Monday, July 25, 2016


From June 2007:

I’ve described here before how I occasionally pick one name from
my family tree and do a quick Google to see if I can find anything
about them that I haven’t found before. Lately I’ve been doing
this at the Google Book website.

About a week ago I was looking for more confirmation of the
marriage of John Ellingwood (Ellinwood or Ellenwood in some of
the records) to Zerviah Abbott and my googling brought me to the
book " A Genealogical Register of the Descendants of George
Abbot, of Andover: George Abbot, of Rowley, Thomas Abbot of
Andover, Arthur Abbot, of Ipswich, Robert Abbot, of Branford
Ct., and George Abbot of Norwalk, Ct"

Which, for interests of time and my aching fingers, will henceforth
be referred to in this piece as the Abbot Genealogical Register or

On Page 71 I found “Zerviah A.” listed among the children of
Jonathan and Mehitabel Abbott(they were both Abbotts by birth
descended from George Abbott and Hannah Chandler and were
3rd cousins) and her marriage in 1789 to “John Ellenwood” of
Bethel. I looked through the list of their children and compared
it to what I already had here, adding the names of spouses and
children I hadn’t know about to my files. Among them I found
listed my ancestor John E., his marriage to Rachel Barrows and
the names of their children includes my 2x great grandfather
Asa F. Ellingwood.

(Asa would marry Florilla Dunham in 1850 and it’s through them
that I’m related to Tim Abbott and Chris Dunham.)

While adding the names of Zerviah and John’s children to my files
one of the entries caught my interest. Their oldest child Sarah is
listed in the AGR as marrying a Thomas Libbey of Newry and
having a son with the name Varanes. It certainly was one of the
more unusual names I’ve run across among the family and it
made me wonder what had become of Varanes Libbey. So I
googled his name. There wasn’t much online on Varanes but there
was a surprise.

I found Varanes on a website on the early history of the Mormon
Church in Lowell Mass. that was compiled by Martha Mayo and
Connell O’Donovan. There are brief biographies of the church
members and Varanes is under the name Varanes/Varanus/
Veranus Libbe (or Libby):

“Born about 1819 in Maine or New Hampshire to Samuel Libby
and Sarah Stevens Ellenwood of Saco, York, Maine. Married Ann
Smith in 1842 (in Lowell?) Worked as a manufacturer and "white
washer" in the Lowell mills. Baptized in Lowell by Wilford
Woodruff on October 16, 1844 (along with Mary Thornton), and
almost immediately was made Branch President. By mid-
December 1844, he was replaced as Lowell Branch President by
travelling missionary Elder Jesse W. Crosby. He probably left
the Mormon Church about that time as well. Varanus and Ann
had three daughters: Lydia, Emma, and Charlotte.

Lydia A. Libby was born September 27, 1843 in Lowell. She never
married and lived with her parents the rest of her life, becoming a
dress maker to help support her family.

Emma Priscilla Libby was born June 2, 1849 in Medford,
Middlesex, Mass. She married Hugh Martin of Nova Scotia,
Canada in November 1869, and they also lived with her parents,
Varanus and Ann Smith Libby. Emma and Hugh Martin had one
daughter, Elizabeth E. Martin, born about 1872 in Lowell.

The last of the three daughters, Charlotte W. Libby, was born
about 1854. In 1870, she is living at home in Chelsea.

By the 1880 Census, the extended Varanus Libby family (except
Ann Smith Libby who had apparently dead) was all living
together on Walnut Street in Chelsea, Suffolk, Massachusetts
along with Ann's brother Elijah R. Smith.”

This was naturally all new to me since I hadn’t even known of
Varanes’ existence until an hour before I read this entry. I’m fairly
sure my Dad knew nothing of it. But his grandmother Clara
Ellingwood had died while both her sons were quite young so it is
possible that they’d never heard about their cousin Varanes.

I emailed Connell O’Donovan for permission to quote from his
website and research which he graciously gave.In his reply says
that he feels Varanes’s departure from the Latter Day Saints might
have been part of the upheavals over the doctrine of polygamy.
He included information that will appear in an article he hopes to
publish next year and which I’ll not mention here until it does
appear but there will be further mention of Varanes in it.

I’ll have some more thoughts on this in the next post.

Friday, July 22, 2016


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Monday, July 18, 2016


This week's subject is my 10x great grandfather Nathan Aldis of Dedham, Ma. He is sometimes erroneously referred to as Nathaniel Aldis. I found this article written by Frederick H. Whitin, The Aldis Family in America, 1640-1800 in Google Books:

Of the English ancestry of the American family nothing is known. The earliest American record of Nathan Aldis, the Emigrant, is his admission to the Dedham Church on February 11, 1639-40 (II. 22).1 Mary, wife of "brother Alldys," was admitted March 11,1640-41 (II. 24.) He was chosen one of the first deacons of the Church on June 23, 1650 (II. 35). He became a freeman on May 13, 1640 (Mass. Col. Rec. I. 377).

Nathan Aldis first appears in town affairs as a "viewer of fences," April 17, 1640 (III. 67). He was selectman for the years 1641, 1642 and 1644 (III. 75-100). This proves incorrect the statement 

of Paige (History of Cambridge, Authority, unless otherwise stated, Hill's Dedham Records. 
p. 479) that in 1642, Nathan Aldus occupied land near what is now Harvard Square and Dunster Street.

As a Dedham proprietor, Nathan Aldis signed the Dedham Covenant, as did also his only son, John. As such, he received various grants of land, but always in small quantities (III. 95, 108, i11, 211). This is explained by the small number of cow-commons, the unit of proprietorship, which he held. The number varied, being seventeen in 1666 (IV. 126), decreasing to eleven in 1669 (IV. 174), out of a total of 335 at that time. John Aldis, the son, had the last number in 1685 (V. 170), while seven appear, in the inventory of the estate of Daniel3 Aldis (No. 7). .

In August, 1642, Nathan Aldis acquired a sixth interest in the water mill on East Brook. Seven years later he, with John Allin (the pastor) and John Dwight, sold his interest to Nathaniel Whiting, the fourth partner (Suffolk Deeds, IV. 285).

Nathan Aldis acted as appraiser in a number of probate cases, and in two of these the original papers are preserved. His signature of the date of 1642 has been reproduced (III. 89) from certain town papers. All show a similarity of writing, but not of spelling; it being "Alldis" in town affairs, "Aldous" in Suffolk Probate case, No. 33, (1642) and "Aldis " in case No. 531 of the year 1670. This later indicates greater familiarity with a pen, if firmer characters are any criterion.

The Emigrant did not prosper greatly in this world's goods in the later years, judging from the proportion of taxes he paid, and the comparative assessed valuation of his house. This latter was £20 (III. 183) in 1651, ranging afterwards from £15 (IV. 178) to  £30 (IV. 77).

His public acts were chiefly in connection with the meeting-house and pastor's salary, he being a committee on both. His last appearance on the town records was on November 29,1675 (V. 36),when he was assessed is. 3d. for the general tax.

1. Nathan Aldis, emigrant, was born in England about 1596 (Suffolk Court Files, No. 966, a deposition), and died at Dedham, Mass., March 15, 1675-6 (I. 15). Mary, his wife, died at Dedham on January 1,1676-7 (1.15). Administration on his estate was granted on April 25, 1676 "to Mary Aldis, his relict and John Aldis, their sonne." The inventory amounted to £112, including the house lot valued at £40. (Suffolk Prob. V. 338). Issue, born in England:—

2. i. Mary2.

3. ii. John2.

Dedham Historical Register, Volume 14 Dedham Historical Society, 1903 - Dedham (Mass.)

Nathan's daughter Mary married my 9x great grandfather Joshua Fisher Jr.

Sunday, July 17, 2016


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Tuesday, July 12, 2016


In my research on my Fisher, Gay, Dean and other families from Dedham, Ma., I kept running
across references to a part of the town called The Clapboards or The Clapboard Trees. It struck
me as a strange name for a place, so I searched Google Books and found an answer in The Early Records of the Town of Dedham, Massachusetts: 1636-1659. volume three, edited in 1892 by the
Dedham Town Clerk, Don Gleason Hill. The origin of the name was in the records of early town

Dedham The 31 December 1636
Assembled whose names are heervnder written vizt Robte Feke, Edward Alleyn, Abraham Shawe, Samuell Morse, John Kingsbery, Phileman Dolton, John Dwite, John Hayward, John Coolidge, Richard Evered, John Gaye, Thomas Bartlet, Thomas Hastings, Willm Berstowe, John Huggens.

First yt wch was agreed vpon the last assembly was Read and confirmed.

Wheras Nicholas Phillips hath felled crteyne trees wth out his Lott wth out licence contrary to an order made in that behalfe. Therfore he is fyned to pay vnto ye Collector for the vse of the Towne Sixe pence for every tree soe felled.

And for yt Ezechiell Holliman hath felled one greate Timber tree for clapboard wth out his owne Lott contrary to an order made in that behalfe, therfore he is fined to pay vnto the Collector for ye vse of ye Towne the sum of Ten shillings.

And the sayd Ezechiell is to paye in like manner for every lesser tree soe felled contrary vnto the sayd order the sum of sixe pence for a fyne as aforesayd.

The sayd Ezechiell Holliman is moreover Fyned the sum of Fifteene shillings to be payd vnto ye Collector For that yt he hath covered his house wth Clapboard contrary vnto an order mad in that behalfe.

Wheras crteyne of our Company are gone up to inhabite this  winter at our Towne of Dedham, & yt other materialls are not well to be had for the [ ] closeing in of their houses in such a season, wch thing being well taken into consideration: we doe therfore give liberty only for every such inhabitant abouesayd to make vse of Clapboard to any pte of his house for his prsent necessety from this prsent daye vntill the first daye of the third month next called May daye And not afterward yt soe the order in that behalfe made may stand still in force & effect to all intents and purposes for wch it was soe made accordingly

The Early Records of the Town of Dedham, Massachusetts: 1636-1659. volume three, printed at the offices of the Dedham Transcript, Dedham, Ma. 1892

But by the next year the town was growing so it was decided to allow clapboarding again:

Dedham The 18th of ye 5th month comonly called July 1637
...It is agreed concrneing Clapboarding of houses yet it Clapboard shalbe at liberty vntill midsomer day next, not wth standing ye order wch is afterward to stand in force from yt day forward

And finally it was decided to remove all restrictions on the practice.

Dedham The 6th of ye 5: Month 1638
The Clapboarding of houses set at liberty vnto all men from Clapbord this tyme forward.

Most of the trees that were initally cut down to make into clapboards were in the western part
of town and the area came to be known as The Clapboard Trees and then simply The Clapboards
And when a new church parish was established there it came to be know as the Clapboards Parish.

Just another one of those interesting things you learn while researching family history!

Monday, July 11, 2016


My 8x great grandfather Joshua Fisher 3rd was known as "Captain Joshua" to keep from any confusion with his father "Lt. Joshua."

Here's what Philip A. Fisher wrote about him: 

13. Joshua4, son of Lieut. Joshua (6), of Dedham, born there Jan. 9, 1651, and died Jan. 26, 1708-9. He was made a freeman, May 8, 1678. Mentioned in records as lieutenant Jan. 1, 1678-9; afterwards was a captain of militia; inherited the Fisher Tavern in Dedham, for account of which see under Joshua (28) and Deborah (137). He m. Esther, dau. of Elder John and Margaret (Smith) Wiswall, who was b. June 7, 1654, probably at Dorchester, and died between April, 1710, and April, 1711. Joshua received pay for services in King Philip's war from Feb. 29 to Dec. 10, 1675. Dedham "granted liberty to Joshua Fisher to take so much of the Towne timber as with the old may rebuild his brew House : and also a lean to:" Dec. 15, 1679. He was chosen " to repair the pounde for this present yeare and to keepe it," Aug. 10, 1693, May 9, 1694, May 18, 1695, and May 11, 1696. An inventory of his estate, made Feb. 17, 1708-9, appraises his property as follows: Household goods and farm utensils, £102 10. 6; the houses and lands and orchards at home, £200; several parcels of outlands and spinning wheels, £6$ 9. An agreement was entered into by the heirs, April 21, 1709, in which the widow Esther was given '' one half the housing and lands of the deceased, called the homestead lying in Dedham & one third of the tract of land wch abuts upon the Elders Causeway (so called) and one acre & a halfe of wood land at the place call'd the Clapboard Trees. And it is agreed by and between all the party's to these presents, That Joshua Fisher and John Fisher shall have ye other moiety of ye housing and lands call'd the Homestead", they agreeing to pay to the four daughters, namely: Esther, wife of Daniel Fisher, Sarah, wife of Samuel Fuller, Mary and Anna Fisher., their respective single portions of £61 11. 5.

The will of widow Esther, made April 22, 1710, was filed for probate at Boston, April 18, 1711; she gave to son Joshua "my Candlebox and all my pewter measures both for bear and wine. Item. To my son John Fisher I give what sum or sums of money shall be due unto me from this Town of Dedham at my decease upon Account of my Entertainment of the Selectmen of this place whilst upon Town affairs Together with one cow if I shall have any." Her personal property to four daughters ; Mary and Anna Executrixes. The will of daughter Anna was made July 5, 1711 ; entered for probate by John Fisher, Sept. 20, 1711; gives personal property to brothers Joshua and John, sisters Hester Fisher, Sarah Fuller and Mary Deane; to brother John's wife Mary; to his maid Rebekah Woodcock; and "to my Aunt Deane my biggest brim'd pewter bason". Children b. in Dedham were:

8. Joshua5, b. Feb. 4, 1674-5; m. Hannah Fuller about 1695. 

Esther5, b. April 17, 1677; d. May 24, 1677.

29. John5, b. July 15, 1678; m. Mary Onion, of Dedham. 

Esther5, b. Feb. 27, 1681-82; m. Captain Daniel Fisher, 3d
(63), Nov. 25, 1703.

30. Sarah5  b. Nov. 5, 1685 ; m. Samuel Fuller, Feb. 10, 1706.

31. Mary5, b. July 24, 1687; m. Jeremiah Deane, Jan. 26, 1711. 

Anna5, b. March 25, 1690; d. single, July 8, 1711.


 The Fisher genealogy: A record of the descendants of Joshua, Anthony, and Cornelius Fisher, of Dedham, Mass., 1630-1640   Massachusetts Pub. Co.,   Everett, Ma.  1898

Saturday, July 09, 2016


A final thought about Joshua Fisher Jr.
-A few weeks ago I didn't know much about the Fisher family, let alone Joshua Fisher Jr. And now
he's become one of my favorite ancestors. Yes, he was multi-talented.  He served in the Militia as
an officer, surveyed and laid out boundaries for several towns in Massachusetts, created maps for
those towns, and ran a tavern in Dedham, Ma. But what really amazed me that he came over from
England by himself at age 17  to set up a blacksmith shop for his father who was still back home. I've no idea what his formal education had been before he came to Massachusetts, or if he even had any (which would make all he accomplished even more impressive). He must have been quite
mature for his age, but then again, most children grew up faster in that time period than they do in
these days.    

Here's a relationship chart from Joshua Fisher Sr. down to my father: