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The Colonial Years

All the evidence collected so far suggests that the first for-certain Dibble in our line was Lieutenant Jonathan Dibble, who was probably born in 1711 in East Hampton, Suffolk County (Long Island), New York. (It is standard genealogical usage to give locations in the form town, county, state. This can be confusing when one of those items isn't known, because it is NOT standard to include "County" when giving a county name. This history follows standard usage, but will show whether a place is a county or town when all three items are not stated.)

East Hampton was the first English settlement in what is now New York State. It was established in 1639 when Lion Gardiner bought an island, today known as Gardiner's Island, from the Montaukett people. On June 12, 1640, several Puritan families from Lynn, MA, landed in what became Southampton, and some of them migrated to East Hampton.

"Puritans" were also called "dissenters" or "nonconformists" in England. They were Protestants who disagreed with the direction the Church of England began to take in the early 17th. century.

At that time the Church had adopted some of the principles of John Calvin, a French preacher who spent much of his life in Switzerland. However, when Charles I became king, and, therefore, Supreme Governor of the Church of England, he began moving that church's practices back toward the "high church" rites that came from Roman Catholicism. Charles is sometimes said to have promoted Catholic doctrines as well as practices, but he was theologically more inclined toward Arminianism, which was a variant of Calvinism, though not the one that English Church members had gotten used to. At any rate, this didn't sit well with many of Charles' subjects, and in those days people were willing to imprison, torture, or kill each other over issues such as whether congregants should sing in church, or whether incense should be used.

Charles gradually tightened the screws, taking civil rights away from people who weren't members of the Church of England, requiring use of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer in all churches (which radical Puritans considered "too Catholic"), and eventually prosecuting nonconformist leaders and punishing them by pillory, whipping, cropping, and prison. However, various noncomformist congregations continued to operate in secret.

The nonconformists were not a homogenous lot; they tended to fight among themselves over doctrine or privilege. Having left the Church of England, they would set up their own churches, then fire the preacher for disagreeing with them. The preacher would take some of the congregation with him and form yet another church. Eventually some of these preachers and their followers decided they would be both safer from the King, and better able to hold a congregation together, in the wilderness of America, which is how Jonathan's probable ancestors got here.

Crossing the ocean did not make these people any less contentious, though. They continued feuding and splitting up after they arrived, which is likely one of the reasons why the settlers moved from Lynn to East Hampton.

That group held church services in one of their homes until they decided to build a meeting house, in 1652. This church may be the forerunner of today's First Presbyterian Church of East Hampton, which claims to have existed for over three centuries. Both the Presbyterian and Congregationalist sects derive doctrine, but not organizational principles, from Calvin.

It is possible to construct a very reasonable, even quite probable, scenario for Jonathan's ancestry. But there are enough gaps and questions in the official record that we cannot say conclusively that this scenario is correct. You can read about it here.

We don't have a birth date for Jonathan, which is why we say he was "probably" born in 1711. It was not uncommon in those days of high infant mortality for families to wait until they were pretty certain a child would live before performing a "christening" or baptism. We know for sure, though, that he was baptized in East Hampton by Nathanial Huntting, the second pastor of the East Hampton meeting house, on October 28, 1711.

Huntting's record of that baptism reads, in full:

"28 Oct 1711 - Jonathan - George Dibbles - child"

This is the only official record we have for who Jonathan's father was. There are other candidates, but since this is an official record, and the other possibilities have no such documentation behind them, I have accepted that Jonathan's father was a man named George.

We don't know anything about Jonathan's early years. His father is thought to have died on April 25, 1721, when Jonathan would have been around 10 years old. Maybe at that point he (and, perhaps, his mother Abigail; nobody knows when she died) was taken in by the CT relatives.

In any event, Jonathan next appears in official records on November 11, 1736, when he married Sarah Jessup in the Stanwich Congregational Church in Fairfield County, CT.

This church was established in 1732 as an offshoot of the Stamford church by a group of parishioners that included a man named George Dibble, who may have been Jonathan's second cousin. It was more than a church, however, it was a parish, which effectively established it as a separate town, though it is part of Greenwich, CT today. It had its own militia, and in 1734 this George was named a Captain in it.

Jonathan and Sarah had several children:

Sarah Dibble, born October 11, 1737. (She later married Jacob Valentine.)
Deborah Dibble, born June 26, 1739, in Stamford. (She married James Varian, and died on April 12, 1823.)
George Dibble, born December 2, 1740, in Stamford.
Abigail Dibble, born March 31, 1743, in Stamford. (She later married Edward Jessup.)
Elizabeth Dibble, born April 25, 1745 in Stamford. (She married Ebenezer Jessup.)

By 1747 Jonathan was a Lieutenant in the Stanwich militia. He was also a significant land owner.

The Reverend Henry Griswold Jesup published a family history, Edward Jessup of West Farms, Westchester Co., New York, and His Descendants, in 1887. (Two of Jonathan's daughters and one of his sons married Jessups.) According to Jesup, Lieutenant Dibble owned land on the west side of Chatham Square in New York City and "held a lease of the premises in the Bowery, known as the 'Bull's Head Tavern.'"

The Bull's Head was a famous--or infamous--bar. Difficult as it is to imagine today, the place was a spot where cowboys driving herds of cattle to market would stop to relax, get some drinks, and party loud and long in the 18th. century. The man who built it, in around 1750, was Richard Varian. He may have been a younger brother of the James Varian who married Jonathan's daughter Deborah.

Jonathan also owned land on the Hudson River in Wallkill, near Poughkeepsie, NY. And Jesup reports that, "In consequence of the small-pox becoming epidemic, probably about 1760," he sold his New York City holdings and bought a large farm that straddled the NY-CT line, with parts in Bedford, NY and parts in Stamford, CT. His official residence seems nearly always to have been in Stamford, as four of his five children are recorded as being born there, including his only son George. However, Reverend Jesup says that this George, from whom our line is descended, was actually born in the Bull's Head Tavern. Since Jonathan was the landlord, this at least seems possible.

Soon after buying the farm, Jonathan ... well, bought the farm, on April 17, 1760, and was buried in "Brush Cemetery, Stamford, Fairfield, Connecticut".

On June 20, 1762, his son George Dibble married Phebe (also spelled Phoebe) Jessup.

Now, a word needs to be said here, though it's not clear which word that should be. Phebe is reported to be George's cousin, though the available data on this connection is very confused and may be erroneous. In any event, the Dibbles were apparently in very deep with the Jessups for at least two generations. However, this sort of thing does not seem to be unusual in genealogy. We also have a Thomas Dibbel/Dibell/Dibble marrying a Hannah Jessup in the Hamptons on Long Island around 1690 (about 20 years before Jonathan was baptized there).

George and Phebe's children, all born in Stamford, were:

Jonathan Dibble (10/11/1762 - 11/26/1784)
Samuel Dibble (born 8/2/1764, married Hannah Platt)
Sarah Dibble (born 10/17/1766)
Deborah Dibble (born 7/25/1768, married Robert Eames)
Abigail Dibble (8/20/1770 - 10/12/1819, married Joseph Feeks)
George Dibble Jr. (1/7/1773 - 9/9/1798)
Josiah Dibble (born 11/22/1774, married Catherine Smith)
Phebe Dibble (born 2/4/1777)
Elizabeth Jessup Dibble (3/4/1779 - 1/6/1852, married Solomon Ingersall)
John Dibble (6/26/1782 - 8/1/1840)
Mary Ann Dibble (born 1/1/1785, married David L. Palmer)
Jonathan Dibble (born 3/4/1788, married Mary D. Smith)
Grace Dibble (born 5/8/1790, married Simon W. Cooper)

All of these children were baptized by the Reverend Ebenezer Dibblee at St. John's Episcopal Church in Stamford. He was the pastor there for 51 years before he died in 1799. Reverend Dibblee, a descendant of Robert Deeble, changed the spelling of his name because he had heard that the origin of the name might have been the French word for "devil". Notably, this is not the Calvinist Congregational Church a few miles up the road in Stanwich, which Jonathan's second cousin George Dibble helped establish.

During the Revolutionary War, some of the Connecticut Dibbles, including Reverend Dibblee, were unquestionably Tories, supporters of the Crown. During Major General William Tryon's raid on Danbury, he used as his headquarters the home of Nehemiah Dibble, Jr., which, it was said, was not burned later by the British because of the owner's pro-British sympathies. Nehemiah was a Robert Deeble descendant through the King Philip's War hero Ebenezer Dibble.

According to the Rev. Jesup, George, son of Jonathan, "did not take up arms on either side", but George's first son named Jonathan was a loyalist. In this he was not unusual; research indicates that the majority of the citizens of the 13 colonies were pro-British at the time. He was a surgeon in the British navy, and he showed courage by trying to visit his father during the war. He went out riding and was nearly killed by American soldiers, but was rescued by an officer who was a friend of the family. Later he was taken prisoner when his ship was captured by an American privateer. After the war, like many Tories, he moved to Canada. Soon after that, on November 26, 1784, he went out hunting and got caught in a blizzard. The young man died, Jesup says, "within a half-mile of his own door."

Although many CT Dibbles served in the War of 1812, it seems that none of George's sons did.

George Dibble died on April 19, 1817, and is buried in "Bush Yard, Stanwich, Fairfield, Connecticut". This is the same cemetery where his father Jonathan was buried, a private cemetery near the actual village of Stamford, which, as Reverend Jesup reports, later became part of the farm of one "John H. Brush of Stanwich".

George's son John Dibble married Sarah Elizabeth Howe (5/4/1799 - 1/16/1875; she was the daughter of Silas Howe and Abigail Fisk). Their first eight children were:

Silas Dibble (5/5/1816 - 8/23/1898)
Henry Dibble (9/7/1818 - 3/28/1901, married Harriet Searcey on 11/1/1841)
Charles Dibble (8/16/1820 - 5/14/1904, married Elizabeth Mary Searcey on 5/21/1845)
George Dibble (9/12/1822 - 1/2/1893, married Mary Ann Creig on 11/17/1846)
Harvey Dibble (born 11/10/1824)
Alonzo Dibble (12/12/1826 - 7/10/1891)
Sarah Elizabeth Dibble (born 2/4/1829, married Jacob Powell on 11/11/1847)
John W. Dibble (born 8/20/1831, married Malinda Hizer on 3/7/1850, then married Lydia Ann Bowman on 7/19/1853)

Map of the Middle Colonies, 1607-1760, showing western CT and New York

Postcard painting of Stamford Harbor

Woodcut of the Bull's Head Tavern

Color photo of Lt. Jonathan Dibble's headstone

Color photo of George Dibble's headstone in Stamford, CT

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Photo of a dibble, a gardening tool for making holes
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