I find it very difficult to escape the desire to discover what happened to Abraham Dayton in the late 1690s that seemed to change everything. Two particularly large and bothersome questions in his story are the apparent separation of family and the rapid plunge from prosperity to poverty, to the point of seeking charity in 1710, and his family accepting charity in 1712–all followed by an extended absence from record.
When considering the possibilities, one scenario fits neatly into the time period and with circumstantial evidence, it accounts for what seems like otherwise inexplicable occurrences. It is the fate of those subscribing to the Rogerene sect (see December 13 post).
In The Rogerenes by John R. Bolles and Anna B. Williams, Boston, 1904, the authors claim that John Rogers had friends or converts on Long Island and they tell us that many in the congregation endured prolonged incarceration, confiscation of property, and considerable financial penalties for violation of laws espoused by the combined church and state. Some of these penalties and judgements occurred after followers were declared unstable or mad for following an alternative interpretation of the scriptures (or for disrupting a church service).
The sequence of events and circumstantial evidence to build this scenario is too long and complex to review adequately in these posts but they can be found, along with supporting documents, in our book.
While I am not fully invested in the idea that Abraham and family were Rogerenes, they could have been sympathizers with their friends, who were daughter Deborah’s relatives. Since it would be wonderful to solve this puzzle, I am offering these thoughts if someone would care to discuss or explore.