Friday, October 31, 2014


I was a third grader at the Frank V Thompson School in Boston's
Dorchester section when I first read this poem in our English text
book. Years later I used to post it every Halloween on an email
list for a fantasy role playing group. I think our Mom once or twice
recited the "Gobble-uns 'll git you ef you don't watch out!" part. 

 Anyway, it's the best Halloween poem I know. Enjoy.

And `ware th' Gobble-uns!

Little Orphant Annie

by James Whitcomb Riley.

LITTLE Orphant Annie ’s come to our house to stay,   
An’ wash the cups and saucers up, an’ brush the crumbs away,   
An’ shoo the chickens off the porch, an’ dust the hearth, an’ sweep,   
An’ make the fire, an’ bake the bread, an’ earn her board-an’-keep;   
An’ all us other children, when the supper things is done,         
We set around the kitchen fire an’ has the mostest fun   
A-list’nin’ to the witch-tales ’at Annie tells about,   
An’ the Gobble-uns ’at gits you   
        Ef you   

Onc’t they was a little boy would n’t say his pray’rs—   
An’ when he went to bed at night, away up stairs,   
His mammy heerd him holler, an’ his daddy heerd him bawl,           
An’ when they turn’t the kivvers down, he was n’t there at all!   
An’ they seeked him in the rafter-room, an’ cubby-hole, an’ press,   
An’ seeked him up the chimbly-flue, an’ ever’wheres, I guess;   
But all they ever found was thist his pants an’ roundabout!   
An’ the Gobble-uns ’ll git you           
        Ef you   

An’ one time a little girl ’ud allus laugh an’ grin,         
An’ make fun of ever’ one, an’ all her blood-an’-kin;   
An’ onc’t when they was “company,” an’ ole folks was there,   
She mocked ’em an’ shocked ’em, an’ said she did n’t care!   
An’ thist as she kicked her heels, an’ turn’t to run an’ hide,   
They was two great big Black Things a-standin’ by her side,          
An’ they snatched her through the ceilin’ ’fore she knowed what she ’s about!   
An’ the Gobble-uns ’ll git you   
        Ef you   

An’ little Orphant Annie says, when the blaze is blue,   
An’ the lampwick sputters, an’ the wind goes woo-oo!   
An’ you hear the crickets quit, an’ the moon is gray,   
An’ the lightnin’-bugs in dew is allsquenched away,—        
You better mind yer parents, and yer teachers fond and dear,   
An’ churish them ’at loves you, an’ dry the orphant’s tear,   
An’ he’p the pore an’ needy ones ’at clusters all about,   
Er the Gobble-uns ’ll git you   
        Ef you           

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


((I first posted this on October 31, 2007.))

One of the many islands of Boston Harbor is Castle Island, though
for many years it’s been “attached” to the South Boston mainland
and is reachable by foot. In fact it was a favorite meeting place
used by the reputed mob boss Whitey Bulger.

The first fortifications on the island were begun in 1634 and
eventually they became Fort Independence, which has a long and
fascinating history.

But for this Halloween I’m writing about a certain young soldier
who, according to Edward Rowe Snow in his book “The Islands of
Boston Harbor”
, enlisted in the First Artillery on 26th May,
1827 and was sent to Fort Independence where he served for five
months under the name Edgar A. Perry.

His real name was Edgar Allan Poe.

While there, Snow speculates, Poe would have heard about a fatal
duel that took place on Christmas Eve seven years before in 1817
between two officers which resulted in the death of a Lt. Robert
Massie. Snow doesn’t give the name of the other officer involved
but he tells about the burial of the dead man on the island and
quotes the inscriptions on it. Lt. Massie’s remains and the
headstone, by the way, were moved three times and as of the
time that Mr.Snow was writing had ended up at the cemetery at
Ft. Devens in 1939. ((pp.68-69))

Snow and others over the years have pointed to the story of Lt.
Massie’s death as the inspiration for “A Cask of Amontillado” but
there are few facts available. For one thing the identity of the
second man varies from story to story. The basic story goes that
Massie’s opponent was a bully and that the dead lieutenant’s
friends took revenge by walling his killer up alive in one of the
casement walls. But again, there is no record showing an officer
mysteriously disappeared without a trace in the time after
Massie’s death.

Snow later in the chapter later says that an elderly man told him
that in 1905 a skeleton dressed in an old military uniform was
found when a sealed casement was opened during repairs to the
fort. They weren’t able to find out who it was and so it was
eventually buried. (p 76)

So far I haven’t found anything online about the discovery and
most critics dismiss the story about the skeleton as folklore. But
whether or not there was someone actually buried alive, it’s quite
possible Poe used some for the elements of the event in his story.

And even the dispute over the folktale is very Poe-like.

There may be another Boston area story that inspired Poe. I
recall reading once about somebody, the wife of the Governor of
the Colony, I think, hosting a party or ball during an epidemic and
that Poe might have been inspired to write “The Masque of The
Red Death” after hearing about it.

The information for this post came from:

Snow, Edward Rowe, “The Islands of Boston Harbor”
Commonwealth Editions, Beverly, Ma.

copyright© 1935,1971 by Edward Rowe Snow
copyright© 2002 by Dorothy Snow Bicknell


Fellow geneablogger Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small has issued the
52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge. Basically, we have to post something every
week on a different ancestor, whether a story, picture, or research problem. For
this prompt I've tried to concentrate on ancestors I haven't researched as much
as I have others in my family. Recently I've been posting about my Barnes
Hoyt, and Colby ancestors. In this post I'll discuss my 8x great grandfather Samuel

There's not much information about John, and none at all about who his wife
might have been. I do have this from another of William Richard Cutter's books
on New England genealogy:

John Kelly, the immigrant ancestor, was one of the early settlers of Newbury,
Massachusetts, where he is said to have been in 1635, coming from Newbury,
England. Not much is definitely known of him after his arrival, and nothing is known
of his life in England. He received a grant in Newbury of a house lot of four acres
near the Great River, "bounded by the River on the north, John Pemerton on the
west, by the way on the south, and John Merrill on the east." He also received at
the same time, a planting lot of four acres on the same neck of land, the date being
doubtless the year 1639, when many other similar grants were made. The Great river
is the river Parker. John Kelly also seems to have had a house lot granted him in another part of the town which was mentioned in a record of his son's grant. His 

house was on the north side of Oldtown Hill, and he does not seem to have used 
either of his grants. He was so far separated from the town that the citizens took
a vote that if he should be killed by the Indians because of living so far from the 
others, "his blood should be on his own head." He died December 28, 1644. According to tradition, he was born in Exeter, Devonshire, England. Children: Sarah, born February 12, 1641, and John, mentioned below.
New England Families, Genealogical and Memorial: A Record of the Achievements of Her People in the Making of Commonwealths and the Founding of a Nation, Volume 4 (Google eBook) Lewis historical publishing Company, 1915, (Boston, Ma.)

I particularly like the concern shown for my ancestor by his fellow townspeople.

Well, obviously John Kelley survived long enough to start a family, since I'm here
writing this today nearly 300 years later!

Friday, October 24, 2014


Fellow geneablogger Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small has issued the
52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge. Basically, we have to post something every
week on a different ancestor, whether a story, picture, or research problem. For
this prompt I've tried to concentrate on ancestors I haven't researched as much
as I have others in my family. Recently I've been posting about my Barnes
Hoyt, and Colby ancestors. Those three came together because of the marriage
of my subject for this post, William Hoyt, to Dorothy Colby who were my 7x
great grandparents.

There's not much about William in David Webster Hoyt's Hoyt family genealogy:

William,2 b. Sep. 5, 1660; m. Dorothy Colby, dau. SamColby, Sen., Jan. 12, 1687-8
(36); d. July 19, 1728. His grandfather, Wm. Barnes, for whom he was probably named,
deeded him two or three pieces of land. From the Old Norfolk records, we learn that
he took "ye oath of Allegiance & fidelity" before Maj. Robert Pike, in " Eamsbery,"
Dec. 20, 1677. The town records state, that he was chosen tithingman, 1693-4 and 1697-8. He probably lived at or near " Lion's Mouth." Will dated 13 May, 1728, 

proved' Aug. 5, 1728. Inventory taken Aug. 2, 1728. "Homestead Living containing about thirty-four Acres & his dwelling House on said Land," £227. Whole amount, £323. Homestead sold to Gideon Lowell,.Jr., Sep;, 1728: bounded S. and W. by land 
of John Blaisdell, N. by John Jewell and Abner Hoyt, E. by " high way in the Hallow." His wife, Dorothy, survived him, and probably removed to Methuen with her sons, 
Wm.4 and Philip.4. A Dorothy Hoit was admitted to the Methuen church, " by dismission from another church," in 1731; and was dismissed, to unite with another church, in 1740.

Hoyt family: A genealogical history of John Hoyt of Salisbury, and David Hoyt of Deerfield, (Massachusetts,) and their descendants: with some account of the earlier Connecticut Hoyts, and an appendix, containing the family record of William Barnes of Salisbury, a list of the first settlers of Salisbury and Amesbury, & c (Google eBook) by David Webster Hoyt (C. Benjamin Richardson, Boston, Ma. 1857)

Other than that I haven't found much out about William Hoyt. But he did accomplish a
very important task: he married Dorothy Colby and together they produced children, including my ancestress Susannah Hoyt.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


My distant cousin Jonathan Moulton's first wife was Ann Smith who he married
in 1749 and with whom he had a family of eleven children. She died of smallpox
in 1775. He married  Sarah Emery in 1776, and their marriage resulted in four
more children. She is the "new wife" in a poem written by my 4th cousin 6x
removed John Greenleaf Whittier.   It's probable that Whittier may have met
one or more of Moulton's adult children, but as the foreword to the poem
indicates, he certainly was familiar with the legends that had sprung up
about Jonathan Moulton


[the following Ballad is founded upon one of the marvellous legends connected
with the famous Gen. M., of Hampton, N. H., who was regarded by his neighbors
as a Yankee Faust, in league with the adversary. I give the story, as I heard it when
a child, from a venerable family visitant.]

Dark the halls, and cold the feast—
Gone the bridemaids, gone the priest!
All is over — all is done,
Twain of yesterday are one!
Blooming girl and manhood grey,
Autumn in the arms of May!

Hushed within and hushed without,
Dancing feet and wrestlers' shout;
Dies the bonfire on the hill;
All is dark and all is still,
Save the starlight, save the breeze
Moaning through the grave-yard trees;
And the great sea-waves below,
Like the night's pulse, beating slow.

From the brief dream of a bride
She hath wakened, at his side.
With half uttered shriek and start —
Feels she not his beating heart?
And the pressure of his arm,
And his breathing near and warm?

Lightly from the bridal bed
Springs that fair dishevelled head,
And a feeling, new, intense,
Half of shame, half innocence,
Maiden fear and wonder speaks
Through her lips and changing cheeks.

From the oaken mantel glowing
Faintest light the lamp is throwing
On the mirror's antique mould,
High-backed chair, and wainscot old,
And, through faded curtains stealing,
His dark sleeping face revealing.

Listless lies the strong man there,
Silver-streaked his careless hair;
Lips of love have left no trace
On that hard and haughty face;
And that forehead's knitted thought
Love's soft hand hath not unwrought.

"Yet," she sighs, "he loves me well,
More than these calm lips will tell.
Stooping to my lowly state,
He hath made me rich and great,
And I bless him, though he be
Hard and stern to all save me!"

While she speaketh, falls the light
O'er her fingers small and white;
Gold and gem, and costly ring
Back the timid lustre fling —
Love's selectest gifts, and rare,
His proud hand had fastened there.

Gratefully she marks the glow
From those tapering lines of snow;
Fondly o'er the sleeper bending
His black hair with golden blending,
In her soft and light caress,
Cheek and lip together press.

Ha !— that start of horror !— Why
That wild stare and wilder cry,
Full of terror, full of pain?
Is there madness in her brain?
Hark! that gasping, hoarse and low:
"Spare me — spare me — let me go!"

God have mercy !— Icy cold
Spectral hands her own enfold,
Drawing silently from them
Love's fair gifts of gold and gem,
"Waken! save me!" still as death
At her side he slumbereth.

Ring and bracelet all are gone,
And that ice-cold hand withdrawn;
But she hears a murmur low,
Full of sweetness, full of woe,
Half a sigh and half a moan:
"Fear not! give the dead her own!"

Ah ! — the dead wife's voice she knows !
That cold hand whose pressure froze,
Once in warmest life had borne
Gem and band her own hath worn.
"Wake thee! wake thee!" Lo, his eyes
Open with a dull surprise.

In his arms the strong man folds her,
Closer to his breast he holds her;
Trembling limbs his own are meeting,
And he feels her heart's quick beating:
"Nay, my dearest, why this fear?"
"Hush!" she saith, "the dead is here!"

"Nay, a dream — an idle dream."
But before the lamp's pale gleam
 Tremblingly her hand she raises,—
There no more the diamond blazes,
Clasp of pearl, or ring of gold, —
"Ah!" she sighs, "her hand was cold!"

Broken words of cheer he saith,
But his dark lip quivereth,
And as o'er the past he thinketh,
From his young wife's arms he shrinketh;
Can those soft arms round him lie,
Underneath his dead wife's eye?

She her fair young head can rest
Soothed and child-like on his breast,
And in trustful innocence
Draw new strength and courage thence;
He, the proud man, feels within
But the cowardice of sin!

She can murmur in her thought
Simple prayers her mother taught,
And His blessed angels call,
Whose great love is over all;
He, alone, in prayerless pride,
Meets the dark Past at her side!

One, who living shrank with dread,
From his look, or word, or tread,
Unto whom her early grave
Was as freedom to the slave,
Moves him at this midnight hour,
With the dead's unconscious power!

Ah, the dead, the unforgot!
From their solemn homes of thought,
Where the cypress shadows blend
Darkly over foe and friend,
Or in love or sad rebuke,
Back upon the living look.

And the tenderest ones and weakest,
Who their wrongs have borne the meekest,
Lifting from those dark, still places,
Sweet and sad-remembered faces,
O'er the guilty hearts behind
An unwitting triumph find.


John Greenleaf Whittier Poems Benjamin B. Mussey , Pub. Boston, Ma. 1850

Monday, October 20, 2014


Last year for Halloween I blogged about various New England legends and
folkore, some of which posts I may repost this year. But tonight I was looking
for a new spooky legend and found a poem about a distant cousin written by
another equally distant cousin.

I am a descendant of 10x great grandfather John Moulton and his wife Anne.
One of their other descendants  is my second cousin 9x removed Jonathan
Moulton.  William Richard Cutter says this about him:

(IV) General Jonathan Moulton, son of Jacob Moulton, was born in Hampton, New
Hampshire, June 30, 1726, and died there in 1788, aged sixty-two years. He owned
a large amount of land and was a wealthy man. It was largely through his efforts
that two or three towns in the state were settled, as is told in the "Farmer and
Moore's Gazetteer" of 1823. On November 17, 1763, Moulton borough was granted
to him and sixty-one others by the Masonian proprietors. He had a distinguished
reputation for service in the Indian wars along the northern borders of the new town
before it was settled, in 1763. and many stories are told of his adventures at that time. Doubtless his service against the Ossipee Indians was the principal reason of placing
him at the head of the grantees. Through his efforts the grant for New Hampton was
obtained from Governor Went worth. It is said he obtained it by presenting the governor with an ox weighing one thousand four hundred pounds, which he drove to Portsmouth and for which he refused money, saying he preferred the charter to the 

land which he named New Hampton. The town of Centre Harbor was formed from a part of his grant called Moultonborough Addition. He was known as a fearless commander, and although his reticence and dignified bearing aroused the displeasure of some, he must have been thoroughly trustworthy and competent to be intrusted 
with such important commissions as were placed in his hands. He served many 
years in the legislature. He was a shrewd business man, ahead of his time in many ways. The poet Whittier has made him the hero of his poem, "The New Wife and 
the Old." S. A. Drake, in his "New England Legends and Folk Lore," has written an amusing story founded on the legend of Jonathan Moulton and the Devil...

New England Families, Genealogical and Memorial: A Record of the Achievements of Her People in the Making of Commonwealths and the Founding of a Nation, Volume 4 (Google eBook) Lewis historical publishing Company, 1915

Cutter then includes Drake's story about the Devil which is long so I won't include
it here, but there is this added by Drake at the end of it:

Another legend runs to the effect that upon the death of his wife—as evil report would have it— under very suspicious circumstances, the General paid court to a young woman who had been companion of his deceased spouse. They were married. In the middle of the night the young bride awoke with a start. She felt an invisible hand trying to take off from her finger the wedding-ring that had once belonged to the dead and buried Mrs. Moulton. Shrieking with fright, she jumped out of bed, thus awakening her husband, who tried in vain to calm her fears. Candles were lighted and search was made for the ring: but as it could never be found again, the ghostly visitor was supposed to have carried it away with her. This story is the same that is told by Whittier in the New Wife and the Old.- p2305

So of course when I read that John Greenleaf Whittier has written a poem about the
story of the two wives, I had to look for a copy of it. I found one, and I'll share it
with you in the next blogpost.

Saturday, October 18, 2014


This morning I did something I rarely do anymore: I got up at 6am. Today was the
yearly New England Geneabloggers Bash, and it was being held at Sara Campbell's
house out in Erving, Ma. So I got up early, and made sure I had my camera, cellphone,
and GPS all charged up, and away I went.

It was foggy when I left my apartment but most of it burned off as I drove north
and west. I took 495 and then Rte2 (also known as the Mohawk Trail) and the foliage
was beautiful  I don't understand why the state doesn't place a few rest areas along
495 because I sure wanted to take pictures and stopping in the middle of busy 495
to do so just wasn't an option. At any rate,I made pretty good time and I very
nearly made it all the way to Sara's without straying off course....until I took the
wrong left turn onto Bridge St instead of onto Maple. The GPS directed me on a
four mile workaround(which I think it did to teach me a lesson) which included
a stretch on Mormon Hollow Rd (a very appropriate name considering I was going to
a genealogy bash.) It was very hilly, and there was some nice views down into
several valleys.

I finally arrived at the correct address (just as the battery on my GPS died) and
spent the afternoon with some very nice people, some of whom I'd already met
and some who I met for the first time. We discussed genealogy, family history,
computers, cameras, television programs and the weather. There was good food,
good conversation, and a falling pumpkin.

There were about 18 attendees and I wish I had more time to talk with them all.
But I left at around 3pm, and despite missing the 495 turnoff, made it home safely.

I had fun, and I'm looking forward to next years' Bash,

Thanks Sara, for once again hosting the Bash.

Friday, October 17, 2014


Fellow geneablogger Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small has issued the
52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge. Basically, we have to post something every
week on a different ancestor, whether a story, picture, or research problem. For
this prompt I've tried to concentrate on ancestors I haven't researched as much
as I have others in my family. Recently I've been posting about my Barnes
Hoyt, and Colby ancestors. In this post I'll discuss my 8x great grandfather Samuel

I haven't found much about Samuel although there is an interesting connection
between him and an ancestor from another of my family lines:

(II) Samuel Colby, of Amesbury and Haverhill, planter and innholder, was born
in 1639. He was a soldier of King Philip's war and served under Captain Turner in
the Falls fight, March 18. 1676. He married, before 1668. Elizabeth, daughter of William Sargent. Samuel Colby had a grant of land in Amesbury in 1659, again in 1662; was townsman then in 1660; lived in Haverhill in 1668, 1672, 1674, and probably in 1677, although he was in Amesbury in 1676, perhaps for the safety of his family during the war in which he took part. He took the oath of allegiance ;and fidelity in Amesbury in December, 1677, and was representative from there in 1689. His will bears date July 2, 1716. His widow Elizabeth died February 5,1736-37. According to the Amesbury records they had five children: 1. Dorothy,born about 1668; married William Hoyt. 2. Elizabeth, June 1, 1670, died young.3. Samuel, March 9, 1671. 4. Daughter, April 2,1672. 5. Philip, probably married,May 1, 1703, Annie Webster.

William Richard Cutter, Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of Boston and Eastern Massachusetts, Volume 4(Google eBook) Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1910 Boston (Mass.)

The Captain Turner Samuel Colby served under was William Turner, who later was
killed at Deerfield, Ma. Turner's command was then given to another of my ancestors,
9x great grandfather Jeremiah Swain, but I don't know if Samuel Colby continued
his service under Swain. 

And of course his the marriage of his Dorothy to William Hoyt brought the two families