Rindge New Hampshire Teacher, Historian, Genealogist, Editor, Legislator, NH Secretary of State: Ezra Scollay Stearns, A.M. (1838-1915)

Anyone performing genealogy research extensively in New Hampshire and Massachusetts is bound to run into a reference, or a book edited or written by this prolific researcher of history and family genealogy.

Ezra Scollay Stearns was born in Rindge, New Hampshire 1 September 1838, the fifth child and second son of Samuel & Mary F. (Moore) Stearns.  He died unmarried at Fitchburg, MA 9 March 1915.  He came from fairly humble beginnings, attended the local schools, then was self taught.  Eventually he attended the prestigious Chester Institute in Chester, N.J., a preparatory collegiate school where many students continued on to medical and legal careers. Upon graduation he spent a short time there in a teaching capacity. He soon returned to New England, and became the editor and manager of the “Chronicle” newspaper at Fitchburg, MA.

His career in public service began at the age of 26 when he represented Rindge NH in the legislature.  From that time forward he served the town in the NH legislature many times, also being elected and appointed to Rindge township committees, and served for many years as moderator.  In 1891 he was appointed Secretary of State of New Hampshire, serving until 1899.  In the same year he was responsible for obtaining a gift of “papers, records, and maps of the Masonian Proprietors” from Mr. Robert Cutts Pierce, along with provincial papers that were found in the custody of Rockingham County, instead of being with the state archives. All of these were carefully compiled and published in State volumes.

Some of Ezra Stearn’s publications
. author, History of the Town of Rindge, New Hampshire, 1875
. author, History of Ashburnham, Massachusetts, 1887
. author, The Fitch Genealogy. A record of six generations of the descendants of Deacon Zachary Fitch of Reading MA, 1902
. editor of History of Littleton NH, 1905
. author, History of Plymouth, New Hampshire, 1906
. editor, Genealogical and family history of the state of New Hampshire: a record of the achievements of her people in the making of a commonwealth and the foundation of a nation, 1908
. author, Early generations of the founders of old Dunstable, 1911
. advisor to several other town histories and genealogies
. contributor to the “Register” (NEHGS), his last note in 1913

Dartmouth College recognized Mr. Stearns’ ability as a historian and genealogist by conferring on him in 1887 the honorary degree of Master of Arts.

“He read genealogy for pleasure, as most of us read the latest issue of a favorite magazine,” one of his biographers wrote about him. “The secret of his wonderful ability in this work lay in the fact that he knew where to look for information on almost any early New England family…”   In addition to his love of history, genealogy, and public service, he loved horses and roses

During his lifetime, his memberships included: American Antiquarian Society, New England Historic-Genealogical Society (Vice President 1898), New Hampshire Historical Society, corresponding member Minnesota State Historical Society, member of the Fitchburg Historical Society,   Officer of the Society of Colonial Wars (1897 Registrar), and Sons of the American Revolution (#7636 as great-grandson of Abraham Knowlton, private Mass. Militia).


Isaac Stearns, the immigrant ancestor, embarked at Yarmouth, England in the ship “Arabella,” 12 April 1630 and arrived on the Massachusetts coast in company with Governor Winthrop, Sir Richard Saltonstall and Edward Garfield, ancestor of President Garfield. He came from Nayland, England and was accompanied by his wife Mary (Barker, dau of John Barker) and two daughters Mary and Ann.  Mr. Stearns settled at Watertown MA and was among the first freemen established there in 1631. he was selectman several years and died 19 June 1671, being survived nearly six years by his widow, who passed away 2 Apr 1677.
Children of Isaac & Mary (Barker) Stearns:
1. Mary Stearns, b. England
2. Ann Stearns, b. England
3. John Stearns, possibly b. England abt 1630, d. 5 March 1668/69; m1 Sarah Mixer; m2) Mary Lathrop
4. Isaac stearns
5. Sarah Stearns
6. +Samuel Stearns, b 24 Apr 1638 Watertown MA [see below]
7. Elizabeth Stearns
8. Abigail Stearns

Corporal Samuel Stearns, sixth child and third son of Isaac and Mary (Borker) Stearns, was born 24 Apr 1638 Watertown MA, and died 3 August 1683. Resided Watertown MA. His homestead was later owned by his son John, then his grandson Josiah, and then his great-grandson Phineas Stearns, then to heirs of Mr. Abijah White his great-great-grandson.  His inventory 9 Oct 1683 was four hundred and eighty-one pounds, four shillings.  He married 1 Feb 1663 Hannah Manning, eldest daughter of William and Dorothy Manning of Cambridge MA and sister to Samuel Manning who married Elizabeth Stearns.  She was b. 21 June 1642 and d. 26 Feb 1724.  They had ten children.
Children of Samuel & Hannah (Manning) Stearns:
1. Samuel Stearns
2. Hannah Stearns
3. +Nathaniel Stearns, b. 13 December 1668 Watertown MA [see below]
4. Sarah Stearns
5. Samuel Stearns
6. Isaac Stearns
7. John Stearns
8. Mary Stearns
9. Abigail Stearns
10. Joseph Stearns

Nathaniel Stearns, third child and second son of Samuel and Hannah (Manning) Stearns, was born 13 Dec 1668, and died 24 August 1716. In the division of his father’s estate he received the farm which has been the residence of his grandfather, Isaac Stearns. he was a man of substance and business capacity, and was selectman of Watertown MA in 1716. He married 1st) 1694 to Elizabeth Dix, dau of John and Elizabeth (Barnard) Dix.  She b. 4 Dec 1761 and d. 16 June 1712.  He married 2d) 29 Oct 1713 to Sarah Nevinson, born 22 July 1672.  After his death his widow married 24 Apr 1718 to Samuel Livermore as his third wife.  Nathaniel and Elizabeth were the parents of twelve children.
Children of Nathaniel & Elizabeth (Dix) Stearns:
1. Nathaniel Stearns, died young
2. Nathaniel Stearns II
3. Elizabeth Stearns
4. Hannah Stearns
5. +Daniel Stearns, b. 1 March 1701 Watertown MA [see below]
6. Lydia Stearns
7. Isaac Stearns
8. David Stearns
9. Ebenezer Stearns
10. Mercy Stearns
11. Deborah Stearns, twin
12. Phoebe Stearns, twin

Daniel Stearns, fifth child and third son of Nathaniel and Elizabeth (Dix) Stearns, was b. 1 March 1701 in Watertown MA and d. in 1747. He was a cordwainer, and probably lived on the homestead of the first Isaac Stearns, near the Cambridge line.  He married 1) 1722  to Anna Stearns, by whom he had one child Anna.  He married 2nd) 1722 Mercy Grant, twelfth child of Joseph and Mary (Grafton) Grant.  She was born 20 Sep 1702.  They had nine children.  She married 2nd (as a widow) 8 Nov 1753 to William Godding, born 1703.
Child of Daniel & Anna (Stearns) Stearns:
1. Anna Stearns, b 1722 Watertown MA; m. 22 May 1755 Watertown MA to Stephan Calf
Children of Daniel & Mercy (Grant) Stearns:
2. Elizabeth Stearns, b. 22 Feb 1724/25 Watertown MA; m. 1746 James Budge
3. Stephen Stearns, b. 21 Sep 1726 Watertown MA; m1) Mary Boardman; m2) Ruth —
4. Isaiah Stearns, b. 22 January 1728, Watertown MA
5. Mercy Stearns, b. bef 5 Aug 1733 (baptismal date); m1) Joseph Frothingham; m2) Benjamin Piper
6. Daniel Stearns, b. bef 5 Aug 1733; d. abt 1756 Crown Point MA
7. Ruth Stearns, b. bef 9 Dec 1733 Watertown MA
8. Nathaniel Stearns, b. 1735 Watertown MA; d. 1774 Medfield MA
9. Sarah Stearns, b. abt 1739; m. William Godding
10. Mary stearns, b abt 1743, died same year.

Isaiah Stearns, third child and second son of Daniel and Mercy (Grant) Stearns, was born 22 January 1728 in Watertown MA and d. 11 March 1768.  He married 1750 to Elizabeth —–.  He and his wife were admitted to the Precinct Church, Cambrdige MA 16 Sep 1750.  His estate, one hundred and thirty-nine pounds was administered by his widow.  She married 2nd) 7 Dec 1775 to Edward Fillebrown, who died 16 June 1793.  Isaiah and Elizabeth Stearns had 9 children.
Children of Isaiah & Elizabeth (?) Stearns:
1. Benjamin Stearns
2. Isaiah Stearns, b. July 1752, died young
3. Peter Stearns, b. Apr 1754, died young
4. Isaiah Stearns 2d, b bef 1759
5. Peter Stearns, b. bef 1759
6. +Daniel Stearns, b. 17 Dec 1760 in Arlington MA; m. Elizabeth Knowlton [see below]
7. Joshua Stearns, b. May 1763
8. Isaac Stearns, b March 1765
9. Henry Stearns, b. Aug 1768

Daniel Stearns, sixth son and child of Isaiah and Elizabeth Stearns, was born 17 Dec 1760 in Arlington MA and was baptized 23 December 1760. He was a private in the Revolutionary war, and carried through the remainder of his life, an injured wrist, the result of a sword cut received in the service. He served in Colonel Nixon ‘s regiment from 1777 until the close of the Revolutionary War.  He entered on the US pension role 8 August 1818 on account of service in the Massachusetts Continental Line, pension being $96 per annum, beginning 10 April 1818. He died (as shown on the pension records) 19 June 1824 in Brattleboro, Windham Co. VT and the whole amount of his pension was $498.66.  He lived some years in Boston MA, removed in 1795 to Dummerston VT and in 1809 to Brattleboro VT where his wife died.  He married 7 Sep 1783 to Elizabeth Knowlton, dau of Nathaniel and Elizabeth (Parks) Knowlton of Cambridge MA.  She was born 17 March 1764 in Sudbury MA, d. 6 Aug 1820.  They had 12 children.
Children of Daniel & Elizabeth (Knowlton) Stearns:
1. Isaac Stearns
2. Sally Stearns
3. Abigail Stearns
4. Daniel Stearns
5. Lydia Stearns
6. Betsey Stearns
7. Lucy Stearns
8. Charles Stearns
9. Charlotte Stearns
10. +Samuel Stearns, b. 27 Aug 1802; m. Mary F. Moore [see below]
11. Selinda Stearns
12. Harriet Stearns

Samuel Stearns, son of Daniel and Elizabeth (Knowlton) Stearns, and of the seventh generation of the descendants of Isaac and Mary Stearns, was b. 27 Aug 1802.  He married 4 March 1830 Mary Fitch Moore, dau of William and Mary (Fitch) Moore of Sharon NH.  She was b. 20 April 1807.  The same month of their marriage they moved to the farm in Rindge NH. She died 28 Aug 1849 and he married 2) 26 Sept 1850 to Almira Hall, dau of John and Betsey (Bennett) Hall of Ashburnham. He was selectman of Rindge in 1841-44, 1847-48, 1850-1851. He represented the town in the Legistature 1850 and 1851 and was frequently chose to other positions in municipal affairs. Unusually free from any selfish or uncharitable thought, he possessed an affectionate heart, and maintained through life an even and unclouded temper. He d. 6 April 1871.
1860 US Census > New Hampshire > Cheshire > Rindge > 24
Samuel Stearns 57 M Farmer VT
ALmira Stearns 56 F Mass
George Stearns 17 M Salesman NH
Mary S. Stearns 27 F Teacher NH
Ezra S. Stearns 21 M school teacher NH
Samuel H. Stearns 19 M
1870 US Census > New Hampshire > Cheshire > Rindge > 27
Converse Oscar P 26 M M  clerk Army
Converse, Cornelia S 21 F W keeping House Louisiana
Converse, Ralph Dent 1 M W California
Stearns Ezra S. 32 M W rep in legislature NH
Roice Clara 15 F W domestic servant NH
1880 US Census > New Hampshire > Cheshire > Rindge > District 62 > 6
Wellington, Joel M W  48 Manufacturer NH
Wellington, Hattie E. W F 43 wife NH
Wellington, Herbert D. W M 23 son works in saw mill NH
Wellington, Arthur J. W M 20 son at school
Stearns, Ezra S. W M 41 servant clerk in box shop [b abt 1839]
1900 US Census > New Hampshire > Cheshire > Rindge > District 39 > 13
Rand, Charles A. Head W M Apr 1849 51 married 14 yrs NH NH NH
Rand, Clara E. wife W F Dec 1851 48 married 14 yrs NH NH NH
Stearns, Ezra S. boarder W M Sept 1838 61 single NH VT NH author
1910 US census > Massachusetts > Worcester > Fitchburg Ward 5 > District 1741 > 10
Stearns, Ezra S. Head M W 71 single NH VT NH Historian, genealogical
Wellington, Herbert D, boarder M W 54 m1x 30 yrs NH NH NH
Wellington, Harriet A. boarder F W 48 m1x 30 yrs 3 ch 1 living NH NH NH
Wellington, Bertha E. boarder F W 24 single NH NH NH
Portsmouth Herald newspaper> 1915 > March > 9 > 4
Fitchburg Mass. March 9 — The Hon. Ezra S. Stearns, historian, genealogist, and secretary of state for New Hampshire for 12 years, died at his home here today, aged 76 years, after a prolonged illness following a general breakdown.
Mr. Stearns was born in Rindge, NH in 1839. He represented that town in the state legislature five times prior to being elected on the state ticket.  In politics he was an old line Republican.
He wrote extensively on New Hampshire municipal histories, many of them in narrative form. He was editor in chief of a genealogical History of the State of New Hampshire, published in five volumes in 1908. Mr. Stearns was a president of the Fitchburg Historical Society, vice president of the New England Historical Society and a member of several other similar societies and organizations.
He came to Fitchburg about ten years ago. He continued to take an active interest in municipal affairs until the close of his life, and was a member of the local school board when he died.
Children of Samuel & Mary F. (Moore) Stearns:
1. Mary Elizabeth Stearns, b. 26 June 1831; d. 24 Aug 1832
2. Mary Elizabeth Stearns II, b. 18 Aug 1832; m 29 Dec 1864 James Van Derveer, son of Peter and Ann (Boylan) Van Derveer, of Somerset County, NJ. He was formerly a merchant in Chester NJ where he still resides. For several years he was an assessor of Internal Revenue, and sheriff of Morris County 1870-1873.  They had at least one child: (1) Julia Louise Van Derveer, b. 6 Feb 1866
3. Samuel Augustus Stearns, b 14 Oct 1834; d. 4 Sep 1837.
4. Almira Stearns, b. 18 Sep 1836; d. 14 Sep 1837
5. +Ezra Scollay Stearns, b 1 Sep 1838; resided in Rindge NH, unmarried [SEE BIO ABOVE]
6. Samuel Henry Stearns, b. 27 July 1840 in Lynn MA; he married 22 June 1867 in Watertown MA to Carrie M. Glines, daughter of Nathaniel & Mary Glines. Samuel served three years in the War of the Rebellion; was clerk in the Treasury Department, Washington, two years; and later resided in Colorado. In 1870 living in Watertown MA with wife Carrie M. (b 1859 NH) and son Edward F. (b June 1868 MA).  In 1900 Samuel’s son Edward F. was living in Columbia, Tolland Co CT, a farmer, with wife Grace M (b Dec 1876 ME), sons Edward S. (B Feb 1897 MA), Alfred C. (b Aug 1899 CT), and his brother Samuel Grover Stearns (b Apr 1885 Watertown MA, m. 24 June 1909 in Watertown MA to Bertha Alice Foster).
7. George Stearns, b. 16 Aug 1843; Enlisted in the 9th NH Vols, died of disease at West Philadelphia Hospital 24 December 1862, and was buried at Rindge NH.
—————–(end of genealogy)————————-

Biography of Hon. Ezra Scollay Stearns, A.M. – NEHGS “Register”
– NH Division of Historical Resources, Ezra S. Stearns, by NH State Curator
-STEARNS, Ezra Scollay, Hon., Access Genealogy, from “Merrimack and Sullivan Counties, New Hampshire”

1. Photograph: “Genealogical and family history of the state of New Hampshire,” Vol 1, by Lewis publishing company, Chicago, 1908
2. Merrimack and Sullivan Counties, New Hampshire: Biographical Review, Vol 22
3. History of the Town of Rindge, NH, by Ezra S. Stearns, Press of G.H. Ellis, 1875, page 706
4. The New England historical and genealogical register, Volume 69, by Henry Fitz-Gilbert Waters, 1915
5. “The Great Migration Begins, Record 5, NEHGS Register, “Isaac Stearns”

This entry was posted in Genealogy, History, New Hampshire Men, New Hampshire Politics and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Rindge New Hampshire Teacher, Historian, Genealogist, Editor, Legislator, NH Secretary of State: Ezra Scollay Stearns, A.M. (1838-1915)

  1. Pingback: New Hampshire Missing Places: Temple’s Ferry in Merrimack | Cow Hampshire

Leave a Reply