Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Great Granddad Minted America's First Coins

Joseph Jenks (Jenckes) -- my 11th great grandfather -- was born 26 Aug 1599 in Buckingham, Buckinghamshire, England; and died 16 March 1683 in Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts, United States.

Joseph settled in Lynn, Massachusetts by 1643, arriving as a widower. 

North America's First Patent

On March 6, 1646, he was awarded the first patent in North America by the General Court of Massachusetts, for making scythes. This basic scythe design remained in use for over 300 years. 

In 1654 he built the first fire engine in North America, commissioned by the city of Boston. The site of the Jenckes forge is at the Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site.

Pine Tree Coins

In 1652, Massachusetts was short of coinage for use in its internal commerce.  It decided to coin its own money, despite the fact that the English Policy, at least unofficially,prohibited the colonists from coining their own money. 

Joseph Jenks Sr was chosen to make the dies for striking the coins.  He made dies for threepenny pieces, sixpenny pieces and shillings.

They were to be of sterling silver, and by weight were to have five-sixths of the silver weight of the corresponding English coins.  This lesser weight would tend to prevent their export from the colony for their silver value. 

Each was stamped with "Massachussetts" and a pine tree on one side, and on the other side "New England, Anno 1652," together with the number of pence in Roman numerals. There is a story that Sir Thomas Temple, representing the interest of the Massachussetts Bay Colony,showed samples of the coins to King Charles II.

When the King asked what kind of tree was represented on the coins, Sir Thomas answered that it was a royal oak tree, the tree which saved the King's life. The King answered that the colonists were "a set of honest dogs," and proceeded with the business at hand.

Source above: History of the United States Patent Office, Chapter 2. Invention comes to British Colonial America

Our descendancy from Joseph is as follows:

Joseph Jenks (Jenckes) (1599 - 1683)
my 11th great grandfather

Joseph Jencks (1632 - 1716)
son of Joseph Jenks (Jenckes)

Elizabeth Jenckes (1658 - 1740)
daughter of Joseph Jencks

Elizabeth Tefft (1687 - 1750)
daughter of Elizabeth Jenckes

Elizabeth Carpenter (1703 - 1740)
daughter of Elizabeth Tefft

Solomon Brayman (Braman) (1723 - 1790)
son of Elizabeth Carpenter

William Brayman (Braman) (1753 - 1790)
son of Solomon Brayman (Braman)

Waterman F Brayman (1786 - 1865)
son of William Brayman (Braman)

Elvira W. Brayman (Pierce) (Corey) (1822 - 1909)
daughter of Waterman F Brayman

Marcus M Pierce (1842 - 1882)
son of Elvira W. Brayman (Pierce) (Corey)

Lillian Amanda Pierce (1867 - 1957)
daughter of Marcus M Pierce

Franklin 'Frank' Jackson Bailey (1886 - 1968)
son of Lillian Amanda Pierce

mom -- Velma Veda Bailey (1914 - 2004)
daughter of Franklin 'Frank' Jackson Bailey


  1. Hello. I found your post while researching Joseph Jenks who is my 10th great-grandfather. Joseph Jenks Jr is also in my direct line, but then I branch off from his son Ebenezar Jenks (the first of 3 Ebenezar's in my line). Thank you for posting the information about the coin dies. That was a lot more detailed than anything I had found. What a fascinating man he was!

    Amy, born 1974, I live in Washington State, about an hour east of Portland, OR.

  2. Glad you enjoyed my post cousin. :-)

  3. Hi to both you cousins! I, too descend from Joseph and loved reading this! Joseph Sr. was my 9th ggrandfather but I descend from his second wife who I believe was Elizabeth. Wondering if either you or AmyH have done DNA testing?

    1. Hi Cousins,
      I too descend from Joseph Sr 1599 (my 9th G.grandfather)
      Joseph Jenckes 1628 m: Esther Ballard
      Gov. Joseph Jencks 1656 m: Martha Brown
      Dr. John Jenckes 1696 m: Hannah Boomer
      Capt. Joseph Jenckes 1714 m: Sarah Moon
      Boomer Jenks 1761 m: Anna Alice King
      Aurelia Jenks 1800 m: John Nichols
      Park VanBuren Nichols 1835 m: Sarah Jane Ingraham
      Mary Sophia Nichols 1862 m: Wm Henry O'Neil (my great grandparents)

  4. I am descended as follows:
    +Elizabeth Jenckes 1658–1740 9th great-grandmother
    BIRTH 1658 • Kingston, Kitsap, Washington, United States
    DEATH 12 MAY 1740 • Kingston, Washington, Rhode Island, United States
    +Joseph Jencks 1632–1716
    Esther Ballard 1632–1695
    Samuel Tefft 1643–1725
    +Elizabeth Tefft 1687–1750