Monday, November 10, 2008


So how might I and Levi Ames be related?

Levi himself gave me some clues in the first paragraph of his "Last
Words and Dying Speech": he was 21 years old in 1773, had been
born in Groton, and his father, Jacob, had died when Levi was two
years old. So I checked the births for Groton at the Early Massachusetts
Vital Record
s site and found a Levi Ames born to a Jacob Ames, Jr. and
his wife Olive on 1 May 1752. Looking up Jacob, I found three entries
for births:

"Jacob, s. John and Elisabeth, Oct. 28,1726
Jacob, s. Jacob and Ruth, Dec. 12, 1728
Jacob, s. Jacob jr and Olive. Feb. 8, 1754"

The first Jacob, I knew, was the son of John Ames (Eames) Jr. and Elizabeth Green,
and the younger brother of my ancestor John Ames. I checked the Groton marriage
records and found that he had married Olive Davis on 16 Feb. 1749 in Westford
which was part of the town of Groton at that time. I later found on Googlebooks
that they had been married by Jonas Prescott who would have been related to Jacob
through his grandmother Elizabeth Prescott. I could not, however, find any definite
record online of Jacob Ames' death.

The second Jacob Ames was the son of another Jacob Ames and Ruth Shattuck.

The third would be the younger brother of Levi Ames.

I also found that Jacob and Olive Ames had a daughter named Olive who'd been
their eldest child, born on 4 Nov 1750. Levi mentions his mother and brother
but says nothing about a sister, so she might have died young.

Nor could to where Levi Ames had been buried. Given the fact he had been
executed and that there had been such an ardent pursuit of his cadaver afterwards,
perhaps Rev. Stillman had the body buried in an unmarked grave, or perhaps Levi's
mother and his brother Jacob did it. Although Levi claimed to be the first to disgrace
the family name, there had been the scandal in Boxford where his distant cousins
had been charged with murder only three years before his execution. The sooner
Levi was buried in the past, the better.

But Levi's story had caught the public's imagination and the pamphlets and songs
kept it going for some time after his death. His brother Jacob eventually married
and moved away to Keane, NH where he died in 1818.

So that's the story of my distant cousin Levi Ames, executed at the age of 21 for
the crime of burglary. Among the advice he left in his "Last Words and Dying
Speech" are these words which are as true today as they were back in 1753:

"...keep your doors and windows shut on evenings, and secured well to
prevent temptation."


Apple said...

I've really enjoyed this series. I don't know why I didn't check my file when you first started it but the name Ruth Shattuck jumped out at me today (I have no idea why). Levi was my 4th cousin, 5 times removed. I think my nearest common ancestors are probably John Whitney & Ruth Reynolds.

Why do all of our connections seem to involve hangings? lol

Sheri said...

Great story Bill! It's stories like this that keep genealogy from being boring!

Sheri Fenley

Terry Thornton said...

Bill, What an interested series --- I wasn't ready for the Levi Ames Saga to end. Sad and true stories told by a master writer like you are entertaining --- and informative. Thanks.