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Paul William Goltry and Rachel Elizabeth Moffat
Article written by M E Van Gorden about Paul Goltry and Rachel Moffat, and the early years of their family.
PAUL WILLIAM GOLTRY & RACHEL ELIZABETH MOFFAT
Paul William Goltry and Rachel Elizabeth Moffat were the parents of Mary "Polly" (Goltry) Humphrey and the maternal grandparents of Deborah Humphrey Van Gorden.
Paul Goltry was born on May 24, 1767, in Bridgewater Township, Somerset County, New Jersey, to Oliver and Helena "Leana" Auten. We know nothing about Paul's early years but assume he grew to manhood in Bridgewater Township, probably in the vicinity of what is now Somerville. He married Rachel Moffat on April 19, 1790, in Somerset County.
In 1800 or 1801, Paul took his family to New York State, locating in what was then Cayuga County in the Finger Lakes region. His brother John Goltry and family had made the same move earlier. Both Paul and John are listed on the 1810 census for Seneca County, which was created from Cayuga County in 1804. (At one time, Paul may have been in Tompkins County, which was formed from Seneca County in 1817, or in nearby Steuben County, which was created in 1796. Determining the specific county for those early years is difficult because of the number of county divisions and re-namings which took place in that area in the 19th century.)
By the time Paul moved his family to New York State, seven of his fourteen children had been born, one of whom had died in infancy. In her History of the Goltrys, Helen S. Moore writes, "Some of Paul's large family were born in New Jersey and Uncle Henry says Peggy and Polly [Deborah Van Gorden's mother] were born in New Jersey and were a great help to their mother in taking care of the younger children." We learn in Polly (Goltry) Humphrey's obituary that the move to New York was made using a team of oxen.
Paul and Rachel Goltry settled at Lodi, New York, about 12 miles north of Mecklenburg, where their future son-in-law, George T. Humphrey, had been born seven or eight years earlier.
Paul was an enterprising fellow and soon developed a cottage industry in his home. In the History of Seneca County, 1786-1876, we find this description of his operation:
In 1804, Paul Goltry was in a log house, the first in present Lodi. He manufactured looms, farming mills, and other articles. He jealously guarded the secret of weaving "riddles" for his mills, and his work-shop was forbidden to his own family. The mills had castings and would be a curiosity now.
While in New York State, Paul and Rachel became the parents of at least seven more children. It appears that by 1814 the family had moved further west to Steuben County, where they may have lived in the Pleasant Valley area near Bath, New York. In 1829, they made a major move westward. In the summer of that year, Paul and Rachel and several of their children and their families migrated to Hayden, Jennings County, in southeastern Indiana, using oxen and covered wagons. Paul and Rachel remained in Jennings County, as did their son Jeheil. However, son John and daughters Sarah "Sally' Whitcomb and Elizabeth Whitcomb and their families moved on to Green County, Wisconsin, where they lived at Albany, just west of Janesville. Sally and Nancy were buried in the Gap Cemetery in Green County.
At least three of Paul and Rachel's sons, Nathaniel, William, and Paul H., migrated to Iowa, where many of their descendants live today. (One wonders whether the early Iowa Van Gordens knew they had Goltry relatives living in the same state.) In the 1880s, some of the Iowa Goltrys moved to Oklahoma to seek their fortunes in the oil fields.
Paul Goltry died on September 28, 1845, at Hayden, Indiana. He was buried in the Six-Mile Cemetery next to Rachel, who had died earlier.
Rachel Elizabeth (Moffat) Goltry was born on August 14, 1770, probably in Somerset County, New Jersey. Very little is known about this ancestor. Even a professional genealogist was unable to discover the names of her parents. One theory states they were Captain William Moffatt and Sarah Campbell, since the International Genealogical Index shows that this couple had a daughter named Rachel who was baptized in "about 1771" in Somerset County. (Rachel and Paul named one of their sons William and one of their daughters Sarah, which fits this theory,) Captain Moffat served in the First Battalion of the New Jersey Militia during the Revolutionary War. He was very likely a descendant of the Samuel Moffat who is believed to have been the earliest Moffat in New Jersey. The following concerns Samuel and his ancestors:
The Moffat clan was all ancient family which lived in the border country, in Dumfries, in the lowlands of Scotland. Vestiges of their presence there are the present town of Moffat which lies about 50 miles north of Lockerbie, and the nearby Moffat Water Valley. (Moffat is known today for its woolen mills.) (This surname has been spelled in various ways throughout the years, including Moffat, Moffit, Moffet, and Morphet.)
The Moffats were a powerful clan, particularly from the 12th through the 16th centuries. Their arch enemies were members of the Johnstone family. After the breakup of their clan, some Moffats moved to other areas of Scotland; some emigrated to Ireland; and others went down into England.
A Samuel Moffat (probably born in Scotland) came to America around 1700 from Ballylig, Ireland, and settled in Middlesex County, New Jersey (adjacent to Somerset County), where lie joined the Woodbridge Presbyterian Church on October 3, 1710. It is believed that this Samuel was the progenitor of the Moffats in New Jersey. It is also believed that he may have been the great-grandfather of Captain William Moffat and, perhaps, the great-great-grandfather of our Rachel.
We do know, for certain, that Rachel Moffat married Paul Goltry in Somerset County, New Jersey, on April 19, 1790, and moved with him and six of their children to New York State and then to Indiana, where she died on June 27, 1843, at Hayden. (Hayden is a small town in southwestern Indiana along U. S. Highway #50.) The gravestone for Rachel and Paul Goltry can be seen today in the Six-Mile Cemetery at Hayden.
A HUMOROUS THOUGHT Helen Dalton has written that the family name Moffat originated in France and was brought to England at the time of the Norman Conquest. Several spelling variations developed including Moffatt, Moffit, Moffet, and Muffet. "It is from the last spelling that the children's story of Little Miss Muffet Sat on a tuffet, originated." With that fact in mind, we descendants of Rachel Moffat Goltry can readily boast that our very-most-famous relative (though very distant) is the delightful Little Miss Muffet!
Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey;
Along came a spider
Who sat down beside her,
And frightened Miss Muffet away.
- Personal files of David E, Goltry and Godfrey 'Skip Mihoover, descendants of Paul & Rachel Goltry.
- Commemorative Biographical Record of Green County, Wisconsin (available at the Wisconsin State Historical Society Library, Madison. Wisconsin).
- Burdge, Howard Griffith. Elizabeth Goltry Griffith Family Record. Conway, New Hampshire: private publication, 1947 (available at the Allen County Library, Fort Wayne, Indiana).
- Moore, Helen S. History of the Goltrys (included in the above book by Burdge).
- Moffat, R. B. Moffat Genealogies: Descent from Rev. John Moffat of Ulster County, N. Y. Privately printed, 1910 (available at the Wisconsin State Historical Society Library, Madison, Wisconsin).
- History of Seneca County, 1786-1876.
- Obituary of Polly (Goltry) Humphrey. Elmira Morning Telegram, Elmira, New York, August 23, 1885.
- Bible records of Nathaniel Goltry", son of Paul and Rachel Goltry (from David E. Goltry).
- 1810 Census Records for the State of New York.
- International Genealogical Index (LDS) for New Jersey.
- "Raritan (Somerville) First Reformed Church Baptisms." Somerset County Historical Quarterly, Vol. 4. 1915.
- DAR Application 4661950 by Velma Daniels Eldridge, descendant of Captain William Moffatt.
- Dalton, Helen A. (Moffatt). A History and Genealogy of the Moffatt Family in America, 1663-1978. Alliance. Nebraska: private publication, 1978 (available at the Wisconsin State Historical Society Library, Madison, Wisconsin).
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