Even though we are blessed beyond description, it is difficult to escape reflection in the Christmas season—nostalgia or melancholy. I think about what it must have been like for the Samuel Dayton family in December of 1664.
Sam’s wife Medlin had died, leaving Sam to care for their six young sons. The eldest son Ralph was not more than fifteen years old but was probably already working with his father. Since Sam’s irregular work schedule kept them away from home frequently, how would Sam care for his family in their new settlement? The family had recently lost their home (a cellar in Matinecock) when the Dutch retook Long Island from the English and did not recognize English ownership in that area. In his desperation, I believe Sam was contemplating what would be best for the boys.
On Saturday December 24, Samuel appears in the record one hundred miles east from Matinecock, in East Hampton, where his brother Robert and sister Alice lived. They were Sam’s only remaining siblings in America. Their houses faced each other, on opposite sides of the Town Green. We are not told if the boys were present when Sam drew up two articles of indenture for his youngest sons Jacob (about age 6 or 7) and Caleb (about age 5).
Sam “disposed” his son Jacob as an indentured servant to his sister Alice and her husband, Thomas Baker. Thomas and Alice were to retain Jacob for fourteen years unless they died, which would then make Jacob a free person. Perhaps Sam hoped and tried to persuade his brother-in-law Thomas to take both boys or he asked Robert to take Caleb in order to keep them “together,” but it was not to be.
Sam then indentured his youngest son Caleb, on the same date, to Joshua and Elizabeth Garlick for sixteen years. The Daytons and Garlicks had been acquainted for some time, the Garlicks having lived at East Hampton, Southampton and now Setauket.
It is an understatement to say that the next few years would be very challenging but, considering the hardships to come, Sam persevered.
See Hugh King’s Newsday reference to the event: “His longtime job as East Hampton town crier’ by Mitchell Freedman, Dec 2012