Saturday, April 29, 2017


While Richard Reith had bequeathed certain properties to specific children in his will, there were others that still had to divided among them. One of the documents in his probate
file shows how that was accomplished .Again, it's divided into two images at a point just after a few blurred lines, and as it happens, those lines turn out to be very important.

Essex County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1638-1881.Online database. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2014. (From records supplied by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Archives.)23463:12

6 We agree that Joseph Tuck in the Right of his wife Sara have and enjoy halfe of the ho use in (? Cove and halfe of the Cow Commonage thereto belonging, valued att forty pounds, and have also his part of the (?) on all estate amounting by (?) to twelve pounds, seventeen shillings &8 d, the house to be by him & his heirs forever.

Now the reason those lines are important is that they corrected an error in my family tree. I
had Sarah (Reith) Tuck, wife of Joseph Tuck, in my database as the daughter of William Reith and Abigail Haskell. But here's Joseph acting on behalf of Sarah in Richard Reith's will. What was going on here?

It turns out I committed a cardinal sin. At the time I first entered this branch I couldn't find
any birth record for any Sarah Reith except for one whose father was William Reith. I didn't follow upon that information as I've since learned to do over the years since. If I had
I would have realized the birth dates of both Sarah and William made it impossible for him
to be her father. And when I started researching my family I began just with my direct ancestors, leaving the siblings to fill in later. Here's an instance where it came back to bite me.

Having access to the probate files  made me aware I'd screwed up.

I will correct my family tree and database to reflect the new information. This means I need to prune John Hardy and Dr. William Griggs. William Reith remains as my 6x great granduncle, not grandfather.    

Thursday, April 27, 2017


 I received the following e-mail announcement about an hour ago from Alex Cox of Findmupast:


-         From Thursday 27th April until 1st May 2017, over 1.9 billion birth marriage, death & and census records will be completely free to search and explore at Findmypast

·         This includes 595 million UK BMDs, the largest collection available online, over 80 million exclusive parish records you won’t find anywhere else, over 13 million Catholic Sacramental Registers covering England, Ireland, Scotland & the US, and over 168 million United States Marriages

London, UK, 27th April 2017
Findmypast is encouraging fledgling family historians to start their journey of discovery by providing five days of free access to their entire collection of birth, marriage, death and census records. From 09:00 BST, 27th April until 23:00 BST, 1st May 2016, all record matches on Findmypast Family trees and the 1.9 billion records they cover will be completely free to view and explore.

By providing free access to these essential beginner records, Findmypast aims to help budding genealogists start building their family tree and discover new ancestors through their records. Researchers will also be provided with daily getting started guides, expert insights and useful how-to blogs over the course of the free access period. A free webinar entitled “Start Your Family History Journey” will also be broadcast at 4pm BST, Friday April 28th.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017


I found the probate file for 9x greaat grandfather Richard Reith  in the Essex County, MA:
Probate File Papers, 1638-1881file on  The will was apparently
written on an oversized piece of paper so there are two images of it, one for the upper half
and one for the bottom.:

Essex County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1638-1881.Online database. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2014. (From records supplied by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Archives.)23463:14

Essex County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1638-1881.Online database. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2014. (From records supplied by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Archives.)23463:15

Here's my transcription of the will. Spelling, punctuation and capitalization are as written in
the document, and some of it is the most unique I've run across so far:

The last will and testementt of Richard Reith of Marblehead
In the name of god amen. I Richard Reith sener being weake of body but perfect of memmory knowing the unsartonty of my pressent life and being desirous to setle the termperall estate lent me by god Dow hereby revoke null and Absolutely make void all former wills and dow declare this to be my last will and testement: In pr I committ my Imortall Soull into the hands of god my creator and Redemer, my body to the earth desently to be burried: my temperall estate to be desposed of in manner following.

I will that all my Just debts :which: I dow to  any person whatsoever be firstly satisfied with funarall charges: also in convenentt time by my Executers

Item i give unto my dear and loveing wife: her thirds of all my estate with in dors and withoutt only the iland to have no thirds their all the rest of my estate I give her her thirds of deuring the time of her widowhood: but if she marry I will she shall have forty five pounds out of my estate as it is apresed.

Item i give to my son Richard the rest of the iland beginning at the onlong(?} in att
the west side to the garden wall: and the westernmost stage: and the sault roome: and the part of the {?}scales to him and his heirs not be sold except it be to his brothers, ether William Reith or John Reith: and i will that son Richard Reith shall have his part of my :estate: equall with the rest of my children: Item i give to my son william reith half of the garden upon the iland :with a (?} roume: to the estern side the stage and half the esternmost stage and half the fish house and  half of the scales to him and his heirs forever not to be sold esecept it be to his two brothers Richard reith and John reith : and I will that he shall have his equell part of my estate as the rest of my children have Item i give to my son John Reith the other half of the garden over all the iland and half estermost stage and half the fish house part of the scales to him and his heirs forever not to be sold except it be to his two brothers Richard Reith or william Reith and i will allso thatt he shall have part equely with the rest of my children in my other estate: amd all the Rest my estate not willed above mentened both land and houses and whatso ever to be equely devided betwixt all my sons and daughters and my will is :that my son Richard Reith shall pay to my daughter Isabealah Reith out of his part of my estate forty shiling Daughter anne Reith shall pay to my daughter mary reith four pounds : out of her part of my estate and i will that my daughter abigaill mearshall pay to my daighter mary Reith foure pounds : out of her part of my estate: and my will is that my son Richard Reith shall be my soule Executor of my estate and also i make choyce of my loveing frindes: James denes and John Norman to Joyn : with him To act or to dow :honestly : as the law derects :to serv or to straine (?)
to (?) and to pay:
this thirteenth day : of january : Anno dom 1706 and In the fifth year of the reign of our Soverigne lady anne of Ingland Queen of which. In testemony here of:: I have set to my hand and seall: the time and
day about righton.
Richard Reith Sener
ann rieth
I  Dow aprove that this Will
shall stand ass itt iss.
Ann Reith Ann Reith

signed and delivered in the
presence of
Jobathan Thomson
Thomas Trofry
Richard Sedgmore
From this I learned Richard Reith was a commercial fisherman whose operation included an 
"iland" (island) with at least two buildings and scales to weigh the catch.

To be continued

Sunday, April 23, 2017


9x great grandfather Richard Reith is one of those ancestors where what little I know of him
teases me but there's not enough to fill in all the gaps.

-When he died in Marblehead on 28 February 1708 he was said to be 73 years which would
put his birth year in 1625.

-I have found records of his marriage on 16 February 1664 to a young lady but depending on
which record you are looking at her name is either Elizabeth Goryr or Elizabeth Gorge or
Elizabeth George. After Elizabeth's death he remarried and his second wife Ann is mentioned
in his probate file.

-Richard seems to have a number of different properties in Marblehead, Salem, and Gloucester,
Ma. One transaction was with another of my ancestors, Moses Maverick. According to his will
a property he owned was an island.

-In those land sales records Richard's profession is variously given as merchant, fisherman, and shoreman. From what I've seen in the probate file I think the island mentioned might have been
the base of his operations because it mentions "scales". It must have been good sized because he bequeaths a half of it to two of his sons.

I'll have a transcription of that will in the next post.

Friday, April 21, 2017


The Findmypast Friday records released this week include nearly 130,000 Irish and Australian records:


Easter Rising & Ireland Under Martial Law 1916-1921
Documenting the events of the War of Independence and the population’s interaction with the Army under the rigors of martial law, these unique records include prisoner lists, case files, search reports, court-martials and much more

New South Wales Parish Registers, Christ Church Cathedral Newcastle
Discover your ancestor’s baptism, marriage, or burial record in these parish registers from Christ Church Cathedral in New South Wales. These transcripts span the years 1804 to 1900 and most will reveal the names of your ancestor’s parents.

1881 British Census, Crew and Passengers on Ships Arriving in New South Wales
Is your ancestor missing from the 1881 UK census? Explore this index of crew and passengers arriving in Sydney between January and March and uncover details of their voyage and occupation.


Australia, Boer War Contingents
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Covering: Military personnel who served in the Boer War between 1899 and 1902
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New records: 19,087
Total records: 23,590
Covering: Registers of settlement purchases & land transfers
Discover: The property dealings of your New South Wales ancestors

Thursday, April 20, 2017


I'm going to explore my 6x great grandmother Sarah (Tuck) Ellingwood's maternal ancestors soon.
Through her mother Sara Reith they include some interesting families: Reith, Haskell. Hardy,and
Griggs. I've already written a bit about the Haskells here in the past, but hadn't done much work
on the others. There were a few surprises for me, like a prosperous shipowner in one family and
a new connection to the Salem Witch Trials in another. And there are blank spaces I haven't been
able to fill in yet.

Here's a relationship chart for Sarah Reith and her grandfather Richard Reith that shows how she
connects with these other families:

Hopefully I'll be able to fill in the blanks for several other ancestors along the way!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


Today is the 242nd Anniversary of the Battles of Lexington & Concord which
started the American Revolution on 19Apr 1775. They were celebrated Monday in
Massachusetts on Patriots Day, the third Monday in April, when the Boston Marathon is run.

These are our colonial ancestors from our Dad's family lines for whom I have
so far been able to discover records that they took part in those battles and served in the

Jonathan Barker Jr. My 5x great grandfather
Was a Minuteman from Methuen Ma with rank of Sergeant.
He responded to Lexington and Concord with his sons
Served in Captain Samuel Johnson's Company in
Colonel Titcomb's Regiment for 2 months in 1777 in Rhode
Island and then with Nathaniel Gage's Company in Colonel
Jacob Gerrish's guards from Dec 1777 to l Apr 1778 guarding
the captured troops of General Burgoyne.

Jonathan Barker 3rd  My 4x great grandfather
Enlisted on 19 Apr 1775 in Continental Army, Capt. John
Davis' Company, Col. James Frye's Regiment, in the
Massachusetts line for 8 months in Cambridge, Ma. At the
conclusion of the term, he reenlisted for another 3 months in
Capt John Allen's Company, Colonel John Waldron's Regiment,
General Sullivan's Brigade in the New Hampshire Brigade at
Charlestown, Ma. He then enlisted a third time in June 1778
at Methuen, Ma., joining Captain Samuel Carr's Company, Col.
James Weston's Regiment, in General Lerned's Brigade at
White Plains, N.Y. and serving for another 9 months.

John Ames   My 5x great grandfather
Was a Minuteman under Capt. Asa Parker on April 19th,
1775. He then enlisted in the Continental Army under Captain
Oliver Parker, Col. William Prescott's Regiment and
in the Brigade that was commanded in turn by Generals
Putnam, Lee, and Washington and served for 8 1/2 months.


Asa Barrows    My 4x great grandfather
A member of the militia from Middleborough , Ma. (south of
Boston) in the Company of Captain Joshua Benson, in Colonel
Cotton's Regiment, and General William Heath's Brigade for
8 months during the siege of Boston. In December 1776 he
joined a militia Company commanded by Captain Joshua
Perkins and marched to Barrington, R.I. and was stationed
there for 6 weeks. In July 1780 he again enlisted, this time
in a militia company commanded by Captain Perez Churchill
that marched to Tiverton, R.I. .

Moses Coburn  My 4x great grandfather
Moses Coburn got into the War late and by reason of being
"hired by a certain class of men in the then town of Dunstable
to go into the Continental Army in the summer of 1781."
When he reached Phillipsburgh in New York he was placed in
Captain Benjamin Pike's Company, in the Regiment of the
Massachusetts line commanded by Lt. Colonel Calvin Smith in
which he served for nearly two years until it was broken up.
He then transferred to the Company of Judah Alden in the
Regiment commanded by Colonel Sprouts until his discharge
in 1783.

Samuel Haskell   My 5x great grandfather
Samuel served in Captain Joseph Elliott's Company in Colonel
William Turner's Regiment and then under Captain Hezekiah
Whitney in Colonel Josiah Whitney's Regiment.

Amos Hastings   My 5x great grandfather
Amos  responded to the Lexington Alarm as part of
Captain Richard Ayer's Company and Colonel William
Johnson's Regiment. He later served in Captain Timothy
Eaton's Company in Colonel Edward Wigglesworth's Regiment
and was at the taking of the British General Burgoyne at

Elisha Houghton   5x great grandfather
Enlisted at Harvard Ma as a Private in May of 1777 in the
Massachusetts militia and was at the Battles of Bunker Hill
and Stillwater. He then enlisted for three years in the infantry
company commanded by Captain Joshua Brown in Colonel
Timothy Bigelow's 15th Regiment of the Massachusetts line.
and took part in the Battles of Monmouth and Newport and
was at Valley Forge. He twice was promoted to Sergeant and
twice was busted back down to the ranks.

Amos Upton    My 5x great grandfather
Responded to the Lexington Alarm and marched there from
his home in Reading. He later joined the militia company
commanded by Captain Asa Prince as an orderly sergeant
and then enlisted for eight months in the Continental Army
under Colonel Mansfield. He was at the Battle of Bunker Hill.
He was discharged in October of 1775.

John Griffith  My 5x great grandfather
Enlisted in 1781 as a Matross (he swabbed out the barrel of
the cannons after they fired, or so I've been told) in Captain
William Treadwell's Company in Colonel John Crane's
Artillery Regiment.

Reuben Packard   My 5x great grandfather
A Sergeant in Captain Josiah Hayden's Company in Colonel
Bailey's militia. They marched to Lexington at news of the
Alarm. He also responded several more times as a Minuteman
for a total of nearly 8 months duty.

Jonathan Abbott   My 5x great grandfather
Served as a Sergeant in the Militia under Captain Henry
Abbott and responded to the Lexington Alarm

Samuel Stowe  My 5x great grandfather
Minuteman from Sherborn, Ma. Served in Capt. Benjamin Bullard's
Company in Col. Asa Whitcomb's 5th Massachusetts Bay
Provincial Regiment.

Besides those direct ancestors, these other relatives fought
in the Revolution:

Moses Barrows, brother to Asa Barrows.

Samuel, Jesse, and Benjamin Barker, sons of Jonathan
Barker, Jr. and brothers to Jonathan Barker 3rd.

James Swan, brother in law to Jonathan Barker.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


((I first posted this back in 2012 for the 237th anniversary of the Battles of Concord &
Lexington. I'm posting it again for the 242st anniversary tomorrow. Many of my ancestors 
answered the alarm on 19Apr 1775 and I'll republish a list of their names tomorrow.)) 

We've all heard about the "shot heard round the world" fired at Concord, but there's more to
the poem. So, in honor of the 241st anniversary of the Battles of Concord and Lexington, here's
Ralph Waldo Emerson's  "Concord Hymn":

Concord Hymn
Ralph Waldo Emerson

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set today a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.

Saturday, April 15, 2017


1.1 million new records from Britain and Canada were added to the Findmypast databases
in the 14 Apr 2017 Findmypast Friday records release.


British Columbia Estate Files 1859-1949 Browse
OVER 783,000 RECORDS  Delve through probate estate files pertaining to the judicial districts of British Columbia; the County Court and the Supreme Court. Probate estate records are valuable resources for family history research, providing vital details such as dates, names, and locations to help grow your family tree.

Britain, Missing Beneficiaries and Unclaimed Estates 1910
OVER 500 IMAGES  Did your British ancestor leave behind a significant estate or inherit a fortune from a distant relative? Search Dougal’s Index Register to Next of Kin, Heirs at Law and Cases of Unclaimed Money Advertisements from 1910 to discover more.

Norfolk Bishop's Transcripts 1687-1901 Browse
OVER 210,000 RECORDS Browse thousands of images of original bishop’s transcripts from Norfolk Record Office and uncover details of baptisms, marriages and burials. Bishop’s transcripts are valuable resources, especially in cases where original parish registers were damaged or destroyed.


Norfolk Archdeacon's Transcripts 1600-1812 Browse
OVER 76,589 RECORDS Explore transcripts of vital records covering 32 parishes across Norfolk. Prior to 1812, all copies of parish registers were sent to the archdeacon. After 1812, the copies were sent to the bishop and became known as the bishop’s transcripts.


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Total records: 509,282
Covering: The parish of Northiam
Discover: Birth year, age at death, death year, burial date, location & any additional notes

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Monday, April 10, 2017


Ten years ago I discovered the World War 1 Draft cards for some of my male family
members over at I posted what information I learned from them here
on March 2, 2007 . So I thought I'd repost the information  at this time in observance
of the 100th anniversary of our entrance into World War 1.

The first five are my Mom's maternal  uncles, the McFarland brothers: Tommy, Frank,
Bobby, John and Mike. I don't remember ever meeting the last two brothers but we visited
Uncle Tommy and Uncle Frank many times when I was a kid. Uncle Tommy shared my
love of books and had a set of the Encylopedia Brittanica. Uncle Frank taught me how
to make tomato and mayonnaise sandwiches.  

Here's what I learned about them from the cards.

Tom lists his occupation as a toolmaker at A. A. Crafts at 125 Summer Boston.
For dependents he lists his father and mother who would have been in their late sixties.
His physical description is Medium height, Slender build, with Brown (or Blonde?) hair
and Brown eyes. At the time he filled out the card he was living at 950 Parker St. in Boston.

((By the 1950's he had white hair and he smoked a pipe. For some reason I remember
him wearing a shirt and tie most of the time. He was working in the jewelry business by
the time I came along and he and  his wife lived in a nice little white house in Milton He
diedin 1977 at the age of 84 .))

Frank was living with his family at 50 Cotton St. in Medford. He lists his occupation
as "bottiling" at the Moxie Plant at 69 Haverhill St. in Boston. His eyes were Gray,
his hair Dark Brown; his height and build were given as Medium.
((I remember Frank with grey hai, wire-rimmed glasses and a cane. He stayed with us
at few times at the Capen St.apartment in Dorchester which was where he taught me 
howto make those tomato sandwiches. He lived with his son John in Andover, Ma. and
died in 1986 at age 82.)) 

Robert was living with his family at 121 or 126 Paul Gore St. His occupation was
shoemaker at the Thomas J. Plant(?) Shoe Co. at what looks like the "corner of
Centre and Bickford Streets" in Boston. His height and build are Slender, his eyes
Light Brown and his hair Black.

Mike was living at 946 Parker St in Boston with his wife Mary and he was a shoe
worker at George A. Keith Company at 288 A So. Boston. His height was given
as Tall, his build Medium, his hair Dark and Brown for the eye color. He was the oldest
child in the family and the only one born in Ireland.

John was working as a chaffeur for someone at 409 Columbia Rd in Boston but lived
with his wife and children at 112 Heath St in the Roxbury neighborhood of the city. He's
described as of medium height and weight and having  brown hair and grey eyes.

Then there are the cards for both my grandfathers.

Floyd Earl West gives his occupation as farming in Upton, Me. His height is listed as
Short, his build Medium, his eyes Blue and his hair “D. Brown” He claimed an exemption
from the draft due to an injury to his right arm and shoulder; on the disability line he
adds “right arm weak”. But whatever the injury was it healed because Grandpa West
did get drafted a year later and was inducted(?) on 29 Apr 1918. He reached the rank
of Pvt 1st class in November of 1918 and served as part of Company K, 303 Infantry.
He never made it oversea, though  because he ended at  Camp Devens, Ma. during the
outbreak of the Spanish Influenza where he helped with the patients.. He was honorably
discharged on 12 Mar 1919 after contracting pneumonia.

Finally, my mother’s father, Edward F. White lists his occupationas “helper” on the
“N.Y., N.H., & H. R..R. & Co.” by which I take it to mean the New York,
New Haven, and Hartford Railroad. The business address is given as Union Station
in Harftord. He gives his home address as 41 Philbrick St in Roslindale Ma. and lists
as closest relative his mother “Lena White”. His height is Tall, build Medium. His eyes
were Blue and his hair Dark Brown. This card was a real find for me because it filled
the blanks about that part of the family. Mom never talked about her father and I
never met him.

Grandpa West is the only one out of this group that I've found to have actually
served in the military during World War I. But the McFarland brothers were all in their late
twenties or older and Grandpa White might have been exempted due to his occupation.

All the images in this post are from the "United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918," database with images, at FamilySearch

Friday, April 07, 2017


Nearly 6 million new church records from England and Scotland are in this week's
Findmypast Fridays releases.

Wiltshire Parish Baptisms Index 1538-1917
OVER 2,136,000 RECORDS 
Discover if your ancestor was born in the British county of Wiltshire in South West England. Search more than 2 million baptism registers, including some rare early parish records, to find out your ancestor’s birth date and parents’ names.

Wiltshire Parish Banns Index 1538-1933
Were your Wiltshire ancestors married via the ancient legal tradition of Banns? Find out where and when their intention to marry was announced, their residence and the name of their intended spouse.

Wiltshire Parish Burials Index 1538-1991
OVER 1,453,000 RECORDS
Find out where your Wiltshire ancestors were laid to rest and when they died. Records will also reveal their age at death and the date of their funeral.

Wiltshire Parish Marriages Index 1538-1933
OVER  944,000  RECORDS
Add another branch to your English family tree by discovering when, where and to whom your Wiltshire ancestors were married.

Scotland Roman Catholic Parish Congregational Records
Delve through a variety of congregational records including registers of confirmations and communion recipients, as well as parish lists, seat rentals, and lists of people who converted to Catholicism.

Scotland Roman Catholic Parish Baptisms
Were your Scottish ancestors Catholics? Search 300 years of Sacramental registers covering all eight dioceses to find out when they were born, where they were born and the names of their parents.

Scotland Roman Catholic Parish Marriages
Did your Catholic ancestor get married in Scotland? Explore sacramental registers spanning the years 1736 to 1942 to discover the location of the ceremony, the date, spouse’s details and the names of those who witnessed the occasion.

Scotland Roman Catholic Parish Burials
Discover your Catholic Scottish ancestry with these Roman Catholic burial registers. The records will reveal the location of your ancestor’s final resting place, the date of their burial, and, in many cases, your ancestor’s cause of death.

Britain, Wills Of Famous Persons 1552-1849
Explore a fascinating collection of wills left by famous Britons throughout history. Read wills left by a variety of notable figures ranging from members of the British Royal Family, writers and artists to politicians, soldiers, and civil servants.


I haven't been able to find any records of the birth, marriage, or death of my 9x great grandfather
Thomas Tuck. What I have found for him are court records. Lots of court records. Besides the
story of his theft of a church bell from the yard of Richard More, I found these court  appearances
in Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts, Volume 1 1636-1656:
COURT HELD AT SALEM, 31: 10: 1639. (Sep 1639)
Micha Iver v. Tho. Tuck. Slander. Wit: Jno. Cook, Mr. Clark's man, Charls Turner and Mr. Pester's man. John Webster and Thomas Oddingsall, absent witnesses.-

COURT HELD AT SALEM, 1 and 2: 11 : 1639. (Dec 1639)
Tho. Tuck v. Micha Iver. Slander, viz: “ y‘ he war drunck, respited a little.”Micha Iver bound in 201i. to answer Tho. Tuck at Boston concerning money that Tho. Tuck wants. “ See Jn° Cooks deposition.” Thomas Tuck bound to prosecute. [Said Iver was strongly suspected by Thomas Tuck and others of taking away certain silver.

Geo. Dill fined 40s. for “ drunkenes, & to stand att the meeting hous doar next Lecture day, wm a Clefte stick upon his Tong, & a pap[er] vpon his hatt subscribed for gross || prmeditated I. Lyinge." Mr. Humphreys’ security.

J no. Cook same as above. His master Clark to pay. Neglect to pay, to be whipped.

Tho. Tuck same as above, except the paper is to be marked simply " for Lyinge," and “ noe cleft sticks on his tong.”

Micha Ivers same as Tho. Tuck. He places as security his lot in the cove near Mr. Holgraves, by Dixies, also one-half an acre of land upon the neck toward Winter harbor that he bought of Geo Dill.

COURT HELD AT SALEM, 27 : 10: 1642. (Dec 1642)
Thomas Tuck‘ fined for drunkenness and common tippling....Wit: Charles Turn[er] and Walter Knight.-

COURT HELD AT SALEM, 27: 10: 1643. (Dec 1643)
Walter Knight, John Leech, sr., Peter Simes and Thomas Tuck, presented for living absent from their respective wives, were discharged.-

COURT HELD AT SALEM, 9: 5: 1645 (July 1645)
Warrant to Salem constable, dated 29: 3: 1645, to summon Thomas Tuck, Roger Dewhurst, Edward Wilson and Robert Knights, for excessive drinking of sack, six of the company having drunk a gallon at once. Wit: Roger Dewhurst and Robert Knights.-

COURT HELD AT SALEM, 1: 5: 1652.(July 1652)
Thomas Tuck fined 20s. for being drunk. Wit: John Grover, Math. West and Roger Conant. The wife of John Lovet, living on Cappan sid by the highway, testified that she saw Goodman Tuefe [Tuck ?] go reeling, not able to walk in the highway, being very much overtaken with drink and accompanied by his father, Samuell Archer.

Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts, Volume 1 1636-1656
Essex Institute, 1911 Salem, Ma

That last entry is of special interest. Fathers in law were often referred to as "Father" in colonial documents, so I may now have a clue to the identity of Thomas Tuck's wife.

And all this in just Volume 1 of the Essex Court Files.

Thursday, April 06, 2017


I received this notice this morning in an email from Alex Cox of Findmypast:    


            Project to publish parish records from six counties in next six months
            Wiltshire first county available online from April 6, 2017, includes
            records  of the first woman mauled by a tiger in England and the celebrated 
                                         architect Sir Christopher Wren

Birmingham, April 6, 2017:  Leading family history website, Findmypast, announced today the launch of their Six Counties in Six Months project which will see the online publication of vital parish records from six counties across England over the next six months. These records expand further Findmypast’s unrivalled collection of English and Welsh parish records – the largest collection available online.

First up is Wiltshire, published today to mark the opening of Who Do You Think You Are Live! 2017. The Wiltshire parish records will be followed by Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Nottinghamshire, Somerset and Warwickshire. 

The Wiltshire collection comprises transcriptions of nearly 5 million parish records of baptisms, banns, marriages and burials dating back to 1538. They form the largest online collection of Wiltshire records and are available only at Findmypast. 

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Famous names in the records

Hannah Twynney was the first person in England ever to be mauled by a tiger. Hannah worked as a barmaid at the local White Lion Inn.  At the time of her death, there was an exhibition of wild animals in Malmesbury and she made a habit of teasing the tigers.  One unfortunate day, while Hannah was enjoying herself, a tiger escaped from the cage and mauled the young woman.  Our records show that she was buried at St Peter & St Paul in Malmesbury on 24 October 1703.  Her gravestone in Malmesbury remembers the awful story with a poem: ‘In bloom of life, she’s snatched from hence, she had no room, to make defence, for tiger fierce, took life away, and he she lies, in a bed of clay’. 

Christopher Wren, the acclaimed architect, was born in East Knoyle, Wiltshire.  Across London, Wren designed more than 50 churches, including the incredible St Paul’s Cathedral, after the Great Fire of London.  Although, the first two designs he submitted to Parliament for the Cathedral were turned down.  He is also known for designing the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, the Sheldonian Theatre at Oxford, Trinity College Library at Cambridge, and the monument to the Great Fire of London.  

Thynne (Thynn) family – numerous members of the Thynne family of Longleat, the Marquesses of Bath, are found in the burial records.  They include the record for John Thynne, 4th Marquess of Bath buried at Longbridge Deverill on 29 April 1896, the great-great-grandfather of the current, colourful Lord Bath of Longleat.

William Henry Fox Talbot, the celebrated pioneer of photography who, through the use of chemicals, improved the processes of developing, fixing, and printing.  The records show that he was buried at Lacock Abbey on 21 September 1877.  Today, Lacock Abbey is the location of the National Trust’s Fox Talbot Museum and Village.

Benjamin Pitman famous for introducing the eponymous Pitman shorthand in the United States. He was baptised in Trowbridge, Wiltshire on 8 September 1822.  Pitman immigrated to the United States in 1853 to instruct Americans to use the shorthand system developed by him and his brother Isaac.  Pitman toured America and lectured on the use of the Pitman system.  Later he became an official stenographer and attended the trial of the assassin of President Abraham Lincoln.

Friday, March 31, 2017


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A few thoughts about my 9x great grandfather Thomas Tuck and the stolen bell:

I was checking for names of ancestors in the Essex County Court case files last week
when I ran across this case. Thomas Tuck seems to have been a bit of a character, a
man who liked his liquor a bit too much. Most of the mentions about him have to
do with him being drunk. That's a subject for another blogpost. One case though
possibly has a connection with the stolen bell. Some years before, Richard More
had dug a well and Thomas' cow fell in and broke its neck. So that may have been
the reason why Thomas helped steal the bell and then readily admitted doing it
years later: payback.

Also, the case points up again that early Puritan New England was not so much
a shining example of Christian virtue. There was a rivalry not only between the
town of Salem and the settlers of what would later become Beverly, there was one
apparently even between the churches over bells. I've come to think of it as "belfry

Finally, something about all this sounded familiar and then I realized where I'd heard of
it before. About ten years I read a book, David Lindsay's biography of Richard More, Mayflower Bastard, in which the church bell has a certain symbolism in More's life. I lost the book
someplace along the line, but it was very good, and I recommend it.

My Tuck descent down to my grandfather:

Thursday, March 30, 2017


Continuing the testimony in the trial of my ancestor Thomas Tuck charged with stealing
a church bell from the yard of Richard More: 

Capt. William Dixcy deposed that soon after the taking of the forts, Capt. Lawthrop signified by letter to them that he had procured a bell for their meeting-house and had sent it home by Capt. More. He, with others, went to Capt. More who asked if they had a bill of lading or an order from the General. They not having either, he refused to let them have it. Sworn in court.

Capt. William Dixcy, aged seventy-two years, testified that soon after the return of Major Sedgwick from St. John's and Port Royall, the latter, with Major Leverett, being in company on a journey from the eastward to Boston happened to come into deponent's house. They sat down and discoursed there a while and among other things Major Leverett asked "mee what our towns name was. I answered him that wee weer no town as yet: then sayd hee you may do well to lett Major Sedgwick haue the honor of nameing the town when it is made a town for he hath giuen Captain Lawthrop a bell for your place and this to the best of my Remembrance was before wee had any notice giuen us of it any other way." Sworn in court.

Joshua Hobart certified at Boston, Oct. 18, 1679, that he, living at Bass river when the French forts were, by Major Robert Sedgwick, reduced to English obedience, there was a bell at Capt. Richard More's of the spoils, and which in his absence was taken away, etc. Wit: Joshua Hobart* and Isaac Pepper.* Sworn, Oct. 18, 1679, before Joshua Hobart,* commissioner.

Jeremy Hobart* testified to the same, 25 :9 : 1679, before Edm. Batter,* commissioner in Salem.
John Dodge, jr., aged about forty years, and Nathaniel Hayward, aged about thirty-seven years, deposed that being in company with Capt. More about two years ago he told them that the bell which is at Beverly was for Capt. Lowtrop but, said More, "you beuerly men did steal ye bell in yt you took ye bell without order when I was not at home." Sworn in court.

Nathaniell Sharpe, aged about thirty-five years, deposed that he saw some Beverly men take the bell out of More's yard and Thomas Tuck and Thomas Pigdon were two of them. Joshua Ward affirmed the same. Sworn in court.

Georg Stanly, aged about forty-four years, testified that about the time that Salem new meeting house was built, "I being in company with Captain Lawthrop, Capt More and Capt. Joseph Gardner at Capt. Gardners hous I heard Capt. Gardner say to Captain Lawthrop I think said he wee must haue your Bell for our meeting hous is bigger than yours and your bell is bigger than ours I think wee may doe well to change bells. Captain Lawthrop Replyed hee knew no need of that our bell said hee is very well where it is, the bell was giuen to mee for the place where now it is: Captain More answered him that allthough the bell weere giuen to you yet said hee I dont know but I might haue kept the bell as well as you for I brought it home and I neuer gaue a bill of lading for it neither was I euer paid for the freight of it. Captain Lawthrop answered Captain More that hee might haue kept such and such things naming seuerall things as well as the bell for I had no more bill of lading to show for them said hee then for the Bell: Come Come said Captain Mor let us drink up our wine and say no more of it I supose wee shall neuer trouble you for none of them." Sworn in court.

Anthony Needam, aged about forty-eight years, deposed that he was a soldier under Major Sedgwick and heard Capt. Lawthrop ask for a bell for the new meeting house in the plantation where he dwelt. Deponent heard Capt. Lawthrop ask again at Port Royal when Major Sedgwick was standing in the fort and he gave him the bell in the friary, deponent and Capt. Lawthrop throwing it down to the ground. Then deponent and others took it down to Capt. Moor's ketch to ship home. Sworn in court

John Floyd testified that he was at the taking of the French forts, etc. Sworn in court. 

 Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts, Volume 7 (Google eBook) 1678-1680  Salem, Ma. 1919

I'll have a few thoughts about all this in the third post in this series.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


((Before my 52 Ancestors entry for my 7x great grandfather Thomas Tuck, I want to 
revisit my posts from 2 years ago about his legal situation over a bell.))

In 1654 the Massachusetts Bay Colony sent an expedition against French settlements
at Castine, Maine, and two locations in Canada: St. Johns, New Brunswick,  and Port Royal,
Nova Scotia. The force of 300 men was led by Robert Sedgwick. In the taking of Port
Royal the Protestant colonists looted and burned a Catholic monastery, and one of the
looted items was a church bell. We probably would have never known about the bell except
that twenty five years later it was the object of contention at a session of the Essex County
Court held at Salem in November 1679. One of the people involved was my 9x great
grandfather Thomas Tuck:

Capt. Richard More v. Wm. Dodg, jr. and Tho. Tuck, sr. Verdict for plaintiff.f
fWrit: Capt. Richard More v. William Dodge, jr., and Thomas Tuck, sr.; for illegally taking away a bell from plaintiff without his consent, which bell hangs in Beverly meeting house; dated 18 : 9 : 1679; signed by Hilliard Veren, for the court and the town of Salem; and served by Henry Skerry, marshal of Salem, by attachment of the house and land of Thomas Tuck, and a table and chest of William Dodge, jr.

Richard More's bill of cost, 2li. 12s. 8d.

Henry Kenny, aged about fifty-five years, testified that he was a soldier under Major Sedgwick about twenty-five years ago, at the taking of St. John's from the French and heard Capt. Lawthrop ask the General to give him a bell, which the General promised to do. Sworn in court.

Henry Skerry, marshal, deposed that when he served the attachment, Thomas Tuck told him that he and some others took the bell out of Capt. Richard More's yard.

Mr. Jeremy Hubbard of Topsfield deposed that he had heard divers times Thom. Tuck say that he and Thomas Picton took the bell. This was when deponent was minister at Bass river, now Beverly. Sworn in court.


Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts, Volume 7 (Google eBook) 1678-1680  Salem, Ma. 1919 

So Thomas freely admitted he had stolen the bell from Richard More's yard.

There's more testimony, which will be in the next post.


 My 8x great grandfather Thomas Rowlandson seems to have been moderately active in the
 Salisbury, Ma. community. Here's what David Webster Hoyt wrote about him in his book:

2 Thomas^ Rowlandson [or Rolenson] {Thomas^), of Ipswich and  Salisbury, m. May 17, 1653[S Sm], Dorothy Portland. He was of Ip. in 1648 ; rem. to S. ab. 1652, taxed in S. that year and in 1659 ; signed petitions of 1658 and '80 ; member of S. chh. 1677 ; d. July, 1682[S] ; will July 7, Sep. 21, 1682 ; wife Dorothy ment. ; also son Joseph and four daus., without giving names. Wid. seems to be named " Dorothy Perin," in 1689 ; but " Dorothy Rowlandson " appears in 1694. Children :

6 i Elizabeth,3 b. June 7, 16.54[S]; d. July 29, 16o5[S].
7 ii Thomas,3 b. July 5, 1656rs] ; killed by Indians in the attack upon  his uncle's house in Lancaster, Feb. 10, 1675-6.
8 iii Sarah,3 b. Aug. 5, 1658[S]; m. Dec. 5, 1684[S], (18) Nicholas Bond.+
9 iv Elizabeth,3 b. Feb. 26, 1660[S] ;* [m. John Ellenwood, and d. bef. 1706?].t
10 v Joseph,3 b. Feb. 18, 1663[S]; res. S.; "cordwinder" in 1689; d. bef. Sep. 28, 1694, when his mother Dorothy was ap. adm. his est.
11 vI Mary 3 b. Aug. 24, ]666[S]; m. Feb. 7, 1687-8[S], (1) Jonathan Blodgett. +
12 vii Martha,3 b. Aug. 24, 1666[S],* [twin], prob. m. bef. 1706, Ralph Ellenwood. t
13 viii John, 3 b. March 20, 1667-8[S] ; prob. d. young.
14 ix Ann 3 b. March 16, 1668-9[S] ; prob. d. young.  p.307

The old families of Salisbury and Amesbury, Massachusetts ; with some related families of Newbury, Haverhill, Ipswich and Hampton Vol 1 Providence, RI. 1897

There's also an interesting footnote about his estate:

t In an agreement about the est. of Thomas Rowlandson, signed April 8, 1706, by wid. Sarah Bond and Samuel Joy, of S., (in right as purchaser of J. Blodgett and Mary his wife), " John Eleuwood and Ralph Elenwood and Martha his wife," are given as children of Thomas Rowlandson. The will of Ralph Ellenwood of Beverly, 1674, ment. wife Eleanor, and chil. : Ralph, John, Joseph, Benjamin, David, Mary, and Elizabeth. John  and Benj. Ellenwood, sons of Ralph Ellenwood, deed., were living in Beverly in 1694. p.307 ibid.

I've found the original probate file at but haven't transcribed it as yet.
I haven't found the later agreement, though.

I've been thinking about something that occurred to me when I first read the information in
Hoyt's book. Salisbury is roughly twenty five miles north of Beverly up the Massachusetts
coastline. Today that's not that far by car but back in the mid-to late 17th century that was
quite a distance. I assume Ralph Ellingwood met Martha Rowlandson because she was his
sister in law. But how did his older brother John meet Elizabeth Rowlandson?

Monday, March 27, 2017


My 7x great grandmother Martha (Rowlandson) Ellingwood was the granddaughter of immigrant
ancestor Thomas Rowlandson Sr..
I found the following entry for him in  David Webster Hoyt's book The old families of Salisbury 
and Amesbury, Massachusetts ; with some related families of Newbury, Haverhill, Ipswich and Hampton Vol 1:

1 Thomas^ Rowlandson [Rolenson, or Rawlinson], of Ipswich and Lancaster, m. Bridget___ . He was in Ip. in 1637 ; free. 1688 ; rem. to L. in 1655 ; d. there, Nov. 17, 1657. Wid. Bridget m. May 31, 1659, William Kerley, Sen. ; she d. June 14, 1662. Children : 

2 i Thomas,2 b. ; m. May 17, 1653, Dorothy Portland. +
3 ii Elizabeth.^ b. ; m. 1st, Dea. Richard Wells of S.; 2d, Oct. 24, or 27, 1677, John Harris of Rw. +
4 iii Martha,2 b. ; m. (2) John Eaton. +
5 iv Joseph,^ b. ab. 1631 ; m. 1656, Mary White. + 


The old families of Salisbury and Amesbury, Massachusetts ; with some related families of Newbury, Haverhill, Ipswich and Hampton Vol 1 Providence, RI. 1897

Hoyt uses the abbreviations S. for Salisbury, Ip. for Ipswich and L. for Lancaster, all in Massachusetts.

Thomas Sr. died intestate. I found the probate file with the estate inventory over on the website but it will take a bit to decipher it.

There's a link here with my dad's maternal Barker line through the marriage of youngest son
Joseph Rowlandson'smarriage to Mary White

Friday, March 24, 2017


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Before I start posting about the Ellingwood wives,a brief overview.

Most of my Dad's colonial  ancestors on his mom's side are from the counties north and west of Boston. But on his father's there are four branches from the south in Plymouth County, and two
are from Ellingwood marriages.

The first is through my 3x great grandmother Rachel Barrows who married John Ellingwood Jr.

The other is 2x great grandmother Florilla Dunham, wife of Asa Ellingwood. Florilla was an Ellingwood descendant herself, and when I try to print out a descendant chart between Asa Ellingwood and my Dad, it gives it through Florilla because she is descended from Ralph's oldest child, Mary Ellingwood,

From the other Ellingwood wives I have more connections to the north and in some cases to 
families on the Barker side of the family,.

I'll be discussing the family of my 7x great  grandmother Martha Rowlandson first.

Friday, March 17, 2017


((In honor of St Patrick's Day and my Mom's Irish family, I'm reprinting this transcription of
the  newspaper account of the death of Frank McFarland, who I believe to be my great
granduncle. Like many Irish immigrants to Boston in the 1800's, he worked at construction jobs ))

Here is my transcription of the story in the Boston Daily Globe on Saturday, August 14th,1886
with the details of the terrible accident that took my great granduncle Frank McFarland's life
on the day before which, I just now realized, was Friday the 13th!  One of his two brothers mentioned
in the report was probably my great grandfather John McFarland . For some reason, the reporter
spells the family name as McFarlane:   

"Dead Under Tons of Land
Frank McFarlane's Living Burial
The Caving Ditch at Brighton And The Struggle for Life
The Successful Search For The Body
Cunningham's Escape"

The body of Frank McFarlane, who yesterday morning at 10.30 was buried by
the accidental caving in of the sides of a ditch in which he was working, was
discovered last evening at 5.26. He was sent about nine days ago to brace the
sewer ditch on Waverley street, Brighton. On account of the treacherous
character of the soil, which is of a sandy, gravelly nature, a skilful man was
required. Yesterday morning Mr. Grace, who is superintending the construction
of the sewer, spoke to McFarlane about polling braces at the bottom of the
ditch, which was about fifteen feet deep. At first McFarlane thought such
precaution  unnecessary, but finally decided to act upon the suggestion,
and, taking Thomas Cunningham, had begun strengthening the bottom of
the ditch when one of the men above cried:

"Come out, both of you, as quick as you can; the ditch is caving!"

Cunningham immediately ran towards the nearest exit, which was at the
westerly end, and McFarlane, after a moment, started for the opening in the
opposite direction. Cunningham succeeded in making his escape while, as
the result showed, McFarlane was overtaken about half way between the
point from which he started and the exit, and was buried alive beneath
tons of sand and gravel.

All the afternoon a gang of about sixty men, many of them without dinner,
labored hard and earnestly with the faint hope that the braces might have fallen
from both sides and prevented him from being crushed. As the afternoon
wore on and the loose soil continued caving and preventing rapid headway
this hope began to vanish, and at about 5.26, when John Coughlin cried,
"Here he is!" scarcely one of the immense crowd that had gathered expected
to see anything but a lifeless corpse.

At the moment the body was found two men rushed in from the crowd which
had been roped off by the officers, and, in spite of the detaining cries of those
in charge, made straight for the edge of the ditch, crying: "Is his name Mcfarlane?
Is he dead?" They were the two brothers of the victim, and had spent the
afternoon in a wild search among the hospitals and police stations of the city
for their brother, whom they had heard was killed.The grief of these two
strong men, both of whom sat around on the ground and wept like children,
was heartrending.

It was almost an hour after the body was discovered that it could be extricated
from the earth and timbers. When this was at length accomplished, and the
body of the unfortunate man was borne in the rough and brawny arms of his
comrades carefully and gently to the ambulance which was in waiting, sobs
and exclamations of pity arose from all sides. The hands were found to be
open with the fingers close together, like those of a man swimming, while
upon the face was a calm look, as if the victim, after a brief struggle with his
hands, had desisted and become resigned to his fate.

The body was conveyed to Station 14, whence it will be removed to 13 Coventry
street, where the unfortunate man lived, Although McFarlane was unmarried
and had no family of his own, he leaves an aged father and mother, to whose
support he was the principal contributor. "

My great grandfather John McFarland  had already lost two infant children and now with
the death of his brother must have decided to purchase a family plot at St. Benedict's Cemetery.
The burial didn't take place until a week later after the children were exhumed and all three were
buried on the same day,

Of the twelve McFarland family members on the list, only the last four are on the headstone:
my great grandparents John and Ann, my grandaunt Winifred, and my grandmother Agnes.

Thursday, March 16, 2017


((In honor of St Patrick's Day, I'm reposting this from March, 2012))

I've written before about the way some work of chance leads me to
encounters with places related to my family's history. Last month
I took some pictures in a local cemetery that I thought might make a
good St Patrick's Day post, a reminder of the perils our Irish ancestors
braved to come to America. But when I researched the story behind
a stone monument, I didn't realize that while I was not related to the
dead it commemorated, I was connected to it in another way.

A tall Celtic cross sits atop a small hill in the midst of the Central Cemetery in
Cohasset, Ma, overlooking a tidal pond. On the landward side is the
following inscription:

This Cross Was Erected And Dedicated
May 30th 1914 By The A.O.H. And The L.A.A.O.H.
Of Massachusetts To Mark The Final
Resting Place Of About Forty Five
Irish Emigrants From A Total Company
Of Ninety Nine Who Lost Their Lives
On Grampus Ledge Off  Cohasset
October 7, 1849 In The Wreck Of The
Brig St.John From Galway Ireland

Edwin Victor Bigelow gives the details of the wreck of the St.John in
his A Narrative History of the Town of Cohasset, Massachusetts, published
by the Cohasset Town Historical Commission in 1898:

On Sunday morning at seven o'clock, October 7, 1849, under a heavy northeast
storm, the British brig St. John, loaded with immigrants brought from Galway,
Ireland, was driven upon Grampus Ledge near Minot, and ninetynine lives
were lost. Another brig, the Kathleen, had managed to creep into the mouth
of our harbor and to anchor; but the St. John was farther out where the gale
struck furiously and made her drag anchors.

The masts were cut away, but still she dragged on. After the first heavy thump
on the Grampus Rock the old hulk rapidly tumbled to bits. Previous to the
breaking up, the jolly-boat was hanging by the tackles alongside when the
stern ringbolt broke and she fell into the waves. Captain Oliver, the second
mate, and two boys jumped into her to clear her, when about twenty-five
passengers poured into her and swamped her so that all perished but the
captain. The first mate hauled in the captain, who caught the end of a rope.

Then the longboat was loosed and the captain with the first mate and eight
of the crew and two passengers scrambled into her, reaching shore at the
Glades. Many more passengers were drowned in their desperate endeavors
to get into the longboat which saved the captain and crew. Ten others, upon
a piece of the deck which was wrenched off by the waves, were floated
safely to shore, seven men and three women.

The St. John was only an hour in tumbling to pieces under the incessant banging
of the waves upon her. Ninety-nine lives were lost and twenty-two were saved.
One of the survivors was a young woman who afterwards settled in Cohasset,
marrying a man whose name was by strange coincidence St. John. (pp463-464)

You can also read about the aftermath of the wreck by no less an author than
Henry David Thoreau who happened upon the scene the day after the storm
as bodies were being recovered and buried by the townspeople of
Cohasset. His account of the incident can be found in his book On Cape Cod.

Now we come to the coincidence:

The wreck of the St John took place while construction was being completed
of a lighthouse at nearby Minot Rock. On page 463 of Bigelow's book, just
before his recounting of the tragedy, there is this on the lighthouse:

"It was finished in the fall of 1849, and Isaac A. Dunham took charge of it,
lighting the lamp for the first time on December 13, 1849."

Isaac Dunham was the first Keeper of Minot Light. Even though it was not
in service at the time of the storm that sank the St John, he was present in
Cohasset and part of the group dealing with the aftermath. He stayed 
at Minot Light only ten months, resigning in 1850 because he felt the
structure was unsafe. A year later the first Minot Lighthouse was destroyed
by a terrible storm, taking the lives of two men stationed there.

My great great grandmother was Florilla Dunham, and while I haven't figured
out how we're related just yet, in all probability Isaac Dunham is my distant

And I wouldn't have known about him except for taking these pictures in
the cemetery in Cohasset, and then using two of them for a St Patrick's
Day post!