Reuben Preble Another Mystery
Another "fatherless" grandson of Brigadier-General Jedidiah
Preble, it appears, was Reuben Preble, who was born in 1778, and who claimed to
be a nephew of Commodore Preble, in other words, a grandson of the Brigadier.
The same uncertainty that characterizes the paternity of John of Machias
surrounds Reuben. The similarity of their stories indicates that they were
probably brothers, and it certainly tends to strengthen our contention in regard
to John of Machias.
Some twenty-five or more years ago, on the genealogical page of the Boston
Transcript, a correspondent, above the signature "R. A. S.," sought
information concerning a marriage previous to 1783 of Colonel John Preble (born
in 1742 in York, Maine, died 1787 in Portland), son of Jedidiah Preble.
Speaking of Colonel John Preble, this correspondent says that "he is the only
son mentioned as living in General Preble's will of February, 1784, of the four
sons by his first wife. John Preble (1771-1841) of Machias, Maine, always
claimed that he was a grandson of Brigadier-General Preble; and Reuben Preble
(1778-1830) of Richmond, Mass., claimed that he was a nephew of Commodore Preble
(1761-1807), who was the son of Brigadier Jedidiah; that he ran away from his
cruel step-parents, his father having died when he was a young boy. The second
wife, Sarah Frost (1765-18--), of Perry, Maine, whom John Preble married in
1783, married a John Carew after the death in 1787 of Lieutenant-Colonel John
"This coincides very closely with the story told by Reuben Preble of his early
life. All other grandchildren of General Preble can be traced, and John Preble
(1742-87) is the only one who could have been the father of these two boys who
were born in 1771 and 1778."
In November, 1906, I received a letter from Robert Atwater Smith, then connected
with the War Department at Washington, obviously the same "R. A. S." of the
Transcript genealogical page, amplifying the information contained in his
newspaper communication. His interest in the problem was on account of his wife,
who was Anna Preble Fiske Moore, born in Springfield, December 5, 1851, daughter
of Stillman Moore and Mary A. Preble. This Mary A. Preble was born March 15,
1821, at Canaan, N. Y., and was the daughter of Reuben Preble, born at Portland,
Mr. Smith, in his letter, says that Reuben Preble, who used to claim that he was
a nephew of Commodore Edward Preble (son of Jedidiah Preble), "stated that when
he was a boy about ten years of age he ran away from his home, being very
cruelly treated by his step-parents," etc.
"I am inclined to think," adds Mr. Smith, "that very likely the name of the
father of the mother of John (1771-1841) and of Reuben (1778-1830) was Reuben;
your ancestor John being named for his father, Colonel John Preble, and Reuben
for his mother's father. Before this time I have not found the name of Reuben in
that branch of the Preble family. It may be a clue toward learning the name and
ancestry of Lieutenant-Colonel John Preble's first wife."
The writer of the letter further suggested a search of the papers of Admiral
George Henry Preble which were placed in the possession of the New England
Historic Genealogical Society in Boston for additional information obtained
after his book was published in 1870. Acting on this suggestion I have made the
search, but without obtaining any of the desired result.