Sunday, March 14, 2010


Last July, Terry Thornton alerted us to a post at the Deep-Fried Kudzu blog about the
partial destruction of a 1500 year old Indian mound in the town of Oxford, Alabama. It
was being destroyed so that the dirt could be used for the foundation of a new Sam’s
Club store. Despite protests raised over the loss of a site that could have significance
to Native Americans, the mayor of Oxford remained adamant on continuing with the
project. Quite a bit of damage was done to the mound and only an offer from a local
farmer to provide dirt saved what was left.

Now comes word that the mayor is planning to level off the top of the hill to build a
new restaurant or hotel.

When I read this article yesterday I immediately thought about Emitt Smith’s segment
of “Who Do You Think You Are?” where he looks over the fence at the cemetery where
his slave ancestors are buried in unmarked graves in the woods. What if that area had
been cleared for a building or paved over for a parking lot?

Please spread the word about this disregard of Indian cultural history .If you
are a geneablogger, alert your readers with a post or with a link here to this article.
If you belong to a historical or genealogy society, tell your fellow members and urge them
to email or snailmail the Oxford, Alabama officials to protest the mayor’s plans.

The address is:
145 Hamric Drive East, PO Box 3383, Oxford AL 36203

The email address is

You can read the article about the new plan in this weekends edition of the N.Y. Times.

Let’s use the surge of interest in genealogy to save this site and others like it
that are important to all our heritages.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


One of the problems of my recent medical problem is that I’ve fallen behind on researching
and writing articles for upcoming editions of the Carnival of Genealogy and the Carnival of
Irish Heritage and Culture. I was optimistically thinking I could turn out entries for both
today but came to the realistic conclusion about ten minutes ago that it wasn’t going to
happen. So Jasia and Lisa, to quote Jethro Tull(since I’ve already paraphrased Neil Sedaka
in the article title) “hope you don’t mind if I sit this one out.”

On the other hand I’ve been able to catch up on posts from other geneabloggers and
just this morning read Randy Seaver’s post over at Genea-Musings from his Amanuensis
Monday series which this week is the will of our mutual ancestor John Prescott. I thought I
hadn’t known of that connection between Randy and myself but now I’m wondering if
I might have forgotten a previous mention, At any rate, if you’ve been following my series
on my Lancaster, Massachusetts ancestors you should go to Randy’s blog to see John
Prescott’s will.


It’s taking me a bit to get back into the swing of things since I came home and my late
night genealogy blogging and research have been on the backburner in favor of sleeping.
But it’s my day off today so I am hoping to get a post or two done today!

I’m starting off with a late(nearly a week!)response to Randy Seaver’s latest Saturday Night
Genealogy Fun
challenge over at his Genea-Musings blog:

1) Pretend that you are one of the subjects on the Who Do You Think You
Are? show on NBC TV.

2) Which of your ancestors (maximum of two) would be featured on your
hour-long show? What stories would be told, and what places would you visit?

3) Tell us about it on your own blog, in comments to this blog post, or in
a Note or Comment on Facebook.

Well, this a no-brainer for me; I’d have them tackle my two big brickwalls.

First off, we’d have the experts research my ancestor John Cutter West. We’d start off
visiting the places in Maine that were important in his life:

Sumner Maine where he married Arvilla Ames in 1827.

Upton Maine where they and their family lived.

The roadside cemetery where he and several of his children are buried, The story of the
terrible diphtheria epidemic of 1862 would be told.

Then we’d travel to the NEHGS to meet with experts who will have found at long last
records of John Cutter West’s place of birth in Plymouth County Massachusetts and
the names of his parents.

The segment would end with a visit to whatever town where John was born and perhaps
the graves of his parents.

The other segment would be a search for my maternal grandfather Edward Francis White
Sr. This would take place mostly in the Boston area and look for the answers to:

Where did his parents come form?

Who did he marry after his marriage to my grandmother Aggie was over?

How many children did he have in his new family? What were their names and do I have
cousins living near me? Do they even know about Edward’s first family? Would they
want to meet his other grandchildren, my sister, my brother and myself?

When did Edward die and where is he buried?

The program would end with a visit to his grave.

There it is. Not so far to travel but it would answer so many questions for both sides of
my family!

Saturday, March 06, 2010


Like most of my geneablogging colleagues I was waiting for the premiere
of the new NBC genealogy program "Who Do You Think You Are?" with
great anticipation and hopes it would do a good job making genealogy
interesting to the general public. After watching the first episode last
night, I think the answer is a resounding yes.

I liked the fact that the search for Sarah Jessica Parker's Hodge
ancestors began where any family history research should start if
possible with a conversation with family members who might have
information. And then other sources were shown as useful for
tracing your family, such as census records, obituaries, and best of
all, historical and genealogical societies. I wish more had been said
about how long such searches usually take for the average person,

One review I've seen refers to the program as "Ancestry with the
Stars" and some bloggers have said they wish the program would
use everyday people as subjects, but let's face it, folks, first and
foremost this is an entertainment program. If it is to have any
chance of ratings success it needs a Sarah Jessica Parker rather
than a Mary Jones to attract viewers.

One point that had some of my Fb friends concerned was that neither
SJP and the archivist were wearing gloves when handling the original
warrant for witchcraft against SJP's ancestor. But the use of gloves
seems to not be a universal rule. I recalled that the History Detectives
show mentioned this and found this link on Facebook about why they
are also occasionally shown not using gloves:!/note.php?note_id=126856096153

While I eventually tired of SJP's reactions I don't doubt they were genuine.
The show was filmed before the birth of her twins and she used the Hodge
and Elwell surnames as part of her childrens' names.

Finally, during the show my brother called. He and his fiancee were
watching and wondered if SJP's Elwell ancestor was one of the witches
in our own family tree. I told him no, that ours were Mary Eastey and
Rebecca Blake. Then after the commercial when SJP was visiting a
memorial to the victims of the Witch Hysteria, the second marker she
brushed the snow off was for Mary Eastey! What are the odds?

Overall, I give the premiere an A-. What did the general public
think? I haven't seen any ratings yet, but after the show aired,
traffic at the site seems to have suddenly become
quite heavy!

So, what did you think of "Who Do You Think You Are?"

Wednesday, March 03, 2010


I haven't been able to find a description of Andrew Gardner's garrison house
but from what I've found about the circumstances of his death there was a wall
with some sort of watchtower around the house. During times of heightened
of Indian activities in the area Rev. Garner's garrison was manned by his neighbors
and likewise sheltered their families. Since his house had originally been part of
John Prescott's lands, it's unsurprising to find Prescott relations among the 9 men
in the garrison list:

"on ye west side of Nashuway River
Mr, Andrew Gardner & Thomas Sawyer Jur a Garison
Thomas Sawyer Comander -3
Mr. Gardner -1
Jabez Fairbank -1
Nathl. Sawyer -1
John Harris -1
Daniell Rugg -1
Saml Prescott -1--9"

So on that October night in 1704 there were nine men and their families within the
garrison. The men would have taken shifts on sentry duty, and it was this which led to
the circumstances of Rev. Gardner's death:

"I now return to the westward, where, on the 25th of October the enemy did some mischief. Lancaster was alarmed, and the alarm was the means of the untimely death of the Rev. Mr Gardiner their worthy pastor. Several of the inhabitants who belonged to the garrison, were wearied by hard travelling the day before, in pursuit of the enemy. This caused this good
man out of pity and compassion to watch that night himself: accordingly he went into the
box which lay over the flanker, where he staid till late in the night; but being cold (as was supposed) he
was coming down to warm himself, when one between sleeping and waking,
or surprised
through excess of fear fired upon him as he was coming out of the watch house where no man could rationally expect the coming of an enemy. Mr Gardner, although he
was shot through
the back came to the door and bid them open it for he was wounded. No sooner did he enter, but he fainted away: As he came to himself, he asked who it was that
shot him, and when they told him, he prayed God to forgive him, and forgave him himself, believing that he did it not on purpose; and with a composed frame of spirit, desired them
that bewailed him not to weep,
but pray for him and his flock. He comforted his sorrowful spouse, and expired within an hour.

[Samuel Penhallow's History of the Indian Wars.]"

The name of the man who shot Rev. Andrew Gardner was Samuel Prescott.

An account in the November 30th 1704 issue of the Boston News Letter added
that three of the defenders were away. The Early Records of Lancaster tells how
a coroner's inquest was held and that contrary to the accounts above, Samuel Prescott
stated he was the sentinel on duty. When he saw someone climbing down from the
sentry box, he challenged the person twice but receiving no reply fired.

The jury exonerated Samuel Prescott but apparently he was unable to forgive himself.
He left Lancaster and moved to Concord, Ma.

As I said in the first part this article, life under such circumstances had to have been
extremely stressful for our ancestors. The story of Andrew Gardner's death is just one
instance we know about in which those circumstances led to tragic mistakes. I wonder
how many more there might have been that were never recorded.