Three hundred years ago Benjamin Franklin had his second Birthday (b. Jan 17, 1706). Baby Ben lives in a small house in Boston on Milk street. His dad, Josiah, is fifty years old. Josiah thinks about two things – his trade (making candles and soap) and his God. The Franklin’s church is directly across the street, and Josiah’s small shop (8 ft big) is on the same lot as the church. Josiah applied for membership to the old South Church in ’85, and accepted as a full member in ’94 after the usual 9 year probationary period. There are very few full church members in Boston at this time.
Josiah’s first wife is dead. Her name was Ann, and she died in ’89 in childbirth to her seventh child. Baby Benjamin’s half brothers and sisters are Elizabeth (age 29), Samuel (27), and Hannah, who is now Hannah Cole (24) by marriage (the same name as my daughter!). These were Ann and Josiah’s children that they had in Banbury, England. After Ann and Josiah moved to Massachussets -they had four more – Josiah Jr (22) who’s wrestlessness caused him to go to sea. Junior never returned, so we assume he is dead. Anne is 20. Baby Joseph 1 died 5 days after he was born. Both Mother Ann and baby Joseph 2 died in ’89. Ann was 34 at the time.
Benjamin’s mom is Abiah. She is 40 years old now. Josiah marries this very godly, discreet, virtuous, healthy, and beautiful woman also in ’89. Abiah’s mother was an indentured servant who was bought for 20 pounds by Peter Folger who later married her. Peter Folger, Ben’s grandfather, is a man of all trades (teacher, surveyer, weaver, miller, clerk) who knows Indian languages and interprets between Indians and whites.
Baby Benjamin’s full brothers and sisters are John (17), Ben’s favorite, who is going to be Boston’s postmaster, Peter (16), Mary (13), James (10) who is going to be Ben’s least favorite, and Sarah (8). Baby Ebenezer died in ’03 in an accident in the bath – “he was drowned in a tub of suds”. Eb was eighteen months old. Thomas also has a four year old brother named Thomas. He will also have two younger sisters, Lydia (born in ’08 and Jane born in ’12). I have a feeling that his dad wanted to stop with Ben, because Benjamin is last of Israel’s twelve sons and the most beloved, but 18th century birth control was not that great! He even ran out of Bible names for the last one – Jane. Josiah started having babies in the 70s and did not stop having babies until the teens!
We really don’t know much about Ben’s second birthday besides that he did not have his own bedroom and had an excess of older brothers and sisters to play with. Benjamin Franklin would grow up to be one of the founders of the United States of America, and we always remember him as an old guy. In January 08, he was a little guy!