My Bridgman ancestors originated in England.    Surnames became common practice in the 1200's.    English surnames were derived from such sources as occupation, place or residence, or physical features.    The name Bridgman is a place name indicating the man who lived near a bridge, or an occupational name indicating the keeper of the bridge.

Dictionaries of surnames indicate some probable spelling variations of the Bridgman surname to be Bridgeman, Briggeman, Briggman, Brigman and Bridgmon.

Possibly the first Bridgman to settle in America was James Bridgman, who was born in Winchester, England, and settled in Springfield in the Colony of Massachusetts in 1640.    He was a member of the exclusive organization The Order of the Founders and Patriots of America.    This was a very distinguished family who had membership in the above mentioned organization down to the year 1894.    Joseph Bridgman, Jr., great-great grandson of James Bridgman, served as a "minute man" during the Revolutionary War.

Not all Bridgmans' were Englishmen, however.    The Directory of Scottish Settlers in North America 1625-1825, Vol. V, compiled by David Dobson, shows that Robert Bridgman, a merchant, emigrated from Scotland to east New Jersey during February 1685.    He was one of a number of Scottish born Bridgmans to emigrate between the mid 1600's and the early 1800's.

Volumes of The History of the Early Settlers indicate that in 15th and 16th century England, a transportation sentence was often imposed on would-be prisoners. Some of these "prisoners" were nothing more than poor people unable to pay their debts.    Instead of locking the prisoners away in over-crowded dungeons, they were sent on a ship to the Colonies.    They were called "bonded passengers" and were required to serve anyone who would pay their bond and passage.    The amount of time required to serve was determined by the amount of the bond and passage.    We found that a Thomas Bridgman, who was a merchant from Virginia, in 1655, took several bonded persons to serve him for six years.    It is possible that this Thomas Bridgman was a direct relation of our Bridgman line.

Our research led us back to the fertile farm lands of Virginia during the mid 1700's. 

(Note: My sincere thanks to Ric Tobin for all the documents and information he provided to me concerning our Franklin Bridgman.    Ric is a descendant of Franklin Bridgman through his son Martin Bridgman.)

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Our 4th great grandfather, Franklin Bridgman, was born prior to 1765, according to census.   We believe he was born about 1750-1760.   Some researchers believe that Franklin may have been the son of Matthew Bridgman.   This has not been proven, however.

      Franklin married our 4th great grandmother (name unknown) about 1778, in Virginia.    We believe she was born about 1750-1760.    (Note: We believe her name may have been Martha, as their first child was named Martha.)

    Franklin Bridgman appears on the 1783 thru 1788 Henrico County, Virginia, personal property tax lists.   

         Franklin served as a Private in the Virginia State Line during the Revolutionary War, as did Thomas Bridgman, who we believe was Franklin's brother.   Records show that Franklin served at least three years.....part if not all of that time in the Virginia State Artillery Regiment.    He was in that unit in 1780 and had served three years by April 26, 1783, when his final full pay was made.   Franklin received a voucher, #1780, entitling him to "the proportion of land allowed a Private of the Virginia State line for three years service".    It was approved by Benjamin Harrison and Thomas Meriwether.   A Warrant (Military Certificate #: LO 1534) for 100 acres was issued to Franklin Bridgman on August 9, 1783.

       (Note: Thomas Bridgman, who we believe was a brother to Franklin, settled in Northumberland County, Virginia prior to 1782.  The book Colonial America 1607-1789 shows Thomas Bridgman was living in St. Stephen's Parish in Northumberland County, Virginia, in 1782.   Thomas Bridgman married Mary (last name unknown).   They were originally from Dinwiddie County, Virginia.    After Thomas died, Mary lived in North Carolina and then in Hardin County, Illinois in 1860, where she applied for his war pension.    She was 93 at the time and living with the John and Elizabeth Simmons family, who were probably her grandchildren.)

(Note: Also serving in the Revolutionary War from Virginia were Hezekiah Bridgman, William Bozwell Bridgman, Joseph Bridgman, Joshua Bridgman and Matthew Bridgman.    Some researchers speculate that all of them were brothers to Franklin, and probably all were sons of Matthew Bridgman of Henrico County, Virginia.) 

          The 1787 Henrico County, Virginia personal property tax list shows Franklin paid tax on "self and one horse or mule".    (Note: The 1787 Virginia tax list shows Thomas Bridgman paid tax on "self, 1 white male 16-21, 1 horse or mule and 10 head of cattle" in Northumberland County, Virginia.  Also appearing on the 1787 Virginia tax list in Northumberland County was Molley Bridgman, who paid personal property tax on "self and 2 head of cattle".)

     In late 1789, Wythe County, Virginia was formed from a portion of Montgomery County.    Census records for 1790 Virginia have been lost or destroyed, so we were unable to locate Franklin on the 1790 census.   

        Franklin appears on the first recorded Wythe County, Virginia, personal property list dated April 15, 1793.     He assessed tax on one white tithable and 3 horses.    Franklin  then appears on all succeeding tax lists, except for the years 1796, 1802, and 1819.     He was listed as "Francis Bridgman" on the March 20, 1820 tax list, when he assessed tax on one white tithable and 3 horses.  

About 1795 Franklin's wife (name unknown) died, probably in Wythe County.    We believe her last child was born about the same time she died.   We believe she and Franklin had at least five children.

     On October 8, 1796, Franklin married his second wife, Rhoda May, in Grayson County, Virginia.   (Note: In 1793, Grayson County was formed from a portion of Wythe County.)  

     Rhoda May, born about 1773, in Virginia, was the daughter of George May and Elizabeth (last name unknown).    George May was born 1750, in Berkshire, England and died 1819, in Wythe County, Virginia.     Elizabeth was born May 17, 1748, in England and died about 1820, in Virginia.

On October 24, 1796, Franklin received a land grant for 66 acres on the west side of New River, in Grayson County.    Three days later, on October 27, 1796, he received a land grant for 200 acres on Crooked Creek, a branch of New River, in Grayson County (formerly Wythe County).

Unfortunately the 1800 Virginia census records have been lost or destroyed.    Franklin Bridgeman (surname spelled with an "e") appears on the 1810 Wythe County, Virginia census.    The census  shows one male (Franklin) over 45 (b. bef 1765); one male (John) 16-25 (b. 1785-1794); one male (Hezekiah) 10-15 (b. 1795-1800); one male (Martin) under 10 (b. 1801-1810); one female (Rhoda) 26-45 (b. 1765-1784); one female (Nancy) 16-25 (b. 1785-1794); two females (Mary & Frances) 10-15 (b. 1795-1800) and 5 females (Jane, unknown, unidentified, Margaret &  Rhoda) under 10 (b. 1801-1810).    (Note: The two oldest children, Martha and William, had married and left home by the time of the 1810 census.)

Franklin Bridgman died in Wythe County between March 22, 1820, when he assessed taxes in Wythe County, and May 10, 1820, when an inventory and assessment were ordered prepared of his personal property.     He probably died in April 1820.    (Note: When Sampson David, who was Franklin's son-in-law, died in 1826 an inventory was conducted of his property and the Estate of Franklin Bridgman was listed as owning money to the David estate.)   

     Only a small portion of the 1820 Wythe County, Virginia census survives.   We did not locate the Bridgman family on that portion.       

Prior to 1823, Rhoda moved with her children to Grainger County, Tennessee.    Rhoda's daughter, Jane, married November 1823, in Grainger County.    By the time of Martha (Bridgman) David's death in May 1827, most of Franklin's children had migrated to Tennessee.    Only Frances (Bridgman) Brown, Nancy Bridgman and Hezekiah Bridgman were remaining in Wythe County, Virginia.    Hezekiah migrated to Tennessee about 1829.

The 1830 Grainger County census lists Rhoda as 60-69  years old.    With her on the census was one male 20-29 (Martin); one female 15-19 (Melvina); and one male under 5 (probably a grandson).     Listed next to Rhoda on the census was her son Hezekiah Bridgman and his family.

Although we did not locate Rhoda on the 1840 census, we believe she was in Grainger County.    She appears on the 1850 Grainger County census, where she is listed as 77 years old and living alone near her son Martin and his family.

Between 1850 and 1853, Rhoda moved to Morgan County, Illinois.    We believe her son Martin moved to Morgan County at the same time.     Rhoda died May 17, 1855, in Morgan County, Illinois.     

Franklin had several children.  We believe they included the following: 

 Children of Franklin Bridgman and Unknown First Wife

1.  Martha "Patty" Bridgman was born about 1780, in VA.

2.  William Bridgman was born about 1782, in Henrico Co, VA.     (my line) 

3.  Nancy Bridgman was born about 1785, in Henrico Co, VA.                                                                   

4.  John M. Bridgman was born Nov 14, 1789, in Wythe Co, VA.

5.  Mary Bridgman was born about 1795, in Wythe Co, VA.

Children of Franklin Bridgman and Rhoda May

6.  Hezekiah Bridgman was born Jan 18, 1797, in Wythe Co, VA.

7.  Frances Bridgman was born about 1798, in Wythe Co, VA.

8.  Jane Bridgman was born about 1801, in Wythe Co, VA.

9.  Name Unknown Daughter Bridgman was born about 1802, in Wythe Co, VA.   

10. Unidentified Daughter Bridgman was born about 1805, in Wythe Co, VA.      She was one of the five females under the age of 10 years on the 1810 Wythe Co census.

11.  Margaret Bridgman was born May 25, 1808, in Wythe Co, VA.

12.  Rhoda Ann Bridgman was born about 1809, in Wythe Co, VA.

13.  Martin B. Bridgman was born Feb 24, 1810, in Wythe Co, VA.

14.  Melvina Bridgman was born 1814, in Wythe Co, VA.

I am not a professional genealogist and although I have researched much of the information found at this site, some of it was given to me by other researchers and may not have been documented. Each bit of information found here should be carefully researched and proved or disproved by you, the researcher. Researchers may copy information found at this site for their own personal use and to share with other researchers or genealogical organizations. Any commercial use or distribution without the written consent of this author is prohibited.

Others researching the Bridgman line:

Beverly Gardner (descendant of Martha D. Bridgman/Bridgmon)
Beverly Gardner's homepage
Steve Strickland (descendant of Isaac Bridgman)
Merri Vinton (descendant of John Washington Bridgman)

The music you are hearing is Forest Gump.

Back to Index