THE PROUTY LINE
My mother’s maiden name is Prouty, which means my maternal grandfather was Prouty. This is the Prouty line. The information below comes from a variety of sources from various document searches.
Late into my quest, I stumbled upon a book written in 1910 by one Charles Pope, entitled “Prouty (Proute) Genelogy”, a rare book for which only 300 copies were made (but downloadable for free here). This book confirmed much of what I had already weeded out on my own, and fleshed out a few details.
By the way, the nicknames of the ancestors are mine. Ready to climb the tree with me?
(2) Mother: Linda “Mom” Prouty Ashford
(3) Grandfather: Richard “Grandfather” Palmer Prouty (Sep 28 1904 – Apr 1 1956)
Grandpa Prouty died before I was born. He was the only grandparent I never met. I’ve seen pictures of him of course, so I have a mental image of a sepia-toned man sitting in a comfortable chair, smoking a pipe, and reading the newspaper – looking an awful lot like Edward R. Murrow. Then again, my mental image might actually be Edward R. Murrow.
Grandpa Prouty was born and died in Newport, Vermont. (The Proutys have a strong connection to Newport, Vermont, as you will see). He married Dorothy Strong (1908 – 1973), and had two children: my mother and Uncle Jack (except they didn’t name him “Uncle Jack”; they named him Jackson)
My brother has his middle name (“Palmer”)
(3) Great-Grandfather: Edgar “The Replacement” John Prouty (Dec 2 1870 – Nov 23 1939)
Born and died in Newport, Vermont. He married Ellen Bean (1875-1968) of Coventry, Vermont and they had 3 kids: Charles, Richard, and Ellenor.
I call him “The Replacement” for a particular reason. You see, when researching him, I kept coming across another Edgar John Prouty born in Newport Vermont on July 5, 1859. It was very confusing.
It turns out that Edgar John had an older brother, also named Edgar John. But the older brother died on June 2, 1868, one month shy of his 9th birthday. Two years later, my great grandfather was born, and he was given the name of his dead older brother. Which I find sweet, but a little creepy.
Also creepy: the older Edgar John brother died from falling timber. And what did my great-grandfather, the replacement Edgar, do for a living when he grew up? Among other things, he was a member of the (now defunct) family business, Prouty & Miller, a lumber manufacturing firm. Freud would have a field day.
Edgar John frankly wasn’t as impressive as some of his siblings (there were nine children in all, including the dead Edgar John, and an unnamed infant who died at six months).
For example, Edgar John’s older sister Nellie Prouty Barker graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1881, became a surgeon, and eventually the chief medical examiner for Middlesex County in Massachusetts. Not bad for a woman who couldn’t even vote.
An older brother, Charles Azro, served in the Vermont state legislature and was eventually appointed to the Interstate Commerce Commission by President Cleveland in 1896.
Another older brother, Harley Hall Prouty had a mountain in Oregon named after him (“Prouty Peak”).
But these siblings (as well as the other timber-crushed Edgar John) were from his father’s first marriage. Edgar John was the first son from his father’s second marriage.
(4) Great X 2 Grandfather: John Azro “Jazz” Prouty (Dec 26 1826 – Jan 6 1900)
In the seminal “Genealogical and Family History of the State of Vermont” (soon to be a major motion picture), John Azro is oddly described as “one of the most useful men in Northern Vermont”. A farmer most of his early life, he changed course in midlife. He took up a contract to load lumber from the Stimson & Winn sawmill. In 1864, he bought a one-fourth interest in that company, and became its business manager. It was during this period that his son was killed by falling timber.
went into partnership with Oscar Miller in 1876 to form Prouty & Miller. Yes, the Prouty & Miller.
It wasn’t long before Prouty & Miller owned 40,000 acres of land covering the Lake Memphremagog area as well as the lake’s tributaries all the way into Canada. The company had sawmills in Newport (which burned down in 1894, but were rebuilt) as well as in Roxton Falls (Quebec) and St. Victor (Quebec). Prouty & Miller was producing six million feet of lumber annually. [Fun fact: if you lay six million feet of lumber end-to-end, it would reach to the moon and back…. over 12 times! But you would get a lot of splinters in the process].
Actually, John Azro had a real nickname besides the fake “Jazz” nickname that I gave him to amuse myself. He was known as “The Colonel” because of the efficient way he ran his business and his employees. Among other things, he set up really comfortable camps for his employees, who numbered 50 by 1894.
Pictured above, west end of Newport, 1878, including Prouty & Miller:
Pictured below, the same, today:
But he was no desk jockey. It was said that he would occasionally fell a tree himself and do it in “so masterly a fashion as to provoke admiration and respect”.
“Jazz” married Hannah Lamb on January 12, 1853 and they lived in Newport, Vermont. They had five kids, most of whom I mention a couple of paragraphs up. But she died on November 25, 1865, thus leaving Edgar John the Elder to wander around the lumbar yards unattended and have wood crush him to death a few years later. “Jazz” married again, this time to Sarah Hannah (1833-1889) (her maiden name was “Wood”, adding to the whole freudian/lumber theme) on March 11, 1868. They had 2 kids who survived infancy, one of whom was my great-grandfather.
“Jazz” was of the generation which fought in the Civil War, although he would have been in his thirties at the time. It does not appear that he served in army, although one of his cousins from Vermont, also named John Azro, was a private in the Vermont Regiment. (He did not survive the war).
“Jazz” was elected to the Vermont state legislature in 1858 and 1859, and again in 1884. He lived just long enough to see the 20th century.
(5) Great X 3 Grandfather: Arnold “Homesteader” Prouty (November 24, 1797 – March 30, 1881)
A farmer in Newport, Vermont virtually his whole life. He cleared twelve farms in his lifetime. For a while there, he was carrying grain to the mill by rowing ten miles, then walking the bag over the hills of Brownington to the mill, and then turning around and doing it all in reverse to head home. “Get a car” pleaded his wife, Sarah Adams (1798-1881), but Arnold wouldn’t hear of it. “They haven’t been invented yet”, he would say – adding, “Oh my back is killing me”.
Arnold and Sarah, who were married on February 8, 1818, lived in the house built by Sarah’s father, the first frame house built in Newport, Vermont. That house would stay in the Prouty family for generations to follow.
Arnold and Sarah’s marriage of 63 years came to an end when she died on February 21, 1881. Arnold lasted another month before he, too, died. They had seven children, including my great-X-2 grandfather, John Azro. Some of these children moved out west, a couple of them died in their twenties.
(6) Great X 4 Grandfather: John “Cradlerobber” Prouty (January 4, 1748(9?) – ????, 1819)
John was the Prouty who brought the Proutys to Newport, Vermont. He was born in Leicester, Massachusetts. His first wife was Lucia (“Lucy”) Gleason (1753-1788). They married in on October 12, 1771 and lived in Langdon, NH. They had three children, but Lucy died giving birth to the third child, Phinehas, on January 14, 1788. I muse that she died because her third child was named Phinehas. In my mind, it went something like this:
MIDWIFE: It’s a boy, Mrs. Prouty.
LUCIA: Please, tell my husband. Where is he?
JOHN (entering, with a pipe, looking kind of like Edward R. Murrow in olde dayes): Yes?
MIDWIFE: It’s a boy, sir.
JOHN: That’s good to know. Now I have three children. Our first-born, named after you Lucy, came to us sometime in 1772, as you know. She’s 16 now, and I suspect that someday she will move to Patton, Canada. Our second child, John, named after me, was born in 1776. I figure he’s likely to marry his cousin, move to Schenectady, and become a hardware merchant. He’s just the type. And he’ll probably die sometime around, ooohh, April 29, 1820.
LUCIA: Um….. are you alright, John?
JOHN: Perfectly fine, woman. Now as to this new third child of mine – clean that up, will you, nurse? — I think he shall be named Phinehas.
LUCIA: Phinehas? What, you mean like as in Barnum?
JOHN: Who’s Barnum? Yes, Phinehas. Frankly, I can’t think of any other names besides yours and mine, Lucy and John. And we’ve already used them up on the first two kids. They’re still alive, so we can’t use them on this new kid. So it might as well be Phinehas.
LUCIA: Wait…. Phinehas?
JOHN: Do I stutter? Yes, Phinehas. (Off her look…) What? It’s a perfectly respectable name. I think years from now, my descendents will look back at the naming of “Phinehas Prouty” with respect and admiration and not the slightest bit of mockery.
LUCIA: Oh, do you, John? Because I really care what you think! I just squeezed out your third child and I’m hot and sweaty and — for chrissakes, John. Phinehas? Why not go whole hog and name him Jamal or Sheniqua?
MIDWIFE: Ummm…. perhaps I should leave the room so you two can talk…
JOHN: No, no, stay good nurse. This conversation is over. (Reasserting authority) It’s Phinehas; I served in the Revolutionary War, you know.
LUCIA: No, you didn’t. In fact, of all your male siblings, you’re the only one who didn’t serve in the Revolutionary War.
JOHN: Okay, I didn’t, but I have been elected treasurer and selectman to the town of Langdon New Hampshire — where we live — and I say his name shall be Phinehas.
LUCIA: Over my dead body, John.
JOHN: No, I’m serious. Look at my face. Phinehas!
LUCIA: Eeerrrrrgh…. (dies)
JOHN: Oh, dear. My Lucy is dead. Perhaps I should remarry, move to Vermont, and have more children.
Which is what he did. [Sidenote: In spite of his unfortunate Dickensian name, Phinehas Prouty grew up, served in the War of 1812 and became a wealthy and respectable man in Geneva, New York. His daughter married President Grant’s treasury secretary.]
John Prouty remarried, this time to Alice Ann Daggett (1770-1819) on August 3, 1791. She was about 32 years younger than him (hence, his nickname). They moved to Newport, Vermont soon after selling their New Hampshire home (on August 25, 1796). In Vermont, they had five children together. Having learned his lesson with Phinehas/Lucia, the children all had reasonable names, with the possible exception of Roswell Prouty. Their first son was Arnold, my great-x-3 grandfather.
(7) Great X 5 Grandfather: John “Yet Another John” Prouty (May 25 1718 – January 29 1792)
John was born in Scituate (near Plymouth), Massachusetts. On October 9, 1745, he married a woman with a cool colonial name, Abigail Johnson (1726-1801). He was married and eventually lived in Worchester, Massachusetts, where he worked as a blacksmith. He probably wanted to be a silversmith, but everyone was always like, “Oh, Paul Revere is the bomb. Have you seen his stuff?” and John probably didn’t want the competition.
John built and owned a grist mill, which was used for milling grist and for allowing people to muse, “Well, that’s grist for the mill”. He called it “Millsville” because he wasn’t very imaginative. The mill was owned and operated by many of his descendents, but apparently none of them in my direct line.
John and Abigail loved sex, or children, or both. I say this because they had 13 kids. Two of them were named Abigail – again, this is because the first Abigail died after one month, and they needed a replacement. Also among the 13 kids were two sets of twins: Rebekah and Esther, born June 11, 1764, and – I am not making this up – Molly and Dolly, born April 19, 1768. Their eldest son, Benjamin, served in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War; he died at Morristown, New Jersey (George Washington’s headquarters at the time) in 1778, probably from starvation or disease. In fact, all their sons, except my great-x-4 grandfather, served in the Revolutionary War, which is why those stuck-up blackballing bastards haven’t asked my mother to join the Daughters of the American Revolution.
(8) Great X 6 Grandfather: Isaac “Big Daddy” Prouty (Nov 18 1689 – May 22 1754)
Isaac Prouty was born in Scituate Massachusetts. Back then (in 1689), Scituate wasn’t very big. No Starbucks at all! Isaac married a Scituate woman – like he had a lot of choice? – named Elizabeth Merritt (1691-1754). Elizabeth’s brothers had actually been pioneers of Scituate – that’s how young this place was. Together Isaac and Elizabeth had twelve children, most of whom survived more than a few months, and eight of them were men, thereby making Isaac an ancestor for a large number of Proutys in America.
Isaac was a wealthy farmer and land dealer, buying and selling lots of land. His fourth child was my great-x-5 grandfather.
(9) Great X 7 Grandfather: Richard “Coming to America” Prouty (Sep 30 1652 – Sep 1 1708)
Richard was the first Prouty to live in the New World. He was born in Glocestershire, England. It’s not clear when he came to America; his name does not appear on any passenger lists. Evidence suggests that he crossed the Atlantic, without his parents, in his teens. The town of Scituate records that he was a resident in 1675-1676 when he would have been 23 or 24. He does not appear in the Scituate resident listings for 1672, but The History of North Brookfield (Mass) states that there was a Richard Prouty living in Scituate in 1667 (when he was only fourteen). This isn’t necessarily inconsistent; he would not be old enough to be listed as a “townsmen” of Scituate until 1672, and might have just missed the cut-off for the 1672 listings. That said, the historical consensus is that Richard probably came to America in late 1666 as a teenager, and settled in Scituate.
We do know he was born in Rodmarton, Glocestershire, England, and baptized there.
As a young-un in the New World, Richard probably had a rough go of it. There was no property for him to inherit. However, he took part in the Indian conflict known as “King Phillip’s War” in 1675-1676 (age 23-24). It was during those years that Scituate suffered several Indian attacks; thirteen homes were burned and several lives were lost. It’s not known when and where Richard saw “action”, but we know that he fought, and for that, he received six pound, twelve shillings, and change. He parlayed that into buying a small tract of land set aside by the Colony of Plymouth. (Years later, in 1733, the land taken from the Narragansett Indians in King Phillip’s War was set aside for the soldiers of that war, and Richard Prouty claimed some of that land. That is now part of Bedford, NH).
Richard Prouty acquired standing by winning the hand of Damaris Torrey (1651-1717), the daughter of a military lieutenant, magistrate, and altogether Plymouth County bigwig (there’s a cool story about Lt. Torrey walking into the town armory to check on gunpowder inventories, and blowing the whole place, and himself, up, but I digress). Anyway, Richard and the blown-up lieutenant’s daughter married in December 1676.
Throughout the late 17th century and into the next century, Richard bought and sold tracts of land and increased his wealth and standing. He lived with Damaris in Scituate, on a hill he owned — called Hoop-Pole Hill, which looks like this today:
It’s no longer called Hoop-Pole Hill for obvious reasons: residents in the area got tired of schoolchildren snickering and calling it “Poop-Hole Hill”
When Richard Prouty died in 1708, his real estate holdings (some 46.5 acres, including the housing) were valued at 150 pounds.
Damaris bore Richard six children. Not counting the first (who died in childbirth), Isaac (my great-x-6 grandfather) was the second child.
(10) Great X 8 Grandfather: Richard “Yet Another Richard” Proute (Apr 22 1621 – Dec 27 1703)
I should point out at this point that consistent spelling was not a big deal back in those days, and persons would often sign their own name in a variety of ways. This particular Richard Prout, and even his America-going son, can be located in various records as Prout, Proute, Prouty, Proutt, Prowt, etc. Future generations thereafter seemed to settle on “Prouty”.
The name “Prout’ (and his variations) may come from an old English variation of the word “prowling”, meaning to search about. Or it may be a variation of the word “proud”. We don’t know.
Anyway, there’s not a lot to say about Big Dick. Born, lived and died in Rodmarton, Glocestershire, England. Married Elizabeth Guest (1618-????) on August 1, 1647, although she appears to be his second wife.
(11) Great X 9 Grandfather: William “500 Years Out” Prout (1595 – April 1 1661)
Another born, lived, and died in Rodmarton, Gloucestershire, England. Married Joane Painter (????-1661) on November 11, 1619.
(12) Great X 10 Grandfather: Richard “Ground Zero” Prowt (????- 1566)
The earliest in this ancestral line that we can be sure of. Yet another born, lived, and died in Rodmarton, Gloucestershire, England guy. Married Alys Halsey (1563 – ????), and possibly the originator of the catchphrase “One of these days, Alys. Bang zoom – right to the moon!”
This is the actual text of Richard Prowt’s will:
RICHARD PROWT OF RODMARTON In the name of god amen I Rychard Prowt the xxiii th day of Julii and in the eyghth yere of the Rayne of our soverayne lady Elizabeth of England ffranc and Ireland quine [queen] do make thys my last wyll & testament in man and forme foloyng first I bequethe my sowle to allmyghty god my creator and Redem and my bodye to be buried in the church yard of Rodmarton. Ffyrst I bequeath to Jown Prowt my son one shepe item I give to Wyllm Prowt one shepe item I gyve to Wat [Walter] Prowt my dafters to evry one of them one shepe the Resydue of my goods not bequeathed I geve to Alys my wyffe who I make my executrixe of thys my last wyll and testament thes beryng wytnesse
Thomas King and Wyllm Prowt
Proved at Gloucester Nov. 2, 1566
…thus demonstrating from which side of the family I get my spelling skills.