Tuesday, June 18, 2019


Ancestry recently introduced a tagging feature to its family trees called MyTreeTags and I think it's a very useful feature. I've been messing around with it for a few weeks now and find it very helpful in making lists of things about my ancestors using the Custom Tags.

Ancestry already has four tag categories: DNA, Life Experience,  Research and Relationship tags. Each of them has several sub-categories. The one I use the most is Direct Ancestor in the Relationships category and I recommend using it on every one of your direct ancestors because it will be very helpful..

You can also create your own Custom Tags. I now have 27 of these, ranging from specific occupations like blacksmiths and farmers to tags for Mayflower ancestors, Revolutionary War soldiers  to accused witches

This is how the top of the page for my 4x great grandfather John Cutter West looks now with the tags:

I have a number of relatives who I know were blacksmiths and I've marked  some of them with a "Blacksmith" Custom Tag. I can now use that as a Filter when I do a Tree Search. When I click on that just above John Cutter West's name a Search column opens up on the right hand side of the screen.

Then I click on Filters and a list of my tags drops down. I click on Blacksmith, then click the green Done button.

Ancestry  then displays a list of  the five ancestors who I've tagged so far as blacksmiths:

Now it happens that all five of these are direct ancestors. But there are other occupations or experiences shared with collateral relatives. For example, it have several tags about the Salem Witch trials. including one for "Witch trial witness". This is where that Direct Ancestor tag comes into play.

Clicking on just the Witch trial witness custom tag  filter brings up a list of sixteen relatives.

Adding the Direct Relative tag narrows the list down to six.

 I'm still adding tags and custom tage to people. I hope this post is helpful to others. 

Monday, June 17, 2019


 ((Today is the 244th Anniversary of the Battle of Bunker Hill. Several of my ancestors took
part in the battles, including my 5x great grandfather Elisha Houghton. I first posted this on 21
August, 2012:)) 

I mentioned my ancestor Elisha Houghton the other day and
that he was a veteran of the Revolutionary War. I found this
story about him in History of the Town of Harvard, Massachusetts
1732-1893 by Henry Steadman Nourse (p323):

"Coliney of the Massachusetts Bay.

To the Honnorabel General Coart seting at Watertown the Petion
of Elisha Houghton a Solder under Comand of Captan Hastings in Conl
Whitcomb's Rigement in the year 1775 and I was in the fight on Bunkers
hill So Called in Charlston on the 17 of June in the year 1775 as above
sd and on my Return I and others Lited on one Jacob Davis who was
wounded who requested our help and in tacking Care of the sd Davis
Caused me your Petinor to take Mistick Road to convey the sd Davis to
where he thought he could be tacken Care of and in so Doing 1 came
acros by Winter hill to go to head Quater at Cambridge and in Coming
by the Gard of Connal Starks which was set on sd hill they took away
my Gun which I and others that Knew sd Gun Judged to be worth teen
Dolers. I Endevuered to Recover my Gun again but was Denied the
Same which may be made Evident to this Coart by Reading the Paper
acompining this Petition. 1 also Sertify this Coart that I have Never
Reseved my Gun since Nor any Consideration for the same. I therefore
your Poor Petitioner Humbly Pray that this Coart would be Pleased to
take my Case into your Consideration and alow me Pay for my Gun
and your Petitioner as in Duty bound Shall Ever Pray. Bolton Jan. the —
1776 Elisha Houghton

This may Certify that Elisha Houghton of Col Whitcomb's Regiment
in Capt. Hasting's Company was in the Action on Bunker's hill and
helping bringing the wounded men off to Cambridge went mistick Road over
Winter hill and the Guard that was set on winter hill took away the Guns,
and this sd Houghton's Gun was among the Rest, the next Day with [a]
number of others sd Houghton went in order to Get his Gun with an officer
with him, but could not find it and have Never heard of it since—as I know of.

Josiah Whitney, Lt. Col. of sd Rgmt.
Dorchester Camp Febury 29th. 1776"

I don't know if Elisha ever got recompensed for his lost gun, but I suspect he
was one of the earliest victims of "requisitioning" in the American military tradition.

Sunday, June 16, 2019


In honor of Fathers Day I'm posting pictures of some of the fathers on my family tree. From the Wests:

Our Dad, Floyd E West, Jr.


Great grandfather Philip J. West, Cousin Stanley & Grandfather Floyd E West, Sr.

2x great grandfather Jonathan P.West & wife Louisa Almata (Richardson)West
3x Great grandfather John Cutter West
Some of the maternal grandfather's from Dad's family:

2x great grandfather Asa F Ellingwood & wife Florilla (Dunham)Ellingwood.

2x Great grandfather Amos Hastings Barker & wife Betsy Jane (Moore) Barker.
3x Great grandfather Philip Richardson

4x great grandfather Moses Coburn

 And the only pictures I have from Mom's side of the family:
Great grandfather John McFarland & wife Annie (Kelley)McFarland.

Great Grandfather Edward J White.

Happy Fathers' Day!

Monday, June 10, 2019


My 7x great grandfather James Houghton returned to Lancaster, Ma. after the Indian raids and settled in the part of town now known as Harvard, Ma. He built a garrison house that was still standing when Ellery Bicknell Crane wrote the following:

(lll) James Houghton, son of Ralph Houghton (2), born in Lancaster, in 1661. (This date is given in the American Ancestry.) It is stated by some writers that he was born before the family came to Lancaster. Ralph Houghton's family was among the first to come, and was doubtless living there by 1650. James Houghton settled first on the Neck but removed to Still river before the massacre in 1697. with his brother-in-law, Caleb Sawyer, and built upon lands given him by his father, Ralph Houghton. He had eight children. The second son, Ralph, was a soldier in the Acadian expedition to Canada and died in 1710, in the service. His brother James was his administrator.

James Houghton died in 1711. His will was proved September 11, 1711. His widow was the Widow Mary Houghton mentioned in the list of those in the garrison house in 1711. The garrison house of James Houghton has descended from father to son for five generations, and has been occupied the longest of any in old Lancaster, continuously in the same family. The present house is a capacious farm house, including at least three structures, all ancient. The west end is the original garrison house which sheltered the families of the neighborhoods from Indian raids. It was built from 1692 to 1704. The first chimney was of stone, and the huge foundations still fills half the cellar. It was early replaced by the present many-flued brick pile, with eight fire places, ovens, cupboards, and smoke closet, where there is room enough to cure simultaneously the hams and shoulders of a dozen swine. Many of the little windows remain, though the sash has been renewed, at nearly double the height now thought convenient. The walls are filled with brick and stone so as to be bullet proof. The huge oak beams and plates show for a third of their length below plaster and laths. These timbers are 12x14 inches. Once when it became necessary to remove some of the panels of the wainscoting, during renovavations. the wood was found to be unpainted soft pine without knot or check, of excellent workmanship, thought to be from the hand of James Houghton. himself a carpenter, and builder of his own house. The house passed to Thomas Houghton, his son, also ancestor of Stillman Houghton. It passed to his son Elijah, to his son Thomas, to his son Cephas and then to his son now or lately the owner, Edward Warren Houghton, of Harvard, Massachusetts, as that section of Lancaster is now known.

Children of James and Mary Houghton were:
1. James, born 1690; married Sarah (called James Houghton, Sr., to distinguish him from James Houghton, son of Jonas Houghton, a younger man). 2. Ralph, died in service in Canada, his brother James administered his estate. 3. John. 4. Thomas (see forward). 5. Edward (see Houghton family under Knapp family). 6. Ephraim, joined in deed, with Edward and James, to Jonas. 7. Hannah. 8. Experience. In 1723 Ephraim, Edward, Thomas and John, sons of James, lived in the vicinity of the old house in Harvard. James Houghton, who married Sarah, was not there at that time

Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs of Worcester County, Massachusetts: With a History of Worcester Society of Antiquity, Volume 1  Lewis Publishing Company, New York, New York 1907

James' wife was Mary Sawyer is not only my 7x great grandmother but also a distant cousin because I am also descended from her grandfather John Prescott on the Barker side of my family.

James' and Mary's son Ephraim is my 6x great grandfather.

Saturday, June 08, 2019


 ((First posted in Nov.2011 ))

My ancestor Ralph Houghton was one the original settlers of Lancaster Ma.
But the town was abandoned after the destruction of the town in 1675/6 in
the colonial Indian Wars.Ralph and the other townsfolk retreated back to
the coast by Boston until it was once more safe to go back to Lancaster.
But while he and some of his children did return, Ralph himself  eventually
ended his days on a farm in the safer location of Milton Ma. 

Ralph's land sits near the Blue Hills and among it's features was a spring
fed pond that the local Indian's called the Hoosic-Whisck. While the
Indian name was still occasionally used as late as the early 1900's, over
time the pond became known simply as Houghton's Pond.. Today the
pond and the land Ralph Houghton once farmed are part of the Blue
Hills Reservation where among other things copperhead and timber
rattlesnakes roam in sight of the skyscrapers of Boston.

Milton is right next to the Dorchester and Mattapan sections of Boston
and when we were kids our parents occasionally took us to Houghton's
Pond for a swim during the summer(although not as often as we went to
Houghs Neck in Quincy). It amazed me when I started researching the
family tree to find out we had went swimming in a place named after
someone we were related to and we never had a clue!

Thursday, June 06, 2019


My 8x great grandfather Ratcliffe Ralph Houghton was an immigrant from England who was one of five founders of the town of Lancaster, Ma.  Ellery Bicknell Crane wrote this about my ancestor:

II) Ralph Houghton, son of Sir Richard Houghton (t), born in England, in 1633; died April 15, 1705, in Lancaster. He is believed to have emigratedo New England in 1635. He was in Lancaster in 1647, and was one of the founders of that town with five others: Edward Breck, Nathaniel Hadlock, William Kerley, Thomas Sawyer. John Prescott. He was the first town clerk, and the writing of the early records in his hand show that he was not only a good penman but well educated. His home was on the Neck. He was town clerk for many years: was admitted a freeman in 1668, and was deputy to the general court in 1673-89. He was one of the leaders, and was identified with the organization of the town and its government until his death. He had to abandon his home with the others at the time of King Philip's war in 1675. In 1682 he settled in Milton. He returned to his Lancaster home in 1685, but was again in Milton in 1690, and built a homestead there in which seven generations of descendants have been born. He married Jane __ who was born 1626, in England, and died January 10, 1700-1. Their children were: 1. Mary, born January 4, 1654. 2. John, born April 28, 1655. 3. Joseph, born July 6, 1657: settled in Milton. 4. Experience, born October 1, 1659; married May 22, 1784, Ezra Clapp. of Dorchester. 5. James (see forward). 6. Sarah, born February 17, 1664. Ralph Houghton, of Dorchester (Milton later), was lost at Port Royal June 7, 1782, aged twenty-eight, in the earthquake.-pp263-264
Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs of Worcester County, Massachusetts: With a History of Worcester Society of Antiquity, Volume 1  Lewis Publishing Company, New York, New York 1907

Two of the other five founders of Lancaster mentioned in that excerpt are also my ancestors John Prescott is my 9x great grandfather, Thomas Sawyer is my 8x grandfather. I am descended from Ralph Houghton's son James.


Next in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks I'll be moving on to the marernal ancestors of my 2xgreat grandmother Florilla(Dunham) Ellingwood. Her mother was Sally Houghton, daughter of Moses Houghton and Martha Haskell.

The Houghton line goes back to immigrant ancestor "Ratcliffe"  Ralph Houghton and includes marriages with the Peirce and Sawyer families.Those marriages connect with many other early colonial families, primarily in Essex County, Ma.

The Haskells are connected by marriage to the Safford, Willards, Yorks and Browns, and go back to immigrant ancestor William Haskell Sr.

I've done some blogposts on members of these families some years ago and I'll be reposting some of the more interesting ones along with new posts as I go along.

Friday, May 31, 2019


I haven't found much yet about my 8x great grandfather John Whipple. Part of the problem is that he was at least one of three men in living in Ipswich at the time who were named John Whipple, the others being his uncle and the other his cousin. Elder John Whipple and his son  Captain John Whipple were prominent in town affairs and overshadowed my ancestor. So this is what I've found so far:

It's believed Lt. John Whipple was born around 1632. He was in the colonial militia during the Indian wars and had the rank of Lieutenant, seving at the same time as his cousin Capt. John Whipple. He was married three times. His first wife was Sarah Kent, who died in 1658. He then married Elizabeth Woodman in Ipswich on 5May 1659. Finally, on 21Jul 1663, he married Mary Stevens. I am decended from John and Mary Wipple's son Matthew.

John died on 22Nov 1695 and his will was submitted the following month. I've found the images on the and it's fourteen pages long. The writing is on both sides of each page in the document and has leaked through so I'm having difficulty deciphering the text.