Introduction: In this article, Melissa Davenport Berry writes about Susannah Crossley, whose father fought in the American Revolution, and her connections to the Edward Rawson family line. Melissa is a genealogist who has a blog, AnceStory Archives, and a Facebook group, New England Family Genealogy and History.
Today I continue exploring the family line of Edward Rawson (1615-1693), New England pioneer settler and first Secretary of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. I found one of his descendants in Kingston, Rhode Island, an original “Real Daughter” of a soldier in the American Revolution.
In September 1902 the Evening Bulletin covered the 100th birthday celebration of Susannah Belcher Crossley, a 3rd generation lineal descendant of Edward Rawson and a proud member of the Narragansett Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).
Susannah was born to John Belcher and Susannah Hazeltine in Wrentham, Massachusetts, on 29 September 1802, and married first Aaron Guild and second John Crossley.
After her husband John’s death, Mrs. Crossley moved into the home of her grandniece, Celinda Evelyn (nee Alexander) Flagg, wife of Charles Otis Flagg. Celinda was also a member of the Narragansett Chapter (DAR). The 100th birthday bash was hosted in Celinda’s Kingston home.
Mrs. Crossley was admitted into the DAR under her father’s service, John Belcher, who was a:
“Minute Man, being one of those who responded to the sudden call at the commencement of hostilities, when the British marched upon Lexington and Concord, April 19, 1775. He marched a second time upon the alarm of Dec. 8, 1776, and other authority records that he was engaged in a secret expedition from Sept. 25, 1777, through the following month.”
Another Revolutionary War soldier in her line was her grandfather, Abner Hazeltine, who served in Rhode Island in 1778.
Although Mrs. Crossley did not have any descendants, her siblings did. Two of her brothers, Manning and Dr. Caleb, are mentioned in this newspaper article; both graduated from Brown University.
Mrs. Crossley’s grandmother Elizabeth was the daughter of Rev. Grindal Rawson, a celebrated figure in his day who preached his sermons in both English and Algonquian. He translated John Cotton’s “Spiritual Milk for Babes” into the Indian language under the title “Milk for Babes,” published “Confession of Faith” in both the English and Indian tongues, and coauthored with Rev. John Eliot a translation of Thomas Shepard’s “The Sincere Convert,” also into Algonquian. In 1698 Grindal, along with Rev. Samuel Danforth, visited Rev. Daniel Takawambpait, the first Ordained Indian minister in the colonies.
In 1875 the Daily Kennebec Journal announced a revised edition of the “Rawson Memorials,” a genealogy published by E. B. Crane, secretary of the Rawson family association.
This article provides background on the first Edward Rawson and the origin of the name “Grindal” given to his son:
“One of the most noted and honorable of the early New England families, was that of Edward Rawson, who filled the office of Secretary of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay from 1657  to 1686. He was born in Gillingham, Dorsetshire, England, in 1615, and married Rachel Perne, a grandniece of Edward Grindal, Archbishop of Canterbury in the reign of Elizabeth. They had twelve children, from two of whom, William and Grindal – who settled in New England – have come numerous descendants, who are now scattered throughout the country.”
Grindal’s daughter Susannah married Abner Hazeltine, and their daughter Susannah Hazeltine married John Belcher. But there is more than one Rawson line here! (Mrs. Crossley’s half-brother.)
John Belcher had a first marriage to Hannah Rawson, daughter of Edward and Deborah (Green) Rawson. She descends from Edward’s son William Rawson who married Ann Glover.
John and Hannah had a son, Harvey Belcher, who married Nancy Howe. I found two children: Hannah Metcalf Belcher, who married Aaron Watson; and Henry Alden Belcher, who married Mary Wilder, also a proud member of the DAR.
As the Evening Bulletin article about Susannah Crossley’s birthday celebration concluded:
“Upon this anniversary many of those who delight to call her ‘Grandmother’ gathered to rejoice with her over her long life, filled with good deeds and lighted by a sunny spirit… Late in the afternoon the last guest departed, and the only regret of the day was expressed in Mrs. Crossley’s words that she had not ‘seen much of them.’”
Following her big 100th birthday celebration, Mrs. Crossley died the following year, in 1903. She was loved and cherished by all who knew her.
Stay tuned for the Edward Rawson and Eliza Coffin line.
Note: Just as an online collection of newspapers, such as GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives, helped tell the stories of Susannah Crossley and the Rawson family line, they can tell you stories about your ancestors that can’t be found anywhere else. Come look today and see what you can discover!