The Colver/Culver Family in America
1st Generation: Edward Colver
Edward Colver, "The Puritan," founder of the Colver-Culver family in America, was born about 1610 (Tercentary History of Maryland by Francis Barnum Culver). He immigrated to America in a party brought over to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the autumn of 1635, supposedly in the same ship with John Winthrop, the younger, later governor of Connecticut. He landed in Boston, which had been founded about five years before that time; fifteen years after the Pilgrim fathers came in the Mayflower in 1620. Cora Grunwald of Ledyard, Connecticut thinks Edward could have arrived as early as 1633 on the Speedwell. This has not been proven.
Edward Colver was a millwright and wheelwright at the time of his arrival and continued his trade in America even though he took up farming as well.
Edward Colver was a member of the Massachusetts Bay Colony at Boston in 1635. Soon after his arrival he took part in a meeting, at the courthouse in Boston, which was called for the purpose offorming a company of colonists willing to push further out into the wilderness and start a new settlement. Later, land was given to each ofthe members, with the right to subdivide or sell, as he wanted. The settlement proposed was situated up the Charles River and was first known as Contentment and later as the town of Dedham. Edward helped in the founding of the town of Dedham, Massachusetts, in 1636, his name being sixty-eighth on the list of one hundred and twenty-four who signed the covenant. Dedham is located about ten miles southwest of Boston. Ten miles must have seemed a long way by ox team over the rough roads and through wilderness frequented by Indians and wild animals.
The Dedham Convenant not only shows that the first settlers wished to provide homes for themselves which they could own and where they would be free from obnoxious religious and political restrictions but also that they desired to build up and protect exclusively their own particular form of religious and political establishment, "barring all others and everybody and everything discordant with their own notions." The Dedham convenant, as recorded in the Dedham, Towne Book, "for the Entering, and Recording, of all such Orders as or shall be for the Couerment there of as followeth," was, in part:
1 We whose names ar here vuto subscribed, doe, in the feare and Reuerence of our Allmightie God, Mutually; and seuerally pmse amongst our selues and each to other to pffesse and practice one trueth according to that most pfect rule. The foundacion where of is Euerlasting Loue
2 That we shall by all meanes Laboure to Keepe of from vs all such as ar contrarye minded. And receaue onely such vuto vs as be such as may be pbably of one harte, with vs as that we either knowe or may well and truly be informaed to walke in a peacable conuersation with all meekenes of spirit for the edification of each other in the knowledge and faith ofthe Lord Jesus: And the mutuall encouragmt vuto all Temporall comforts in all things; seekeing the good of each other out of all which may be deriued true Peace.
From the historians of Dedham, Massachusetts, a good idea can be obtained of the early days in New England and of some ofthe conditions under which Edward Colver lived. When he went to Dedham, he found the earliest settlers, who held the grant of the lands, denying admission to newcomers until it could be ascertained what provision could be made for them; and he, along with others, had to wait for a new survey oflands.
After a time, on 28 November 1637, according to the records in the Dedham Towne Book, it was "ordered that Edward Colver (written also Ed. Coluer) wheelwright shall haue twoe Acres layd out for ye present implyment in his trade & after to haue an addicion els wher as hal be found needful. In the meane tyme to haue free liberty of taking Time for his trade very mans ppriety Reserved."
The next grant ofland was made to him 19 July 1639, and a third on 6 Feb. 1642. A fourth grant of woodland was made in 1644 and a fifth in 1645. He is listed in the minutes ofthe town meeting at Dedham in 1643 and 1644 and was listed in many affairs in the town he helped found.
Edward took part early in the Indian wars, fighting against the Pequot Indians in 1637 (the first conflict with the Indians of New England), and from that time on was noted as an Indian scout, being on good terms of friendship with some of the tribes who accompanied him on his scouting expeditions. In the first Pequot War in 1637, he was sent by Colonel John Mason, who commanded the little band of ninety whites, to enlist the help ofthe Mohigans, with the result that Uncas brought one hundred and fifty of his warriors to take part in the battle. At daybreak on 4 June 1637, they surprised the Pequots in their stronghold and utterly exterminated them, with the exception of a few who escaped and fled to the Six Nations in New York Province. King Uncas held Edward Colver in great esteem and named his son after Colver's second son, Joshua. For this service Edward Colver received two grants ofland, one of two hundred acres in 1652/3 and another in 1654 offour hundred acres. These grants were situated about 4 miles north of the scene of the battle. The two hundred acre lot was pear the head of the Mystic River and the other about two miles further to the northwest (Land Records of Groton, Connecticut).
On 19 September 1638, Edward Colver married at Dedham, Massachusetts, Ann Ellis, daughter of John Ellis. Their marriage is the second entered in the records of the First Church of Dedham (The Town of Dedham by Don Gleason -1881), which at that time probably consisted of a little congregation meeting in one of the houses of the settlers. The Rev. John Allyn was the pastor, having been ordained shortly before he performed the marriage between Edward Colver and Ann Ellis. Ann Ellis Colver was admitted to membership in the First Church at Dedham 17 Sept. 1641, and her first child, John, was baptized two days later.
Edward Colver assisted the Winthrops in building a fort at Saybrook, Connecticut, at the mouth of the Connecticut River. He owned land in Dedham, but in 1645 moved to Roxbury, Massachusetts (now part of Boston). In 1650 and 1651 he built a gristmill for Governor Winthrop. About 1653 the family moved again to Pequot (now New London, CT) and purchased a lot from Robert Burrows. Edward was granted land 20 Nov. 1653 as "Goodman Colver."
In 1654 on his land near Mystic, Edward built a house with accommodations for travelers and a water-powered gristmill. Later his son Joshua built a house north of Edward's. John Winthrop, Esp., was granted twenty rods ofland on both sides of the Mystic River to bring down ''tymber'' from Lantern Hill and in 1674 Winthrop's two sons had a mill built at the head of Mystic River. John Lamb was to run the mill. The Winthrops decided they needed the land on which Joshua Colver's house stood for a mill house. In 1681 Governor Winthrop's son, Major John Winthrop, sued and lost the case, but sued again and again until he won. Many of the people around testified ... some for the Winthrops ... some for the Colvers. The Winthrops later admitted that the mill was in the wrong place.
The mill has long since gone back to dust. In the 1920' s Ray Culver, a descendant of Edward, found Indian arrowheads and a stone pipe on this land that had once belonged to John Winthrop, Esq. In 1675 when King Philip made war against the New England colonies, Edward Colver, then an old man of sixty-five, went out with his four sons, Edward Jr., Ephraim, Joseph and Samuel, to fight against the noted Indian chief. They took part in the "Swamp fight" which occurred near Tiverton, Rhode Island, 19 Dec. 1675, when the tribes again met with defeat and heavy loss. Edward Colver was the only soldier engaged in the "Swamp fight" who had participated in the previous Pequot War, and as the tactics of the battle were the same as on that occasion, it is thought that the old soldier may have aided Captain Dennison, who commanded the Connecticut men at the "Swamp," to plan that attack. The colonial records of Connecticut mention the services of Edward Colver as scout as follows: "The Councill ordered John Stedman and Edward Colver with some of the Indians to goe forth upon the scout betwixt this and Springfield to make what discovery they could upon the enemie to the eastward ofthe river" (Public Records of Connecticut, 16651677, Vol. 2, p. 408). Again under date of 16 March 1675: "An answer to a letter from Mr. Fitch was returned with an advice to him to encourage the volunteers and to improve Uncas and Ninecraft to draw off as many of the enemie as may be, they delivering up their arms and ammunition, & c., as also on advice to send home the garrison soldiers at Norwich; that Edward Colver with about 20 Mogeags and Pequots come up to Hartford forthwith, & c., as pr the letter on file will more at large appear" (Public Records of Connecticut, 1665-1677, Vol. 2, page 417).
Frederic Lathrop Colver cited the above information about Edward Colver in his book Colver-Culver Genealogy. Francis Barnum Colver also says Edward fought in King Philip's War, in particular in the "Swamp fight" in 1675; but Donald L. Jacobus in his article in the American Genealogist, Volume 31, No.3, pages 130-1, thinks the soldier here was more likely Edward, Jr., since Edward, Sr., would have been upward of sixty and it would seem more likely that the scout was his son Edward, who later as lieutenant was engaged in scouting (Colonial Records of Connecticut 2:408).
Edward Colver and wife Ann sold land in New London, 10 February 1661/2, both signing by mark. In 1664 Edward Colver deeded the homestead at Pequot (New London) to his son John. Edward moved to the farm of four hundred acres called
"Chepadas" (Intersection of Trails) by the Indians, where he continued to live until after the close of King Philip's War.
On 5 May 1662, Edward Colver was allowed to brew beer and make bread and was allowed on 9 January 1664/65 to sell liquors.Edward and Ann Colver sold property to "our eldest son," John Colver, 25 November 1667; the witnesses were John Fish,Joshua Culver, and Joseph Culver.
In 1678 Edward and his wife Ann deeded the "Chepadas" farm to their sons Joseph and Ephraim and moved to a house in the village of Mystic (now Old Mystic) built by their son Joshua in 1668. The last years of Edward Colver were spent in this house on the Groton side of the Mystic River. Chepadas remained in the hands ofa line of three Joseph Culvers until the death of Joseph Culver ill, after which the land was divided amongst his heirs. The original house is still there and may be the oldest center chimney house in Connecticut. Edward Colver, "Sr", of New London, wheelwright, "in consideration of my own age and weakness of memory and understanding," gave land to his wife, Ann, 28 July 1682, signing by a mark (New London Deeds, 3:10, 29, 63).
Edward Colver died in 1685 in the village of Mystic, Town of Groton, New London, in the colony of Connecticut. The inventory of Edward Colver's estate was exhibited and administration was granted to John Culver 2 June 1685 (New London County Court Records 5:108).
Edward and Ann Colver are both buried in the cemetery adjoining the site on which, in 1717, the First Baptist Church was built in Groton, Connecticut. A small headstone bearing upon one face the roughly cut initials, "E.C." and another small headstone bearing upon one face the roughly cut initials "A.C." indicate their graves. There is also a large monument that was put in place by two descendents, Charles Colver and James Culver in 1982. The monument reads: "Edward Colver Puritan1600 -1685 Patriarch of the Colver/Culver Family in America Ann Ellis Colver Wife Died circa 1685." Historians in the Groton area agree that the Wightman Burying Ground lies within the land that was originally granted to Edward Colver by the King for his services to the Crown in the Indian Wars. This probably started as a family plot, but then became a regular burying ground when the Baptist Church was built on the site in 1717. There are many other members of the Colver/Culver family buried in this cemetery.
The cemetery can be reached in Groton, Connecticut, by taking Hwy. #184 (Gold Star Highway) toward Mystic. From its intersection with Highway #117 in Groton, continue 1.8 miles to Cold Spring Road. Tum right on Cold Spring and go 0.2 miles to the cemetery on your right. The plaque on the cemetery gates reads "The First Baptist Church of Groton. Their first house of worship was erected in front of this burying ground in 1718. This was the first Baptist church in Connecticut and was organized in 1705."