Ebenezer Winter Calef, Midshipman

Ebenezer Winter Calef. Ebenezer Winter Calef, the third of nine children born to Joseph Calef, Jr. (1724-1776) of Milton, MA and his wife Mehitable Miller (1735-1790). His father was the son of Joseph Calef and Hannah Jordan and his mother the daughter of Colonel Samuel Miller and Rebecca Minot, also of Milton. Joseph Calef and Mehitable Miller were married in 1758, their intentions published in Boston on 21 September. Within days of the marriage, Mehitable Calef bore twin sons Joseph and Samuel on 12 September 1758. One month later on 24 October 1758, the newlyweds’ parents, Samuel and Rebecca Miller “for love” gave the couple 40-1/2 acres of land in Milton. Ebenezer Winter Calef was born in Milton on 17 August 1760 and named after his father’s brother, a Boston tanner. In 1761, three years after the marriage, Mehitable’s brother Samuel Miller conveyed two and one half acres with a house and barn to Joseph Calef, Jr. of Boston, merchant. It has not been determined which parcel was located on the north side of Pleasant Street in Milton where Joseph Calef built what became known as the Jason Reed House to raise his family and which he subsequently sold to Ezra Coats. In his 1818 pension application #S-34169, Ebenezer Winter Calef- formerly of Cambridgeport, MA and now of Walpole, MA- testified that he served in the US Navy for eleven months. Joseph Calef of Lisbon, MA- presumably his older brother- was a declarent in the pension application. Ebenezer W. Calef originally went on board the frigate Boston under Captain Hector McNeill (1728-1785) in Boston as a volunteer serving in the capacity of mariner, or common seaman. During his time of service, Calef testified the frigate Boston cruised off the Banks of Newfoundland and captured the British frigate Fox. His name appears as Winter Calef on the Alphabetical List of Officers and Men of the Ship Boston that appears on pages 41-45 of Gardner Weld Allen’s publication “Captain Hector McNeill of the Continental Navy” (1922) which also indicates what appears to be Calef’s watch station during battle- Larboard (Port) on the “F. Braces & Crossjack do”. The Continental frigate Boston under the command of Hector McNeill sailed from Boston on 21 May 1777 in company with the frigate Hancock under Captain John Manley. On 29 May, the ships captured a small brig with a cargo of cordage and duck. The following day, they encountered the 64-gun British warship Somerset and her convoy of transports, but managed to escape. On 7 June 1777, the Boston and Hancock engaged the 28-gun frigate Fox, the Boston finally forcing the Fox to surrender. The British brig Flora recaptured the Fox and on 7 & 8 July 1777, the enemy ships Flora, Rainbow and Victor successfully engaged and captured the Hancock. The Boston did not come to the Hancock’s aid and escaped to the Sheepscott River in Maine where the list of officers and men previously mentioned was recorded on 16 July 1777. Subsequently, the disgraced McNeill was suspended from duty, court-martialed in June, relieved of his command and dismissed from service in September 1777. At the expiration of his term of service, Calef entered on board the frigate “Rolla”, or Raleigh, under the command of Captain John Barry as Midshipman for one cruise in 1777. Ebenezer W. Calef is silent in the pension application on whether he escaped with Captain Barry or was among the 132 men with First Lieutenant David Phipps and Marine Lieutenant Jabez Smith who were captured early Monday morning 28 September 1778 by the British warships Experiment and Unicorn. According to “John Gibson of Cambridge, MA: and his descendants” by Mehitable Calef Coppenhagen Wilson (1900), “Mr. (Ebenezer Winter) Calef while in London early in the revolution was pressed on board a British man-of-war in search of Dutch prizes, and for many years did not see his native country”. This tradition may suggest that Calef was captured in the affair and ended up serving in a British warship as a result. After the war, Ebenezer Winter Calef was married to Sarah (Sally) Gardner Gibson on 1 February 1800 by the Reverend Samuel West, pastor of Hollis Street Church in Boston. The couple’s intentions for marriage were actually published two years earlier on 17 January 1798. His bride Sarah Gibson was the fifth child of Lieutenant Abraham Gibson and Esther Fox. She was born on 5 September 1767 in Concord, MA and was previously married to one Mr. Rosendell of New York on his deathbed. The Reverend Samuel West (1730-1807), who assumed the pulpit held for many years by Mather Byles, was a leading liberal opponent to the theology of Jonathan Edwards and led his flock from their congregational roots to Unitarianism during his pastorate from 1789 until his death. According to “John Gibson of Cambridge, MA: and his descendants” by Mehitable Calef Coppenhagen Wilson (1900), “shortly after his marriage he settled in Cape Elizabeth on part of the Winter-Jordan inheritance, ” the ould plantation at Spurwinke,” but in 1815 sold his farm of 180 acres and returning to Massachusetts located in Walpole.” The newspaper Eastern Argus of 2 August 1805 includes the name Ebenezer Winter Calef of Cape Elizabeth on a list of letters to be picked up at the Post Office in Portland. Calef’s family of five is detailed in the 1810 Census records for Cape Elizabeth. His wife Sally bore four children: Sarah Gibson Calef born 7 February 1801 at Cape Elizabeth, MA; Mehitable Miller Calef born 3 February 1803 in Boston; Ebenzer Winter Calef, Jr. born 18 May 1804 in Boston who died in September 1805 and youngest son Major Ebenezer Winter Calef III, born on 13 June 1807 who died in June 1875 in Milton, MA. Major Calef appears to have served as an officer of the 1st Regiment of Colonel Josiah M. Bird’s 2nd Brigade of the Massachusetts Militia’s 1st Infantry Division in 1831. He is described as a shopkeeper in Boston in 1833 and later as a merchant of New Orleans. His wife Rebecca, five years younger, was born in Maine. Older sister Sarah Gibson Calef married Charles Lyman Senter of Center Harbor on 21 October 1835 at Dorchester and died at Walpole on 1 February 1844. Their son- Charles Winter Coppenhagen Senter, born after the death of his grandfather Ebenezer Winter Calef, served as a 3rd and 2nd assistant engineer in the U.S. Navy aboard the the Richmond and Shenandoah during the Civil War. After the conflict on 24 January 1870, he was lost with his ship, the US steamer Oneida, when she was run into by the English mail steamer Bombay off Yokohama, Japan. Younger sister Mehitable Miller Calef was married at Walpole to widower Arnold Wilhelm Martel Coppenhagen (1777-1851) of Boston and Dorchester by the Reverend John P.B. Storer on 17 March 1831. The Copenhagen children include: Arnold William, Mehitable Calef, Maria Frances, Sarah Agnes and John Henry. In 1818, Ebenezer Winter Calef testified in his pension application that “by reason of his reduced circumstances in life, he is in need of assistance from his country for support.” Calef- of Cape Elizabeth, ME and Walpole, MA- died at Walpole on 9 February 1829. The death is reported in the Weekly Register newspaper of 19 February 1829. His widow Sarah Gibson Calef died on Tuesday evening 21 June 1836 at Dorchester, MA and was buried in Mt. Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, MA next to her husband Ebenezer Winter Calef and near her daughter Mehitable Miller Calef Coppenhagen in the Coppenhagen plot. Sarah Calef’s death was reported in the Norfolk Advertiser on 25 June 1836. The estate of Ebenezer Winter Calef appears to have been probated in Norfolk County, MA in 1844, fifteen years after his death.

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