Reynolds Family

Biographical Sketch


The History and one line of

descendants of Robert and Mary Reynolds

(1630?-1928) of

Boston, Massachusetts


Marion H. Reynolds

Reynolds Family Association

Published by Reynolds Family Association


Brooklyn, NY

Pages 75 to 81


 Pages 77 to 79 




Nathaniel Reynolds (1765-1829) 

     NATHANIEL REYNOLDS, son of Captain Nathaniel of Lubec, Maine, was born in Amherst, (or Ft. Cumberland), Nova Scotia, July 22, 1765, and died January 10, 1829, Valatie, Columbia County, N. Y.  He is buried in the Reynolds family plot at Prospect Hill Cemetery here.  He was christened James Nathaniel, though he never used the first name.  His Dutch neighbors in the Hudson River Valley used to call him "Cobe Natty," a Dutch abbreviation of Jacob of James.

     His father was the famous Captain of Marblehead and Maine of whom we have given a vivid account in the preceding chapter.  The first ten or twelve years of this Nathaniel's life were spent in the land of Evangeline in Nova Scotia where his father had been attracted in 1760 by British offers of cheap land after the French had been driven out.  Eunice, the youngest child of the family, had been born in 1776, when Nathaniel was about eleven.  The Revolution was breaking out, and the Captain, who sympathized with his kinsmen and the other revolting Colonists in Massachusetts, soon escaped from the watchful eyes of his Nova Scotia neighbors, and made his way back to Maine to join the forces of Colonel Eddy against the Nova Scotians.  Shortly thereafter the mother of this little family died, and the gallant Captain soon spirited his children away from hostile Nova Scotia, and down to North Lubec, Maine, then part of Machias.  Thus young Nathaniel's boyhood was full of excitement and incident.  From about 1776-1782, the family lived in North Lubec.  Then came Captain Nathaniel's second marriage in Marblehead, and his tragic drowning just off that town, and before the eyes of young Nathaniel, then between seventeen and twenty.

     The story of this accident he used to tell to his grandchildren many years afterwards.  This young Nathaniel (1829) also met a violent death; and likewise his younger brother Raymond Parker Reynolds who 'was killed by natives in the South Pacific or Africa.'

     He was the sixth of Captain Nathaniel's nine children.  His brother Benjamin and Jonathan remained in Lubec and Machias, Maine, and his sisters, Mary, Sally and Eunice also in that region.  He, with his sister Lydia (Mrs. Elisha Freeman), and brother John settled in Columbia County, N. Y., where their descendants have since lived.  This division of the children occurred about 1787-88, as all three of the latter were in Columbia County in the Census of 1790.  Mrs. Freeman for many years lived next-door, or near, Nathaniel.  However, at Eddington, Me., on the Penobscot River, near Bangor, a Nathaniel Reynolds (either this Nathaniel or his deceased father, The Captain who had received a large [page 78] grant of land there for Revolutionary service) was on the 1791 tax list for 2 sh. 6d.

     A grandchild of this younger Nathaniel about 1875 wrote down the following notes:

     "Nathaniel, Junior, became a sea captain, like his father, and engaged in coasting trips from Maine to such places as Salem, Marblehead, Boston, Newport and New York.  On a journey up the Hudson River at one time his boat was frozen in.  While thus kept in New York State, he became acquainted with, and soon married, Miss Sarah Gillette, of Nine Partners.  He then took up the trade of mill-wright and after a brief residence near Schenectady, removed permanently to Valatie.

     "While assisting in installing a new waterwheel to run the cotton mill of Nathan Wild at Valatie--the old or first mill of Wild--he was down in the penstock pit.  A boiling cauldron of tar was nearby, and some carpenters at work on a platform above swept down a shower of chips and shavings which ignited and cut off Nathaniel's way of escape.  The others, not aware of Nathaniel's situation, turned on the full head of water from the millrace into the penstock to extinguish the flames.  Nathaniel's charred body was swept out the tail-race."

     Nathaniel is said to have served in the War of 1812, though we do not have his official record.  The only Nathaniel in the War of 1812 on the New York records, was from Dutchess County, and probably was not this Nathaniel.

     He m. Miss Sarah Gillette, May 17, 1787, of Nine Partners, Dutchess Co., N. Y., probably at that place.  She was b. there, July 31, 1770; d. Valatie, August 8, 1838; buried in the family plot in Valatie.  Her parents were Moses & Rhoda (Rowley) Gillette of Nine Partners.  This Moses was son of Noah Gillette, who was one of the grantees of Nine Partners--among them Jonathan, Ephraim and Nehemiah Reynolds-who owned the large tract of wild land also at Danby, Vermont, given them by the Governor of New Hampshire, who then had jurisdiction over Danby.

     When Nathaniel and Sarah were first married, they lived for some time at Duanesbush (or Duanesburg) in the township of Schenectady.  Duanesburg was recognized as a town only in 1788.  It lay on Corey Brook.  In 1765 Duane, who had become an extensive proprietor there, had induced settlers to come.  One of the chief attractions for the early settlers were the hemlock trees, the bark of which they used in tanning.  The town is about fifteen miles southwest of Schenectady and is in the northern Catskill Mountains.  At the time (1787-89) when the first child of Nathaniel and Sarah was born, it was very wild:

     "My mother remembers the harrowing story of how grandmother (Sarah Gillette Reynolds) got lost in the forest, and wandered all day long in a circle until night found her almost too weak to call, and terrified with fear of the timber wolves, and filled with consternation for her young baby at home.

     "At nightfall a neighbor returned home, and his wife said to him:  'All day I have heard at intervals something that sounded like the cry of a woman.  What can it be?'  He listened and soon heard it also.  Following the cries which answered his call, he soon found my grandmother barely half a mile form her own home.

*       *       *       *

     "They removed (shortly before 1790) to Valatie in the township of Kinderhook and lived for a time in the Lear house.  Later Nathaniel built a house on part of what was in my youth known as Marsh's Corner; still later he erected another house on the corner.  It was later added to and occupied by his youngest son Rensselaer for many years.  Rensselaer was my Uncle.

     "Grandmother had very fair skin, dark blue eyes with long delicate lashes and black hair.  She was deeply religious, but undemonstrative.  Her numerous daughters served her well, and in her later years she did little except to knit.  Towards the last her eyes failed her.  After grandfather's death (1829), she lived with her son Rensselaer and his wife Elsie.

     "Grandfather was short, with brilliant black eyes, marked heavy eyebrows and an animated expression that has been so characteristic of many of his descendants, particularly Uncle Raymond's family.  He was jovial, fiery and impetuous--much like his father, the gallant Captain Nathaniel--but he, too, met a tragic end by being burned in Wild's old cotton mill in which he was overseer, when he was but sixty-five."


     In the Federal Census of 1790, "Nathaniel Reynolds, wife and infant daughter" are given as of Kinderhook, N. Y., which then included Valatie, where he actually resided.  This contradicts the tradition that the second and third children were born in Kline Kill.  Lydia, the eldest, was born at Curry (Corey?) Bush, near Schenectady in 1788; all others apparently in Valatie.  Their descendants have been a distinguished and numerous family in New York State, and have inherited much of the brilliance and excellence of character of this Nathaniel and his brave father, the Captain.  

     Nathaniel and Sarah had:


601.  LYDIA, b. July 20, 1788; d. Valatie, April 19, 1811, unmarried.


602.  JOHN N., b. Dec. 25, 1790; d. Sept. 9, 1865, m. Elizabeth Eaton.  He was sadly crippled; deeply religious; lived Valatie.  Had:  Caroline, James, Lydia, Mary, Albert, Albertina, twins, John, John, Belinda, Alexander, Sarah, Alexander, Martin L.


603.  DANIEL, b. Feby, 2, 1793; d. April 15, 1865; m. Catherine Vosburgh.


604.  CLARISSA, b. May 2, 1795; d. Aug. 18, 1866; m. William Pulver.


605.  BENJAMIN, b. May 13, 1798; d. Jany. 3, 1842; m. Elizabeth Nelson.


606.  SALLY, b. Jany. 16, 1880; d. Valatie, 1866; m. Shubael Head, 1821.


607.  RAYMOND, b. Feby. 12, 1802; d. March 19, 1857; m. Christina Phillips.


608. JAMES, b. July 5, 1804; d. Valatie, 1866; m. Lucie Fields.


609. NANCY L., b. Aug. 25, 1806; d. Sept. 20, 1806, infancy.


610.  LANSING VAN RENSSELAER, b. Aug. 26, 1807; d. Jany. 8, 1872; m. Elsie M. Burns.


*611.  LYDIA ANN, b. May 24, 1811; d. Dec. 5, 1893; m. Smith M. Beebe.


612. RHODA C., b. Aug. 10, 1813; d. Aug. 15, 1813, infancy.



One Family Bible gives it July 17, 1765.

Valatie, a Dutch diminutive, means 'Little Falls.'