Monday, April 28, 2008


I've mentioned the irony that before I began my genealogy
researching I didn't know that some of my ancestors lived in
nearby towns before they moved north to Oxford County,
Maine. I even attended college in one town, Bridgewater,
unaware that several ancestors were buried in a cemetery
not far away.

Bridgewater, Massachusetts was originally part of town of
Duxbury and at that time was known by the Indian name of
Nunkatateset. It broke off as Bridgewater in 1656. As is the
case with many of the original Massachusetts towns, over
the years various areas have broken away as new towns,
such as East Bridgewater, West Bridgewater, Abington,
Pembroke, Hanson, and Brockton(which was originally known
as North Bridgewater.) The main industry of the town
historically is brick making and it remains so today,
although the presence of Bridgewater State College,
Bridgewater Correctional Facility, and the Bridgewater
State Mental Hospital contribute greatly to the town

Of these the College is the most important. Founded by
Horace Mann in 1840 as the Bridgewater Normal School, it
was the first college established for the express purpose of
training teachers. Among its alumni are the founder of
Antioch College in Ohio and Edwin P. Seaver, ancestor of
Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings.

Bridgewater also is known for a number of strange and eerie
events which has resulted in the area known as the
Bridgewater Triangle. I've written a bit about that last

Bridgewater also boasts a few distinguished sons in sports:
Hall of FameDetroit Tiger catcher Mickey Cochrane and former
NFL linebackerJim Cheyunski.

My ties to the town and the other Bridgewaters, East and
West, are through my Edson, Keith, Packard, Howard and
Forbes lines.

Deacon Samuel Edson settled in Bridgewater circa 1646-1648
and built the first mill there. Earlier genealogies say he was
married to Susannah Orcutt but more recent researchers
dispute this and some say she was a Susannah Bickley. Both
are buried in the Old Graveyard in West Bridgewater.

Their daughter Susannah married the Rev. James Keith, the
minister of the church where Samuel Edson was deacon. His
parsonage was built in 1662 and is still standing, possibly the
oldest one in the United States. While researching this article
I found information that according to Wampanoag Indian
oral tradition, Rev. Keith pleaded for the lives of the son and
wife of the slain Indian leader King Philip when they were
captured. The Keiths are interred in the Old Graveyard as

Their son Joseph married Elizabeth Forbes, daughter of
Edward Forbes and Elizabeth Howard.

Their daughter Jemima Keith married Deacon James
Packard. And their great granddaughter Cynthia Packard
married James Dunham in Hebron Maine(which is where I
connect with Chris Dunham!).

Finally, Cynthia and James' granddaughter married Philip
J. West.

I went to Bridgewater State College, and have driven through
East and West Bridgewater many times past places where
those ancestors lived and died. Now I'm planning to take my
camera and visit the cemeteries and the Keith Parsonage. I'll
be going to the other local towns that I have connections with
as well.

Who knows, maybe I'll find where my West ancestors lie
buried as well!


wendy said...

thanks for sharing how your own history merges with Brickwater. Good luck on searching for the West ancestors!

Janice said...


I'd like to hear more about the Bridgewater Triangle! :D


Steve said...


Bridgewater is right in the middle of the places many of my relatives live: Duxbury, Carver, Taunton, and Randolph. I might consider staying there the next time I visit my cousins, were it not for the Bridgewater Triangle.


Bill West said...

Thanks for the comments Wendy,Janice
and Steve!

Steve, Randolph falls outside of the
Triangle so you should be safe there.


Anonymous said...

i am a direct decendnt of Rev. James keiththrogh both his sonsJoseph and John. joseph to Ephraim to William Sr. William jr.
morris, morton, harry l. harry j. Robert J. me.I have tons of information about my family and would enjoy sharing it with others