Benajah Slack of Amsterdam, NY

Prepared Mar 9, 2000 by: Mary Slack Maynard

Benajah Slack, appears in New York records as an adult. There is considerable information to indicate that he was the Benajah Slack who was born in Westerly, RI in 1733. But although there is plenty of circumstantial evidence, there is no hard evidence proving that they were the same man.

In this document the Benajah of RI and the Benajah of NY are treated as if they were the same person. This is simply because it seemed expedient to include all information for comparison. The same was done with sons Joseph, who is listed in records as the son of Bennager born in NY 1730 but could very easily be the son of the Amsterdam Benajah, and his brother Benajamin. Of course, Bennager and Benajah could also be the same person,

This information is to be used for further research--some of it is from verifiable sources, some from family recollections, some conjecture. If you find errors or can add any information please contact me. My address and e-mail address are at the end of this document.

Benajah Slack was born on April 24, 1733 in Westerly, RI and is recorded in the Vital Records there. He was the son if Samuel Slack and his wife Abigail Lewis. (Samuel was the son of the William Slack who is found in Boston, Weymouth and Attleborough Mass.) For more information on some of the descendants of William go to the web site: Descendants of William Slacke of Massachusetts and related families 16th 20th Centuries

In 1758 Benajah served in Capt. Brown's RI Company, French & Indian War. Between 1758 and 1762 Benajah Slack and his wife Mary are listed in a number of Westerly/Hopkinton, RI deeds as witnesses, or as those who were buying or selling property. Part of Westerly, RI were set off as Hopkinton in 1757.1

In 1759 Benajah was listed as a freeman. A freeman is a male over 21 who owns property valued worth at least 500 pounds or the eldest son. In 1760 Benajah was listed as freeman in Hopkinton, RI.2

The last reference found in Westerly/Hopkinton, RI records is in early 1762 when Benajah sold property. Both Mary and Benajah were listed on the deed, but Benajah was the only one who signed at the 1762 sale. The fact that Mary was listed and did not sign, (on past deeds both signed) leads me to think that she may have been deceased. In April 1762 Benajah serves as a witness on to a deed, then disappears from Rhode Island records.3

I have not found a cemetery record for Mary Button Slack, but I understand that there was no community cemetery in the Westerly/Hopkinton area at that time. If Mary died in Rhode Island she may have been buried on a family farm.

In 1763 reportedly Benajah Slack was listed in the History of Dutchess Co [New York] as living near a road. I have seen two histories and cannot find Benajah listed. There is a third history which is out of print and I have not been able to find a copy to see if this is the book the information came from. The Bennager Slack referenced in the second paragraph was also in NY at this time, according to a diary kept by a descendant. It is difficult to fathom that two men with a very similar name appear in the same area at the same time and are not either related or the same person.

The diary, written by Samuel Slack Jr., states that his "grate grate grandfather" (sic) was Bengmine Slack, born in London in 1695. The diary says Bengmine was a sailor and sailed with Commodore Warren in "King George's II war of 1744 against France and Spain." It states that Bengmine had a son Bennager born in London in 1730. (In another place the diary says Bennager was born in NY and the date looks like it was originally written 1740 and overwritten 1730.)

Bennager Slack, acccording to the diary, had a son Joseph born 1760 (although in one place the year looks more like 1767, but the copy isn't the best) in Albany, NY. Diary also shows a son Benjamin born 1758, and daughters Peggy and Katy. I have no information showing Benajah with these two daughters, but have listed the family information I have for Joseph and Benjamin as if they were Benajah's sons. Nothing has been found on Peggy or Katy.

The group sheets sent by a descendant show Bengamine's birth as London, England or France, and states that in addition to Bennager/Benager, Bengamine had 3 sons: one who settled in NY [I presume this was Bennager], one who went to Vermont then to Canada, and later branched to Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma, one who settled in Pennsylvania and one who settled in Tennessee or Kentucky, then migrated to Texas.

Descendants of Cornelius Barentse Slecht, who settled in the area of Kingston, NY in the 1650s, used the Slack spelling and appear to have settled in Pennsylvania and Kentucky. Different branches of the family that descended from Benajah of Amsterdam have the similar oral tradition that the name was once Van Slack or Van Slyke. My branch also adds that the family came from Scituate, RI, where there was a Dr. Benjamin Slack, but the only link found so far between him and the Westerly Benajah is a common ancestor, William Slack of Massachusetts.

The Benajah Slack from whom the people listed here descend can be found in the following areas of New York State:

1779 Benajah/Benjamin listed on Kings District Tax List, Albany County.4 The area became Columbia County in 1786. There are apparently a number of transcriptions of this list. One transcriber told me that the name is definitely Benajmin on the copy she worked from; the Chatham historian indicated her research shows the name as Benajah.

1787 Benajah Slack is listed on a deed as the owner of land bordering the property addressed in the deed. He was at that time in Kinderhook, Columbia County.5

1790 Benajah Slack is listed in the census record in the Town of Kinderhook. This area became part of Chatham in 1795. It is not clear whether this is Benajah Sr. or Jr.6

1800 Benajah Slack Jr. is listed in the Columbia County census, living in Chatham. And in 1801 "Benajah Slack and Jr." are listed on the Chatham Road Tax List. Nathaniel Slack and Rowsl Slack were also listed [The Columbia Quarterly Vol 1, No. 1, 1985].7 The History of Columbia County is said to list Benajah as working on a road in 1801.

Sometime between 1801 and 1808 members of the family moved to Montgomery County. In 1808 Benajah Slack Jr, a farmer in Amsterdam, Montgomery County, is listed as a bondsman for Peter Van Slyke [The Mohawk Quarterly, Vol 8 No. 1, 1991]7

In 1810 Benajah and Roswell Slack were listed in the census of Amsterdam, Montgomery County. Benager Slack was overseer of Highway District 9, Montgomery County in 1814. 8

Benajah Slack wrote his will May 1, 1818 stating he was of the Town of Amsterdam. 5 He was deceased by September 1 1818. I have a letter from Gerald A. Philips, Amsterdam, NY in response to my request for information on cemetery records. He said he had checked through all the cemetery records and found no Slack burials in Perth--the property owned by Benajah is located in what is now the town of Perth, Fulton County.10 He said he also checked all the small cemeteries that are scattered throughout the town. One could assume that he was buried on the Slack Farm, and that the "family cemetery" can no longer be distinguished.

The Benajah Slack who was born in Westerly, RI married Mary Button. Westerly records show the marriage of Benajah Slack and Mary Button by Benoni Smith, Justice on February 7, 1754. The New York will of Benajah lists a wife Elizabeth. If the two Benajah's were the same it could be assumed that the marriage to Elizabeth took place after 1762 but this is supposition. Is it possible Elizabeth's maiden name was Van Slack? Since family tradition says the name was Van Slack, it's possible that this came from Elizabeth Van Slyke/Schaick marrying Benajah Slack--only a supposition

The birth of a son William in 1755 is recorded in Westerly, RI as the son of Benajah and Mary, and the will lists William as the eldest son. Additionally, a Wile Slack (name seen as _ile) fought as an enlisted man in the Revolutionary War in the Dutchess Co. Militia Regiment of Minute Men, Col Jacobus Swartwout. It is recorded that he was born in Rhode Island and was age 22 when he enlisted on July 31, 1776. He was apparently the William Slack who was 5'5" tall with a pale complexion and light hair recorded in the Dutchess Co Militia, 2nd Regiment, Col. Abraham Brinkerhoff. 9

According to Benajah's will he had the following children:

1 William SLACK

Born December 8 1755 in Westerly, Washington, RI--not proven. The son of Benajah probably died between 1830 and 1840. He lived in Fishkill in 1790 and Fredericktown in 1800, both in Dutchess County. He and his children are listed with the name spelled Sleght.

Between 1800 and 1810 he relocated to Middletown, Delaware, NY. He is listed in the 1810 and 1820 census of Middletown, where the name is spelled Slack, and he listed Middletown as his residence when he sold property in Montgomery County in 1820. The deed selling the property states that the was part of the farm lately owned by Benajah Slack and conveyed to William through Benajah's will. [A copy of the transcription of this and other deeds whereby William's nieces and nephew sold property are posted on the Montgomery County, NY GenWeb site]

I have not been able to find William after the listing in the 1820 census and property sale. He has not been found on an 1830 or 1840 census for NY. Many of his children had moved to Broome County by 1830. If William was born in 1755 he would have been in his 70s in 1830.

William's wife was apparently Rachel. The W.S. Slack11 book about the descendants of William Slack of Massachusetts cites Mary L. Cline, of Keene, Portage County, WI. Mrs. Cline gives wife Rachel and says William had several brothers, some of whom lived in Massachusetts and some in Canada [this would lend credence to the theory that Joseph Slack and Benjamin Slack of Canada were related to William]. Book lists children: Benajah, Nathan, James, Robert, Isaac, Rozel, Polly, Sarah, Mehala.

2 Elizabeth SLACK

Based on census records, Elizabeth's birth is estimated as before 1765. It is presumed that she is the Elizabeth Falls found as head of the household in the 1810 Amsterdam, Montgomery County, NY, over age 45. It is probable that she was a widow and the mother of Benajah, Mary and Ann Fauls/Fall/Falls.

It is presumed she was married to Henry Falls, although there was a John Falls listed in the same vicinity as the Slacks in Columbia County. Her father's will spells the name Fauls.

No record has been found for her death. She was apparently living when her father died as she is mentioned in his will. I have not found her in census records after 1810, one could therefore presume that she was deceased by 1820, or living with one of her children.

In his will, Benajah lists bequests, and after leaving livestock, money and household furnishings to his wife Elizabeth, he then bequeaths "the one bed and biding, the dask with all the household furneture to be given to my daughter Ellisabath after the marige or death of my wife." Further, the will gives "to my daughter Elisabath one undevided third of all my reail esteate during hir natrael life, then to be my grandson Beneagah Fauls, and he is to pay his sisters Marey and An each fifty dollars out of the same." (sic)

There may have been other children who were not listed in Benajah Slack's will. The three listed may have been unmarried, Benajah may have been the only son, or possibly his grandfather named him as he was his name-sake. As of this time we can only guess.

3 Nathan SLACK

No information on Nathan. His father's will lists his heirs, so he was probably deceased by May 1818. He may have been the Nathaniel listed on the 1801 Chatham Road Tax List (Columbia County).

4 Joseph SLACK

He may be the Joseph Slack whose birth is listed as May 16, 1760, possibly in Albany, Albany County NY in the Samuel Slack diary.12 In the copy I have one entry looks like the date could be 1767, in other entries it is definitely 1760. It is doubtful that he is Benajah's son if he was born in Albany in 1760--in December 1760 Benajah and Mary were involved in a number of land transactions in Rhode Island and Benajah is listed as "of Hopkinton." They could, of course, have owned land in New York or traveled back and forth between New York and Rhode Island, or the two Benajah's may be different people. A group sheet from Lois Rohan, a descendant, gives birth as May 16, 1760, also writes April and cites sources Phillips & Jusdon papers, Doc P 1&2 and Slack Diary

This Joseph was a loyalist and migrated to Canada about 1796. He died about 1807 in Athens, Ontario, Canada. Benajah's will divides property among heirs and including the heirs of "my son Joseph."

Joseph Slack is listed in the 1790 census of Albany County, NY. He married Margaret Phillips on Jan 30 1782.

Lois Rohan sent the following information: William, son of Joseph, inherited the land in Canada when Joseph died. Around 1820 or so the land was taken away from William because he had entered the United States during or shortly after the War of 1812 without permission from the government. This, in the eyes of the government, made him a traitor, even though he returned to Canada. Lois wonders if this was to visit his grandfather (Benajah who died 1818?), to attend his funeral, or to claim the property left to the family in Benajah's will

5 Benajah SLACK

It is estimated that he was born between 1765 and 1774. He may be the Benajah listed as over 45 in the 1810 census. There is a Benajah Slack of Johnstown, Fulton Co, who is said to have frozen to death in 1814 leaving a wife, Eunice Fordham Slack and a number of children. Bill Slack, a descendant, received information that Benajah and Eunice moved to Red Creek, Wayne County in 1813. There were Slacks in Wayne Co., including one that could be John the son of Benajah.

In 1814 Benager Slack was overseer of highway district #9, and elected at the annual town meeting in the town of Amsterdam, Montgomery County.8 I presume that this was the son, not the father, however it could also have been a grandchild.

In 1816 Benajah Slack Jr. signed a mortgage deed for Jean and George Van Nest--this property was near the Slack Farm of Benajah Sr.. It was not uncommon at the time for a father-in-law to hold a mortgage deed for his son-in-law.

Because of the conflicting dates it cannot, at this time, be proven that this information pertains to one, or many, individuals named Benajah Slack.

6 Benjamin SLACK

Benajah of Amsterdam's will gives property to his son Benjamin. The only mention I have found of Benjamin is in the Livingston Account Book, Columbia Co., NY as Benajmin Sleight 1782-1788 and 1788. This could be Benajah however, Benajah Slack is said to be listed as a taxpayer in Kings District, Albany County, 1779

Descendants give his birth as between 1758 and 1764 in New York, the brother of Joseph listed in Samuel Slack's diary. He may be the Ben Slack, age 50 in 1814 Militia Records. According to Lois Rohan's research, he purchased lot 21, 9th concession, rear of Yonge & Escott near Athens, Canada, Jan 28, 1812. There is a note that this information is incorrect, no Benjamin on Lot 21, 9th concession. There was a Ben Slack on Lot 24 11th Con (hard to read, looks like landowner purchased May 28, 1812).

Benjamin's death is listed as about 1825, and as May 18, 1824. His wife was named Ann.

7 Roswell SLACK

Based on census information, he was born about 1774. He is listed as age 16 to 26 in the 1800 census, which would give birth as between 1774 and 1784, and as age 26 to 45 in the 1810 census, which would give birth as no earlier than 1765 and no later than 1784. Since he had at least two children between 1794 and 1800, it would be reasonable to assume that he was born before 1784. Also, wife Esther was born about 1773 - 1775. For date calculation reasons, I have listed birth as about 1774.

In his father's will Roswell is not mentioned but his sons are, leading me to believe Roswell was deceased before May 1818. Esther is listed as a widow in the 1820 census. Also, the Feb 22, 1820 deed whereby his brother William sold property he inherited from his father, lists the boundaries of the property "on the line of Hugh Sanford and being the corner of lands laid out for two sons of Rosel Slack, deceased.

He is most probably the Roswell listed on Chatham Road Tax List in 1801.7

Roswell Slack

Roswell Slack, listed above as son of Benajah Slack, married Esther J. Two researchers have given me information that her maiden name was Van Tassell, but there is no source for this information, and so far no Van Tassell research has included her.

Census records indicate that she was born in RI and give an approximate date of 1773 or 1774. She is listed as a widow in the 1820 census of Amsterdam, Montgomery County with 1 female under 10 (this could be Jane Ann), 1 female 16-26, and 1 female 26-45. She is listed in the 1840 census (female, between 60 and 70) and 1850 census (Esther, age 77) census living with her son Nathan Slack in Lake Pleasant, Hamilton County, NY. In the 1860 Hamilton Co. census her age is given as 86, and she is living with her daughter and son-in-law Barbara & Alden Lowden.6

Roswell and Esther had

1 Sally SLACK

Born between 1794-1800 if she is one of the two females listed in the 1800 census. No other information except the 1821 deed whereby she sold property she received in the right of Roswell Slack Jr. In a deed in which Barbara Lowden sold property the statement is made that Sally and Susan Slack were sisters of Barbara.

2 Susannah SLACK

May have been born between 1794 and 1800 if she is one of the two females listed in the 1800 census. She sold her portion of the property in the Sacandaga Patent she received in the right of Roswell Slack Jr. -- one equal undivided twelfth part of 47 acres of land willed to Rosel Slack and Nathan Slack, sons of Rosel Slack -- on February 7, 1822.

A Susan Slack, born Aug 4, 1800, married James Covert about 1822. Some records show her as a member of the Dutch family, however the Susan and James Covert who are in Michigan by 1844 when they appear on a tax list for the Aurelius township appear to be different people. One of their children is listed by a descendant as being born in Chile, NY. The Susan Slack who married James Covert died April 28, 1881 in Aurelius, Ingham, MI.

3 Roswell SLACK Jr.

Born between 1800 and 1810 and died before Mar 5 1821 when a deed lists him as deceased.

4 Barbara SLACK

Born about 1804 or 1805 probably in NY. She died after the 1860 census. Barbara married Alden Lowden before Aug 31 1826 when they are listed on a deed.

In the 1830 census, Lake Pleasant, Hamilton County, NY there are 2 females under 5, 1 male 20 - 30 and 1 female 20-30 in the household of Alden Lowden. The 1840 census of Lake Pleasant lists 1 male 15-20, 1 male 30-40, 2 females under 5, 1 female 5-10 and 1 female 10-15 and 1 female 30-40. Name spelled Lowden

The 1850 census of Lake Pleasant, shows the name spelled Louden, and lists Aldan 47, a shinglemaker, Barbary 46, Rachel 14, Sarah 12, Jane 9, Rhoda 7, Nancy 5. All were born NY. The 1860 census of Lake Pleasant, lists household Alden 57, farmer, Barbara 55, Rachel 25, Jane A 22, Nancy E 17, Ida S 2, Easter Slack 86. All Lowden's born NY, Esther (Easter) born RI. The name is spelled Lowden. I wonder whether Ida was a daughter or a granddaughter as Barbara would have been 52 or 53 when Ida was born.

There are no Lowdens or Loudens found in 1870 census of Lake Pleasant.

5 Nathan SLACK

Born May 2 1807 in Amsterdam, Montgomery, NY and died from the effects of a stroke on May 7 1885 in Speculator/Lake Pleasant, Hamilton, NY.13 He is buried in Speculator Cemetery, with his wife Samantha Dunning Slack.

6 Eliza SLACK

Born about 1810 in Amsterdam/Tribes Hill, Montgomery, NY based on daughter Laura's delayed birth certificate. Eliza died after 1880. She and her husband David Stephen Fountain, who she was married to in 1830 when they were listed in a deed, are buried in Wells Cemetery, next to the Methodist Church.

7 Jane Ann SLACK

The inclusion of the birth of Jane is speculation. She was born between 1816 and 1818, some records say in Speculator, Hamilton, NY. There is no hard evidence showing that she was Roswell's daughter. She died Oct 11 1876 and is buried in Speculator Cemetery, Speculator, NY. She was married to Amos Page.


1. Article in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Vol 153, April 1999 page 131 by Scott Andrew Bartley on George Lanphear of Westerly.
2. Research done for me by staff at the RI State Archives
3. Abstracts of Hopkinton, RI Land Evidences, RI Genealogical Record, Jan. 1983
4. NY GenWeb Archives Site
5. Deeds and will I transcribed, posted on the Columbia County, Montgomery County, Delaware County GenWeb sites
6. New York Federal Census Records
7. The Columbia Quarterly and The Mohawk Quartelry, as cited, by Kinship, edited by Arthur Kelley
8. Found at Old Court House, Fonda, NY
9. Fulton County NY Tax Map
10. The New York Genealogical & Biographical Record, Vo. 120, No. 2, April 1989
11. The Slack Family, more particularly an account of the family of Eliphalet Slack and his wife Abigail Cutter Their ascendants, descendants and relations, compiled by Rev. William Samuel Slack, MA, The Standard Printing Company, Alexandria, LA 1930.
12. Diary of Samuel Slack Jr.--I have copies sent by descendants but don't know if it was ever published.
13. Old records, Lake Pleasant, Hamilton Co., NY.

Continue to Children of Roswell and Esther


Last Updated: Wednesday, 14-May-2008 13:17:33 PDT
Copyright © 2000:  Mary Slack Maynard