Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Just a reminder that there is a little over two weeks left until the 
September 15th deadline for submissions to the Second American Civil
War Blog Challenge

Did you have ancestors in America during the Civil War? If so, where were
they and what were their circumstances? How did the Civil War affect them
and their family? Did the men enlist and did they perish in battle or die of
illness? On which side did they fight, or did you have relatives fighting on
BOTH sides? How did the women left at home cope, or did any of them find
ways to help the war effort? Were your ancestors living as slaves on Southern
plantations and if so when were they freed, or were they freemen who
enlisted to fight? Did any ancestor take part in a battle that took place in

Write a blogpost on these questions, or, if you think of another topic to do
with your family history and the Civil War, write about that. Send me the link
after you publish it on your blog by midnight  September 15th and I'll publish
all the links here on September 30th.

Monday, August 27, 2012


This image from Elisha's pension file is one of my favorite family
documents for the reasons that it was the first time I'd ever
heard of the word "firkin". (cousin Chris Dunham explained it to me).
The preprinted part is in bold face, the filled in parts are italicized. 

"District of Massachusetts,ss1

On this day Sixth day of July 1820:Personally appeared in open
Court before the circuit Court of Common Pleas, begun and holden
in Lenox ,within and for County of Berkshire ,in the Western Circuit,
on the 4th Monday of June 1820, the same Court, being a Court
of record for said Circuit; preceeding according to the course of the
common Law, with a jurisdiction, unlimited in point of amount,
kereping a record of its proceedings, and having the power of fine
and imprisonment,

Elisha Houghton aged 71 years, resident in Adams in the County
of Berkshire aforesaid, who being first duly sworn, according to
law,doth on his oath declare, that he served in the revolutionary
war as follows; that he enlisted in the company commanded by
Captain Brown in the regiment commanded by Colonel Bigelow
in the line of the State of Massachusetts on the Continental
establishment. That his original declaration is dated May 6th 
1818 and that his pension certificate is numbered 4,189.

And I do solemnly swear, that I was a resident Citizen of the
United States, on the 18th day of March, 1818, and I have not
since that time, by gift, sale or in any manner disposed of my
property, or any part thereof with intent, thereby to diminish it,
as to bring myself within the provisions of an Act of Congress
entitled "An Act to provide for certain persons, engaged in
the land and naval services of the United States, in the
Revolutionary war," passed on the 18th day of March, 1818,
and that I have not, nor has any person in trust for me any
property or securities, contracts, or debts, due to me, nor
have I any income, other than what is contained in the schedule,
hereto  annexed, and by me subscribed-schedule of property,
necessary clothing and bedding excepted-to wit:

1 Tub and firkin --------.33
1 Iron pot--------------- -.75
1 Salt mortar-------------.12
1 Tea kettle--------------.75
1 Sugar box of Plates---.19
1 Tin tumbler ------------.6
1 Old Pail------------------.13

That I am by occupation a Labourer that I am not able to labor,
that the number of my family residing with me is none.
(signed) Elisha Houghton                                              

Sworn to, and declared on the Five day of July 1820, before the
said Court                         
Parker L Hall (illegible) pro tem

I Parker L Hall Clerk of the Circuit Court of Common Pleas
within  and for the County of Berkshire do hereby certify, that the
foregoing oath and the schedule thereto annexed, are truly copied
from the record of said Court; and I do further certify,that it is the
opinion of the said Court, that the total amount in value of the
property exhibited in the aforesaid schedule is two dollars and  
thirty three cents.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and affixed 
the seal of said Court on this ninth day of August 1820.

Parker L Hall   }Clerk of the Court for the County of Berkshire."    


The next image is of the other side of Elisha's affidavit. It appears the piece
of paper was folded in half twice lengthways which created four panels. There
are some words I couldn't read and I note them in parentheses. Likewise,
there are two words I'm not sure I've read correctly so I've used a (?) to
show that.

The text above the first fold appears to be an earlier version of Justice
Samuel Putnam's certification of Elisha's testimony. Apparently he decided to
write it on the bottom of the first side instead. He didn't sign this version:

do certify that it appears to my satisfaction
that the said Elisha Houghton did serve
in the revolutionary war as stated in
the within declaration against the common
enemy and I now transmit the procedings
and testimony taken and had before me
to the secretary for the department of  war
pursuant to the directions of the (can't read it)
out of Congress-"

The second panel served as a cover to the document when it was folded
up. As such the writing is at a right angle to the rest of the page:

"Elisha Houghton
Bigelow's Mass. Regt.

The third and fourth panels are statements by two witnesses as to the
character of Elisha Houghton and the truth of his story.

"I Asa Dean of Adams in the County of Berkshire Physician do certify
that I have known Elisha Houghton within mentioned a number
of years & that his reputation
(?) for truth is good and I have no
no doubt of the truth of  this notation
(?) made by him within
mentioned as his story has always been the same
(can't read)
(can't read)                                                                   Asa Dean

May 6th 1818
Sworn to before me
S. Putnam  Just. S.J.C."

"I Nathan Putnam of Adams also do certify that I have
known Elisha Houghton a number of years & I have no
doubt but the certificate of Dr. Asa Dean above is true
                                                                  Nathan Putnam
May 6.  1818
Sworn to before me
S. Putnam J.S.J.C."


This next part of Elisha Houghton's pension file is an image
of a sheet of paper with handwriting on both sides. This side
is the more legible.The other side is a mess, so I'll discuss that
in the next installment.

"Commonwealth of Massachusetts
(“District of” crossed out) Berkshires  of Commonwealth of 

Massachusetts.On this sixth day of May 1818 Before me the 
subscriber one of the Justices of the Supreme Judicial Court
of said Commonwealth personally appears Elisha Houghton 
aged sixty eight years resident in the town of Adams in said 
district who being by me first duly sworn according to law 
doth on his oath make the following declaration in order to 
obtain the provisions made by the late act of  congress entitled 
`an act to provide for certain persons engaged in the land 
and naval services of the  United States in the revolutionary war
` that the said Houghton enlisted as a private in May 1778 in
the town of Harvard in the state of Massachusetts in the 
company commanded by Captain Joshua Brown of the fifteenth 
Regiment of commanded by Col. Timothy Bigelow.That he 
continued in the service of the United States until May 1781 
when he was discharged from service at West Point in the 
State of Newyork. That he was in the Battles of  Bunker Hill
Stillwater Monmouth and Newport and that he is in reduced 
circumstances and stands in need of the assistance of his 
country for support and that he has no other evidence now in 
his possession of his said services and relinquishes all claim
to any other Pension but what he now asks for.

Sworn to and declared before me this day and year aforesaid                                                        S. Putnam Just
May 6 1818                                                 S.J. Court of Massts

I Samuel Putnam one of the Justices of the aforesaid Court do 

certify that it does appear to my satisfaction that the said Elisha 
Houghton did serve in the Revolutionary war as stated in the
preceding declaration against the Common enemy and I now 
transmit it the preceding and testimony taken here before me to 
the Secretary of the Department of War. Given under my hand 
at said Court.

S. Putnam Justice S.J. Court of Massachusetts"


This is the beginning of my transcription of the images of the Revolutionary
War Pension file of my ancestor Elisha Houghton. The file covers his original
filing in his native state of Massachusetts, and then his application to have
his pension transferred to the state of Vermont. THe pages are a mixture of
preprinted text and handwritten additions, so I've used a system I've used
previously by boldfacing the preprinted words  and italicizing the added
parts. Words or phrases that I couldn't decipher are in parentheses.

The first image is the file cover with the following:
Service                                                                                               Number
Mass.                           Elisha Houghton                                       S39725

The second image is of the beginning of Elisha's  paperwork. It's folded
in thirds, with no writing on the left hand panel. The middle is a preprinted
form.The file number 3925 is written above the printed word INVALID. To
the left of that is the abbreviation Revy for Revolutionary. The rest reads

File No. 39725
Elisha Houghton
Pri Rev War

Act: 18th March 18th
Index:--Vol.S, Page 232
(Arrangement of 1870)

On the right hand fold  someone wrote:

27-Aug-25 Hist. to Kate
Starbird. Her letter in
(I can't read the next word) of Elias
(I can't make out the rest).

This last part refers to a researcher named Kate Starbird. Apparently she'd
written a letter inquiring about the records of Elisha Houghton and Elias
Monk. A copy of a  typewritten reply to her on Elisha's record is included
in Elisha's record. It is dated August 25th, 1927.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


Back when I really caught the genealogy bug I downloaded the Personal
Ancestry File program and then filled in the pedigree chart using the information
my Aunt Dorothy had sent us years before and then I moved on to what I
found in our original copu of Florence O' Connor's The Ancestors and Descendants
of Asa Freeman Ellingwood and Florilla (Dunham) Ellingwood
. Then once that
was done I started trying to fill in the blanks. One of these was the identity of the
wife of Elisha Houghton who was Florilla Dunham's great grandmother.
On page 200 of the O'Connor book, Elisha's wife is listed as "unknown". Eventually
I was able to find a record online for the marriage of an Elisha Houghton and a
Meriah Pairs  in Bolton, Ma on 30Nov, 1765.(Her name is also given as Moriah Peirce
or Pierce in other records.). Here's an image of the record

I moved on to find Meriah's parents. Given the variations of Meriah's last name I'd
already encountered, I tried every spelling I could think of in my search. Her birth
record gave her father's name as John and her mother's as Hannah Pierce, so at
least I had the first name. Given that Elisha and Meriah had married in Bolton, I
seached the online  records for there and the neighboring towns of Lancaster and
Harvard in the years prior to Meriah's birth in 1748. I found  a marriage record with
the date of 22 Nov 1744 for John Pirce and Hanna Stone in Harvard Ma. It fit the right
period of years, and confident that I'd found the right person, I continued on tracing
Hannah Stone's lineage eventually back to Deacon Simon Stone and Mary Whipple. 
Then I moved on to my next "blank".

Neat, huh?

((CUE the "WRONG ANSWER!" buzzer here))

Not hardly, but it would be several years before I discovered why not.

About two weeks ago, I was checking out some of the new shaking leaves on and found two records for an intention of marriage for John Pirce,
and a  Hannah Houghton made on 10Mar 1747.  It would appear  that  Hannah
(Stone) Pierce died sometime between 1744 and 1747, and that Hannah
(Houghton)Pierce is instead the mother of Meriah Pierce. Looking into this
further it adds up. Hannah Houghton' s parents were Thomas Houghton and
Meriah Moore, which would mean Meriah Peirce was named after her grandmother.
Moreover, Elisha and Meriah (Pierce)Houghton were ist cousins once removed,
sharing descent from James Houghton and  Mary Sawyer.

So I've been doing a bit of "Bonsai Genealogy" lately:snipping off the Stones from
my family tree and grafting the new Moore branch on to it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


I was able to find Elisha Houghton's service records and muster rolls on
the website (Now the Fold3 website). This is the information
they gave me in chronological order of his  military career with the
Massachusetts 15th Regiment of the Continental Army in a company
commanded by Captain Joshua Brown. I've added three battles that
Elisha says in his pension file he was present at:

1May 1777  enlists for 3 years
19Sep 1777 Battle of Stillwater
1Nov 1777 appointed Sgt
10Dec 1777  Sick at Albany.
Jan 1778 reduced to ranks as Pvt.
21Feb 1778 On command at Albany  Jan 1778

5Mar 1778 Sick in Albany Feb1778 Valley Forge
Apr 1778 Sick in camp March 1778 Valley Forge
2May 1778 On Guard Apr 1778 Valley Forge

2Jun 1778 Sgt May 1778 Valley Forge
28Jun 1778 Battle of Monmouth
29Aug 1778 Battle of Newport

25Sep 1779 reduced to ranks as Pvt.
1May 1780 discharged at "Camp near Robinson's Farm(?)"

(This doesn't include his previous service with the militia at Boston.)

Elisha seems to have had a tumultuous time in the army. He was made
a sergeant, busted down into the ranks as a private, regained his
original rank, and then was busted down again where he stayed until
he was mustered out of the army. So far I haven't been able to find
out what caused his reduction of rank twice. Was he a discipline
problem? Many of the New England natives who'd joined the
Continental Army were used to the less formal discipline of the
their own militia. Unless Elisha did something notable enough to
make the journal of one of his officers I may never find out what
he did.  

In an earlier post on Elisha in 2009 I raised a question about terms.
I knew what "on guard" meant  and of course "sick", but what did "on
command" mean? Not finding much information on my own I asked my
friends on Facebook if anyone knew what the term meant. I received
answers and suggestions from genealogist and non-genealogist friends
alike, and I finally decided that the best explanation was that Elisha
was either on a special detail or detached duty from his company
during those periods he was "on command". Fellow blogger Susan
Clark of Nolichucky Roots sent me a link to a Google ebook that seems
to confirm my theory:

"The term "on command," as given on the published returns of the
Revolutionary Army, is understood to be equivalent to the term
"on detached service," as used at the present day, and the number
 of men so reported should be included with the number of "
present and fit for duty" to determine the effective force of the Army. . ."

((A letter from Col F.C. Ainsworth, quoted in The Scotch-Irish:
Or, The Scot in North Britain, North Ireland, and North America, Volume 1

by Charles Augustus Hanna,  G.P. Putnam & Sons, 1902, p.7))

So that's an overview of Elisha Houghton's Revolutionary War service
before I start the transcription of his pension file. But first there's another
matter I need to clear up, involving a mistake I made about the identity
of Elisha's wife.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


 ((I've planned several times in the past to post a transcription of 
my 5x great grandfather Elisha Houghton's Revolutionary War 
Pension file. I'm going to give it another shot(really) but in the 
meantime here's a prelude first published in 2009. Bad enough
Elisha had to deal with the British, but he had to deal with
having a gun taken by his fellow patriots as well!))

I mentioned my ancestor Elisha Houghton the other day and
that he was a veteran of the Revolutionary War. I found this
story about him in History of the Town of Harvard, Massachusetts
1732-1893 by Henry Steadman Nourse (p323):

"Coliney of the Massachusetts Bay.

To the Honnorabel General Coart seting at Watertown the Petion
of Elisha Houghton a Solder under Comand of Captan Hastings in Conl
Whitcomb's Rigement in the year 1775 and I was in the fight on Bunkers
hill So Called in Charlston on the 17 of June in the year 1775 as above
sd and on my Return I and others Lited on one Jacob Davis who was
wounded who requested our help and in tacking Care of the sd Davis
Caused me your Petinor to take Mistick Road to convey the sd Davis to
where he thought he could be tacken Care of and in so Doing 1 came
acros by Winter hill to go to head Quater at Cambridge and in Coming
by the Gard of Connal Starks which was set on sd hill they took away
my Gun which I and others that Knew sd Gun Judged to be worth teen
Dolers. I Endevuered to Recover my Gun again but was Denied the
Same which may be made Evident to this Coart by Reading the Paper
acompining this Petition. 1 also Sertify this Coart that I have Never
Reseved my Gun since Nor any Consideration for the same. I therefore
your Poor Petitioner Humbly Pray that this Coart would be Pleased to
take my Case into your Consideration and alow me Pay for my Gun
and your Petitioner as in Duty bound Shall Ever Pray. Bolton Jan. the —
1776 Elisha Houghton

This may Certify that Elisha Houghton of Col Whitcomb's Regiment
in Capt. Hasting's Company was in the Action on Bunker's hill and
helping bringing the wounded men off to Cambridge went mistick Road over
Winter hill and the Guard that was set on winter hill took away the Guns,
and this sd Houghton's Gun was among the Rest, the next Day with [a]
number of others sd Houghton went in order to Get his Gun with an officer
with him, but could not find it and have Never heard of it since—as I know of.

Josiah Whitney, Lt. Col. of sd Rgmt.
Dorchester Camp Febury 29th. 1776"

I don't know if Elisha ever got recompensed for his lost gun, but I suspect he
waa the one of the earliest victims of "requisitioning" in the American
military tradition.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


((Another post from 2009. I've since determined that Josiah is
my 7x great granduncle))

Before continuing on with some of the more serious stories concerning my
Willard family relations and the Indian wars in New England, there's one
story about how a Sawyer cousin escaped death.

Deacon Josiah Sawyer was the son of William Sawyer and Hannah Houghton
(also related to me from my Houghton line) and grandson of Thomas Sawyer.
He was born in Lancaster, Ma. in 1714 but at the time of this story in 1735
he was living in Bolton, Ma. with his father. He would later go on to be a
Deacon of the church in Berlin, Ma.

I'll let author William Richard Cutter describe the incident:

"While returning home one evening afoot, as was his custom, an Indian
waylaid him, just as he was descending the hill north of the Quaker
Sawyer dodged the upraised tomahawk and took to his
heels. Fortunately for him,
he was a good runner, for he was unarmed.
The savage soon saw that he was
outclassed, and gave up the pursuit.
By measurement the next day it was found
that one of the leaps, as the
footprints showed, was sixteen feet. That leap is
famous in Berlin history."

(William Richard Cutter, Historic Homes and Places and Genealogical and
Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of Middlesex County, Massachusetts
N.Y., N.Y., Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1908 p 1379)

Now two things about this tale makes me smile. One is the wording of the first
sentence. On a first casual reading, it might make you think it was poor Josiah's
habit to be waylaid by Indians while walking home.

The second is the image of the leap measuring. It must have occurred while a
party of Josiah's neighbors were looking for the Indian and following the
tracks of the chase. I wonder how they measured the jump, did they actually
measure it? And was it actually 16 feet, or did it grow in the retelling?

Finally, did his escape from his Indian pursuer and his miraculous leap perhaps
inspire Josiah Sawyer's calling to the clergy?

For if it did, then I suppose we could call it a leap of faith!


((Today marks the 289th anniversary of an Indian attack on the town
of Rutland, Ma. of which several of my cousins were victims. This was
first posted in February, 2009)) 

It seems as though my Willard and Sawyer relations had more than their share of
adventurous and sometimes fatal encounters with Indians well into the 18th century.

As I mentioned previously, Cyprian Stevens had married Mary Willard, one of
Simon Willard's daughters, and their family was prominent in the continuing
settling of the New England wilderness. Their son Joseph Stevens and his
family were living in Rutland, Ma. on the morning of 14 Aug, 1723
when tragedy struck:

"... after family devotions and breakfast, he and his four sons went to Meeting
and were surprised by five hostile Indians. While Captain Stevens made his
escape in the bushes, two sons, Samuel and Joseph, were slain and scalped,
and the other two Phineas and Isaac, carried away prisoners to Canada. The
pluck of Phineas, who carried his younger brother on his back when he was
exhausted, saved him from being slaughtered to get him out of the way or left
to die alone in the forest. It was more than a year before the boys were
redeemed. A subscription was taken in the Framingham church, where the
Stevens family had been members, April 19, 1724. The father made two trips
to Canada and returned finally with Isaac August 19, 1725. Isaac was much
attached to his Indian foster mother and would have preferred to stay with
her, it is said. The cost of this ransom and other misfortunes impoverished
Captain Stevens and he died in want, Nov. 15, 1769."

((Ellery Bicknell Crane, Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical
and Personal Memoirs of Worcester County, Massachusetts N.Y. N.Y,
Lewis Publishing Company,1907 p 277 ))

Meanwhile their cousin, Reverend Joseph Willard, the minister of Rutland,
was out hunting when he was attacked by other members of the
Indian war party:

"Being out with his gun on August 14th, hunting, or to collect fodder for
the coming winter, he was surprised by two Indians, — one of the Indians'
guns missed fire, the other did no execution. Mr. Willard returned the fire and
wounded one of them, it is said, mortally ; the other closed in with Mr. Willard ;
but he would have been more than a match for him, had not other three come
to his assistance. And it was some considerable time before they killed Mr.
Willard. "

((Jonas Reed and Daniel Bartlett, A History of Rutland: Worcester County,
Massachusetts, from Its Earliest Settlement, with a Biography of Its First Settlers
Worcester, Ma, Mirrick & Bartlett, Printers, 1836))

Another account says the young Stevens boys witnessed his cousin's death before
being taken to Canada. Phineas was 16 years old and during his captivity learned
much about the Indian's methods of war and hunting, and in his adulthood would
become, as we'll see, one of the leading Indian fighters of the colony.

Monday, August 13, 2012


((Today is the 302nd anniversary of the death of my 9x great grandfather,
Jeremiah Swain, who was prominent in early Massachusetts Bay Colony
history. My discovery of this poem led to a 14 part series of posts on his 
life. First posted in Apr 2009))

On May 29,1844, at the Bi-Centennial Celebration of the Founding of
Old Reading, Massachusetts (now three towns: Reading, North Reading,
and Wakefield), the Honorable Lilley Eaton stepped forward and read a
poem he'd written about the history of the town and some of it's important
citizens. Among these was my ancestor Jeremiah Swain(also spelled
Swayne or Sweyn)

"At my old map I looked again,
And found the house of Major Swayne ;
'Twas situated near the ground
Where Stowell, Issacher, is found.
This Major Swayne, the records say,
Was a great warrior in his day,
And in our ancient Indian wars,
A victor chief, beloved of Mars ;
And when King Philip with his troop,
With tomahawk and dread war-whoop,
With poisoned arrows and firebrand,
Bore down upon the pilgrim land,
Old Major Swayne, with courage true,
Forth to the post of danger flew,
Was made commander of the free,
And led them on victory.
And once, 'tis said, it so fell out,
While Major Swayne was on a scout,
Exploring swamps and other by-land,
Within the State of old Rhode Island,
He found the Indians, whom he sought,
Gathered in force, within a fort.
Our hero's numbers being few,
He wished to hide them from their view,
So lurking near their palisade,
Concealed them there in ambuscade ;
Then bold as e'er a lion was,
His glitt'ring steel the Major draws,
And, mounting on a rising stone,
He cries in loud, undaunted tone,
"We've found the foe, let's storm the fort,
To drive them thence will be but sport;
Come, Captain Poole and Sergeant Brown,
Wheel up your squadrons into line."
The Indians heard this fearless boast,
And thought there came a mighty host ;
With terror struck, and wild dismay,
They quit the fort and ran away ;
Our little band, with triumph then,
Into the empty fortress ran,
Unfurled the flag of liberty,
And gain'd a bloodless victory."

Lilley Eaton & James Flint, Historical Address and Poem: Delivered at 
the Bi-centennialCelebration of the Incorporation of the Old Town of 
Reading May 29, 1844,  (Boston, Ma. S.N. Dickinson, 1844) pp.73-74

Now I'm well aware of poetic license but as I'll show in future posts Lilley Eaton took
quite a bit of it in his description of my ancestor's part in what is also known as the
Great Swamp Battle. Suffice it to say at this point that while Jeremiah Swain would
rise in rank in the Massachusetts militia, he was only a lieutenant at the time of the
battle, and the victory was hardly as bloodless as Mr. Eaton portrays it. But two
hundred years had passed and there was no internet around to consult about the
actual event so Lilley Eaton no doubt relied on tradition in composing his poem.

As I said, there'll be more to come, but for the moment, this is my descent from
Jeremiah Swain and his wife Mary Smith:

Jeremiah Swain m. Mary Smith
Sarah Swain m. John Laughton
John Laughton Jr. m Hepzibah(Hepzibath) Stimson (Stimpson)
John Laughton 3rd m. Jane Adams
John Laughton 4th m. Lydia Ann McGraugh
John Laughton 5th m. Amata Greenleaf
Esther Laughton m. Philip Richardson
Louisa Almata Richardson m. Jonathan Phelps West (my great great grandparents)

Thursday, August 09, 2012


((Today marks the 325 anniversary of the death of my 9x great grandfather
William Gerrish. He seems to have had one of those abrasive personalities
and was involved in some interesting court cases, including this one.
First posted June 22, 2009. ))

Both Stephen Greenleaf and Stephen Greenleaf Jr. had made good marriages with
women from prominent colonial families. Stephen the elder had married Elizabeth
Coffin, daughter of Tristram Coffin; Stephen Junior married Elizabeth Gerrish,
whose father was Captain William Gerrish.

The Greenleaf, Coffin and Gerrish families ran profitable mercantile and ship
construction businesses in the towns of Newbury and Amesbury as well in Boston.
And despite the religious beliefs of the founding Puritan fathers, the business
world back then was just as competitive as it is today. Take the case of William
Gerrish and Thomas Woodbridge.

Actually, make that cases. They faced each other in court in Essex County at least
three times, twice over debts, and the third time my ancestor William Gerrish took
Thomas Woodbridge to court for slander:

"Capt. Wm. Gerrish v. Thomas Woodbridge. Slander. Withdrawn.:

Caleb Moody testified that he heard Woodbridge say that Captain Gerish 
was a cheating knave, that he had cheated him out of 180li., and that he
had told a damnable or devilish lie. Sworn in court.

Jno. Joanes and Steven Swet testified. Sworn in court.

Joseph Hills, aged about seventy years, deposed that in the presence of 
Mr. Henry Sewall he heard Woodbridge say that there were fifty men in 
Newbury who would say that Capt. Gerrish had cheated them and that
he would be cast out of the church. Deponent asked Rev. Mr. Jno.  
Woodbridg to give him a meeting at his son's house, which he did,
and said Hills then declared
that the meeting was to prevent contention 
between Capt. Gerrish and Woodbridge. Mr. Jno. Woodbridg said he 
was very much troubled at his son's speeches many times and he had 
counselled him to moderation, and asked deponent to advise him how 
to act. "I answered yt he was more able to advise himselfe also ye sd 
Tho. Woodbridg then said yt what he had spoken to mee about Cheating 
he had spoken to som others and bid them goe tell Capt Gerrish."  
Sworn in court.

Anthony Somerby, aged sixty-six years, deposed that Woodbridge said
Gerrish had without question cheated the town of Newbury of many a
pound, and that he doubted not that he had taken away the boards 
from Mr. Richardsun's house. Sworn in court.

Tristram Coffin, aged forty-four years, deposed that Woodbridge called 
Capt. Gerrish a cheating knave and that he made a profession of religion
to cover his knavery, whereupon deponent advised Woodbridge to be more 
moderate in his words, for Capt.Gerrish was a rational man and would do
what was right. Also at said Woodbridge's house, the latter asked deponent 
why he told Gerrish he was drunk. Deponent said he did not tell him so but 
he did say that he believed "that he wass six and twenty." Woodbridge said 
that he was as well then as at this present time, and also that there were 
only five men in town who would not say that Gerrish had cheated them, to
which deponent replied that he had traded with Capt. Gerrish
for many 
score pounds and he had never cheated him. Daniell Lunt said the same. 
Woodbridge replied that Lunt, deponent and Rich. Doell were three of the 
five, that he would make Capt. Gerish's house a dung hill and would make 
Capt. Gerish "fly the town" or else he should make him fly the town, and 
within eight months he would make it appear what Capt. Gerish was, etc.
Sworn in court."

Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts 
Vol.VI 1675- 1678 Essex Institute, Salem, Ma. 1917 pp125-126

I think "180li" must be 180 pounds. I'm also not sure what the reference about
being "six and twenty" means in reference to drunkeness unless it was the 17th
century equivalent of "three flags to the wind" or something? I feel some
sympathy for poor John Woodbridge asking for advice in how to deal with his
verbose son Thomas!

You can read the particulars of the other two cases in the same book on
Googlebooks which includes very long lists of trade goods with fascinating

Monday, August 06, 2012


Google "Groton+Indians" and you're more than likely to come up
with entries for several books on the subject by Samuel Abbott Green.
(He's probably my cousin but I've not found out how, yet.) Here from
one of those books is a summary of one branch of my family's bad
period of luck on the Massachusetts Bay Colony frontier. I've written
about some of these incidents before. Following the excerpt, I've listed
how the people mentioned are my relatives:


JOHN Shattuck and his eldest son John, a young man nineteen years of age,
were killed by the Indians at Groton, on May 8, 1709. They were returning
from the west side of the Nashua River and were attacked just as they were
crossing Stony Fordway, near the present site of the paper mills, where they
were killed. John Shattuck was the eldest child of John and Ruth (Whitney)
Shattuck, of Watertown, where he was born on June 4, 1666. He married Mary,
eldest daughter of James and Elizabeth (Longley) Blood, who was born at
Groton on September 1, 1672. Mr. Shattuck was a farmer, as everybody else
was at that time. He owned land on the Nod Road which leads to the Four
Corners below the soap-stone quarry. During the autumn of 1882 Messrs.
Tileston and Hollingworth, of Boston, at that time the owners of the mill,
caused a suitable stone to be placed by the wayside, bearing the following

MAY 8, 1709,


By an oversight this inscription was not given in connection with the " Historical
Inscriptions " on pages 157, 158.

A remarkable fatality seems to have followed Mrs. Shattuck's kindred. Her husband
and eldest son were killed by the Indians, as has just been mentioned. Her father,
James Blood, was likewise killed, September 13, 1692. So also were her uncle, 

William Longley, his wife and five children, July 27, 1694; and three others of 
their children were carried away into captivity at the same time. A relative, 
James Parker, Jr., and his wife were killed in this assault, and their children 
taken prisoners. Her step-father, Enosh Lawrence, received a wound in an 
engagement with the Indians, probably in the same attack of July 27, 1694, 
which almost wholly prevented him from earning a livelihood for himself 
and family. The name Enosh is a variation from Enos, and not from Enoch, 
with which it is frequently confounded. This will be seen by consulting the 
Geneva version of the Bible, long used in preference to King James's
version, by the New England men, and out of which Enos Lawrence was

undoubtedly named. In this "Enosh" will be found where the authorized 
version has "Enos," in Genesis v. 6,7, 9-11. The three Tarbell children, 
who were carried off to Canada by the Indians, June 20, 1707, were cousins
of Mrs. Shattuck. John Ames, who was shot by the savages at the gate of 
his own garrison, July 9, 1724, was the father of Jacob, who married her 
niece, Ruth Shattuck. And lastly, her son-in-law, Isaac Lakin, the husband 
of her daughter Elizabeth, was wounded in Lovewell's Fight at Pequawket,
May 8, 1725. These calamities covered a period of only one generation,

extending from the year 1692 to 1725.
-"The natural history and the topography of Groton, Massachusetts:
together with other matter relating to the history of the town, Volume 1"

 Samuel Abbott Green (University Press, John Wilson and Sons, Cambridge,
Ma,. 1912)

This is how I'm related to the people in this :
Mary Shattuck is my 8x great grandaunt.
Her father James Blood is my 9x great grandfather.
Her uncle William Longley is my 9x great granduncle.
The three Tarbell children are the siblings of my 8x great grandmother.
John Ames is my 8x great grandfather.
Isaac Lakin is my 1st cousin 10x removed.

I haven't determine yet if I have any relationship with James Parker Jr.
and Enosh Lawrence.

Sunday, August 05, 2012


((Originally posted in Jan 2009 as "SIMON WILLARD PT2". I'm 
reposting it under a new title because today is the 337th anniversary
of Simon's ride. Simon willard is my9x great grandfather)).

In 1661 Massasoit,Sachem of the Pokanoket and the Wampanoag Confederacy
died. He'd had good relations for the most part with the settlers of Plymouth
Colony and a good case can be made that without his help, the settlement might
not have survived. But forty years of peace ended with his death. He was succeeded
first by his son Wamsutta, who felt his father had given the settlers too much
land and was seeking an alliance with the rival Connecticut colony when he died
under questionable circumstances in 1662. Massasoit's other son Metacom, now
became the grand sachem of the Wampanoags. He was better known to the
English as "King Philip."

Tensions mounted between the colony and the Indians as Philip sought to make
alliances with other tribes against the colonists and finally came to a head in1675.
John Sassamon, an Indian convert who'd gone to Harvard, warned the leaders
at Plymouth about Metacom's latest attempts to persuade the other tribes to
join in attacks on the settlers. A short while later Sassamon was murdered and
three Wampanoag Indians were arrested, tried, and convicted for the crime.
They were hung on 8 Jun 1675 . Two weeks later on 20 June, the town of Swansea
was attacked by Indians and destroyed five days later. The conflict that historians
call "King Philip's War" had begun.

Even though Simon Willard was now seventy years old, he was still in charge of
the defense of Middlesex County and despite his age went about it vigorously.
He led a small force of militiamen and friendly Indians and went from town to
town checking their fortifications and preparedness for attacks. At first these
were limited to the southern part of the colony but on 2 August a band of Nipmuc
Indians attacked the small town of Brookfield. The settlers took shelter in the
strongest building in town and held off the Indians for three days and made
attempts to send out messengers to find help.

Around noon on 5 August one found Simon Willard who was leading a mounted
force of 47 men from Lancaster to Groton. He immediately started out for
Brookfield which was about thirty miles from where the message had found him
and arrived at the besieged town shortly after dark. The Indians retreated at the
sudden arrival of Willard and his men and the Brookfield settlers were saved.

Four days later, the Indians attacked Lancaster, Simon Willard's previous place of
residence. Could it have been because of his rescue of Brookfield and his
prominence in the defence of the colony? Whether coincidental or deliberate,
the attack was one of many more to come.

It would be a busy fall and winter for Simon Willard.