The Way It Was

by: Leo Lawton

Once upon a long time ago, there was this feller by the name of Richard Lawton, who had been born around 1499. He met up with a little sweetheart of a gal named what’s-her-face Purrier, and they up and got married. I don’t know what her first name was, but I swear to you Richard knew it. One thing led to another, and five kids were born over the course of the next few years.

Now as best as I can recall the one born in 1527 they decided to call Thomas. When he was twenty five, Tommy was walking by the Wheeler place one day, and noticed little Joanie had grew up into a beautiful eighteen year old, and kinda thought he might oughta marry her before someone else did, so somehow he convinced her of that, and they up and tied the knot. A few years later they noted they had three kids, and they had named one of them, born in 1558, Thomas Jr.

Well, Little Tommy grew up, and at twenty two he run across this little filly named Mary, and they got hitched up in a double harness for a lifetime. I don’t know what her former last name was, but it don’t make no nevermind anyway, ’cause she changed it on the spot to Lawton. Time went by, as it always does, and six little colts were born. The one born in 1581 was named George.

George got to be about twenty five when one day he was sitting on a stump in the front yard, and little Isbell Smith, from down the road happened to be sashaying by. George took a second look, and then a third, and noted she certainly had grown to be a fiiiiiine looking young lady. Next thing he knew he was married to her, and they had eight kids. Two of the kids were named George and Thomas, not exactly new or novel names.

This Thomas, born in 1614, along with his older brother George, was not too happy with the way things were going in England those days, and decided to really change his ways. Without too much announcement of their intentions, the two boys shipped out for America in 1638, with a final destination of Rhode Island where this guy by the name of Roger Williams had started a colony, as he couldn’t seem to see eye to eye with them fellers in The Bay Colony. George and Tom settled in a newly forming colony named Portsmouth. With Tom, came his wife and daughter, both named Elizabeth. The next year son Daniel was born, and this trend continued until finally he had six children.

Danny grew to be a man, and at twenty six in 1665, he popped the question to this gal by the name of Rebecca Mott. She, not knowing any better, accepted. Years kept passing, and by 1685, thirteen rugrats had happened along. Next to the last, in 1683, was Benjamin.

Benny, like all of those before him, grew to be twenty six, and one day he was smitten by that little gal down the road named Penelope Gardner. First thing you know, they got twelve youngsters running around the yard of which the third one born in 1715 was named, you guessed it, Benjamin.

Along about 1738, when Benny was twenty three and Mary Arnold was nineteen, they up and got married and had six kids over the next few years.

First born, in 1739 was Oliver. I have no idea what-so-ever where they came up with that name from. Well anyway to make a long story short, he bumped into Anne Rathbone in 1762 and, lo and behold, they got married and had six kids. Now up to this point, all of these ancestor guys and gals had been hanging out around Portsmouth yet, but in 1789 Ollie and Annie heard about this cheap land over in New York State. It seems that in order to pay for the recent Independence argument, the State of New York had confiscated all lands of people that had remained loyal to the King of England. The State was selling it, first come, first serve, and Oliver and Anne bought a chunk of it, in what was called the second allotment of the Royal Grant. They packed up bag and baggage, and in less than the blink of an eye they became New Yorkers, in what is now Herkimer County. Now, you probably wouldn’t believe that Oliver and Anne had named their first child, born in 1768, Benjamin, after grandpa, would you? Yes, they really did.

Benjamin got married along about 1790 and by 1820 his wife had 12 more little Lawtons. It seems that when they got to number eight they were running out of new names to call him, so they reverted back to Benjamin once again. Between 1820 and 1830 they got tired of Herkimer County and moved on up north to Jefferson County.

Their son Benjamin was born on a frosty morn in October of 1807. This nonsense had been going on for over 300 years now in this family. At twenty two he looked around Jefferson County until he spied this little gal by the name of Betsy Chase. He never had to look very far really, ’cause she lived in sight of his place her whole life. She took his eye and nature taking its course they got married, and seven more little Lawtons were born between 1830 and 1850. The second of these was Joseph born in 1833.

Joe at times was a teacher, a carpenter, an undertaker, and a farmer. I never could figure out if he was a real go-getter, or if he just couldn’t hold a job at anything. He married Jane Wilson, and by 1877 they had 11 kids, including twins Will and Wealthy, born in 1866.

Will married Mary Houghton in 1889 and they had two children, Clarence in 1892, and Clint in 1893. Mary died in 1894. Somewhere around 1900 Will met Cora Baker Lester who had three children Ada, Raymond, and Charles all born in the 1880s. Will and Cora got married, and to them three more children were born, Lloyd in 1905, Floyd in 1907, and Clara in 1911.

Of these eight children Lloyd met and married Alice Halladay in 1925, and moved northward to St Lawrence County in 1936. By 1951 thirteen more Lawton curtain climbers had entered this world. I am the seventh child of this family having been born in Ogdensburg in 1938. At present I have four known children, and ten grandchildren, and now it’s been a bit more than 500 years since this saga began.

Where will it all end?