BENJAMIN BUNKER (1710-1818)
From Bunker Geneology by Edward C. Moran, Jr. Aug. 1, 1961
Benjamin Bunker was born 1710 at Dover, New Hampshire. He married in 1730 to ABIGAIL, who, at Brunswick, maine, signed deeds 1740, 1741 and 1758 and who lived Mt. Desert, maine 1785. He witnessed a deed at Dover 21 March 1732/33 (N.H. Provice Deed 28:183). As a Brunswick, Maine, he was granted by the Proprietors 63 acres there 10 Jan. 1740 (York Deed 27:163) and 115 acres 12 Jan. 1740 (York Deed 24:48; Wheeler's History Brunswick 39). He was included in list of early settlers in Brunswick "1740 Head of Mericoneag" (Wheeler's Hist. Burnswick 865). As of Brunswick, with wife Abigail signing, he quit claim to his brother James Bunker III of Durham, all his rights "in estate of James Bunker, Jr. my father late of Oyster River in Dover, N.H." 26 Nov. 1740 (N.H. Province Deed 29:211).
He removed to Dover, N.H., during course of litigation with william Booker of York, Me. (N.H. Province Court file 23,178) before 26 June 1741 when, as of Dover, he and others were deeded 150 acres (Lot 163) in Barrington, N.H., by Joseph Hicks and thomas Leighton of Dover (N.H. Prov. Deed 26:409), and deeded his 12th part thereof on same day to Patridge Farren, with wife Abigail also signing (N.H. Prov. Deed 86:84). As of Durham, N.H., engaged in litigation with Joseph Patterson of Newington, N.H. 1741-44 (N.H. Prov. Court File 25,117).
As of Durham, N.H. enlisted 13 Feb. 1745 as Private in Captain Hale's Co., Colonel Moore's regiment, later clerk, then promoted to Ensign 10 Aug. 1745, and participated in capture of Louisburg on Cape Brenton Island [Nova Scotia] 17 June 1745 (N.H. men at Louisburg 31; New Eng. Hist. Gen. Reg. 25:268; Hist Durham 1:111-112; Wadleigh's Notable Events Hist Dover 141). [This was a combined British and American enterprise against the French.]
As of Durham, sued by James Nute of Dover 11 Nov, 1745 (N.H. Prov. Court File 22, 189). As of Durham, engaged in litigation with Jotham Odiorne, Jr. 5 June 1746 (N.H. Prov. Court File 21, 780).
Again removed to Brunswick, Maine after June 1748 where son Thomas Millett bunker born in Dover (N.E.H.G.R. 41:89; coll. Dover Hist. Soc. 154) and before 1752 when, as of Brunswick he signed petition for new county in Maine (Coll. Maine Hist. Soc., 2nd Series 12:197); Bangor Historical Magazine 3:189). "Land on head of Merryconeage Neck, beginning on Benjamin Bunker's southwest corner" referred to in will of John Starbird dated 20 June 1753 (Sargent: Maine Wills 713; York County Prob. Rec. 8:249). His property is shown on a map in Wheeler's History of Burnswick. As of "Merriconeag in the town of North yarmouth" (Merriconeag Neck haning been set off from North Yarmouth to Brunswick, and returned to North Yarmouth) sold 6 acres of Brunswick land to Thomas skofield 11 Mch. 1755 (York Deed 30:281). He signed "Petition of Inhabitants of Kennebec River for Protection 22 Apr. 1755" (orginal in Mass. Archives 136:270-280, quoted in New Eng. Hist. Gen. Reg. 44:202). As of "Dist of Harpswell) with wife Abigail signing, deeded land to Robert Speer Jr. 15 Aug. 1758 (York Deed 34:6).
He moved from Harpswell, Maine, sometime after 22 July 1759 (when his son was baptised there) to Great Cranberry island, Maine before 3 October 1763, when "Seawall that makes a peninsula, on which Benjamin Bunker dwells" was found there by Governor Francis Bernard's surveyor John Jones (Jones Field Notes, original at Maine Historical Society, photostat copy at Islesford Collection, isleford, Maine).
The 150 year struggle between England and France for the possession of Acadia, which did not end until Wolfe's victory over Montcalm on the Plains of Abraham 13 Sept. 1759, effectively prevented any permanent settlement by the English in Eastern Maine prior to 1760. On 27 Feb. 1762 the Massachusetts General Court granted the whole island of Mount Desert to Governor Francis Bernard, who made a genealogically valuable trip to his new grant in September of that year (Street: Mt. Desert 105 and 107). His "Journal of a Voyage to the Island of Mt. Desert 1762" recorded under date of October 3, 1762 that two families were settled at the head of the river and four families were settled upon one of the Cranberry Isles (Sparks Manuscripts in Harvard College Library; Bangor Historical Magazine 2:186; Street: Mt. Desert 109). The same "Journal" under date of October 7, 1762 specifically mentions as located at head of river (now Somes Sound) "Solmer's log house." This was Andrew Somes who settled there in June 1762, according to his own letter to Eben Parsons dated 20 April 1816, original of which is in Boston Public Library. The other settler "at the head of the river" is said to have been James Richardson, who likewise came in the summer of 1762 (Old Hancock Families by Pierce 35; Street; Mt. Desert 115).
When Governor Bernard's surveyor John Jones surveyed the grant in 1763, together with his partner Barachias Mason, his record tells us he found on Great Cranberry Island "Bunker's house" and "Bunker's seawall on which Benjamin Bunker dwells" and "Jno Bunker's hutt." As no one but Bunkers were found on Great Cranberry Isle in 1763, it is logical to comclude that they were the ones mentioned by Governor Bernard as the "four families that were settled upon one of the Cranberry Isles" in 1762.
The first two settlers did not settle on the main island of Mt. Desert permanently unitl the summer of 1762, at which time Benjamin Bunker was already living on Great Cranberry Isle. The exact date of Benjamin Bunker's arrival in the Mt. Desert region is unknown; it was sometime between 22 July 1759 (when he sold out his Harpswell property) and 3 October 1762 (see above). Even though Governor Bernard requested Andrew Somes to urge settlers to come there (Publications Colonial Society of Massachusetts 24:201), there is no evidence that Benjamin bunker was one of the settlers induced to come there by Somes; the presumption is clearly to the contrary, as Somes was from Gloucester, Mass., as were other early settlers, whereas Benjamin Bunker was from Harpswell, Maine. Since it is not known exactly when Benjamin Bunker arrived, but we do know the approximate time, and since it is known when the other earliest settlers came, the distinction of being the first settler in the whole Mt. Desert region, in addition to his clear title as first settler on Great Cranberry Isle, may well belong to Benjamin Bunker.
As of Great Cranberry Island, he deeded Little Cranberry Island to "my son John Bunker" 20 July 1768 (Lincoln County Deed 11:53) and land on Great Cranberry Island to "my sons Isaac and Aaron Bunker" 1 August 1768 (Lincoln Deed 13:121).
Probably due to the exposed position of Great Cranberry Island during the Revolutionary War, Benjamin Bunker and his sons Isaac and Benjamin Jr. took up land, later called "Ebenezer Eaton lots" at Norwood's Cove and Clark's Point on the main island of Mt. Desert. Hancock Deed 10:42, transferring this same land to Rev. Ebenezer Eaton of Sedgwick 21 Oct 1801 from Nathaniel Bennett of North Yarmouth, contains the sentence "The said lots were taken up and settled in the years 1775 and 1776 by Benjamin Bunker, Benjamin Bunker Jr. and Isaac Bunker." (See Collections Maine Historical Society 2nd Series 2:440 and Maine Historical Magazine 8:22).
He was appointed surveyor of roads at a Mt. Desert Plantation meeting 25 Mch 1777 (Mt. Desert TR). Mt. Desert was not incorporated as a Town until 17 Mch. 1789, and included the Cranberry isles until 16 Mch 1830. The "Names of Persons in Possession of Land 23 June 1785" in the Bernard (western) half of the Island of Mt. Desert included Benjamin Bunker (Collections Maine Historical Society, 2nd Series, 2:442, 447). As of Mt. Desert, "gentleman," deeded 100 acres on Great Cranberry Island to his son John Bunker 14 Oct. 1786 (Washington County Deed 1:63---then Eastern Lincoln County Registry of Deeds).
Under the Massachusetts General Court Resolve 29 June 1787, Benjamin Bunker was deeded 100 acres as "settlers right" (Hancock Deed 2:428).
The 1790 Census of Mt. Desert (printed volume p 29) lists only one Benjamin Bunker family; as that fmily included 2 males over age 16, and none of the children of Benjamin Bunker Jr. were then age 16, probably Benjamin Bunker [Sr] was then living with his son Benjamin [Jr] and there fore would not be listed as head of a family. this assumption is strengthened by the fact that on 21 Aug. 1793 "Benjamin Bunker of Mt. Desert Gentleman" deeded to "Mary Bunker the wife of my son Benjamin," the 100 acres settlers right granted to him by the Massachusetts General Court Resolve (Hancock Deed 2:428). this also indicates his wife was by then deceased.
He does not appear in 1800 census of Mt. Desert as head of a family; being very old, was probably still living with his son Benjamin Jr.
Both he and his son Benjamin Jr. were included among "Names of Persons in Possession of Land" 23 June 1805 at Mt. Desert (Coll. Me. Hist. Soc. 2nd Series 2:447). It being necessary for the old settlers to prove their claims under the Resolve of 1785, a "Commissions Proceedings at Mt. Desert" was held in 1808, at which Benjamin Bunker [Sr] testified (Collections Maine Historical Soc. 2nd Series 2:440, 442)
He died about 1818, as he lived to the extra-ordinary age of 108 (Sprague's Journal maine History 14:181) or age 110 (Hosmer: Historical Sketch of Deer Isle 168). Even if allowance is made for the exaggeration frequent in such cases, the fact still remains that he was one of the longest lived men who ever lived in Maine. A letter dated 9 January 1874 from a John Bunker, born 1802, addressed to Horace Gilley Bunker, read in part as follows:
"My grear-grandfather Bunker settled at Mt. Desert. He lived to a great age, 108 years, and he had five sons, John, Aaron, Isaac, Benjamin, and Silas. Isaac settled at Gouldsboro, Silas at Sedgwick, and the others at Mt. Desert in the vicinity of Norwood's Cove." (Copy of letter at Islesford Collection; Sprague's Journal Maine History 14:181.)
It is stated (History Durham, N.H. 1:240) that he was buried in a field owned (1913) by Mrs. Joseph Smith, cross the highway from the Bunker Garrison and near the river, at Durham, N.H.
All of his descendants are eligible for membership in Societies of Colonial War descendants on account of his Louisburg Expedition service in 1745.
John Bunker born 1730
Aaron Bunker born 1735
Comfort Bunker born 1736
Isaac Bunker, Jr. born 1740
Silas Bunker born 1746
Thomas Millett Smith Bunker born 26 Jun. 1748
Mary Bunker born 24 Mar. 1754
Abigail Bunker born 29 Jun. 1755
Sarah Bunker born 14 Sep. 1758
Benjamin Bunker born 22 Jul. 1759