New Brunswick History and Other Stuff

Bunker Genealogy; Five Bunkers

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James Buncker was my 6th great grandfather, and James Jr., Benjamin, Isaac and Samuel were my 5th, 4th 3rd and 2nd great grandfathers. My father’s mother was Nettie Sarah Bunker, and she was a daughter of John Thomas Bunker and a granddaughter of Samuel.

 This summary is derived from Bunker Genealogy, by Edward C. Moran Jr., Rockland, Maine, 1961, Volume III (the second revised edition), edited by Ruth Bunker Christiansen, et. al.; and internet sources.

 James1 Buncker

 James Buncker was born in England in 1628, a son of James and Elizabeth Buncker. He was baptized on February 10, 1633 or 1634 in the Parish church of Slapton, Devonshire, England. His christening is the earliest record of the name James among the Devonshire Bunckers. From this point onward, I will refer to James as Bunker, not Buncker.

At the age of 18 years in March of 1646, James served on a Coroner’s Jury examining Charles Frost concerning the death of Warwick Heard of Eliot in Kittery, Maine. We do not know how or why he came to America, but he apparently came without any other family members. He was living at the home of Mrs. Trueworthy between about 1648 and 1649 and was employed by widow Catherine Shapleigh.

James moved the short distance away to a section of Dover, New Hampshire that later became the town of Durham when he was in his early to mid-20s, witnessing a deed there in 1652. He built a fortified home known as ‘Bunker’s Garrison’ in the Oyster River Plantation area, to withstand Indian attacks. It had nine-inch thick hemlock walls, except for the gable ends, and loopholes that were later enlarged into windows. The garrison was torn down in 1927 but some ruins were still evident in 1971.

There are many records of James Bunker in Dover. The Selectmen of Dover granted 236 acres of land to him and to William Follett on October 8, 1653. This land was located between Bunker’s Creek and Johnson’s Creek. He signed a petition against patentees in 1654. In 1655, he took an oath of fidelity, and in June of 1657 he was a Grand Juror in which year he was also on the Dover tax list.

James married Sarah Nute, daughter of James and Sarah Nute.

Records of James Bunker continued. He was on various tax lists. He signed a petition to be freed of Massachusetts jurisdiction on July 26, 1665. He was administrator of the estate of William Roberts in 1676, and he was on a list of persons eligible to vote for a representative to Portsmouth on February 16, 1679.

Bunker’s Garrison was the last garrison of the Oyster River Plantation to be attacked by Indians in 1694, when 250 Abenaki warriors ravaged both sides of the river over a path some six miles long. They swept outward in groups of eight to ten, killing and capturing ninety-four or more people, one-third of the population. Half of the settlement was burned to the ground. The attackers destroyed countless crops and killed hundreds of head of livestock, bringing famine and financial ruin. Bunker’s Garrison was one of the few to escape destruction.

Ann Jenkins testified:  I, “Ann Jenkins, of full age, Testifieth & saith, that at Oyster River, on the eighteenth of July last past, in the morning about the dawning of the day my husband being up went out of the dore, & presently returning cried to me & our children to run for our lives, for the Indians had beset the town: whereupon my husband & myself fled with our children into our corne field, & at our entrance into the field, Bomazeen, whouume I have seen since I came out of captivity in the prison, came towards us & about ten Indians more: & the sd Bomazeen then shot at my husband and shote him down, ran to him & struck him three blows on the head with a hatchet, scalped him & run him three times with a bayonet. I also saw the said Bomazeen knock one of my children on the head & tooke of her scalp & then put the child into her father’s armes; and then stabbed the breast. And Bomazeen also then killed my husband’s grandmother & scalped her, and then led me up to a house and plundered it & then set it on fire & carried me & my three children into captivity, together with the rest of our neighbors, whose lives were spared, being at first forty nine: but in one miles goeing, or thereabouts, they killed three children, so there remained forty six captives. & that night the company parted & the captives were distributed, but before they parted I, this deponent, numbered one hundred and fourty of Indians & fourteen frenchmen & then, when I tooke account, there were more firing at Woodmans garrison & at Burnhams garrison, but the number unknown to me. Myself with nine captives more were carried up to penecook & were Left with three Indians, & that party went to Greaten, Bomazeen being their Commander. In nine days they returned & brought twelve captives: & from thence with their canoes, sometimes a float, & sometimes carried, untill that we came to Norridgeawocke, which took us fifteen dayes, & staid about two months there, then dispersed into the woods, twoe or three families in a place, & kept moving toe & froe, staeing about a week in a place, until they brought us down to pemaquid & delivered us to Capt. March. Bomazeen was my Master; his wife my Mistriss, untill Bonmzecn was taken at pemaquid; after that I belonged to his wife, untill about two months before I was brought down to pemaquid; for then the Indian Minister, called prince Waxaway, bought me, when I was brought to great weakness and extremity by their bad usage, and showed me great kindhess; by whose means, under God, my life was preserved. My mistriss was very cruel to me & I was cruelly whipt seaven times & they intended so to proceed, once a week, untill they had killed me; but that the Indian Minister had compassion on me & rescued me. That Indian Minister also bought three captives more, and freed them froin their hard usage. Their names are Nicholas Frost, Sarah Braggonton and Thomsand Drue.”

James’ will was dated October 14, 1697 and was signed James ‘Buncker’. The will was probated on June 24, 1698, and mentions his wife Sarah and sons James Jr., Joseph and John.  James Jr. was the executor. There was also a daughter, Mary, who married Thomas Drew.

Sarah died after 1698.

 James2 Bunker

 James Jr. was born in 1665 in the section of Dover that later became Durham, New Hampshire. He was granted land there in 1693 or 1694.

James participated with his father in the defense of Bunker’s Garrison against the Indians on July 17, 1694. Reverend John Pike later recorded in his diary that the “Indians fell suddenly & unexpectedly upon Oyster River about break of Day. Took 3 Garrisons (being deserted or not defended) killed & Carried away 94 persons, & burnt 13 houses – this was the f[i]r[st] act of hostility Committed by [them] after ye peace Concluded at Pemmaqd.”  Many of the wounded were evacuated to Portsmouth. Several of the survivors removed to Massachusetts.

The Treaty of Pemaquid had not worked out well for the Abenaki, who were viewed by the other tribal groups as having made a treaty on behalf of all of the eastern Indians. This insulted them, and a raid was necessary in order to protect Abenaki sovereignty. The aftermath reverberated all of the way to Quebec City where the French were concerned about English/Indian alliances. Villebon wrote in his diary “the blow struck was important, because it will put an end to the negotiations which have been going on, and leave no chance for their renewal.” 

The English were very severely impacted by these events. A militia Captain wrote “Just now arrived a post from Oyster River. The Indians have destroyed the place killed & burned all they could. Nere [a one] have Escaped and are too badly wounded doe not know but they be all over our frontiers.”  Another person observed “judge the whole place is cutt off.”  Yet another person saw it as part of a larger struggle “we fear Severall other … Towns in the province are besett.”

James signed a petition with his father James Sr. and his brother Joseph for Oyster River(which later became Durham) to be declared a township in 1695. He was also listed as executor of his father’s estate on June 24, 1698. He was Constable of Dover in 1698.

James married first, before 1700, Anne Thomas. She was a daughter of James Thomas and Martha Goddard. James and Martha had a family of four boys and two girls.

There are a number of public records of James’ activities. He was authorized to receive claims against the estate of William Follett on August 7, 1705. He was deeded the Follett portion of the land between Bunker’s Creek and Johnson’s Creek that had been granted jointly to William Follett and his father on October 8, 1653, by Neccolas (sic) and Mary Follett of Portsmouth on March 29, 1707. The will of Thomas Huckins of January 9, 1719/20 named as executor “my brother-in-law James Bunker”.

Ann (Thomas) Bunker died sometime between 1716 and 1720, and James married Martha Downs in 1720 or before. Martha was a daughter of Thomas Downs and Mary Lord, and was born in 1691. They had one son, Elijah, born in 1720.

 “In or about the year 1722 he (James) died intestate, leaving James the plaintiff his eldest son and his other sons Joseph, Benjamin, Clement and Elijah and his daughter Love now Love Millett and Patience his heirs.”  His estate was valued at about 977 pounds, and the administrators were his sons James and Joseph, both of Dover. His widow, Martha (Downs) Bunker, was re-married to John Mackelroy in 1722.

Articles of Agreement were reached between Martha Mackelroy “widow relict of James Bunker late of Dover” and “James Bunker and Joseph Bunker both of Dover administrators of the estate of their late father James Bunker”, by which she agreed “to maintain the child she hath had by the aforesaid deceased”. This agreement was signed on December 8, 1725.

Martha Critchett, who was the Martha Goddard who married first James Thomas and second Elias Critchett, divided her estate, inherited from “my own father Jno Goddard”, and bequeathed it to the “children of my daughter Ann Bunker”, the first wife of James Bunker, by deed of August 4, 1729.

The seven children of James Bunker were listed in the division of his estate on May 15, 1759. A map was drawn showing the division between James, Joseph, Clement, and Love (Bunker) Millett, James having previously bought the interests of Benjamin, Elijah and his sister Patience (Bunker) Drew.

 Benjamin3 Bunker

 Benjamin was born in 1710 in Dover, New Hampshire, and was married in 1730 to Abigail. He witnessed a deed at Dover on March 21, 1732/33, and was granted 63 acres at Brunswick, Maine on January 10, 1740, and 115 acres on January 12, 1740. They had a family of six boys and five girls.

On November 26, 1740, he quit claimed all of his rights to “the estate of James Bunker my father late of Oyster River in Dover, N.H.” to his brother James and removed from Brunswick before the middle of the following year to Dover. This was during the course of litigation with William Booker of York, Maine.

On June 26, 1741 he and others were deeded the 150 acre Lot 163 in Barrington, New Hampshire by Joseph Hicks and Thomas Leighton of Dover, and deeded his 12th part thereof on the same day to Partridge Farren and his wife Abigail.

He was involved in another litigation with Joseph Patterson of Newington, New Hampshire in 1741-44 and, on February 13, 1745, he enlisted as a Private in Captain Hale’s Company of Colonel Moore’s regiment and later became Clerk of that Company. He was promoted to Ensign on August 10, 1745 and participated in the capture of Louisburg on Cape Breton Island on June 17, 1745. For this service, all of his descendants are eligible for membership in the Societies of Colonial War Descendants.

Benjamin was sued by James Nute of Dover on November 11, 1745, and he was involved in another litigation with Jotham Odiorne Jr. on June 5, 1746.

Benjamin removed to Brunswick, Maine again, between 1748 and 1752, where he sold six acres of land in Merriconeag in the town of North Yarmouth (in the Brunswick area, and later part of Harpswell) to Thomas Skofield on March 11, 1755. He relocated from Harpswell to Great Cranberry Island, Maine, between July, 1759 and October, 1763.

English settlement in eastern Maine was not possible prior to the defeat of the French at Quebec City in 1759. When Governor Bernard’s surveyor, John Jones, visited the area in the summer of 1762, he found on Great Cranberry Island “Bunker’s house” and “Bunker’s seawall on which Benjamin Bunker dwells” and “Jno Bunker’s hutt (sic)”. Bunker was the first settler on this island.

Benjamin Bunker deeded Little Cranberry Island to “my son John Bunker” on July 20, 1768, and land on Great Cranberry Island to “my sons Isaac and Aaron Bunker” on August 1, 1768.

It was likely the exposed position of the Cranberry Islands during the American Revolution that caused Benjamin and his sons Isaac and Benjamin Jr. to take up land at Norwood Cove on Clark’s Point on the main island of Mount Desert in 1775 or 1776. This land was later called the Ebenezer Eaton Lots. Benjamin was appointed surveyor of roads at Mount Desert in 1777, and was granted 100 acres of land as a “settler’s right” by the Massachusetts General Court on June 29, 1787. He was still at Mount Desert in a roll made in June, 1785.

Benjamin died in about 1818 at the age of 108 years. A letter dated January 9, 1874 from John Bunker, born 1802, to Horace Gilley Bunker reads in part: “My great-grandfather Bunker settled in Mt. Desert. He lived to a great age, 108 years, and he had five sons John, Aaron, Isaac, Benjamin and Silas. Isaac settled in Gouldsboro, Silas in Sedgwick, and the others on Mt. Desert in the vicinity of Norwood’s Cove.”  Benjamin is buried in a field across the highway from the Bunker Garrison and near the river at Durham, New Hampshire.

 Isaac4 Bunker

Isaac was born in 1740, probably in Brunswick, Maine, and married Esther Ives before 1760, probably at Brunswick or North Yarmouth. Esther was born in 1740. They had a family of nine boys and three girls.

Isaac was at Cranberry Island, in Mount Desert in 1762. He was deeded land on Great Cranberry Island by his father on August 1, 1768.

In 1755, he took up land with his father Benjamin and brother Benjamin Jr. at Norwood’s Cove on the main island of Mount Desert “including the whole Minister’s Point”. He sold this same land to Rev. Ebenezer Eton of Sedgewick on October 21, 1801. The total acreage for all three men was 270 acres.

Isaac was chosen a member of the Committee of Correspondence, Safety and Inspection at the first public meeting of Mount Desert Plantation on March 30, 1776, and again on April 11, 1780. For this service, all of his descendants qualify for membership in the Sons of the American Revolution or the Daughters of the American Revolution.

He deeded 100 acres on Great Cranberry Island and also Bar Islandto Margaritt (sic) Stanley on October 14, 1788, and he is said to have taken up a lot on the Eastern (DeGregoire) half of Mount Desert prior to 1791.

Isaac removed to Gouldsboro, Maine prior to March 31, 1797 and lived on land bounded on the west by Frenchman’s Bay.

On October 12, 1812, he deeded 100 acres, “the same lot that I purchased from Nathan Jones”, to his son Samuel with reservation of a portion thereof for himself. He was unable to collect the $500. payment, however, and brought suit in the Hancock County Court of Common Pleas in July of 1819 receiving his lot back. On December 21, 1821, he deeded “one-half of the lot on which I now live, the same I bought from Nathan Jones, containing 50 acres” at Gouldsboro to his son Theodore. In February of 1824 he deeded the other half of the same land to his son Benjamin for $300.

Esther died between December, 1820 and February, 1824, and Isaac died between 1825 and 1828 at Gouldsboro, Maine. Both are buried on the Oliver Bunker place at South Gouldsboro on the shore of Frenchman’s Bay. There is a plain rock slab grave marker.

Samuel5 Bunker

Samuel was born in 1788 in Gouldsboro, Maine. He was deeded land by his father there on October 12, 1812. He later moved from Gouldsboro to Rusagonis, New Brunswick with a friend named Hanwell, and it is said that he walked the distance, driving his cattle.

Samuel married Rebecca Thomas, a daughter of Joseph Thomas, on January 29, 1821 in Burton, New Brunswick. Samuel and Rebecca had a family of six boys and five girls. Rebecca was born in 1798 and died on April 9, 1880 in Rusagonis at the age of 82 years.

Samuel died on June 16, 1872 in Rusagonis at the age of 84 years.


Written by johnwood1946

July 20, 2011 at 3:18 PM

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  1. Hello John: I am a direct descendant of Samuel (5) Bunker as well – Charles (6): George Elbridge (7): Ellis Adams (8); Ellis (9); and then me William (Bill please) (10). I am in the first edition of the Bunker genealogy that Edward Moran wrote. Thanks for the more readable version of the history of our family.

    Bill Bunker

    February 20, 2017 at 12:45 PM

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