First Meeting - Foote Family Association of America
The first gathering of the Foote Family Association of America took place in Wethersfield, Connecticut, on June 5, 1907. The descendants of Nathaniel Foote,
the settler, gathered in the old town, and formed a permanent family organization. There were over one hundred representatives of the Foote family present from all over the United States.
For some six months previous to the meeting, a vigorous correspondence had been carried on between Judge Abram W. Foote, of Middlebury, Vermont, Mr. John M. Foote, of Plartford, Connecticut, Mr. Nathaniel Foote, of New York City, and Dr. Lewis Nathaniel Foote, of Brooklyn, New York.
As a result of these conferences, a letter was sent out to a few members of the family, and the responses were so hearty and Enthusiastic that no doubt was left as to the desire for a reunion, and the prospects appeared bright for its success.
Later, a general invitation was scattered as widely as possible.
On Tuesday afternoon, June 4th, representatives of the family from near and far began to gather in Hartford. The Garde Hotel had been chosen as the headquarters of the clan, and on that evening an informal reception was held, which was attended by some sixty-five persons.
Remarks were made by Judge Abram W. Foote touching the Foote coat-of-arms and its history. Some discussion followed, which was participated in by Mr. Nathaniel Foote, of New York, Judge Nathaniel Foote, of Rochester, New York, Mrs. Caroline Foote Marsh, of New York, Mrs. Mabel Ward Cameron, of Boston, and others. The reception was a most delightful affair.
Opening of the Reception
On the morning of June 5, 1907, a special electric car conveyed the guests to Wethersfield. Arrangements had most generously been made by the members of the Grange, the Business Men's Association and the selectmen of the town to entertain the gathering in the Grange Hall.
Dr. Lewis Nathaniel Foote, of Brooklyn, New York.
The reunion proper opened with an informal reception from 10 to 11 in the hall, when the assemblage was called to order by Dr. Lewis Nathaniel Foote, of Brooklyn, New York. He spoke briefly as follows:
Cousins and Friends:
It is indeed a great pleasure to be permitted to call to order this the first gathering of the Foote Family Association.
There have been other reunions of Foote's here and there throughout the country but to-day marks the beginning of the national, and who knows but that it may grow into an international organization.
From Boston to Seattle have responses come wishing good success to this gathering. So it behooves us to make firm the foundations we lay to-day that the Foote Family Association may last to the end of time.
The Rev. Henry Lewis Foote, of Marblehead, Massachusetts, delivered the invocation.
Judge Nathaniel Foote, of Rochester, N. Y.
Upon the declination of Mr. John Foote, of Hartford, Connecticut, to serve as presiding officer, the name of Judge Nathaniel Foote, of Rochester, N. Y., was presented, and he was unanimously chosen to fill that position. Upon assuming the chair he addressed the gathering as follows:
Ladies and Gentlemen:
You will not expect me to be wholly free from embarrassment in the presence of so many cousins whom I have now, for the first time, the pleasure of meeting.
It was a very happy inspiration of the person or persons responsible for our meeting to-day to have conceived the plan of such a gathering, and they were equally happy in locating the place of this meeting at Wethersfield, where our ancestor, who came to this country now more than two hundred and eighty years ago, made his fight for existence and to bring up his family, against the wilderness and the savage.
To that fight and to its successful issue all who are gathered here to-day, and thousands more, are indebted for the privilege of existence and for the privilege of enjoying the many comforts and blessings which they enjoy at the present day.
To that common ancestor, who lies buried in yonder churchyard, we owe a debt of gratitude too great to be stated in words or to be rightly appreciated. Let us do what little we can to honor his memory, and to that end, I hope a permanent organization of his descendants now living may be formed here, which will resultt in regular gatherings of the family in the future.
The address of welcome was then delivered by Rev. George L.
An historical paper was then read by Mr. Nathaniel Foote, of New York City. He said in part:
Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen:
The genesis of the name Foote is found in the tradition that when the primitive inhabitants of the British Isles took names to distinguish one family or clan from another, a man who lived at the foot of the mountain called himself Foote.
Of course, I can offer no evidence to sustain this statement, owing to the length of time which has elapsed since this occurrence took place, if it ever did. If we accept it as authentic, we must class it with the story of the escape of Charles after the battle of Worcester and the services said to have been rendered him by his loyal subject, James Foote of Boscobel.
You are doubtless familiar with this family tradition, for it has been generally accepted among us in one form or another for many years. The story has taken to itself a visible and permanent existence in the coat of arms and crest of the family.
We have the oak tree as a crest and the clover-field on the face of the coat of arms, both to remind us of the peril of the King and the degree of Knighthood which afterward was conferred on some ancestor of ours. Unfortunately we have not been able to ascertain which king it was that honored him.
Some of us have understood that it was Charles I. of England, but English history says otherwise. The battle of Worcester and the escape of the King to Boscobel took place in 1651, or sixteen years after the settlement at Wethersfield. It is quite true that a large number of the family remained at home, and Burke's Book of Heraldry gives a description of ten different coats of arms which belonged to the various branches of the family. It is possible that the degree of Knighthood was conferred on some of those who remained in England.
Nathaniel Foote, The Settler
The earliest record in existence of Nathaniel Foote, the Settler, in this country, is found in the records of the grants and possessions of lands in the Colony of Massachusetts Bay in 1633, when he took the oath of Freeman, and in Watertown, where he first located and where is an entry of land to him.
Then came the search after a new home, and after fourteen days of travel in the wilderness he, with the rest of the company, settled in Wethersfield. We do not know the reason for this move, although it was stated at the time that the settlers in Watertown wanted "more room for their cattle."
It is more probable, however, that it was the outcome of some sort of a theological dispute which led to the new settlement. Later disputes of the same kind led to the settlement of Stamford, Connecticut, in 1640; Branford in 1644, and Hadley, Massachusetts, in 1659.
Records of Wetherfield
The records of Wethersfield show that Nathaniel Foote took title to a farm on February 21st, 1637, just 270 years ago, and the purchase of this tract made him the largest holder of adventure lands in the settlement. The word "adventure" was in this case being used to describe lands the title of which did not come from the town.
This settlement of Wethersfield was the beginning of what is now the State of Connecticut, so that our common ancestor was one of the founders of not only a town but a great Commonwealth as well. I say great because the term is well deserved.
No student or observer of American affairs can study the history of the State of Connecticut and say otherwise. And in all the various conditions and movements which have contributed to this result our family have borne their share of the burden.
I will venture to mention some of them by name: George Foote, of Bennington, Vermont, who stood by the side of Ethan Allen when he demanded the surrender of Fort Ticonderoga. He was one of the pioneer settlers of that State.
Honorable Isaac Foote, of Colchester, Connecticut, a soldier of the Evolution, and the first Judge of Chenango County, New York, to which place he had removed. He died in February, 1843, at the age of 97.
Nathaniel Foote, the projector of the settlement of Colchester, Connecticut. He was representative to the General Assembly for twenty-two successive sessions. He died in August, 1774, at the age of 92, and his son Nathaniel died in 1811 at the age of 99.
Honorable Ebenezer Foote, of Delhi, New York, another Evolutionary soldier, and first Judge of Delaware County.
Honorable Samuel Augustus Foote, of Cheshire, Connecticut, Member and Speaker of the House of Representatives of Connecticut; a representative at the Congress in Washington, afterwards United States Senator; Governor of the State of Connecticut, and Presidential Elector in 1844. His son, Andrew Hull Foote, was the well-known Kear-Admiral in the United States Navy.
I will also mention Elias Todd Foote, for twenty-five years presiding .Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of the State of New York; Hon. Leverett Brainerd, former Mayor of Hartford; Frederick W. Foote, of Elizabeth, New Jersey; Bight Reverend Fred Foote Johnson, the youngest Bishop in the Episcopal Church;
Honorable Nathaniel Foote, Judge of the Court of Appeals of the State of New York; and Honorable Abram W. Foote, of Middlebury, Vermont.
Part Two of the First Meeting of the FFAA