Simon's Family History
John STITES was reputably born in 1595 in England. He died in 1717 in Long Island, NY, USA. It is widely acclaimed that he was 122 years old. Whether this is a propagated myth which has grown on its own momentum over the years, or has some basis of fact will never be properly determined unless a baptism for him can be found (if extant). One Stites Genealogy has him born in Derbyshire, England1. There is no record that I can find of a Stites in Derbyshire, no wills, no IGI etc.
There is also the popular story that he was a surgeon in Cromwell's Army, and was a witness to King Charles I execution and the certification of his death, and that he fled England in fear of his life during the Restoration. However once again no evidence of this has been found to date.
"(He) came from England as surgeon to a band of colonists in the time of Cromwell. Settled in New England, later at Hemstead, Long Island where he died in 1717 at the age of one hundred and twenty two. According to family tradition, he was a man of powerful physique and wonderful physical endurance. When nearly one hundred years old he walked forty miles in one day to visit some relatives."
I am more inclined to the view that his age has been exaggerated, although he most likely did live to a ripe old age and indeed undertake a long walk in his elder years, but perhaps at a younger age than claimed, and also as a stage in life where his mind was not as it once was.
Some web sites say that he arrived in America on the 'James' from London, arriving at Salem, Mass. on 10 Oct 1633, aged 38yrs. And that he must have returned to England for his son Richard was born there in 1640 and that he was a surgeon in Col. Hampton's regiment in the revolution of 1640. The Hampton Society has no record of John Stites. This account also has John fleeing to Holland at the Restoration and returning to America in 1657 to Hemstead, Long Island.
I am disinclined to believe these stories. There is no evidence of him or likely family in the local wills, PCC wills, IGI, marriage licences, Civil War publications, Hampton Society, etc., etc.
There are records on the IGI of families with a similar sounding surnames, such as STEITZ, STEYGHTE, STEYT, STEIT. Perhaps the answer lies in an alternate spelling. Or he was deliberately concealing his true origins, Germany for instance.
i. Richard STITES.
1. LDS film #1312803 - Stites ; Bible records
1678-1974, and transcript - microfilm of manuscript collection (16 leaves) held
at Ripley County Historical Museum, Versailles, Indiana.
2. "The Stites Family" by Edmund J. James. New York Genealogical & Bibliographical Society Record, Vol XXVIII (July 1897), 165-166; (Oct 1897), 237-239; Vol XXIX (Apr 1898), 93-98. Also "Genealogies Long Island Families Vol II by the same pub.
Copyright © Simon Parker-Galbreath