Showing posts with label Family History Writing Challenge. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Family History Writing Challenge. Show all posts

Saturday, February 11, 2012


As I mentioned before, Gipssy Barker was not the only person in her family
with an unusual name. Her older brother was named Benedict Arnold Barker.
Ever since I discovered this I wondered what possessed Daniel Barker and his
wife Roseanna to name their first son after the infamous Revolutionary War
traitor to the American side.  Daniel wasn't born until 1821, long after the War,
so he couldn't have served under General Arnold. If he wanted to name a son
after a famous war hero with local ties to New England he could picked Henry Knox
or Ethan Allen to so honor. Or was this some sort of Early American "Boy Named Sue"
strategy? How difficult a childhood did Benedict have growing up with a traitor's
name? I'll probably never know unless I stumble across a written account from
Benedict or one of his relatives.

Benedict was born on 14Jan 1850 in Weston, Aroostook, Maine where he lived
at least until sometime after the 1870 Census. He was listed as Arnold B Barker
on that and it began a pattern which shows how he might have dealt with the
problem of his name: he used different variations of it, sometimes just simply
changing his name to Benjamin. At some point after 1870 he moved to Minnesota
where he married Lilly Plaisted on  29Aug 1877. I haven't been able to find them
in the 1880 Federal Census yet but on the 1885 Minnesota State Census they
are living in Oneika, Washington, Minnesota with their two sons, Daniel and
Frank. Living next to them are Lilly's parents, the Plaisteds, who were also
from Maine. Benedict is listed as "B.A, Barker". The census doesn't give what
his occupation was so it's possible he was either farming or working in the
lumber business.

I next found him on the 1900 Federal Census  in the town of Shorts, Snohomish,
Washington. Oldest son Frank is no longer living with Benedict and Lily but there is
now a daughter, Pearl, along with son Daniel. Eventually the children grew up and
moved out but Benedict worked his dairy farm for the next 30 years and then
retired, He died in Snohomish, Snohomish, Washington on 26Nov 1934. I heard from
an contributor this morning in a message that Lily died on 26 Sep 1944
in Seattle. King, Washington while living with her daughter Pearl because the farm
had gone bankrupt. The family of the correspondent's  husband had purchased
Benedict's farm.

One of the things I discovered  researching this post was that Benedict’s son Frank
and Gipsy Barker’s daughter were living together on Frank’s farm. Frank is listed
as divorced but his two teenage sons are living with him, Natalie (Barker)Fisher
is listed as his housekeeper and as Frank’s cousin. Her marital status is married,
so sometime between 3April 1930 when the Census was taken and their wedding
in March 1931, Natalie’s divorce from Floyd Fisher was finalized.

The best thing about my interest in the stories of Gipsy and Benedict Arnold Barker
has been the discovery of another bunch of cousins to add to my family tree!

((518 words for Family History Writing Challenge))

Thursday, February 09, 2012


One of the items my Aunt Dorothy (West) Bargar gave me was the above photograph
 of my 2x great grandparents Amos Hastings Barker and Betsey Jane Moore
and their family. She also included a list of the children and their spouses. One part
in particular sparked my curiosity: “Gipsy wife of Arthur Barker”. This puzzled me
at first. Did this mean Arthur Barker had married a gypsy?  She’s the last person in
the back row on the right, standing behind the top hat on the ground.

I  started paying attention to my ancestors’ siblings and their families within
the past year.My Barker ancestry is one with a first cousins marriage: my great
grandmother Charlotte Barker (she’s the second person in on the left of the
back row, the lady wearing what looks like a man’s necktie.)was the daughter
of Amos and Betsey Barker, She married her cousin Frank Wesley Barker, the
son of Nathaniel Barker and Lucy Coburn. Nathaniel and Amos were brothers.
It turns out that Charlotte and Frank were not the only Barker cousins who had
married each other.

Gipsy Barker was the daughter of Daniel Barker, another brother of Amos and
Nathaniel. She was born 26 Aug 1870 in Weston, Aroostook, Me and her mother
was Roseanna Murphy. I’ve no idea why Daniel and Roseanna named their daughter
Gipsy. They seemed to have a penchant for unique names. They had, after all,
named their son Benedict Arnold Barker. Gipsy married Arthur on 11Nov 1888
in Weston and the couple took up residence there at first but by 1900 were living
in Bethel Oxford Me with their two daughters. On the 1900 Census Arthur’s
occupation was given as a sawyer at one of the mills but by 1910 he’s
a day laborer.

I haven’t fund the family on the 1920 Census yet and when  I found them on
the 1930 There were some big changes. For one thing, they were no longer
living in Maine, they were in Washington state and they were no longer living
together.  Arthur was living with their daughter Fannie and her husband Josiah
Remick in Port Angeles where he would die in 1934.His marital status is
“divorced”. Gipsy was living in another town, Sexton, Washington with  two
of her granddaughters Helen and Alice Fisher. The Census says Gipsy was a
widow but since Arthur didn’t die until 1934. Either someone gave the
enumerator the wrong information or it was a case of wishful thinking on
somebody’s part. Apparently daughter Natalie and her husband Floyd Fisher
had divorced  and Gipsy was watching the children while Natalie was off
looking for work or another husband.  

Natalie (Barker) Fisher married Frank Risley Barker in British Columbia on
31Mar 1931.He was a logger by trade, He was also Natalie ‘s first cousin.
His father was Gipsy’s brother, Benedict Arnold Barker!

Gipsy died in Snohomish Washington in 3Mar 1954. She certainly lived up
to her name, having started her life on one coast of the country and ending it
on the other,

((507 words for the Family History Writing Challenge))

Tuesday, February 07, 2012


Deacon Samuel Edson is one of my ancestors from Plymouth County south of
Boston whose descendants emigrated to what was the Maine territory of Massachusetts.
My line goes like this::

Deacon Samuel Edson m.Susan (?)
Susannah Edson m, James Keith
Joseph Keith m Elizabeth Forbes/Fobes
Jemima Keith m. James Packard
Reuben Packard m Anne Perkins
Cynthia Packard m. James T. Dunham/Donham
James T, Dunham m Sally Houghton
Florilla Dunham m, Asa Freeman Ellingwood
Clara Ellingwood m. Philip J West 
Floyd E West Sr m. Cora Berthella Barker
Floyd E West Jr m. Anne M White

The  Keiths, Edsons, and Forbes families were brought into contact with each
other through Clerical connections. James Keith was the first minister in Bridgewater
and Samuel Edson Was a deacon as was Elizabeth Forbee’ father Edward., His
father ,like Keith, was from Scotland  so It would be an additional bond between
the families. But it turms out that there is a connection between the Fobes/Forbes
family and another of my ancestors, Isaac Allerton..

From the book The Fobes Memorial Library, Oakham, Massachusetts, with 
the addresses at the laying of the corner-stone and at the dedication: by Henry
Parks Wright, (Oakham Memorial Library, Oakham Ma, 1909)  p 95:

"In the Records of the Colony of Plymouth there are two entries regarding John 
Fobes: (1) Vol. Ill, p. 200, June 13, 1660. "In answare unto a request made to 
the Court by the Widdow Vobes requesting some supply of land in respect unto
the conditions of an indenture made betwixt Mr. Isacke Allerton and her husband, 
John Vobes lately deseased, the Court gives liberty that any for her may looke out
some land for her supply and a competency wilbee granted and confirmed unto her."

(2) Vol. IV, p. 18, June 3, 1662. "Captaine Willett is appointed by the Court to 

purchase lands of the Indians, which is granted unto such that were servants and 
others that are ancient freemen," etc. "Their names are as followeth:" (Here are 
given twenty-four names, among which is "John Vobes.")

Mr. Fobes was evidently an "indented servant" to Isacke Allerton; that is, he had 

bound himself to him, in England, as a servant, in order to secure passage for
himself and family to America. Having rendered the service required, he was now 
one of those "that were servants," and to whom land was to be granted. His name 
might still stand in 1662 as  representing the family to which the obligation was still 
due, though he himself had died  in 1660”

Back when I first started genealogy and was still in that dumb name grabbing stage
I became fond of the Forbes line because of  two of John Fobes’ supposed ancestors:
David”Trail The Axe” Forbes and John “With the Black Lip” Forbes. One day I hope
to find out exactly where those nicknames came from, Did David have an exceptionally
heavy axe that he dragged along the ground, and was John someone who didn’t wash
his face as often as he should have?

When I find out, I’ll let you know!.
 ((513 words for The Famiy History Writing Challenge))

Sunday, February 05, 2012


Well, the Super Bowl is over now and the Patriots’ season has come to a
sad end. But I’m a New England sports fan. We’re used to disappointment.  

I know there are some folks who have no interest in sports and spent the day
trying to avoid all the hoopla. But for many people the Super Bowl is a family
occasion when friends and  relatives party and watch the game together. More
importantly, it’s an occasion when memories and family stories are made. There
are families who’ve followed the Red Sox for over a century and others who’ve
followed the Bruins for nearly as long  And of course there are the Celtics and
Patriots fans.

But it doesn’t just have to be following a sports team, it can also be about playing
sports. My Aunt Dot wrote about how my Dad would include her when playing
baseball as kids in Maine:

“Bud never left me out when his friends came to play ball. I could
neither catch a ball nor throw it where I wanted it to go. As for
batting, I always swung at the ball but never hit it. Never-the-
less I was never left out of his games and his friends knew better
than to make anything other than encouraging comments.“

I can remember Dad playing softball at a family picnic and breaking a finger
trying to catch a ball barehanded. Unfortunately it was his ring finger and Mom
wasn’t happy that they had to cut the wedding band off so they could put a splint
on it. And I’ve written here before about Dad taking me to see Ted Williams and
the Red Sox play at Fenway Park, and how he was the assistant coach of my little
league baseball team.

Mom was the most rabid fan in our family. She was the one who stayed up with me
to watch Fisk hit that dramatic World Series home run  against Cincinnati. She loved
watching Larry Bird and the Celtics and would often yell at the referees in the tv when
she felt they’d missed an obvious foul.

My sister got so tired of us watching the Bruins in the playoffs she told us she hoped
\the Canadians won. That was the year a young goaltender named Ken Dryden  shut
down the Big Bad Bruins and Mom would never forget that Cheryl had cursed the
team that year.

My brother Phil could sing the Canadian national  anthem before the American
because of the Bruins games. His favorite player was Phil Esposito, naturally!

I was a camp counselor on Cape Cod during the Red Sox 1967 “Impossible Dream”
run to the World Series, and was listening to the deciding last game of the season
when they won the pennant as I was helping Dad paint the house. I was working
at Morey Pearl’s Bar in Quincy with my future brother in law Peter when Bobby Orr
scored that winning goal against the St Louis Blues in the Stanley Cup Finals.

So while we all know about the ”thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” don’t forget
that sports can give you memories you will treasure for years to come.

((533 words for The Family History Writing Challenge))

Saturday, February 04, 2012


Memory is a funny thing.  You can go for years not thinking about something
and then something will catch your eye or ear and a memory will be triggered,
which might lead to others. I had one of those memory triggers happen the
other day.

I was doing my laundry over at the community center here in the apartment complex
and while I was waiting for the dryer to finish I checked out the recreation room
bulletin board and passed by the record player. Now for you young folks records
were these large wax or vinyl discs that you played music with using a turntable
and a needle. There was a stack 33 1/3 albums(I’m not going to explain that to
you. Look it up in your Funk & Wagnall’s…or on Wikipedia) and the album on
top was entitled “Peg O’ My Heart” by Jerry Murad and His Harmonicats.
That’s when I started humming that song and remembered where I’d heard
it as a kid. It wasn’t a version played by an all harmonica band. It was the versions
played by Aunt Peggy on a standup piano.

Peggy was actually my grandaunt on my mother’s side of the family, the
younger sister of my grandmother Agnes McFarland.  I’ve written before
about the cottage she and Uncle Leo McCue owned at Houghs Neck in
Quincy, Ma.. But  I also remember their place on Bowdoin St (or was it
Bowdoin Ave?). The first aquarium I ever saw was at that house and one
of the fish was a swordtail. Cousin Bobby had some sort of walkie talkie radio
connection with someone who lived across the alleyway from their house..
The best chicken salad I ever tasted (at least up until age 8 or 9)was the
chicken salad I ate at Aunt Peggy’s.( It had little chunks of celery in it.)

Aunt Peggy worked at one of the big department stores in Boston but I can’t
remember if it was Filene’s Basement or  Jordan’s Basement.  I remember my
Mom bringing me in there to shop and we’d  stop by the department where
Aunt Peggy worked. The first real wristwatch I ever had was a birthday or
Christmas gift from Aunt Peggy. It was waterproof and I wore it in the bathtub
which was where I found out that while the watch was waterproof but the watch
band wasn’t. It was some blue cloth material and I had a blue stain around my
wrist for a few days afterward..

When I was cast as Merlin in a play put on by the Codman Square Library Kids’
Summer Reading club, it was Aunt Peggy who provided the big black coat that
served as my magician’s Robes along with the plastic paperweight that served as
my magician’s robe. The paperweight Was hidden in my sleeve and I was supposed
to pull it out at some point, but the sleeves were so big that the paperweight fell
out and rolled across the floor in the middle of some scene! That’s about all I can
remember about that!

But it’s the memories of Aunt Peggy playing “Peg O’ My Heart”, and “Heart of
My Heart” and “Those Wedding Bells Are Breaking Up That old Gang Of Mine”
on the piano that I remember most. I don’t need to actually hear the song to have
those memories triggered. Just seeing the names can do it., and once more I’m
reminded of summer days at Houghs Neck and  Aunt Peggy.

((580 words for the Family History Writing Challenge)   

Friday, February 03, 2012


My ancestor Samuel Edson was involved in several land purchases from the
Indians living in the Bridgewater Ma. area and some of the documents concerning the
purchases still exist.

"This deed, made November 20th, A.D. 1672, witnessoth, that I, Pomponoho, alias Peter, an Indian, living at Titicut, in the colony of New Plymouth, in Now Eiig., have sold for the sum of sixteen pounds—viz., six pounds of current money of New England, and ten pounds in good merchantable com, us by bill appeareth,—all the lands lying on the north side of Titicut River, within the bounds of Bridgewater, what lands were mine, or were either my father's or grandfather's or any otherwise conferred on me, excepting those lands expressed as follows, viz. : one hundred acres of land lying up the river to tho eastward of a small brook, given to an Indian called Charles, my brother-in-law, and a certain parcel of land lying against the wear and bounded by the landing-place, running to the head of my field, containing about ten acres at the utmost, I say I, the above-said Pomponohe, alias Peter, have bargained, sold, and by these presents do bargain and sell for myself, my heirs, and assigns forever, unto Nicholas Byram, sen., Samuel Edson, sen., and William Brett, sen., in and for the use of the townsmen of Bridgewater,joint purchasers with them, which persons above mentioned were ordered by the court to make purchase of those lands, as by court record appears, I say I have sold all these lands, with every part thereof, and all the immunities and privileges belonging thereunto, to them, their heirs, and assigns forever, the same quietly and peaceably to possess, without the lawful lot, interruption, or molestation of me, the abovesaid Pomponohe, alias Peter, or other persons whatsoever, lawfully claiming by, from, or under me, them, or any of them. In witness whereof I have hereunto set to my hand and seal.
his mark.
read, sealed, and delivered
in presence of us.
"Joseph Hayward
"John Carr, Sen.
"Acknowledged before Josiah Winslow, Gov., Feb. 20, 1676.
"Recorded by Nathaniel Clark, Secretary, March, 1685."

History of Plymouth County, Massachusetts: with biographical sketches of 
many of its pioneers and prominent men, Part 2 , Duane Hamilton Hurd, ed.
(J. W. Lewis & co.,  Philadelphia 1884) p541

But only a few years later Deacon Samuel was appointed to a town Council of War
as tensions rose with the Indians under King Philip. When war came, it was marked
with savagery on both sides. The theater of war ranged through most of southern New
England, and even spread into this area where I live now just south of Boston. There
would be need for the Irish donation funds in Samuel Edson's  Bridgewater:

"April 9th, 1676, being Sunday, the enemy burnt a house and barn, and rifled several other houses in the town; but they soon fled and were not to be overtaken, though closely pursued. May 8th, about three hundred Indians with Tispaquin for their leader made another assault on the east end of the town on the south side of the river, and set fire to many of the houses ; but the inhabitants, " issuing from their garrison houses," fell Upon them so resolutely, that the enemy were repelled; and, a heavy shower of rain falling at the same time, the fires were soon extinguished. The attack was then renewed on the north side of the river, but the enemy was soon defeated, and the next morning entirely disappeared, after having burnt two houses and one barn. On this occasion thirteen houses and four barns only were burnt, and but five of these were in the village. The rest were on the borders of the settlement, and deserted at the time. There is a tradition that, excepting the garrison houses, every house but one in town was burnt. This was probably true as it respected the out-houses or dwellings on the borders or skirts of the town only, and not those in the centre or village, which were considered in some degree as fortified or garrison houses. This is the more probable, as the house excepted is said to have belonged to Nicholas Byram, which was in the easterly part of the town, and quite distant from the principal settlement. It stood where Capt. Isaac Whitman now lives. July 14 and 15, a party of Indians came upon the north side of the town, but, after killing a few cattle, retired. July 18, 19 and 20, the inhabitants pursued the enemy and took sixteen of them, of whom two only were men."
-"Description of Bridgewater 1818" by Nahum Mitchell in Collections of the
Massachusetts  Historical Society  Massachusetts Historical Society
(Society Press, Boston, 1818) pp156-157

So while there was damage to some buildings, and other attacks, Bridgewater never
suffered destruction on the scale of the towns west of Boston, such as the town of
Lancaster where others of my ancestors were entirely burned out.

((800 words for The Family History Writing Challenge))

Thursday, February 02, 2012


One of the great things about researching my family's history is what I learn
about our country's history along the way. While I have a college degree in
history, there are areas and topics that I've never explored before that I've
finally encountered in the lives of my ancestors. One of those topics came
up last night when I was writing my post on Deacon Samuel Edson and is
contained in this quote:

"He was an active member of the council of war from 1667 to the end of
King Philip's war, and also of the committee to distribute contributions
made by the Irish people for that war, and also to those entitled thereto
in Bridgewater."

Now, while we have New England ancestry all the way back to the Pilgrims
and Puritans on my Dad's side of the family, I have Irish Catholic(and German)
ancestry on  Mom's side. Given the long conflict between the English and
Irish, I found it hard to believe that the Irish would have sent any sort of
aid to English settlers fighting Indians in New England. I could imagine
them perhaps offering to hold the coats of the Englishmen, but sending
help, no. But then I remembered something I already knew about English
history and things began to make sense: it wasn't all of Ireland that sent
help. It was the part under the rule of the Puritans.

The Irish Catholics had rebelled in 1641 and for a time had been successful
due to the conflict in England between King Charles I and the English Parliament.
But when the English Civil War broke out  they formed an alliance with
the Royalist side and the Parliament sent Oliver Cromwell in 1649 to deal
with the rebellion. He did so with such ruthless efficiency, especially in Ulster,
it set the stage for the next four hundred years of Irish history.

The Puritans in New England were supporters of their brethren in England.
While I'm not aware yet if they had been supportive of the Irish Protestants
in Cromwell's fight with the Catholics its possible the "Irish contributions"
were a repayment for aid sent from the New World.

I found this account of the "Irish donation" as it was also known:

"The fact that in Ireland there was a certain familiarity with Colonial affairs even
as early as the seventeenth century is proven in many ways, but none more so
than by the action taken by the citizens of Dublin when the news reached that
city of the distressed condition of the New England Colonists resulting from
"King Philip's War." No more striking instance of practical sympathy toward the
suffering Colonists is related in American history than this incident. The Indian
war of 1675-1676 was bloody and devastating in the extreme. Large numbers of
the inhabitants of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island fell in battle or
were murdered by the savage foe and many towns were destroyed, and it is
worthy of note that more than one hundred Irish names are enumerated among
the Colonial militia who fought the Indian hordes. In these times of distress and
misery it is recorded that Ireland was the only European country which sent relief
to the Colonists, and so large was the consignment that the Lord Mayor of Dublin
sent three Commissioners to Boston to take charge of the distribution of the "Irish
Donation," as it is called in the official records of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay.
It is not known what the "Irish Donation" actually consisted of, but that, with
traditional Irish generosity, it was liberal in the extreme we may judge from the
fact that the cost of the freight alone was the very large sum for those days of £475
sterling. The relief came in the ship Katherine, which sailed from Dublin for Boston
on August 28, 1676. In Massachusetts alone 47 towns and 2351 persons were 

succored by this timely Irish relief."

A Hidden Phase of American History: Ireland's part in America's struggle for liberty
(Google eBook) by Michael Joseph O'Brien  (Dodd, Mead and company,  New York

So Bridgewater, Ma. was one of the towns that received that "timely Irish relief",
and Samuel Edson, my ancestor, helped distribute it among the townspeople.

I love family history!
((712 words for the Family History Writing Challenge))

Wednesday, February 01, 2012


Lynn Palermo's Family History Writing Challenge starts today.  You can
read about how you can participate in it, whether on a blog or just
writing it for your family members, over on Lynn's Family History
Family History Writing Challenge website.

I've committed to writing 500 words a day for the 29 days of  February.
For inspiration I'm turning to usual practice of taking note of the birthdays,
marriage anniversaries and death dates of my ancestors. Usually I post
that information on my Facebook page and it's usually about direct ancestors,
but for this exercise I'm including collateral relatives if there's an interesting
story to tell.

So, if you'll excuse me, I need to get started on the first post!