BENJAMIN DUERS was born probably in Dartmouth, Bristol County, Massachusetts about 1778 the son of David Dewers and Deborah Sherman. By 1816 he was in deep financial trouble and petitioned the Court of Common Pleas in Washington County as an insolvent debtor. His total debt amounted to just over $300, a sizable amount for the time. When the 1820 U.S. census was taken, Benjamin was no longer listed among the heads of households in Washington County. He is likely the Benjamin Dures listed in Junius Twp., Seneca County, New York in this 1820 census. Benjamin died on 12 August 1840 in Alabama, Genesee County, New York and is buried there in the Alabama Center Cemetery. His epitaph reads: What though his uncontrolled dust command our flesh to dust; Yet as the Lord our Savior rose, so all his followers must.
Benjamin was married at least twice, 1st before 1810 to an UNKNOWN WOMAN while he was living in Cambridge, Washington County, New York, and 2nd about 1830 in western New York State (perhaps in Seneca or Genesee counties) to SUSAN MCGOWAN born in Ireland in about 1797. Susan remarried after Benjamin’s death to Theodore Hitchcock. She died on 23 March 1871 and is buried in the Alabama Center Cemetery.
In his will, Benjamin mentions his wife Susan, sons Harrison, David (David is probably dead at the time of the will, since the will leaves nothing to him, but something to David’s unnamed daughter), and William. The will also mentions daughters Sarah, Maria W., Mary, Hopewell, Nancy, and Elsy (Elsie).
Benjamin and his unknown first wife had the following children all born in New York (according to his daughter Elsie’s obituary, Benjamin had nine children; if this is correct, then we have identified them all):
i. Sarah Duers, b. prob. abt. 1799 in Cambridge, Washington Co., N.Y.
ii. Maria W. Duers, b. abt. 1807 in Cambridge, Washington Co., N.Y.
iii. David Duers, b. prob. bef. 1810 in Cambridge, Washington Co., N.Y.
iv. Mary Duers, b. abt. 1811 in Cambridge, Washington Co., N.Y.
v. Hopewell Duers, b. abt. 1812 in Cambridge, Washington Co., N.Y.
vi. William Harrison Duers, b. abt. 1815 in Cambridge, Washington Co., N.Y.
vii. Nancy Duers, b. abt. 1819 in Cambridge, Washington Co., N.Y.
Benjamin Duers and his second wife Susan McGowan had the following children:
viii. Elsie Duers, b. November 1832 or July 1831 prob. in Alabama, Genesee Co., N.Y.
ix. William Duers, b. abt. 1834 prob. in Alabama, Genesee Co., N.Y.
Sources & Notes:
1. Washington Co. Court Records, Insolvency for Benjamin Duers, 12 Mar 1816, Book BX1, Folder 214, Roll 636, Blip B-0633, Inventory # 13048.
2. The earliest we can for certain place Benjamin Duers in Genesee Co. is 1834 when he bought 50 acres in the Town of Alabama from Joshua Waddington and Thomas Ludlow Ogden (Genesee Co. Deeds, 35:505).
3. 1820 US census of Junius Twp., Seneca Co., N.Y., p. 409. Listed on this same page with Benjamin is a Philip McGowan (possibly a relative or parent of his 2nd wife Susan McGowan) and a Henry Shearman (possibly a cousin through his mother’s family. His grandfather’s name was Henry Shearman.
4. Will of Benjamin Duers, dated 6 April 1840 and proved 5 April 1841, Genesee Co., N.Y. Wills 4:32; Cemetery records, Genesee County, New York, Alabama Center Cemetery, FHL microfilm 1381729, item 4.
5. Friendship Chronicle, Friendship, Allegany Co., N.Y., 14 April 1880, v. 1, no. 10..This obituary of her daughter Hopewell Duers suggests that this unknown wife died soon after Hopewell was born. If this is true, then Benjamin may have had a third wife, who would be the mother of William Harrison and Nancy.
6. 1810 U.S. Census, Cambridge, Washington Co., N.Y., p. 491. Benjamin’s household in1810 was next to his brother David’s. The household consisted of Benjamin (age 26-45y, he should have been about 32y) with a woman who was over 45 years of age (unknown, probably his first wife who was likely misclassified; she should be in the 26-45y range), 3 females under 10 years (Maria, age 3 years, perhaps Sarah since her birth age is unknown, and possibly Mary if her age in later censuses is off by a year she could have been listed in this census, and 1 male under 10 years (probably his son David). At the 1820 US census of Junius Twp. (see note above), Benjamin’s household consists of 1 male over 45 years of age (Benjamin should have been about 42y), one male age 10-16 years (son David), one male under 10 years (son Harrison age 5y), one female age 26-45 years (likely still his first wife), one female age 10-16 (Maria age 13y), one female under 10 years age (this is the problem category since Benjamin should have 3 daughters under 10 (Mary age 9y, Hopewell age 8y, and Nancy age 1y). A possible solution to this is that Maria may have been working as a servant in another household, Mary may have been classified in the 10-16 year group (as it seems likely she was in 1810), Hopewell could have been the one enumerated, and Nancy’s birth may not have occurred by the date of enumeration.
7. The marriage date is estimated based upon the large gap in ages of his known children, with Nancy born about 1819 and Elsie born in about 1832. It is unlikely that Benjamin and Susan would have been married before about 1830 if Elsie is their first child. Also, Benjamin appears to be living in Junius Twp., Seneca Co., N.Y. by the 1820 US census.
8. 1850 and 1870 U.S. censuses of Alabama, Genesee Co., N. Y. pp. 326 and 362, respectively.
9. Susan’s last name is given as McGown on the death certificate of her daughter Elsie (copy provided to the author by Rev. John Crossen, 3rd-great-grandson of Susan McGown).
10. Susan and Theodore Hitchcock are mentioned in the newspaper notices related to the settlement of Benjamin’s will (Republican Advocate, Batavia, Genesee Co., New York, Tuesday 21 January 1851).
11. Cemetery records, Genesee County, New York, Alabama Center Cemetery, FHL microfilm 1381729, item 4.
12. Will of Benjamin Duers, Genesee Co., N.Y. Wills, book 4, p. 32.
13. Batavia Daily News, Saturday, 16 July 1910, p. 8.
14. Republican Advocate, Batavia, Genesee Co., New York, Tuesday 21 January 1851.