Friday, November 30, 2007


You know that part of the movie A Christmas Story where
the family goes out to buy the tree and the parents have a little
argument over it? Well, I laugh every time I see it because
like so much in that film it echoes my childhood.

Every Christmas when I was younger either we’d go shopping
for a tree or Dad would buy one on his way home from work.
Now as regular readers of this blog know by now, my dad was
from Maine. But even more than that, he had experience in trees.
He’d helped his father cutting down trees, and he’d worked for a
landscaper in the Boston area when he’d first come home from
the war. Mom would remind Dad of his experience every year
when the tree was fixed into the tree stand, the rope cut from
the branches and the inevitable big empty space was discovered.
Usually the problem was solved by rotating the tree so the empty
spot was in the back facing the wall. The lights were strung(and
here we differed from the film. We never blew out the fuses.),
then the garlands, the ornaments, and the icicles. Finally the
angel went up on top of the tree and we were all set. With
judicious watering the tree would last us until around “Little
Christmas” at which time it would be undecorated and deposited
curbside to await the dump truck.

Of course our tree paled in comparison to the giant my Mom’s
Uncle Tommy and Aunt Francis had in their home down in
Milton. It was so big they cut the top off and the branches didn’t
taper at the top. They were all the same size: large. I could
never believe they'd gotten that big a tree into the house in the
first place!

Then the first artificial Christmas trees hit the market and Mom
began vowing she was going to get one as she vacuumed up pine
needles from the rug. Eventually we did but that provided us
with new challenges, such as assembling the tree.

As we all grew older the prospect of trying to get the tree
together became less enchanting and so it too was replaced, this
time by a small ceramic musical tree that was lit from within by
a light bulb. I used that tree myself for several years after Mom
died although I felt no great urge to wind it up for the music. It
lasted until a few years back when I dropped it and the base
cracked. It sits now in a box in a shelf in my living room closet.

Its replacement is a small artificial tree that I bought at work with
my employee discount along with a garland. Last year some
friends sent me some snowmen ornaments for it. I haven’t put it
up yet but think I will this weekend. It fits on top of the tv.

And at some point over the holidays I’ll see that scene from A
Christmas Story again and grin.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


It’s been a long time since we last talked.

But it’s that holiday season and visions of gedcoms are dancing in
the heads of my fellow genealogy bloggers. In fact, wish lists are
being put together for the next Carnival of Genealogy and I’ve
put one together myself so I’m sending it along to you, too:

1. A break in the brick wall that is the Elusive John Cutter West.
See my previous posts here and here about that. Randy, Apple,
and Janice have given me some solid suggestions on how to go
about it but I could use a little Santa magic there, I think, as well.

2. A break in the wall that is my maternal grandfather Edward F.
White Sr. Where did he go? What about his new family?

Again, I know what might help me there.

3.More time and energy. Some folks have this rather romantic
view of bookstores as being well…almost library like. Perhaps it
is in some idyllic place, but bookstores are businesses and that
means customers must be waited on and sales rung up. Most
now go with the “lean” approach to staffing (except at Christmas)
and most nights when I get home I’m pooped. So a little energy
would be a big help, Santa!

Or maybe you can make me 35 years old again? I’m not greedy.

And time. Lots of time to research and record stuff and to get
into Boston to do it!

4. Perhaps a trip back “uphome” to visit some of the places our
family lived and knew. I visited them when I was much younger
but that was before I’d gained more knowledge of the family

5. More records and information available online. That would
help a lot with the time and energy part, too! And I promise if I
find anything about my brick walls I’ll post it here so others can
find it.

6. Last but not least…more genealogical uses for a flutaphone!
Where am I ever going to come up with the 20 or so more I need
to make that 49??

PS. I didn't shoot my eye out!

Monday, November 26, 2007


Alright, it's been a slow few days out there in genealogy blog
country and here as well.

This has given me the chance to ponder the 49 Genealogical Uses
for a Flutaphone list and to update and make corrections.

So here is the new, updated, expanded, and revised list so
far, with new entries in honor of Dick Eastman's recent
post comparing the various genealogy cruises. If I missed
any contributions from other bloggers please let me know
and I'll re-revise!

1. Doorstop- It’s more humane than using dead cats or dead
Wesley Crushers. And it smells better.

2. Windchimes

3. A Habitat trail for Earthworms-All those finger holes.
“The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out…”

4. Tank decoration for guppies- All those finger holes.“
The fish swim in, the fish swim out…”

5. A defensive weapon-For when that librarian finally
snaps when you ask her to find another dusty volume in
the stacks. Mouthpieces on flutaphones are pointy!!!

6. A diversion: used to exit an overly proprietary historical
society. Make some noise behind the bookshelf with it, and
while the volunteer is investigating the noise, grab your
first born child (the one being held hostage to make sure
you don't steal anything) and run like hell. (Janice)

7. Learn a snake charmers tune and play it when you need
to hypnotize a records clerk to get them to check the books
one more time for that record you KNOW is there.

8. A pry-bar, to break into old file drawers that have been
holding your genealogical notes from 20 years ago. You've
moved a few times, and lost the key. (Janice)

9. Flower holder- for when you visit the ancestral grave.
Stick sharp pointy mouthpiece into the ground and your
flowers into the other end of the flutaphone.

10. Bookmark-When you have to leave your chair for a
moment to ask the librarian to find you another genealogy
book in the stacks.NOTE- DO NOT LET THE LIBRARIAN

11. Bookfetcher- That particular tome on a shelf you can’t
quite reach? Using the pointy mouthpiece end, gently rock
the book loose and down.

12. Bookcatcher- See above. Quickly reverse the
flutaphone to catch the falling book on the wide-ended
mouth. If the librarian notices, tell her you are practicing
balancing the books.

13. Eartrumpet- For when a librarian starts yelling. Insert
narrow end in ear after REMOVING the pointy mouthpiece.
Remember, catch any books before they hit the floor if you
were performing uses numbers 11 and/or 12 when the
librarian started yelling. Turn wide end towards librarian
and say “Eh?”

14.Backpatter - to pat your own back when you have
solved a particularly difficult family genealogical mystery.
Caution: do not run while performing this action, or you
may put your eye out. (Janice)

15. Temporary flag pole. Tape a patriots napkin
(preferably one with a patriots logo). Wave wildly when
the Patriots score. (Janice)

16. Distress Signal. IF you become lost in the stacks of a
major genealogical library, DO NOT PANIC! Use your
flutaphone to summon help by blowing as hard as you can
on through the mouthpiece. A series of the highest and
most shrill notes will be most efficacious and a friendly
librarian will arrive to escort you safely back to your chair.

17. Use for a Flutaphone--Car Buddy: it easily slips over
your car antenna (you ARE still driving the vehicle you
bought in 1960 right?) and helps you to locate your vintage
auto in the research library parking lot (when you leave the
library all bleary-eyed). (Janice)

18. Hidden Message DeCoder. It is a long held deep dark
secret that when a flutaphone is held lengthwise under a
bright light over a line of text that certain words in the text
are illuminated to reveal hidden messages only you can see.
It is recommended you only employ this method when there
is no one else present nearby who might steal the secret
message. Send the librarian back into the stacks first for
another obscure text to ensure they will not see you!

19. Treasure Finder- Another little known fact is that when
a flutaphone is held in a certain way outside on a bright
sunshiny day while the holder nonchalantly hums “I Can
See Clearly Now” the reflection of the flutaphone will
reveal the spot where buried treasure is hidden. There have
been recent reports of genealogy bloggers wandering about
Northern New England employing this technique while
searching for the legendary Money Pit. No one has found it
yet but there have been complaints from angry hunters who
claim “the damn humming scared all the deer away!”

20.Social Icebreaker- Use your flutaphone to socially break
the ice on your first Genealogy Cruise. Amaze and delight
your fellow genealogists with your musical prowess and
your unique knowledge of the more arcane uses of the
legendary musical instrument.

21. Nautical Distress Signal- If you should be accidentally
bumped overboard from the Genealogy Cruise ship or
set adrift in a lifeboat during the lifeboat drill. Keep the
flutaphone dry and periodically blow a series of high shrill
notes to help rescuers locate you.

22. Dolphin Repeller- To ward off overly friendly dolphins
who mistake your distress signal for the an invitation
to socialize

23. Icebreaker- Use the sharp flutaphone mouthpiece to chip
away at the ice forming around your lifeboat. Reciting your
pedigree while chipping might make the time go faster.

24.Paddle- Use the flutaphone to help propel your lifeboat after
the Genealogy Cruise ship. Note- If you were accidentally
bumped overboard, forget paddling. Grasp the flutaphone firmly
in your teeth so you don’t lose it and swim after the ship instead!

25. Safety Device- Once you’ve been rescued, use the flutaphone
to ensure you remain safely aboard afterwards by keeping your
fellow genealogists at least one flutaphone length away from you
on deck. Hold the sharp mouthpiece end outwards towards them
at all times!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

MAKE BOOK ON THIS launched its new Kindle ebook reader with much
noise and fanfare this week. Among other things, there was a
long article in Newsweek which declared that it reinvented the


Okay, in the interests of truthiness, let me remind everyone I
am a bookseller by profession and a booklover at heart. That
being said, I am not a Luddite. I love my computer. Even as I
type this, I’m waiting for my mp3 player/fm radio to finish
recharging from my computer usb port. As an avid lifelong sf
reader I am excited and astounded by most new technology. I
say most. I don’t include e-readers among the things that excite

Amazon’s Kindle is nothing new. Sony released the Bookman
Reader in the 1990’s and it failed. Two years ago they revamped
it and already have gone through one remodel. It still hasn’t taken
off. One reason is the price, I believe. The new version is $299, as
is the Kindle’s price. That right there is the main problem. Most
people do not have that sort of money to spend on a gadget that
is redundant. They can buy a paperback book for $7.99 much
more easily.

Another reason is peace of mind. You can haul a Kindle around as
easily as a book, yes. But if you drop a book in a puddle, you’ve
only lost the cost of one book. You can bring a book to the beach
and leave it on your chair while you swim and not be too upset if
some sand gets stuck in it or if it’s gone when you get back from
your swim. Try doing that with a $299 Kindle.

And then there’s the kids. Sad to say, most kids only read a book
when they have to, such as summer reading for school. Will the
average parent let their kids read their book on their Kindle or
instead just buy the traditional paper copy which can be dropped,
kicked, torn, and even lost on the way to school and then easily
and cheaply replaced?

Could an electronic book reader take the place of a big picture
book at bedtime with pictures that a child stares at before
pointing at it and asking their mom or dad what it is?

Would millions of kids gather in bookstores worldwide for a Harry
Potter new release download? Or would they just sit at home and
wait quietly for it, not experiencing the fun of being with other
fans to talk about their favorite characters while they wait for the
stroke of midnight?

As a genealogist I believe there is a productive use for ebooks,
specifically the preservation of older out of print books such as
what Google is doing. But for me devices such as Kindle or the
Sony Reader cannot replace the feel of a real book in my hands,
or the memories of who gave me the book or of when and where
I purchased and read it for the very first time.

So good luck to Jeff Bezos and Amazon with the Kindle. I’m sure
there are many “first adopters” and technofiles out there that will
be ready to try it.

As for me, I’ll just stick to real books, thank you.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


I hope everyone has had a great Thanksgiving. I did! It was a
quieter day than past years because it was an all adult gathering
at my sister and brother-in law’s house. Lots of good food, and I
have a pan of leftovers in my refrigerator to prove it. It was a
nice day all in all.

I checked for online news stories on Thanksgiving and genealogy
and found some interesting ones here, and here, and here. Some
of the interviewed people made some very good comments about
how enjoyable their genealogy research is and how its given them
a greater appreciation for their family’s history.

For myself, I’m thankful for my family, present and past, the
Mayflower passengers and the Irish immigrants, the Minutemen
and the veterans of World War II and Iraq. I’m thankful to live
in this country because whatever issues we may disagree on, we
all still havethe right to express our views and beliefs.

It’s a great country.

And lastly, I’m thankful for the help and encouragement I’ve been
given by other members of the genealogy community.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Yesterday I received a comment on my earlier post FROM
from David J. O’Connor. He
writes that his mother Florence Evelyn Ellingwood O’Connor
had passed away at the age of 97 back in 2001. In the original
post I described how she had kindly answered my questions
some 30 years ago and even sent along several pages of
information, including the transcription from a family bible.
I’m grateful today that she took the time back then and
I wish I’d taken the time to tell her so.

Coincidentally, I’d mentioned her in my reply to Randy Seaver
who has been kind enough to look into the Elusive John C. for
me. He’s given me some good advice and help in trying to break
down that brick wall.

And today I received an email from a lady with a question
concerning my post on JOHN AMES’ HEIRS. Jade wondered
if the child of Sally Ames and Isaac Fuller I’d found might be her
ancestress. It wasn’t, but after some quick googling it turns out
her ancestress was another of their children.

Although I wasn’t of much help to Jade I was glad to try to do
what I could. How could I not be considering all the help I’ve
been given along the way from other members of the
genealogy community?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

MEME 161

Dang! I’ve been tagged with the 161 meme by Becky over
at kinnexions. The way it works is you open some book you
are currently reading and open it to page 161, then look at
line six, and post it as a reply to the person who tagged you
and as a post in your blog. Then you tag five more bloggers.

I usually have several books going at once. Unfortunately, the
light reading one yielded a one word sentence. But the serious
reading book yielded this:

“Arius, that evil man, the founder of that evil sect, lost
his entrails in the lavatory and so was hurried off to
hell-fire; Saint Hilary, on the other hand, who
defended the undivided Trinity and was sent into
exile for having done so, was restored to his own
country and went at last to heaven.”
- The History of the Franks, Gregory of Tours,
(Penguin, London, England, 1974).

Trouble is, most of the other genealogy bloggers have
already been tagged. So if I repeat tag someone, my
apologies and consider yourselves excused.

My five:
Tim Abbot at Walking the Berkshires
Chris Dunham at The Genealogue
Lisa at A Light That Shines Again
Colleen at The Oracle of OMcHodoy
Craig Manson At The Geneablogie

Friday, November 16, 2007


“Breathes there the man with soul so dead
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!'
-Sir Walter Scott
"The Lay of the Last Minstrel" (1805)

When I took these pictures of the North River in Hanover and
Pembroke I didn’t realize that my ancestors had lived in the
area. I did know that there was something about the Herring
Run and the view of that bridge over Rte 53 that made me
want to stop for awhile. Back then I’d take my Canon AE-1 and
drive around the South Shore taking pictures of the foliage and

I actually used to ride my bike down to the Herring Run when
I was living in Hanover and take a book to sit in the sun for a bit.
A few times I walked the paths on either side of the river above
the falls and once I was actually there when the herring were
but I didn’t have a camera with me.

There is something about New England that makes me sure I
wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. And I’m sure my fellow
genealogy bloggers must feel the same about the areas where
they live.


While looking through the old photos for something that might fit
Terry’s photo challenge, I keep running into pictures I haven’t
seen in years or I just don’t recall ever seeing before. There’s one
of each here.

One is of Dad and my brother Phil at event at the Brockton
VA Hospital. Both my parents were active in the Abington VFW
and Phil spent a lot of time down at the post as well. This looks
like some carnival perhaps? I’m not sure why they are holding
cucumbers but that hat on Dad’s head made me grin. I don’t
think I ever saw him wearing one like that.
I wish his part of the photo were less scratched but my folks
never were ones to put their pictures in albums. We had two
but usually pictures ended up in some drawer somewhere.
I have a large plastic bin of pictures that I’m chipping away at

The second is a picture I took years ago and is probably my
alltime favorite. That’s my niece Sarah in her Oshkosh overalls
holding out a marigold to my mom who’s off camera. It was taken
at the apartment on Walnut St, in Abington and I’d planted those
But the prettiest flower there was Sara.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


I’ve written before about my 3x great grandfather, John Cutter
West, who I refer to as The Elusive John C. and gave a
brief rundown of some of the problems in trying to find any
record of him here in Massachusetts. In many ways it's like
working on one huge genealogy jigsaw puzzle. I'm still
working at it.

John supposedly was born in Plymouth, Ma. 8 Oct 1802, yet
none of us who’ve researched that have been able to find
any records in the town of Plymouth. So perhaps it was
meant as Plymouth County? There are at present 28 towns
or cities in it, but there were fewer back at the time of
John’s birth since some of the present towns split off from
others. For example, I live in Abington. The neighboring
towns of Rockland and Whitman split off in the late 19th
century. The town of Norwell once was part of Scituate
and the towns of Marion, Mattapoisset and a section of
Eastham were originally part of the town of Rochester.

About 15 or 20 years ago in the pre computer days I did some
driving around to some of the various towns in hopes of turning
something up. I began in Plymouth and then moved to towns
that bordered it, then expanded the search to towns where my
other ancestors had been born. My Packard ancestors were from
Bridgewater and most recently North Bridgewater (which is now
the city of Brockton). The Barrows family came from Plympton
and Carver as did the Dunhams and Bensons. and the Griffiths
(Griffiths) were from the town of Rochester.

I didn’t have much luck with the search. I then tried searching
some of the older local cemeteries but without knowing the names
of John’s parents it was a longshot which didn’t yield any answers.
Neither did several trips to the NEGHS, but to be honest I had no
idea what records I should be searching so I plan to return there
soon better prepared.

Vacation ended and I put the search aside for the moment, telling
myself that I’d go back to it another time.

That time came last year when I started surfing the internet.
Searching for John Cutter West certainly was easier but was just
as frustrating as doing it the old fashioned way. Apparently
there is an adult movie star who has the same name. But online
access to fresh material (to me) gave me a few new ideas on
where to look.

On the 1850 Census for Township Letter B(later Upton), Oxford
County, Me. there are three West families, one being John C.
West’s family, the other two being of an Eli West and another man
named John West. On the 1860 Census, Eli West’s family is gone
but there is now also a Cyrus West and his family listed. Could
there be any connection between thses families and mine? So far
I’ve found none although it seems that the second John West
moved to Errol N.H. where members of my family later lived.

I’ve googled on the name “John Cutter” on the theory that maybe
John C. was named after his grandfather but with no success. I
also googled names of various West siblings and here I thought I
found something. One of John Cutter’s granddaughters was
named Diantha West. I found a Dianthe West, daughter of a John
West and his wife Relief Kingman and with an older brother named
John. The major problem here is that a search on WorldConnect
indicated the family was from the town of Randolph in Norfolk
County, not Plymouth, and the date of birth for Dianthe’s brother
John was the wrong month and year (2 Sep 1801) for him to be
John Cutter West.

Last night I gave another try on Eli West on WorldConnect and
found several entries for that name listing place of birth as being
Rochester, Ma. Looking further I found that his family was also
known as “Wast” or “Waste”, and that he was descended from
Francis Wast(or West) and his wife Susannah Soule. There were
members of the Soule family in Oxford county as well. So could
John Cutter West have been a member of this family and born as
John Cutter Wast?

I’ll keep looking. Hope springs eternal.

After all, if the Red Sox could finally win the World Series twice,
then someday the mystery of John Cutter West will be solved.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


There’s been some interesting posts lately on other genealogy
blogs using topics suggested from writing prompts or memes.
I’ve been meaning to respond to them myself but haven’t until
now. This one is about “What was your first job?”. I’ve thrown
in other jobs I’ve held over the years.

My first paying job was delivering flyers for the Talbot Ave.
Laundry in the Dorchester section of Boston. I was 8 or 9 years
old at the time, I think, and I got ½ cent for every flyer that I
delivered. I had family help landing the job since a cousin of my
mom’s, Bobby Ramsey, worked there. I got a brown paper
wrapped bundle of a few hundred single sheet flyers and went
about the neighborhood stuffing them into the mailboxes. Since
there were quite a few triple-deckers(three family apartment
houses) in the area it was pretty easy to do, and I would
then quickly spend the money on baseball cards which were only
5 cents a pack back then.

When we moved a few blocks up the street to Evans St. I got my
first paper route. It was for the old Boston Daily Record, a
Hearst tabloid. I rode a huge old clunker of a bike up to the
projects over Blue Hill Ave. for that one. The Boston Strangler
was at large then and collecting money from customers was
interesting to say the least as many women were afraid to
open their doors, even to a paperboy. I also delivered the old
Boston Herald for a bit then too, back when there were 6
newspapers in Boston. By the way, you’d be amazed how many
packs of baseball cards or comic books could fit into a newsboy’s

We left Boston and moved to Abington before my sophomore
year in high school, and once again I delivered newspapers, first
for the Quincy Patriot Ledger and then the Brockton Enterprise
and was usually accompanied by the family dog and once or twice
the family cat who rode along in the ever useful bag. I have
sometimes wondered over the years if any of my customers were
allergic to cats.

My first REAL job was as a busboy at the Teel’s Cabin Restaurant
in Abington. I actually witnessed one of those visits by a Pepsi
Cola representative who posed as a customer to see if the waitress
said “We serve Pepsi.” when someone ordered a Coca Cola.

The Summer after I graduated from high school I worked at a
machine shop in the neighboring town of Whitman.(part of our
backyard actually was in Whitman.) I’m ashamed to say I can’t
recall the name of the company anymore(and that worries me,
too, btw.) and I’m not even sure just what the heck they were
making. I do recall the machines that I hauled long rods of metal
to turned out little round plug shaped objects and that I cleaned
out the shavings using a pitch fork and wheelbarrow. Then I’d
take the scraps out back, walk up a 2x4 plank and empty the
wheelbarrow off onto the pile. I’d walk home at night and take a
bath and the grease would float on top of the water.

What I most recall about that job was the heat and there were
salt tablets next to the water cooler and that I didn’t get the
reason why they were there until I passed out one day from the
heat. I was lucky I didn’t get a concussion when I whacked my
head on something. I never forgot to take an occasional salt tablet
again there and I made sure I drank plenty of water after that.

And the next summer I worked as a camp counselor instead.

That’s a good place to stop for tonight.

Friday, November 09, 2007


Alright, Randy, here goes...

To the tune of "Weekend in New England"
performed by Barry Manilow

Note-background musicians include the
National Genealogical Fluteaphone Orchestra

Last night when I found it
It all seemed so clear,
That long standing brick wall
It’s end was so near.
But now in the light of day,
The gedcom’s not here!
So tell me
How will I find it?
Where did that link go?
I swear I will bookmark it then!
Tell me where is that website again?

Wests in New England
Go on and on
To find a lost ancestor

Can take all night long.
I finally found it,

my quest's at an end.
Now tell me
How do I find it?
Where did that link go?
I swear I will bookmark it then!
Tell me where is that website again?

I feel a change coming,
Somehow I know
When I finally find it,
The answers I’ll know!
With it
I can close out
All the mysteries I had,
Alright, maybe just one or two
But that ain’t so bad!

And tell me
How will I find it?
Where did that link go?
I swear I will bookmark it then!
Tell me where is that website again?

Thursday, November 08, 2007


..aka brainfreeze.

Okay. I goofed.
The Last post was Blogging Brunch12, not 11.

The previous Blogging Brunch10 post is really
Blogging Brunch 11.

And the first Blogging Brunch10 post is still
Blogging Brunch10.

All have been retitled, so please
adjust your scorecards.

Thank you.


Well, I guess Autumn is finally here. It certainly is chilly enough
around here to bundle up a bit and huddle around the computer
for warmth.

Okay, it’s not quite that bad. But I do have my hooded sweatshirt
on and a hot cup of coffee at hand as I browse the genealogy blogs
and news.

First off I read the new CoG that Blaine Bettinger hosted over
on his Genetic Genealogist. Of course it’s been out a few days and
I’d already gone through it once but it was late at night at the end
of a long day of work so I went back and reread all the posts again.
The theme was genealogical mysteries and brick walls and how
DNA testing might help solve them and Blaine made comments
on how each blogger might go about doing it. A great Carnival of
Genealogy all around!

And as usual, I found more genealogy blogs to add to my
bookmarks. I’ve added Lisa’s A Light That Shines Again,
100 Years in America and Small-Leaved Shamrock ,
Colleen’s The Oracle of OMcHodoy, Lee Anders’ I Seek Dead
People Blog, and other folks who made their first appearance in
this edition.

I didn’t contribute this time around. I’d already posted about the
Elusive John C. before and really couldn’t come up with another
problem that DNA testing would break down for me. The next
edition is going to be a Carousel edition on any topic so I’ll have
something ready for that one. The submissions deadline is
November 15th, so if you’ve never contributed to it before, now’s
your chance!

Then I made my usual rounds of my favorite blogs. Randy Seaver
at Genea-Musings has a couple of posts of what I would call
Genealogy Rock…adaptations of old rock songs with lyrics about
genealogy. Hmmm. I’m going to have to see if I can come up with
one myself. And there’s also an interesting post about the Mother
of All GenealogyDatabases. Randy gives a few examples of how it
does or doesn’t work based on some recent experiences.

I'd seen a news report about it last night on tv but information
at Chris Dunham’s The Genealogue made me do some googling
about the grave robbery at Bible Hill Cemetery in Hillsborough,
N.H.. Some of my family such as the Ellingwoods lived there so
I looked up Sarah Symonds and found her name on a Kimball
Family website. I learned there that her mother was Lucy
Kimball and that she was descended from Henry Kimball, son
of Richard Kimball and Ursula Scott. I’m also a descendent
through Thomas Kimball, another of Richard’s sons.

Irregardless of the connection, I’d still be disgusted by whoever
desecrated Sarah Symond’s grave. I cannot understand what
reason anyone would have to do such a thing.

Finally, a note of Tropical Storm Noel. I mentioned that my
sister likes to go out in storms. (I tend to huddle down in my
hobbit hole and wait them out.) Well, technology has brought a
change of habit for her. The last time she went out in something
this big the waves were flooding Ocean St. in Marshfield and she
decided that salt water was not a good thing for her car.

This time around, she found a website showing the surf from
the storm and watched the waves by webcam!

Saturday, November 03, 2007


A dark and stormy Saturday afternoon as the remnants of
Hurricane Noel, now only a tropical storm, alas, roar outside.
At the moment the wind seems to be from the south which
means the apartments on my side of the building are sheltered
from the worst since we face north. We’ll feel it more when the
storm moves past and the wind shifts later this afternoon and

Meanwhile, I made myself a cup of that cocoa mix and watched
the storm for a few minutes through my screen door. A lot of
leaves on the ground now out there! A minute or two of that was
enough since as my Dad used to say I’m not heating the outside.
So I came in to finish my cocoa while fiddling at my keyboard
until the power goes.

But I already charged up my mp3 player so I’ll have some Celtic
music to listen to, and my cell phone is on the charger already so
my sister will be able to call me later (or vice versa) to see how
we have weathered the storm. Knowing my sister, she’s probably
sitting in her car in the parking lot at a beach at Plymouth or
Marshfield watching the waves. I have a flashlight to read a book
by and a can of tunafish to make dinner with, so if I do lose power
here, I’m all set until it comes back, provided it’s within a few

After that, I go into computer withdrawal. Gulp.

I was looking over the other Revolutionary War Pension Files I
have to decide which one to transcribe and post here next. I’ve
decided to go with the smaller ones first, so the humongous
Benjamin Barker file will be last, and might not even be posted
until after the first of the year.

Going through the images I noticed a few things. Benjamin Barker
shows up in other ancestor’s files to testify as to their service
records. Of course two of them are his brothers: Jonathan(my
direct ancestor) in 1818 and Jesse in 1832. He’s also in the file for
Amos Hastings in 1839, but there is a personal connection there as
well since Benjamin’s nephew Nathaniel was married to Huldah
Hastings, Amos’ daughter.

I also noticed that some ancestors gave their “declarations” on
the same day: Asa Barrows and Amos Upton on August 20th,
1832, and John Ames and Jesse Barker a later on September
27th. Perhaps the Judge rode a circuit and was only in the area
for a short time each month? I wonder what stories they and the
other old veterans swapped about their war years as they sat and
waited their turn to file their claim? Would they be delighted or
dismayed to learn that their grandchildren and great grandchildren
would someday wed?

Think I’ll go do some quick housecleaning and then come back to
scan some old photos.


One of the few complaints I have about the Revolutionary War
Pension Files that I’ve downloaded from is that
while each image is numbered, they aren’t sorted in chronological
order. Such is the case with Asa Barrow’s file. Rather than to
continue to post them numerically, I'll post them chronologically
and give the image number in parentheses at the end of each
image description.

In my last post, Asa Barrows said in his statement he knew of
no living witness that might verify his service record.

On August 21, one stepped forward:

“I, Francis Sturtevant, of Paris in the county of Oxford in the
State of Maine, a pensioner of the United States, on oath declare,
that to my certain knowledge, Asa Barrows, of Hamlin’s Gore in
said county, inlisted into the army of the United States, in the
revolutionary war, on the continental establishment at Plymton,
in the county of Plymouth, State of Massachusetts, for the term
of eight months, in April 1775. The company in which he served
was commanded by Capt. Joshua Benson and the regiment was
commanded by Col. Cotton in the Massachusetts line-and was
stationed at Roxbury near Boston under the command of Gen.
Thomas-and I am satisfied that he faithfully served the term of
eight months.
Francis Sturtevant”

The signature, like Asa Barrows’, is larger, and a bit shaky
looking in contrast to the excellent penmanship of the statement.
Below his signature is the following:

"State of Maine
County of Oxford s.s. August 21,1832. The above named
Francis Sturtevant, to me known as a man of truth, personally
appeared and made oath to the truth of the above affidavit by
him subscribed-Before me-
Thomas Clark, Justice of the Peace."

A seal is affixed to the bottom left hand corner of the image
(Image 13)

The next image is of the same page, but a smaller scrap of paper
lies across the blank area under Thomas Clark’s signature:

Oxford County, ss.
I, Rufus King Goodenow, Clerk of the Judicial Courts

in and for said County of Oxford, here by certify, that
Thomas Clark Esq. whose genuine signature is annexed
to the foregoing Deposition of Francis Sturtevant
is a Justice of the Peace in and for said county of

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and
affixed my seal of office, this 28th day of August in the
year A.D. 1832.

R.K. Goodenow Clerk of Oxford
County Courts.

(image 12)
There follows another document. Most of it is preprinted but there
is part of one sentenced crossed over:

“And the said Court do hereby declare their opinion,
after the investigation of the matter, ((start of crossed out
portion))and after putting the interrogatories
prescribed by the War Department, ((end of crossed out
portion)), that the above applicant was a revolutionary
soldier, and served as he states.
said applicant having
adduced the deposition of Francis Sturtevant, under oath,
duly administered, in corraboration of his own declaration.
Stephen Emery, Judge”

At the bottom of the page is another preprinted form.:
I, Joseph G. Cole, Register(written over the crossed out word
“clerk”)of the Court of Probate do hereby certify that
the foregoing contains the original proceedings of
the said Court in the matter of the application of Asa
Barrows for a pension.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand
and seal of office this 28th day of August A.D. 1832.
Joseph G. Cole Register.” (Image 7)

The following spring Asa made another appearance before
Thomas Clark to claim his pension:

“Personally appeared before me, the undersigned, a Justice of the
Peace and Notary Public, in and for the county of Oxford, Asa
Barrows, who being first duly sworn, deposeth and saith, that by
reason of old age, and the consequent loss of memory, he cannot
swear positively as to the precise length of his service, but
according to the best of his recollection he served not less than
the period mentioned below and all as a private soldier: viz: For
ten months: and for such service I claim a pension.
Asa Barrows

(Under Asa’s still shaky signature the document continues):

State of Maine, Oxford, ss, April 27, 1833. Then the above
named Asa Barrows made oath to the truth of the above affidavit
and subscribed the same in my presence, and I hereby certify
that he is a man of truth and veracity. In testimony where of I
have here unto subscribed my name and affixed my notarial
seal the day and year afore said.

Thomas Clark, Justice of the Peace and Notary Public
in and for the County of Oxford in the State of Maine.”

Justice Clark’s seal is to the right hand bottom corner of the
(Image 8)

Next is a view of two pages. The left hand side is mostly blank
except for the small handwritten notation running along the
right hand edge next to the spine:

“Sept-18-1923- Hist to Jessie H. Tuttle awf."

The right hand side is a preprinted page with blank areas
filled in hand.
“P 16038
File No. 16.0.38
Asa Barrows
Pri. Rev. War
Act: June 7’’ 32
Index:- Vol. 1, Page 432
[Arrangement of 1870]
(Image 10)

The next two images are ones I’ve printed here before,
correspondence between Jessie H. Tuttle and the Commissioner
of Pensions. First her inquiry:

"3730 Grand Ave, Minneapolis, Minn. Aug.1,1923
Commissioner of Pensions,
Dear Sir: -

Will you please send me record
of pension claim of Asa Barrows.
born July 28 (1750?) in Plymouth Co, Mass.
married Feb 12, 1781 Content Benson,
died Oxford Co. Maine about May 1834
placed on pension roll (Maine) July 23
1833 aged 83. Pension began May 4, 1831.
Served in Massachusetts.
Thanking you in advance
I am yours very truly
Mrs Jessie H. Tuttle”
(Image 11)

A round stamp to the bottom left of Jessie’s signature
shows that her request was received at the Pension
Office on Aug 3 1923.

The reply is the next and final image:
“Rev. War Section
September 18, 1923.
Jessie H. Tuttle,
3730 Grand Ave.
Minneapolis, Minn.
I have to advise you that from the papers in
the Revolutionary War pension claim, S. 16038,it
appears that Asa Barrows, while living in Plymton,
Plymouth County, Massachusetts, enlisted April 1775,
and served as a private eight months in Captain
Joshua Benson’s company, Colonel Cotton’s regiment,
Massachusetts troops.
He enlisted December 1776 and served six weeks
under Lieutenant Joshua Perkins. The last of July
1780, he enlisted and serve two weeks under Captain
Perez Churchill He was allowed pension on his application exe-
cuted August 28, 1832, while a resident of Hamlin’s
Grove, Oxford County, Maine, aged eighty one years.
There is no data on file as to his family.


There is a space above the word Commissioner for a signature
but there is none.

Some notes on inconsistencies:
There seems to be a few variances in the reply. “Peleg Churchill”
becomes “Perez Churchill” although having seen the original
statement I can see how that might occur given the writing.
“Hamlin’s Grove” might have been a result of the handwriting
plus perhaps some editing by a War Dept. clerk seeing “Gorge”
and feeling it was a mistake and correcting it to "Grove".

It’s possible Asa ’s memory had it wrong as well. I found a
Captain Stephen Churchill in Col. Cotton’s regiment. There was
a Peleg Churchill residing in Plympton at the time and Asa may
have confused them.

Plymton has become Plympton. The “ajoining town” of
“Middlebury” is Middleborough.

Asa Barrows was my 4x great grandfather.

Friday, November 02, 2007


Image 1 is of the first page of the file, with the following
written and evenly spaced across the page on one line:

Service Mass. Barrows, Asa Number S. 16038

Image 2 is a preprinted form with handwritten information
added. I’ve bold faced the preprinted words:
Maine 18077
Asa Barrows
of Oxford Co. in the State of Maine
who was a Private in the company commanded
by Captain Benson of the regiment commanded
Col. Cotton in the Massachusetts
line for 10 months.
Inscribed on the Roll of Maine
at the rate of 33 dollars 33 cents per annum
to commence on the 4th day of March, 1834.
Certificate of Pension issued the 23 day of July
1833 and sent to T. Clark
Paris, Me.
Arrears to the 4th of March 1833 66.66
Semi-anl. allowance ending 4 Sept… 16.66
{Revolutionary Claim,
Act June 7,1832}
Recorded by
Jm Cuffield Clerk
6 Vol 1 Page 4

Image 3 is of perhaps the next page in the same notebook. The
right hand page is blank. On the left hand side the following
is written:

Asa Barrows
12th April 1833
Obj(?) 5-14.16.
10 mos.
Thomas Clark, Esq.

Image 4 is the preprinted Brief of Asa’s claim:

Brief in the case of Asa Barrows of Hamlins Gore in the State
of Maine
(Act 7th June,1832)
1. Was the declaration made before a Court or a Judge?
Open court.

2. If before a Judge, does it appear the applicant is
disabled by bodily infirmity?
(left blank)

3. How old is he? 81 years.

4. State his service as directed in the form annexed.

There are three entries:

April,1775- 8 months as a Private under Capt. Benson and Col

Dec. 1776 1 month and 12 days as a Private under Capt. Perkins.

July 1780 14 days as a Private under Col. Churchill.

5. In what battles was he engaged? None.

6. Where did he reside when he entered the service?

7. Is his statement supported by living witnesses, by
documentary proof, by traditional evidence, by
incidental evidence, or by the rolls?
By a living witness.

8. Are the papers defective as to form or
authentication? and if so,in what respect?

I certify that the foregoing statement and the answers
agree with the evidence in the case above mentioned.

Richard Cutts
Examining Clerk.

Image 5 is of a largely blank piece of paper, perhaps the outside
of an envelope or folder. Handwritten at the top is “Asa Barrows”
with the numbers “9669” written below it. At the bottom of
the page is the signature, “Thomas Clark, agent.”

Image 6 is the statement of Asa Barrows:

County of
Oxford, ss.
ON this
20th day of August, A.D. 1832,personally appeared
in open Court, before the Court of Probate now sitting,
Asa Barrows,a resident of Hamlin’s Gore in the County
Oxford and State of Maine,aged 81 years,
who being first duly sworn according to the law, doth,
on his oath, make the following declaration , in order
to obtain the benefit of the act of Congress, passed June
7, 1832. That he enlisted in the service of the United
States as a private
((this part crossed out))under the
following named officers and served as herein stated

((end crossed out portion))
in April, 1775 at Plymton in the
county of Plymouth in the State of Massachusetts, his then
residence, and served for the term of eight months, in the militia
company commanded by Capt Joshua Benson, in the regiment
commanded by Col. Cotton; and mustered in Middlebury,
the ajoining town, marched to Roxbury near Boston,where he
was stationed under Gen. William Heath; at the expiration of
said term was discharged by Gen. Thomas -which discharge he
lost a long time since.

On an alarm in December 1776, he marched as a volunteer in the
militia company from Plymton, under the command of Lieut
Joshua Perkins to Barrington, in Rhode Island; was there
stationed & served about six weeks, at the expiration of which he
was verbally discharged. And on the last of July, 1780,he
marched (inserted later here: “as a volunteer” end insertion)in
the militia company from Plymton aforesaid to Tiverton (under
the command of Capt. Pereg Churchill) in Rhode Island where he
was stationed and served about two weeks,and was there
verbally discharged. He has no documentary evidence to prove
his service as a volunteer as aforesaid, and he knows of no
person whose testimony he can procure, who can testify to his
service as volunteer aforesaid.

He hereby relinquishes every claim whatever to a
pension or annuity except the present, and declares
that his name is not on the pension roll of the agency of
any State.”

Asa Barrow’s larger and less refined signature is written at the
right hand corner of notation of “before Stephen Emery, Judge.”
It might be the judge’s actual signature or perhaps his clerk
signed his name.

A few observations. I was curious how far Asa marched on
these three occasions and went to the Rand McNally page which
has a mileage calculator. Of course, the distances are driving
distances and Asa and his fellow soldiers might have taken a
more direct cross country route but it still gives a me a good idea
on the marching involved.

Plympton to Boston is 48 miles.
Plympton to Barrington RI is 44 miles.
Plympton to Tiverton RI is 39 miles.
Interesting that Boston is the furthest away of the three.

The march to Barrington must have been in response to the
British under Sir Henry Clinton landing at and occupying
Newport. I must confess that I wasn’t aware that the British
remained in Rhode Island for most of the Revolution and when
you consider that people in this area were still that close to
British forces,it must have been a tense period for them.

Pereg Churchill was, I believe, actually Peleg Churchill

Hamlin's Gore no longer exists. It was annexed in 1872 as I
found out over at Chris Dunham's Maine Genealogy Site.

And Asa Barrows was about to find that someone could swear
to his service in the War after all.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


Not many new posts this morning on the genealogy blog patrol
as I sit and drink my coffee. I did find a few interesting news
articles to tide me over for a bit.

One is from Rhode Island about the sad state of historical
cemetaries there and how one woman is getting folks to help
do something about it.

Another story is from a few days back and tells about a DAR
member's quest to get her Revolutionary War ancestor's
name cleared from a charge of desertion. It got my attention
because my 4x Great Granduncle Benjamin Barker's pension
file has the notation "deserter" on it, but both he and later
his widow Dorcas did receive the pension. Not without some
difficulty, mind you. That's why there's 85 images in the file.

As the descendant points out in the article, many times battles
were fought close by a soldier's home and some of them would
go "AWOL" to go home and tend to some family business,
then eventually return to their units which was apparently the
case with Benjamin Barker. This was one of the things about the
Minutemen that frustrated Washington during the siege of
Boston. In the case of the soldier in the article, there's a
circumstance that might make it more difficult to clear his name
and the author James Beidler makes some suggestions that
might help.

And finally, another article from Rhode Island is about a former
governor's Irish roots and has excerpts from letters and a play
about the Great Famine and Irish immigrants in America. It
made me think of my mom's grandparents and what they must
have gone through both before and after they came here.