Thursday, April 30, 2009
lately thanks to our great pro and college teams.) I'm referring an article in Family
Tree Magazine by David A. Fryxell. It's entitled "States of Mind" and it lists the best
and worst states for researching your family tree. I guess it won't come as a surprise
to many genealogists that Massachusetts comes out as the best state!
Mr Fryxell lists several reasons, including the Massachusetts State Archives, the
accessibility of local records on the city and town level, and of course, the New
England Historical and Genealogical Society. I'd add to that the availability of printed
material that appeared during the genealogical boom of the late 19th century when
numerous books were written about the history of the towns and counties of Massachusetts
which include genealogies of leading citizens. I've found so much information just in the
editions I've found on Google Books! (Of course some of these were "vanity pieces"
or downright inaccurate, so it pays to further research the information they give.)
I won't give anymore details on the article. Go read it and see for yourself how your
home state ranks. Is it among the ten worst or ten best, and do you agree with its ranking?
Monday, April 27, 2009
Ok, the picture on the left is an old drivers license picture of
The picture on the right is my 3x great grandfather John Cutter
Does anyone else see a resemblance or is it wishful thinking on my
Or was J.C. posing for his buggy driver's license and we just share
the curse of Bad License Photos?
What do you think?
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Genealogy Fun) at Randy Seaver's Genea-Amusings blog and this week it's all about
1) Open your genealogy software program and search for a "Date Calculator."
You could go exploring in your Tools or Options menu, or you could use the
Help menu to find it.
2) Open the "Date Calculator" and put in a death date for one of your ancestors
and put in an age at death (use the one you know, or just make one up - we're just
testing this feature today). Do the same thing by entering a birth date and a death
date in the "Date Calculator" and see how old someone was when they died.
3) Tell us what software you're using and where you found the "Date Calculator."
Tell us the information you found out from using the "Date Calculator."
I have been using Personal Ancestry File for years and have been trying out
the free download trial version of RootsMagic4 so I thought I'd use both for
I first went to my PAF program and decided on using my 3x great grandmother
Rachel Barrows as my example. I found the Date Calculator on the drop down
"Tools" list. PAF only calculates "date to date" so I entered Rachel's birth date of
8/3/1795 and her death date of 5/9/1832.(Dates are entered in this format for the
PAF calculator). I hit "calculate" and found that Rachel Barrows was 36 years,
9 months, and 6 days old when she died. I then changed the second date to 4/26/2009
and had Rachel survived she'd be 213 years, 8 months and 23 days old!
I don't have any ancestor's death certificates so for RootsMagic I decided to calculate
how old Rachel Barrows' husband John Ellingwood Jr. would be today if he were still
living. The Date Calculator again was on the drop down "Tools" list. In RootsMagic,
the dates are entered as "12 Jun 1798" for birth and then "26 Apr 2009" for today, So had
John somehow become immortal, he'd be 210 years, 10 months and 14 days old today.
That's a LOT of candles on the birthday cake!
Just for fun I entered the date for John and Rachel's marriage. They were married on 28
Oct 1819 and so I entered that into the first box, leaving today's date in the second box.
It turns out they'd have been married 189 years, 5 months and 29 days as of today.
Finally, I noticed that Rachel was older than John when they married. How old? Well,
2 years, 10 months, and 9 days older!
But who's counting?
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Webster, Mass. I couldn't figure out why the sudden interest until
I heard a story on the radio last night about a sign the town had put up.
Apparently it's gone international. I've gotten hits from Switzerland
and the Czech Republic!
Anyway, here's a story on the sign from Australia!
word verification for comments on Blogspot.com blogs:
uperds - Extremely optimistic nerds.
noesso - What there hasn't been since it became Exxon
unnow - The opposite of unlater.
unprest - What wrinkled pants are.
bungsh - The sound your whole body makes when you reach the end of your bungee junp rope.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
and I have no shortage of things I could post on, but....
I can't work up the enthusiasm to write.
So I did a bit of poking around in Google and then spent about twenty
minutes fighting with Facebook (which seemed reluctant to load tonight)
before I finally got on and checked all my usual Facebook stuff.
Bed looks nice right about now. I'll eventually get around to the
next post on Jeremiah Swain tomorrow night, but for now I'm calling it
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
I've mentioned my Dad's country sense of humor before. Well,
this is a picture of one his more subtle jokes.
We were living in Marshfield at the time in a big old farmhouse
on Ocean St. There was an barn and some ramshackle pens
and sheds on the palce, and next to it was a big empty field
and woods than ran all the way down to the Marshfield Airport.
One Spring we found a pair of feral kittens someplace on the
property and took them in or tried to anyway.They had their
own ideas of what being domesticated meant!
Well, one afternoon, Dad went into the barn, I'm not exactly
sure why and emerged awhile later with this VERY large
birdhouse or feeder. I mean, alarge bird like a crow could
easily fit inside there, or perhaps a squirrel. We never saw
any in it, but what we did see were the kittens. They climbed
the tree it hung from and sit inside. I don't know for sure if
they ever caught a bird but they certainly must have
scared the heck out of a lot of them! Dad got a kick out of
watching the kittens sitting in there, waiting
The kittens are famous also for the refrigerator incident. We
shut them up at night in the small pantry where the fidge was
and one cold night they crawled in under it to get warm by the
motor. When my sister opened the door the next morning,
all she saw was their tails sticking out. She thought they had
died under there, but when we came to look, the two tails
swished back and forth and we lifted the fridge so they could
crawl back out.
The kittens eventually were put out in one of the sheds to sleep
once the weather got warmer but sometime that summer they
disappeared.I'm not certain if they wandered off on their own
or if their behavior earned them a ride in the car to a new
home. I can't recall what exactly happened to them.
But we've told the story of Dad's big birdhouse to his grandkids
and it still makes me laugh.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Genealogical Fun challenge over at Genea-musings, but it's hard to
rhyme after midnight. So here's my genealogical poem, for what it's
A Genealogical Truth
Increasingly of late I find
My family tree is on my mind.
At night when I am seeking sleep
I do not try to count some sheep.
Other thoughts are in my head:
I think of ancestors instead.
And when I used to take the train
And stood there in the snow or rain,
I did not rant, I did not curse,
But listed ancestors in reverse.
I wonder what might have been their views
When they discussed the latest news.
Were they happy or were they sad?
Were they content with what they had?
They lived and loved, they laughed and cried
And in the course of time they died.
There's one thing that's a certainty:
If not for them, there'd be no me
Increasingly of late I find
My family tree is on my mind.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
sent off their petition to the Massachusetts General Court over the election of Jeremiah
Swain as Captain of the Reading troops. Did they think the Court would be swayed
by their argument and give the captaincy to their candidate, Jonathan Poole? If they did,
the outcome might not have been entirely satisfying. It appears that Swain was confirmed
in his rank and ordered off to Maine while Poole was made Captain of the Reading company.
A posting in a now more active area of conflict such as Maine could make a younger man's
reputation so perhaps Swain sought being posted there.
Ironically enough, Jonathan Poole died the next year in 1678 at age 44. Could he have had
health issues already during the election?
I haven't found much so far on Jeremiah's time in Maine in 1677 except for the following
excerpt from the Massachusetts State Archives (Vol 69, p134) in William Chester Swain's
"Swain and Allied Families":
"Att a Generall Court for Elections, held at Boston, 23d of May 1677.
This Court considering the necesity of a present & vigorous prosecution of the warr agst
the insolent eastern Indians, by invading & assaulting them in their quarters especially
near the sea coast, doe therefore order provisions of all sorts, necessary to — made for
two hundred men, to be sent to Blackpoint, to furnish a magazine there for the souldiers
to be imployed in those parts ; and further, that a light vessel and two shallops be provided
to attend the said souldiers, for their transportation over creeks and rivers, pursuing the Indian canoes ; and one hundred & fivety or two hundred stout, active souldiers be raysed,
& put under active & prudent leaders, & be, with all convenient speed, dispatched to Blackpoint & those parts, to pursue & destroy the enemy, & endeavour the rescue of the English prisoners ; & that those forces in Yorkshire under Capt. Frost & Capt. Swaine, so
many as shall be judged necessary for the garrisoning the townes, to be, with their commission officers, dismissed, and such of the souldiers as shall be left in garrison to be
under the comand & order of the committee of militia of the respective places where they
shall remain. "
"Capt. Frost" is Captain Charles Frost and I believe "Yorkshire" refers to York, Maine.
Blackpoint would be the site of a battle that Jeremiah Swain had no part in but one of my
other ancestors, Benjamin Rockwood(Rockett) did.
But that's for another later post .
haven't written anything new for this edition of the Carnival of Genalogy
which focuses in the topic of "Uncles". So I'm crying "Uncle!"
However, I thought I'd mention three of my granduncles I've posted
about previously, the first two from Mom's side of the family and the
third from Dad's.
The first is Frank McFarland, who I wrote about in one of my earliest
posts, "TOMATO SANDWICHES AND UNCLE FRANK" .
Next is Frank's brother, my granduncle Tommy McFarland in
"THOMAS LUKE MCFARLAND" .
On my West side of the family, I posted a series with my granduncle
Clarence P.West's memories of his fifty years as the caretaker of the
Azizcoos Dam in northwestern Maine. You can read them starting here
with "GRANDUNCLE CLARENCE REMEMBERS PT1" .
I'll try to have something new for the next edition of the CoG!
Monday, April 13, 2009
Indians and had acquitted himself well. He and his men had returned to Reading
from western Massachusetts and apparently been mustered out. But while things
were quiet with the Indians for the moment, matters on the home front were a
bit more complicated.
It appears that units were being organized and officers elected by the local
townsfolk for possible campaigns in the coming Spring of 1677 and Jeremiah
Swain found himself embroiled in controversy. In what was probably one of the
earliest examples of the "generation gap" in American politics, the town of
Reading was divided into two camps on who should have the captaincy of their
troops, and much to the consternation of some of the town elders, Jeremiah Swain
was the overwhelming choice of the younger citizens of Reading. So dismayed
were some of them, a petition was sent to General Court in Boston:
"To the Honourable General Court, boath Governor and Magistrates, with the Deputies,
new sitting in Boston : The request of your humble servants, being part of the inhabitants of the towne of Redding :—This Honoured Court, not being altogether ignorant of the state of our towne, to which your humble suppliants boath belong, Respecting the complecation of
our Military Officers, we would not fill up lines with compliments to trouble this Honoured
Court. But, Briefly, to give a narrative of our condition, and so humbly beging that this
Court would put an issue to our Bissenis, which is like to have so ill a consequence, if it lay longe as now it doath. There hath bin some strange actions relating to military officers, whereby we are become tow parties in the towne, one in opposition agaynst the other ;
wee apprehend wee have bin ingenious to the other party, notwithstanding great
eregularities they run into ; our party, as wee apprehend, is very considerable,
though not the major part in number, wee yielded to them that voted for Captain Swaine,
and prefered their minds to the Court, by setting our hands to itt, that was sent
to the Court, though we voated for Captain Poole, for not one of those hands that voated
for Captain Swaine was sent to the Court when he was presented to the Court; now, notwithstanding ther is, in our parte, the chiefest partes for heades and estates, amongst which are Decons, Commissenors and Selectmen, and the Major parte of the freemen, yet wee, not being wilful, but condescended to prefer their mindes to the Court, and concluded that though Capt. Swayne was not a freeman, yet if the General Court see cause to confirm him, wee should have been satisfied with what your honors had done. But he being not accepted, the matter is yet to doe; the towne running only upon tow perssons, we would
be glad to have our bissenes to bee promoted to the consideration of this Honoured Court.
Our numbre upon trial for voate for Capt. Poole was 2d voate.
There hath been several meetings and agetations since Capt. Swayne was presented to the Court, and they will have all the youth to voate that hath not taken the oath of fidelity to
the Commonwealth. And soe wee are outvoated, and they are not willing the Court should hear both parties andwhat wee have to saye—this being delivered after our ingenuity to
them, and they will do nothing; and so the towne is brought into tow parties.
And it begins to have influence into Towne matters, to strive to circumvent one another
in our actions, which wee feare will have a bad consequence. Therefore wee humbly
intreate the Honored Court that you would be pleased to issue the case for us, and settell
some abell and meete person in the place of a Capten amongst us, that our strife may be
at an ende. And wee know wee must at your Honours appoyntment sett downe quiett. As
to our Lieutenant, we could wish the Honored Court did thouerly understand his abillities
as to heade and estate.
Your humble servants, not having else to ad, but ever to praye for devine protection and guidance to your honners,—and remayne your humble petissioners."
The "Captain Poole" supported by the older town officials of Reading was Jonathan
Poole who was approximately ten years older than Swain. In 1671 he was appointed
quartermaster and had risen to the rank of "cornet" by the time of the start of the
King Philip's War. Like Swain, he'd served under Major Appleton and had seen action
in the Connecticut River Valley fighting, He had, in fact, previously had command of
the same garrison forts that Swain later commanded. Despite that, and despite having
the support of many of the town officials, he'd lost the election for the Captain's rank to
So now those same officials looked to the General Court to somehow overturn the
results of the election. They would receive their answer in May of 1677.
Friday, April 10, 2009
were healed enough by the summer of 1676 for him to be promoted to the
rank of Captain and be sent out to the Connecticut River Valley in the western
part of the colony. He was in command of the garrison at the town of Hadley
on 12 Jun 1676 when a force of Indians estimated to be around 700 in numbers
"For this assault seven hundred warriors swooped down from Passacus's new
headquarters, and were before the town on the morning of the 12th. Strong
bands were ambuscaded at the north and south ends of the town, and awaited
the movements of the townspeople. Two men who had left the stockade contrary
to orders fell among the ambushed band at the south end and were killed.
Thus this band were discovered to the garrison, and Captain Swain instantly
sent a force out after them. While they were engaged with the garrison soldiers,
the band at the north end sprang from their ambush. Rushing toward the stockade
they found it lined with soldiers and Mohegans, and amazed, fell back in disorder.
On the retreat some of them tarried to plunder a house, when it was struck by a
missile from a small cannon. This was a weapon strange and awful to them, and
they came " tumbling out in great terror." All were now on the run. The soldiers
chased them for two miles northward. Disheartened by the repulse and the
discovery of troops returned to the Valley with Indian allies, the fugitives reached
their headquarters to find that in their absence their camp had been sacked by
Mohawks and fifty of their women and children left dead in the ruins. This was
the final blow, and they scattered aimlessly in the wilderness."
-Edwin Munroe Bacon, The Connecticut River and the Valley of the Connecticut:
ThreeHundred and Fifty Miles from Mountain to Sea; Historical and Descriptive
(New York, New York, G.P. Putnam & Sons, 1906) p 159.
Swain's predecessor at Hadley, Captain William Turner, had been slain in battle a few
weeks before Swain's arrival. On 29 Jun 1676, Swain sent out some men who reached
the waterfalls (now known as Turner's Falls) where the battle took place. They found
and destroyed a large but empty Indian encampment.
Then on 12 Aug 1676, the Massachusetts Colonial Council sent Jeremiah the new
"in ye Councill ! 12, Augst. 76, past by the Council!, E. R.
Captain Swain :
The Council having taken with consideration the present state of matters as to the
Comon ending do judge meet to order & do hereby order that forthwith upon receit
hereof you sumon & as soon as may be draw up the Garrison Soldiers under your
comand of the town of N: H: Hadlay, Hatfield, & also those of Springfield &
Westfield & wth them do march up, to Dearfield, Squakeheag & the places near
about there to searching for & destroy the comon enemy and the corn that
may be found, which having performed you are therewith the said soldiers to
march homewards, either directly or by such ways as may be most advisable
for further service & this order you are exactly to attend except you receive
further order or any momentus pressidence (?) not now appearing to the council
dos (?) interpose, in wch case you shall give speedy advertisment."
Massachusetts State Archives Vol. 69, p. 43.
- William Chester Swain, Swain and allied families (Milwaukee, Wisconsin,
Press of Swain and Tate Company, 1896)pp.6-7
I believe "N:H:" refers to the town of North Hampton which fell within Swain's jurisdiction.
Ironically, on the very date of the issuing of the order, King Philip was killed. King
Philip's War was at an end, and on 1 Sept 1676 Jeremiah Swain and his men marched
back to their homes in eastern Massachusetts where controversy awaited him.
Thursday, April 09, 2009
stepped on. As in "John couldn't believe he was gumst to his brand new rug."
dedult- The act of being demoted from adulthood because you won't act your age.
"Mary was dedulted by her parents for fighting with her brothers."
stungran-What you do when you suddenly ask your grandmother a kazillion
questions about family genealogy.
Monday, April 06, 2009
Swain Sr. was born in England and emigrated to Massachusetts sometime before 1638
when his name appears on documents as a resident of Charlestown, Ma. In 1640 he
became one of the first settlers of Reading Ma with his wife Mary (maiden name unknown)
and fathered five children, of whom Jeremiah Jr. was the oldest.
I've found very little about Jeremiah Jr.'s early life so far. He was 15 when his father died
on 1658, and his civilian occupation was a physician, for which he would have had to have
studied for and become before the outbreak of King Philip's War. When troops were raised
from the town he became a lieutenant in the First Company in the Massachusetts Regiment
commanded by Major Samuel Appleton. At the time of the Battle of Fort Narragansett,
also known as the Great Swamp Fight, in 1675 Jeremiah Swain would have been 32 years
So as I noted in the first post in this series, the poet Lilley Eaton had a few details wrong in
his poem. Jeremiah was not in command of the militia forces at the time of the battle but
was instead a lieutenant, and still a young man. In fact, the overall commander was Josiah
Winslow of Plymouth Colony. And as the name "Great Swamp Fight" suggests, the terrain
hardly lent itself to a charge on horseback. The colonial forces were only able to get close
enough to the island the Indian "fort" was on because bitterly cold weather had frozen the
swamp over, and such a slippery and fragile surface would not support, I think, a man on
At any rate, despite the discrepancies of the poem, Lt. Jeremiah Swain did see action in the
battle and is listed among the wounded. What the nature of the wound was or how he
received it is not known. In fact, there is only one other thing I've found about Jeremiah's
service in this period, a reference to a letter he sent in regards to items lost in a fire that destroyed Major Appleton's tent.
But Jeremiah's military career was only just beginning, and it when advancement came it
would come with controversy, as we shall see.
Sunday, April 05, 2009
a comment? I've done so many of those now that if I click on the empty box I get
a whole drop list of words I've had to type previously. It made me think of my friend
Diana, who used to take the subject lines from spam mail(before deleting them) and
then fashion them into stories. While I can't do that with the word verification...um...
words, it struck me that I could perhaps come up with what they might mean if they
actually WERE words.
jecof ......What I do when I have a cold in France.
quition ... The act of asking yourself or others if you should quit your job.
rantic.....the state of mind in which you work yourself up into a blog rant.
rembot ...what you run the risk of becoming when you are able to rattle off long lists
of ancestors from memory.
mitths.... Mitt Romney supporters.
What about you? Do you have any "new words" from your word verification boxes?
Saturday, April 04, 2009
genealogy, my Aunt Dorothy. Because of the family charts and pedigrees
she sent us years ago I had a good foundation with which to start my own
And awhile back, she gave me a handwritten memoir of growing up in Maine
with my Dad doing the Depression that had things I had never heard
before about him. (You can read it here.)
So Happy Birthday, Aunt Dot and here's to many more of them! I'm
looking forward to another visit where we can talk about the family
Friday, April 03, 2009
((Image by footnoteMaven))
Welcome to the 69th Edition of the Carnival of Geneaology. In honor of April Fool's Day, the theme for this edition was "What if...?" :"This is your chance to rewrite history! Have you ever imagined your ancestor
playing a major roll in history? Perhaps you've envisioned them singlehandedly
winning the American Revolution, going over Niagara Falls in a barrel, or
inventing the flutaphone. This is your chance to write a bit of fiction about your
ancestor to delight and entertain us. It is the April Fools edition after all!"
We have some great articles for you to read, some of which take a different tack on
the "What if...?" theme but all well worth the reading. Please be sure to leave a
comment when you visit these blogs!
First off, E Bradt presents "COG#69- What if... the British had won the Revolutionary War"at her "Ancestral Notes" log. If the British commander at Trenton had heeded the warning of Moses Doan, we might very well have remained a British colony!
Kiril Kundurazieff has sent along two posts for our consideration. On the first one, Ancestor of Mine Dug Up by Greek Archaeologists! He writes: “My Father, who died in 1988, used to always claim that he was descended from Alexander the Great,but I had my doubts, and my research, in the last decade, bore out my suspicions.This story confirms what I thought: My ancient ancestor was not Ol' Alex, but a close associate.”
Finally, Craig Manson of GeneaBlogie tells about “My Great-Grandmother Moves to Texas”: “I suppose I may have taken some liberties with this month’s Carnival theme of “What if . . . ” I don’t know exactly what happened when my great-great- grandmotherand the son of a former slave owner who lived next door absconded to Texas from Georgia in 1884. But what if it happened like this:...” . You’ll enjoy how Craig envisions it may have happened!
That concludes the CoG this time around. I want to thank the participants and I had fun reading all your posts!
Submit your blog article to the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy using our carnival submission form. Please use a descriptive phrase in the title of any articles you plan to submit and/or write a brief description/introduction to your articles in the "comment" box of the blog carnival submission form. This will give readers an idea of what you've written about and hopefully interest them in clicking on your link. Thank you!
Thursday, April 02, 2009
under several variations of his name. Besides Swain, there's Swaine, Swayne, Sweyn,
and Sweyne! A lot of it is repetitive but I'm finding copies of correspondence by him,
to him and about him which are fascinating and should give me enough for as much as
four or five blog posts.
One of the unexpected benefits of all this googling was that I found a copy of the will
of another ancestor, Francis Kendall (B.1612(?) -d9May 1708, Woburn, Ma.) that Jeremiah
I know that what I've found on the internet is only the tip of the iceberg but until I either
win the lottery or am declared the long lost rightful heir of some noble house, most of my
research will be online. Retirement is years away and one of my days off is Sunday when
libraries and archives are closed. But I will try to get out more now that the weather is better.
On another subject, I notice the blog is getting hits from folks searching the web for specific
family names that I share. If any of you have questions I can help you with, please don't
hesitate to contact me and I'll gladly share any information I have that is relevant to your
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
sometimes leads to my overlooking the obvious.
Tonight, I received two comments about blogposts. One of them read
"I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought
I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I
have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often."
A hour or so later I was reading Crag Manson's post on GeneaBlogie about the
genealogy blog discussion and among the comments was one with the
exact same wording as the one on mine, even down to the misspelled
"accross" , but sent by a person with a different name than the one
sent to me.
I went back and looked at the comment sent to me, and then noticed
that while it was sent under one name, it was signed under another.
I then noticed that both the comment sent to me and the one sent to
Craig had links to two seperate websites that had nothing to do with
genealogy: mine was for a site dealing with "happy toddlers" and the
one to Craig was on laptops.
So. I'm assuming this is some marketing tactic that relies on the idea
that generally a blogger will out of courtesy or curiousity check out a link
that is included with a comment.
I've removed the comment from my blog. If I'm wrong, I apologize.
But if I'm right, I don't want somebody using my blog to lure folks to their
Better safe than sorry.
my fellow genealogy bloggers are not to be trusted sources of information,
don't cha know.
I do try to make sure I cite all my sources and keep my copy of
Evidence! handy to try to cite them correctly, and if I make a mistake
I try to immediately acknowledge it and correct it.
But in the interests of not muddying the clear springs of genealogical
truth, I've decided to do the only honorable thing and fall on
my flutaphone. So I'm discontinuing this blog and ....
Of course I'm not going to stop blogging over a unfair sweeping
condemnation of genealogy blogs by a person who's blog I will not
give a link to here. Rather, go read footnoteMaven's and Thomas
MacEntees blogposts on this discussion.