Tuesday, September 18, 2018


Last week updated their Ethnicity Estimates on the results of the DNA tests people had taken. It was quite a topic of conversation on Facebook as the Estimate changed quite a bit for some people. It sure did for mine!

This is my original Ethnicity Estimate chart a year ago:

And this is the updated chart from last week:

Several changes happened. Ireland became Ireland & Scotland and went up 1% to 52%.

The 25% Scandinavia disappeared entirely

And so did the 24% Other Regions, which included:

In short, all the exotic stuff. Sigh.

But it did add somethings that had been missing from the original Estimate

Two of my Mom's maternal great grandparents were immigrants from Germany; the rest of her family was Irish.

And Dad's ancestors were mainly English with a few Welshmen and Scots so they are now better represented.

The general reaction among my genealogy friends is that the new Estimate better reflects what they know about their families,and I think it does the same for mine, too!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018


I had started worrying I wouldn't find a poem for this year's Great Genealogy Poetry Challenge when I found this poem in an anthology edited by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.There are three
reasons why this is perfect for my entry:

One, it's written by my distant cousin, John Greenleaf Whittier.

Two, it's about Norridgewock, Maine where three generations  of my Laughton family ancestors (all three of them named John Laughton) lived in the 18th century.

And three, it's about Fall.  

Here it is:

by John Greenleaf Whittier

T' is morning over Norridgewock, —
  On tree and wigwam, wave and rock.
Bathed in the autumnal sunshine, stirred
At intervals by breeze and bird,
And wearing all the hues which glow
In heaven's own pure and perfect bow,
   That glorious picture of the air,
Which summer's light-robed angel forms
On the dark ground of fading storms,
  With pencil dipped in sunbeams there,—
And, stretching out, on either hand,
O'er all that wide and unshorn land,
Till, weary of its gorgeousncss,
The aching and the dazzled eye
Rests, gladdened, on the calm blue sky, —
   Slumbers the mighty wilderness!
The oak, upon the windy hill,
   Its dark green burthen upward heaves;
The hemlock broods above its rill.
Its cone-like foliage darker still,
   Against the birch's graceful stem,
And the rough walnut-bough receives
The suu upon its crowded leaves,
   Each colored like a topaz gem;
   And the tall maple wears with them
 The coronal, which autumn gives,
  The brief, bright sign of ruin near,
  The hectic of a dying year!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed., Poems of Places: America Vol.II   Houghton, Mifflin And Company, Boston, Ma. 1851

Monday, September 10, 2018


It's time to start thinking about a post for the Tenth Annual Great Genealogy Poetry Challenge!
Hard to believe I've been doing this for ten years now.

As in the past, I'll be posting the links to the submissions on Thanksgiving Day,which this year falls on Thursday, November 22nd. Deadline for submissions will be a week before, on Thursday, November 15th. That gives everyone  two months to find (or write) and share their poem or song. If you find one long before that deadline (as I have) you can post it on your blog now, but don't forget to send me the link to it before November 15th!

These are the Challenge rules:

1. Find a poem by a  poet, famous or obscure, about the region
one of your ancestors lived in. It can be about an historical event, a
legend, a person, or even about some place (like a river)or a local
animal. It can even be a poem you or one of your ancestors have written.
0r, if you prefer, post the lyrics of a song or a link to a video of someone
performing the song.

2. Post the poem or song to your blog (remembering to cite the source
where you found it.).  If you wish to enter an older post, you may as long
as it has not appeared here in an earlier Poetry Challenge.

 3.Tell us how the subject of the poem or song relates to your ancestor's
home or life, or the area of the country where they lived.

4.Submit your post's link here to me by midnight Thursday, November 15th
and I'll publish all links to the entries on Thanksgiving Day, November 22nd!

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

There you have it. You have two months to find your poem and post it to your
blogs. I will be waiting to see what you come up with this year!

Friday, August 31, 2018


Elizabeth (Briggs)Benson was my 6x great grandmother and through her I am connected to three families of early settlers of Plymouth and Cape Cod.

Her grandfather was immigrant ancesor John Briggs and her father was Samuel Briggs.

Through her mother Elizabeth Ellis she was descended from immigrant ancestors John Ellis and Edmond Freeman.

I haven't much information on them. Most of what I know about the Ellis family comes from a copy of an article from The Mayflower Descendant written by Robert Griffith. ( the copy was sent to me by I believe Martin Slovik; I've lost the email it was attached to several hard drives ago.)

I've found the most out about Edmond freeman, including sa reference to s land purchase with a most unusual clause.

I'll blog about what I've learned about these lines but I'm afraid the posts will be brief in a few cases.

Monday, August 27, 2018


I found the probate file for my my 5x great grandfather Caleb Benson over on the website in the Plymouth County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1686-1881. There's fifteen images in it, including those of the two page will. Here's my transcription:

Plymouth County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1686-1881tion Case 1873Page 3

In the name of God Amen .....
I Caleb Benson of Middleborough in the County of
Plymouth and Common Wealth of Massachusetts in America
being weak of body but of sound mind and memory blessed be
God therefor and knowing it is appointed unto all men once to die
Do make and ordain this my last will and Testament .....

In the first place I commit my spirit into the hand
of the Lord god of truth, believing and hoping he hath
redeemed me; and that at my death my soulshall im-
mediatly pass into glory: and my body to the dust, to be buried
in a decent Christian manner hoping and believing that tho'
after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh I shall
see god; and that I shall with them that rise firsst have a
resurrection to life my vile being changed and fashion-
ed like to the gloriousbody of Christ--

And as touching the portion of worldy estate which God
in his providence has been pleased to bless me with, I dispose
of in the following manner....

imprimus, I give and bequeath unto my beloved wife the one
third of my whole Estate both real and personal to be
improvedby her during her Natural life, and over and above
the one third two milch Cows, ten Sheep, and all my house-
hould furniture forever. ...

Item I give and bequeath unto my two daughters, Ruth Landers ,
and Hannah Tinkham three pounds Each, to be paid out of
my personal Estate, besides what I gave them at the time of their
begining to keep house.-

Item I give and bequeath unto my other three daughters viz.-
Priscilla Combs, Deborah Canady, and Content Barrows
all the rst of my personal Estate consisting of money at
Interest, Live stock on my farm etc.excepting whay is dis-
posed of above, to be equally divided between them as soon
as it can be collected by my Executor and paid to them.

Plymouth County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1686-1881 case 1833 page4

Item I give and bequeath unto my two grand-children
Priscilla Washburn and ManasehWashburn six
shillings a peice to be paid by my beloved wife. ...

Item I give and bequeath unto my only son Caleb
Benson all the rest of my Interest consisting of
Lands and meadow Lying in Middleborough, Plymton
and Wareham being all real Estate. ...

Finely my will is that my well beloved wife and my son
Caleb Benson be the joint Executors of this my
Last Will and Testament, .....

and furhermore I do hereby revoke and
renounce all & Every other and former
Testaments by me any way made; and ratify and
Confirm this to be my Last Will and Testament.

Caleb Benson

Signed Sealed pronounced and
Declared this 27th day of November 1782
in Presence of

Asa Hunt
Elisha Benson
Stephen Washburn

The estate was valued at over 670 pounds, most of that in real estate.

Sunday, August 26, 2018


My 5x great grandfather  Caleb Benson was born in Rochester, Ma. on 29 Jan 1704, the tenth child of John Benson the 3rd and Elizabeth Briggs. He was only 7 years old when his father died, so he probably grew up in the custody of a legal guardian. Caleb married Deborah Barrows on 11 Jan 1732 in Rochester and they had a family of six daughters and one son:

Ruth Benson b.25 Mar 1733 Plymouth
Hannah Benson b 20 May 1736 Middleborough
Mary Benson b 20 Feb 1738 Middleborugh
Deborah Benson b 1749 Middleborough
Priscilla B 1751 Plymouth
Caleb b 22 Nov 1755 Middleborough
Content  b 1761 Plymouth, Ma

I know he was a farmer and judging from the value of his estate a successful one. But he was also a Deacon of a Baptist church in Middleboro, Ma. and at some point was involved in some controversy within the congregation. I've found a reference to a letter that he and six others sent to church authorities but haven't found a copy of it as yet, so I don't jnow what it was about.

I've found some land transactionslisted on FamilySearch that I haven't explored yet, as well as a copy of his will and estate inventory, which I will discuss in the next post.

Friday, August 24, 2018


The scandal over Abigail Muxom's alleged affair with Joseph Benson now became even wider as Parson Everett invited outsiders to help judge her:

From the neighboring towns six ministers were then summoned to the inquest. They came and made a holiday; the six ministers on horseback, and the village idlers, to whom the spicy story was familiar, crowding around them and believing that justice must reign though the heavens fell.

Again there was a meeting of the church; Abigail Muxom stood in the sovereign presence of the six ministers, while the floor and galleries of the meeting-house were crowded by curious spectators attracted by what was to them "the greatest show on earth." The evidences were read aloud from the records: the accused woman again denied their truth; the six ministers were requested "to give their opinion what particular immodest conduct our sister is guilty of, and how this church ought to proceed with her." They, "having conversed with the Brethren of the church and heard what said Abigail had to say in her own defence," consulted together, and declared that her "immodest conduct in former years with one Doct. Joseph Benson was forbidden by the 7th commandment," and that it was her duty "to make a penitent and public confession of her sin ;" and "if she refuse or neglect to do it," the church "to proceed after other suitable forbearance to excommunication." The church then "Voted that Abigail Muxom is guilty of immodest conduct according to the opinion of the Revd Pastors," and it appointed three stern-visaged men to converse with her in the hope of obtaining a confession of the alleged sin. Their mission, as they reported, "appeared to have no good effect." Then, after another delay indicating a reluctance to pass such a terrible judgment upon "this unhappy sister," the church came together and the men "Voted that Abigail Muxom be rejected and excommunicated from the communion of this church, as being visibly a hardened and impenitent sinner out of the visible Kingdom of Christ, one who ought to be viewed and treated by all good people as a heathen and a publican in imminent danger of eternal perdition. Praying that this separation of hers from christian fellowship may not be eternal, but a means of her true and unfeigned repentance that her soul may be saved in the day of the Lord.-

Colonial Times on Buzzard's Bay   Houghton, Mifflin, Cambridge, Ma 1888

Notice that in all this there is no mention of what Doctor Joseph Benson had to say for himself. Perhaps he had died earlier, or maybe, like other members of the family, he had moved north to Maine or New Hampshire.

I don't know if Abigail Muxom ever reconciled with her church.

And that's where the story ends.