Thursday, January 30, 2014


This is one of a  series of posts in which I'll list what I've already
learned about one of my family lines. I'll also include a "To Do" list of
things I need to do to learn more. I'll do this alphabetically. This post will
be about my Barker ancestral line.

I know more about my Barker family line than any of the others except for my
Ellingwood ancestors. I have 96 document images for different members of the
family as well as some pictures. These include:

-the Will and Probate of immigrant ancestor Richard Barker who settled in Andover, Ma.
 around 1643 and died in 1693. I don't know the maiden name of his wife, Joanna.They
 were my 8x great grandparents.

-the Will & Probate of Benjamin Barker (1663-1750) my 7x great grandfather.

-the Probate of my 6x great grandfather Jonathan Barker (1706-1750). He's the first of
 three Jonathan Barkers in a row.

- the Revolutionary War Pension file of my 4x great grandfather Jonathan Barker (1754-
  1824) who with his brothers settled the Sunday River region of Maine.

-the War of 1812 Pension File of 3x great grandfather Nathaniel Barker  (1794-1884) of
 Newry, Maine.

-the Probate of my great grandfather Frank Wesley Barker (1865-1905). He was the son
of my 2x great grandfather Nathaniel S, Barker. Frank married his first cousin Charlotte Lovenia Barker, whose father was my 2x great grandfather Amos H Barker. Amos and Nathaniel were brothers.  (I need a simpler way to explain that.)

I also have Federal Census images for some of them.

Among the pictures I have:

My great grandaunts Lela, Mary, Melinda & Hannah Barker.

2x great grandparents Amos H. & Betsey (Moore) Barker.

To Do List:
There's quite a lot more I need to work on with the Barkers. They were a prominent family
in colonial Andover, North Andover, and Methuen, Ma. and I need to study those towns' histories for a more complete picture of how involved the Barkers were.

Among those matters is their part in the Witch Trials. My 7x great granduncle William Barker Sr., his son William Jr, and niece Mary were both accused and accusers. I want
to analyze the documents having to do with them.

Finally, I want to make a few day trips up to the Andovers and Methuen to visit the cemeteries and historical societies there.

Monday, January 27, 2014


I'm taking  part in a meme started by Julie Goucher of Anglers Rest. Using
prompts from "The Book of Me, Written By You" I'm leaving my memories
of my life for present and future relatives. This week's prompt is

    This week's prompt is - Hobbies

    Childhood hobbies & collections
    Did you share a "passion" with a family member or friend?
    Tell us about it - How, why, where
    Do you still have any old hobbies - the ones that have been with you since childhood?
    Do you still have those childhood collections?

When I was young, starting about the time I was 8 years old,  I was a collector.  We had
moved to the Dorchester area of Boston and baseball cards were a big deal in the neighborhood.  They were a heck of a lot cheaper back then, only 5 cents a pack of about
10 cards and a stick of bubblegum. I kept mine in a shoebox and would take them out to
trade them with Barry Solomon or play the "flip" game. This was played by leaning a
card up against a stairstep, then stepping back a few feet to "flip" other cards at it to knock
it down. If you succeeded, you won that card and any of the others laying around it on the step. The main thing was to never use a valuable card if you could help it because you
could use it. So I'd use the "extra cards" in my collection. If I had 6 Joe Nuxhall baseball cards. I'd use them first. I always had a lot of Nuxhalls, and some of them ended up bent on my bike wheel so the spokes would hit it and make noise as I pedaled.

Around the same time  I began buying comic books, which, like baseball cards, were much cheaper back then (10  cents a comic book). I had a newspaper route back then and I discovered my paper bag, when emptied of the day's newspapers, was a great way to sneak comic books and baseball cards into the house. I collected comics well into my twenties (long after my paperboy days were over) until I decided I could afford to buy comics, or I could afford to buy books, but I couldn't afford to do both. So I sold off my collection.

Of course, by then, my collection had also been culled a bit when I was a teenager by some of it being thrown out by my mother who was tieed of the books cluttering my room. I once brought home a comic book price guide to show her how valuable some of the comics she'd thrown out had become.She looked it over, then reminded me she wouldn't have thrown them out if I'd been neater with them.

My third hobby back then was stamp collecting. I can't recall exactly who started me off
with it but I kept at that into my thirties, visiting stamp shows at the mall and driving
up to Quincy to shop at a small hobby shop off Quincy Center. For some reason I lost
interest in it all back in my thirties. I think it had to do with my work schedule and with
my becoming interested in photography. I bought myself a Canon AE1 Camera and then
a telephoto lens and filters, then drove around looking for things to photograph. But
again, as I grew older that became something I'd only do occasionally.

My lifelong hobby has been reading. I am an avid reader of sf, fantasy, history, and
mysteries, and still have books that I bought in college 44 years ago as part of my
collection.  An outgrowth of that was writing my own stories, some of which were
published in Darkover fanzines back in the 1980s. When I was online gaming in the
late 1990's and early 2000's I wrote stories about my characters.

Now that I'm a grumpy old fart retiree, I still read, and I take photos  with my Canon
Powershot digital camera. Thanks to my sister who fund it when I last moved, I still
have my stamp album from years ago.

But my main hobby these days is genealogy, part of which is this blog!

Sunday, January 26, 2014


 It's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun Night over on Randy Seaver's Genea-Musings blog! It's been awhile since the last time I took part, and I almost didn't this time, either. First, let's look at what this week's genea-challenge before I explain why I nearly took a pass on it:
1)  Which family surname line (of identified ancestors) of yours stayed the longest in one U.S. state or other country province/shire since, say, 1600?  For example, in the USA, my Seaver line was in Massachusetts from 1634 to 1940.  For England, my Vaux line was in Somerset from the late 1500s to 1840.  For Canada, my Kemp line was there from 1785 to 1902.

*  List the generations for one or two of your long-staying-in-one-locality surname lines.  (Yes, I know that some countries used patronymics - follow the father's line back in time).

*  Tell us about it in your own blog post, in a comment to this post, or in a Google+ or Facebook post.

Seems pretty straightforward, but I wasn't sure I'd do it. You see, my Mom's ancestors
are from Scotland, Ireland and Germany and I don't have much information on where
they lived in those countries. On Dad's side, while my ancestors have lived in America
from the earliest colonial period,  many of them moved in the late 1700s from Massachusetts to Maine and New Hampshire.  I wasn't sure how many generations
stayed in one place for very long. Then I checked my RootsMagic base, and while my ancestors didn't stay in Massachusetts as long as Randy's, they did do something else: several of my ancestral lines stayed in the same town for five or six generations.

Here's one line, the Abbotts of Andover, Ma.:

1. George Abbott settled in Andover Ma in the mid 1600's
2.  Benjamin Abbott (1662-1703) Andover, Ma.
3. Jonathan Abbott (1687-1770) Andover Ma
4. Jonathan Abbott (1714 1794) Andover, Ma
5  Jonathan Abbott (1740-1821) Andover, Ma.
6. Zerviah Abbott, born in Andover, Ma. in 1768, then married John Ellingwood in 1789 and moved to Maine.
So six generations of Abbotts lived in Andover for  around 130 years!


Saturday, January 25, 2014


Fellow geneablogger Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small has issued the 52
Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge. Basically, we have to post something every week
on a different ancestor, whether a story, picture, or research problem.  This week's
subject is my 9x great grandfather Thomas Boyden. The Boydens are one of the lines
I haven't done too much research on compared to what I've done on some of my other
lines, and i haven;t found much about Thomas so far. Most of what I know comes from
the NEHGS publication The Great Migration, p366-368 in images posted on But when I reread it I realized something I hadn't noticed before.
And just now, after Googling his name, I discovered an amazing coincidence from
my college days.

Thomas Boyden sailed from Ipswich England at age aboard  21 in April, 1634 on the ship
Francis. That would put his birth year as around 1613. There seems to be a theory that
he lived for a time in Scituate here south of Boston but there is mo concrete evidence
of that. What is known is that a Thomas Boyden married a woman named Frances (last name unknown) in Boston sometime around 1639. They then took up living in Boston
for the next eighteen years, where Thomas was listed as a planter. I assume this means
he was a farmer, and it seems so strange to me here in the 21st century that at one time people had farms within the Boston city limits.

Thomas and Frances had five children together, the oldest of whom, Thomas Jr., is my
8x great grandfather. Then Frances died in Boston on 17 Mar 1657/8. Thomas then
remarried on 3Nov 1658, and here is where  I wasn't paying attention the first time I
read the Great Migration entry for Thomas Boyden. The woman he married was Hannah
(Phillips)Morse, the widow of Joseph Morse. Joseph and Hannah are my 10x great grandparents. So my 9x great grandfather Thomas had married my 10x great grandmother!

Sometime shortly after their marriage Thomas and Hannah moved to Medfield, Ma. and
sold their house and land in Boston  on Sudbury Lane to Simeon Lynde. Hannah died in 1676 and Thomas sometime after 15April 1678 when he is recorded as coontributing
one bushel of wheat to help rebuild Harvard College.

Oh, and that coincidence from my college days? Well, I graduated from Bridgewater
State College in Bridgewater, Ma. in 1970. One of the buildings on campus is Boyden Hall, the main administration building built back in 1929. It's named after Albert G Boyden, another descendant of Thomas Boyden. For four years I took courses in a building named after my distant cousin, and never realized it until earlier this evening!

Thursday, January 23, 2014


I started West in New England seven years ago today, but this wasn't my first
crack at a geneablog. I like to retell this story on every blogiversary:

"Yes, now it can be told. My first geneablog was a failure. I was new
to this whole idea and started out enthusiastically and wrote
five posts within a few days for my blog which I'd named
West of New England. But when I went to add a new post a day
or so later, I discovered I couldn't recall the password for the blog.
After about a half an hour I gave up and just recreated the blog.
I'd saved what I'd written so I created a new blogger account
and started a new geneablog, West in New England. And that's why
the first five posts are all dated Jan 23,2007.

And that's also how I learned the first rule of blogging, "Don't forget
your password!"

In these seven years I've had 244,479 views of my 1477 posts. I have no delusions
that means I had 244, 479 actual people read my blog but apparently the web
crawler programs find it a lot. Nor have I actually written 1477 posts since I repost
some every year, especially in December with the Advent Calendar of Christmas
Memories posts.

Last year I included a list of my alltime 5 Most Viewed Posts. This year's list has
an entirely new set of posts:

Nov 28, 2013  2484 views.

Oct 4, 2013, 1 comment  925 views,

Sep 10, 2013, 2 comments  602 views.

Sep 16, 2013, 3 comments  589 views

Nov 11, 2013, 3 comments  515 views.

Wow, I hope those people who viewed the Poetry Challenge post followed the links
to the great posts from the geneabloggers who took part in it last year!

The geneablogging community has really grown in these seven years, but it's still a
great one with people who I've come to think of as my friends although I've only
met a few face to face. If I started mentioning names I could go on and on, so I'll
simply say thanks to all of you! 

Writing a blog can be hard work but it is so rewarding. I've had so many distant
cousins find me because of West In New England with whom I've enjoyed sharing information. It's given me a place to tell the stories I've found, to ask questions about
things that puzzled me, to vent over things that irked me, and to sometimes just be
silly. I thank you all for the comments and encouragement I've received.

And yes, after seven years, I'm still having fun writing about my family history!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


This is the start of a new series of posts in which I'll list what I've already
learned about one of my family lines. I'll also include a "To Do" list of
things I need to do to learn more. I'll do this alphabetically. This post will
be about my Ames family ancestors. The name was originally spelled Eames
and was spelled a variety of ways, but became Ames in my family.

There were two different well known Ames families in colonial Massachusetts.
One flourished south of Boston, while my Ames ancestors lived in Essex and
Middlesex counties north and west of the city. Not much is known about the
early life of Robert Eames, my immigrant ancestor except that he was born in
England and came to Massachusetts where he married Rebecca Blake around
1660. They settled in Boxford Ma. where they were living in 1692 when the
Witch Hysteria began and Rebecca was accused of witchcraft along with their
son Daniel. Eventually they were both acquitted.

Together Robert and Rebecca had eight children, of whom one was my 8x great
grandfather John. He was the first of four consecutive generations of John Ames'
in my ancestry:

John (1670=1724) married Priscilla Kimball. He was killed by Indians at Groton, Ma.
John(1693-1743) married Elizabeth Green
John(1725-?) married Susannah Nutting
John (1756-1833) was a Revolutionary War veteran. He married Lydia Phelps, a widow,
and moved their combined family to Hartford Me. Their son Jonathan Phelps Ames
married Polly Griffith and had a daughter, Arvilla Ames, who married my 3x great grandfather John Cutter West.

Besides my West family cousins, I share my descent from Robert Ames and
Rebecca Blake with fellow geneablogger Vicki Everhart of the Be Not Forgot
blog, and Peni Renner, author of Puritan Witch: The Redemption of  Rebecca

To Do List: I know more about John Ames(1756-1833)than I do about most of the rest of
the family because of his Revolutionary War Pension file and his Probate File. I need to
fill in the gaps for the other generations between him and his ancestor Robert.

There are images for Ames family land transactions available on FamilySearch that I need
to download and analyze.

And I will try to visit Groton sometime this summer to see what material might be avaialble
there at the local historical society and library.

Monday, January 13, 2014


Fellow geneablogger Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small has issued the 52
Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge. Basically, we have to post something every week
on a different ancestor, whether a story, picture, or research problem.  This week's
subject is my 8x great grandfather John Upton.

Most of what I know about John comes from The Upton Memorial, a family genealogy
and this from the (exceedingly long titled) Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs of Worcester County, Massachusetts: With a History of Worcester Society of Antiquity, Volume 4 (Google eBook) by  Ellery Bicknell Crane:

"(I) John Upton, who came to New England about 1652, was the pioneer ancestor in this country. He is the progenitor of the late John Upton, Colonel Edwin Upton and Joseph Upton, of Fitchburg. Massachusetts. He settled in Salem village, in what is now Danvers. Massachusetts. There is a tradition that he came from Scotland. He may have been one of the Scotch prisoners taken by Cromwell at Dunbarton, September 3, 1650, or at Worcester, 1651. The last named battle was fought near the town of Upton, England, the seat of the ancient family. Cromwell took seventeen thousand Englishmen and Scotchmen prisoners in these two battles and many of them were sent to the American colonies. There is a tradition that the name of his wife was Eleanor Stuart and that she too was Scotch. He seems to have refused to join the Puritan Church and that may indicate that he was Scotch and a Presbyterian. He did not take the freeman oath until it had been modified. He was admitted April 18, 169t. a freeman. The first record is of date December 26, 1658, when he bought land of Henry Bullock, some time of Hammersmith (the Lynn Iron Works at Saugus). He paid four pounds for fortv acres in Salem. He bought land of Daniel Rumboll. of Salem. April 6, 1662, adjoining his farm. His homestead was near the line of the present town of Danvers. half a mile from the present line of Lynnfield, one mile south of the Ipswich river and two miles west of the Newburyport turnpike. It is two miles and a half from the site of his later residence in North Reading. His neighbors were the Popes. Gardners. Flints. Walcotts and Smiths. He bought and sold considerable land in the vicinity. Active, energetic and successful, he began with no capital and accumulated a handsome estate. He died July 11. 1699. aged about seventy-seven. The will was dated November 16. 1697, and proved July 31, 160Q. He used a fleur de lis for a seal and in his will tried to entail his estate, but the laws of the colony effectually prevented him.

The children of John and Eleanor Upton were: John, born 1654: Eleanor. 1656: William. 1658: James. September, 1660; Mary, 1661, died 1663; Samuel, October, 1664: Ann: Isabel, January 3, 1666-7, died 1680: Ezekiel. September, 1668: Joseph, April 0, 1670: Francis July 1. 1671; Mary."

Now in The Upton Memorial there is a discussion about the tradition that John Upton
was one of the Scottish prisoners of war sent to  Massachusetts. The problem is, there
is no John Upton on the list of prisoners. I suspect that perhaps John's family name was something else and he took the name Upton to conceal his last name for some reason.
His wife Eleanor's name was indeed Stuart, although I've also seen it spelled Stewart.

I'm a double descendant of John and Eleanor (Stuart) Upton through their sons William and Samuel who lived together with their families in the same house. William had
married Mary Maber and Samuel's wife was Abigail Frost. In his will, John Upton
left them  his "Negro", who was named Thomas and who served them for eighteen
years before he was freed. I wrote about Thomas in a post nearly two years ago in
January 2012.

My descent from John Upton:
John Upton & Eleanor Stuart
William Upton & Mary Maber       Samuel Upton & Abigail Frost
Francis Upton & Edith Herrick       Amos Upton & Sarah Bickford
Edith Upton & Amos Upton Jr.
Francis Uptn & Sarah Bancroft
Cyrus Moore & Hanna Upton
Betsey Jane Moore &  Amos Hastings Barker
Charlotte Lovenia Barker & Frank Wesley Barker (cousins)
Cora Bertha Barker & Floyd Earl West Sr.(my grandparents)

Wednesday, January 08, 2014


In light of how we have been asking ourselves how are ancestors could
have survived horrid winter conditions without the technological advances
we enjoy today, I thought I'd repost this entry from 2008. It tells how my
ancestor John C West and two companions survived a Maine snowstorm:
they had oxen. They also hit each other a bit, but it was mostly the oxen.

First posted in 30Sep 2008:

"We have often admonished people who frequent the unbroken forests, especially those unaccustomed to hunting and camping, of the safety in having a pocket compass, which can be obtained at the cost of a few cents, and may ofttimes save the possessor much trouble and even save a life."

So begins an article in the Oxford County(Maine) Advertiser of Friday,
February 3,1905. Entitled "The Value of A Compass," the article was
written by a Mark Tapley, who then goes on to illustrate his point with a
story of an event "some sixty years before" which would have been in 1845.
Three men from Letter B Plantation (now Upton) Maine set out with a wagonload
of hay by for the logging camp at Swift Diamond River: Enoch Abbott,
Joseph Chase, and John West. The latter was my 4x great-grandfather,
John Cutter West.

Of course, this was meant as a cautionary tale and Mr. Tapley tells
of how after traveling across a frozen lake and delivering their load the
party started back for home at 1 in the afternoon. But as snow began to fall
the trail across the lake was obscured and the three men became lost in the dark.
Joseph Chase decided he was going to lie down and take a nap, a fatal error
in the middle of a snowstorm. John West took a rather unique approach to the
situation by beating Chase with the ox prod until the other man was so angry he
jumped up to defend himself and the two men got into a fistfight.

Eventually they stopped fighting and John came up with a plan to get them all
out of their predicament. The wagon had been drawn by two pairs of oxen and
the lead ox belonged to John. He proposed they set the oxen loose and follow
their lead since "they are tired and hungry and will make for the nearest
habitation." And that's exactly what they did! The three men followed the
oxen to the home of a man named Joe Stone and so were saved.

You can read the full story in the clipping at the top of this post. It
was given to me by my Aunt Dorothy.

I learned a few things I didn't know from this newspaper story. One was that
John C. West owned one or more oxen and used them to deliver supplies to
logging camps. He did this by traveling across a frozen lake. (Think "Ice
Truckers" but with oxen.) Oxen would make more sense for this sort of
venture; they are slow but surefooted and even tempered, so easier to handle
while crossing a slippery surface. They also could handle the weather
better than horses, as you can see by reading the concluding paragraphs of
the article.

I wondered about the two other men, Enoch Abbott and Joseph Chase, especially
the first. I have Abbott ancestors but through the marriage of Clara Ellingwood
to my great grandfather Philip John West some fifty years after the events in the
story. Could Enoch be related through that line somehow? A quick check of
the 1850 census for Letter B shows Enoch and his family entered on the same
page as the West family. I checked for family trees and found one for his
family, and upon further investigation I discovered that Enoch had a son named
Otis. That rang a bell, and upon further investigation I found Otis was the father
of Valora Agnes Abbott, who married Leonidas West, one of the sons of John
Cutter West.

One of John's grandsons, Hiram, married an Eva Chase but I haven't found any
link to Joseph Chase.

Lastly, the most important thing I learned from this article is this:
when taking a hike in the woods, make sure you bring a team of


Much of the country has been in the grip of record low temperatures thanks
to the "Polar Vortex" . We've been expressing ourselves on Facebook
and Twitter, complaining about the cold and snow, and some of us have even
wondered how our ancestors were able to survive in such times without the
luxuries of insulation, electricity, and centralized heating. We tend to think
of our colonial ancestors in that regard, but my Dad's family lived in Maine,
and I think life in a rural 19th century Maine weather couldn't have been
much more comfortable than winters in 17th century Plymouth County, Ma.
Of course, I don't know for sure how my Maine ancestors felt about the
harsh winters because, at least in my family, no one left a record behind.
There are no diaries, no letters, no journals.

I was thinking about this tonight. What record will our generation leave behind?
We do everything digitally nowadays. We post on blogs, tweet on Twitter, or update
our Facebook Status. We take pictures with digital cameras and upload them  to
albums on Facebook or put them "in the Cloud". But the way technology advances
lately in leaps and bounds, our digital memorabilia  may someday be lost when
something new comes along to replace the Internet.

So some time in the future your grandchildren or great grandchildren might not
even know about how their ancestors weathered the horrible winter of 2013-2014
or about other family events, because they won't be able to easily access all
the things we put online today. There's a few things we can do to give them
some idea: make prints of photos, and leave a paper account of your life somewhere
it can be found.  I'm planning to use one of the publishing sites to turn some of
my blogposts into a book. I know that runs against the current trend to "declutter"
but sometimes a little clutter is a good thing.

Robert Frost wrote
"Some say the world will end in fire,
 Some say in ice."

If we don't take steps to leave an account behind us, beyond what we put online,
then what we saw and experienced and felt will vanish not in fire or ice,  but
perhaps with a click on DELETE.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014


Fellow geneablogger Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small has issued the 52
Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge. Basically, we have to post something evey week
on a different ancestor, whether a story, picture, or research problem. I thought I'd
give it a shot, and start with Edward Colbourne.

My 8x great grandfather Edward Colbourne/Colborne/Colburn/Coburn arrived in
Boston on the ship "Defence" on October 30th, 1635. His age was listed as seventeen.
There is some evidence that he was, for a time, a farmer on land owned by the
Saltonstall family in Ipswich. In 1642 he married his wife Hannah(her last name may
have been Rolfe)in Ipswich and they began having children. By 1666 they had nine
children, two girls and nine boys, one of whom was my ancestor Joseph Colburn.

With that many sons, Edward would have wanted his own land to provide for their
future. At first the family moved to Chelmsford, where his by now grown sons started
their own farms, but apparently Edward felt the need for more. So  In 1668 he bought
part of the land owned by a John Webb from his widow, and three years later he bought
the rest. The land was on the norther side of the Merrimac River and is now in the town
of Dracut, Massachusetts. Edward is credited as one of the founding fathers of the town. 

A few years later the King Philip's War broke out. Edward Colborne by that time had
built one of the classic New England garrison style house. On  March 18 1675 the Wamesit Indians attacked while Edward was guarding the ferry at the Merrimac River. Two sons of Edward's friend Samuel Varnum were killed and the houses in Chelmsford that were owned by Edward's sons were burned down. Other than that the family came through that war unharmed, and also survived the King William's War thanks to the garrison house. Edward died on 17Feb 1700.

You may have noticed I listed all the various spellings I've found for Edward's name. This
is because many of them are used in documents issued in Edward's own lifetime. He seemed to have settled on Coburn by the end of his life, although some of his descendants used Colburn. My own descent from Edward comes to me through my grandmother Cora Barker:
Edward & Hannah Rolfe(?)
Joseph & Hannah(last name UNK)
Moses & Deborah Wright
Caleb & UNK
Moses & Esther Spaulding
Wesley & Lesley Stowe
Lucy & Nathaniel S Barker
FranK W, Barker & Charlotte Barker(cousins)
Cora B, Barker & Floyd E. West Sr.(my grandparents) 

Monday, January 06, 2014


In a previous post in this series I listed some questions I had about my  distant
cousin Benjamin Curtis Donham and his family after I found that "Certificate
Of Registration Of American Citizen" issued to him at Seoul, Korea in 1908.
Here are those questions and the answers I found for them:

1. What sort of waterworks was Benjamin C Donham constructing in Seoul, Korea?
Based on the book he wrote while still at M.I.T., I feel he helped construct the
municipal water and sewage systems.

2. Were he and his wife Edith McKean married in the U.S. or in Korea?
It's fairly certain from the two news articles I found that he and Edith
were married either in Hong Kong or Yokohama.

3. Were the two children Benjamin's children or stepchildren?
 Because of the information in the M.I.T. alumni newsletter and the news articles
I now know they were the children were his and Edith's.

4. The Certificate was issued in 1908, yet the two children had been born in Seoul
    previously in 1904 and 1906. Had Benjamin left Korea for some reason and then
    returned to Seoul in 1908?

    I haven't been able to determine this.

5. Who were the two men who identified Benjamin as an American and what was
   his relationship with them?

    I have determined they were his employers.

Benjamin and his family left Korea sometime before September of 1908. They took
ship in Yokohama, Japan on September 19,1908 and arrived in San Francisco on
October 17th. By April 1910 they were living clear across the country in East Orange,
New Jersey where they were enumerated on the 1910 Federal Census. They lived
in New Jersey for at least twenty years and had a third child, a daughter, Dorothy.
Benjamin owned his own firm for awhile but by the 1930 Census he was once more
employed by a construction company as an engineer. I haven't been able as yet
to find a death record for him.

So that's everything I've learned about 3rd cousin 3x removed Benjamin Curtis
Donham, and it all started with my finding his parents' gravestone in my local

Saturday, January 04, 2014


2013 was another good genealogy year for me. I found a bunch of wills,
probates, and land deeds for my colonial New England ancestors over
on FamilySearch, discovered some new stories about the lives of some
of them, and was able to get together with fellow geneabloggers twice
this past fall! My favorite blogposts of the past year reflect all of that:

One of my readers, Steven Smith, sent me the image of a page from the
journal of William Brewster, a noted naturalist who visited Upton, Maine
back in 1907. Among other things, he spent some time visiting with my
2x great grandparents Jonathan P. & Louisa (Richardson)West and wrote
about it. I transcribed that journal entry for my blog.
This was the first of a series of posts concerning the years long struggle
between two factions in the early church congregation in Newbury, Ma.
This fascinated me because I had ancestors on both sides of the argument, 
My personal conclusions of whether my ancestress Sarah Herrick who
married my 5x great grandfather was a Herrick widow or a Herrick by

I'd done quite a few blogposts about the escapades of my Essex County
ancestors, Last year I told some stories from the Plymouth Colony Court
records about my rowdy Pilgrim forefathers, starting with this series about
John Barnes, who apparently never had a bit of a drinking problem.   
I ran across the term "snowshoe soldier" in connection with one of my
ancestors and wanted to know what it meant. I found out it referred to
a group of colonial militiamen in the Queen Anne's War.

I found a probate file on FamilySearch with "Affidavits of Death" for
some ancestors. I'd never heard of such a thing and asked my genealogy
friends on Facebook what they might know abut them This post has their

A post and photos about the Bash down  in Eastham, Ma.

My first time appearing on a panel, which was made easy by the great people
who were on it with me.

This has the links to all the posts from the participants. It is also the all time
most viewed post on West in New England.

And this has all the great entries to the Civil War Challenge.

These were my favorites, but I enjoy writing all my blogposts for West in New
England. I hope that my readers enjoy them too!

Thursday, January 02, 2014


Well, it's January, the start of a brand new year, and with it comes the traditionl
New Year resoultions. So here are my geneaplans for 2014. Some are things I've
resolved to do every year, and some are new:

1. Transcribe:  With FamilySearch adding more and more images everyday I've
found will and probate records for quite a few of my colonial New England
ancestors. I have read them all through but I need to transcribe and analyze
them instead of setting them aside "for later".

2. Uitlize FamilySearch more: As I said, they are adding more and more records
there every day. I need to refine my searches more and remember to include
records for my ancestors' siblings since those may yield more information.

3. Organize: I have a bad habit of downloading images and leaving them in
the Downloads folder until it piles up. Then I have to go through them and try
to get them in the proper surname files. I need to do that as soon as I've finished
downlading a particular document.

4. Continue working on my family tree: Time to move on to another line to fill
in the gaps in the collateral branches of my ancestry.  I'll start with my Houghtons
next, I think.

5. Trim the tree: I sill have a lot of duplicate entries from when I first started with
online genealogy. I need to merge the duplicates, making sure to include proper
sources and citations.

6. Join a local society: I know, I know. I say this every year.

7. Continue Find A Grave activities: I have a car once again so once the snow melts
I'll be out taking volunteer photos. I also have more photos I've taken at Mt. Vernon
Cemetery over the past few years that I need to add to the Find A Grave site either
to memorials I create or to memorials of others.

8.Blog more: I wrote 179 posts here in 2013, nine more than the 170 in 2012, but far
below my high of 254 in 2009. I don't know if I'll ever post that much on West in New
England again, but I do plan to shoot for 200 posts this year. Over on my other blog,
The Old Colony Graveyard Rabbit, there were 23 blogposts last year, an improvement
over the 1(!!) post in 2012. I still have a backlog of cemetery photos I need to post there.

9. Scan more: I didn't scan at all last year. I need to get this done. Maybe I can get some
done on Sunday afternoons once football season is over.

10. Index more: I did a bit last year but will try to do more as a way to payback the work
of others that has helped my own research.

11. Get out away from the computer more: Since I now have a car, I plan to visit the towns
in Essex and Worcester County where my ancestors lived.  

12. Break down that John Cutter West brick wall: Hope, as ever, still springs eternal.

And above all, the overall plan is to still to keep having FUN, as I have so far every
year pursuing my ancestors.