Shall We Gather at the River?
By Marlene Morris and Susy Wetz
It has been nearly four centuries since Roger Williams, John
Greene, and Samuel Gorton set foot on American soil. These were men of strong character who stood
firmly on their commitment to liberty.
It was a time when Puritans and Pilgrims arrived in New England, seeking
freedom of religion and thought. A dangerous
clash of ideals aroused the wrath of Governor John Winthrop. These three men were persecuted; they were
tried in court; they were physically attacked; they were banished from
We fast forward to the late 1700s when the pioneers, the
descendants of these three men, found their way to the frontier of Washington
County, Ohio. Another generation of
brave men and women founded what we today know as Newport, Ohio. It was not an easy decision to leave the
region where most people lived within fifty miles of the Atlantic Coast. The travel itself was fraught with danger and
hardship. The Indians in the Ohio
Country were not pleased to see the white man encroach on their land. One out of four babies born on the frontier died
before the age of four. Women were
isolated and depressed in the drafty cabins darkened by a canopy of primeval
forests. Cholera, diphtheria, small pox,
yellow fever, and ague brought heartache to the small communities in which
medical care was much the same as in the Middle Ages. Yet, the pioneers persevered and organized communities that
formed the state of Ohio in 1803.
We are proud to present the story of the brave souls who
crossed the Atlantic Ocean and those who crossed the Allegheny Mountains. The story spans more than two centuries,
concluding in the mid-1800s. However,
this story in reality has no end. The
descendants of Williams, Greene, Gorton, and the early pioneers in Washington
County continue to blaze trails. Some of
the descendants are living in faraway lands.
Some are living in Newport.
It was our goal to research and write the story that brings
life to the brave men and women, our ancestors, who explored new
frontiers. The world is a very different
place in the 21st century, and it will be a very different place in
succeeding centuries. We need the
inspiration of those who braved the unknown and left lovely footprints on our
land and on our hearts.
The 2008 Greene Reunion Book is available on Amazon.com .
After the hard-copy books were printed, we found there was one factual error, and that error has been corrected on the e-book. Thanks to Togin Cassell for letting us know! The printed copy should read:
Only Eliza and Maria of Jonathan and
Phebe’s four children lived to an old age.
John was the first child, the one born in
Warwick, Rhode Island. He captained
steamboats on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers and sailed from New York for Cuba
and Latin American ports. He married
Mary Ann Carolton. One child, a
daughter, was born while John was at sea.
She lived only three days. John
died in 1825 on board ship; the cause, yellow fever.
The second child was Charles. Until his marriage, he flatboated produce
down the Mississippi River for the farmers of Belpre. He married Elizabeth Dana, and they had two
daughters, Mary Ann and Pamelia Francis.
Charles made a living as a merchant.
When Mary Ann was four and Pamelia two, tragedy stuck this young
family. Charles drowned while swimming
to capture boats that had broken loose.
Maria and Eliza married brothers; Maria
married Jesse Lawton, a son of James and Susannah Gould Lawton. They had six children; Maria was born on
November 20, 1800, and died on July 5, 1870. Eliza married James Lawton, who left his
recollections, and they were parents to eight children. Eliza died in 1898.