Elizabeth Baldwin (1771-1810)



Elizabeth Baldwin was born on 11 Apr 1771 in Stonington, New London, Connecticut as the first child of Joseph Baldwin and Sabra Billings. She had six siblings, namely: Sally, Sabra, Bridget, Joseph, Andrew B., and Henry.

Elizabeth was a small child when the Revolutionary War started. Life had to have been tough. Stonington was the first coastal town in the Colonies to suffer an attack from the British. A tender came into Stonington harbor and fired on the town. It returned with a Man Of War and two other boats who immediately began to fire directly into the houses. The men of Stonington defended the town against the British, but when it was all over, it was reported that forty Stonington houses were knocked down.

Elizabeth’s father went to fight. He was a Sergeant in 1776 having enlisted in Jun 1776. He was discharged and returned home in early 1777. The war continued, and in 1779 he was drafted to serve two more months as a Private. The war officially ended on 03 Sep 1783.

When she was 18, Elizabeth married Thomas Holmes, son of Temperance and Thomas Holmes, on 19 Nov 1789 in Stonington, New London, Connecticut.

Thomas Holmes and Elizabeth Baldwin had the following children:

  1. Thomas Holmes was born on 17 Jan 1791 in Stonington, New London, Connecticut. Details of his life are not known, but he was alive when his father’s estate was being settled in 1835.
  2. David Holmes was born on 02 Dec 1792 in Stonington, New London, Connecticut. He married Hannah Hakes on 30 Apr 1826 at North Stonington. David served in the War of 1812. He died 14 Sep 1857, in Connecticut.
  3. Andrew Billings Holmes was born on 09 Mar 1795 in Stonington, New London, Connecticut. He married Emma. They had four daughters. On 15 Dec 1842, he lost his wife and the three younger children, ages 9, 6, and 3, in a house fire. Andrew, his oldest daughter, Julia Emma, and her husband, Ira Root, survived the fire. According to the Hartford Courant, “It seems that Mr. Holmes, his wife and three children lodged in one chamber, and three young men in the other, and a Mr. Ira Root and his wife below — that a short time before the alarm Mrs. Holmes went below for drink for her children, and soon after her return Mr. H. inquired of her whether the young men had got up to feed their teams : (as they were accustomed to start after or before light) — she replied they had not, it was not time yet. Mr. Holmes said it appeared to him that he heard the noise of fire below, and immediately jumped out of bed and went down the stairs which led into the kitchen, opened the chamber door at the bottom of the stairs, and then opened a door leading into a log house adjoining the main house, when the flames burst in upon him with such violence that he was compelled to leave the house through the kitchen door. The young men, upon hearing Mr. Holmes cry fire, started to go down the stairs, but were met by flames as soon as they reached the door of Mrs. Holmes’ chamber, which they had to pass through to go below, and which was all on fire — they then turned back and leaped out of the window. The window to Mrs. Holmes’ chamber was raised immediately from the outside, but there was no possible chance of saving her life, or the life of the children, as the flames burst out of the window the moment it was opened. Mr. Holmes, it is said, is considerably burnt.
  4. Daniel Holmes was born on 20 Jun 1797 in Stonington, New London, Connecticut. He married Hannah Chapman. He died 03 Mar 1884 at Chenango, New York.
  5. Betsey Holmes was born on 01 Mar 1800 in Stonington, New London, Connecticut. She married Gershom Breed about 1818 in Connecticut. She married Jacob W. Phillips about 1835 in Chenango, New York. She married Joseph Oscroft on 23 May 1850 in Kane, Illinois. She died on 05 Mar 1860 in Sugar Grove, Kane, Illinois.
  6. Sabra Holmes was born on 04 Nov 1802 in Stonington, New London, Connecticut. She married William Breed in Connecticut. They lived there about five years and then moved to Chenango, New York where they stayed for sixteen years. After that they moved to Broome, New York. She died there in 1863.
  7. Nelson Baldwin Holmes was born on 14 Feb 1805 in Stonington, New London, Connecticut. He married Mary and after her death remarried to Lois. Nelson died in New York in 1857.
  8. Albert Smith Holmes was born on 07 Sep 1807 in Stonington, New London, Connecticut. He married Eunice Barnes on 07 Jan 1833 in Groton, New London, Connecticut. Albert died on 14 Jun 1849 at Norwich, New London, Connecticut.

Elizabeth Baldwin lived her whole life in Stonington, New London, Connecticut.

Early in her married life, America got its first cookbook. American Cookery by Amelia Simmons was published in Hartford, Connecticut in 1796. The complete title was American Cookery, or the art of dressing viands, fish, poultry, and vegetables, and the best modes of making pastes, puffs, pies, tarts, puddings, custards, and preserves, and all kinds of cakes, from the imperial plum to plain cake: Adapted to this country, and all grades of life. It was the first known cookbook written by an American and the first to use terms known to Americans and ingredients available to American cooks.

It was the first cookbook to include unique New England food such as Indian Pudding, Johnny Cake, and Pompkin (pumpkin) pie. It was the first cookbook to include recipes using cornmeal. It also introduced the use of pearlash, a predecessor to baking soda, as a leavening agent, staring a “Revolution” in the making of American cakes.

Pound Cake, recipe from American Cookery.

We don’t know that Elizabeth had a copy of this cookbook, but she surely cooked things found in the book. Cooking was difficult compared to how we cook today. She cooked over wood fires. Venison was roasted on the fire. Potatoes were cooked in the ashes. Mush and homily were cooked in kettles hung over the logs.

Clocks were luxury items, so we don’t know if Elizabeth had one. In 1780, a clock could cost $100. She may have had an hour glass to use to help time her cooking. But to measure minutes she probably hummed or sang hymns, knowing how many verses or lines it would take, for example, to boil an egg.

Meat receipts (recipes) from the American Cookery cookbook.
Meat, recipes from American Cookery.

Elizabeth Baldwin Holmes died on 04 Mar 1810 in Stonington, New London, Connecticut. She was only 38-years old at the time of her death. Her children ranged in age from 19-years old down to two.

Thirty-eight seems a very early age to die, but when the first life expectancy table was published in 1793, a woman expect to live to 35 1/2 years-old. By 1857, a woman still could not expect to live even to 40.

She was buried in York Cemetery, North Stonington, New London County, Connecticut.

Where is she in the tree?

Relationship chart, Floyd Boyce Phillips to Elizabeth Baldwin.
Pedigree chart, Elizabeth Baldwin.

Selected Sources:

Amelia Simmons, American Cookery ( https://www.google.com/books/edition/American_Cookery/_6CggcPs3iQC?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=american+cookery&printsec=frontcover : accessed 31 Mar 2020)

Ancestry.com, Connecticut Town Birth Records, pre-1870 (Barbour Collection) (Name: Name: Ancestry.com Operations Inc; Location: Provo, UT, USA; Date: 2006.

Ancestry.com, Washington County, Iowa Biographical Dictionary (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004), Ancestry.com, biography of William H. Breed.

Decennial Life Tables for the White Population of the United States, 1790-1900, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health ( https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2885717/ : accessed 31 Mar 2020)

“Extract of a letter from New-London, to a merchant in this city, dated August 31,” The Virginia Gazette (Williamsburg, Virginia) 16 Sep 1775, page 2 ( https://www.newspapers.com/image/40483012 : accessed 31 Mar 2020)

“Fire and Loss of Lives,” Hartford Courant (Hartford, Connecticut), 23 Dec 1842, page 2 ( https://www.newspapers.com/image/369438804/ : accessed 31 Mar 2020)

Norman F. Boas, “Stonington in Rebellion, 1775,” The Stonington Historical Society ( http://mail.stoningtonhistory.org/index.php?id=55 : accessed 31 Mar 2020)

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