Jerusha Mather Williams was born in 1783 to Ensign Samuel Williams and Lucy Burt. Jerusha's grandfather was the Reverend Stephen Williams, the Town of Longmeadow's first minister. She was born the year after Stephen's death, and so never knew her famous grandfather, but his legacy was very much alive.
Jerusha was an accomplished needlewoman, having made a sampler and family crest in the SH collection, as well as crewel-worked chair seats. The Williams family crest was almost certainly created at the Misses Patten school in Hartford, CT. The school was established in 1785 by Miss Sarah Patten. Family crests were a common theme for daughters of prominent people to create.
Detail of Family Crest
After her education was complete, Jerusha worked as a preceptress, or teacher, at Deerfield Academy from 1806-1812. While there, she was invited to a ball, one of many galas held at the Academy to celebrate the end of terms or other special occasions. Her invitation, printed on the back of playing cards, is in the Historical Society collections.
She left teaching to return to Longmeadow, and married Lyman Colton, the son of Ebenezer Chandler Colton and Phebe Barton, in 1828. When Jerusha and Lyman married, he was 29 years old and Jerusha was 45 years old. Why the age difference and why did she marry so late? The couple had no children and Lyman did not remarry after Jerusha's death.
Jerusha's gravestone in the Longmeadow Cemetery reads: Jerusha M. Colton, consort of Lyman Colton and daughter of the late Samuel Williams who died of cancer Dec. 6, 1844, aged 61.
Gravestone in Longmeadow Cemetery
The Historical Society collection is the repository of many items of Jerusha's needlework, as well as letters and diaries dating from 1802-1824).
Contributed by Betsy McKee, Board member, Longmeadow Historical Society
Originally published November 12, 2020