Thursday, July 30, 2009


If you are a geneablogger of Irish descent, or non-Irish descent for that matter, have
you ever visited Ireland? Or have you ever just thought of taking a "dream vacation"
in Ireland? If the answer to either question is yes, that the Carnival of Irish Heritage
and Culture needs you!

The topic of the 14th edition of the Carnival focuses on those real or dream vacations.
The deadline for entries was July 26th and so far there's been only one post submitted.
Now I KNOW there's a lot of talented geneabloggers out there and I'm a bit gobsmacked
that I was the only one who sent a post.(and in the interest of full disclosure I sent it in late.)

So please help Colleen Degnan Johnson who's hosting this month's IHC. Post your real or
imagined Irish vacation to your blog and then send the link to Colleen or to the
Carnival submissions link.

As an aside, I don't know if it's just me but I've noticed there's fewer new blogposts lately
from the blogs I follow. I don't know if it's folks being caught up in enjoying summer, or
busy with research, or with social networking. I'm hoping that it's a temporary thing
and it'll pick up again.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


One of the fun things about researching family history is finding new stories about
my ancestors. Lately, with all the information I've found on Google Books there's
been a lot of new stories most of which I've shared here on this blog. Some of them
have been about people who weren't my direct ancestors, but the stories were
so fascinating to me that I investigated and wrote about them anyway. The stories
of Levi Ames and of Daniel Ellingwood come to mind , for example.

The other night I was googling my Buswell ancestors and when I searched "William
Buswell", I got the following hit from the Essex County Court Records for April,

"Whereas Susannah Buswell, wife of Isaac Buswell, jr., was convicted of burglary
and lying, court ordered" that she pay to Ensign Wm. Buswell 6s. which he lost,
also to sit in the meeting house in lecture time about the middle of the alley with a
paper pinned upon her head written with these words "FOR BURGLARY & LYING"
in capital letters."
-Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex, Massachusetts volume VI 1675-1678
Essex Institute, Salem Ma. 1917 (p265)

Now William Buswell's father was Isaac Buswell, Sr. It would seem that Susannah was
married to Isaac Buswell Jr and so was William Buswell's sister in law.

So what could drive a young woman of that period of history to turn to thievery and
from her own family, no less?

We'll be investigating that mystery over the next few blog posts.

Monday, July 27, 2009


I've had to wrestle a bit mentally with the topic of this edition of the Carnival of
Irish Heritage & Culture, which deals with what place I would like to visit on a
vacation in Ireland. The first obstacle is that I've never flown, and have no intention
of starting now. I fear the struggle of just getting myself into an airplane would
at the very least make it an unpleasant trip where all I'd remember would be the plane

But let's say I could use some sort of transporter beam and make that trip. I'd want to visit
Kiltrustan in Roscommon, My great grandmother Annie (Kelley) McFarland was born
there and probably her husband John McFarland as well. Annie's mother was named
Anne Byrne. I noticed recently on a website about Kiltrustan that two of the most common
surnames there in 1857 were Kelley and Beirne and I'd certainly want to investigate the
records and graveyards to see if I could find family members.

And of course I'd then look for living relatives. Although I sometimes wonder if the native
Irish ever tire of the returning descendants of long ago relatives showing up at their front
door? ("Mother of God, Patrick, it's another 5th cousin!")

I'd like to see the rest of Roscommon as well, such as Loch Key, and then travel further
afield to see Dublin and Limerick.

I'd like to visit both the eastern and western shores of Ireland, to stare across the English
Channel towards England, the source of so may struggles for the Irish, and then
look out over the Atlantic towards America, the source of so much hope.

I saw a show on cable once about the canals of Ireland. I'd like to take a slow trip on
one of those canal boats and be able to stop along the way to visit the towns and
villages that line the canal.

I know the topic said to pick one place, but that was the second problem I had in writing
a post for this, because I just couldn't pick just one place. I'd want to see it all. I might be
like poor "Charley on the MTA" and "never return."

But luckily for me, I suppose, I don't fly, so it's all academic, isn't it?

Written for the 14th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture

Sunday, July 26, 2009


I was reminded the other night while researching my Coburn/Colburn line of the first time
I read something in my genealogy that made me scratch my head and say "Huh?"

I found my 7x great grandfather Joseph Coburn's first wife had died and he then married
a Deborah Wright. I then discovered that Joseph's son Moses Colburn had likewise married a
Deborah Wright.

Yep, that was the "Huh?" moment. Something was wrong here, it seemed.

My first thought was that Moses had married his stepmother after his father's death. But
Joseph Coburn died 13Nov 1733; Moses had married his Deborah Wright three years
before on 7Jul 1730, so that wasn't the answer.

It didn't take too long to find the solution. The first Deborah Wright was the widow of
a Joseph Wright and she'd been born Deborah Stevens, daughter of John Stevens and
Elizabeth Hildreth. The second Deborah Wright was her daughter. Moses Coburn
had married his stepsister!

I've had more difficult problems to figure out since in my family research but this was
my first one. Luckily it turned out ok.

In this case, two Wrights didn't make it wrong.

Friday, July 24, 2009


Terry Thornton's Hill Country of Monroe County, Mississippi has returned
in an archival format as Terry Thornton's Hill Country. There will be no
new articles or comments posted to the site but it's good news that over 900
of Terry's posts are not lost and can still be read!

Thursday, July 23, 2009


There's an override vote coming up here in Abington on Saturday
and it's caused quite a bit of debate online between supporters and
opponents. I haven't made my mind up completely on it, but this
comment might have pushed me into the Yes column:

"Someone else brought us that the library is reducing hours. Honestly,
they should have done that a long time ago. I frequent the library often
and half the time Im the only one in there or one of three people in there
(aside from the librarians). Unfortunately Abington just needs to realize
that our town doesnt like reading and the library, though beautiful and
a great resource, just goes unused too often."

"Our town doesnt like reading "?

Right. Who needs to read? Who needs a library anyway?
(I'm being sarcastic here, folks.)

Words fail me.


It's a cloudy day with a hint of rain and I spent some time browsing the Internet
for news about genealogy while I enjoyed my coffee. I found three stories of

Last week Terry Thornton sent out to some geneabloggers a link to a story by Ginger
about the destruction of an Indian mound in Oxford, Ala and urged us to help bring the
story to the attention of our readers and to write to the state and local officials
protesting this act. (My post is here.).Blogger Judith Richards Schubert of Genealogy
Traces recently received a reply from Gov. Bob Riley of Alabama. You can read
an article from the Anniston Star at this site and read the text of the reply
here on Judith's blog.

Ginger at Deep Fried Kudzu originally alerted Terry to the Oxford situation and she
wrote a letter to Sam's Club with some questions as to company's position on the
controversy (the dirt from the mound is being used as "filler" in the construction of a
new Sam's Club.) You can read their reply here and Ginger's opinion on it. I have
to say that it seems to be a fine display of corporate indifference couched in politeness.
(I'm not overly impressed with Gov. Riley's response to Judith, either.)

A recent ceremony involving the unmarked grave of a Revolutionary War veteran
in York Township, Michigan, has brought criticism from a local historian. Read about it
here at

Finally, some bad news for any of us with ancestors who lived in Haverhill, Ma and
might want to use the research facilities of the library special collections.


I've written before about my ancestor Ralph Ellingwood Jr. He and his brother John served
in the Massachusetts militia during the Indian wars, during which time John was injured
badly enough to later apply for some sort of compensation:

"Provincc of ye Massachusetts Bay in New England

To The Rt Honble ye Lt Governour & Councill & Representatives
in Generall Court assembled at Boston Febru. 1700/701

The humble Peteion of John Ellenwood of Beverly in ye Countey of Essex
in sd Province humbly Sheweth

“That whereas your poor distrest petitioner was in ye latter End of ye first
Indian Warr viz about ye yeare of Our Lord God 1676 Imprest & Sent to ye
Eastward as a Souldier in ye Countrey Service against ye Indian Enemy &
in ye Towne of Wells being then under ye Comaud of Capt Frost & Leiut
Sweat your petitioner was sorely wounded in my right hand my fore finger
being shott away & ye rest of my band So greivously Shattered & Torn &
bones broakeu yt it hath been thereby rendred almost altogether vseless Euer
Since Whereby it is very difficult for me to provide for my wife & family
having 6 Children which otherwise were my hand well with ye blessing of
God I could Comfortably doe. Wherefore your Supliant prays that this Honble
Court would Consider off & Compassionate my Sorrowfull Condition & Either
allow me some small yearly Stipend or Some Certaine Summe towards my
Releife as in yor wisdom you may think best.

Yor petitioner doth Gratefully acknowledge that some Small Matter hath been
done for me formerly which hopes May not hinder Something further being
done & yor petitionr as in Duty Bound shall allwaes pray &c,
Marke of
John A Ellenwood”

John also provided some witnesses to help verify his story:

"Wee ye Subscribers being Souldiers at ye Same time with John Ellenwood doe
Certify yt to our Certaine knowledge he was wounded as above sd as witness
our hands this Feb— 1700/1701

His Marke
Thomas T Parlor
Samll Collins
Henry Herrick Constable 1680 "

"In the year 1680
I heard Hennery Constable of Beverly say that he payed forty shillins out of
A countery Rate to this petitioner John Elenwoord.

By me
Roger hascoll"

Luckily for John, it seems the colonial officials felt he did indeed deserve some
recompense for his wound:

"In answer to ye Petition within written. It is the opinion of the Comitte that
there be paid to ye Petitionr out of ye Province Treasury five pounds
Towards his present releife, and for the future Three Pounds g ann during
his life
In the House of Representatives"

"March 8th 1700 the abovewritten Report Read and voted That it be Accepted
Sent up for Concurrence.
John Leverett Speaker"

In Council March11th 1700/1.
Read and past a Concurrance "

-Maine Historical Society Documentary history of the state of Maine
(pp 522-523)

I'd read about John Ellingwood's injury before but hadn't seen the actual text of the
petition. Now, thanks to Google books, I have!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


I was driving to work this morning using a shortcut between Route 139 in Holbrook
and Route 37 on the Braintree/Holbrook line when I had my second encounter with
wild turkeys on that road.

The first encounter was four or five years back when I was wondering why traffic was
backed up at a four way intersection. When I finally reached the stop sign, I discovered
the problem was a turkey wandering haphazardly around from one side of the road
to the other. Of course, none of the drivers wanted to hit the foolish thing so it was a
matter of waiting for it to move to the other side of the road. When it was my turn, the
turkey actually stopped by my car window and looked at me as if it was waiting for
a handout. I had nothing to give it, and besides, it's not wise to encourage this sort
of behavior in birds. Sparrows already sit on car hoods at McDonalds begging for
pieces of rolls and french fries. I draw the line at turkeys, since they're larger and would
leave considerably larger....mementoes...on the hood.

Today, I'm not sure what it was I witnessed. There were two adult turkeys and five
chicks (turklets?) crossing the road this time. Now, I'm not an expert or a farmer
so I couldn't tell if they were a male and female. Wild male turkeys that look like
the ones in Thanksgiving decorations are apparently not common. Perhaps it was
two hens and their hatchlings on a play date? If so, were they playing some game
teaching bad behavior involving stalling traffic which would lead to the chicks being
able to wander around four way intersections without getting killed when they reached adulthood?

So, there's my post for the day. Nothing genealogy related, but I couldn't resist a
chance to talk turkey.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


My 9x great grandfather Gershom Flagg was born in Watertown, Ma. in 1641 but
by 1689 he was residing in Woburn, Middlesex, Ma. That year he was appointed
Lieutenant in a company commanded by Captain Noah Wiswall(Wiswell) which
was sent off to main as part of the expedition under the joint command of Benjamin
Church and my ancestor Jeremiah Swain.

There are two different accounts of what sort of company made up Captain Wiswall's
command. One says it was comprised of militiamen infantry, but the other version says
it was made up of friendly Indians hostile to the Maine tribes. Apparently, there were
some who were not all that hostile, as this story from Daniel Neal's "History of
New-England Vol 2" (p80) relates:

"Befides, their Motions were difcovered to the Enemy by fome Indian Auxiliaries, who
being fent out with Lieutenant Flag to get Intelligence of the Enemy, confulted together
in their wn Language at Winnopiffeag, and obliging the Lieutenant to return with but
two Indians, nineteen of them ftaid in thofe Parts eleven Days without an Englifhman
in their Company ; in which Time they found out the Enemy, lay with them two Nights,
and told them every thing they knew of the Numbers, Motions and Defigns of the Englifb
: Upon which they retired into their inacceffible Woods and Swamps, and appeared no
more in a Body while the Army was in thofe Parts... "

It was perhaps then inevitable that matters turned out as they did on 6Jul 1690 at
Wheelwright Pond near Lee, New Hampshire (pp95-96) :

"All the open Country was fo infefted with Parties of the Enemy at this Time, that it was
hardly fafe for a Man to ftir out of his Houfe, or follow his Bufinels in the Field. A Council
of War was therefore called at Portfmoutb, which ordered Captain Wifwel and Captain
Floyd with a large Body of Men to fcour the Woods as far as Cafco. They marched out of Quochecho on the 4th of July, withe above 100 Men, and on the 6th came up with a large
Party of the Enemy at Wheelwright-Pond. It was obferved, that there were feveral
French Soldiers mix'd with thefe Indians, to difcipline and inftruct them in a regular Way
of Fighting .The Engagement lafted feveral Hours, but Victory declared at laft for the
Enemy, Captain Wifwel, Lieutenant Flag, Serjeant Walker, with fifteen of their Men,
being killed, and a great many more wounded. When Wifwel fell, Captain Floyd retreated
with the Remainder of the Army, in the beft Manner he could, leaving his wounded Men
behind him-, but next Morning Captain Convers, with twenty Men, being fent out towards
the Place of Battle, found feven of the wounded Englifh yet alive, and brought them back
to the Camp. The Indians flufhed with this Victory, made a Defcent upon Amefbury,
furprized Captain Foot, and tortured him to death ; but the Townfmen taking the Alarm,
fecured themfelves in their Fort: However, the Enemy killed three Perfons, burnt three
or four Houies, deftroyed their Cattle, and then retired..."

July seems not to have been the best month for many of my ancestors..

Monday, July 20, 2009


I'm going to be at work and away from the Internet for the next eight hours or so.

If during that time somebody wishes to comment on the Terry Thornton matter,
I ask that they follow two simple rules:

1. Be civil. No ad hominem and personal attacks will be tolerated. I believe
in freedom of speech, but that is tempered with a strong belief that free speech
should be civil.

2. No anonymity. If you are going to criticize either Terry or Thomas, have the
decency to sign your name to it. They have the right to know who's saying
what about them if it's being said in public.

I received a comment this morning that breaks both these rules. I've left it on
the blog as an example of what I will not approve in the future.

That is all. Please, for the love of all that's holy, try to behave like adults, ok?

Sunday, July 19, 2009


My usual Sunday routine is to sleep in. After I'm up I make coffee
and waffles and then eat while I browse my blogfeeds. When I worked my
way down to Terry Thornton's "Hill Country of Monroe County, Mississippi"
I was greeted with a message from saying that the blog had
been removed.

Given recent history I was concerned but hoped it was a technical thing that
could be corrected. I emailed Terry about it in case he wasn't aware that his
blog was gone and then I posted a notice on Facebook in my status to let other
geneabloggers know about this.

I've since received an email back from Terry confirming all 12 of his blogs
were removed this morning. He didn't say if this was his decision although
I believe it is so I've asked him that question and I'm awaiting a reply.

I'm saddened by this. All that great writing, all those memories Terry shared
with us are gone. His Graveyard Rabbit's blogs are gone as well, and I wonder
what now becomes of the Graveyard Rabbits group as a whole.

Most of all, I'll miss that wry Southern humor.

So Terry, please, if this was your decision, I hope you'll reconsider.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


I was going to write a followup to my post about the Terry Thornton situation, but Mother Nature intervened. A thunderstorm rolled in, and I shut down the computer and turned off
the powerstrip while I waited out the lightning.

As I sat here listening to the rain, I thought about what I would write, and the more I thought about it I realized I didn't really need to write anything more on the subject. Paul Allen apologized to Terry, Terry accepted. Other bloggers had already commented far more eloquently than I ever could on the developments. "Move along folks, nothing more to see

So I listened some more to the rainfall. It was a good heavy rain, not like that long stretch
in June where New England got day after day of dank, cool drizzly rain. This was a loud
rain. I never realized how loud rain could get until my first summer as a camp counselor at
Camp Mitton down in Brewster on Cape Cod. The rain roared as it hit off leaves and
branches. There was no hard pavement to bounce off, just sandy dirty roads that formed puddles and then little streams that ran down to the center of the camp and into the pond.

There were no glass windows, just long screens covered by overhanging roofs off which the
water poured. In the morning, there'd be green moss visible on the tree trunks outside, and
the kids would track sand into the cabins on their sneakers. When it dried brooms were
handed out and the sand was swept out the cabin door.

One storm in particular stands out in my memory. I'd taken my kids out for an overnight on
the other side of Walker's Pond where'd we'd sleep out in pup tents. in the middle of the
night a hellacious thunderstorm broke out and woke us all up. Some of the kids were
frightened and I spent a good half hour yelling at them all to stay in their tents and flat on
the ground while I worried about what the heck we were supposed to be doing that we
weren't. Eventually the storm passed, and while we were all soaked, none of us were hurt.

The next morning, when we hiked back into Camp, the kids from my cabin were instant
celebrities with the other campers for having been out in that storm!

Then tonight's thunderstorm in the here and now passed and I decided to write all this
down while the thoughts were still fresh in my mind.

Ah, and the title? Well, I used "Summer in the City" for the title of a post about well,
summer in the city! It just seemed natural to use the name of another Lovin' Spoonful song
as the title for this one, because it's still raining out, and I hear rain on the roof.

Friday, July 17, 2009


My 9x great grandfather John Hoyt. Sr. was one of the first settlers of Salisbury, Essex Co.,
Mssachusetts and I was researching what if any action he saw in the Indian wars. It's
become a habit now to also check the Essex Court records for any ancestors who might
have appeared in relation to some case or another and the other night I found this:

"Court Held At Hampton, Oct. 9, 1677.
Jury of trials: John Severans, foreman, Tho. Mudgett, John Hoyt, jr., Tho. Barnard, John Samborn, Godfrey Deareborne, John Clifford, sr., Morris Hobbs, sr., Peter Foulsham, Moses Levitt, Daniell Lad, jr. and Tho. Hartshorne.

Grand jury: William White, foreman, Willi. Osgood, sr., Samll. Felloes, sr., Joseph French,
sr., Willi. Barnes, John Hoyt, sr., Humphrey Wilson, Robert Page, Willi. Fuller, Nathl. Batcheller, Nathll. Weare and Tho. Whittier.

-Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts Volume VI
Salem Ma. The Essex Institute, 1917 (page 339)

So John Hoyt and his son(also my ancestor) John Hoyt Jr. were jurors when the name of
a member of their own family was called:

"Dorothie Hoyt, called into court upon her presentment for putting on man's apparel, made default, she having gone out of the county. Her father, John Hoyt, appeared and owned the
fact, manifesting Dorothie's repentance, and desiring to fall under the penal part of the
sentence. It was ordered that she be apprehended as soon as she returned, and be severely whipped unless her father forthwith pay a fine of 40s. in corn or money.

Warrant, dated Aug. 20, 1677, and summons to witnesses, Amos Singletary, Joseph
and Mary Sargent, signed by Tho. Bradbury, for the court, and served by Tho. Sargent, constable of Amesbury." (p341-342).

This fascinated me. Dorothy had shocked our Puritan forebears by wearing men's
clothes! Had she traded her dress for a man's trousers and shirt because they were more
practical for some chore? Or was it simply a prank that went badly astray and was
observed by three witnesses?

Why had she left the county? Did she flee, or was she perhaps sent away because the
family feared she might say or do something in court to add to their shame?

Where did she go? I haven't found any other record of her as yet, so perhaps she never returned.

Did John Hoyt Sr. pay the fine?

I guess we'll never know. The part of me that is a historian tells me that it couldn't have
ended well for Dorothy Hoyt. If she left her family for good, life for her would have been
quite hard, and she would have found the same reaction everywhere if she'd continued her "presentiment" for men' clothes. And if perhaps her family sent her off to live with some relatives, it's likely every effort would have been made to prevent her from any further
outburst of unseemly behavior.

But my imagination hopes that Dorothy Hoyt beat the odds and found happiness
somewhere as well as comfortable boots to go along with her shirt and trousers!

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Okay, I never joined Genealogy Wise to begin with and didn't see all the posts on this
issue, so bear with me, folks. And feel free to correct me on something I might have
missed on this affair:

Recently Genealogy Wise announced a contest with cash prizes of $100 each in
eight different categories. I gather these included prizes for the person who started
the most groups or invited the most new members. This rightly raised some concerns
among some members, including Terry Thornton who wrote a post critical of the
contest. Apparently Genealogy Wise felt this post and comments by other members
was "disrespectful" and removed it from the site.

I became aware of this when Bruce Buzbee posted on his Facebook status that his
comment had been deleted by GW. I went over and checked it out (you can read the
GW site content if you aren't a member but must register to comment) and found
Terry's post on censorship. I wish I'd had the foresight to save it now because I
can't recall the exact content but do remember in an exchange between Terry and
the GW spokesman, the reason given for the removal of Terry's original post was
that it was "disrespectful or rude".

I've "known" Terry now for nearly two years through correspondence and reading his
blog and the last thing Terry Thornton would ever be is "rude or disrespectful". Frankly,
if anyone was disrespectful it was IMHO the GW in his or her replies to Terry.

Just before I started this post I went back to GW to check on that exchange and found
thatTerry's second post was gone now as well. There's a revision of the contest rules that changes the criteria now from quantity to quality: "highest quality blog posts, highest quality videos, etc."and also a discussion asking for members' opinions on the contest.

There's also a discussion entitled "Help us determine the level of censorship at Genealogy
Wise" which asks members' opinions about censorship on three categories: Adult content
or porno, posts promoting non-genealogy products, and posts that are "rude" or "
disrespectful." I'm not going to give a full critique. Go read it for yourself at Genealogy Wise.
But I do have one thought that is making me do a slow burn. The original post from Terry is gone, deleted by GW. (The second one is gone as well, I suspect because Terry left GW in
protest to being labeled "rude and disrespectful".) So no one can see the post that started it
all, and now readers cannot read it and judge for themselves, and Terry is left with that
"rude and disrespectful" label."

GW is tap-dancing as fast as they can on the issue. The GW spokesperson says that in the
future they won't remove posts "disrespectful to GW."

You know, I might have eventually come around and joined GW. I originally resisted joining
FB but I finally gave in and jumped aboard. But this whole incident has left a bad taste in
my mouth and I can now safely say I'll never join Genealogy Wise.


Most of my most vivid memories of summer as a kid are those involving the years we
lived in the Dorchester section of Boston. We moved there when I was 8 years old
and left just before I turned 14. I can divide those years into two periods based on
the apartments we lived in at the time.

The first place was at 101 Capen St in a neighborhood mostly made up of triple-decker
apartment buildings. There weren't many open spaces nearby so like generations of city
kids before us, we adapted. We played stick ball in the long alleys between the buildings,
or maybe banged a "pinky" rubber ball against the front steps of a porch to play "Three
Flies Out". Sometimes we played basketball in the schoolyard of the Frank V. Thompson
up the street, but there was mostly a tough, older crowd up there so we didn't go there
that often.

Sometimes we walked over to the Morton Theater to catch a movie, or better yet,
the Oriental Theater in Mattapan Square, where the inside looked like a Chinese palace,
with statues of Buddhas in wall niches. I don't know what fascinated me more, the glowing
green eyes of the statues or the "clouds" that seemed to float across the ceiling overhead.
I saw "Around the World in 8o Days" and "Hercules" at the Oriental!

Evenings, parents and kids would sit on the front steps of the apartment building and wait
for the ice cream man. His name was "Westy" and he had a great gimmick: he'd have each
kid guess what number between 1 and 10 he was thinking of, and if you guessed it right, you
got your ice cream free. The "Drumstick" Ice cream cones were my favorites.

It was while we were living on Capen Street that I played Little League baseball in the
league run by St. Matthew's. My friend Barry played in the Dorchester Little League and had
a real uniform and cleats, while the Catholic League teams just had tee shirts and a baseball
cap. I was on the St. Matthew's Dodgers for two years and we wore bright golden tee's and Dodger Blue caps.

And of course I spent a lot of time reading books from the Codman Square library.

We moved up to Evans St when I was 11 or 12. It was only a few blocks way from our
old neighborhood but it was different. For one thing, there was a big empty lot across
the street where the old Robert Swan School has burned down, and there was a lot of
sandlot baseball played there. We'd form up teams and send the two youngest kids,
the Martinellis, down to the grocery store on Milton Avenue to buy us Royal Crown
Colas and Devil Dogs. Our only worry was that one of the better hitters might hit a
flyball across the street and crack the windshield of some parked car.

I'd learned to ride a bike (with my Mom's help *cough* )before we'd left the Capen St
apartment and part of my summer days were now taken up with paper routes. I delivered
several Boston newspaper at some point or another while I lived there, including the old
Boston Herald, the Boston Record, and the Globe. One of the more memorable routes
involved riding my bike over past Franklin Field to the VFW Parkway projects. I also
was delivering papers during the "Boston Strangler" days and I recall how nervous
the female customers were when I knocked on their doors to collect money on
Fridays until they caught Albert De Salvo.

Of course, the bike gave me more mobility so I was now visiting three branch libraries
every week and borrowing 18-24 books a week and the the comic books and baseball cards
I smuggled into the house inside my "paperboy" bag!

And there were the trips "up home" to Maine, and visits out at the cottage at Hough's
Neck to swim.

One summer tradition that continued even after we moved out of Boston down
here to Abington on the South Shore. We had no air conditioning, and on a really hot night,
we'd all get into the car and Dad would drive around for a few hours. Sometimes we'd stop at
a Howard Johnson's for an ice cream if it was early enough. If it was later, we might end up
driving to Wollaston Beach or someplace else near the water where it was cool. In Abington,
that drive would usually take us to a beach in Plymouth.

There were good summers in Abington as well but for me, whenever I think about my
childhood summers, it's those years in Dorchester that spring first to mind.

Written for the 76th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Ah, synchronicity!

I was searching online for any material about my probable ancestor Gershom Flagg's
death at the Battle of Wheelwright Pond and found Daniel Neal's "History of
New-England Vol 2" on Google Books. Once I had found that, I searched the rest
of the text for some other names, such as Simon Willard or Jeremiah Swain. Then I tried
Greenleaf, and found this from the summer of 1690 shortly after the town of Casco, Maine
had been burned by Indians:

"The Fate of Casco made the smaller Garrisons of Papoodack, Spurwink, Black-Point
Blue- Point, draw off immediately, without Orders, to Saco which was 20 Miles within Casco; and a few Days after they retired 20 Miles farther to Wells, and frightned that
Garrison so
much, that half of them deserted, and fled as far as Lieutenant Storer's.
Hopebood, the
Captain of the Hurons, pursued them, and destroyed all the open Country;
he burnt several Houses at Berwick, killed 13 or 14 Men at Fox Point, and carried off six Prisoners ; but
meeting with Captain Floyd and Captain Green-leaf they routed his Party, wounded Hopewood himself, and made him retire to a greater Distance. After this he
marched with
his Party Westward, with a Design to draw the Aquadoeta Indians to join
him; but a Party
of French Indians meeting him by the Way, fell upon him by Mistake,
and in their blind Fury killed him and almost all his Company."
(page 95).

(The text lists the Indian leader's name as both Hopebood and Hopewood.)

Now I mentioned in my series on Captain Stephen Greenleaf Jr. that there were references
to his command at a victory over the Indians at Wells, Maine in 1690 but that I'd not been
able to find any record of it.

But now I believe I've found it!

Sunday, July 12, 2009


It's Sunday afternoon and it's time for Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun
over at Genea-Musings.

Okay, I'm a tad late with it but I wanted to give a little thought to this one. This week
the challenge involves time travel:

"Let's go time travelling: Decide what year and what place you would love to visit as a
time traveller. Who would you like to see in their environment? If you could ask them
one question, what would it be?"

I knew who I'd want to see, of course: my 3x great grandfather John Cutter West. But
what year should it be? At first I thought of 23Sep 1827, the day he wed Arvilla Ames.
But what red-blooded man would want to talk family history on his wedding day?

So I slept on it overnight and came back to the problem exactly 20 minutes ago after
taking a sip of coffee.(Caffeine is a wonderful igniter of my thought processes.) I was
looking at my PAF pedigree chart and inspiration smacked me up the side of the head.

It wasn't John Cutter West I'd want to visit: it was his son, my great great grandfather
Jonathan Phelps West and his wife Louisa Almata (Richardson)West. It would be at
their home at Upton, Oxford County, Maine, and probably in the year 1870. They
would have been married five years with their two oldest sons already born(including
my great grandfather Philip J. West). My question would be a simple one: "Tell me about
your parents and grandparents."

I can't imagine that John Cutter West wouldn't have told his children about his parents.
Perhaps Jonathan had even met them, and would know not only their names but their
parents and where the West family had lived before settling in Maine. And by asking
Louisa the same question, I'd break down another brickwall, my Richardson line, since
I can only go back as far her grandfather Philip (Pierce?) Richardson who married Lydia
Dow. I have no vital records at all on Philip, so Louisa might be able to tell me that

And with one question, I would bring down two brickwalls.

Maybe I should wait to ask the question until after we'd all had cup of coffee!


Sometimes you see or hear something that just makes you stop and angrily shake your head.

The other day Terry Thornton of Hill Country of Monroe County Mississippi sent an email
out about a post at the Deep Fried Kudzu blog. Seems that a 1500 year old Indian burial
mound in Oxford, Alabama is being destroyed and used as fill in the construction of a Sam's
Club. The owner of the blog is named Ginger and she went out to the site herself to check
out the damage and she took some pictures that are disturbing. There are two posts, one
with pictures of the mound before the demolition began and the second with pictures
showing how much damage has been done.

It's obviously an Indian mound but in the eyes of the city's mayor and Sam's Club, it's
not all that important, good only to use as filler for the construction. Of course, given that
Sam's Club is owned by Wal-Mart, which has been embroiled in fights over constructing
stores close by Civil War battlefields, I'm not surprised. In all these cases, local officials
and merchants are ready to sacrifice the history and heritage of our country in the name of
improving the local economy. In this case, something that has stood for centuries, a sacred
place to Native Americans, is being destroyed to make way for a store that more than likely
will be itself demolished in less than a century to make way for some other enterprise.

This is wrong, folks. Once these places are destroyed, they cannot be replaced. And don't
think it can't effect you. There are plenty of incidents of church graveyards being uprooted, moved or paved over to make room for shopping centers and parking lots. And we all have
been shocked at the recent events at the cemetary near Chicago. Is this the type of society
we are becoming, where we are willing to tread on the bones of the dead in quest of the
almighty dollar?

Visit Ginger's blog. She's posted the email addresses of the parties involved in this incident.
Look at those pictures, see how we are destroying the past, and then send emails to voice your

Thursday, July 09, 2009


Well, the rush is on as genealogists sign up for GenealogyWise. The first thing I noticed
when I signed onto Facebook tonight was that there were fewer posts by genealogists and
geneabloggers than usual and as I read down the screen I saw much of what was posted
concerned questions about GenealogyWise. I took a quick look-see over there and saw
membership had jumped to over 500 in one day.

Some of the comments on Facebook concern me. One was a quote :"Will the last
genealogist left on Facebook please turn out the lights?" Another person posted something
to the effect that they would be moving their group from Fb to GenealogyWise next month.

So is this the start of splintering in the geneablogging social community? It seems to me
quite possible that it might divide based on which social network one prefers, the more
far reaching Facebook or the more genealogy specific GenealogyWise. And what of the
Geneablogger's group? At the moment there is the original Facebook Group of 612
members strong and a new GenealogyWise group of 50. As folks leave Fb for GW will
we end up with two separate smaller groups instead?

I also wonder about another consequence. When you join a social group for a specific
subject, you are in effect preaching to the choir. Everyone on GW is a genealogist. On
Fb, what you post isn't just seen by your genealogists friends, but by all your friends and
family. Now, granted, not everyone is going to be interested but even if you spark just
a little curiosity in a few people you are spreading knowledge about your family and
perhaps creating new genealogists. I like that possibility. So far, GW seems like a fancier
genealogy message board to me.

One last point and then I'll hush up: even if there is no spark of interest, I thought Fb was
also a great way to let folks see that genealogists are not the stereotypical old folks
sitting around libraries reading old books. We're all sorts of people and a lively
energetic bunch to boot. If the majority of genealogists leave Fb for GW, we lose that
chance to showcase genealogy to the general public.

I know, I know, some will say to use both Fb and GW. But I barely have time to post and
keep up with the content of Fb without adding doing the same with GW. And eventually,
many of those who try to use both platforms will reach a point where they reach the same
conclusion and decide they have to choose one or the other. I know there will be things
posted on GW that I will miss reading because I stayed with Fb. But that's the way it will
have to be.

Of course, like they say, "never say never." But for the moment, I'll stay where I am on

Now I'm going to bed, and tomorrow get back to blogging about genealogy.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


Randy Seaver has an interesting post over on his Genea-Musings blog about the new
Genealogywise social website, which is sort of a "Facebook for genealogists". I went
over, checked it out, and it does look promising. Some of my geneablogger friends
have already signed on as members.

And you know what? I'm going to pass on joining up.

Not that I'm being anti-social, mind you, but I'm happy with Facebook. Besides my
geneblogging friends, there are my friends, former schoolmates, coworkers, and
relatives on Facebook. It gives me a wider audience to reach with the posts from my
blog that I import as notes. And I've made contact with cousins there that I wouldn't
make on Genealogywise.

I notice that there is also "Platinum Service". I'm not sure what that entitles you
to but I suspect there's a fee for that.

I know, I could do both Genealogywise AND Facebook, but in the end, I know I
couldn't keep up with doing both and doing research. Heck I'm barely keeping up
now as it is without adding Genealogywise. How folks can do Tweet and FB is
amazing to me.

Anywho, that's my stand for the moment, old fuddyduddy that I am!

Monday, July 06, 2009


On 4Jul 1690 my 8x great grandfather Simon Stone wasn't having a very good day
but displayed amazing tenacity which Cotton Mather pointed to as an example of
why one should never despair. Author Samuel Green quoted Mather in a book published
in 1883:

"Cotton Mather mentions, in his Magnalia, a few instances of" mortal wounds upon the
English not proving mortal," and gives the case of an inhabitant of this town who was
in a garrison at Exeter, New Hampshire, when that place was assaulted, July 4, 1690.
He says : —

`It is true, that one Simon Stone being here Wounded with Shot in Nine several places,
lay for Dead (as it was time !) among the Dead. The Indians coming to Strip him,
attempted with Two several Blows of an Hatchet at his Neck to cut off his Head, which
Blows added you may be sure, more Enormous Wounds unto those Port-holes of Death,
at which the Life of the poor Man was already running out as fast as it could. Being
charged hard by Lieutenant Bancroft they left the Man without Scalping him; and the
English now coming to Bury the Dead, one of the Soldiers perceived this poor Man to
fetch a Gasp ; whereupon an Irish Fellow then present, advised 'em to give him another
Dab with an Hatchet, and so Bury him with the rest. The English detesting this Barbarous
Advice, lifted up the Wounded Man, and poured a little Fair Water into his Mouth at
which he Coughed ; then they poured a little Strong Water after it, at which he opened
his Eyes. The Irish Fellow was ordered now to hale a Canoo ashore to carry the Wounded
Men up the River unto a Chirurgeon; and as Teague was foolishly pulling the Canoo
ashore with the Cock of his Gun, while he held the Muzzle in his Hand, his Gun went off
and broke his Arm, whereof he remains a Cripple to this Day: But Simon Stone was
thoroughly Cured, and is at this Day a very Lusty Man; and as he was Born with Two
Thumbs on one Hand, his Neighbours have thought him to have at least as many Hearts
as Thumbs.' (Book VII. page 74.)

Many families who have lived in Groton trace back their line of descent to this same
Simon Stone, who was so hard to kill, and to whom, fortunately, the finishing " Dab
with an Hatchet" was not given."-

Green, Samuel A., Groton During the Indian Wars, Groton, Ma. 1883 pp56-57

The astonishing thing to me reading this today is how Simon Stone wasn't accused of
being a witch, given the two thumbs and his amazing recovery!

Sunday, July 05, 2009


You can read it over at Colleen McHugh's Orations of OMcHodoy blog!
She's done a great job gathering posts from geneabloggers on this month's
topics of "Justice and Independence" in honor of Independence Day. Thanks,

Now it's time for a Call for Submissions!
The topic for the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy is: How I spent my
summer vacation... a favorite summer memory from your youth. Tell us what
summers were like when you were a wee tad pole. Did you vacation with family?
Go to a youth camp? Hang out at the local park? Watch fireworks? Catch fireflies?
Share those lazy, hazy, crazy, days of summers past with us! Deadline for
submissions is July 15, 2009.

Submit your blog article to the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy using
the carnival submission form. Please use a descriptive phrase in the title of any
articles you plan to submit and/or write a brief description/introduction to your
articles in the "comment" box of the blogcarnival submission form. This will give
readers an idea of what you've written about and hopefully interest them in clicking
on your link. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Hmm...that's a great topic!

Saturday, July 04, 2009


Live, on line from "West in New England", it's the "Just Make Up Some Genealogy Lyrics"
Geneamusical Extravaganza!

((The show's title flashes across the screen as the Genealogy Flutaphone Band plays what
sounds very much like the old "Lawrence Welk Show" theme.))

Welcome, ladies and gentleman to our show. We have a bunch of talented guys and gals
with some great geneasongs, so let's get the show started, shall we?

First off, we have Jasia over at Creative Gene. Seems "She's Got the Pole World on Her
and is going to tell us all about it!

Wunnerful, Wunnerful!

Next, for your geneamusical pleasure, we present the Perle Mesta of the geneablogging
world, fresh from a hit appearance in Burbank. It's Thomas MacEntee of Destination:
Austin Family with his rendition of "If They Could See Me Now!"

Our next performer is a rising star in the geneablogging community. Give it up for Mary
over at Ancestor Tracking for her beautiful vocals on "Oh Family Tree!"

Wasn't she just wunnerful?

Ladies and Gentlemen, it's a pleasure to introduce the next performer and her geneasong.
Please welcome the rock and roll stylings of footnoteMaven and her tribute to great-
grandmother, "Runaround Lu"!

A show like this wouldn't be complete without a medley of old geneastandards! Who
better to perform it than genealogy Rockstar Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings
who performs his hits "Searching" and "Ge-ne-al-o-gy"!

Wow! These kids these days and their genealogy rock! Now we'll return to Broadway
inspired music as the lovely Donna from What's Past is Prologue talks about her
research in the song "My Favorite Finds".

From Broadway we now turn to Hollywood for geneamusic inspiration. Join Leilani of
the Ka'aihue Genealogy Project on a genealogy treasure hunt in "Keep Searching for Me!"

And now take a moment to listen as Amanda of A Tale of Two Ancestors sings about
her ancestors in her genea-composition "They're Mine".

Lisa has blogged about her immigrant ancestors on 100 Years in America and now she
puts their story to geneasong in "100 Years in America the Beautiful"

Hasn't this been a great show so far, folks? But wait! Don't touch that mouse, there's more
to come!

Our next geneasong comes from our Canadian friend M. Diane Rogers of CanadaGenealogy
or `Jane's Your Aunt'
who treats us all to a traditional rendition of a "round" with "James Battice, James Battice." I promise you, folks, you'll be humming this one for a long time!

Here's geneablogger Cindy Henry of Mountain Genealogists who's done "a lot of looking" for
her family tree. Give a listen as she sings all about it!

Of course we're performing our Geneamusic Extravaganza on July 4th, and here now to
help get us into a geneapatriotic mood is Colleen McHugh of Orations of OMcHoday with
a rousing "The Battle Hymn of The Hodicks, O'Rourkes and Doyles"!

Our geneasongs run the gamut from traditional to rock and roll, but what geneamusical
extravaganza would be complete without paying homage to the great Gilbert and Sullivan?
Karen Rhodes of Karen About Genealogy will now step up to our geneablogger microphone
and show us how it's done because she's the very model of a modern genealogist!

Finally, me and the boys in the Genealogy Flutaphone Band would like to draw our program
to a close with our rendition of "My Favorite Names" from West in New England.

Well, folks, we've come to the end of the first "Just Make Up Some Genealogy Lyrics
Challenge" geneamusical. I hope you've enjoyed the show, and hopefully have been
inspired to write your own genealogy lyrics.

My thanks to all the talented folks who took part.

Until next time, remember to keep researching your family with a song in your heart!

((Cue bubble machines as the Genealogy Flutaphone Band plays "Goodnight Ladies",
then fade to black...))

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


We're coming up on the 4th of July on this coming Saturday. As you might expect here in
New England, it's a pretty special time. After all, this is where the American Revolution
began, isn't it? The celebrations are steeped in tradition, from the oldest 4th of July
Parade down in Rhode Island to the Boston Pops concert and fireworks on the banks of
the Charles River in Boston on Saturday night.

I've come to have a greater appreciation of the 4th and of our colonial ancestors in general
since I began researching the family tree. I'm not sure exactly how many of my ancestors
were Revolutionary War veterans since I'm still discovering new information almost every
day but I do know it's over ten. The documentation for eight of them is by means of their
Pension Request files, and in that my fortune was in their misfortune because they had
fallen on hard times. I had the chance to read their statements regarding their service in
the Army, and to read inventories of their personal possessions. I found out that my 4x
great grandfather Moses Coburn's list of possessions included a table, a chair, 4 "dung hill
fowls" and other livestock but apparently did not include beds for himself, his wife and
three children. My 5x great grandfather John Ames often saw Washington, Putnam, and
Lee while he took part in the siege of Boston. Several ancestors were present at the
surrender of the British General Burgoyne and others served at Valley Forge.

(You can read my transcriptions of the pension files of John Ames and Jonathan Barker
by clicking their names on my label list on the right of your screen. You can see a list of
my Revolutionary War veteran ancestors here.)

Despite all that they endured and survived in the Revolution, they found themselves
at the start of the 19th century in need of financial help. The young men of Lexington and
Concord were now in their late middle ages. Some of them were able to pick themselves
up and start over, or their widows and children were able to do so, with the help of the
pension. Others, like my 4th great-grandfather Jonathan Barker, were not so successful;
he rests in an unmarked grave in Newry, Oxford, Me.

In other words, they were real people, facing everyday life and trying to get by the
best they could, much like their descendants do to this very day.

It wasn't just political independence they were fighting for back then, it was also for an
independence of thought and speech. Even after they'd won it from the British they
continued on with the struggle in taking stands and voicing opinions that sometimes weren't
popular with the majority. It's a New England tradition!

Many of us grew up being taught history in the old "names and dates" method. Certain
figures (Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, etc) are given a bit more time, as are the major
conflicts. But it's not until college that we are able to study American history in more
depth. Even then, the everyday lives of people who lived in a certain period, who fought
the Great Wars or who survived the economic crises get less attention or perhaps a passing
mention. There's only so much time in a school year or a semester. Lesson plans must
be met.

That's why I think those of us who are genealogists and family historians are lucky. We
take the time to study not just the where and when of our ancestor's lives, but also other
aspects. How did they fight for independence, what effect did that fight have on them and
their family, why did they migrate to a certain part of the country? And then we share that
information with others. Studying our family histories gives us a greater appreciation and
pride of our country's history as well.

So I'll be watching the Boston Pops concert and fireworks display this Saturday night and
wonder once more, as I have the past few years, what those Revolutionary War veterans
would make of it all if they could there to take it in!

Written for the 75th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy