Abel Bliss was born
February 18, 1708/09 in Springfield, Hampshire Co., Massachusetts. He
was 4th generation and great-grandson of the immigrant Thomas
Bliss 1 (the Hartford line) and wife Margaret Hulins. He was
descended through their youngest son Samuel Bliss 2 and wife
Mary Leonard, and thence through their oldest son Thomas Bliss 3
and wife Hannah Cadwell. This Bliss family may have moved to
Springfield, Massachusetts from Hartford, Connecticut as early as 1651,
when Margaret (Hulins) Bliss was thought to have lived there until her
death in 1684.
Bliss was the middle child (7th out of 13 children) of Thomas
and Hannah (Cadwell) Bliss. Upon reaching adulthood, he left his
hometown of Springfield to become one of the early settlers of
Wilbraham, Massachusetts between 1731-1736. He was reputed to have had
great physical strength, and was supposed to have been instrumental in
cutting the path from Springfield to Wilbraham, a distance of about 10
miles. Along with Thomas Merrick, he was responsible for drawing up a
petition about 1740 to have the Outward Commons (Wilbraham) set off as a
separate precinct, and his activity in organizing the first church there
in 1741 was substantial.
Bliss was married to Jemima Chapin on January 16, 1735/36. Born on
January 5, 1704/05 in Chicopee, Massachusetts, she was the daughter of
John Chapin and Sarah Bridgman, and the great-granddaughter of the
immigrant Deacon Samuel Chapin of Springfield, Massachusetts. Abel and
Jemima settled in Wilbraham, where they raised their 5 children:
Oliver Bliss (November 20, 1736-April 30, 1805 or 1806) was the 9th
birth recorded in the new town of Wilbraham in its formative years. He
married a cousin, Catharine Brewer, and they had about 9 children born
Abel Bliss, II (October 5, 1738-November 23, 1821) was born and
died in Wilbraham, married first to Elizabeth Bartlett, and had 9
children with her. He was instrumental after 1791 with a group that
withdrew from the traditional Congregational Church and formed the local
Methodist Society. His wife Elizabeth died 1788, shortly after the birth
of their ninth child, and later that year Abel married Sarah Stebbins,
whom he was engaged to prior to his first marriage. Among his children
with first wife were Abel, III (1775-1853), a devout Methodist and
respected politician representing Wilbraham, and an active abolitionist,
and Dr. Judah Bliss (1777-1845), a respected physician in Connecticut
and later New York.
Jemima Bliss (October 12, 1740-June 9, 1764) married Lucius Allis
in 1761, and lived in Conway, Massachusetts until her premature death
less than 3 years later.
Silas Bliss (April 15, 1743-unknown) married a cousin, Miriam
Bliss of Springfield, Massachusetts in 1768, and had about 11 children
in Wilbraham. Silas built a magnificent house on Mountain Road in
Wilbraham in the 1760s, pictured and written about in the 1963 History
of Wilbraham, USA book.
Levi Bliss (April 29, 1745-October 8, 1811) married Martha Miller
in 1768, and had at least 6 children born in Wilbraham. On April 29,
1799, an unthinkable tragedy struck his family. Three of his children
drowned in the infamous “Nine Mile Pond Tragedy”, when their
sailboat overturned on the local lake during an outing and drowned all
six young people aboard.
Abel Bliss first settled in Wilbraham, he built a simple log house about
1736 “on the west side of the mountain” (now Ridge Road). However,
less than a decade later, he raised the ire of some of the local
residents with the building of his new home. An account of this event is
documented in the 1963 History of Wilbraham, USA, and reads as
1744 he began to erect a large two-story house (32x40 feet) at 182
Mountain Road, the tallest ever built in the Mountains to that date. The
events relating to the construction of the house are interesting. The
plan for the pretentious new home brought Abel face to face with the
strictures of the Worthy Noah
Merrick. The pastor, learning what a grand mansion his parishioner was
about to build, no doubt feared that at least one of his church family
was becoming inflated with worldly pride. It was necessary to check this
tendency without delay. On a Sunday morning the text of his sermon was,
“Build not your house too high”. Abel, properly rebuked and
penitent, cut off the upright posts of his house seven inches, lowering
the first story by that much. The house is said to have been the first
in this section to have square panes of glass in the windows, all other
houses to this time having had diamond-shaped panes.”
article goes further to indicate that Abel erected a tar-kiln on the
river, gathering candlewood from the area, and as a by-product of this
endeavor, made 200 barrels of tar which he sold to raise the money to
start his house. This 1744 home built by Abel Bliss at 182 Mountain Road
in Wilbraham still stands today, and is pictured in the referenced 1963
Bliss was commissioned as an officer of the military sometime before
1754, and may have seen service in the French and Indian War. He was
mustered with the South Hampshire (Massachusetts) Regiment on the
training field in July, 1754 at the age of 45 years. He received an
Ensign’s commission under Colonel Worthington of Springfield, which
was dated August 27, 1754. He also received a Justice’s commission
under the crown from Governor William Shirley before 1759.
Abel Bliss died April 30, 1762, and was buried at Adams Cemetery in
Wilbraham, Massachusetts. His widow, Jemima, died January 9, 1772, and
is also buried at Adams Cemetery, where several of their children and
grandchildren were later buried.
for Ensign Abel Bliss:
Genealogy of the Bliss Family in America, by Aaron Tyler Bliss,
1981, 3 volumes.
(2) History of
Wilbraham, USA, Bicentennial Edition, 1763-1963, by Charles L.
Merrick (General Editor, Copyright), 1964.
Military Rolls of the Outward Commons, Soldiers of Wilbraham,
Massachusetts, 1730-1840, by J. Bruce Tingle, 2000.
Correspondence with Bruce Tingle, Cemetery Commissioner of Wilbraham,
Birth Records of Wilbraham, Massachusetts, 1732-1930, surname
“Bliss”, from the Corbin Collection microfilm, copied 2/99 from
The Samuel Chapin Genealogy, by Orange Chapin, 1862.
By: Robert W. Blount
November 18, 2001