Sunday, March 31, 2013


My paternal 2x great grandmother Louisa Amata Richardson was born  on 23Jan1837 to Phillip and Esther(Laughton) Richardson at Wilton, Me.  She was one of 16 children, nine of them from Phillip's  marriage to his deceased first wife Eunice Richards. He must have moved from Wilton to Letter B Plantation(later Upton)Maine sometime before 1850 when he is listed on the 1850 Census there as a farmer. It was a small town, and one of the other families there was that of my 3x great grandparents John C and Arvilla (Ames) West and their son Jonathan P. West.

I've written before about how Jonathan's first wife Orpha V. Reynolds died a few months after their marriage during a diphtheria outbreak in 1862 which also took his  brother, two sisters, a nephew and three nieces. all children. I don't know when or how he met Louisa, but I do know they were married on 31Jan 1865. It may have been a difficult situation for Louisa, succeeding a wife who had died so young and suddenly. The marriage seems though to have been a good one and a prosperous one as well. According to material sent me by Norman Mitchell, Jonathan owned two lots of land, and a tract of 37 acres, while Louisa herself  owned land. Jonathan was pretty well off for a farmer, although probably not as wealthy as his brothers Asa and Hiram.

Louisa and Jonathan had three sons, John, Paul, and Philip(my great grandfather).
John became a civil engineer, and Paul and Philip worked in various jobs in the
lumber trade.  They also gave Louisa and Jonathan  twelve grandchildren.
They had been married 52 years when Jonathan died in 1917. Louisa followed
him in 1925.

John & Philip West

Louisa & her son Paul West
Louisa & Jonathan with family & friends.

I believe a marriage that lasted that long has to have been a happy one.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013


I wasn't able to physically attend  Roots Tech last week, but like many others I
was able to see some of it thanks to the livestream webcasts. (And thank you
to the corporate sponsors and the Roots Tech organizers for making it possible!)
These included the excellent keynote speakers each morning. On the first day,
the three speakers really touched me. They were Dennis Newhall, Syd Liberman,
and D.Joshua Tyalor.  I'm sort of paraphrasing and summarizing here: Genealogy is
more than just  names and dates, it's the stories behind them; that we should
find those stories and once we do, we should share them. That really resonated
with me.

I was lucky when I first started getting serious about climbing my family tree because
I already had some stories. I had my Aunt Dorothy West Bargar's research and her
handwritten account of growing up in Maine during the Depression. I also had
my distant Ellingwood cousin Florence O' Connor's book The Ancestors and
Descendants of Asa Freeman Ellingwood and Florilla (Dunham)Ellingwood
has all sorts of information and stories on our branch of the Ellingwoods. And
finally there was another book The History of Wilsons Mills and the Magalloway
which has some pictures of my West relatives and my Granduncle
Clarence's memories of his career as the manager of the Azicoos Dam.

So I already knew that I had Salem Witch ancestors and that 2x great grandfather
Asa Ellingwood was a Civil War veteran and I had some Mayflower ancestors as
well.  As time went on I made more and more use of the internet and made
contact with Barker family cousin Howard Kaepplein who shared his knowledge
of the Barkers'  history with me and West cousin Lewis Wuori who sent me a
treasure trove of West and Richardson family pictures. By now I had discovered
genealogy blogs and had started my own here so I could share with others the
stories and pictures I'd found or that had been given to me. I found out that there
were other bloggers out there who were related to me and again stories and
information were shared. Meanwhile, I posted my research(warts and all) as a
public tree on Doing that, and writing this blog, put me in contact
with distant cousins I might not have ever found. More stories and information
were shared.

You know that tagline that annoyed some of us when they first
started using it, about not needing to know what you are looking for when you
first visit that site? It's true in a way, You do need to know who you are looking
for at the start, along with some essential information like where and when,
but the what is information you find on the censuses and military records and
other documents you discover there and elsewhere. Armed with that and with
effort, patience,and luck you can find the stories behind the information.

Once you find those stories, don't keep them to yourself like some treasure.
Share them, because if you do, you may encounter a few people who will just
take them, but you'll also find others who will share back and become your
friends. That is how the geneablogging community began.

So, to all those who have shared with me, thank you!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Despite the testimony given about the damage done farmland and the bridge
by the overflow from the dam, the jury found in favor of the Iron Works. There
are two reasons why the jurors might have made this decision. The first and
less sinister reason could have been that they felt the company had been fair
with my ancestor Adam Hawkes in their previous settlements and that Adam
was too eager to go to court every time the dam overflowed. The other, less
honorable reason was that the Iron Works was a power and  had made Lynn
an important town in the still young Massachusetts colony, even if it had not
been very profitable as yet. 

By now, Adam Hawkes was in his sixties and the struggle with the Iron Works
passed on into the hands of the next generation, to my 9x great grandfather
John Hawkes. John was more inclined to taking direct action rather than
going through the judicial system. Ironically, he ended up there anyway in 1663.
I ran into a bit of a roadblock here, because the volume of Essex County Court
Records his case appears in was only available as a snippet view on Google Books:

"John Hawkes, sr., and Moses Hawkes; trespass, for that John Hawkes, sr., was
the only plotter, contriver and secret manager of the cutting or breaking of the
great dam at Hamersmith or the Iron works in Lin"-Records and Files of the
Quarterly Courts of EssexCounty, Massachusetts , Volume 9

Luckily I was able to find more details in a genealogy of a related family:

"Evidently there no attempt was made to draw off the water, and in the face of
tardy justice the Hawkes family probably had taken down a part of the dam, since,
in 1663, suit was brought against John Hawkes, Sr., and his brother Moses, by
Samuel Appleton and his son Samuel, in an action of appeal from the County Court
at Salem to the Court of Assistants in Boston. Judgment was given in favor of the
plaintiffs for .£30 damages, and "the defendants shall make vp the great dam as Good
as before in twelue months time next ensuing or pay £250 "and costs. John Hawkes
appealed ; and on March 4, 1663, "the Jury brought in their verdict they found for
the plaintiff [Hawkes] Reuersion of the former Judgment & costs of Court nine pounds."

-Lora Altine Woodbury Underhill Descendants of Edward Small of New England, and the
Allied Families, with Tracings of English Ancestry , Volume 2 (Google eBook)
Priv. print.
at the Riverside Press, 1910 p570

This was a reversal of more than just a court case. The Iron Works had not proven
profitable and in fact the company wasn't paying its debts. Some of the company officers
were even jailed or fugitives. Apparently things really reached a head in 1671:

"The Iron Works for several years were carried on with vigor, and furnished most of the
iron used in the colony. But the want of ready money on the part of the purchasers, and
the great freedom with which the company construed the liberal privileges of the court, caused their failure. The owners of the lands which had been injured, commenced several suits against them, and at last hired a person to cut away the flood gates and destroy the works. This was done in the night, when the pond was full. The dam was high, and just below it, on the left, stood the house of Mac Callum More Downing. The water rushed out, and flowed into the house, without disturbing the inhabitants, who were asleep in a chamber. In the morning, Mrs. Downing found a fine live fish flouncing in her oven. The works were much injured, and the depredator fled to Penobscot. 

The suits against the Iron Works were protracted for more than twenty years. Mr. Hubbard says 'that instead of drawing out bars of iron for the country's use, there was hammered out nothing but contention and law suits.' The works were continued, though on a smaller scale, for more than one hundred years from their establishment. But they have long been discontinued, and nothing now is to be seen of them, except the heaps of scoria, nearly overgrown with grass, and called the 'Cinder Banks.'
  Alonzo Lewis The History of Lynn: Including Nahant (Google eBook) Samuel N. Dickinson, Boston 1844 p154

It doesn't say who the perpetrators of that second breach of the dam were, but given the
past history of my Hawkes ancestors and the Saugus Iron Works, it wouldn't surprise me
in the least if there were a Hawkes or two involved that night!

Thursday, March 21, 2013


For seventeen years, starting in 1643, my ancestor Adam Hawkes had a less
than cordial relationship with the operators of the Saugus Iron Works over
damage done by a dam built and operated by the miners. In 1660 Adam had
finally reached his breaking point and he brought suit against company at
the Essex County Court:

"Mr. Adam Haukes v. Mr. William Paine and company of undertakers of the Iron
works of Lynn and Mr. Oliver Purchass, their agent. Trespass. For damming their
waters so high, which was the cause of floating his lands, well and bridge, to
his great damage for several years. ..."

In the testimony from various witnesses, evidence was given about the previous
agreements between Adam and the miners, as well as to the harmful effects the
overflowing dam had on the Hawkes farm.

"Writ, dated, 4mo: 1660, signed by William Longley for the court, and served by
Theophylus Bayley, constable of Lynn, by attachment of meadow on the west
side of the river to the Long Poynt, to the value of one hundred pounds.

Oliver Purchis" bill of costs. To Major Wm. Hathorne, Joseph Jencks, sr., Henry
Leonard, Jno. Vinton, Nicholas Pinnion, Macam Downing, Charls Phillips,
Thomas Browne, Daniell Salmon and George Darline, witness fees.

Thomas Wellman and John Knight, appointed to appraise the damage, reported
that it amounted to 10li . a year, for the meadow, plow land and in floating a bridge;
in the corn field, the corn had suffered much from the water; the wells were
sometimes floated with the waters of the Iron works, so that when the pond was
up with the waters standing in the wells, the well water was not fit for use on
account of the dirt that fouled it; the damage in the orchard, in the English grass
and in the tobacco lands was also great, etc. Sworn in court.

Charles Phillopes testified that he had kept the water at the Iron works since Mr.
Purchas came, and that the latter told him to keep it low in order that it might not
damage Mr. Haukes. This deponent did, and gained the ill-will of the workmen
thereby. Sworn in court.

Agreement, dated, Oct. 31,1652, between John Giffard. agent for the company of
the Iron works, and Adam Hawks: Whereas there was an agreement made, 20: 4:
1651, by Capt. Robert Caine and Capt. William Hawthorne, arbitrators for said Giffard
and Hawks, in consideration of oertain damages that said Hawks had received, from
the first erecting of the said works by raising a dam for the works, whereby he had
lost the use of three acres in one place and since then, six acres, besides the
overflowing of certain feeding ands, for all of which said Hawks was allowed eight
pounds; now in consideration of that causeway which should be made him good
by the company with sixteen loads of hay to be allowed him yearly, besides two
hundred cords of wood granted said Hawks to cut and carry away; also in consideration
of ten acres of ground now sold by Hawks to the Iron company, lying near the works
among those ten acre lots which lay near Thomas Errington's house, and in full
satisfaction for any future damage that may occur, the said Giffard conveyed to
said Hawks, that fresh marsh called Farmer Dextor's marsh, which adjoined the
house of Adam Hawks, which was in full satisfaction of the arbitration. It was further
agreed that for the future the water should be so kept that it would not ascend the
top of the upper flood gates in the pond or higher than a foot and a half from the
top of the great rock that lay in the middle of the pond before the gates. Wit:
John Jarviss* and Daniel Salmon.*

Joseph Jencks, sr., deposed that he spoke with Adam Hawks about the damage and
the latter told him that he had satisfaction from the old company, etc. Sworn in

Daniell Salmon, aged about fifty years, deposed that, being servant to the Iron
works under Mr. Geffards, he laid out the marsh given to Mr. Hauckes for damage,
and Hauckes was with him at the time, etc. Sworn in court.

Henorey Lenard, aged about forty years, Nicklis Pinnion and John Vinton deposed
that ever since Mr. Porchas came to the works, the water had been kept low by his
order, so low that it caused a great deal of difference between the workmen and
the water drawer; that the waste had been dug wider and deeper since he came, etc.
Sworn in court.

Francis Hutchinson deposed that the flowage of water over Mr. Adam Hauckes' land
made the ground unfit for use; that the bridge in front of the house, which was the
usual passage to and from the house for both man and beast, a herd of cattle passing
over twice each day, had been broken by the water and the timbers raised up ; that
the cattle were in danger of falling in and breaking their legs; that sometimes it had
been repaired, and then the water would break it so that horses going over had fallen
in, etc. Sworn in court. "

-Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts, 
Volume 2  1656-1662
(Google eBook) Essex Institute, Salem Ma. 1912

Given the amount of damage to Adam Hawkes' land and to a bridge used by the 
general public, it would seem certain the jury would rule in Adam's favor.
I'll discuss the outcome of the trial and what happened afterward next.
To be continued...

Monday, March 18, 2013


When I was much much younger and  my family was living in Malden, Ma., we'd
often go over to the nearby town of Saugus. Sometimes it was to go to Adventure
Car Hop (Adventure Car Hop is the place to go, for food that's always right, woo-
woo!"), other times it was to go to a VERY small amusement park that had a mini-
roller coaster. What none of us knew at the time was that Saugus was the site
of the first iron works in the British colonies, and that two of my Dad's ancestors
had a somewhat adversarial relationship with that mine. Back then Saugus was
part of the town of Lynn, so much of my information for this post comes from
Alonzo Lewis' History of Lynn and its year by year chronicle.

The story begins in the year 1643:

"An Iron Mine having been discovered on the land of Mr. Adam Hawkes, in
Saugus, information was sent to England; where a company was formed,
called the Company of Undertakers for the Iron Works. It consisted of the
following gentlemen.

Lionel Copley, Esquire, of York County, England.
Nicholas Bond, Esquire, of Westminster.
Thomas Pury, Esquire, of Westminster.
John Becx, London, Merchant.
William Beauchamp, London, Merchant.
Thomas Foley, London, Gentleman.
William Greenhill, Stepney, Middlesex County.
Thomas Weld, Minister, Gateshead, Durham County.
John Pococke, Merchant Tailor, London.
William Becke, Merchant Tailor, London.
William Hicocke, London, Citizen.2

Mr. John Winthrop, junior, came from England with work men, and stock to
the amount of one thousand pounds, for commencing the work. A Foundry
was erected on the western bank of Saugus river, upon land now owned by
Mr. Thomas Mansfield, where large heaps of scoria are still to he seen. The
iron ore. was very plenty, about one mile north of the Foundry ; and according
to several accounts, some lead was discovered, which the people at first
imagined to be silver. The village at the Foundry was called Hammersmith,
by some of the workmen who came from a place of that name in England.
Mr. Endecott, in a letter to Governor Winthrop, December 1, says, "1 want
much to hear from your son's Iron and Steel." Mr. William Wood says that Iron
was discovered as early as 1633."
pp 81-82 Alonzo Lewis The history of Lynn
 (Google eBook) Press of J. H. Eastburn, 1829 - Lynn (Mass.)

Adam Hawkes who owned the land where the iron was discovered was my
10x great grandfather through my Dad's maternal Barker line.  

Things seem to have gone well for a few years, but then in 1646 the first
hint of possible trouble occurs: the proprietors of the Iron  Works purchased
some land "for opening a new watercourse, and enlarging the pond." But,
"This extension of the pond caused it to overflow three acres of land belonging
to Mr Adam Hawkes."

The water level of the dam became the center of Adam's problems with the
Iron Works. Five years later  in 1651  there was a change in the management and
an accompanying change in the water level:

"On taking on the management of the Iron Works, Mr. Gifford raised the dam,
which caused the water to overflow six acres of " plowland" belonging to Mr.
Adam Hawkes. For this, on the twentieth of June, an agreement was made, in
which Mr.Hawkes was allowed L8 for damages."

That agreement didn't last very long:
"Mr. Gifford this year increased the height of the dam at the Iron Works, by which
ten acres of Mr. Hawkes's land were flowed ; for which he agreed to give 16 loads
of hay yearly, and 200 cords of wood. Afterward he agreed to give him £7, "which
ends all, except that 10s. is to be given him yearly." By this agreement the water
was to be so kept "that it may not ascend the top of the upper floodgates in the
pond, or pier then within foot and a halfe of the top of the great Rock that lies
in the middle of the pond before the gates."

But this didn't end all. Adam Hawkes' frustration was rising along with water rising
behind the dam.

To be continued...


((Today is my 7x great grandfather Ralph Ellingwood Jr  's 356th
 birthday. I wrote about his dubious historical distinction back 
in July 2007.))

Chris Dunham’s post over on The Genealogue about the
upcoming book “The Naked Quaker” by Diane Rapaport
reminded me of a story about a divorce that might or might
not be among those in the book:

In June 1682, a twenty five year old man named Ralph found
himself being divorced by his young wife Katharine, who stated
words to the effect that she’d rather be dead than live with him.
She sued on grounds of her husband’s insufficiency to consummate
their marriage.

Ralph for his part did what any man in 17th century Salem Ma.
might do when faced with such an embarrassing situation: he
claimed that it had to be witchcraft. Not exactly original, and
highly ineffective in the light of the character witnesses Katherine
called to testify in her behalf.

It must have been the talk of the town. Both husband and wife
were given physical examinations, Katherine by a panel of
“goodwives” and Ralph by two men(one of them a chirurgeon)
appointed by the Court. Based on their reports the Court granted
Katherine her divorce and ordered she be allowed to take
whatever clothes and property that she had brought with her into

All of this might have been lost in the mists of time except that
there was a court record of the proceedings and several centuries
later the case is cited in articles and a book about women in
Puritan society. I’ve not been able to read any of them in their
entirety but what I have read makes no mention of what
happened after. So in the interest of fairness to Ralph, here’s the
rest of it:

Ralph remained single for nearly 9 years but in August of 1691 he
wed Martha Rowlandson. The marriage lasted nearly 20 years
before her death.

They had 7 children

We don’t know what happened to Katherine after her divorce
from Ralph, There is no record of her maiden name. Hopefully
she too remarried and with a man she loved and who gave her
children of her own.

We’ll never know the exact reason why the marriage of my
ancestor Ralph Ellingwood and his first wife Katherine ended so
scandalously. Possibly it was an arranged match between a man
and a deeply unhappy younger bride. Possibly Ralph was not the
perfect husband and possessed bad manners and lousy personal
hygiene. Perhaps there just wasn't any...spark.

Perhaps he could have used a talk with Dr. Phil, but alas, there
was no Dr. Phil in 17th century Salem.

But obviously Ralph felt he had a point to prove to all of Salem,
and judging by the 7 children he fathered, I guess he did it.

He wasn’t “insufficient”!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


337 years ago today, my 10x great grandfather John Nutting died. according
to family tradition and some historians. The reason there is no record is that
John was killed during an Indian attack on Groton, Massachusetts during the
conflict known as the King Philip's War.  John Keep Nutting, another  of John's
descendants, a century ago wrote about the incident

"Trouble actually began March 2, 1676. That night, Indians came and rifled
some of the deserted houses, carried off cattle and swine, and pretty thoroughly
waked up the town.

March 9, four men, who had gone out with two carts to bring hay, were attacked.
One was killed, two reached shelter, and one was made prisoner. He however
escaped, and reached Lancaster, up the River south ward.

March 13, a body of about 400 Indians stealthily came to the place. They were
under the command of a chief named Monoco, or Monojo, the latter indicating
that he had been among the Spaniards. He could speak English brokenly, and
was well acquainted with Captain James Parker, and probably with all the men
of Groton. The settlers translated his name, calling him One-eyed John, indicating
that he had lost an eye. This chief knew his business. Scouts from town had been
out in all directions the day before, and reported no Indians. Either the attacking
body had been hidden, or had come from a distance later.

Early in the morning, the watch at Nutting's garrison reported two Indians skulking
about,—no doubt "vpon discouery", or scouting. As there were supposed to be
no other Indians in the neighborhood, it seemed to all a desirable thing to capture
or kill these rascals. It would be easy, it seemed, if a sufficient force went out, to
surround them. Accordingly the whole fighting force of that garrison, and some
from Parker's (which was within speaking distance) sallied forth, led as we
suppose by our Founder himself.

Monojo had planned wisely. The two supposed scouts led the whites on and on,
till they were in the midst of the ambuscade prepared for them, which rose up
and poured in a volley. Thanks probably to the worthless guns furnished to the
Indians by traders, or to the equally worthless ammunition-—perhaps also to
poor markmanship—only two shots took effect. One man was killed outright,
and another was wounded. A panic ensued, and the men, apparently thinking
nothing of the defenceless women and children at the Nutting garrison, fled to
Parker's en masse. Meanwhile the other part of Monojo's plan had also succeeded,
a second ambush having risen up behind Nutting's, pulled down some of the
palisades, and effected an entrance.

However, the women and children all escaped to Parker's. The enemy found only
an infant, already dead. Whose, it is not recorded. There were five families in
refuge there.

Monojo lost no time in occupying the garrison thus captured, from which he kept
up such fire as he could upon the other houses. Night put an end to active hostilities,
but Monojo called up Captain Parker, reminding him that they were old neighbors,
and held quite a conversation with him. He discussed the cause of the war, and
spoke of making peace. He naturally ridiculed the white man's worship of God in
the Meetinghouse, seeing that God had not helped them. He boasted that he had
burnt Medfield and Lancaster, would now burn Groton, then "Chelmsford, Concord,
Watertown, Cambridge, Charlestown, Roxburv, and Boston", adding, "What me
WILL that me DO!" The chronicler, however, is pleased to add to his account that
not many months later this boaster was seen marching through the Boston streets
which he had threatened to burn "with an halter about his neck, wherewith he was
hanged at the town's end"', in September of the same year.

The Indians cut off the head of him who had beep killed by their first fire, and "did
set it vpon a pole, looking unto his own lande". " -pp54-56

Nutting genealogy: A record of some of the descendants of John Nutting, 
of Groton, Mass (Google eBook) by John Keep Nutting,  (C. W. Bardeen,
Syracuse, N.Y. 1908)

A few pages later he gives the reasoning for March 13th being the date of
John Nutting's death:

"Monojo was undoubtedly acquainted with John Nutting, and knew well where
"his own lande lay"—namely, at his garrison, a few rods to the north of where he
fell. It seems to me likely also, that the particular direction toward which the gory
trophy was made to "look". would hardly have been noticed,had not the chief called 

attention to it by way of boasting, in his talk with Captain Parker.

The Town and Church Records, of course were in abbeyance for some time following
the catastrophe, so that the absence of any entry concerning the death of John Nutting
is not to be wondered at. (The Church Record is hopelessly lost.) But it is significant
that his name never appears after, in any connection. The names of his sons, John,
James, and (once or twice) Ebenezer, naturally take the place of his. Sarah, his widow,
is found some time later at Woburn, living, it is supposed with her married sister—
Blodgett." -pp57-58

Nutting genealogy: A record of some of the descendants of John Nutting, of Groton,
Mass (Google eBook)
by John Keep Nutting,  (C. W. Bardeen, Syracuse, N.Y. 1908)

So once again, thanks to Google books I've found a story about one of my ancestors!

Friday, March 08, 2013


((This was my very first post here back in February, 2007. I'm reposting it 
today to mark Womens' History  Month)) 

I’m a child of mixed heritage. On one side I’m
descended from a long line of Yankee settlers.
On the other, I’m descended from Irish Catholic
immigrants who came to Boston in the late
19th century.

Meet my maternal grandmother, Agnes McFarland.
In the family she’s known as Aggie. To us grandchildren
she was "Nanny". I believe the picture is for her Confirmation.

She was born in 1898, eighth child and third daughter
out of the ten children that would survive infancy. She
grew up in a Irish Catholic family, her father a laborer
on the Boston Elevated Railway.

She had rheumatic fever as a child in a time when it
was a deadly disease and although she'd survived it left
Aggie with a weak heart. In 1924 she married Edward F.
White Sr. They had two children before a third died, then
Edward walked out in the middle of the Great Depression
leaving Aggie to raise the children on her own.

Aggie divorced him in 1935.

It was hard for her; in those times the label "divorced"
was somewhat shameful for an Irish Catholic woman.

Work was hard to come by for a woman with children
so she scrimped and saved. Some nights dinner was
bread soaked in milk. My Mom and uncle were sent to
a nearby dental school to have their teeth worked on by
students. When Mom came down with what was known
as St. Vitus’ Dance in those days, Aggie somehow came
up with the money for the doctors and to buy liver to
serve at dinner to get Mom’s iron content up. I suspect
Aggie’s parents must have helped her out here and there
financially. My Mom once claimed that the legendary
Boston Mayor James Michael Curley helped out with
some problem as well.

But Aggie was no cream puff, either. One story my
Mom told was of the time she and Uncle Ed skipped
school to hang out at the cottage out on Houghs’ Neck
with their cousins. The place was owned by Aggie’s
younger sister Peggy and her husband Leo McCue and
was quite a distance away from the Jamaica Plain
neighborhood of Boston Aggie and her children lived

Yet suddenly my grandmother was walking down the
beach towards them. She’d taken the trolley and two
different buses to get there. She stayed long enough
to let Mom and Ed get their things and then took
them home by the same route she’d used to get there.

Somehow she did it. She raised her children to adulthood
even though it meant sometimes ducking her rebellious
son's head in the sink when he used swears or nursing her
daughter through a case of scarlet fever. She survived
watching her son join the Navy at 18 to fight in WW2.
All this while living life as a divorced Catholic woman
whose husband had left her for another woman.

She never remarried.

I knew her as Nanny, my grandmother, and she lived
with us when I was a kid. My Dad and Uncle Ed had
bought a two family home after the war in Malden on
a GI loan and so Aggie saw all five of her grandchildren
everyday. But she spent most of the time with my sister
and I because my parents both worked fulltime.

I have memories of her.

She was a quiet woman, black haired with grey streaks
and usually wore those one piece housedresses. She’d eat
peas by rolling them down the blade of her knife into her
mouth and looking back I think she did it to amuse me
and tease my mom. She never yelled but I remember
her breaking up a knockdown fight between two Italian
ladies who lived in the houses to either side of ours and
doing it with a slightly louder than usual voice and a
disgusted tone at their behavior in front of children.

I remember her being upset when the goldfish got sucked
down the drain of the kitchen sink when she pulled the
sink plug by accident after cleaning the goldfish bowl. And
I recall how she kept me from looking out the window after
a worker fell off the roof when it was being reshingled.
(He survived by the way; he broke his back and narrowly
missed landing atop the picket fence that ran between our
house and our next door neighbor’s.)

As time went by her rheumatic heart got worse and she
needed an oxygen tank in her bedroom for when breathing
was hard.

Aggie died at age 58 on February 12th, 1957.

She lived a tough life but she always carried herself like
a lady.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013


I've found a lot of family history in the Records and Files of the Quarterly
Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts over in Google Books. Some if it has
been full stories, and some, like this one, are tantalizing tidbits that give
some information but leave me wondering about the parts that are missing.

This one is from a court session in June of 1667 and involves my 8x great
grandfather, Edward Colbourne, the first of my Coburn ancestors here in
America. Apparently he had serious problems with his neighbor Daniel

"Daniell Gresier gave bond to the treasurer of the county that he would on or
before the last day of the week at night remove himself and family from the
place where he then lived and never to come within ten miles of the place.
Further to appear at the next Ipswich court to be examined concerning the
misdemeanors he was charged with and to be of good behavior toward all,
especially toward Edward Colborne and family. Expenses at Mr. Gidneyes,
3s. 6d.*

*Edward Colborne's bill of cost, 1Li. 10s. 6d.
John Morrill, aged about thirty-five years, deposed that he heard Daniell
Gresier say that he would make Edward Colborne suffer for his labor, and
the latter said he could not do it unless he burned his house or destroyed
his cattle. Sworn, 26 :4 : 1667, before Simon Bradstreet.

Alexander Tompson, aged about forty years, and John Coburne, aged about
twenty-one years, deposed that they were in Edward Coburne's ten acre
corn field, and found that the Indian corn had been pulled up, it seemed by
men's hands or hoes. Further that Grasier and wife said that they would be
revenged for a cow that had been taken away, and she told her husband to
shut up the hogs and not let them go out until they were yoked, and that
the hogs could not get into the corn field, also that Grasier and wife Nel
and her son were not at meeting, etc. Sworn, June 24, 1667, before Daniel

John Clarke, aged about forty-five years, deposed that Daniel Grasier said
that he must do Coburne some scurvy trick to pay him for what he had done
about the lease. Deponent said he must not revenge himself that way, but
he said it would do Coburne good for he would repent and God would forgive
him, and he felt called upon to do it for good people's sake and to be true to
the country, etc. Sworn June 24, 1667, before Daniel Denison.

Ann Haget and Deliveranc Tomson deposed that they heard Kate Greene say
that Coburn had done them wrong, etc. Sworn, June 25, 1667, before Daniel

Daniell Black deposed that when at work for John Merrill, etc. Sworn, 26 :4 :
1667, before Simon Bradstreete."

-Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts
Volume 3 (Google eBook) Essex Institute, 1913 p430-431

And I'm left wondering what started all this!

Saturday, March 02, 2013


It's time for this year's edition of the American Civil War Genealogy Blog
Challenge. This year, I've picked a submission deadline and publication date
to honor the Battle of Chancellorsville, where Confederate General Stonewall
Jackson died. The Battle started on 30Apr 1863 and ended on 6May.   

 This is how you can participate:

Did you have ancestors in America during the Civil War? If so, where were they
and what were their circumstances? How did the Civil War affect them and
their family? Did the men enlist and did they perish in battle or die of illness?
On which side did they fight, or did you have relatives fighting on BOTH sides?
How did the women left at home cope, or did any of them find ways to help
the war effort? Were your ancestors living as slaves on Southern plantations
and if so when were they freed?  Or were they freemen of color who enlisted
to fight?

If your ancestors had not emigrated to America as yet, what was their life
like around the time of the Civil War?

The 150 year celebration of the Civil War is a great source for those of us
blogging about our family history. So, let's do a little research over the coming
weeks between now and April 30th . Find out the answers to the questions
I asked and write about them. Or if you think of another topic to do with your
family history and the Civil War, write about that. Send me the link when you
publish it on your blog, and on May 6th I'll publish all the links here.

I'm looking forward to some interesting blogposts!