Monday, August 30, 2010


One of the great things about being a genealogy blogger is that by
posting stories about my ancestors and my research on them, I've been
contacted by folks who share my ancestry. Recently I made the
acquaintance of  Evelyn Swain Webb from Texas, who is a fellow
descendant of Jeremiah Swain. Last year I wrote a fourteen part
series of posts about Jeremiah and his part in the New England Indian
Wars which was how Evelyn found me.

Today Evelyn sent me some fascinating photographs along with the story
behind them. They show a quarterstaff that was owned by Jeremiah:

This is part of the information Evelyn also sent along:
"When Jeremiah came from England he brought with him this 
Walking Stick of Quarterstaff, some times known as a cudgel. The 
wood is yew, or orange, and the head is ivory.  It appears to be 
about 4 ft. in length. Possibly, for unknown generations preceding 
Jeremiah the Quarterstaff  was held by a male member of the family, 
usually descending from father to eldest son  Through the years this
cane came down through Colonel John Farrar Swain, a brother to
Dr. Marcus Swain.  At the death of Col. John, the cane passed to his 
son Elmer Perry Swain, who died in 1913. It passed to his eldest son,
Lloyd E. Swain and thence to his nephew, Robert F. Swain.  Robert 
Swain was in the service in WW2, and it seemed that the dangers
attendant with participation in the war might disturb the traditional
line of descension.  Therefore, in 1944, it was donated by Lloyd N. 
Swain to the Nebraska State Historical Society, 1500 R. St. Lincoln,
NE 68501

The pictures were obtained by Oliver D. Swain on 28 Nov., 1989, 

from the Nebraska Historical Society.  This article was also written
by Oliver D. Swain, copied by Dona Evelyn Swain Webb, 2/20/00."

Now Jeremiah Swain died in 1710. So for 300 years, and probably
even longer than that since before Jeremiah, the quarterstaff was handed
down from father to son! That's amazing!

Thank you Evelyn for sending this along to me, and for allowing me to
share it here on my blog. Perhaps another of Jeremiah's descendants   
will find it here someday!

Saturday, August 28, 2010


It's Saturday night and time for another Saturday Night
Genealogy challenge by Randy Seaver at his Genea-Musings

1) Go to the website and explore
their FREE offerings. Click on the "Create" button,
or choose to make a slideshow or posters from their
main page (there are more than one screen of poster

2) Make one or more posters or other creation -
perhaps they relate to genealogy or your own family
history. Save them to your computer (right click,
Save as Picture for Windows users).

3) Show your creations to us... in your own blog
post, on a Facebook post, etc. If you make a really
neat one and want to show it to the world but don't
have a way to do it, send it to me (
and I'll show it off for you in a blog post.

I liked Randy's "wanted poster" so I did one of my own,
an old photo of my great grandfather Philip J. West with
my cousin Stanley and grandfather Floyd E. West Sr..

Here's the result:

This was fun! Thanks Randy!

Thursday, August 26, 2010


I'm afraid my road trip this week was even less successful than
last week's inaugural trip. I returned to the Bridgewaters once
more, starting with a visit to the cemetery right next to my alma
mater, Bridgewater State College. The campus has certainly
grown since my graduation back in 1970 and it recently was
renamed Bridgewater State University. But the old graveyard
remains untouched and as I drove by I recalled sitting on the
stone wall there talking with my friends. 

Unfortunately, that was as close as I got to it today. I drove
around the campus twice looking for a parking space that
wasn't in a tow zone but couldn't find one. I thought I could
get a space in the town center and walk back down from there
but even those were taken at least on the side of the square
closest to the campus. Well, duh! It's late August and between
Summer classes and the arrival of students for the Fall semester,
of course there's a lot of cars around. I decided to come back
on a Sunday and headed out of Bridgewater west on Rte 28
towards West Bridgewater and the cemetery I could not find
last Thursday.

Along the way I passed the Par 3 golf course where I spent
some afternoons back in my college days. My friends Lee
Melanson, Ed Silvia, and Ed Hands and I used to play there on
days when we had several hours between classes and it
amazes me that the place is still there over forty years
later. I think I'm going to make a trip down there soon
just to play a round for old times' sake.

I continued on  in search of my target and here, dear
readers, I discovered I have not inherited my Dad's sense
of direction. He would look at a map, trace the route with
his finger, and then off we'd go, with an occasional stop
for another look at the map. 99% of the time we'd arrive
at the destination without any problems. And in most cases
when Dad drove someplace once he remembered the route
without looking at a map again.

As for me, I drove up and down South St without finding the
particular graveyard I was seeking. I did eventually hit Rte
104 and found the Scotland Cemetery but didn't stop there
this week because it was now after 4pm and I wanted to
get home and eat an early dinner before the Patriots-Rams
game on tv. I'm beginning to think that if I'm going to
do more of these genealogical day trips, I might have to
purchase one of those GPS thingy's with the snooty female
voices to tell me exactly where I should go.

So, no pictures this week. But it was a beautiful day, I
enjoyed the ride, and I got out of the apartment and away
from Leonard the Computer for a few hours.   

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


As I've been entering the Ellingwoods onto my Ancestry Family tree,
I began to wonder about just how many descendants my greatgreat
grandfather Asa Freeman Ellingwood had sired, and how would I
go about finding out the total number. When I voiced that thought
on Facebook a few weeks back, someone (I can't recall who now)
suggested I ask Bruce Buzbee, creator of RootsMagic 4 himself.
So I sent him a message with my question and got this answer


There isn't a tool that directly does that, but here's a way.

1. Do Reports > Lists > Statistics list
2. Choose to include selected people
3. Highlight the starting person in the list that appears,

then click "Mark group", and then choose "Descendants of the
highlighted person". You can choose whether to include spouses in 
that count.
4. Click OK and then generate the report.

It will give you a count of how many descendants, how many are 

male vs female, and other statistics about those descendants."

Now this was back on July 25th and I've been working on the tree
since then, but finally finished with the Asa Freeman Ellingwood
descendants on Ancestry. Tonight I created a gedcom of my tree
and downloaded it to my computer, then imported it to the RM4
as a new file. Adding it to my existing RM4 database would have
resulted in duplicate entries. I then followed Bruce's instructions,
choosing Asa Freeman Ellingwood for the starting person and
choosing not to count spouses of his descendants. This is how
the screen looked when it generated the report:

The count came to 204, not including living descendants who I had not
listed on the Ancestry tree.

I'm still working on the families of Asa's siblings but out of curiosity I ran
a list of the descendants of their father and mother, John  Ellingwood
and Rachel Barrows. Again, I chose to omit the spouses and this does
not include living descendants:

The count at this time is 323 individuals. Both totals will go up when I
add living descendants to the database.

Thanks for the help, Bruce!

Do other genealogy programs have a way to give you actual number of
a person's descendants?

Friday, August 20, 2010


Today is my birthday and I was wondering which of my ancestors were
also born on August 20th. So I went into PAF and ran a daily calendar
report which gave me 8 names.Then I used the relationship calculator
to tell me our exact relationships. Among them is my 9x great
grandfather, the argumentative Capt. William Gerrish. You can read my
posts about him by clicking on my "Table of Contents" tab at the top of
the page, and then on "Gerrish William". 

So here's my list:

Diantha West, 20Aug 1859 Andover, Oxford, Me. My first cousin
3x removed.

Caroline Ames, 20Aug 1839, Canton, Oxford, Me. My 3x great

Deborah Butterfield, 20Aug 1687, Chelmsford Middlesex, Ma. My 7x
great grandaunt.

John Spaulding, 20Aug 1682, Chelmsford, Middlesex, Ma. My 6x
great grandfather.

Joseph Buswell 20Aug 1674 Topsfield, Essex, Ma. My 7x great
grand uncle.

Lydia Colborne, 20Aug 1666, place unknown. My 7x great grandaunt.

Sarah Howard, 20Aug 1648, Bridgewater, Plymouth, Ma. My 7x
great grandmother.

William Gerrish, 20Aug 1617, Bristol, England.  My 9x great

 How about you? Do you know which ancestors share your birthday?

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Now that I'm in better shape and the same true for Ping the Wondercar,
I decided to try to get out of the apartment more on my days off and do
some genealogy legwork. Today's inaugural adventure was a trip down
to West Bridgewater to try to find some of my ancestors' final resting
places. I'd made a unsuccessful try at this last Thursday but had left the
Googlemaps I'd printed out at home but this week I brought them with
me and set out optimistically.

After a short stop at CVS in Whitman to get some prescriptions filled
I continued down Rte 18 to East Bridgewater and then cut across to Rte
106 in West Bridgewater. I turned left on Howard St, drove past the
West Bridgewater Historical Society building, and then turned right onto
River St. According to the directions, the parsonage of my ancestor
Reverend James Keith should have been a little ways down on the right
but I drove to the end of River St without spotting it. A quick turnaround
in a driveway and I went back down the way I'd come, and there now on
my left, was the building. 

I pulled over to the side of the road and took a picture with my digital
camera(which once more insists it's October). It was a beautiful, warm
afternoon. The parsonage seems to sit in the middle of farm property,
with a barn on the left and a field with cows seeking shade under some
trees to the right. Across the street, on the other side of my car, a flock
of Canadian geese were foraging along the banks of a small river. Except
for the occasional car passing by on the blacktop road, it could have been
a typical summer day from Rev. Keith's time in the 17th century.

The building was closed so I resolved to find out when it might be open
and come back to see the inside. Then I drove on down River St, crossed
the bridge by the Canoe Club and continued on until I came to the Alden
Cemetery on my left. I parked across the street on Cross St and walked
over to the graveyard.

I was dismayed by what I found. While most of the markers are upright
and intact, some of them are beginning to lean over or sink into the grass.
And with the exception of perhaps fifteen or twenty markers, most are
unreadable. Inscriptions have worn away from the weather or obscured
by fungus. The stonewall at the front is so close to the first row of
markers that it surely must run over the graves themselves.The grounds
were obviously cared for and the grass mowed, but I had to wonder how
long  it would be before all the gravemarkers were unreadable and Alden
Cemetery was no longer cared for.

I have no ancestors at Alden Cemetery(that I know of, anyway) and I'd
intended to try to find the graves of Reverend Keith and  Deacon Samuel
Edson but it was already late afternoon and I knew the traffic on Rte 18
would be getting heavy. So I decided to call it a day and return to find
them another day.

So ended my first genealogy daytrip of the year.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


I'm still working on adding my Ellingwood cousins to my Ancestry
family tree, and I find myself happily spending hours entering
names and dates, looking for records on line and adding my
sources as I go along. It's easy to become lost in the hunt as I
find information that has me asking questions, such as why can I
find evidence of a person that was supposedly married only
twice was actually married three times? Or does the cause of
death "stricture of the esophagus" on a New Hampshire death
record refer to a medical cause or hanging? And where did some
of the unusual names come from that were given to the children?

As I said, it's easy to become lost. I tell myself I'll go to bed as
soon as I finish an entry, but then there's the children to enter, and
then their children, and there are images of records to download.
And this could go on for quite awhile, because the Ellingwoods
were a prolific bunch, and besides my New England kin there were
some who migrated to Michigan and California, and some who
emigrated to Canada before the Revolution. I then can move on
to other lines in my ancestry, the Barkers, Dunhams, Ames, and
all the others.

I think only other genealogists, along with historians and archaelogists,
would consider this as fun. But it's like putting together a giant jigsaw
puzzle, and it's fascinating. This has been what has filled my evenings
for the last month, and every once and awhile I come up for air.

And then I dive right back in again.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Everynight when I come home from work, I put dinner in the oven and
then read my email while I wait.Tonight's email brought the sad news
from Dorene Paul that our fellow geneablogger Terry Thornton has
passed away.

While I was saddened, I have to admit I had been expecting this ever
since Terry posted the video of the bagpiper playing "Amazing Grace"
next to Terry's gravestone. I don't know if he'd already been given a
terminal diagnosis or if Terry suspected he was "near his time". I do
know he'd been in pain and was using medication for it, even though
he didn't seem happy about it:

"I can now control the pain by making myself enter a drugged 
state.  And it is not a state of ecstasy."

I  would guess that Terry didn't care for having his mental processes
dulled along with his pain.

Terry was one of the geneabloggers who befriended me when I started
blogging. It was a smaller community back then and we exchanged
emails about a commemorative plate he'd found with a New England
connection. We shared an interest in poetry and we both ran memes
on our blogs that explored the connections between poetry and
genealogy. Terry also had a humorous side which he displayed
sometimes under the alias "Willy Puckerbrush" in posts on Janice
Brown's now defunct "Cow Hampshire" blog.

But when I think of Terry, the word that comes to mind is
"passionate" because that is what he was about the things he believed
in, whether it was free speech or genealogy. Back in January, he
wrote the following in his introduction to Robert Graves' poem "To
Bring the Dead to Life" on his Hill Country HOGS Blog and it serves
as an inspiration to me in writing about my family history:

"Those of us who spend part of our efforts writing about individual 
ancestors long ago dead know the difficulty of accurately telling 
their story. Much of recorded family history is just a listing of who 
begat whom, when and where, and where and when they all were 
buried ---but we all know on occasion some writers can bring the 
dead to life as those gifted writers produce accounts to show, 
indeed, that Graves is correct --- that to blow on a dead man's 
embers can ignite a live flame and from that ignition ancestral 
story becomes alive. Certainly those of us writing in this field 
should attempt to ignite those embers --- but that task is much 
more difficult than merely describing the process.

That is why I've selected Graves' poem, To Bring The Dead To Life

as the poem to start the new year. I think his words, especially those 
of the first five lines, should be a challenge and an ideal. As I 
continue my puny attempts to bring life to the family and local 
history I'm recording, I certainly will keep Graves' words in mind. 
And I invite you to accept this as a challenge in your family history 
writing for 2010 --- to bring the dead to life by using words to fan 
the embers of those long dead bones and let the resulting flame 
illuminate their life and times."

Rest in peace, Terry. You will be missed.

Thursday, August 05, 2010


While going through the process of entering Ellingwood family
information from Florence O'connor's book to my
family tree, I have come across entries that have piqued my curiosity.
I always keep in mind that Florence did all her research the old
fashioned PC (pre-computer) way and didn't have the online resources
I use today available to her, so I try to find what I can and fill in the
blanks, so to speak.

One such entry concerns Charles O.Ellingwood, son of Isaac Harris
Ellingwood and Columbia Briggs and nephew of my ancestor Asa
Freeman Ellingwood. In the book, Florence says:

"Their oldest son, Charles born 1845/6 died at the age of 19yrs. in 
Kentucky during the Civil War." (p37)

I read that and wondered where and how he died. Was he killed in action
or did he die of illness? I decided to see what I could find out.

First I did a search for Charles on the FamilySearch Record Search site
but other than an entry for the !850 Federal Census when Charles was
five years old I found no information. Next I went to and
entered "Charles O. Ellingwood" and "New Hampshire". I found an
image on "The Civil War and Later Veterans Pension Index" that
shows that his mother, (Columbia Briggs Ellingwood)received a payment
of $188.31on 1Oct 1866.It also lists Charles' military unit as Company
E in the 9th New Hampshire Infantry.

From there I went back to and clicked on "Search historical
records". The second entry on the next screen was from "U.S. Civil War 
Soldier Records and Profiles" and from that I learned that Charles was
18 years old when he enlisted on 21 Dec 1863 with the rank of private
and that he was mustered out on 13Mar 1864 at Camp Burnside,

"Mustered out"? Was that an euphemism for "died"?

There was a link to "American Civil War Regiments" for the 9th New
Hampshire Infantry which included a regimental history written by
"GEORCE L. WAKEFIELD, late Sergeant Company C, Ninth Regiment,
New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry." Apparently the regiment had been
depleted by illness during the final months of 1863 before Charles enlisted
and depending on travel conditions he probably didn't actually arrive until
sometime in January when the regiment had been issued the new
Springfield rifles and was once more on the move. On Feb 27 it was
ordered to Knoxville, Tennessee  to escort an artillery unit but I don't
think Charles was with them. I found his name on a list of the regiment's
soldiers and finally verified that "mustered out" meant he had died of
disease at Camp Burnside.

I went back to the "historical records" page and the third and fourth
entries for Charles were from "U.S. Veterans Gravesites, ca.1775-2006".
Charles was buried on the same day he died and his remains now rest in
Section B Site 661 of the Mill Springs National Cemetery in Nancy,

There's a photograph of Charles online, but out of respect of the owner's
copyright I won't post it here. It shows a young man like so many others
before and after him posing proudly in his uniform, ready to go off and
fight for his country. A few months later, he was gone.

Charles O. Ellingwood is my first cousin 3 times removed, and now, as
Paul Harvey used to say, I know the rest of his story.

Monday, August 02, 2010


I fully intended to complete a series about my Revolutionary War
ancestor Elisha Houghton but here it is August 1st going on August
2nd and I have a long way to go to before it is done. Part of the
reason is that I really want to research the battles he took part
in a bit more and I underestimated how long that might take.

The other part is what I've come to think of as my Ellingwood
Project, entering the information from Florence O'Connor's
book on my tree. There are just so darn many
of them and I want to have sources posted for as much of it
as possible. I've also found information that wasn't in the
book, and I'll be sharing some of the stories I've pieced
together about my Ellingwood cousins with you here.

So, with that in mind, I now plan to finish the Elisha Houghton
series by the end of this month.