|Who Was Coventry John Morse?|
Part of Page 660 of the 1800 Federal Census for Orleans County
If Samuel and Tisdale Cobb were the first people to settle in Coventry, Vermont, then who in
the heck was John Morse and his family of 7?
On August 4, 1800 enumerators in Orleans County began their count of families for the Federal Census. In the town of Coventry they listed a single head of household. John Morse. He was living in Coventry in a family of 7 which included his wife, 3 sons and 2 daughters. This listing would make them the first settlers in Coventry.
But the conventional histories of Coventry make no mention of the Morse family. According to Pliny White, the first family to settle in Coventry was the Cobb family. After visiting in the fall of 1799 the Cobbs returned in March of 1800 to clear land and build cabins. By the end of the summer they were joined by the rest of their wives and children and established themselves on the land for decades to come. John Morse apparently left Coventry as mysteriously as he came. He is not listed in the next census in 1810.
How is it that the Cobbs apparently never made contact with the Morses, a family of 7 living in the same town as them? Why have historians consistently named the Cobbs as the original settlers in Coventry when the Federal Census would seem to contradict this fact? How is it that the Federal Census enumerators managed to find the Morse family in Coventry but never found the two Cobb families?
Who was John Morse? How did he get here? Why did his neighbors miss him? And where did he go?
- United States Federal Census for Orleans County, 1800
- Pliny White, A History of Coventry Vermont, Orleans County, Vermont, 1859 Irasburgh, VT
- Abby Maria Hemenway, Vermont Historical Gazetteer Vol 3, 1877, Claremont, NH