Sunday, December 30, 2012


((I posted this in December, 2010. I like the sentiment. ))

A Facebook friend, Cheryle Hoover Davis, found this quote from
one of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman, at the City of Lights Bookstore
site. I had the good fortune of meeting Neil at the Lauriats Bookstore
at the Silver City Galleria  in Taunton, Ma where he signed copies of
Neverwhere. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it.

Anywhere, it's a great quote, and what I wish for all my friends and
family in the coming year:

"May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good 
madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who 
thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art -- write 
or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere 
in the next year, you surprise yourself." -Neil Gaiman

And a Happy, Healthy New Year to all of us and our families!

Friday, December 28, 2012


We've come to the end of another year. Time to set my genealogy goals
for 2013! But before I do, let's review my goals for 2012 and how I
think I did with them. My comments are in red italics:

1.Work more on my maternal lines
Plan: Try to get into Boston and find the divorce record for my Mom's parents,
Send away for my McFarland great grandparents' death certificates and any
other documents which might definitely establish their place of birth
Results: This was my greatest success of this year. Not only did I obtain
the death certificates, I also was contacted by a White cousin and his father.
through this blog. I now know more about my Mom's side of the family. 

2.Continue researching my paternal lines
Plan: I'm hoping to have the Ellingwood collateral lines done by midyear and
continue working on the others. The more recent Barker, Dunham and Coburn
lines in particular. As in last year, I need to get out more to the NEHGS and the
local Family History Center. And I still haven't made it into the Mass State Archives!
The trips to the local cemeteries have turned up family connections so I'll be
continuing those. I also hope to attend the Ellingwood Reunion again this year.
Results: Mixed. I still haven't made it to the Mass. State Archives and didn't
get into the NEHGS again this year. I am further along on my Ellingwood lines
but haven't finished them yet because I hadn't factored in how much I would be
involved with indexing the 1940 Federal Census starting in April.

3. Break down that John Cutter West brick wall!
Plan: Same as last year: "A series of visits to the town halls and historical societies
of towns here in Plymouth County seems to be the only approach possible to
this mystery. The cemetery visits might also prove useful in this."
Results: Disappointing. I never made those visits to the town halls and local
historical societies, and  a Y-DNA test failed to turn up a connection with
any of the established West DNA haplo groups.

4. Join a local genealogy or historical society.
Plan: I'm ashamed to say I still haven't done this. I hope to change that soon. Work
schedule is no longer an obstacle.
Results: Fail. But the year isn't over yet.

5. Continue with Find A Grave activities

Plan: Get back to visiting the local cemeteries, taking pictures and posting them to
Find A Grave. This is a bit hindered right now by my lack of transportation but I
hope to have that taken care of by the end of this month.
Results: Good & Bad. I did take quite a few photos over the Spring & Summer
before Ping the Wonder Car's ultimate demise in August. But by and large  I've
yet to post most of them at Find A Grave.

6. Trim My Tree
: I am paying the price of heedless gedcom downloads from FamilySearch
from when I was a clueless newbie ten years ago, Multiple entries for one person
and more remote ancestors of dubious connections need to be removed. I made
a start of this in 2011 and must continue do so. The flip side of this is to be
more vigilant in adding new names and remember to cite sources.
Results: Fair. But there's still a lot left to be trimmed.

7. Write more.
: Continue blogging and try to equal if not surpass my output of 2011. I had
248 posts on West in New England, and 42 on The Old Colony Graveyard Rabbit.
I enjoy sharing the stories that I've discovered in my research.
Results: Fail.Only 168 posts here on West in New England and just 1(!!!) on the 
Old Colony Graveyard Rabbit so far this year. Again, the Census Indexing had an 
effect:I wrote a total of 36 posts here from April through July during the period
I was indexng. This is my lowest productivity since I first started blogging in

8. Organize, Organize, ORGANIZE!!
: Same as last year: JUST DO IT!
Results: Doing a bit better but can still be improved.

9. Scan, scan, SCAN!
:  See #8
Results: Not as much done as I'd hoped.

Last year I said that a lot of what I would accomplish would depend on my health.
This year I'm happy to say I don't see my health as an obstacle. Transportation has
been a problem for the past few months but I'm hoping to have Ping the Wonder
Car back on the road soon.
I did get Ping back on the road and as I said, did visit many local cemeteries last
Spring & Summer. But Ping went to the Big Graveyard in the Sky and as yet I
haven't replaced him. 

But as it has been in previous years, my biggest goal in my genealogy research is
to keep having fun with it!

 And I did!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


 ((Originally posted in 2007))

Christmas Eve was sometimes hectic in our family, especially
those years when we lived in Dorchester, because Mom and Dad
would drive around to Mom’s cousins’ houses to drop off gifts for
the kids. Sometimes my sister and I went along but as we got
older and more responsible we’d stay home while the gifts run
was made.

Then there where Christmas Eves where we were all home
and spent the night wrapping presents for each other or other
relatives. I think I liked those quieter nights best.

The past two decades or so Christmas Eve is spent at my sister
and brother-in-law’s house. Gifts are given out and opened and
my sister’s youngest son Mike(now in his twenties) often ends
up with the handing out the gifts duties since he’s the youngest
family member. Then there’s food served buffet style. At that
point, I am just trying to stay awake because I’ve been dealing
with the last minute shoppers at the store all day and a good
meal on top of that makes me want to take a nap. And next
day I go back over for dinner.

All in all Christmas Eves over the years have been good ones,
sometimes saddened by losses of loved ones but we all enjoy
being together and relaxing after the end of the Christmas rush.

2009 Update: A new tradition began last year with the Christmas
Eve festivities moving to the home of my niece Sarah and her
husband Steve. And this year I am actually having a day off on
Christmas Eve, so I won't be so tired and sleepy!

2010 Update: Christmas Eve will be at my sister's this year and I'm
looking forward to some lasagna. I expect that Michael will be helped
with giving out gifts this year by my 2 year old grandnephew Noah!

2011 Update: Christmas Eve will again be at  my sister's house and
there will be lasagna! One change this year: since the bookstore closed
I haven't been working the Christmas shopping rush so I may not fall
asleep as early as I have in past years!

2012 Update: Christmas Eve was at my sister Cheryl's house with her
family and my brother Phil and his oldest son Phil. It was a great evening
and much lasagna was eaten. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012


((I first posted this three years ago in 2009. Working in a bookstore 
at Christmas could be hectic but there were times that made it worth
it. This was one of those times. Borders Books is gone now, but I 
still miss that store and staff. ))


We're in the midst of the Christmas shopping rush at the bookstore
and let me tell you folks, it can get pretty hectic at times, as it was today.

I was at the information desk looking up a book for a customer when
an older lady who was waiting nearby asked me if I could just point
out where she might find the new book about the Baker Chocolate Factory.
I told her it was on a display next to the local history section, that it
was a great book, and that if she couldn't find it I'd be glad to help her
after I finished helping the other customer. She thanked me and moved
off to find the book.

About twenty minutes later I was on my way up to help at the registers
when the same lady stopped me to tell me I'd helped make her day. I
thought she was referring to finding the Baker Chocolate Factory book,
but it turned out it was something else.She'd found the book alright, but
afterward she browsed my local history section and found the Images
of America book about the history of the Milton, Ma. fire department.

And in that book, she found a picture of her great-grandfather.

Now, she already had a copy of the picture in the book, but it was
a group photo and uncaptioned,so she hadn't known which firefighter
he was. But the copy in the book was captioned, and now she
could point directly to the man on the page who was her ancestor.
She teared up a bit but smiled when I told her how great that was
and that I knew how she felt because I'd had similiar moments
researching my own family history. She thanked me again, we
wished each other a Merry Christmas and then both of us moved
on to the cash registers, me to ring sales and she to purchase her books.

It was a long, hard, tiring day. I was very tired by the time my shift
was up, and my legs were aching and stiff.

But when I started to write about this encounter I found myself smiling.

I might have made that lady's day, but she made mine as well!


((First Posted in 2011))

Dear Genea-Santa,
I've had a pretty good genealogy year and thought It would be nice to share
some of that good luck with my fellow genealogists, So I've got some ideas
for genealogy gifts that you and the elves might be able to whip up in the

1, The Brick Wall DeSTRUCTomatic:  You plug this little gadget into your USB
port on your computer, open your genealogy program, and BAM, it seeks out
and destroys those brick walls and provides you with the information you've
hunted for years on some elusive ancestor. Oh, by the way, you say the name
with emphasis on the "Struct" part. Trust me, it will sound good in the tv

2. The Flying Sourcer: This works like a combination GPS and Roomba Robot.
Before you visit a repository, library, or  cemetery, you plug it into the USB of your
computer and feed it the list of what record or grave you are looking for at your
destination. When  you get there, you turn it on and it flies right to the item you
want  and then calls you tio the location.  I'd recommend a Borg's voice: "Records
found! They WILL be assimiliated!"

3, Super Re-Citer: A computer app that automatically writes correct citations for
your online discoveries and then recites them. I think if you get James Earl Jones
or Sean Connery's voice it would be a winner. But definitely include a Gilbert
Gottfried option for laughs.

So there they are. I think we have a hit on our hands. I'd recommend once you
have the bugs worked out, you outsource them to Ronco....or Whammo. And we
should list them in the Acme Genealogy Answers Catalogue!

I don't want any monetary compensation , but when you get them ready for gift
giving, I'd like one of each! After all, I still have some brickwalls of my own to
break down and I think that the Ronco Brickwall DeSTRUCTOmatic would help!

Thanks, Santa!

Friday, December 21, 2012


((originally posted in 2007))

Every Christmas Mom would break out the Andy Williams
Christmas Album to play on the stereo. There was also a Nat
King Cole album and a Mitch Miller “Sing Along With Mitch”
Christmas edition. But for me, even rock and roll dinosaur
that I am, it’s the Andy Williams album that “feels” like
Christmas to me. I need to hear that "It's the Most
Wonderful Time of the Year."

As I’ve gotten older and my musical tastes expanded, I find
myself listening to New Age and Celtic Christmas music. And
Josh Groban just put out a holiday album that we’ve played at
the bookstore since Thanksgiving and it’s easy on the ears.

As for caroling, well, there are some things that one should
never do in public and in my case, singing is one of them!

2010 Update: I splurged this year for the "Now That;s What
I Call Christmas Essentials Collection." It has the Andy Williams
song and Nat King Cole's version of "Christmas Song" on it,
and I plan to play it Thursday afternoon on my day off!

2011 Update Now that Borders has gone out of business and
I avoid the radio stations doing the "All Christmas, All the Time"
since mid-November, I haven't burned out on Christmas music
as early as previous years. But unfortunately, I am now tired of
"It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year". Staples use of it
in the back to school ads was funny. But this year, the song has
been overused by retail stores and car dealerships so much
that it's like beating a dead reindeer! Bah, humbug!

2012 Update: My favorite piece of Christmas music this year
is this performance by Jimmy Fallon, The Roots, and Mariah
Carey. It makes me smile.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


This was originally posted back on 25Jul 2007. I thought I'd repost
 it again because of Christmas:

This the first in a series of posts which are my transcriptions
of 13 handwritten pages. They were written by my Aunt Dot
 (Dorothy West Bargar) and given to me yesterday when we attended
my nephew Paul's wedding.

Some explanations of the names mentioned: Phillip was
Phillip Jonathan West, Dot's grandfather and my great
grandfather. Hazel was her older sister and Flossie(Florence)
the youngest.

"Dingle" is a new term to me and sounds like a shed.

"Our family lived on Back Street in Upton from about 1830 to
1927. I have a picture of Bud and Hazel, taken Aug., 1926 that
was given me by Pop’s cousin Louie West (his dad was great
uncle Paul -Philip’s brother). This was the first I heard that I
ever lived in Upton. My birthday was in April of that year.

From conversations, I think I remember we probably moved
to Magalloway for a short time, then to Wilsons Mills. Phillip
stayed in Magalloway.

The first place I remember living was in a little square cabin on
the shore of Azichoos lake back a trail from the dam house.
There was a wagon trail past an old stone quarry and a foot
path along the lake shore. The quarry was home of the bear
that we always looked out for. The cabin was partitioned off in
one corner-a room big enough for a white iron double bed and a
built in double bed with a bunk (half size) up under the eaves.
There was a path between the beds wide enough for a dresser.
The remainder of the cabin was one L shaped room (except the
L was upside down & backwards) (end p.1)

The back door opened to a covered walk that led to a dingle

where we kept outdoor tools and dry wood for the fire. The
space from the door to the dingle was about the width of a
standard sidewalk. I have always remembered the dingle
because that is where the bag of toys that Santa brought was
kept. I only remember one Christmas that we received presents
and must have been when I was three because Flossie was not
yet in the family.

Don’t remember what Hazel & Mother got. Pop got a necktie,
Bud got pocket knife. (he would have been 5 years old) and I got
a pull toy -it was a green platform with red wheels & a red pull
string and had a white celluloid lamb on the platform. We also
got a tiddle wink game, which at my age was a great failure at,
but liked it anyway. That was probably 1929.

In years later we always decorated the house and had fun
making our decorations from newspapers and magazines. For
many years we had carefully saved the few fold out paper
Christmas bells and a few pieces of red & green rope that had
come with the family before any time that I recall."(end p 2)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


...these are the rules I'd make.

Christmas sales and advertising would be banned until the day
before Thanksgiving.

BlackFriday would start at 9am local time sharp. No midnight
madness. No lines at store doors at dawn. People would instead
spend more time at home with their families and store personnel
would not have to leave Thanksgiving gatherings early because
they need to go prep the store for opening.

Shoppers would behave in a mature, civilized and orderly fashion.
If the store has run out of some item the shoppers would not
treat the salespeople as if they have suddenly become the spawn
of Satan but instead would move on to the next items on their
shopping list.

No national chain stores open on Christmas Day. Christmas is
Christmas, period. Forget about sales for one day and let your
employees enjoy the day with their families. Mom & Pop stores
can open but half the day only so that folks who run out of milk or
butter can get some quickly and easily.

People would hold doors open for other shoppers and give up
their bus seats to senior citizens. Young children would not throw
temper tantrums and older children would not curse at their

Everyone would have someplace to go to and someone to be with
on Christmas Day. No one would be alone and no one would be
cold or hungry.

Drunk drivers would be unable to start their cars and so have to
take cabs or other means of transportation.

All our Armed Forces would be home to safely celebrate the
holidays with their loved ones.

There’s much more that could be added, I’m sure. But I’d be
happy with these for starters.

((First published in 2008))

2012 Update: I've added a new one:
There'd be no commercials using Santa to sell cars.

And no commercials with Christmas carols sung badly and loudly
off key for supposed "comic effect". (Are you listening, Target?)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


 ((First posted in 2007. I've added a bit to this that is in italics))

It’s been a long time since the last time my Christmas stocking
was hung up for Santa.

When I was small we didn’t have a fireplace so I’m not sure
where we hung them. Perhaps stuck to a doorframe with
thumbtacks? Although one year we had a cardboard red brick
light-up fireplace that I hadn’t thought about in years until just
now. And on Capen St. in Dorchester I think we hung them on
the “windowsill” of the wall mural my Dad made. Mom picked
out some large picture of Cypress Gardens and it was hung on
the wall, framed by a wooden  picture window frame so it
looked as if you were looking out at all those flowers! ((Dad
even wired it with a lightbulb inside the frame to light it up
at night. This worked well until the plastic model of a bird
I'd placed on the sill fell in and melted against the lightbulb.))

The house in Abington had a real fireplace (and a real picture
window) so the stockings were hung by the chimney, etc. and a
new one was added for my kid brother. A year or so after that
we hung one for the pets as well. But over the years as we
moved one place or another there would be Christmases where
no stockings were hung at all because we couldn’t figure out which
box they’d been packed away in during the last move. 

As for what was inside, as I mentioned once before there was
one year I got a lump of coal, but for the most part it would be
candy canes and an orange or apple. One year there was the new
wristwatch my folks bought me.

I’m not sure where those stockings are these days. My best guess
is that they are downstairs in my storage bin packed away with
the few Christmas tree ornaments that have survived!

Update 2010: The Christmas stockings and those few old
Christmas ornaments have gone to the great storage bin in the sky
during my latest move.


((First published Dec 2011))

It may not snow every Christmas but there is one thing of which we can be
 certain:  the 24 hour "A Christmas Story" marathon on cable tv. Now some
folks might be tired of seeing the movie but to me it is like looking back at
my own childhood. No, Dad didn't win a Leg Lamp(and no way our Mom
would have let him put it in her living room if he had) but there are certain
things in the film that bring back memories for me:

1. Ovaltine- Yes, I drank Ovaltine when I was a kid, but by the time I came
along in 1948 Little Orphan Annie was no longer the big radio hit it once was.
In fact, when I was Ralphie's age it was Captain Midnight who was telling us
to drink our Ovaltine in the secret decoder messages.

2. The cars- There were still many of the older model cars around well into
the mid 1950's with cool things like running boards and rumble seats. The
nursery school I went to in Malden, the ABC Nursery School, used to pick up
students in a big old car with a rumble seat and I dimly remember riding in it.

3. The clothes- Here's a picture of me with Santa. As I've said before, stick a
pair of glasses on it and I could be Ralphie. And in the picture of the car above,
that's me and my cousin Winnie (Winifred).  While I can't recall if it was hard
for me to get around in a snowsuit, I do remember it seemed to take HOURS to
get in and out of them. And Randy looks a lot like one of my younger White
cousins trying to walk around in it once he was bundled up.

4. The school- The first elementary school I went to was the Linden School in
Malden, Ma which was a new building and very modern for the times. But when
I was eight years old we moved to Boston and I went to the Frank V. Thompson
Elementary School, an older building, and the classrooms looked very much like
Ralphie's: the blackboards, the shelves of books, the desks, even the windows!

5. The Lifebuoy- I told fibs when I was a kid. Several times I got the Lifebuoy in
the mouth punishment.  It tasted soap.  Blecch. No, I didn't go blind.

6.The BB Rifle- I don't recall hearing Red Ryder on the radio when I was a kid and
I don't remember ever seeing the tv series. It may have been on at the same time
as one of the other shows I would watch, like the Lone Ranger or the Cisco Kid.
But I do remember seeing the ads in the back of the comic books for a Red Ryder
BB Rifle from Daisy. I wanted one badly. Hey, with a last name like West, a guy just
had to dream about being a cowboy! And just like Ralphie, I heard the same
warnings from my Mom about shooting myself(or someone else) in the eye. Now
my Dad had grown up around guns and was a bit more sympathetic. After all,
he hadn't lost an eye (although he did shoot himself once in the foot with a .22).
So eventually my parents reached some sort of compromise and I got a bb rifle
either for Christmas or my birthday but my Dad was the keeper of the BB
pellets. Eventually the novelty of shooting a rifle that didn't actually have
ammunition wore off and the rifle ended up in the closet. It and the pellets
did, however, make a reappearance a few years later when we were living
in Abington and Dad used it to drive off the more persistent male dogs who
were uh....paying our female dog Brownie.

So that's why I like watching "A Christmas Story" every Christmas!
At least once, anyway.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


(originally posted in December 2007))

Ah, fruitcake! The Food. The Myth. The Legend.

We’ve never had any of the perpetual fruitcakes hanging about
for weeks or months in our family. We’re a practical bunch. If it
tastes good, we eat it. If it doesn’t, well, out it goes!

I have, however, invented a mythical fruitcake named Margaret.

Like distant cousin Tim Abbot over at Walking the Berkshires I
have been a role-player for years although mine has been online
instead of tabletop Dungeons and Dragons. One of my characters
is an eccentric Scotsman and last Christmas he gave Margaret
the Fruitcake to another character as a Christmas gift.

It seems it was baked by a female relative who passed away
while doing so and the Scotsman believes (he says) that her spirit
inhabits her final fruitcake. Margaret has been exchanged
between family members each Christmas but last year it was
given to a young squire. Various adventures ensued including a
jailbreak where Margaret was used as a weapon and then the
disappearance of the haunted fruitcake sometime around

Yeah, I know.

I’m nutty as a fruitcake

2009 Update- Margaret's location is unknown at present, although
rumors persist that she is being used as a curling stone by a team
of dwarves.

2010 Update: Margaret's present location is still unknown. The
most prevalent rumor is that she was recently employed as a 
battering ram at the Gates of Mordor. 

2011 Update: Margaret's whereabouts still remain a mystery. Rumor
has it she is presently being used as a doorstop by a giant at
a certain school for young wizards.

2012 Update: Rumor has it that Margaret is now being used as 
ballast on The Flying Dutchman. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012


I've written before about contacts I've made with relatives through this blog.
The latest instance of this happened about a week ago. I've done posts about
my Mom's parents and how after their divorce there had been no contact with
my grandfather Edward F White Sr or his family.  We had no pictures at all of
any of them because either my Mom or Grandmother Agnes threw out any
pictures at some point after the divorce.  Acts of genealogical kindness from
Michelle Robilliard and Pam Hatton I was able to find where my grandfather
was buried and contact one of my uncles by his second marriage.

Then about two weeks ago I received an email with this photo of my great
grandmother Pauline Offinger, Edward's mother.

The sender is my second cousin, a descendant of my grandfather's older brother.
I sent him my phone number and a day later we had a great phone conversation
and exchanged information. He mentioned I should talk with his father, and
the next day I did.  it was another great talk, and we made plans to meet for
lunch at the Chinese restaurant down the street from my apartment.

So today I met my first cousin once removed for the first time.(I haven't used
either cousins' names for privacy reasons). I was a bit nervous about it but
he is a nice guy and east to talk with. He brought some family pictures and
in one I noticed a family resemblance between one of my great granduncles
and my Mom and her brother. There was no pictures of my grandfather, though,
because apparently he didn't keep in touch very often with the rest of the
family either. We both agreed that it was too bad the division between our
two sides of the family had gone on for so long, and I hope to meet more
of my white family relatives soon.

And we might never have met if I hadn't written those posts about my
grandfather here in this blog!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


It's become a Geneabloggers tradition to join our friend

footnoteMaven in the annual Blog Caroling Event, and as in

the previous editions, I'm warbling my favorite, "I Saw Three Ships".

fM will post the list of bloggers joining us in song on December 14th

and you can take a tour of their blogs.

So, without further adieu ....a one and a two...and....

I saw three ships come sailing in

On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;

I saw three ships come sailing in

On Christmas Day in the morning.

And what was in those ships all three,

On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day?

And what was in those ships all three,

On Christmas Day in the morning?

The Virgin Mary and Christ were there,

On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;

The Virgin Mary and Christ were there,

On Christmas Day in the morning.

Pray, wither sailed those ships all three,

On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;

Pray, wither sailed those ships all three,

On Christmas Day in the morning?

O they sailed into Bethlehem,

On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;

O they sailed into Bethlehem,

On Christmas Day in the morning.

And all the bells on earth shall ring,

On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;

And all the bells on earth shall ring,

On Christmas Day in the morning.

And all the Angels in Heaven shall sing,

On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;

And all the Angels in Heaven shall sing,

On Christmas Day in the morning.

And all the souls on earth shall sing,

On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;

And all the souls on earth shall sing,

On Christmas Day in the morning.

Then let us all rejoice again,

On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;

Then let us all rejoice again,

On Christmas Day in the morning.

Monday, December 10, 2012


(originally published in Dec 2007))

It’s funny how some Christmas memories fade and some endure,
especially when it comes to gifts.

We weren’t poor but we weren’t exactly well off either when we
were young. Santa’s gifts were often determined by budget
concerns but he always managed to leave us clothes and some
toys. (although one year I got a note with the other gifts:
“Dear Bill, I owe you one telescope. Santa Claus”)

Ads for a forthcoming movie brought back more memories. One
Christmas Eve my sister and I could hear Alvin and the
Chipmunks “Christmas Song” play over and over while our
parents laughed. When we asked why the song kept playing we
were told it was the radio and to get to sleep before Santa came.
(of course by now I already knew the Awful Truth). It turned
out Santa had left us a portable record player along with a copy
of the record!

I still have the gift my sister gave me one year: a wooden chess
set, the kind that doubles as a box to hold the chessmen. It’s
over thirty years old now.

As I grew older I learned that giving gifts was as much fun as
getting them. We didn’t have a color tv so one year when I was
working at the toy warehouse I put a portable Magnavox color
tv on layaway and gave it to my folks for Christmas. That tv lasted
for years, even after my folks got a larger console set. It migrated
from bedroom to bedroom passing from my kid brother to my
sister’s kids back to my brother’s kids until it finally gave up the

And then last year, I got a gift from a group of great friends, the
computer that I’m using right now to preserve these memories.

Oh, yeah! I eventually got the telescope!

2010 Update: When I moved here from my old apartment I had
to give up my desktop computer from my friends due to space
limitations. But my family had given me Sheldon the laptop
computer for Christmas last year, so I'm able to sit here in
the living room and do my blogging and research in my
comfortable chair. And the year before they gave me the
digital camera that lets me chronicle my road trips in pictures.
I'm very grateful for these and other gifts from them.

So Genea-Santa has been very good to me over the years!

Sunday, December 09, 2012


((originally posted in 2007))

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I once worked several years
for a New England based toy store chain. At the end of the
Christmas Party my first year there(this would be the year before
the incident with the car and the tractor trailer box)I was called
into the warehouse office and told that they didn’t need me there
after the holiday but they could use me at the Dedham
warehouse where they stored all the returned damaged toys.

So the week after Christmas I found myself in a small warehouse
amidst stacks of Chatty Kathy’s and See and Say’s and Barbie
dolls. Sleds that just needed to have a screw or bolt replaced
were broken up with sledge hammers.

It seemed like such a waste when I found out the other toys
would be returned to the toy company for credit. Couldn’t the
sleds be repaired and given to kids?

No, I was told. I won’t tell you the reason I was given because it’s
pretty disgusting but given the nature of retail it’s not surprising.

So I went from being a Santa’s helper to being the Grinch’s

Eventually I was sent back to the main warehouse. A year later I
left the company and found another job.

And the toy store chain? It went out of business a year or so

I like to think of that as a cosmic lump of coal in their corporate

2011 Update: That reason that the company person gave was
that if people got the repaired sleds free they wouldn't be spending
their money at our stores to buy new ones. When I pointed out that
a lot of people couldn't afford to buy a lot of gifts I was told that
parents would find a way to spend money on their kids so they'd
have a good Christmas, including folks on welfare. 

The only good thing I can say about that whole conversation was that
it took place long after the Christmas holidays so it didn't ruin the
Christmas spirit for me that year.(That came years later when I
started working in retail on the sales floor.)


My Mom was a working mother for much of her life so she wasn’t
one for major cooking projects except on weekends. Most times
cookies were created with the help of the Pillsbury Dough Boy
although I do recall some forays into Christmas tree shaped sugar

Cookies at Christmas time usually meant the Italian cookies
served at my Aunt Emily’s with that light frosting and the red and
green sprinkles. As an adult I buy them at the supermarket only
around this time of year.

But while my mom wasn’t really into cookie baking, she did like to
make coffee cake and sponge cakes. And when we were living in
Dorchester she learned how to bake mundel bread from our
Jewish neighbors. She also made cupcakes and cornbread.

There was one other dessert dish Mom made and I’m not sure
if it was something that her mom Aggie had done during the
Depression. Mom would send me down the street to the store
on Milton Ave to buy a box of Jiffy Bake Mix and she’d make
biscuits, then would top them with strawberries and whipped
cream. I didn’t care for the taste of the biscuit so I’d make sure
the strawberries had really soaked it before I ate it!

2010 Update: Due to my medical needs I don't eat cookies
much anymore. However, I may cheat  a little if there are any
served over the holidays!
2011 Update:I forgot to mention last year that my favorite
holiday cookies are the ones with the big "Hershey's Kiss" in
the middle. Yes, I know you can get them year round but the
only time I usually ate them was at the holidays. I might cheat
with one or two if any are around this year!

Friday, December 07, 2012


I don’t recall many holiday parties from my earlier childhood. In
our family folks were too busy working or shopping at Christmas
time. And when we lived in Dorchester the apartments weren’t
really big enough to hold large parties in, although there might
have been one or two. If so, they would have followed the rules of
other adult parties my folks had: after saying hello to the adults,
my sister and I would be sent off to our beds to eventually fall
asleep while listening to the adults in the other room laughing
at Rusty Warren records. We wondered what "roll me over
in the clover" meant.

As an adult, most of my Christmas party experience has been at
work, including one at a now defunct toy chain warehouse(more
on that job later) when I was in my early twenties. It snowed
when I left for home. My car at the time was an Olds 98 and
being in a hurry to get home, I didn’t completely clean the rear
windshield. I backed up, turning the car around….

….and smashed my rear windshield by backing the car up under
a tractor trailer box front end as if it were a big rig hooking up.

The good news was, my Dad worked in the auto glass repair

The bad news was I had to call him and tell him what I’d done.

It was an …umm…interesting conversation.

((First published in December, 2007))

Thursday, December 06, 2012


As you can see, I had a very formal relationship with Santa
No laps for me. A simple solemn pose would do, thank you,
for the photo-op.

Formal attire was also worn when visiting Santa’s Village up in
New Hampshire. A sports jacket was de rigeur for the feeding of
reindeer but one was allowed to be more casual when posing with
the sled and full team. The girls are my cousin Terry and my
sister Cheryl.

Actually, I think we might have been there on a Sunday. We’d
have attended Mass in Berlin and probably continued on home
with a stop to visit the Village.

But by the time those pictures were taken, I’d fallen from grace.

Yes, I no longer believed in Santa Claus.

I’m not sure how I figured it out but I do know I must have been around
six or seven years old because we were still living in Malden in the two
family house that my folks and my aunt and uncle co-owned. I know this
because when I found out there was no Santa Claus, I shared my
knowledge and heard about it for years afterward.

Yes, I told my cousins who lived downstairs. I think that was the
year I got a lump of coal in my stocking (but there were still
presents under the tree).

I’m not sure if I told my sister the awful truth later or if she
found out some other way. I do know I didn’t tell my kid brother.
After all, I was an adult of 17 by then and I had a greater appreciation
for what Santa meant to little kids!

But there it is.

I squealed on Santa.

Originally published in Dec. 2007. I've added the picture with Santa
to this update.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012


My family was fortunate in that we never lived in the sort of place
where Christmas outdoor decorations becomes a blood sport.
Yes, people strung lights in their shrubbery or along their house
gutters but there was never anyone determined to turn their
front yard into the North Pole’s Southern Branch Office.

Now for light shows back then you went to someplace religious,
like Our Lady of La Sallette Shrine in North Attleboro or the local
cemetery with it’s entrance lit up, or even just cruised a stretch
of highway to look at the neighborhood lights that might be seen
from a distance as you drove by.

We didn’t really have outside lights ourselves until we left Boston
for Abington. Up until then the only lights other than on our
Christmas tree were the electric candles we put on windowsills.
But at the house Dad did the obligatory shrubbery and gutter
displays as well as one other spot: the apple tree in the front yard.

Dad had experience both with wiring and tree climbing so putting
a string of lights up in a small apple tree was a piece of cake. It
was the taking down part that didn’t seem to work at least for
the tree. One year, long after the other outside lights were down
and packed away, the lights still were hanging in the apple tree.
I’m not sure exactly when he took them down but I do know it
was well after Spring had sprung. I think they were even plugged
in one or two nights. I don’t know the reasons why they were
still there: my Dad’s sense of humor, perhaps? Or maybe an
instance where Dad’s Maine stubbornness and the Irish
stubbornness of my Mom brought about some impasse on the issue?

On my way home the other night from work I noticed at least
three of those large hot air snow globe scenes on front lawns.

Those families must have big electricity bills!

(originally published in Dec. 2007)

2010 Update: As I discovered in 2008, the apple tree  in
the front yard of the house is long gone. But a news report
the other night made me think of Dad. The holiday
lighting ceremony at Braintree has been postponed a week
because squirrels had eaten through the wires,

The lights had been left up all year since last Christmas!

2011 Update: The big snowstorms last winter had one
interesting effect. Some of the homes with heavily
decorated outside yards remained that way until
the snow melted. One home in particular had an inflatable
Santa and other decorations buried under snow drifts
and you could  just see the tops of them as you drove by
the house. I think they were there until mid-March!

Tuesday, December 04, 2012


I don’t get a lot of Christmas cards, mostly because I don’t send
out a lot myself to begin with. I get some from the family and a
few from friends but since I’m not much of a social animal there’s
no more than perhaps a half dozen each year sitting atop my tv.

In years past the amount of umm…cardage…fluctuated. When I
was a kid there were a lot of cards, usually taped to the
doorframes much the same way that Terry’s Mom did at their
house or sitting atop tables.

When we moved to Abington they were displayed across the
mantel piece or taped around the edges of the mirror above it.
The years when my folks were actively involved in the VFW
brought the highest number of season’s greetings. Mom would
spend a few hours herself signing and addressing cards to be
sent out. But as she and her generation of family and friends
grew older the flood of Christmas cards dwindled. Several years
Mom even had some unused cards left over when she finished.

I tend not to like sending “mushy” cards so I usually try to find
something funny. Although this year I may be giving people a
look at a certain dancing elf via e-mail!

2010 Update: I'm going to see what sort of selection we have at
the store tomorrow and hopefully find something funny, although
last year I sent out cards that were more... umm ...
"New England-y"

 2011 Update Since Borders has closed I'm going to have to take
a long walk over to Target soon to get some boxed cards!

2012 Update I'm waiting for my box card order from B&N
to arrive.

((Originally posted in 2007))

Sunday, December 02, 2012


When I was a kid the holiday dinners rotated between our place
and my Uncle Ed’s and Aunt Emily’s. If Thanksgiving was at our
house, then Christmas would be at theirs. Since Emily is Italian
the holiday had an extra element for the dinner. We’d eat all the
traditional food: turkey, stuffing, veggies, and then after that was
cleared, Aunt Emily’s mom Nonnie Cappadano would bring out
the Italian food: lasagna, meatballs, stuffed sausages, and other
great dishes. To this day at Thanksgiving there is usually lasagna
served along with the turkey and I had leftovers of both sent
home with me here afterward.

Since we now usually gather at my sister’s for Christmas Eve to
open gifts and eat, the food is a bit less formal, sometimes buffet
style with meatballs, cold cuts, and salad. Then Christmas Day
comes another big meal.

And that’s how an Irish Catholic family eats a lot of Italian at
holiday time.

2010 Update: I've had some health...umm...adventures this past
year which required I change my diet habits. On the good side,
I've lost 100 lbs. But boy, do I miss Italian food. So I'm
looking forward to Christmas Eve  at my sister's or niece's
house when I can have some lasagna (albeit in smaller
portions than in the past) and maybe one or two of those
cookies with the chocolate kisses! 

2011 Update:  Christmas was at my sister's house last year and
the food as usual was great. But then again it always is on Christmas

wherever it may be!

((first published in 2007)

Saturday, December 01, 2012


You know that part of the movie A Christmas Story where
the family goes out to buy the tree and the parents have a little
argument over it? Well, I laugh every time I see it because
like so much in that film it echoes my childhood.

Every Christmas when I was younger either we’d go shopping
for a tree or Dad would buy one on his way home from work.
Now as regular readers of this blog know by now, my Dad was
from Maine. But even more than that, he had experience in trees.
He’d helped his father cutting down trees, and he’d worked for a
landscaper in the Boston area when he’d first come home from
the war. Mom would remind Dad of his experience every year
when the tree was fixed into the tree stand, the rope cut from
the branches and the inevitable big empty space was discovered.
Usually the problem was solved by rotating the tree so the empty
spot was in the back facing the wall. The lights were strung(and
here we differed from the film. We never blew out the fuses.),
then the garlands, the ornaments, and the icicles. Finally the
angel went up on top of the tree and we were all set. With
judicious watering the tree would last us until around “Little
Christmas” at which time it would be undecorated and deposited
curbside to await the dump truck.

Of course our tree paled in comparison to the giant my Mom’s
Uncle Tommy and Aunt Francis had in their home down in
Milton. It was so big they cut the top off and the branches didn’t
taper at the top. They were all the same size: large. I could
never believe they'd gotten that big a tree into the house in the
first place!

Then the first artificial Christmas trees hit the market and Mom
began vowing she was going to get one as she vacuumed up pine
needles from the rug. Eventually we did but that provided us
with new challenges, such as assembling the tree.

As we all grew older the prospect of trying to get the tree
together became less enchanting and so it too was replaced, this
time by a small ceramic musical tree that was lit from within by
a light bulb. I used that tree myself for several years after Mom
died although I felt no great urge to wind it up for the music. It
lasted until a few years back when I dropped it and the base
cracked. It sits now in a box in a shelf in my living room closet.

Its replacement is a small artificial tree that I bought at work with
my employee discount along with a garland. Last year some
friends sent me some snowmen ornaments for it. I haven’t put it
up yet but think I will this weekend. It fits on top of the tv.

And at some point over the holidays I’ll see that scene from A
Christmas Story again and grin.

2009 update: I bought a small string of battery powered lights
to add to my tree last week!

2010 update: I lost my Christmas stuff in my move last April so
I'll be picking it up another one at work soon.

2011 update
I bought another teeny Christmas tree with lights and ornaments
at Borders. Since the company closed, it will remind me of my
store when I set it out each year.

2012 update
I haven't put up my teeny Christmas tree yet but plan to do it this weekend.

Originally posted in 2007.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


The consequences of the case presented in Court in March 1663 began to be
felt two months later in the May session:

Ipswich 5May 1663
"Elizabeth Webster, for taking a false oath, was ordered to stand at the meeting
house door at Newbury next lecture day, from the ringing of the first bell until
the minister was ready to begin prayer, with a paper on her head written in
capital letters, "For taking a false oath in Court," the constable to see it done,
or else to pay a fine of five pounds to the treasurer and to be disabled for
taking an oath. She made choice to stand at the door."

And the object of Henry Greenland's advances didn't escape unscathed, either"

"Mary Roffe, upon her presentment for several miscarriages, was ordered to pay
a fine and was bound to good behaviour.§"

The footnote went into more detail as to what those miscarriages were:

"§The wife of John Rofe was presented for reporting a scandalous lie that John
Emery, sr., brought the doctor to her house unknown to her, when she herself
came and invited them. Wit: Jo. Emery, sr., and his wife, Hester Bond and Elizabeth
Webster. For putting fig dust in Mr. Greenland's bed and reporting it was Elizabeth
Webster, and said Greeneland being in the cellar where his medicines were, and
the maid going to draw beer, said Mary Rofe shut the door upon the maid, stood
before it and bade the maid remember her love to all she saw and kiss all she met.
Wit: Jo. Emery, sr., and his wife, and Ebenezor Emery. For coming to John Emerie's
house five nights after the time that she said Mr. Greeneland had assaulted her,
laid down on his bed and the same night put a couple of stones in his bed, and
since said Greenland was bound to good behavior she had sought his company
both in their house and barn. Wit: Jo. Emery and his wife, Elizabeth Webster,
William Neffe and Hester Bond. For keeping company at unseasonable hours
of the night at her house to the disturbance of the neighbors. Wit: Tho. Silver
and his wife. For riding with Mr. Cording at unseasonable times in the night,
since as she says he offered that attempt of uncleanness. For reporting that Mr.
Fuller would have committed a rape with her had he not been hindered by their
coming in. Wit: Peeter Cheny, Hester Bond and Elizabeth Webster."

"Fig dust", by the way appears to be small pieces of tobacco. I'm not sure if this
was some sort of signal or if it was a Puritan variation of short-sheeting.

This was the same court session in which my ancestor John Emery was accused of
entertaining Quakers in his house. One of the witnesses against him was Mary
Rolfe's husband, John. Remember, Rolfe had asked John Emery to watch out for
Mary Rolfe while Rolfe was away. The two families were neighbors and the fact that
Rolfe asked Emery for his help seems to indicate there was trust and friendship
between them. But when John Rolfe returned to Newbury sometime in April 1663
he found his wife involved in a scandal that probably was the talk of all of Essex
County. I suspect he was looking to settle some scores, beginning with John Emery.
So he testified that:

"I doe testifie that I being at John Emerys Sr house about 3 weeks after that time
did see two Quakers there & I herd him say to them & som others that were there
y' Joseph Noyce came to his house & told him that ther were two quakers coming
towards his house & wisht him not to entertaine them, he sayd if they came to his
house they should be welcom & he would not forbid them there they were when
I cam in & there I left them I was there upon occasion neare an houer & there were
prsent in goodman Emerys house wiliam Ilsly Sr & John muselwhitt."

There were still the two men who'd pursued Elizabeth to deal with: Richard
Cording had already left Essex County,but Greenland was still about town in

John Rolfe hired a lawyer.

To be continued.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Welcome to the Fourth Annual Great Genealogy Poetry Challenge!
The rules for the Challenge are simple:

1. Find a poem by a local poet, famous or obscure, from 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!
Or if you prefer, post the lyrics of a song or a link to a video
of someone performing the song.

While there were no songs or videos submitted this year, there were some
really great poetry submissions. The poets range from famous figures to
a grandmother writing about her granddaughters and a daughter writing 
about her father. There are two that will amuse you and one that will make 
you smile through tears. There might not be as many entries as in previous
years but their quality makes up for the lack of quantity.

So let's begin!

Dorene Paul of  Graveyard Rabbit of Sandusky Bay brings us a poem 
written by an unknown poet in which Sandusky Bay itself offers a
Verse in Honor of Sandusky Pioneers  . It reminds me a bit of Walt

Over at TransylvanianDutch John Newmark chose two poets that have
a connection to his ancestors' home in England, and they are both
well-known writers. The first, "The Blacksmith" by Charles Dickens
John chose because some of his ancestors followed that trade. The
second is a satirical poem, "The Bigot", by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Both poems are humorous, but "The Blacksmith" wins the Willy
Puckerbrush Award for Most Humorous Poem. Read them both in    
Fourth Annual Genealogy Poetry Challenge: Portsmouth, Hampshire 

Barbara Poole was researching some names and a location and did a
Google search. What she found was an obituary, and a poem. It's on
Barbara's Life from the Roots blog in the post she entitled
Palmer, Daisy, Lowell and a Poem.

Heather Wilkinson Rojo's submission is Poems by my Grandmother
over on the Nutfield Genealogy blog. Her grandmother wrote many
poems, and what makes the two poems Heather chose  special is that
they are about her and her sister.

My Ellingwood family cousin Pam Carter and I have ancestral roots in
Bethel, Maine. Pam found a poem by Lucy Larcom, a poet from Beverly,
Massachusetts where our Ellingwood ancestors lived. Talk about
synchronicity!  Read On the Ledge by Lucy Larcom at My Maine Ancestry..

When Debbie's father died she couldn't find an appropriate poem for the
back of his funeral card, so she wrote one herself. She did a wonderful job.
This is my favorite submission in this year's Challenge. Go to her post
Funeral Card Friday- Dad at Mascot Manor Genealogy
Boston recently marked the 140th anniversary of a fire in 1872 that 
destroyed nearly a quarter of the city and was especially destructive of 
the business district. Vickie Everhart at her blog
posts a poem about that fire written by a relative, Abner W. Harmon.
Its title is 1872::Great Boston Fire.  

Finally, for my own submission I searched for a poem that would reflect 
on the era of the Salem Witch trials which involved various ancestors, 
two of whom, Mary Towne Estey  and Rebecca Blake Ames, were among
those accused of witchcraft. I found one by the quintessential New England
here on West in New England

And that concludes the Fourth Annual Great Genealogy Poetry Challenge.
My thanks to all the participants for some really great posts!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


((First posted November 2011))

Whenever I am talking or writing about my Mayflower descent, for some
ironic reason I always forget about Remember Allerton. The reason for the
irony is that both my Dad's parents were Allerton descendants: Pop from
Remember Allerton and Grandma Bertha from Mary Allerton.:

My Warren ancestry also comes through my Barker line 

Allerton through Ellingwood Line

Isaac Allerton & Mary Norris
Remember Allerton & Moses Maverick
Abigail Maverick & Samuel Ward
Martha Ward & John Tuthill(Tuttle)
Martha Tuthill(Tuttle) & Mark Haskell
Martha Haskell & John Safford
Ruth Safford & Samuel Haskell
Martha Haskell & Moses Houghton
Sally Houghton & James Thomas Dunham
Florilla Dunham & Asa Freeman Ellingwood
Clara Ellingwood & Phillip Jonathan West
Floyd Earl West Sr  & Cora B Barker
Floyd Earl West Jr &  Anne Marie White

Allerton through Barker 

Isaac Allerton & Mary Norris
Mary Allerton & Thomas Cushman
Sarah Cushman & Adam Hawkes
John Hawkes & Mary(Margery)Whitford
Eva Hawkes & John Bancroft         Eunice Hawkes & Jacob Walton
John Bancroft & Mary Walton
Sally(Sarah)Bancroft & Francis Upton
Hannah Upton & Cyrus Moore
Betsey Jane Moore & Amos Hastings Barker
Charlotte Lovenia Barker & Frank W Barker
Cora B, Barker & Floyd Earl Wesrt Sr
Floyd Earl West Jr and Anne Marie White.

Warren Line

Richard Warren  &  Elizabeth (?)
Mary Warren & Robert Bartlett
Mary Bartlett & Jonathan Mowrey(Morey)
Hannah Mowrey(Morey) & John Bumpas
Mary Bumpas & Seth Ellis
Mary Ellis & Ephraim Griffith
John Griffith & Mary Boyden
Polly Griffith & Jonathan Phelps Ames
Arvilla S. Ames & John Cutter West
John Cutter West & Louisa Richardson
Phillip Jonathan West & Clara Ellingwood
Floyd Earl West Sr & Cora B Barker
Floyd Earl West Jr and Anne Marie White.

Monday, November 19, 2012


((First posted November 2011))

Back when I first started researching the family genealogy online I was
thrilled to discover we were descended from several Mayflower passengers.
At one point I even carried around a small folded up piece of paper
in my wallet with the lines of descent to show when discussing genealogy
with some customer at the bookstore. But I lost that some time ago, so I
thought I'd post them here for other family members.

The first two lines come down through my Ellingwood line from
Stephen Hopkins and Thomas Rogers.

Hopkins Line
Stephen Hopkins and..
Constance Hopkins & Nicholas Snow
Elizabeth Snow & Thomas Rogers
Eleazer Rogers & Ruhamah Willis
Experience Rogers & Stephen Totman
Deborah Totman & Moses Barrows Jr.
Asa Barrows & Content Benson
Rachel Barrows & John Ellingwood Jr
Asa F. Ellingwood & Florilla Dunham
Clara Ellingwood & Philip West
Floyd West Sr & Clara Barker
Floyd West Jr & Anne M White

Rogers Line
Thomas Rogers
Joseph Rogers & Hannah___
Thomas Rogers & Elizabeth Snow
Eleazer Rogers & Ruhamah Willis
Experience Rogers & Stephen Totman
Deborah Totman & Moses Barrows Jr.
Asa Barrows & Content Benson
Rachel Barrows & John Ellingwood Jr
Asa F. Ellingwood & Florilla Dunham
Clara Ellingwood & Philip West
Floyd West Sr & Clara Barker
Floyd West Jr & Anne M White

Chilton Line
James Chilton & ?
Isabella Chilton & Roger Chandler
Sarah Chandler & Moses Simmons
Moses Simmons Jr & Patience Barstow
Patience Simmons & George Barrows
Moses Barrows & Mary Carver
Deborah Totman & Moses Barrows Jr.
Asa Barrows & Content Benson
Rachel Barrows & John Ellingwood Jr
Asa F. Ellingwood & Florilla Dunham
Clara Ellingwood & Philip West
Floyd West Sr & Clara Barker
Floyd West Jr & Anne M White


Before I move on to what happened when John Rolfe came home and found
out my ancestor John Emery had done a poor job of "looking out" for Mary
Rolfe while John was away, I wanted to be sure I hadn't missed anything else
involving her in the March 1663 court session. There was, but it didn't have
anything to do with her troubles with Henry Greenland.

This time, it was Greenland's friend, Richard Cordin:

"Richard Cordin was complained of for attempting, on Dec. 9, 1662, to assault Mary,
wife of John Roffe in the stable or cowhouse of her mother Bishop. He desired to
be tried by a jury and was found guilty.. Court sentenced him to prison to remain
until the next session of court and then to be whipped, unless he paid a fine of
twenty pounds."

The footnotes give the details:

"The complaint against Richard Cording was made by some of the selectmen of
Newbery. Mary Rolfe and Sarah Sculler testified that about Dec. 9, 1662, Goody
Bushop being sick, Mr. Cordin was sent for. Her daughter Marie Roffe was there
to attend her: "and then falling in to a fitt as manie times she doth Ether by
suden Joy or suden fer Mr Cordin then acted veri Louingly for hir help: afterward
he gaue hir mother a dram of phisick and bid hir sleep but she being in Extremiti
Could not sleep then he went to supper and neer two houers after she Could not
sleep: then he gaue hir som thing on the point of a knife and said now she will
sleep untill the morning: then he desired Marie to show him wher hir horse was:
she Answered hir horse was well for he was lookt to all Redy and fed well: he
staid a litl while," etc. She went out with him, fearing to cross him, lest he harm
her mother, and telling her sister that she would cry out if she were in any danger.
In the stable he struck the candle out of her hand and she ran in front of the cows.
He charged her to have a care for the cows, and she said she would as soon be
gored by the cows as to be defiled by such a rogue as he, etc. She cried out to

Sara, and she sent out the negro, and Cordin threatened her if she told of it. 
Sworn before Daniel Denison."

"William Neaff and Elizabeth Webster deposed that they heard Goodman Roaffe's
wife say in their house that "Mr Cording was as pretty a Carriadg man as Euer shee
saw in hir life," and at another time "that Mr Cordin had given out som words to
Mr Greeneland aboute hir miscariadg and further she said if Mr Cordin had hold his
tonge she would not have Charged anithing uppon him." Sworn, 1:2:1663, before
Wm. Hathorne.

John Knight, sr., deposed that this last summer, he was at his son's house in the
evening, and Goodwife Rofe and Mr. Cording came in about an hour and a half
after sunset. Sworn before Daniel Denison."

Now we have a second man accused of improper advances towards Mary Rolfe.
I wish there was a picture of her, because I have to wonder what a woman looked
like to inspire such hot pursuit by a pair of rakes like Greenland and Cordin!

Perhaps confinement gave Cordin time to reflect upon the price of his behavior:

"Richard Corddin, upon petition to this court, was released from imprisonment
provided he give security to depart this jurisdiction within one week. Mr. Samuell
Symonds and Major Genll. Denison were ordered to take security."

So Richard Cordin decided to leave Essex County, which was probably just as well,
since he wouldn't be around when John Rolfe returned home.

To be continued.

Friday, November 16, 2012


We're now nearly at the end of the testimony in the case against Henry
Greenland 's advances to the married Mary Rolfe. One of the things I've
wondered about reading the published transactions is whether the order
of the depositions are printed in the exact chronological order they
were given. It would seem so in this case, since in this next deposition
John Emery's wife refers to her daughter's earlier testimony:

Hana (her mark) Noic, aged about twenty years, deposed that Goody Emerie said
that she never saw any evil carriage between Mr. Grenland and Goody Roff.
Further that Mr. Grenland was a traveler and a stranger and one who was very
politic and no fool, and that she loved the woman as her own child and would
not do her harm for her hand, etc. She further deposed that Goody Emerie
accused her daughter, Betie Webster, of taking a false oath before the magistrate
and Betie answered that she had said nothing but what she would stand to.
Then her mother told her she lied and had taken her oath to a paper that she
had heard read but once. "Betie said I never said so: nor never took oth to
Nothing but the truth and that I will stand to the death." Deponent's mother
and herself being together at Goody Rof's, they saw the maid Bete Webster
much troubled and crying. "My mother asked her why she was troubled she
Answered my mother is such a trouble to me I cannot Eate nor sleep My
mother ansur was if you have spoken nothing but the truth what need you be
troubled." Mary Noyes also testified to the same. Sworn in court.

Barbri (her mark) Elsly, aged about fifty years, deposed that being at the new
town where Betie Webster was, she asked her if it were true that the doctor
was in Goody Roff's house, and she said it was. Deponent said, "0 Lasse why
did you let him in at dore: she answered that he did so Fumbel at the dore she
thought he would have broke it open: but she said would we had Lett him haue
broke it open for then it is said he would have bin hanged: I said I wished thay
had not let him in thoug: she said that he desired but to light a pipe of tobaco
and vowed he would not touch them so she said she let him in: I said did not
you nor goody Roffe se him put of his Clothes before he Cam in to bed: she
answered no for she was unreking the fier fore she said she had newly Raked it
up and thought Mr Grenland had stood behind hir: and she said goody Roffe was
a bed feeding her child with her bac towards the fier . . . betie said goody Rofe
was so afrighted that she fell into a greevios fitt: then beti said sir what haue you
don you have put the woman in to a fitt that she fered whether she would be
well to night: and she said he made answer the Devell had such fitts or sent such
fitts and it was nothing but a mad fitt. then I asked betie whether he did not give
her som Comfortabl thing in hir fitt: and she said no no kind of thing but Railed at
hir: betee said when Goody Rofe was Recovred then goody Rofe said sir who haue
giuen the ofenc or what ofenc haue I given that you should speke such words: then
betie tould me that as soon as he se she Could speke he went in to bed again: then
I asked why goody Rofe did not Crie out: Crie out said betie she did Cri out and said
lord help me what shall I do he will . . . and she said upon the out Crie or hering the
out Crie he Cam in and then I hope her up: morour I said to betie dost thinke she
. . . well then said I am perswaded goody Rofe is an honest woman and so am I said
betie," etc. Sworn in court.

All of these depositions starting with Part 2 of this series of blogposts are from
pp47-55 of Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, 
Massachusetts Vol3 (Essex Institute 1913).

Looking back on all this, we have the rambunctious Henry Greenland  apparently
taking liberties with both Mary Rolfe and  Elizabeth Webster. John Emery, who
had promised Mary's husband he'd watch over her, seemed to feel it wasn't a
serious matter and in fact ignored his duty as a grand juryman by not reporting
Greenland to the authorities. Mary Rolfe herself doesn't want to report it either,
claiming she doesn't want to see Greenland hung, but I had to wonder if it was
more to protect her own reputation. After all, this was the society Hawthorne
wrote about in "The Scarlet Letter."

Indeed, it did all come out. Greenland was charged with soliciting Mary
Rolfe to adultery and was found guilty.  John Emery was probably dismissed
from the grand jury.  But there was still more repercussions.

John Rolfe, Mary's husband, came home.

To be continued,...

Thursday, November 15, 2012


So far most of the depositions in the case against John Greenland seem to
show that Mary Rolfe was not an unwilling target of his advances. Now her
mother, Rebecca Bishop, stepped forward with testimony supporting her
daughter. It also casts my ancestor John Emery in a somewhat unflattering

I believe the "G:" is an abbreviation for "Goodman":

"Rebbecca Bishop deposed, Mar. 30, 1663, that about Jan. 14, last, "my daughter
Sarah told mee shee being at meeting shee saw her sister Mary Rolf sadd &
mallencholly her eyes swoln with crying, sighed. Shee asked her what was the
matter? Shee wept & saide, shee was so troubled & haunted with Greenland
that shee could not tell what to doe. The next day at night Greenland came to
my house, (wherfore, I know not) I knowing nothing did kindly entertaine him
& haveing a little before Received some kindnes from him I invited him to supper;
After supper hee told stories & drank liker till near midnight, & then went away.
My daughter Sarah desired mee to let her goe to her sister Mary y* night, I asked
her why shee would goe? Shee saide, I am afraide this man will goe thither to
night for shee have been much troubled with him: I told her shee should not goe,
But I would Goe my self to morrow, which I did. When I came neer the house I
mett her boy with a glass, hee told mee hee was going for licker for the doctour
I asked where the doctor was, hee saide hee was within. When I came in, my
daughter & both looked saddly. The maids Mother sent for her, & the old man
my daughters uncle went forth, I staied neer two houres & Greenland did not
goe away: I had no Oppertunity to speak with my Daughter till at length I calld
her forth & saide; what is the Reason this man come hither? She saide I know
not I would he came Less. I told her I heard things were not well; Shee seemed
to feare to tell mee all, But saide, hee had often with many Arguments inticed
her to the act of uncleanes but god had hitherto helped her to resist him &
hoped still hee would. She had told him one word is as good as a thousand,
The Sinn was odious to her and shee would never be unfaithful! to her husband.
I said; will you venture to lay under these temptations & concealed wickednes,
you may Provoak God to Leave you & then you will come under Great Blame.
Shee answered Mother I know not what to doe; Hee is in Creditt in the Towne
some take him to be godly & say hee hath grace in his face, he have an honest
looke, he have such a carriage that he deceiue many: It is saide hee is in Credditt
with those that are in Authority in the Country: It is saide the Gouerner sent
him a letter Counting it a mercy such an Instrument was in the Country, and
what shall such a pore young woman as I doe in such a case, my husband beeing
not at home. Betty & I have promised to bee faithfull to each other & to help
one another. 

Apparently the old man mentioned in earlier testimony was an older
uncle of Mary Rolfe.What's interesting in that first part is that Henry Greenland
was a respected man, despite his behavior, and Mary told her mother that she
was afraid she might not be believed if she brought a complaint against him.

"I asked her if shee had told her uncle that so hee might bee
within. Shee saide if I should tell my uncle it would bee publique I have spoken
to him to bee within and will speake more to him with this I was somthing
aunswered at present & went away. A little while after I came againe &
Greenland was gone, And then my Daughter & the maide told mee all. I
beeing much troubled saide; These things are not to bee kept private, wee
may Justly Prouoake God, y* further mischeife may follow & then wee shall
come under Great Blame: Beside the trouble that will bee to my conscience as
long as I live. Shee saide, Mother, I have told you, & Goodman Emery, and hee
have promised to bee a father to mee, & hee saith it is best to keep it private
seeing there is no harm done, & that hee will looke to him, watch him, & lock
him upp at night. I went home much troubled, And knowing Greenland knew
it was Revealed I was afraide hee would have done some mischiefe that
night. The same night I sent a young man & my daughter Sarah & bade her
tell her sister y* these things were not [to] bee kept private, y* Goodman
Emery beeing grand Jury-man must present them. In the morning my
Daughter Sarah came home and told mee, that Goodman Emery & his wife
desired  y* I would pass it by this time & they would warrant no more harm
should bee done, & if there were they would send mee word, & that their
owne Childe was in as great danger. I saide can G: Emery pass it by. Shee
told mee  G: Emery was coming to satisfy mee about it.

"I Going to my Daughters mett G: Emery, & wee fell into discourse about it,
Hee Advised to keep it Close & warranted there should bee no more harm
done. I asked him how hee could satisfy mee soe? Hee told mee hee would
lock him up at night, & lock the lickers from him, that hee should not bee
drunk. I saide if hee had been drunk hee would have kept his bedd. Hee
told mee thet hee was halfe drunk & then he was worse then dead drunk.
I told him hee might come upon them & spoile them both. Hee answered,
That was true, I then asked Goodman Emery how hee could dispence with
his oath beeing Grandjuryman. He answered, That I cann doe very well, I
see no harm in none of them. This discourse was as we were going toward
G: Emery's house. Hee desired mee not to speak with Greenland, I told
him I did not intend it. When wee came to his house, meeting with Goody
Emery, Shee & I fell into discourse about the buisynes. When Shee
understood it Shee seemed to bee much troubled, & wished hee had never
come to her house, & if they were paide for what hee had shee would hee
were gone shee & I went to our daughters & examined them & found the
matter more gross than at first. more over Goody Emery told mee that hee
saide if Betty . . . shee might lay it to the hatter: I told Goody Emery I dare
not keep such things as these private upon my owne head, Shee wished mee
to doe wisely. I desyring God to direct mee, That night I Revealed all to a
wise man in y* Towne desyring his Advice, who did set mee in a way to bring
it where now it is.'' Sworn in court."

So everyone except Rebecca Bishop wanted to keep things quiet. Even John
Emery, a grand juryman feels that way and tells Rebecca  he sees no harm
in what has happened. That statement that Rebecca "found  the matter more 
gross than at first"  seems to hint that Betty Webster had been intimate
with Greenland. 

There are two more short depositions, and then I'll discuss the fallout.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Now that Mary Rolfe had her say, it was time for her Newbury neighbors to
give their statements. Reading this it would seem the concern she'd voiced
in her petition over what they'd say is understandable.

Once again I've left the grammar and spelling as they were transcribed.
In these statements, it seems the letter"e" from the ends of some words.
So the phrase "one time"  was spelled "on tim". Also, the term "sack" refers
to a type of wine.

The first statement comes from a William Neafe or Nease:

"Will. Neafe deposed that being at John Emery's that night, which was five nights
after Goodwife Rolfe accused Mr. Grinland, she and Elizabeth went up into the
chamber. After they had been there awhile, Jo. Emery came down and after him
Goodwife Bond, Goodwife Emery and Elizabeth, and a good space after came
Goodwife Rofe and Mr. Grinland. At supper she was so loving that she and Mr.
Grinland ate out of one dish and with one spoon. Sworn in court".

"Greenland when he Cam to John Emery's house got a vesel of strong licker and
often was merie and urged me to drinke and tould me if I would not drinke it he
would poure it in . . . and on tim did: and urged me often.

on tim John Emris wife sonn nathan webster Cam for me and bought a horse for
me I asked the boy what to do I not being willing to go: the boy said he did not
know unless it wer to drinke strong licers betie was ther and had it but I did not

So Henry Greenland liked his liquor and apparently didn't like drinking alone.

"Barbri Elsly deposed that she heard Goody Emeri say that her daughter Elen did
belie her own father and that she could not trust her about anything. Wiliam Ilsly,
aged about sixteen years, testified the same. Sworn in court."

I'm not certain what connection Elen(Eleanor) Emery had to the events at
the Rolfe house.

Peter Cheney was next:

"Peeteer Cheney deposed that being accidentally at Goodwife Rolfe's, she
persuaded him to go with her to talk to Goodman Emory, for she said her mother
knew about Mr. Greenland. When she went in she said "father emorey: if you doe
not stand my freend I am quite ondun: goodman Emory replied: if you haue dunn
so I Cann not helpe it," and she persuaded Goodman Emorey to see her mother,
etc. Sworn in court."

But the most damning incident was this one sworn to by Henry Lesenby: 

"Henri (his mark) Lesenby, aged about eighteen years, deposed that the beginning
of last January, he came by the house of John Rolfe about eleven or twelve o'clock
at night and heard a shriek so he went straight into the house. He asked Goody
Rolfe what was the matter and she said nothing, but he went to the bedside because
he thought there was somebody there. "I saw the hed of a man and felt him and I did
know it was Mr. Greenland so the woman and I went out adore to Consider what was
best to be don so we thought becas he was a stranger and a great man it was not 

best to make an up Rore but to let him go away in a priuat maner and first to speke 
of it to som friends and further s° there was a light in the roome & I knew him by 
his face & saw his clothes lye upon a box by the bedsyde." Sworn in court."

Henry had caught Henry Greenland in the bed of  Mary Rolfe, a married
woman, yet neither he nor Mary want to make an uproar over the incident? 

The popular image of Puritans is that they were sober, pious people. Well,
they probably were pious but  sober might be anther matter:

"Mary Emery, sr., Hester Bond and Elizabeth Webster testified that they were 
together at Goodman Emerye's house and Goody Roaf and Elizabeth Webster 
wagered a quart of sack to be drunk among them. Elizabeth lost and Goody Rolfe 
would have it drunk at her house the next night. Sack was not to be had, and a 
quart of liquor was procured instead, so they went down to Goody Rof's to drink 
the liquor being burnt with water they drank part of it. Then Mary Roafe said 
she would save part of it until Mr. Greenland came home for she said he seemed 
to be a pretty man and she desired to be acquainted with him."


Two more statements dealt with what witnesses heard John and Mary Emery
say about the matter. James Ordway, by the way, was their son in law, He and
Anne Emery are my 8x great grandparents:

"James Ordway deposed that he heard Jo. Emery and his wife exhort Goodwife 
Rofe not to carry herself so lovingly and fondly toward Mr. Grinland. John Emery 
owned it in court.

Mary, wife of Jo. Emery, also deposed.

Sara Knight, aged sixteen years, deposed that being at Goodman Emeris to grind 

some corn to make some samp, Goody Emerie said that Goody Rofe was a lying 
woman and if she had not exclaimed against her husband, nobody would have 
said anything against her. Sworn in court."

So the Emery's had  been heard cautioning Mary Rolfe about her behavior.
But since James Ordway was the Emerys' son in law, was his statement true?
Whatever the truth was, most of the people involved were most definitely
not the stereotypical Puritans. Things did not look good for Mary.

Lucky for her her mother had something to say about all this.

To be continued. 


Monday, November 12, 2012


To recap the story so far:  Before leaving on a trip, John Rolfe asked my
ancestor to watch over his wife,Mary Rofe, while he was away. John's
step daughter Elizabeth Webster went to stay with Elizabeth. Meanwhile,
two strangers, Henry Greenland and John Cordin who apparently were
both physicians, had taken a room at the Emerys' husehold.

Two things about the text: in some words the letter v had been transcribed
as a letter u. So "unciuill discourse" is  "uncivill discourse".

The other mater is the word sampe mentioned at the dinner. Sampe was
a corn mush that was originally a Native American dish.

 The first testimony is from Mary Rolfe and Elizabeth Webster:

"Mary Rolfe and Elizabeth Webster deposed "that the first time that Mr Grenland
Came to our house John Emerie brought him and Mr Cordin and goody Emerie
Came with him and it was late in the night: and John Emerie Came before and
asked whether the old man wer a bed and said he would bring the two docters
thither: which he did: and about twelve oclock John Emery and his wife went
away and left the two docters there: but before John Emerie went away Came
Richard Doles boy henerie Lesenbe to our house and John Emerie Charged the
boy he should not tell his master who was there.

"hauing Received severall abuses both my selfe and the maide that is with me,
we did agree to be still together and to help on another: upon a time the maide
had ocasion to go to hir father Emeris house about a pere of bodis shee desired
me to go with hir: and when we Cam ther we hering goody Emerie and hir daughter
was in the Chamber, we went up and ther was John Emeri likwis and though
unknown to us this mr Grenland was in the bed sick as they said: at last thay went
down all but goodman Emeri and I: and I thought to speke to mr Greenland about
the abuse he ofred to me: before goodman Emerie he formerly pretending to be a
friend to me I tooke this opertunitie I siting upon the Chest: but before I Could
speke, mr grenland Called me to speke with him, I bid him speke but he said I
should Com neerer to speke in privat: but I said here is non but goodman Emerie
but he Ernestly desired me to Com neerer, so I came and he Catched me by the
apron and broke my apron strings and I gaue way to saue my apron and he Caught
me by the arme and pulled me . . . then I said sir I wonder you ar so unciuell . . .
then I Called to goodman Emerie and asked him if it wer not an unciuell part:
then Mr Grenland said if his landlord would say it is an unciuell part he would let
me go: but goodman Emerie made no answer but Laught nether would he help me
. . . though I spoke to him: but with striving I got from him and went downe out of
the Chamber: after this Mr grenland Came down: and John Emerie Invited us to
supper and when Mr Grenland and we wer sett down to supper and while John
Emerie was Craving a blesing and before John Emerie had half don Mr grenland
put on his hatt and spread his napkin and stored the sampe and saide Com
Landlord light supper short grace.

"After supper ther was a great del of Rude and unciuill discors mr grenland speking
that if hes wife should dy he would not marrie ... he had a pretee young wife . . .
This besid a greet del of such lik discourc ther being John Emeris young son and
daughter and his wifs daughter and William Neffe and divers others."

So far John Emery doesn't come off too well in this account of events. He doesn't
seem to be too concerned about Greenland's advances towards Mary Rolfe.

There'd been some hanky panky upstairs and downstairs. Now it was about to move
"up in milady's chambers."

To be continued.