Hiram Scofield (1799-1872)

Biography / Thursday, April 25th, 2019

Hiram Schofield was born in Pound Ridge on 12 May 1799. He moved from there as a young man and the 1820 New York census records show him living in Spencer Township, Tioga County, New York.

While living in Spencer, Hiram married Martha Lott who was born at an unknown location in New York state on 8 May 1800. According to Martha’s obituary, her mother was Martha Brownell. From that point, however, the rest of her family history is unproven, and the name of her father is unknown. For a discussion of research which has been done on this family, and some interesting ancestral possibilities that have been uncovered. See Chapter Thirty-Eight, Lott Ancestors.

As a young man, Hiram was a stonemason and worked building bridges over the many streams that cross Tioga County. He apparently wanted to be a landowner though, and the cost of land in New York was out of his grasp.

In 1843 and 1844 there was a migration of several Scofields from Westchester and Tioga counties in New York, and Stamford, Connecticut to Kendall County, Illinois. Hiram and Martha were among them. They migrated from New York to Big Grove Township in Kendall County, Illinois in 1844. They were not alone and actually were part of a much larger group of persons who made the trek to Kendall County. The story was told in a newspaper article in the Kendall County Record of 31 August 1892.

“Newark. In the year 1843 there resided in the counties of Tompkins and Tioga, New York, with a radius of a few miles, fourteen families who were intimate friends and neighbors. The ever-relentless spirit of change and a desire to improve their worldly condition possessed them. One or two families at a time left the familiar scenes of childhood to seek a home in the, then, far western wilds of Illinois.

Whether it was choice or Providence that decided the location our informant saith not. However, Newark and vicinity proved to be the haven of rest where the weary travelers built their future homes. In 1843, Harry Gridley, Selah Gridley, and Lott Preshure families came. In 1844, S. Bingham, Reverend Philander Taylor, Hiram Scofield, Ira Scofield, Aaron Petty, Charles Gridley and families followed them. In 1845, Squire Lewis, Stephen Scofield, Gabriel North and Peter North came with their families.

At the time of the removal of the first families, not one of the others had any thought or intent of ever leaving the homes they had established until they had gathered in as sheaves for the harvest of the great reaper. Death and so sorrowful good-byes were said from to time, as one by one they took up their westward march. Within the short space of three years, the little colony was reunited. They cast their fortunes for weal or woe together. With one or two exceptions they became permanent residents, making this portion of Kendall County to blossom as the rose. While they endured toil, danger and hardships for the sake of love’s contentment rather than wealth, they were building better than they knew.

While they helped to make it possible for the generation of today to enjoy so much comfort, luxury and comparative ease, where are they now? Ah! Well may we exclaim, “Our fathers, where are they?” Gone the way of all the living. Only two of the head of families is left. S. Bingham and Mrs. Hannah Prickett, who was the wife of Peter North at the time of westward journey. They alone are left totread the silent halls of memory.”

Kendall County Record, 31 August 1892

A few comments on the above newspaper article are in order. First, it appears that the cited Harry Gridley should read Henry Gridley, as no Harry Gridley can be found in records. Henry Gridley, However, married Sarah Scofield a New York cousin to Hiram. The previously mentioned Peter North married Hannah Scofield (he was her second husband)

According to the History of Kendall County, Illinois, various Scofields figured prominently in the early days of the county. Hiram Scofield and son Ira purchased lots in Big Grove Township in 1844. J. C. Scofield settled in Bristol Township of the county in 1843; and Lott Scofield (Hiram’s son) settled in Big Grove Township in 1844. Additionally, Rev. James Scofield performed the first baptism “in the river” when he and his Baptist congregation baptized Mary Case. James was the minister of the Bristol Baptist Church in North Yorkville, Kendall County during the period 1843-1846. These Scofields were close relatives to each other and to Hiram.

Some Schofields (note spelling) from Chautauqua County, New York removed to Kendall County in the same time period as the Scofields of Tioga County. During research for this book, the question was raised several times as to whether these two families are related. The Kendall County Schofields and Scofields seemed to be equally divided in their opinions as to whether they were or were not related. Research established that they are related, but the spelling of the name was changed while they lived in Chautauqua County.

Chautauqua County was formed from part of Genesee county in 1804 and it was partitioned and sold by the Holland Land Company, primarily between 1803 (before the county was formed) and 1810. Much of it was sold to ex-Revolutionary War soldiers, and it was apparently a popular purchase since it was sold on contract, or credit. Hiram’s second cousin, one generation removed (William, son of Josiah Scofield and Mary Smith who was in turn son of Nathaniel Scofield and Elizabeth Scofield, in turn son of John Scofield and Hannah Mead) was born in Westchester County and removed to Ellery, Chautauqua County. Additionally, Seely, Uriah and Enos Scofield, all descendants of Daniel Scofield, were born in Stamford, fought in the Revolution, and subsequently removed to Chautauqua County where they settled and raised families. The first Scofield born in the town of Ellery was Elias Scofield. All spelled their name Sco at the time of their settlement in Chautauqua County, beginning in 1808. Early records there spell the names Sco on gravestones, vital records, and church records. Prior to 1830, some of the descendents of the original Scofield settlers were spelling the name Scho. The History of Chautauqua County by Young spells the name of Rev. James Scofield from Gerry as well as the name of his famous grandson, Major General John M. Schofield. MG Schofield was a Medal of Honor winner in the Civil War, and retired as the Commander of the U.S. Army (the precursor position to the Army Chief of Staff) with Sco. It is interesting to note that James Scofield was Methodist Episcopal in religion as late as 1828 and he donated land for a church for that faith. As an adult, however, Major General Schofield was Baptist, however, having taken that faith from his maternal grandfather, John McAllister, who had settled in Gerry and who had founded the Baptist church at Sinclairville. It has been suggested that perhaps the Baptist Scofields spelled their name one way and the Methodist Episcopal Scofields spelled it another to differentiate their religious beliefs. While that possibility exists, we do not know the religion of all of the Scofields and Schofields and cannot state that this is true. What is true is that General Schofield later spelled his name Scho. Schofield Barracks in Hawaii, which is named for him, is spelled the same way. As a child, he was one of the Chautauqua County Schofields who moved to Kendall County, and lived there for several years in his youth. Many families resided in Chautauqua County only a short time before they abandoned their Holland Land Company land contracts and the recurring time payments which were demanded for it, and moved farther west for cheaper or even free land. While many moved to Pennsylvania and Ohio, the Schofields moved on to Kendall County, Illinois where their cousins were settling.

In Kendall County, Hiram plied his trade as a mason and wisely invested his money in farmland and real property. Before his death, Hiram was one of the largest landowners in the county. By the end of his life he had accumulated a large and valuable estate. His property was assessed at $25,000, one of the largest assessed values in the county at that time.

Hiram was a public-spirited individual who served as a schoolteacher in Kendall County at the Scofield Schoolhouse as early as 1847. He is also listed as a schoolteacher at the Red Schoolhouse in Big Grove Township.

Hiram died on 14 July 1872 at his home in Big Grove Township. Hiram was a much beloved man and was variously known as “Uncle Hiram” or “Grandfather Hiram” according to two obituaries. His funeral drew such a large crowd that the Baptist church which Hiram attended was too small to hold the crowd expected for the funeral service. The Methodists in Newark lent their larger church for the services. Hiram is buried in the Millington-Newark Cemetery in Kendall County. Martha survived Hiram by only a year, dying at Newark on 20 July 1873.

Hiram and Martha had nine children, and many of their descendants still live in Kendall County.

Submitted by Vince Falter

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