The surname “Coburn” and its many derivatives are found throughout early Scottish, Irish, and English history. The prevalence, however, makes the origins difficult to track. Many assume the name has Scotch origins, as a “burn” is a small brook, and may mean “cold stream.” Others connect the meaning to an occupation of the English words “coal burner.”[i]


Our story begins with Edward Colborne (1618-1700). The first record of Edward, age 17, is in September 1635 on the ship Defence sailing from England with, likely, his brother Robert, age 28. When the Defence landed in Boston, Edward travelled north to Ipswich, where he managed a farm of Nathaniel Saltonstall, one of the foremost colonizers of the Boston area.[ii]

The early records of the town of Ipswich were destroyed in a fire in the mid-1800s. However, we do know that Edward married a woman named Hannah and had at least seven children with her.

Edward later purchased his own land in what is now Dracut and the ancestral homelands of the Pawtucket, Massachusett, Wabanaki, and Agawam people, but then referred to as “the Wilderness North of the Merrimac” and part of Chelmsford. Edward acquired additional land on Hog Island.[iii] In keeping with the racialized rhetoric used in genealogies during the Colonial Revival movement, Edward's home is described as “Garrison House…to protect himself from the thieving hands of Indians” in a 1913 work by George Gordan and Silas Coburn.[iv] In 1668, Edward purchased a parcel of land from Mary Webb, who’s husband had drowned in Boston Harbor. Tis land would become known as “Colburn New Meadow Farm.”[v]

Edward fought in King Phillip’s War with the local military of Chelmsford.[vi] The garrison was burned during this time.[vii] He later commanded a garrison in the French & Indian War.[viii]

In 1701, Edward’s sons were among the signers of a petition to establish Dracut as a town independent from Chelmsford.[ix]

Edward’s third son, Robert (1646/47 – 1701), inherited one-eighth of the Webb land, which had been divided among all siblings, which he would sell to his brother Daniel before his death.[x] He married Mary Bishop (1651 – c. 1698) with whom he had eleven children.[xi] Robert’s eldest son Edward (1670-1741) made his first home in Salem, where he married Sarah Hayward (1671 – c. 1705) and had three sons, Edward, Samuel, and Robert. Edward would later purchase land in present-day Hampton, Connecticut and Windham, Connecticut, where he lived for a time. After Sarah passed, Edward married Marcy Edmunds, with whom he would be with until his death in Concord, MA.[xii]

It is at this point that the author’s genealogy diverges for ten generations only to converge with the marriage of the author’s parents. Unknown to all until, in 2018, the author uncovered this while researching the genealogy of their father’s grandmother, only to discovered it intersected with her mother’s grandmother’s previously recorded genealogy, making the author’s parents ninth cousins.



Edward’s son Samuel (1700-1755) married Elizabeth Holt (1706 - ?) with whom he had fifteen children in Windham, Connecticut.


Sarah Coburn (1736-1802) was Samuel’s eldest daughter. She married Ezekiel Ormsby (1738-1802) in 1756.


Sarah and Ezekiel had only one child, Jeremiah (1757-1826), who lived to adulthood. Jeremiah married Lucy Lilly (1761-1832) in 1778. While Jeremiah’s parents and grandparents remained in the Windham area, Jeremiah moved to Hebron (either Connecticut or New York), where he would pass away.


William Ormsby (1792-1845) was one of the younger of Sarah and Ezekiel’s ten children. He would marry Molly Potter (1793-1844/74) in 1816 in Rutland, Vermont. It is unclear how long Molly and William lived in Vermont as they lived in Hebron, Connecticut by 1825.


William Fayette Ormsby (1819-1898) was born in Rutland, Vermont. While his parents relocated to Connecticut during his childhood, William Fayette would be the first within generations to make a significant move. At the age of 22, he is recorded living alone in Smethport, Pennsylvania, working as a blacksmith. Here, he married Loretta Irons (1824-1846) who would give birth to one son before passing not two years after the wedding. In 1847, William Fayette would marry Loretta’s older sister, Esther (1821-1882). They had three children together and made a home in McKean County, Pennsylvania.

The area William Fayette and his family settled is now known as Ormsby or Ormsby Junction, as it sits at the intersection of roads to Bradford, Mount Jewett, and Kane. In December 1888, a 2,408 foot oil well was drilled. There was four weeks of considerable production, but slowed to a trickle by February 1889. Ormsby reunions were held beginning in 1930, celebrating the Ormsby family and neighboring residents. William’s daughter Ella (1848-1945), who lived to the age of 97, was always an honored guest.


Gideon (1853-1902) and his twin sister Emma (1853-1913) were William Fayette and Esther’s youngest children. Gideon was a lumberman who married Lillian Arabelle McFall (1858-1882), who bore five children, four of whom would reach adulthood.


The eldest daughter, Myrtie Jane (1877-1959) and her sister Molly (1878-1972), were adopted by their aunt, Ella, after their mother died. Within seven years, by 1889, Myrtie and Molly had moved back in with their father and his second wife Mertie Whitmore. Myrtie married John Mack Pytcher (? – 1942) when she was 17. They made a home in Keating, PA with their twelve children.

Myrtie was a staunch Methodist who was against sinful behavior like drinking, smoking, and playing cards.


The eldest daughter, Annabel (1895-1941) was a teacher, who graduated from the Teacher’s Institute in 1913. She lived with her parents throughout her early twenties before marrying John James Kane (1887-1954) in 1922. Annabel’s mother was against her marrying a Catholic, but Annabel converted to marry her beloved.


The author’s grandfather was Annabel and John James’ second eldest child.



Edward’s son Robert (1700 - ?) married Hannah Kennedy (? – 1766) with whom he had two sons, Robert and David.


Edward’s son Robert (1700 - ?) married Hannah Kennedy (? – 1766) with whom he had two sons, Robert and David.


Robert’s son Daniel (1759-1836) married Roxana Phelps (1764-1831) in 1780. They would live in Roxana’s hometown of Hebron, CT for several years before moving to New Hampshire. They had twelve children together. Daniel would pass in Hopkinton, MA.


Augustus Coburn (1782-1854) was Daniel’s first child to reach adulthood.


Miranda (1807-1855) was Augustus and Hannah’s first child. She would marry David Young (1803-?) in 1826 and have ten children, all who would live into adulthood.


The birth year of Augustus Coburn Young (c. 1833-1887) is disputed. Nevertheless, he married Martha Ann Harrington on December 1, 1857 in Upton, MA, with whom he would have two children. After Martha Ann’s death, Augustus would move to Worcester, MA, where he would many of the following of years with his second wife Clara B. Smith. Augustus Coburn Young worked as a boot maker and crimper in Hopkinton, and later as a crimper at CC. Houghton & Co in Worcester. He would relocate to Princeton, MA and passed away on this farm there.

Augustus Coburn Young served in the 51st Regiment in the Civil War. The 51st Regiment was organized in Worcester in Fall 1862 and deployed south. They returned home to Worcester in July 1863.


William Henry Young (1859-1903) was Augustus Coburn and Martha Ann’s eldest son. He married Nellie Rand (1859-1927) in 1882. They would have three children. He was employed as a plumber.


William Henry and Nellie’s middle daughter was Gertrude (1889-1959). Gertrude married Harry Charles Hedenburg in 1920. Gertrude and Harry made their home in Worcester, as their ancestor had. She would pass at the age of 59.


The author’s grandfather grew up in Worcester.

Author's Note

​SURNAME SPELLING: The surname “Coburn” has been spelt numerous ways over the centuries based on the writer’s literacy and linguistic trends. Colburn, Coburn, Colbourne, etc are used based on the most common usage by each ancestor. However, it is difficult to tell which spelling was truly accurate to each individual.

Sources & Footnotes

[i] Genealogy - Descendants of Edward Colburn-Coburn 1635-1913 prepared by George A. Gordan and Silas R. Coburn – published by Walter Coburn, Lowell, MA 1913. Page 2. (located at the New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston MA)

[ii] Gordan and Coburn 13.

[iii] Gordan and Coburn 13.

[iv] Gordan and Coburn 14.

[v] Coburn, Silas R. History of Dracut. Press of the Courier-Citizen Co, Lowell, MA. 1922. Page 76

[vi] Gordan and Coburn 13.

[vii] Coburn 55.

[viii] Gordan and Coburn 13-14.

[ix] Coburn 4.

[x] Coburn 372.

[xi] Gordan and Coburn 16-17.

[xii] Gordan and Coburn 20-21.