prof. David Philander Horton, Rensselaer G. Terry
Sr. and the latter's widow. Miss Fanny one of the last of the local Ledyards
died in July 1888 at the age of eighty-eight.