I just bought myself a little pre-Father’s-Day present to start reading on an upcoming long road trip this weekend: Jack Harpster’s 2015 John Ogden, The Pilgrim (1609–1682), and it arrived in the mail today. I’m really looking forward to reading it over the next couple of weeks. I ordered the 1858 Vinton genealogy a few days before this, but that looks like it’s not going to be here until mid-June. So it was totally reasonable getting another book in the meantime, right?
I also figured that with all the attention I’m spending on joining one or more hereditary societies this year—all of which are currently based on my father’s side of the family tree—I shouldn’t neglect my mother’s side of the family. So mom, uncle Dan, Jill, and all of my Askew kinsfolk reading this: this one’s for you.
To give you an idea of how far back we’re going, John Ogden is my 11th-great-grandfather. He was the great-great-grandfather of our Revolutionary War ancestor, Benjamin Woodruff (the subject of this post and this post). John Ogden was even distant history for Benjamin Woodruff—John Ogden the Pilgrim had been dead for 62 years by the time Benjamin Woodruff was even born.
I’ll report back in another post about what I’ve learned about John Ogden the Pilgrim, in case you don’t want to read it for yourself. In the meantime, since I haven’t yet read the book, let you give you the promotional blurb for the book:
This book tells the story of a remarkable man who left a significant footprint in seventeenth-century colonial America. Now nearly forgotten, John Ogden was one of our country’s earliest patriots – a man who stood tall against the intrusion of foreign intervention in colonial affairs.
An accomplished stonemason, John Ogden was born in Lancashire, England in 1609. He immigrated to the New World in 1641, arriving in Rippowam (now Stamford, Connecticut) to build a dam and gristmill for the community. In 1642, he was hired to build the first permanent stone church in Fort Amsterdam, then but a small dusty settlement at the foot of Manhattan Island.
Leaving Stamford in 1644, Ogden spent the next twenty-one years on Long Island. Among other accomplishments there, he established the first commercial whaling enterprise in America.
In 1665 Ogden became one of the original patentees on the Elizabethtown Purchase, the first English settlement in the Colony of New Jersey. For the next nineteen years, until his death in 1682, he led the community though the difficult years of conflict between the settlers – who had purchased their land directly from the Indians – and the English proprietors, who attempted to usurp the settlers’ property and their government. On one occasion, he risked almost everything he owned rather than accede to a foreign authority that he felt had no legal standing. This single act of civil disobedience should allow him to stand with the foremost patriots in our history.
Ogden’s service to his community included many stints as a magistrate, first at the town level and later at the East New Jersey colony level. He was also chosen on many occasions to lead delegations to deal with the Indians, who trusted him completely.
His years in New Jersey also saw Ogden develop and pursue many business interests. He built, with his own hands, a gristmill, a lumber mill, a tanyard, and a brickyard. He also conducted a successful trading business and built another whaling company.
No accurate information has been previously published about John Ogden’s earliest years in England. A one-hundred-year-old genealogical study on the Ogden family in America – which has served as the foundation for much of our information about the man – is inaccurate. Using both direct and inferential information, Jack Harpster has recreated that early time, providing the first-ever look at the ancestral home of the Ogdens and how they came to immigrate to America. Harpster has also delved deep into early colonial records to discuss the Ogden family’s life and times in America during the mid to late 1600s. The story is highlighted by many colorful incidents and descriptions, often told in the words on contemporary colonial Americans.
John Ogden, The Pilgrim (1609-1982): A Man of More than Ordinary Mark, provides new history – and often rewrites existing history – about an important colonial American pioneer. It is an absorbing, insightful biography set in an exciting but understudies period of American history.