James Olmsted, Hartford Founder

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Compiled by Timothy Lester Jacobs, SDFH Genealogist

JAMES1 OLMSTEAD, HARTFORD FOUNDER (JAMESA) was baptized 04 Dec 1580 in Great Leighs, Essex, England, and died bef. 28 Sep 1640 in Hartford, CT (inventory). He married JOYCE CORNISH 26 Oct 1605 in Great Leighs, Essex, England. She was born abt. 1586 in England, and died abt. 21 Apr 1621 in Fairstead, Essex, England (buried).

James Olmstead (Olmsted) emigrated from England to the Massachusetts Bay colony aboard the ship “Lyon” in 1632, and was made freeman 6 November 1632. His first residence was in Cambridge where he was Constable in 1634, was elected selectman 3 February 1634/5 and was on a committee to survey town lands on that same date. He was the father of Hartford Founder Nicolas Olmstead, and the uncle of Hartford Founders Richard and Dr. John Olmstead.

He was among the so-called “Adventurers Party” of twenty-five men who set out to explore the area that would become Hartford, led by John Steele in October 1635, prior to the departure from Cambridge of the Rev. Hooker’s party in May 1636. He owned eight parcels of land in Cambridge, but removed to Hartford June 1636, where he was an original proprietor.

In the Hartford land inventory of February 1639/40 he held thirteen parcels of land: two acres with a dwelling house, outhouses, yards and gardens, located on road from the Little River to the North Meadow; one acre, two roods and thirty-six perches in the Little Meadow; five acres and twenty-four perches of meadow and swamp in the North Meadow; thirty-two acres and three roods and nine perches, of meadow and swamp in the North Meadow; four acres and thirty-two perches on the east side of the Great River; twenty-six acres in the Old Oxpasture; two acres, three roods and eight perches in the Adventurer’s Field; sixteen acres, three roots and eight perches in the Cow Pasture; eight acres and two roods of meadow and swamp in the South Meadow; two acres, three roods and thirty-two perches of meadow and swamp in Hockanum; four acres, two roods and thirty-six perches in the Neck of Land; seven acres, three roods and sixteen perches also in the Neck of Land; and twenty acres, two roods and twenty-four perches in the Cow Pasture.

His undated will was attested and inventory taken 28 September 1640.

Genealogy: “Genealogy of the Olmstead Family in America”, Henry K. Olmstead & George K. Ward, New York, 1912

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