Abraham Preble Genealogy
Abraham Preble, the immigrant ancestor, came over from England
with "the men of Kent" and settled in Scituate, Mass., about 1636. Soon
afterward he married Judith Tilden, daughter of Nathaniel Tilden, member of a
very ancient family in the county of Kent, England, who had come to these shores
as early as 1628. After his marriage, Abraham Preble moved across Massachusetts
Bay to York, or Georgiana, as it was called, in the province of Maine, and soon
became a leading citizen in the affairs of the colony.
Nine children were born to Abraham Preble and Judith Tilden. Their sixth and
youngest son Benjamin, born about 1657, married Mary Baston, daughter of Thomas
Baston, and had three sons and three daughters. He died at York, March 25, 1732,
in his seventy-fifth year. Brigadier-General Jedidiah Preble was the youngest
child of Benjamin and Mary.
In his genealogy of "The Preble Family in America, 1636-1870," George
Henry Preble, the author, says: "Jedidiah Preble, a grandson of Abraham Preble
and Judith Tilden, the common ancestors of all of the name in America, was born
in York, in the Province of Maine, A. D. 1707."
Jedidiah settled in the ancient town of Falmouth, now Portland, about 1748. His
first wife was Martha Junkins, daughter of Alexander Junkins, of Scotland
Parish, Old York, whom he married March 21, 1733. Four sons and one daughter
were the result of this union. For his second wife he married May 9, 1754, the
young widow, Mrs. Mehitable Roberts, daughter of Captain Joshua Bangs, formerly
of Harwich on Cape Cod, who bore him five sons and two daughters.
Long and illustrious was the career of Brigadier-General Preble, who served the
colony in many public offices, including representative, councillor, senator and
judge, till his death in 1784. He took part in the siege and capture of
Louisburg, Cape Breton, in 1745, receiving his promotion to captain as result of
that campaign. In 1755 he held the rank of major under Colonel Winslow during
the celebrated expedition for the removal of the French Acadians, the distress
arising from which has been so beautifully pictured in Longfellow's
A family tradition says that he was present at the siege of Quebec and near
General Wolfe when he fell, September 13, 1759, and that he was wounded on the
Abraham, but George Henry Preble thinks there may be a doubt on the latter
point. His military activities, however, were an important factor during the
greater part of his life. He was also a large owner in lands and shipping, and
in many other ways was one of the foremost men in the colony, particularly in
the troublesome times just preceding the Revolution.
"On the fifth of October, 1774," says the author of the Preble genealogy, "the
house of representatives of Massachusetts met at Salem and resolved itself into
a Provincial Congress and on the eighth adjourned to Concord. They took the
government of the province into their own hands and made vigorous preparations
for the approaching contest. On the 27th of October, General Jedidiah Preble,
general Artemas Ward and Colonel Pomeroy were chosen general officers of the
Provincial forces and General Preble was chosen to the chief command. This
appointment he was forced to decline on account of ill health and advanced age,
and it was then bestowed upon General Artemas Ward, who at a later period was
superseded by Washington."
In his diary under the date of August 7, 1775, General Jedidiah Preble tells of
a visit to General George Washington, then in command of the American army
besieging Boston, with headquarters at Cambridge. "Waited on General
Washington," he says, "who received me very politely. I drank a glass of wine
with him. He said he was sorry he could not accommodate me with a lodging and
asked me to dine with him the next day." The next day's entry says that he
breakfasted with General Putnam and dined with General Washington. It will be
remembered that at that period Washington's headquarters was in the Vassall
house at Cambridge, now known as the Longfellow house.
On Wednesday, August 9, 1775, he says, "I dined with General Putnam, the colonel
and four captains of the riflemen who arrived this day with three companies. . .
. Waited on General Lee, drank a glass of wine with him. He told me he was much
obliged to me for the honor I had done him by that visit. I set forward, soon
heard a brisk firing at Bunker Hill."
As General Charles Lee's headquarters was in the old Tufts house on Sycamore
street, Somerville, it is probably there that the Brigadier drank his wine with
General Washington's erratic and sometimes insubordinate lieutenant.
Jedidiah Preble was reputed to have been the first white man to ascend to the
summit of Mount Washington and, according to the story, "he went up the mountain
and washed his hands in the clouds." He was tall, like many of his descendants,
of commanding presence, standing full six feet in height, and a man of great
strength and endurance.
When his first wife was buried in March, 1753, his intimate friend, the "town
school master," Stephen Longfellow, grandfather of the poet, Henry Wadsworth
Longfellow, officiated as one of the pall-bearers. Many years later, in
February, 1777, General Preble was one of the pall-bearers at Mrs. Stephen
Longfellow's funeral. In fact, the Preble and Longfellow families were
intimately associated as neighbors and friends for several generations. The
poet's brother Stephen married a daughter of Hon. William Pitt Preble, a
great-great-grandson of Abraham Preble, and one of the foremost of his
descendants. An uncle of the poet, Lieutenant Henry Wadsworth, for whom he was
named, met a heroic death in the harbor of Tripoli in 1804 while serving under
the famous Commodore Edward Preble; and the poet himself and the son of the
Commodore were life-long friends. Also Admiral Preble was an intimate friend of
various members of the Longfellow family.
The children of Brigadier-General Jedidiah Preble by his first wife, Martha
Junkins, are listed in the Preble genealogy as follows:--
"Jedidiah, born (???) at York; married Miss Avis Phillips, of Boston; died of
exposure consequent upon shipwreck.
"Samuel, born at York, died in the West Indies, unmarried.
"John, born at York; married Sarah Frost, of Machias, November, 1783; died
December 3, 1787.
"Lucy, born at York; married Jonathan Webb, of Boston, 1763.
"William, born at York, went to sea and never heard from after."
Of the seven children by the second marriage, the fourth was Edward, born August
15, 1761, who had a most eventful life and became the famous Commodore Preble,
one of the most honored names in the history of the United States navy, and who
waged the successful war against the Tripolitan and Algerian pirates in 1803-4.
His flagship at the time was the famous U. S. S. Constitution. The fifth child
was Captain Enoch Preble, born July 2, 1763, a renowned Portland sea captain,
who in turn was the father of Captain George Henry Preble, a naval hero of the
Civil War, afterward promoted to rear-admiral, and author of the Preble
genealogy, a history of the American flag and other notable historical works.