Eustace Families Association

New England Pioneers

When William Eustis/Eustes, grandson of Henry and great nephewof Jerem of Watlington, left Bledlow with his eighteen year oldbride in 1657 to make their home in New England, they arrived atBoston to find it a raw pioneer settlement which had beenestablished between twenty-five and twenty-eight years. And yetthe people were not rough and uncultured, the majority beingconsiderably more erudite than the average then in England,moreover they were a pious and thoughtful people who had electedto face the rigours of a pioneer life to achieve freedom fortheir political beliefs and worship. The community practised aconsiderable degree of mutual help banding together to buildtheir homes, clear the land and harvest the hard-won crops.Education was one of their first interests as is shown by thefounding of what is now the university of Harvard only six yearsafter establishing the town. The founders had in mind thetraining of ministers for the Congregational church which was theprevalent sect, and because Harvard himself was an 'Emmanuel' manfrom Cambridge, the town was called Cambridge.

The natural resources produced the necessities of life, food,shelter, warmth, but little or nothing that could be exported toEngland in exchange for more sophisticated equipment or luxuries.They were therefore almost completely independent in contrast tothe southern communities who had cotton, and tobacco with whichto trade with the old world. All this undoubtedly hadconsiderable bearing on the subsequent struggle to gainindependence from a government some 3,800 miles away, and weekseven months away in terms of communication.

The homes were log cabins with thatch roofs, later replacedwith frame buildings boarded and shingled. Later still came bricknoggin between the frames as in England and finally the brick ofthe late 18th century.

For food, fish was a staple item and a valuable manure for theland, meat was mainly hunted and as lead bullets were so scarceas to be recovered and used again as often as possible, much ofthe wild life was snared or trapped. William's boyhood in theChilterns would have given him useful experience in this. Cookingpots were scarce and most was done on open fires under thecentral chimney.

Soap was made from deer fat with wood ash to saponify; whileclothes were thonged hide until sheep had been reared to givewool which the housewife spun, weaved and knitted into garments.

Doctors and hospitals were non-existent, treatment was rusticand ineffective, consisting of potions and salves fromtransplanted English herbs or local plants as used by theIndians. Purgatives, blood-letting and leeches were given as wascustomary in England at that time. Large families with a veryhigh child death rate was general, nor did the mothers fare muchbetter:

William and Sarah were allocated land at Rumney Marsh now theBoston suburb of Chelsea and here they wrested their home fromthe wild and brought up their ten children, only one appearing tohave been lost.

They must have identified themselves by their marriagecertificate as this bore the spelling Eustis whereas hisbaptismal entry in the parish record of Bledlow is Ewstesin 1635. William died in 1694 and Sarah in 1713. They leftthirty-seven grand children of whom the majority survived; ninenew Eustis families were established.

Succeeding generations have followed a similar pattern to thatof the English branch as each generation has provided leaders andservants to the community and perhaps because the developingcountry offered greater opportunity for ordinary people to governthemselves and to attain higher positions and honours. Thefollowing are a few of the family who held high place in acommunity that was never backward' either intellectually oreducationally and still holds in high regard the country and theculture from which it sprang.

Captain Thomas Eustis born 1735, great grandson of William andSarah, was captain of the Minute Men in the Revolution. Of thesame generation Benjamin carried out half the carpenters work inthe new Church House in Brattle Street, Boston. His son William Eustis,studied medicine and was hospital surgeon and physicianthroughout the American revolution. He became Secretary of War ofthe United States and the first Minister to the Netherlands. Hewas elected governor of Massachusetts in 1823. John ChamberlainEustis enlisted in the U.S.Army in 1812, but deserted to theBritish dominions, changed his name to Chamberlain and had fouror five children, probably of that name. He died at Dixfield,Maine in 1853.

Abraham Eustisborn 1786 at Petersburg, Virginia, graduated from Harvard andBowdoin, studied law but entered the army which he made hiscareer, finishing as Colonel of lst Artillery and BrevetBrigadier General. He engaged in the Indian wars, particularlywith the Seminoles in Florida, where there is a town named Eustisafter him. Of his seven children, ProfessorHenry Lawrence Eustis of HarvardUniversity graduated at Harvard and became A.M. at Bowdoin in1806 and was the first to carry out genealogical research intothe Eustis family.

George Eustis, born 1796, graduated from Harvard and becameprivate secretary to his uncle, Governor William Eustis, thenMinister to the Hague. He later had some disagreement with hisuncle and settled in Louisiana where he married into one of thelocal families. He was repeatedly elected to the statelegislature and became Secretary of State, Attorney General andChief Justice of the Supreme Court of Louisiana. He received anHonourary Doctor of Law degree L.S.D.

A story of some poignancy is that of Tamesin Eustis, daughterof William of Newburyport. She married George Donner andaccompanied him when he led a large group of people to Californiain 1846. A sudden unseasonable snowstorm close to Lake Tahoe,California, trapped the party and most of them froze to deathincluding Tamesin and her husband. This is now known as DonnerPass and a large monument commemorates these unfortunatepioneers.

Charles Lyman Eustis purchased, while still a minor, a largearea of Maine which he lumbered and developed founding thetownship of Eustis. The Ridge of the same name is one of thelocal beauty spots. He lived in the neighbouring town of Dixfieldwhere his descendants still are.

Professor Henry Lawrence Eustis, referred to earlier,graduated at West Point and Harvard in 1838. After adistinquished career as a military engineer, he resigned with therank of Brigadier General to become Professor of Engineering atHarvard University.

George Eustis, bornin 1828, was captured on the 'Trent' when Acting as secretary toMason and Slidell. He was held a prisoner at Fort Warren, inBoston Harbour but released when the seizure was declaredillegal. He went to France and spent the remainder of his lifethere, acting as an unofficial ambassador and because of hisfluent knowledge of the language was arrested as a spy during theFranco-Prussian war, more to his amusement than discomfort.

Charles Eustis Bohlen, son of Marie Celeste Eustis served asAmbassador of the U.S. in the U.S.S.R. Philippines and Francebetween 1953 and 1967 and later as assistant to the ForeignMinister at numberable international conferences.

Warner Eustis, graduated Harvard 1918, retired asvice-president of Kendall Mfg: Co.; Staff officer Quartermaster'sDept. U.S. Army; alderman of the city of Newton, Ma.; author of'The Eustis Families in the United States'.