Monday, February 2, 2015

A Rider from Revolution to Rest

Deacon Benjamin Rider and Sally Pratt Rider, about 1852.
My great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, Benjamin Rider (1761-1854), was born in Provincetown, Massachusetts, on December 1, 1761, the second of at least six children. His father, also named Benjamin Rider (1725-1811), was at sea much of the time, so to ease the burden on his mother, Achsah Crosbe Rider (abt 1737-1780), young Benjamin was placed with another family to bring up.

Benjamin grew to dislike the way his foster family treated him. So when he was about fourteen, he ran away. He joined the Massachusetts Colonial Navy, which had recently been founded by the Massachusetts legislature on December 29, 1775, in response to the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War. The legislature authorized the construction of ten ships. One of these, the sloop Freedom set sail in September 1776. The Freedom was later converted to a brigantine under the command of Captain John Clouston. Benjamin Rider served on board as a Boy, then as a Seaman, from August 29, 1777.

After Benjamin had been on the ship for sixteen days, the British Navy captured the Freedom in mid-September 1777. Benjamin was among the crew taken to the prison ships in Wallabout Bay, Long Island. He seems not to have been released from captivity until 1780 or 1781.

On June 13, 1781, at nineteen years old, Benjamin enlisted as a private in the Continental Army and served with the 1st Massachusetts regiment under Colonel Joseph Vose. Benjamin served for over two years before the Revolution ended. 

Family tradition records a charming story. Near the end of the war the army roll call was being read. An older captain of the 4th Plymouth Company approached Benjamin. The captain introduced himself as Benjamin’s father. He had heard Benjamin’s name during roll call and sought him out. It was the first reunion of father and son in many years.

With the war over, Benjamin’s regiment was disbanded at West Point, New York, on November 3, 1783. He was twenty-six years old when he married twenty-three year old Sarah “Sally” Pratt (1764-1860) on April 10, 1788, in Massachusetts. Sally was the daughter of Rufus Pratt (1738-1777), who had fought in the Revolutionary War and died from wounds sustained at the Battle of Bennington.

Benjamin's daughter Hannah Rider Gorman, circa 1870s.
Benjamin and Sally settled in Greenwich, Hampshire County, Massachusetts, where their eldest child, Crosby Rider (1789-1845), was born on March 19, 1789. Eight more children followed—Benjamin (1791-1878), my great-great-great-great-grandmother Polly Rider Marshall (1793-1870), Rufus (1795-1870), Nancy (1797-1817), Isaiah (1799-1886), Samuel (1801-unk), Hannah Rider Gorman (1804-1879), and Lucy (1809-1892).

In 1816 Benjamin and his eldest son Crosby became pioneers. They set out westward and ended up in Chardon, a town in Geauga County in northeastern Ohio. Benjamin bought an 800-acre tract of land for $4 per acre. There he and Crosby cleared timber, built a log house, and planted wheat. Benjamin returned to Massachusetts to get the rest of the family. In June 1817 they all arrived in Chardon to take up permanent residence.

Gravestone of Deacon Benjamin Rider.
As a devout leader in the church, Benjamin became known as “Deacon” Rider. In his later years, he and his wife Sally moved to nearby Painesville, Lake County, Ohio, and into the home of their son Reverend Isaiah Rider, the founding minister of the Baptist church in Chardon.

Benjamin died at his son Isaiah’s home on March 20, 1854, at the age of ninety-one. He was buried in Chardon’s Rider Cemetery on land that was part of his original tract. His gravestone can still be seen in that small cemetery on North Street, not far from Chardon’s town square. His wife, Sally, who died in 1860, lies beside him where they are surrounded by the graves of many of their children and grandchildren.


  1. Were they by any chance the founders of Riders Inn and Tavern? Still called that today, and still an inn and tavern.

    1. No the founder was Joseph Rider. I’m trying to figure out if there is a relation. If anyone of Benjamin’s side is on 23 and me, we could determine if we r related.

    2. I am related to both of the Riders. However Benjamin comes through my Kelsey and Brainard side. I’m also related to Joseph but have not found a connection to Joseph and Benjamin being related. Benjamin is a 4th cousin 6x removed. Joseph is my 4th Great grandfather and he built the Inn which was the family home.

  2. Benjamin was a deacon in the church and identfied as deacon so strongly that it's on his tombstone. You can make out the "DEA." in the photo above. So I doubt he founded Rider's Inn and Tavern. There were other Riders in both Geauga County and Lake County in the 19th century, some apparently related, some not. Someone other than Benjamin founded the inn and tavern, I'm sure.

  3. Thanks for sharing your family research. Do you happen to know if Polly's brother Benjamin (1791-1878) had children? I have been trying to connect Benjamin Franklin Rider (1830-1885) in my husbands line with his father. I know that his father's name was Benjamin Rider and he was born in Massachusetts. If you think it might be a possibility I would be interested to see if you are a DNA match for my husband's family on Ancestry.

    1. Yes, Benjamin Rider (1791-1878) had 10 children with two wives. One was named Benjamin D. Rider (1825-1858), also buried in the Rider Cemetery in Chardon, Ohio, but he doesn't seem to match the Benjamin you're interested in. You can see all the Riders on my family tree if you click the Maxine Family link at the upper right of the blog and search the name Rider.

  4. I grew up a few houses down from the Rider cemetery. While researching the history of my parents' house, and thus the history of the land that it's on, I learned that the lot had been part of Benjamin Rider's property, so I took some interest in the Rider family history. The Anderson Allyn Room (genealogy and local history research room) at the Chardon Library has a fairly rich collection of documents related to the Rider family including a few (like 3 or 4?) photos, info on every burial at the Rider cemetery, copies of many letters and e-mails between people researching the Rider family, lineage charts, a very interesting family history written by a great-great grandson of Deacon Benjamin Rider, and newspaper articles about how the cemetery had become forgotten and overgrown with weeds and brush and covered with trash until a local resident led an effort to clean up and restore the cemetery (and she had created her own scrapbook about the Rider family, which sadly is not part of the library's collection, and who knows where it is now).

    Regarding the Rider Tavern, the documents in the Anderson Allyn room mention that when the Rider family moved from Chardon to Painesville, their family home was across from what is now Lake Erie College, and down the street from the Rider Tavern, though they are of no known relation.

    In my research of the Rider property, I learned that a fairly large portion of it was conveyed from Benjamin Rider to his son-in-law, Lewis Gorman, in 1849. I'm very impressed that you have photos of Gorman's wife, Hannah, and his mother- and father-in-law, from so long ago. Do you, by chance, have any photos of Lewis Gorman himself? I'm collecting info on the land-owners that once owned that property, and any photos, especially from that long ago, would be wonderful to include.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Christopher.

      I've sent you separately the only photo I know of Lewis Gorman. It's from the book Geauga County, Ohio by James J. Anderson and Jeannette Grosvenor. I have the 2006 edition, which I bought at the General Store at the Pioneer Village in Burton, Ohio.

      Jeannette Grosvenor is well-known in the genealogy room of the Chardon Public Library. Perhaps in your Rider research you've already run across her.

      The photo of Hannah Rider Gorman is from the same book. The photo of Benjamin Rider and Sally Pratt Rider I found online and there is a chance it's not really them since I have no documentation proving their identities in the photo.

  5. I'm so confused by this family history. They repeated so many names in each generation. However, specifically regarding this research gave me entirely different accounts of his "military" career. I can't recall now where it came from but I'm wondering if I've misapplied it or if yours is just more fleshed out. This Benjamin is my 5th Great Grandfather and I am a descendent of his son Benjamin and Chloe Robinson.