Smith, Thomas, 1754 - 1844
Thomas Smith was born in Stonington, Connecticut on May 16, 1754. As a young man he fought in the Revolutionary War, enlisting in April or May of 1775, as a private in Major Samuel Prentice’s Company under Colonel Parsons in the Connecticut Line. He went on to re-enlist two more times serving in Captain James Gordon’s Company and then Captain John Swan’s Company under Colonel Oliver Smith, no relation. Thomas Smith saw combat in the Battle of White Plains, part of the New York and New Jersey Campaign.
Following his military service Smith married Thankful Bennet in Stonington on November 2, 1777. The couple had at least three children, Prentice Park, Nancy, and Thomas, but likely several more. By 1800 the family had moved to the northern portion of neighboring Groton, what would later become the Town of Ledyard. Federal census records suggest a multigenerational household comprised at varying times of between 6 to 12 individuals. Over the next 40 years the Smith family would establish their homestead and farm near to the Mashantucket Pequot reservation. As early as 1816, Thomas Smith would appear in the records of the State appointed overseer to the tribe as a leasee of tribal lands. The Benjamin Charles pasture was consistently rented out to Thomas Smith until 1827. Smith offset the cost of rent with betterments to the property,often in the form of building stonewalls, likely as parcel boundaries or as animal enclosures or exclosures. While more research is needed to determine exactly where on the reservation Benjamin Charles’ pasture was, it seems it may have been very near or adjacent to the home of tribal member Theodosia Deshon because in April of 1824, she infringed on Smith’s rental agreement by improving a portion of the pasture for herself. Overseer records from 1830 to 1832 show that Thomas’ son, Prentice P. Smith, took over the lease of the parcel. By then Thomas would have been in his mid to late seventies and most likely pulling back from day-to-day work on the land. In fact, in August of that year, he applied for and received his veteran’s pension. The lease of the Benjamin Charles pasture stayed with the Smith family as late as 1838 and probably up until the family moved to Franklin, Connecticut in the spring of 1844.
Thomas Smith would die on December 1, 1844 in Franklin.
Ancestry.com. Connecticut, Deaths and Burials Index, 1650-1934 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011; Widow’s Pension request for Thankful Smith, April 1845, https://www.fold3.com/image/14035943, Fold3.com
Sources for this biography also come from the Related Digital Heritage Items listed below.
Born:May 16, 1754
Died:December 1, 1844