Wednesday, October 31, 2012


((It's Halloween, so I thought I'd repost how I created  a campfire
ghost story. First posted in October, 2007))

Back in my college days, I spent three summers as a camp
counselor at Camp Mitton in Brewster, Mass down on Cape Cod.

One night during my last summer there in 1970, I was sitting at
the Indian Council Ring with the campers and councilors as we
told stories around a campfire. One of the kids started telling a
story about the Black Hell Hounds that chased a murderer’s
ghost on the dirt roads by the camp and I had to grin. I knew the
story well.

In fact, I was the one who’d first told it.

Two years before I was trying to come up with the a story to tell
at the campfire that hadn’t already been told and a combination
of things led me to make up a new one.

One of the elements was the camp’s location. There were several
dirt roads that wound their way through old cranberry bogs,
some of which with old buildings nearby. We occasionally took the
kids on hikes down those roads and so the locale of the story
would be familiar.

Another element was that one of the councilors had snorkeled in
the lake the camp was situated on and found an old buckboard
type wagon on the lake floor. Everyone had wondered how it ever
got there.

And the third element? That would be Queenie the black Labrador
Retriever and two of her grown offspring who frequently hung
around the camp mooching scraps and attention from the kids.
And so, I came up with this story:

“Many years ago there lived down by the cranberry bogs a man
and his wife. They had no children, and the cranberry farmer’s
wife was lonely so the farmer bought her three black hounds to
keep her company and protect her when he was away from the

Things went well for several years until bad weather caused
the cranberry crop to be a small one and the farmer fell into
debt. He took to drinking and when his wife asked him to stop
they would argue. One night the man hit his wife and the dogs
who were trained to protect her attacked the farmer. In a rage
he grabbed his axe and killed the dogs and then his wife, and
then buried them all in an unmarked grave somewhere along
the dirt roads through the bogs. If neighbors asked he told them
his wife had left him and gone off to her parents’ home in

Then one night exactly a year to the night after the murder
the farmer was driving his wagon down a dirt road, the very
same road that runs right through the center of our camp, when
he heard the sound of hounds baying behind him. He looked
over his shoulder and by the light of the moon he saw the red
eyes of  three ghostly hounds racing after him in the

He whipped his horse to run faster, but still the hounds came
closer, and closer, and CLOSER until suddenly the wagon hit
the bump in the road just past where the softball field is
today and the horse broke free, while the wagon went racing
down into the lake, taking the farmer with it to drown.

And some say that every year the murderous farmer’s ghost
can be seen in his wagon being chased down the dirt road by
the three black Hell Hounds.”

Not exactly Poe but it worked well in the dark by the campfire,
especially with Queenie nearby begging for marshmallows.

I didn’t work at the camp the summer after I first told the story
but apparently it had been told by one of the campers that year,
and then the year I returned, another camper told it. I don’t
know if it continued to be told, since that was the last summer I
spent there. But if Queenie and her descendants were around I
suspect it might have been told again.

I think this must be how a lot of legends and ghost stories must
have started, a mixture of the commonplace with fantasy.

Oh. Did I mention that in my apartment complex nearly
forty years later, my next door neighbor’s pet was a black
Labrador Retriever?


Last year it was Hurricane Irene; this year, Hurricane Sandy.

Since we lost power here for several days after Irene I took a bit more
precautions for this storm. I made sure I had sufficient batteries and
food, and I charged my cell phone and ereader up on Sunday afternoon.
My laptop battery was fully charged as well so I was all set there. I was
more concerned about losing food because of losing electricity. I'd
ended up throwing out most of the food in my freezer after last year's

So while I was watching the football game Sunday I took some advice
from the local newscast. I turned my refrigerator's temperature
control down to the coldest setting. Then I filled up a two liter soda
bottle and some food containers with water. I put them in the freezer
to fill up some of the empty space. I also had a bag of ice already there.
Supposedly food in a freezer won't go bad for 48 hours after loss of
power but I hoped that the extra frozen containers would extend that
safety period a little longer. Then I went outside to move my patio
furniture into the building's foyer Finally, I took down my bird feeder. 

After that, all I could do was wait out the storm.

Monday didn't start off to badly but the forecast was for the worst of
the storm to start around midday. I had a warm breakfast of hardboiled
eggs, a toasted mini-bagel and a cup of tea. For lunch I microwaved
leftover spaghetti because I thought that if the power was lost at least
I'd have had a hot meal beforehand, Sure enough the lights began
dimming, and then went off and on three times before I finally lost
electricity at 4:23pm.

I settled in for the night. I had a flashlight and a booklight, and my
transistor radio. I read a book for awhile, then made a ham sandwich
for dinner. Afterward I played some games on my laptop while I
listened to a talk show on the radio with people complaining about losing
their power. Outside the storm lessened and the sky cleared enough
for the full moon to shine down and dimly light up the lawn outside
my apartment. I finally went to bed around 1am.

When I woke at 8am Tuesday morning I realized the electricity was back.
I knew this because of my razor sharp powers of deduction: the lights
were on in my living room. (I later heard from the handyman that power
returned around 3am.). After I had my hot tea I moved the furniture back
outside, rehung the bird feeder and returned my refrigerator to the normal
settings. My freezer had weathered the storm in frozen style.

Other parts of the country were less fortunate than my area of Massachusetts.
I'm glad that my friends and family got safely through the past few days and I
hope that those people who have lost their homes will receive all possible
help to get back on their feet soon. 

And that was my Hurricane Sandy experience.

Monday, October 29, 2012


There's still a few weeks left before the November 18th deadline
for submissions to Fourth Annual Great Genealogy Poetry Challenge

Once again, these are the rules:

1. Find a poem by a local poet, famous or obscure, from the region
one of your ancestors lived in. It can be about an historical event, a
legend, a person, or even about some place (like a river)or a local
animal. It can even be a poem you or one of your ancestors have written!
Or if you prefer, post the lyrics of a song or a link to a video
of someone performing the song.

2. Post the poem or song to your blog (remembering to cite the source
where you found it.)

3.Tell us how the subject of the poem or song relates to your ancestor's
home or life.

4.Submit your post's link here to me by midnight Sunday November 18th 
and I'll publish all links to the entries on Thanksgiving Day, November 22nd!

If  you submit a humorous poem or song that will be entered under the
"Willy Puckerbrush" division. Willy was the late geneablogger Terry
Thornton's alias for some humorous posts and comments.

I've already gotten some great submissions. It's not too late for you to
join them!

Sunday, October 28, 2012


In the list of witnesses called during the trial of Jonathan
Eames and his mother Elizabeth there is listed “Elizabeth,
wife of Richard Kimball.” There is a marriage between an
Elizabeth Secton or Seeton of Lunenberg and Richard Kimbal,
at Lunenberg, recorded in the Boxford Vital Records that took
place on 23 Jan 1750(1751). She would have been slightly older
than Ruth Perley Eames but closer in age to her than the senior
Mrs. Eames. It’s my guess she is the “Mrs. Kimball” who raised
the suspicions of the townsfolk over Ruth’s mysterious death.

As I’ve said previously, after their acquittal the Eames family
eventually sold their farm and left town. It must have been a
difficult time for Jonathan Eames Sr. who doesn’t seem to have
figured at all in the trial. I’ve been hunting around on the net the
past few nights but have yet to come up with where the family
eventually relocated.

So far I’ve been searching for any Essex County traces but they
might have gone further away than that. A few generations
before the children of the executed Mary Townes Estey had
moved either out of Essex County or left Massachusetts entirely.
Elizabeth Eames had a brother living in Farmington, Me. Perhaps
that was far enough away to escape the scandal’s shame?

The “not guilty” verdict would seem to be puzzling given the
apparent belief by their neighbors that Jonathan and Elizabeth
had murdered poor Ruth. But there was no solid physical evidence
to prove their guilt and perhaps memories of the innocents who’d
been sent to their deaths at Salem the century before might have
played a part. The Eames had been held up to public scrutiny and
afterwards were so shunned that they removed themselves from
the town.

In the end that would have to satisfy their accusers.

Finally, I do have to say that finding out that a relative, even a
distant one, was defended by John Adams …wow…how cool is that?

Saturday, October 27, 2012


((Originally published in March 2007))

So, just how are suspected murderers Jonathan Ames Jr.
and his mother related to me?

I checked the Vital Records of Boxford Ma. 1685 to 1849
page at the Essex County Ma USGenWeb Site. Under the
births I found nothing under Ames but under Eams I found
a baptism for “Jonathan, s. Jonathan, bp. Sept. 11, 1743”.

In the marriages I found under Eames a marriage for Jonathan
and Elisabeth Blunt of Andover, at Andover, Apr. __, 1738.
The older Mrs. Ames or Eames was referred to as Elizabeth in
the Essex Antiquarian Article, so it seemed likely this was her
and her husband Jonathan (E)Ames Sr.

Next I Googled “Jonathan Ames”+ “Elizabeth Blunt”+ Boxford.
I got only 5 hits, two from the Payne-Joyce Genealogy Website.
It lists Elizabeth as the daughter of William Blunt and Sarah
Foster and her date of birth as 26 Sept 1714 in Andover, Ma.
On 10 Apr 1738 she married Jonathan Ames, the son of Joseph
Ames and Jemima Hoyt at Andover, Ma.

This was interesting. I have Hoyts in my lineage. I moved up
another generation.

Elizabeth’s father William was the son of William Blunt and
Elizabeth Ballard. And Elizabeth Ballard was the daughter of
William Ballard and Grace Berwick, and so sister to several
figures in the Salem Witch events, such as Joseph Ballard.

And finally, Joseph (E)Ames was the younger brother of my
ancestor John (E)Ames, son of Robert (E)Ames and Rebecca
Blake, the accused witch. His wife Jemima Hoyt might be a
relative in my line through her grandfather William Barnes.

As I suspected, while not a direct ancestor Jonathan Ames was
a relative and it turns his mother Elizabeth Blunt was as well.

I’ve some other points on this which I’ll go into next time.

Friday, October 26, 2012


((Originally published in March 2007))

Jonathan Ames Jr. married Ruth Perley on Dec 19th, 1768 and
took his new bride home to live in his parents house which might
very well have been the same one built by Robert (E)Ames. The
story goes that, as often happens with newlyweds, the bride and
mother in law didn't seem to get along very well. The couple’s
first child was born in May in 1769 and there was no sign of
anything out of the ordinary until the morning of June 5th when
a neighbor, Mrs. Kimball, came to call on the young wife and was
informed by the elder Mrs. Ames that Ruth was ill.

Despite Mrs. Ames’ objections Mrs. Kimball insisted on seeing
Ruth and found the younger woman in agony and frothing at the
mouth. The illness has begun at 7 am in the morning and within
four or five hours Ruth Perley Ames was dead. The funeral and
burial was swift and the townsfolk of Boxford became highly
suspicious of the cause of the young bride’s death. They petitioned
for a coroner’s inquest and on July 10th the proceedings began
looking into whether Ruth had been poisoned.

It’s not my intention to recount the whole story. It can be read
here in the article from the Essex Antiquarian. But I did want to
point out some interesting aspects of the case. It’s probably the
last recorded instance of the medieval custom of “ordeal by
touch” in New England if not in America as a whole. Briefly, the
accused was made to touch the corpse’s neck with the index finger
of his left hand. If the touch caused the body to bleed at the point
of contact then the accused was guilty. There had been insufficient
evidence presented so far and apparently the townsfolk or one of
the jury proposed that Jonathan Ames and his mother be put to
the test with the exhumed body of Ruth Perley Ames.

Both Jonathan and his mother refused to take part in the ordeal
and so were taken off to jail in nearby Salem where a grand jury
indicted Mrs. Ames for murder and Jonathan as her accessory.
On November 9th Jonathan’s sister Elizabeth was also arrested
as an accessory and the trial began in Superior Court on November

The account of the trial reads almost like an episode of Law &
Order. The Crown was represented by Jonathan Sewall. The
accused was represented by Sewall’s old friend and fellow law
student, John Adams. By this time Jonathan had turned King's
Evidence against his mother and accused her of killing Ruth by
poisoning her with “rats bane”. There were four judges who
heard the case, three of whom seemed to feel the evidence was
sufficient for a guilty verdict. The fourth judge was unconvinced
due to the uncertainty of physicians as to whether it had indeed
been “rat’s bane“ (or arsenic as we now call it ) that had killed
the victim and also because it was not certain who administered
the poison in the first place.

The trial lasted late into the night and the jury got the case at 2am
on November 15th. At 9am, they came back with a verdict: Not
guilty. The Ames family was freed but would soon after leave town.

So, what relation is Jonathan Ames to me? What of the identity of
his mother, known only in the Antiquarian account as “Elizabeth
Ames”? Where did they all go to when they left Boxford in
shame? And what of Mrs. Kimball?


((I originally posted this series back in March 2007. Since
there was an echo of  the witchcraft hysteria in it, I thought
I'd revisit it for Halloween)) 

I was surfing through the US GenWeb’s Essex County site
the other night and came across a reference to a murder
in Boxford Ma. It happened in 1769 and involved a Jonathan
Ames who was accused of murdering his wife Ruth(Perley)
and involved testimony by a neighbor, a Mrs. Kimball.

This got my attention quickly. My 3x great grandmother was
Arvilla Ames and she was a descendant of Priscilla Kimball.
The Ames or Eames line is one of my favorites because the
family has been part of interesting events in New England
Colonial history. Robert (E)Ames, whose ancestry is unknown,
married Rebecca Blake who was one of those convicted of
witchcraft in the Salem witch hysteria. She later was given a
reprieve and the couple lived out their lives in the town of

Their son John married Priscilla Kimball, the daughter of
Thomas Kimball and Mary Smith The Kimball family was
living in Rowley Ma. when they were attacked by Indians on
May 2nd ,1676. Thomas was killed and Mary and their five
children, including Priscilla, were taken captive for forty-one
days before the chief of the Pennacook tribe persuaded the
raiding Indians to release their captives.

Priscilla grew to adulthood and married John Ames. They
hada farm in Boxford but they sold it in March of 1715 or 1716
and moved to Groton, Ma. John was standing one day at the
front door of what is referred to as “his garrison” (Was this
simply a fortified farmhouse or a trading post sort of building?)
when he was shot by an Indian on July 9th, 1724. He is said to
have been the last man slain by an Indian in Groton although
there appears to be some debate over that.

The Indian who was presumed to be the murderer was killed
in turn by Jacob Ames, John and Priscilla’s second oldest son.

So as you see, the Ames and Kimballs had gone through some
trying times already. When I ran across the reference of an
article in the Essex Antiquarian on a murder involving Jonathan
Ames and someone named Kimball, I had to look into it to see
how it related to my family genealogy.

Which I’ll go into next time!

Thursday, October 25, 2012


There's always some new surprise waiting for me in my genealogy
research. My previous post detailed the testimony my ancestors
Benjamin Abbot(t) and his wife Sarah (Farnham) Abbot(t)gave that
helped convict Martha Carrier of witchcraft.

On the day Martha was executed, 19 August 1692 another ancestor,
Rebecca Eames, was in the crowd watching and was accused by another
spectator of causing them to have a pinprick in the foot.  Rebecca was
taken in for questioning right away, readily confessed to be a witch and
claimed that her eldest son Daniel Eames was as well.

The following is from Records of Salem Witchcraft: Copied from the
Original Documents, Volume 2
  (Priv. print. for W. E. Woodward, 1864)
pp  143-146.The questions and answers were mixed in with the observations
of the court officers in long run on paragraphs so I've used line spaces to
make the document easier to read.:  

"Examination of Rebecca Eames.

Rebecca Eames examined before Salem, Majestrats, Aug" 19: 1692. She owned
she had bin in ye snare a monthe or 2 : and had bin persuaded to it 3 monthes
and that ye devil apeared to her like a colt very ugly ye first time but she would
not own y1 she had bin baptised by him she did not know but y1 ye devil did
persuade her to renounce god and christ and ffolow his wicked wayes and that
she did take his Counsell and that she did afflict Timo: Swan she did not know
but that ye devil might ask her body and soul and she knows not but yl she did
give him soul and body after ward she sd she did do it and that she would forsake
god and his works: and ye devil promised her to give her powr to avenge herself
on them that offended her afterward she P ye devil apeared to her 7 year agoe
and that he had tempted her to ly and had made her to afflict persons but she
could not tell their names that she first afflicted.

Q: who came wth ye devil when he made you a witch
A: a ragged girl : they came together and they persuaded me to afflict: and J
afflicte mary Warin and an other fayr face it is abot a quarter of a year agoe: J
did it by sticking of pins

:but did you afflict Swan
: yes, but I am sorry for it

: Q. where had you your spear
A. J had nothing but an all

 :but was it with yor body or spirit you came to hurt these maydes
: A. with my spirit

Q. but can you ask them forgivnes
A: I will fall down on my knees to ask it of them

She would not own that she signed ye devils book when he askd her body
and soul: but he would have had her done it nor to a burch Rign nor nothing:
She sd ye devil was in ye Shape of a hors when he caried her to afflict: but
would not own anybody went with her to afflict but ye afflicted sd her son
Danll went with her to afflict

: Q did you not say ye Devil baptised yor son daniell.
A. he told me so;

Q but; did you not touch the book nor lay yor hand on book nor paper.
 A: I layd my hand on nothing without it was a peice of board

: and did you lay yor hand on ye board when he bid you.
A: yes;

mary Lascy sd she had given her son Danllto ye devil at 2 years old: and y1
her apertion told her so: but she could not remember it: she was bid to take
warin and lazy by ye hand and beg forgivnes and did so, and they forgave her
she sd if she had given her son Danll to ye devil it was in an Angry fitt she did
not know but she might do it nor J do not know he is a wich but J am afrayd he
is : mary lascy saw her son Danll stand before her and sd Danll bid his mother
not confess he was a Wich: his mother did not know she sd but she might se him
for she saw a burlling thing before her: Mary Lascy sd she had baptized her son
Danll and she had bin babtized in five mile Pond: she sd ye reason she feared
Danll was a witch : was becaus he used dredfull bad words when he was Angry:
and bad wishes; being asked the age of Danll sd he was 28 years old; she was
told she had bin long a witch; then, if she gave her son to ye devil at 2 years old
she owned she had bin discontented since she had bin in league with ye devil:
she knew not but ye devil might come once a day lik a mous or ratt: she sd she
knew Sarah parker but did not know her to be a wich: but she heard she had
bin crossed in love and ye devil had come to her and kissed her

: who was with you when you afflicted swan
: A. nobody but my son Danll he was there when J came theether

: she would have Danll perswaded to confes but was told she were best
to perswade him becaus me knew him to be a wich: she was afkt if she was
at ye execution: she sd she was at ye hous below ye hill: she saw a few folk
: the woman of ye hous had a pin stuck into her foot : but she sd she did not
doe it

: but how do you afflict:
 A: J Consent to it

: but have you bin a witch 26 years

: A  no, J cannot remember but 7 years and have afflicted about a 
quarter of a year

:but : if you have bin a wich so long : why did you not afflict before 

seing you promised to Sen ye devil,
A: others did not Afflict before and the devil did not require it

: but: doth not ye devil threaten you if you not do what he ses
: A, yes he thretens to tere me in peices

: but did you use to goe to meeting on Sabbath dayes
; yes, but not so often as J should have done

: what shape did the devil com in when you layd yor hand on ye board
: A. J cannot tell except it was a mous."

There are numerous theories on what produced the outrageous claims
made during the Witch Trials. One theory is that they were caused
by hallucinations brought about by a bread mold. I think there may be
something to that because a lot of the testimony reads like bad LSD
trips from the 1960's!

Eventually Rebecca was convicted and sentenced to be hung the following
22Sep 1692.  The sentence was reprieved and she spent most of that fall
and winter in jail before being released. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


I have some ancestors involved in 17th century witchcraft hysteria in
Massachusetts. Two of them, Rebecca (Blake)Eames and Mary (Towne)Eastey
were among those accused of being witches. Mary was hung ; Rebecca was
pardoned. But I also have relatives among the accusers. So I thought for
Halloween I'd do some blogposts about some of them.

First up are my 8x great grandparents  Benjamin Abbot(t) and Sarah
(Farnham) Abbot(t) of Andover, Ma. They testified against their neighbor
Martha Carrier accusing her of using magic to exact revenge over a land
dispute. If you are a longtime viewer of the PBS show History Detectives
you may have seen the episode they did on Abbott House in Andover and
the dispute with the Abbot(t)s. Here is Benjamin and Sarah's depositions
from Records of Salem Witchcraft: Copied from the Original Documents,
Volume 2
  (Priv. print. for W. E. Woodward, 1864) pp60-62:

"Benjn Abbott v. Martha Carier.

The testimony of Beniamin Abbutt aged about 31 years Saith: last march was
twelfe months, then haueing some land granted to me by the Towne of Andover
near to goodman Carriers his land, and when this land came to be laid out goodwiffe
Carrier was very Angery, and said she would stick as Cross to Benjamin Abbut
as the bark Stooke to the Tree and that J mould Repent of it afore seuen yeares
Came to an End and that docter prescott could neuer cure me: These words were
heard by Allin Toothaker she also said to Ralph farnam Junr that she would hold
my noss so Close to the grindstone as Ever it was held Since my name was 

Beniamin Abbut presently after I was taken with a Swelling in my ffoot and then 
was taken with a payne in my side Exksedingly Tormented, wich bred to a sore, 
which was lancit by docter prescott and Seuerall gallons of Corruption did run 
out as was Judged and so Continued about six weeks very bad, and then one other
sore did breed in my grine wich was lancit by doct. prescott also and Continued 
very bad awhile and then another sore breed in my grine which was also cutt and 
putt me to very great misery, So that it brought me almost to Deaths doore, & 
Continued, untill goodwiffe Carrier was Taken and Carried a waye by the Constable,
and that very day I began to grow better, my soers grew well and I grew better 
Every day and so haue been well ever since and have great cause to think that 
the sd Carrier had a great hand in my sickness and misery.

benjamin Abbut. Jurat in Curia Aug1 3d 1692.
 Attest Step. Sewall Cler."

"Sarah Abbott v. Martha Carrier.
The deposition of Sarah Abbott aged about 32 years testifieth that since my
husband had a parcell of land granted by ye Towne, lying near ye land of Thomas
Carrier, (which as I have heard) his wife martha Carrier was greatly troubled att
and gaue out threatning words that my husband Benjamin Abbott has not been
only afflicted in his body, as he testifies, but also that strange and unusuall things
has happened to his Cattle, for some have died suddenly and strangely, which we
could not tell any naturall reason for, and one Cowe Cleaned a fourthnight before
me Calved but ye Cowe died afterwards strangely though she calved well soe far
as we could perceive, and some of ye Cattle would come out of ye woods wth
their tongues hanging out of their mouths in a strange and affrighting manner,
and many such things, which we can give noe account of ye reason of, unless it
should be ye effects, of martha Carrier threatings.

her mark
Jurat in Curia. Sarah f Abbott
Aug13d 1692. attest. Steph. Sewall Cler"

Martha Carrier was executed on 16Aug 1692. Modern historians now hold that it
was Benjamin Abbot(t) who was landhungry and who engineered the accusation
of witchcraft to gain ownership over the coveted piece of land where Abbot(t)
House was later built about 1711. Benjamin died in 1703.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


I mentioned earlier in my series of posts on Nathaniel Barker's War of 1812
pension and bounty land grants that three of his adult sons had already left
the farm before Nathaniel applied for the land grants. The youngest of the
three, Alexander, moved to Massachusetts where he eventually became a
supervisor of groundskeepers at Mt. Auburn Cemetery. The other two
brothers worked as blacksmiths, and I discovered some interesting
information about their work over on

Tilson Barker, the eldest son of Nathaniel married Catherine Howe on 9Apr
1848 at Marlborough, Ma and is enumerated there on the 1850 Federal Census.
But by 1860 his young family had moved to Berlin, Ma. I found him on both the
1860  Federal Census and on the Non-Population Manufacturing Schedule for
the same year. Now when we think of blacksmiths nowadays we tend to think
of someone who shod horses, but the details of Tilson's business shows there
was more to operating a smithy than shaping horseshoes:

Here's a summary of what it says:

Capital Invested, in real and personal estate, in the Business   $500
Raw Material Used, Including Fuel.                            Kind of Motor Power,
Quanitities                      Kinds                        Value        Machinery, etc
2 tons                           Iron & Steel               $120                None
6 sets                           Carriage Works          $175               2 forges
3 tons                           B Coal                         $50                 None

Average Number of Hands Employed - 1 male

Average Monthly Cost of Male Labor- $40

 He produced 6 carriages worth a total of $320 and other work worth
 So along with what we think of as the typical job of a blacksmith, Tilson
was manufacturing horse carriages for his customers to drive and ride in.

His younger brother Daniel moved north instead of south and ended up in
Aroostook County Maine at the town of Weston.

Capital Invested, in real and personal estate, in the Business   $600
Raw Material Used, Including Fuel.                            Kind of Motor Power,
Quantities                      Kinds                        Value          Machinery,etc
6 tons                              Iron                             $450              Hand
1000 lbs                         Steel                            $110
500 bushels                   Ch. Coal                      $60        
2 tons                               B. Coal                      $50

Average Number of Hands Employed - 2 males

Average Monthly Cost of Male Labor- $25

With those materials and two workers, Daniel produced 800 pounds of
horseshoes worth $200, 100 axes worth $150,  and other articles worth
$1000. Notice that he had coal and charcoal which with the iron could be
used to forge his own steel.

Daniel didn't just depend on his blacksmith business. He also had a retail liquor
sale business which I found on in the U.S. IRS Tax Assessment
Lists 1862-1918 starting in 1863 up to 1866. But by 1870 he was out of both
businesses and owned a farm instead. 

Looking at the materials listed on both brothers' schedules gives us a better
idea of what they needed to run their businesses. They didn't have crates
of horseshoes shipped to their forges; they had to manufacture them

Monday, October 22, 2012


As Michael John Neil recently said on Facebook, "If you weren't there, you
don't KNOW".  So I don't know exactly when or things started going bad for
Nathaniel Barker's family. However, if I had to pick an exceptionally bad
turning point, I'd pick 1884.

 As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was struck by the fact that Nathaniel,
Huldah, and their son Nathanel S. all died within a few months of each other
in 1884. First Nathaniel S. died on 20Mar 1884, cause unknown. His parents
followed shortly after. Cousin Mary Ennis found these lines about them
in the Oxford Democrat newspaper:

"April 15, 1884:  Died in Albany 12th inst Mr Nathaniel Barker age 90 and 3 mos.
A pensioner of the War of 1812
May 27, 1884:  Mrs Barker, an aged lady, who has been sick several weeks with
lung fever is but just alive.  No hopes for her recovery."

Huldah Barker died shortly after on 7 June 1884.

Nathaniel S, Barker left a widow, the former Lucy  Coburn and five children.
They would have been the following ages in 1884:
Huldah  22years old.
Lee 20 years old
Frank 19 years old (my great grandfather)
John 15 years old
Lucy 7 years old.

It would have been difficult but not impossible for the Barkers to pull through
the situation, and perhaps they did for awhile. And here is where I run into
the "I don't KNOW" part. Thanks to the infamous lost 1890 census, the next
record I have of the family is the 1900 census, and none of them were living on
the farm in Albany. Lee had died in April, 1891. Frank was working as a baggage
master for the Grand Trunk Railroad in Bethel, Me, and John was listed as a
lawyer. Lucy was married and had a family of her own, and I haven't found
any record of their sister Huldah's fate as yet.

I can only guess at what had happened with the farm. The period between
1873 and 1896 had a series of recessions and banking panics. It's sometimes
called the Long Depression by some economists. The Barker farm might
have fallen victim to the economic problems of the time. I'm hoping to
find some court or real estate record to shed some light on what happened.

There was one final bit of tragedy. My great grandfather Frank had married his
cousin Charlotte Barker, another grandchild of Nathaniel and Huldah. His
mother Lucy(Coburn) Barker was living with them in 1900. In the fall of 1904
she fell ill with "Le Grippe",  a fancy name for influenza, and died 15 Nov 1904.
My great grandfather contracted the flu as well and it developed pneumonia.
He died on 21May 1905 at age 40, leaving a pregnant wife with two children,
one of whom was my grandmother Cora Berthella Barker.

My thanks to cousins Chris Dunham and Mary Ennis for their help with
my Barker research!

Sunday, October 21, 2012


As I was researching the War of 1812 pension files of 3x great grandfather
Nathaniel Barker I looked at the Federal Census Non-Population Agricultural
Schedules for his farm from 1850 through 1880. While some of the categories
changed over the years, there were enough constants from year to year to
draw comparisons on how the farm did over the years:

Excerpt from 1850 Census Agricultural Schedule Albany Me.

100 acres Improved
35  acres  Unimproved
Cash Value of Farm $600
Value of farm implements $20
1 horse
2 milch cows
2 working oxen
1 other cattle
1 pig
Livestock valued at $150
50 bushels Indian corn
50 bushel Irish potatoes
6 tons of hay

Excerpt from 1860 Census Agricultural Schedule Albany Me

50 acres Improved
250 acres unimproved
Cash Value of  Farm $500
Value of farm implements $10
1 horse
3 milch cows
3 other cattle
2 sheep
Livestock valued at $150
10 bushels Irish Corn
6 lbs of wool
50 bushels of Irish Potatoes
7 Tons of Hay

Excerpt from 1870 Census Agricultural Schedule Albany Me.

75 Acres Improved
125 Acres Unimproved
Cash value of the Farm  $1000
Value of farm implements $25
1 milk cow
2 working oxen
9 other cattle
11 sheep
Livestock valued at $300
30 Bushels Indian corn
50 oats
5 Buckwheat
20 Irish Potatoes.
30 tons of hay
Estimated value of all farm products  $515

Excerpt from 1880 Census Agricultural Schedule Albany Me.

35 acres Tilled
12 acres Permanent Meadows
10 acres Woodland
Cash Value of Farm $500
Value of farm Implements $10
2 Horses
2 Milch Cows
17 Chickens
Livestock valued at $100
22 bushels Oats
4 bushels  beans
140 bushels Irish Potatoes
20 bushels Apples
12 Tons of hay
Estimated Value of all farm products $255

Looking at these figures it's obvious that the high point was in 1870. Whether
Nathaniel had brought the farm to this high before leaving or if  his son
Nathaniel S. was responsible is hard for me to say. I don't know precisely
what year between 1860 and 1870 that the transfer of ownership took place.
It's also obvious that something happened between 1870 and 1880 to cause
a reversal of fortune. The farm shrunk in size from 200 total acres to 57,  the
farm lost half its value and the dollar value of its products about the same.

And things were going to get worse.

What happened?

To be continued

Saturday, October 20, 2012


Nathaniel Barker lived another six years after successfully filing for his War
of 1812 pension money. At some point between 1870 and 1878 he and his
wife Huldah (Hastings) Barker moved back to Albany, Maine to live with their
son Nathaniel S. Barker.   They lived there for six more years until Nathaniel
passed away on 12 April 1884. Sadly, it was the second death in the family
within a month as their son Nathaniel S. had died on 20March 1884.

A few weeks later Hulda hired a lawyer who on April 28th requested whatever
forms were needed for her to receive Nathaniel's pension as his widow. I'm
not sure if this document is one of those forms or not, because even though
it says "Survivor's Brief" it has a date May23 1878 on the other side. So it coud
be for a survivor of the war rather than for a  survivor of the deceased veteran.

Claim No. 31.469                    Service Pension,               Original Case
Act of March 9th 1878             War of 1812.                      Reopened from
Cert. No. 22.168                                                                    Act of~~~~~~
                                                  SURVIVOR'S  BRIEF
Claimant: Nathaniel Barker                              Rank: Private
Post Office: Bethel                                              Captain:Wheeler
County:       Oxford                                              Regiment: Militia
State:           Maine                                                State:Massachusetts (Maine)
Attorneys: (?) Weeks and Blanchard                 P.O. :  Augusta
County: Kennebec       State: Maine  Fee: $10.00      Contract: ~~~~~~
Application Filed: April 8th, 1878

                                 Enlisted about September 14th, 1814 and served the full  
Alleged Service { (14) fourteen days under Capt. Wm. Wheeler -enlisted at 
                                Newry Maine  and served at Portland.

Record Evidence  3rd Auditor's report of July 21, `52, shows in the B. L Case,
of Service            {that Nathanl  Barker served in Capt. Wheeler's  Company
                               from Sept. 24th, to November 6th 1814.

Parol Evidence
of service

Length of service:   Forty-three -43-days

                                John F. Hapgood and Robbins Brown identifying witnesses 
Proof of Identity{ and the similarity of signatures in the claims for Bounty Land
and Pension.

Disability of       Shown as per paragraph(3rd) third of general circulars that
Applicant          {the applicant is physically unable to appear before a court 
                             of record, twenty miles distant from his residence.

Admitted May 21st, 1878, to a pension of EIGHT DOLLARS per month 
from March 9th, 1878, the date of the act under which this pension is allowed.
No pension previously applied for
                                                                                                   W.F. Eaton
                                                                                             Pension Searcher
A Bounty Land Claim 45459 -120 -55                              J. McGorran
                                                                                      Bounty Land Searcher 
Approval May 23. 1878                                                     Daniel W. Atwood
   A.P. Leech                                                                               Examiner

Whether this was Hulda's paperwork or not is a moot point. She died herself a
little over a month and a half after Nathaniel on 7Jun 1884 in Albany, Maine.

This concludes the series on Nathaniel Barker's War of 1812 Pension and Land
Bounty Grants. However, the death of his son Nathaniel S. Barker has some
consequences which I'll discuss next.

Friday, October 19, 2012


On March 4, 1878, a new pension for the veterans of the War of 1812
was approved, and by the end of the month Nathaniel Barker, now 84
years old applied for it:

I was struck by a few things looking at this. One was the missing
information on Nathaniel's discharge which had been on his
Bounty Land applications. At his age, was Nathaniel's memory
slipping? His statement that he was now residing in Albany instead
of Bethel  gives me an earlier date for when he and Huldah moved
back to the farm with their son Nathaniel S. Barker and his family;
I'd known they'd done that from the 1880 Federal Census but now I
know it happened between 1870 and 1878.

There are also two items in the language of the form. One is the
extensive language dealing with the Civil War. apparently if you
had fought for the Confederacy you were not eligible for the 1812
pension. And the emphasis on not already receiving a pension
seems to me to be an effort to prevent "double dipping" by anyone
who might have served in both the Civil War and the War of 1812.  

Here's my transcription. Printed text is in boldface, handwritten
is italicized, and (Blank) denotes exactly that:

War of 1812
State of Maine    
                                            ) SS

County of Oxford
On this thirtieth day of March A.D. one thousand eight hundred and
seventy-eight, personally appeared before me
, a Justice of Peace
of the State of Maine, a Court of Record within and for the County and
State aforesaid,
Nathaniel Barker, aged 84 years a resident of Albany,
County of Oxford State of Maine, who being duly sworn according to
law, declares that he is married; that his wife's name was
to whom he was married at Bethel on the 31 day of Jany 1819,
that he served the full period of fourteen days in the service of the
United States in the war of 1812; that he is the identical
Nathaniel Barker
who served in Captain Wm Wheeler's Company, Col Wm Ryerson's Regiment
(Blank) Brigade,  (Blank) Division, having enlisted at Newry Maine about
14 day of  September, 1814  (as near as he can now state,) and was
honorably discharged at
(Blank) about the (Blank) day of 181(Blank); that
he performed service in said company at

And that by reason of old age and bodily infirmities I am unable to go before
a Court of Record

He states that he has received a Land Warrant on account of his said service;
that he,   at no time during the late rebellion against the authority of the
United States, adhered to the cause of the enemies of the Government,
giving them aid or comfort, or exercised the functions of any office whatever
under any authority, or pretended authority, in hostility to the United States;
and that he will support the Constitution of the United States; that he is not
in receipt of a pension under any previous act;
that he makes this declaration
for the purpose of being placed on the pension rolls of the United States, 

under the provision of the act  approved March 4, 1878, and he hereby 
constitutes and appoints, with full power of substitution and revocation, 
WEEKS  &  BLANCHARD, of Augusta, Maine, his true and lawful attorneys 
to persecute his claim and obtain the pension certificate that may be issued; 
that his Post office is  at Bethel County of Oxford State of Maine; that his 
domicile or place of abode is Albany Maine.

Nathaniel Barker Applicant
John F Hapgood
Robbins Brown

David F. Brown Trial Justice

[Note- Where persons sign by mark, have two persons witness the signature
who can write. The officer administering the oath cannot be one of the 
attestng parties.]


As I've been writing these posts about my 3x great grandfather Nathaniel
Barker and his War of 1812 Pension and Land Bounty file, I've included
information about Nathaniel's farm. I did this because I made an assumption
that at least one of those land grants was reflected in the size of his farm,
especially in 1860, and that the land he received was in Maine.

It was a faulty assumption.

Last night distant cousin Chris Dunham of the Maine Genealogy Network
sent a comment on my last post in this series that included the links to
Nathaniel's land patents. They are located at the U.S. Department of the
Interior Bureau of Land Management General Land Office Records site.
The first one was the 1850 grant of 40 acres:

As you can see, it wasn't located in Maine. It was in Palestine , Illinois.
Here's the second grant from 1855 of 120 acres:

Again, the land is not in Maine, it's at Fort Dodge, Iowa.

Now, Nathaniel never moved to Iowa nor did any of his children. So what
happened to the land. Well, you can't see it on the above images(because I
was having trouble with my PDF to JPEG converter so I had to use the "Snipping
Tool") but Nathaniel "assigned" both patents to another person. Further down
the page in the first image the land is assigned to a  David A. Hall. The second,
larger grant of 1855 went to a  Israel Loucks.  I can't believe that Nathaniel
simply gave 160 acres away so it's probable Nathaniel sold the land to Mr. Hall
and Mr. Laucks.

On the Land Office Records site there's a tab on the Patent image that says
"Related Documents".  That window included other transactions involving
both men. Hall was assigned land by two other veterans for a total of 120 acres,
including Nathaniel's patent. Loucks did the same in 1855, gaining three grants,
totaling 360m acres. Were Hall and Laucks land speculators, acquiring the land
grant patents from the original recipients and reselling them for a profit? I
don't know yet, and I'm certainly not going to make another assumption.

I still have Nathaniel's cash pension to discuss, and there is question about
Nathaniel's farm after that to blog abut.

And thanks, Chris Dunham, for finding these land patent images for me!

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Nathaniel Barker was 61 years old in 1855 when he received his second and
larger Land Bounty grant of 120 acres. In the application for that second grant
he says he had disposed of his original 1850 grant of 40 acres but doesn't say
how or why. He may have sold it or he may have set up either one of his sons
Nathaniel S. or Amos with it to start their own farm. I've no way of knowing
for sure at this time. 

Five years later in 1860 some things had changed. The 1860 Federal Census
shows that Nathaniel had real estate valued at $500 and personal estate of
$140. He was now 66 years old, and son Nathaniel S. Barker had returned to
the family farm with his wife, the former Lucy Coburn.  From the 1860
Agricultural Schedule I learned:

Nathaniel owned 300 acres of land, 50 acres of which were "Developed" and
250 "Undeveloped". His farm implements and machinery were worth $10

He owned one horse, three "milch cows", three "other cows"  and two sheep.
The total value of the livestock was $150 dollars. Those two sheep produced
6 pounds of wool and the cows 500 pounds of butter. The value of slaughtered
animals was $45.

Crop production included 6 bushels of "peas and beans", 100 bushels of
"Irish potatoes", and 9 tons of hay. It appears he also still raised "Indian Corn"
but the figure entered them is faded and illegible.

Sometime between 1860 and 1870, things changed. On the 1870 Census
Nathaniel and Huldah were no longer living on the farm in Albany. At age
77, Nathaniel was living with Huldah in Bethel. Maine but still working
at something or other because he was lasted as being a laborer. (His son
Nathaniel S Barker and his family were still at Albany on the farm
and doing quite well which I'll discuss later.) He'd already lived long past
the average lifespan for a male 19th century American and he wasn't done
yet, which is why Nathaniel was still around when Congress passed a new
War of 1812 Pension Act in March of 1878.

To be continued.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


When Nathaniel Barker applied for his first Bounty Land grant in  1850 he
was already a middle aged man with six children, three of whom were already
grown to adulthood with families of their own.Tilson Barker (b. Sep 1818 in
Bethel) had married Catherine Howe and was working as a blacksmith in
Marlborough, Ma. in 1850. Daniel J Barker,(b. 1820) was likewise a
blacksmith and lived in Weston, Aroostook Maine with his wife.
Alexander Augustus Barker was living in Massachusetts and became
a Supervisor at Mt Auburn Cemetery. Only two younger sons, Nathaniel S.
and Amos Hastings Barker, and a daughter, Mary, were still living in Albany,

I mentioned the 1850 Federal Census Non Population Agricultural Schedule
in the previous post.  From it I learned the following:

Nathaniel had a total of 135 acres of land in August, 1850, 100 acres of which
were "Unimproved". His real estate was worth $600 and farm tools and
machinery were worth $20.

He owned one horse, two "milch cows", two working oxen,  one "other
cattle" (possibly a bull?), and one pig. Total value of the livestock was $150

In the year ending June1, 1950, he'd produced  50 bushels of Indian Corn,
50 bushels of Irish Potatoes, 200 pounds of butter,  and 6 tons of hay.

On the same page the farm of Wesley Coburn is listed, significant because
the Coburn and Barker families would soon be untied by two marriages.

Overall, compared to the other farmers in Albany, Nathaniel was neither the
most nor the least prosperous in the community.  He was 56 years old by 1850
 and I have no way of knowing as yet if the information on the Schedule represented
an inprovement or reversal of fortune for him.

Then Nathaniel received the second Bounty  Land Grant in 1855 and we'll see what
if anything changed after that.

To be continued.

Monday, October 15, 2012


My distant Barker cousin Howard Kaepplein was very helpful to me
when I first started researching my Barker ancestry. This coming   
Wednesday night he'll be speaking at the North Andover Historical
Society about the effect the Salem Witch Trials had on the relations
between three families living in that turbulent time. If you're in the
area, you might want to attend his presentation.

I'm a descendant of Jonathan Barker and Nancy Swan.

Here are the details from the announcement of the NAHS Facebook

Two days before the Witch Trials in Andover Lecture:
A Re-conciliatory Marriage in Acton, MA.
Wednesday, October 17 - 7:30 - 9:00pm
How did the Andover families of accused and accusers continue to live 

together in the years --and generations--following the Salem Witch Trials? 
Member and Richard Barker descendant, Howard Kaepplein has discovered
a remarkable marriage that brought together the Swan, Barker and Faulkner
families. He will discuss his research and resulting hypothesis in this 
stimulating discussion.

Doors open at 7:15. Seating is limited--reserve your spot by emailing or call us at (978)686-4035. Free for NAHS 
members; $5 for non members.


My 3x great grandfather Nathaniel Barker had received forty acres
as his War of 1812 veteran Land Bounty in 1850 but five years later
he was applying for another bounty grant. This image was a bit of
a chore since the handwritten parts had faded. I resorted to using
a negative image to decipher it:


County of Oxford  ) SS.
On this twenty fifth day of April A.D. one thousand eight hundred  and
fifty-five, personally appeared before me, a Justice of the Peace, duly
authorized to administer  oaths , withing and for the county and State
Nathaniel Barker aged sixty one years, a resident of Albany
in the County of Oxford and State of Maine who, being duly sworn
according to law, declares that he is the identical
Nathaniel Barker
who was a private in the company commanded by Captain Wheeler
in the (blank)Regiment of Infantry commanded by Col. Ryerson in the
fought with Great Britain by the United States on the 18th of
June A.D. 1812.

That he was drafted at Newry on or about the twentieth day of
September A.D. 1814 for the term of about forty days and continued
in actual service in said war for the term
of about forty days and was 
honorably discharged at Portland Maine on or about the third day of
November A.D.1814 as will appear by the Muster Rolls of said Company
he having received no written discharge.

He further declares, that he has heretofore made application for Bounty
Land, under the Act of September 28, 1850, (blank) received a Land 
Warrent, No. (blank) for Forty acres, which he has since legally disposed 
of, and cannot now return.

He makes this declaration for the purpose of obtaining the Bounty Land to
which he may be entitled under the act approved March 3, 1855.  He also
declares that he has never applied for nor received, under this or any other
Act of Congress, any Bounty Land Warrant, except the one above mentioned.

And for the purpose of this application, I the said
Nathaniel Barker do
hereby constitute and appoint Moses Mason of Bethel in the State of Maine,
my true and lawful Attorney, for me, and in my name, to demand and
receive from the Secretary of the Interior a warrant for the quantity due me
as aforesaid:  and I fully authorise and empower him to constitute and
appoint one or more substitutes under him for the purpose therein
expressed, hereby ratifying and confirming whatever my Attorney or his
substitutes may lawfully do in the premises

                                 Nathaniel Barker

Again, I already knew from the first image in the file that Nathaniel received
120 acres in this second Bounty Land request. But what happened to the original
40 acres, and how did Nathaniel use this second grant?

To be continued.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


Stephen Gates, my 10th grandfather, was a resident of Lancaster Ma when he
ran into a dispute with neighbor John Whitcombe and Witcombe's three sons
over some swine Steven owned. I found the original ruling and John Whitcombe's
rather colorful appeal in  William J Coulter's The Early Records of Lancaster,
Massachusetts. 1643-1725
, p.63 :

"1658. John Whettcombe for and in consideration of three swine killed and 
spoiled by his three sonnes, doth hereby promise to pay vnto Steven Gates 
the sume of forty fiue shill. in wheate within a week after michael tyde next 
1658 to be paid at his house in Sudbury the sd Steven allowinge for the 
carriage of the wheate tenn shill 6d.

Dat apr 2, 1658 John Whetcom

28,,10, 58 Jno. Whetcombe owned this bill in Court to be his act.

Tho: Dane: Recordr

To the honorer County Court at Charlestown. The humble Petison of Jno. Whetcome
humbly sheweth. That whereas yor Petitioner hath set his hand to a note to pay
fortie and fiue shillings to Stephen Gates of Sudbury. It was through my age and
weakness that I did not consider of it that 1 had no right to pay anything to him,
before he did duly make it apeare that I had damnified him, he did complaine
before the deputie Govr his worship, that I or my Sonnes had killed and spoyled
three of his swine in the woods, And made as if we stole them & with many threats
which did somewhat amaze yor petitioner so that I could not declare my case which
is such as I have now gotten to be drawne vpp fairly in wrighting, by which it may
appeare to this honor'd Court that I had not wronged Stephen Gates nor was 

indebted to him anything for wch I should agree to pay him anything. Wherefore 
yor petitioner being aged & weak and mean in estate hath wronged himselfe and 
family in loss of so much, besides by this means of giueing satisfaction there is an 
imputation of theft cast vppon mee and the family of yor petitioner (to yr great 
Greef being inoscent in that respect) and we are much defamed in our names and 
creditt. and therefore do humbly request this honored Court that our case may be 
considered, and my bill may be suspended vntill the next County Court and that 
then the case may be fully heard on both sides and determined accordinge to 
euidenc and equtie and yor petitionr shal be redy and willing freely to yeald vnto
 what is right and shall thankfully remain
Yor worthy- humble servant

John Whetcombe

[Middlesex Court Records.] The court decided that the bill must be paid."

While Stephen won his case, he left Lancaster shortly afterwards and died in
Cambridge, Ma. in 1662.


We had the first frost of the fall season last night and it put 
me in mind how Dad would  sometimes recite "When the
frost is on the pumpkin...". That's the only part of  the poem
he'd say. I think he must have had to recite it in school when he
was a kid and that's all he remembered.

Reading it just now I had to grin at the line about the turkey
since I've now had experience with a loud, "struttin" turkey
here in my own backyard!

 "When the Frost is on the Punkin"
                          James Whitcomb Riley

When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock,   
And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin' turkey-cock,   
And the clackin' of the guineys, and the cluckin' of the hens,   
And the rooster's hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;   
O, it's then the time a feller is a-feelin' at his best,         
With the risin' sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,   
As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,   
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.   
They's something kindo' harty-like about the atmusfere   
When the heat of summer's over and the coolin' fall is here—   
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossoms on the trees,   
And the mumble of the hummin'-birds and buzzin' of the bees;   
But the air's so appetizin'; and the landscape through the haze   
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days   
Is a pictur' that no painter has the colorin' to mock—   
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.   
The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn,   
And the raspin' of the tangled leaves as golden as the morn;   
The stubble in the furries—kindo' lonesome-like, but still   
A-preachin' sermuns to us of the barns they growed to fill;   
The strawstack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed;   
The hosses in theyr stalls below—the clover overhead!—   
O, it sets my hart a-clickin' like the tickin' of a clock,   
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.   
Then your apples all is gethered, and the ones a feller keeps   
Is poured around the cellar-floor in red and yaller heaps;   
And your cider-makin's over, and your wimmern-folks is through   
With theyr mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and sausage too!...   
I don't know how to tell it—but ef such a thing could be   
As the angels wantin' boardin', and they'd call around on me—   
I'd want to 'commodate 'em—all the whole-indurin' flock—   
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.   


I knew from the Index card in the first image that my ancestor Nathaniel
Barker had received two Bounty Land grants, one in 1850, the other in 1855.
Logically you expect the images to be in chronological order but as many
genealogists can tell you about dealing with Pension File images, they seldom
are so.  I think this is the "cover" for the first land grant:

I found Nathaniel's application in image !2:

"State of Maine
County of Oxford
On this ninth day of February A.D one thousand and eight hundred and fifty
two, personally appeared before me, a Justice of the Peace within and for
the county and State aforesaid,  Nathaniel Barker, aged fifty eight, a
resident of Albany in the county & State aforesaid, who being duly sworn
according to law, declares he is the identical Nathaniel Barker, who was
a private in  the company commanded by Captain William Wheeler  in the
Regiment  of Militia commanded by Col. Ryerson, which was stationed at
Portland then in the State of Massachusetts and now in the State of Mane,
in the war with Great Britain declared by the United States on the 18th day
of June 1812, that he was drafted at Newry in the county and State aforesaid
on or about the twentieth day of September A.D. one thousand eight hundred
and fourteen for the term of about forty days, and continued in actual service
in said war for the term of about forty days and was honorably discharged or
dismissed at said Portland on or about the fourth day of November A.D. one
thousand eight eight hundred and fourteen, as will appear by the muster and
payrolls of said company, but never received a written discharge.

He makes this declaration for the purpose of obtaining the bounty land, to which
he may be entitled under the act granting bounty land to certain officers and
soldiers who have been engaged in the military service of the  United States
passed September 28th 1850.
Nathaniel Barker."

The other side of the document is the following in image 13 :

"Sworn to and subscribed, before me, the said Justice, the day and year first
above written. And I hereby certify that I believe the said Nathaniel Barker to
be the identical man, who served as aforesaid and that he is of the age of
O'Neil W Robinson Jr. Justice of the Peace."

Below that is the statement of Luther Lock:
"I Luther Lock of the town of Bethel in the county of Oxford of the state of Maine
of Lawful age on oath do depose and say that the above named Nathaniel Barker
is the identicle man who served as he has declared above in his application.
Luther Locke"

"Sworn to and subscribed before me this thirteenth day of April in the year of
our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty two
O'Neill W Robinson Jr Justice of the Peace. "

I know that Nathaniel received 50 acres on this grant. On the 1850 Federal Census
Agricultural Census for Albany, Maine, he is listed as owning 135 acres,  35 acres of
which were "Improved". The cash value of the farm was $600.

Nathaniel seemed to be doing well.

To be continued

Tuesday, October 09, 2012


My 3x great grandfather Nathaniel Barker had a lot to live up to and something
to live down. His father, Jonathan Barker the 3rd was one of a large family
that had helped settle the area around the Sunday River in Western Maine.
There’s even a Barker Mountain in Newry, Maine. Jonathan himself was
a bit of a legend. Historian William B. Lapham tells two stories about him
in his History of Bethel:

“It may give you some idea of the toils and the strength of the men of those
days when you are told that Jonathan Barker came from Fryeburg on the
snow in the spring of 1780, up Sunday river, hauling on a hand-sled a
five-pail iron kettle, a three-pail iron pot, and a grindstone, while he
probably had on his shoulders, his provisions, his gnu and axe. He had
his camp plundered by the Indians. (p307)

A party of Indians encamped near Alder river, who offered to wrestle
with Jonathan Barker, one of the first settlers in Newry. They selected
the weakest first, whom Barker easily laid on his back. The others came
in turn with the same result, till he reached the strongest. Barker found
him exceedingly strong in his arms, but he succeeded in tripping his legs
and laying him solid on his back. The Indian rose aud exclaimed, "you
all mattahondon," which in plain English meant, '"you all devil.” (p298)

William  B Lapham, History of Bethel: formerly Sudbury, Canada,
Oxford County, Maine, 1768-1890; with a brief sketch of Hanover and
family statistics 
Press of the Maine Farmer, Portland, Me. 1891

Despite his strength and physical prowess, Jonathan Barker didn’t enjoy
the same success of his brothers and became an alcoholic. My Barker
cousin Howard Kaepplein told me in email that Jonathan burned down
his own house in an alcoholic stupor. He died in 1824 and is buried in
an unmarked grave at the Newry Cemetery.

By that time Nathaniel was thirty years old, married to Huldah Hastings,
and three of their six children had been born. He seems to have moved
around a bit from 1820 to 1840 according to the census images I’ve found:
1820 in Ketcham, Oxford, Me near his brother in law Josiah Bartlett, 1830
in Holmes, Me. near his brothers Amos and Caleb, and then in 1840 at
Albany, Me.  He was still living at Albany when applied for his first
veteran’s land grant.

To be continued…

Monday, October 08, 2012


A week or so ago one of my Facebook friends gave the heads up that the War
of 1812 Pension files were starting to be posted over at the site. (I
can’t remember who that person was now, but if you are reading this, thank
you!). So I visited the site to see what I could find. I have many male paternal
ancestors living in the right time period who could have fought in the War but
so far I only knew of two, Amos Hastings and John Griffith, who had served.
I was hoping to find evidence of more.

The bad news was that while Fold3 has indeed begun posting the 1812 Pensions,
they only have those for veterans whose last names began with the letters A or B.
Since I do have relatives in that group I began searching and found some Barrows
relatives, but more importantly, I found my direct ancestor,  3x great grandfather
Nathaniel Barker:

What's great about this first image is all the information. I already knew
Nathaniel and Huldah's marriage date, Jan 31, 1794. It always made me grin
thinking that maybe Huldah insisted on that date, January 31st, since it was
also Nathaniel's birthday and he'd surely have to remember it was also his
anniversary.  There was a discrepancy though in the date of Nathaniel's death:
the Pension File gave it as April 12th, 1884 while I had it a month earlier as March
12th, the date on his gravestone. But just today cousin Mary Ennis (who is
looking into the cause of Nathaniel and Huldah's deaths) emailed me that
she had found a mention in the Oxford Democrat newspaper which gave the
April 12th date as the day he died as well. I've made the change to my gedcom
file. (Thanks, Mary!)

The really interesting thing for me was seeing that Nathaniel had applied twice
for a veteran's land grant but there were three entries for places of residence
in 1852, 1855, and 1878. What was that all about, and how does that figure into
what I already knew about Nathaniel and Huldah?

To be continued....

Tuesday, October 02, 2012


I'm wondering if any of my genealogy friends have ever had this happen to

I was putting together a post about my 3x great grandfather Nathaniel Barker's
War of 1812 Pension file and had the pedigree view up on my RootsMagic5
database. I wanted to check on the death dates for Nathaniel and his wife
Huldah(Hastings)Barker because of something in the Pension File. Nathaniel
died on 12Mar 1884 in Bethel, Oxford, Maine; Huldah didn't survive him for
long, passing on 7Jun 1884 also in Bethel. Well, they were both elderly, 90
and 86 years old respectively, and perhaps Huldah was overwhelmed by her

But then I happened to glance over that the box for their youngest son, my
2x great grandfather Nathaniel S.(I believe the S stands for Swan for his paternal
grandmother Nancy Swan) Barker. He died a week after his father on 20Mar
1884 in Albany,Oxford, Maine. That got my attention. How could I have not
really noticed that before? Could it just have been coincidence or was there
more to it? Was there some accident involving the two Barker men, leaving
Huldah died of grief after? Or was there another outbreak of an some disease
in the area that claimed all three lives?  Since there had been seven members
of my West family that died in an outbreak of diphtheria in Mane in 1862.

I've got a copy of the death record for Nathaniel S. Barker but it doesn't give
a cause of death. I have not been able to find any for his parents.  Going to
Maine is not an option for me since I don't have the means to get there at
this time. I'm hoping to find an obituary or newspaper report eventually.

This is turning into an itch I need to scratch.