Thursday, April 26, 2007


The bookstore chain I work for has a Local Interest category
and (in what is clearly a case of serendipity for me) I’m the
person responsible for that section in my bookstore. It’s fun
for me on several levels stocking the books and there’s one
series of books that are particular favorites.

The Images of America books by Arcadia Publishing consists
of titles with historical photographs of many cities and towns
in the United States. While some may have a few illustrations
most of the contents are black & white copies of daguerreotypes
and photographs from the 19th and 20th centuries. These books
had caught my interest even before I became more active in my
genealogy research because there were books on Dorchester,
Malden, and Abington, all towns where I’d lived in at one point
or another in my life. It’s that nostalgia which makes them sell
very well as customers shop for birthday and Christmas gifts
even if many of the scenes and people shown are from a century
before they were born. The books are paperbacks and are priced
usually at $19.99

From a genealogy viewpoint there’s a chance to see what my
great-grandparents might have seen when they walked down a
street in Boston or Maine. Last fall I special ordered in one title
for myself: “The Oxford Hills: Greenwood, Norway, Oxford,
Paris, West Paris, and Woodstock.” My paternal grandfather
Floyd E. West, Sr. was born in South Paris so these towns would
have been familiar to him. I didn’t find any Wests among the
high school class or church portraits but still it was a lot of fun
looking through it. Maybe they’ll come out with a book on Upton

Maybe they have one on your ancestors’ towns, too. Check at
your own local bookstore or online if they sound like something
you’d be interested in!

Monday, April 23, 2007


This was taken on one of those family trips 'up home'. It was one
of the rare ocassions that our family and Aunt Dorothy's visited
at the same time so my Mom or either Uncle Chuck or Uncle Herb
got Grandpa West to pose with his children.

Front row (left to right)is Aunt Dorothy, then Grandpa Floyd Earl
West Sr. and then Aunt Flossie (Florence). In back is my Dad and
my Aunt Hazel.

This was taken in the late 1950's or early 1960's judging by the
top photo which shows my mom. my Aunt Flossie's kids and
me engaging in the perennial favorite New Hampshire pastime
of *cough* croquet.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


I mentioned earlier that I’d recently found information that
disproves the belief that my ancestress Lydia Phelps was the
daughter of Jonathan Phelps and Beulah Parker. I’d googled
around with intentions of doing a post about ancestors who’d
been called to arms at Concord and Lexington when I found
this at “The Ancestry of Overmire, Tifft, Richardson, Bradford,
Reed,” by Larry Overmire, RootsWeb World Connect Project,
2000-2007 on John Ames, Lydia Phelp’s husband.

The line that caught my interest right away was one concerning
John teaching his stepson Sampson the blacksmith’s trade. This
was the first I’d ever heard of stepchildren, so I then read Larry’s
entry on Lydia Phelps:



Lydia was of Scottish descent, her parents born in Scotland. She
was known as a "remarkably vigorous woman." She and her
second husband John Ames migrated to the wilds of Maine about
-Larry Overmire, The Ancestry of Overmire, Tifft,
Richardson, Bradford, Reed.

There followed two quotes:

"My father was John Ames, who was born in Groton, Mass., and
mother was Lydia Phelps, who was born in Hollis, Mass... When
father married second wife, the widow of Sampson Read, she had
three children, Sampson, Lydia and Amy, then children by John
Ames were: John, Jonathan, Zekiel, Polly, Betsey, and Ralph;
all born in Groton, Mass., except Ralph, who was in Merrimac,

Mass., and myself in Hollis." --Aunt Betsey Putnam, as told to Axel
H. Reed, Genealogy, p. 17.

"Lydia Phelps, my mother, was of Scottish decent [sic], whose
parents were born in Scotland, and from whom the Reads got
their light eyes, so father Ames used to say."
--Aunt Betsey Putnam, as told to Axel H. Reed, Genealogy, p. 17.

((The source for the quotes is: "Genealogical Record of The Reads,
Reeds, the Bisbees, the Bradfords of the United States of America"
in the line of Esdras Read of Boston and England, 1635 to 1915.
Thomas Besbedge or Bisbee of Scituate, Mass. and England, 1634
to 1915. Governor William Bradford, of Plymouth, Mass., and
England, 1620 to 1915." By Axel Hayford Reed, Glencoe, MN,

The list of children given for John and Lydia by Betsey Putnam is
what I had already in my records but the information that Lydia’s
parents were Scottish-born was new and negates the supposed
descent from the Phelps of Andover. This is a personal account of
one of John and Lydia’s own children, after all.

And now I’m left with another question: if Lydia was the second
wife of John Ames, who was the first?

My thanks to Larry Overmire for permission to use his research!


I’ll have some longer posts later on today(Sunday) but
I just thought I’d mention that I bought the new Tolkien
book and…..I spent about five minutes studying the three
genealogy charts of the hero’s family.

As far as I can tell, I am not related to any elves.

Thursday, April 19, 2007



It appears I have to do some tree pruning. Several of us
climbing our West Family tree have believed that Lydia
Phelps, mother of Arvilla Ames and the grandmother of
Jonathan Phelps West was the Lydia Phelps whose parents
were Jonathan Phelps and Beulah Parker. Last evening I
found fairly strong proof that is not the case.

You can view it here. The work is copyrighted and I won’t
say anything more while I try to contact the person to get
permission to blog here about it. I’m deleting my previous
Phelps ancestry post so as not to lead anyone else down
a wrong path.

On the good side, I am still descended from Edward Phelps
through Hannah Phelps, wife to Ephraim Abbott.

But I’ve lost the Andrews, Dickinson, and some of the Parker
lines. One of the hard parts of genealogy: removing ancestors
that are interesting when you find out they don't belong on the

Ah, the pain!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Word of the events at Lexington and Concord reached the Essex
County expatriates along the St Johns River by late April or early
May. Many had brothers or fathers among the Minutemen and
there was sentiment among many to join the rebellion. There
was a 12 man committee formed to write resolutions in support
of the rebels and to declare their desire to be henceforth part of
the state of Massachusetts. (At this time, Massachusetts included
most of what is now the state of Maine so extending the border
north into Canada would have seemed possible.) The committee
sent two delegates to Boston with familiar family connections: one
was Asa Perley and the other Asa Kimball.

The two men were well received and sent back to Maugerville
with arms and ammunition for the cause. But the attempt to win
control of the province was doomed by the failure of a series of
futile attempts to seize Fort Cumberland and other points along
the river as are detailed here. One of the rebels was the Pastor of
the Maugerville church Seth Noble and this might have been the
cause of some trouble among the congregation. A new covenant
fwas drawn up in 19 Jun 1779 and Moses Coburn and his wife
Hannah are among the names that appear upon it.

The rebel movement in New Brunswick ultimately faded away
and in 1783 the Essex County settlers faces an influx of expatriate
American Loyalists and after a period of uneasy adjustment the
area settled down back into the business of everyday life. Moses
Coburn and Hannah Burpee raised two sons and their descendants
lived for the most part around Sheffield, New Brunswick, Canada.
Three of them also were named Moses.

I wonder if my ancestor Moses Coburn ever met or corresponded
with his Canadian kinsmen and namesakes?

I’d like to credit the Sunbury County RootsWeb Site where I found
much of the information in these last few posts.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


As I mentioned last time in my post about Maugerville the
name Mose Coburn was mentioned several times, mostly
in transcriptions of church documents.

Now my father’s mom Cora Berthella Barker was descended
from a Moses Coburn and wife Esther Spaulding (Spalding)
of Newry, Maine. Our Moses was also originally from Essex
County, Massachusetts, so I wondered about a connection.
I tried Family Search first and it seems the Moses Coburn of
Maugerville was related. He was born in Dracut or Tyngsboro
Ma. on 1 Jan 1702 and died in Sheffield Parrish, New Brunswick,
Canada on 27 Apr 1800. He married Hannah Burpee on 31 Dec
1767 in Sheffield and they had a family of seven children.

Hannah’s father is given as Jonathan Burpee and one of the
leaders of the Maugerville Settlement was Deacon Jonathan

Further googling led to more information as to why this Moses
Coburn would have left Essex Co., Ma. for Canada. On 15 Apr
1762 he’d married Elizabeth Peabody but she died a year later.
Apparently they had a son Stephen but I find no other mention
of him so he might also have died. About this same time the Essex
County colonists would have started leaving for Canada and it
must have seemed like a way for Moses to leave painful memories
behind and start a new life. So in 1767 he moved to Maugerville
and marriedHannah Burpee later that same year.

But while the Essex Colonists had started a new life in Canada the
events to the south would have an impact on them, which I’ll leave
for next time.

Monday, April 16, 2007


As I mentioned earlier, I discovered something unexpected
while surfing the web last week I googled for any information
on the Ruth Perley (E)ames incident and while looking into the
Perley family came across Israel Perley who moved from Rowley,
Ma. to settle in Canada in a town named Maugerville along the
St. Johns River. The website contains more detail but apparently
after the French and Indian War the British were seeking settlers
to replace the Acadians they’d expelled and an invitation was sent
to colonists in New England to move north. Some 200 families
took up the offer of a new life and made the move and most of
that number came from Essex County in Massachusetts.

There’s a list of the family names of many of the settlers and
at least a half dozen listed could be related to me including Barker,
Dow, Estey, Coburn, Kimball, Richardson and West. If you have
Essex County ancestry you might want to check out this Canadian

The name Moses Coburn appears several times on the website
and I’ll go into that a bit more next time. The nor'easter is still
howling outside and bed beckons.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


A very rainy Sunday afternoon and I’ve been noodling around
the web on genealogy and other matters. This is a dangerous
thing, because all sorts of stuff runs through my mind and if I’m
not careful I’ll blog it and subject those of you reading this to it.

I was doing a bit of research and writing about something I
found out while working on the entries I wrote about the murder
of Ruth Perley (E)Ames. I’ll be posting what that was a bit later
today. But it did seem to verify many statements I’ve seen that
climbing your family tree is a pursuit with lots of surprises and
side paths to explore. I keep finding new information online that
may or not be true and has to be evaluated. I’ve discovered
distant cousins like Tim Abbott or Chris Dunham and it makes
me wonder how many more there are out there who I don’t know
and may never learn about.

I guess the best analogy I have today (and we’ll blame this one on
the fact that there’s a nor’easter outside) is that it’s like dropping a
rock into a pond and setting off ever widening ripples.

But what interesting ripples they are.

Friday, April 13, 2007


April brings showers, and birthdays in our family as well.

The first is Aunt Dorothy’s, (my Dad’s sister) which was
last Thursday. This is the lady whose own genealogy research
inspired mine. Hard to believe that she’s 81 now when I look at
this picture from the photo album. I think she sent it to Dad
shortly after she traveled to Ohio to marry Uncle Chuck. She’s
the young lady on the right of the picture, although the note on
the back says it was printed backwards since Dot was actually
sitting on the right of the other girl. She and Uncle Chuck raised
a large and happy family and I’m hoping to make it out there to
visit them this summer.

The next two happen to both fall on the same date, April 12th.

One is my Aunt Emily (Cappadonna) White, the wife of my Uncle
Ed White. Here she is with Uncle Ed (who looks like a young
Jerry Orbach) and their daughter Winnie. Emily was known as
“Aunt Mimi” because as a toddler it was as close as I could get to
“Emily” and I still occasionally use that. As I mentioned in an
earlier post we all lived in a two family house in Malden for some
years. After my folks moved to Dorchester Emily and Ed
moved to a house in Arlington and later bought a house here in
Abington where we had moved after leaving Dorchester. Uncle
Ed passed away a year before Mom did and Emily now lives in
Florida and summers up in New Hampshire with Winnie and her

And last (and far from the least) today is also my sister Cheryl’s
birthday. My folks let me name her and the name comes from my
first crush. (a girl in my kindergarten class named Cheryl.) Cheryl
and her husband Peter and their family love in Whitman, the next
town over now and she teaches English at a local middle school.
She is more than just a sister, she’s a friend!

The photo at the top is from her christening and the adults are
her godfather Gaetano Cappadonna (Aunt Emily’s dad) and her
godmother Anna Hyler, one of our cousins on the McFarland side
of the family.

I hope all these ladies have many more happy birthdays to come!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Just a few thoughts for tonight:

First, for those from outside the area who wonder how big a deal
Patriots’ Day and the commemoration of the battles of Concord
and Lexington might be around here, take a look at the calendar
posted over at Boston 1775 by J. L.Bell

Second, I found a map of Andover in 1692 that show the locations
of all those Abbotts and Chandlers and others that are in my line
and in Tim Abbott's as well. It includes a handy name key to go
with the numbered houses. If you have ancestors from there,
check it out!

Finally, I‘m really beginning to like the Google Books site more
and more. I could get lost for hours just looking through the old
books like William Cutter’s and looking for entries on my ancestors.

Sunday, April 08, 2007


My family has always had…well…rather unique pets.
No, I don’t meant exotic animals but the usual dogs, cats,
and birds.

And then there was Phil’s rabbit. Easter usually brings
it to mind when I see stories about folks buying chickens,
ducklings and bunnies for children.

Phil is the youngest of us three kids and I was 17 years
old when he was born. At some point or another when he was
around 6 or 7 he wanted a bunny. I’m not sure if my folks bought
it or if I did. At any rate, Dad converted an old dog house into
a rabbit hutch by placing it under the shade of one of the weeping
willows along the driveway and then putting a chicken wire pen
around it.

My contribution was making it possible for Phil to walk his
rabbit. I went to the local pet store and bought a small harness
that was meant for a small dog or cat and a leash. You must
understand that by this time I was out of high school as was my
sister and there was no danger of kidding from schoolmates about
seeing our brother walking his rabbit across the front lawn as the
school bus pulled up to let us off in the afternoon.

The rabbit (whose name sadly I forget) wasn’t too thrilled
about the walking part but seemed to enjoy eating the dandelions
it found on the front lawn.

A bit later I went off to a summer job as a camp counselor but
returned home in June for my parent’s 25th Wedding anniversary.
At some point or another I wandered over to look in on the rabbit.
He seemed very relaxed just inside the door of the doghouse.

In fact he looked very, very relaxed.

I went looking for Phil. “The rabbit’s sleeping.” he told me.

I went looking for Dad. “The rabbit’s sleeping, Dad.”

The burial took place sometime after all the guests left for the

We only had one other rabbit after that some years later and that
one escaped before it could… er…sleep.


It seems that Jonathan (E)Ames and his wife Elizabeth
Blount didn’t leave New England entirely.

Another edition of the Essex Antiquarian with an Ames
genealogy mentions the murder and that Jonathan Sr.
sold his farm in “the spring of 1770 and removed to
Londonderry N.H.”

There are records of marriages for the two daughters:
Sarah married a William Foster in 1763, and Elizabeth
married a Benjamin Barker in 1774.

So far, no further trace of Jonathan Jr. nor to the child of
Ruth Perley (E)Ames

I also forgot to mention that the person who wrote the piece
about the death of Ruth Perley (E)ames for the Antiquarian
was named Sydney Perley who was the editor and main
contributor to the publication.

No doubt he first heard the whle story through an older

Thursday, April 05, 2007


The other day at the bookstore I heard a familiar voice say "Billy!"

Well, only those who knew me as a kid or who are related to me
use that name and when I turned around I saw two of my cousins
had stopped in to see if I was there.

Actually they're my second cousins, Nancy and Margie, daughters
of my grandmother Agnes' sister Peggy.

Yikes, that's so convoluted!

Anyway we talked a bit and I told them I'd started this blog and
that I had scanned some pictures they might like to see. Neither
of them are online themselves but I got the email addresses
of two of their kids who do and I promised I'd send the pictures
along to them.

This picture is one. Left to right it's Nancy, someone who may
be either cousin Anna or cousin Peggy, then Margie and then my
mom Anne. It was taken outside of the same triple decker that
appears in the wedding photo of my parents I've published

Mom spent a lot of time with her cousins when she was younger
and they were as close as sisters. Both Margie and Nancy were
in Mom's wedding party and Nancy is my godmother. And both
of them went on to long happy marriages and large families.

I'd just thought I'd post this here too before I crawl off to bed!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


In the list of witnesses called during the trial of Jonathan
Eames and his mother Elizabeth there is listed “Elizabeth,
wife of Richard Kimball.” There is a marriage between an
Elizabeth Secton or Seeton of Lunenberg and Richard Kimbal,
at Lunenberg, recorded in the Boxford Vital Records that took
place on 23 Jan 1750(1751). She would have been slightly older
than Ruth Perley Eames but closer in age to her than the senior
Mrs. Eames. It’s my guess she is the “Mrs. Kimball” who raised
the suspicions of the townsfolk over Ruth’s mysterious death.

As I’ve said previously, after their acquittal the Eames family
eventually sold their farm and left town. It must have been a
difficult time for Jonathan Eames Sr. who doesn’t seem to have
figured at all in the trial. I’ve been hunting around on the net the
past few nights but have yet to come up with where the family
eventually relocated.

So far I’ve been searching for any Essex County traces but they
might have gone further away than that. A few generations
before the children of the executed Mary Townes Estey had
moved either out of Essex County or left Massachusetts entirely.
Elizabeth Eames had a brother living in Farmington, Me. Perhaps
that was far enough away to escape the scandal’s shame?

The “not guilty” verdict would seem to be puzzling given the
apparent belief by their neighbors that Jonathan and Elizabeth
had murdered poor Ruth. But there was no solid physical evidence
to prove their guilt and perhaps memories of the innocents who’d
been sent to their deaths at Salem the century before might have
played a part. The Eames had been held up to public scrutiny and
afterwards were so shunned that they removed themselves from
the town.

In the end that would have to satisfy their accusers.

Finally, I do have to say that finding out that a relative, even a
distant one, was defended by John Adams …wow…how cool is that?