Israel Mason Bissell

Windsor, Hartford County, Connecticut, USA
Death unknown
Burial Unknown
Memorial ID 51543525 · View Source
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Israel, not Isabel, Mason, dau. of Maj. John Mason and his unnamed first wife, was b. circa 1637-38 prob. at Windsor, Conn. Matthew Grant's records at Windsor state that her mother died at Windsor "before Mar. 10, 1638/9." In that Israel was given a common male name instead of a more recognizable female name, and the letter "j" was often written as an "i" in very early records (e.g., Beniamen, iustice), early writers interpreted her name as Jorel, Judith or stretched it to Isabel. Matthew Grant's transcription of the early family records at Windsor clearly wrote her name as "Izrell."

On June 17, 1658, probably at Saybrook but recorded only at Windsor, Conn., Israel m. John Bissell, Jr., s. of John Bissell and his unnamed first wife, b. circa 1633 in England. He d. intestate before Oct. 15, 1688 as Lieut. John Bissell and at an unstated place in the province of New York while in the King's service. They had nine children who are outlined in their father's memorial.

Stile's original (1859) and second two volume version (1891-3) of his "History of Ancient Windsor" contains an erroneous structure of the Bissell family at Windsor, written by descendants of the Bissell family itself. Unfortunately, the person that puts their name as the author of a major work bears the brunt of any criticism. Stiles claimed that "Isabel" died in 1665 as the first wife of John Bissell, Jr. However, that was the date that Israel (Mason) Bissell's mother-in-law, her husband's step-mother, d. of record at Windsor. Israel was the mother of all of her husband's children and was still living on Mar. 15, 1693/4 when called her husband's "relict" in the distribution of his estate at Windsor, Conn. (see John Bissell, Jr.s estate summary.) However, there is no record of her own death at Windsor.

Those interested in a fuller explanation of Isreal's proper identity and associated errors by Stiles regarding the early Bissell family should read three articles by the eminent genealogist Donald Lines Jacobus. Two were published in The American Genealogist in 1950 and 1951 (26:84-94 and 27:100-101) and the third in 1969 in the NEHGS Register (123:278-279). Below is two portions of the third referenced article, which has been [annotated] for context:

• May I [Jacobus] try to set the record straight once again? [The immigrant] John1 Bissell [Sr.] did indeed die in 1677; there is no authority that I know of for calling his wife Mary Drake. A nameless wife, perhaps the mother of his children, died in 1641; he thereafter had another nameless wife, whose death, as wife of John "Sr.", was recorded in 1665. Stiles made the mistake of applying the last record to John, Jr., thus killing off his one and only wife and making it necessary to postulate a second wife for him.
• All [of] the children [of John Bissell, Jr.] were by Israel (not Isabel) Mason, the one and only wife, and she did not die in 1665, but survived her husband. Her administration bond, dated 7 Mar. 1688/9, completely omitted in Manwaring, is in File No. 586 of the Hartford Probate District; in it her name is twice written as Izraell and once Israell. At marriage, the recorder Matthew Grant spelled her name "Izrell." She was admitted to the Windsor Church in 1686 as Israel Bissell. So it cannot be doubted that her name was actually Israel, not Isabel. The name Israel means "warrior of God" and if her birth was expected when Capt. Mason left to fight the Pequots in 1637 (quite likely since she married in 1658), the name may have been chosen before he left and was bestowed even though the child turned out to be a female.

The present writer would add that it is equally possible that daughter Israel was born after her father's return from the Pequot War. His success in that campaign garnered him considerable fame for the remainder of his life. Regardless of the gender of his first child, the name Israel, "warrior of God," may have been very fitting to the Captain.

Edited 1/10/2016

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  • Created by: Don Blauvelt
  • Added: 24 Apr 2010
  • Find a Grave Memorial 51543525
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Israel Mason Bissell (1638–unknown), Find a Grave Memorial no. 51543525, ; Maintained by Don Blauvelt (contributor 46932939) Unknown.