A New Hampshire Governor, Ghosts, and a Second Wife: Anthony & Eliza A. (Messinger) Colby

A young Anthony Colby from the National Cyclopaedia of American Biography

A young Anthony Colby from the National Cyclopaedia of American Biography

It is said that the ghost of former New Hampshire governor Anthony Colby haunts Colgate Hall at Colby-Sawyer College. That hall was built many years after his death on the spot where the former brick academy building sat. The original building was dedicated in 1870, three years before Colby died, but was destroyed by fire in 1892.

Colgate Hall was built in 1911 on the same spot, but as a smaller building. It is well known and accepted that the Hon. Anthony Colby died at home, in his bed in New London. The dapper looking male ghost with the top hat is described as being in his 30s or 40s. One has to wonder who is this well-dressed spectre?
In 2009 ghost investigators said that Colgate Hall was filled with child ghosts from when it had been an orphanage. Exciting, since this building was specifically built as a school, and was used as such up to the day it burnt.

Hon. Anthony Colby, Governor of NH

Hon. Anthony Colby, Governor of NH

As for the Hon. Anthony Colby–the man, not the ghost–he was the 20th or the 28th governor of New Hampshire, depending on whether you count each governor’s term separately, or you squash the terms of those who were governor more than once. He lived to the ripe old age of 80, dying at home in his bed. His official portrait hangs in the State house, on the second floor, west facing wall.

Anthony Colby married twice, and interestingly his wives were close cousins via the Messinger line. I don’t have a photograph of his first wife, but I now wonder if they looked at all alike. Until I do the answer will remain a mystery.


Eliza Avery (Messinger) Richardson Colby

Eliza Avery (Messinger) Richardson Colby

His second wife, shown here, was Eliza Avery (Messinger) Richardson, widow of Eleazar Richardson, a well-to-do bookseller. She had remained single for 11 years after his death. Anthony Colby had waited 3 years before marrying again. All biographies seem to indicate that both of his marriages were happy ones. Her photograph shows her neatly and well dressed with a gossamer fine sheer cotton cap.

I’ve traced both the Colby and the Messinger Family Genealogies below.


Anthony & Susannah (Whittridge) Colby
Isaac & Martha (Parratt) Colby
Anthony & Mary (Currier) Colby
Elijah & Elizabeth (Davis) Colby

Anthony Colby, son of Elijah & Elizabeth (Davis) Colby, b. 19 Sep 1737 in Amesbury, Essex Co. MA, d 1818 in Hopkinton NH; He m. 28 Dec 1785 in Hampstead, Rockingham Co. NH to Sarah Bryant. She was b. abt 1738.
Children of Anthony & Sarah (Bryant) Colby:
1. +Joseph Colby b. 24 March 1762 Plaistow NH
2. James Bryant Colby, b. 18 May 1767 Hopkinton NH; lived mostly Hopkinton NH; m.26 Oct 1795 in Hopkinton NH to Susanna Story. They had a son Moses Colby b 13 Dec 1796 in New London NH. farmer, capt. of militia, rep to legislature in 1844.
3. Nathaniel Colby, settled in New London NH [per Sketches]
4. David Colby, settled in Manchester MA [per Sketches]

Lieut. Joseph Colby, son of Anthony Colby, b 24 March 1762 in Plaistow NH [Sketches of successful NH men says on Beech Hill Hopkinton NH], d 19 April 1843 in New London NH; m. 29 Dec 1785 in Hampstead, Rockingham Co. NH to Anne Heath, dau of Bartholomew & Hannah (Kelly) Heath. She was b. 29 June 1762 in Hampstead NH and d. 24 Aug 1847, aged 85 in New London, Merrimack Co. NH. At the age of 21 he moved from his hometown of Plaistow NH to Hopkinton with his father. After his marriage, in 1786 they moved to New London NH, living in a log cabin. He dealt in real estate, and was the first storekeeper on Minot’s Hill (later called Colby Hill); was a justice of the peace, and a farmer. He was selectman, representative to the General Court (1803-1816). Baptist.
Children of Joseph & Anne (Heath) Colby:
1. Joseph Colby Jr., b. 5 May 1787, d. 12 April 1857 New London NH; never married, resided at the homestead.
2. Sarah Colby, b. 24 July 1790; m. 28 Nov 1811 Capt. Jonathan Herrick, son of Jonathan & Betsey (Sargent) Herrick. He was b. 14 March 1784. They resided in New London NH.
3. +Anthony Colby, b. 13 Nov 1792 in New London NH
4. Judith Colby, b. 17 Nov 1796; m. 231 Dec 1816 to Perley Burpee, son of Asa & Mary (Perley) Burpee. He was b. 4 June 1790. They resided in New London NH.

Hon. Anthony Colby* [this story is about him], son of Joseph & Anne (Heath) Colby, b. 13 Nov 1792 in New London NH, d. 20 July 1873 in the house where he was born at New London NH, aged 80 years 8 months. He is buried in the Old Main Street Cemetery, New London NH. He married 1st) 24 Nov 1814 in New London NH to Mary “Polly” Everett, daughter of Jonathan & Mary “Molley” (Messenger) Everett. She was b 24 Nov 1795 in New London NH and d. 18 June 1837. He married 2d) 28 May 1840 Mrs. Eliza (Messinger) Richardson, daughter of Col. Daniel & Susanna Hewes (Hinckley) Messinger of Boston, widow of Eleazar T.F. Richardson. She was b. 22 January 1797 Boston MA and died 15 Sep 1888. She had married 19 Oct 1815 in Boston MA to Eleazar Tyng Fox Richardson, son of Gideon & Susanna (Fox) Richardson of Woburn MA. He was b. 7 March 1787 in Woburn MA, and died 11 May 1829 in his 43rd year. Mr. Richardson was the partner with Mr. John West, a bookseller in Boston [West and Richardson] located at No. 75 Cornhill, now a part of Washington Street a few steps north of School Street near the Old South Church on the opposite side of the street. Hon. Anthony Colby was the 28th/or 20th if you don’t count repeats] governor of New Hampshire. His portrait hangs in the State House, second floor, corridor, west face. [Note the genealogy below as Hon. Anthony Colby’s wives were cousins]. Anthony Colby established a line of stages through the town of New London, and later was president of the Concord & Claremont Railroad. As a young man he built a grist-mill, carding and fulling mill. In 1836 he helped set up a scythe factory.
Children of Anthony & Mary (Everett) Colby:
1. Daniel Everett Colby, b. 12 Dec 1815 New London NH, d. 31 May 1891 in New London NH; graduated from Dartmouth College in 1836; adjutant-general of the NH state militia in 1863-64. Buried New London Cemetery. He m. Jan 1840 in New London NH to Martha E. Greenwood, dau of Samuel & Martha (Trayne) Greenwood. She was b. 22 June 1817. They lived in New London NH.
2. Susan Farnum Colby, b 21 April 1817 New London NH, d. 22 March 1919 Yonkers, Westchester NY; on first social register (1887) pp 255 and 291. She m. 19 Feb 1851 to James B. Colgate, son of William and Mary (Gilbert) Colgate. Children [Colgate]: Mary, James Colby.  [Read a letter to her from her parents]
3. Robert Lane Colby aka Robert Colby, b. 30 Sep 1822 New London NH, d. 15 Nov 1904 NY NY; m. 23 Feb 1854 in NY NY to Mary E. Colgate, dau of Deacon William Colgate. She was b. abt 1830 NH. Children: William Colgate Jessie and Mary Colgate. He graduated from Dartmouth College and studied law with Judge Perley at Concord NH
Children of Eleazar T.F. & Eliza Avery (Messinger) Richardson:
1. William Fox Richardson, merchant of Boston, born 12 July 1816 Boston, Suffolk Co. MA, d. 2 June 1896 Boston MA. He m1) 11 April 1839 in Wrentham MA to Elizabeth Bean Messinger. he m2d) 13 Sep 1847 Wrentham MA to Cornelia Brown. He m3rd) 4 Feb 1865 in Beverly MA to Mary Tyler Brown. He had 8 children [Richardson]: Charles Tyng, Helen Elizabeth, William Walter, Daniel Messinger, Clara Tyler, William Fox Jr., Eliza Colby, George Messinger.
2. Daniel Messinger Richardson, died at age of 13 years
3. Charles Tyng Richardson, d. in infancy


Henry Messinger & Sarah –; residents of Boston MA in 1640.
Thomas Messinger (1661-?) & Elizabeth Mellows
Rev. Henry Messenger (1695-1750) & Esther Cheevers
[See The Messinger Family in Europe and America, p. 6]

Daniel Messinger [40], b. 11 October 1735 d 11 Jan 1812, age 76 years; m. 1763 to Mary Brastow, daughter of Thomas & Hannah (Man) Brastow, and great-granddau of the Rev. Samuel Man, first minister of Wrentham. She d. February 1836 aged 94 years. He was a farmer in Wrentham, Norfold Co. MA. They had 12 children. SEE: Biographical Sketches of Representative Citizens of the commonwealth of Massachusetts: Daniel Messenger.
Children of Daniel & Mary (Brastow) Messinger:
1. Mary Messinger, b 9 March 1764; m1) Jona. Everett; m2) Rev. Mr. Seamans of New London NH [mother of Gov. Anthony Colby’s FIRST wife]
2. James Messinger, b. 20 Sep 1765, d. 24 Dec 1768
3. + Daniel Messinger, b. 17 June 1768 Wrentham MA; joined the Honorable Artillery Co. in 1792
4. Sally Messinger, b. 25 March 1770; m. Timothy Dexter of Cumberland RI
5. Fifth child, b. 3 Nov 1771, died soon after
6. Henry Messinger, b 23 March 1773; m1) Frances Bowen; m2d) Esther Gould; joined the Honorable Artillery Company in 1800
7. William Messinger, b. 24 Feb 1775; m. Diraxa Fales of Wrentham MA
8. Repsima Messinger, b 9 March 1777; m. Daniel Woodbury of New London NH; parents of Gen. Daniel P. Woodbury
9. Esther Messinger, b. 19 Apr 1779; m. Capt. Robert Hinckley of Milton
10. Horace Messinger, b. 19 Sep 1781; m. Olive Hancock of Wrentham MA
11. Elizabeth Messinger, b. 29 July 1783; m. Erasmus J. Pierce of Philadelphia
12. Simpson Messinger, b. 6 Sep 1785; d. unmarried 22 May 1821

Col. Daniel Messinger, son of Daniel & Mary (Brastow) Messinger, b 17 June 1768 Wrentham MA, d 21 June 1846, aged 78; m. 26 May 1793 to Susanna Hewes Hinckley. She b. 1772 d 1842/43. According to the Richardson memorial [see link below] he was an eminent man in his day. apprenticed with his uncle David Brastow to learn the hatter’s trade, and later with Nathaniel Balch of Boston MA. He kept a well-known hat store in Boston, at the corner of Newbury Street and Sheafe’s Lane, or as we should now say, of Washington and Avery Streets. He commanded a uniformed military company and was colonel of a well-equipped Boston regiment. His wife, Susanna, was born in Wellfleet, Cape Cod, in July 1772, and was a daughter of Captain Thomas Hinckley, a shipmaster, who afterwards removed to Boston. Capt. Hinckley was a great-grandson of Governor Thomas Hinckley, of the Plymouth colony, who died at Barnstable, April 25, 1706, aged 86. He is buried in the family lot at Mount Auburn.
Children of Col. Daniel & Susanna Hewes (Hinckley) Messinger:
1. Susanna Hewes Messinger, d. in infancy
2. Daniel Messinger, b. 1796, d. Jan 1849, aged 53. He m 25 July 1820 in Boston MA to  Mary Ann Smith, dau of Capt. Benjamin & Dorcas (Silsbee) Smith. Hatter.  She was b. 1799 and died 1 March 1868.  They had several children.
3. + Eliza Avery Messinger* [see photograph above], b. 22 January 1797 MA and died 15 Sep 1888. She m1) Eleazar T.F. Richardson; m2) ex-Gov. Anthony Colby
4. Mary Brastow Messinger, b. abt 1800, d. 3 March 1874 MA; m. 2 December 1819 in Boston, Suffolk Co. MA to John Ayers/Ayres of Dorchester MA.
5. Thomas Hewes Hinckley Messinger, merchant of New York, b. abt 1815; m. Margaret Grimbly, an Englishwoman, resided Stamford CT [living there in 1860; in 1880 a widower living in Stamford with nieces and nephews in his household]
6. Harriet Hinckley Messinger, b abt 1799 MA; m. 12 August 1856 in Manhattan NY to Richard Cary Morse of New York
7. Foster Cruft Messinger, b. 22 Dec 1806, d. 31 July 1869 in Wilmington DE; married twice [He m. Maria J. Langley, b. 27 Nov 1819 and d. 16 Jan 1863] settled in Wilmington DE; buried Wilmington & Brandywine Cemetery, Wilmington DE.  Child: Thomas H. H. Messinger.
8. Susan Hewes Messinger, b. –; m. 30 April 1831 in Boston MA to William Bailey Lang of NY
9. Robert Hinckley Messinger, b abt 1815 MA; merchant of New York [1850 census]
10. George Washington Messinger, b abt 1813 MA, d. 27 April 1870 Boston MA; of Boston, merchant and genealogist including pages of the NEHGS Register for 1859 and 1862 regarding the Messinger, Man/Mann and Hinckley families.

Some Sources:
– National Governors Association: New Hampshire Governor Anthony Colby
A History of the Town of New London, NHketches of Successful NH Men, Gov. Anthony Colby]
– Sketches of Successful NH Men, Gov. Anthony Colby
Richardson memorial

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5 Responses to A New Hampshire Governor, Ghosts, and a Second Wife: Anthony & Eliza A. (Messinger) Colby

  1. pamela thum says:

    Why did the women wear a gossamer fine sheer cotton cap? I notice it is mentioned. I supposed it had some significance and I am always interested in period costumes. Great research.

    • Janice Brown says:

      Most women of her day wore caps, but they would have been made of cotton or linen. Gossamer would have been more expensive. But of course the woman pictured above was married to a former NH governor and so she was well dressed. Caps kept the hair neat, away from dangerous fireplaces where it could be scorched, kept insects out, in a day where hygiene was more difficult, would help hide greasy hair, etc etc. [hope this helps]

  2. balinagra says:

    your blogs are always so interesting and touch my heart. I know during the month of April you ran Woman in History … did you ever do the one on Mary Carey Dondero? I was watching out for it, but may have missed it?

    • Janice Brown says:

      Mary Carey Dondero is on my list of stories to write. Usually my research takes 6-12 months to perform as I collect information and try to find a copyright free photograph or photographs to include in the story. I will try to bump her story up. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. Pingback: Faces of the EVERETT FAMILY of New London, Salisbury and Concord New Hampshire | Cow Hampshire

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