Wednesday, December 31, 2014


Wrapping up the case for defamation brought against John Pickerd by my
ancestor John Acie in the Essex County Quarterly Court:

The first thing I thought about while I reading this case was it seemed more like
John Acie was on trial instead of Pickerd. Half of the witnesses paint a picture of
a conniving bully, the other half one of a loyal friend and family member.

The case revolved around Pickerd's statement that Acie had " ruined  Josuah Bradley,
Doctor Crosbie, Hannah Palmer and Thomas Remington". And yet,

-Thomas Remington and Mehittabell, his wife, deposed that he, being named as one
whom Acie had ruined, denied the charge.
-Dr. Crosbie trusted Acie enough to have him look after the affairs of his wife and
children which Crosbie's former wife said Acie did as a faithful friend.

On the other hand, Joshua Bradley and his wife left town out of fear of John Acie's

Then we come to the story of John Acie's niece Hannah Palmer and her beau, John
Hopkinson. True, Acie wanted Hannah to break off the relationship and returned
Hopkinson's "love tokens" to him. But that is hardly ruining his niece's life. In fact,
given his mother's opposition to any marriage to a relative of Acies, the marriage was
probably never going to happen.

True, there was Acie's aggressive behavior towards Thomas Wood about the hay from
the Crosbie pasture but it could be he was acting to protect the widow's interests.

As always with these court files, many of the participants are related to me: Richard
Swan, James Bayley, and Joseph Trumble are all my relatives.

And as for my 8x great grandfather, he didn't always do as well in court cases, and in
September 1664 was fined and sentenced to a week in jail for his  "great misdemeanors"


I just did my yearly download of my gedcom to the RootsMagic6 database on my hard drive.  Here's how 2014 measured up against 2013:
30, 577 people,  78,156 citations, 509 sources

30,883 people, 104,937 citations, 574 sources
This doesn't take into account how many duplicate names I merged or deleted from
my tree.

This got me to look into how I did in Find A Grave and blogging:

Find a Grave
I'm now at  548 memorials added (up from 301 last years on this date),  812 Photos
added, 109 volunteer photos taken.

This is post 198 for this blog, up from 179 for 2013 and I'm not quite done yet.  
I only did 3 posts for Old Colony Graveyard Rabbit this year, down from 23 last year. Sigh.

I need to do something about doing more with the Graveyard Rabbit blog!



Continuing with the defamation case my ancestor John Acie filed against John Pickard at
the Essex County Quarterly Court, we next have testimony that paints a better picture
of Acie's character, as well as one from John Hopkinson, the suitor of Acie's niece
Hannah Palmer. His reason for the failure of their relationship is a bit amusing:  

Prudence Cotton, aged about thirty-seven years, being required by John Acy of Rowley to testify concerning ruining her former husband, Mr. Anthony Crosbey, deposed that since she had known said Acy, which was ever since she was married to said Crosbey, he had always been faithful to her husband, persuading him always toward peace and quietness and advising him to take heed of and forbear other infirmities which rendered said Crosby obnoxious. He had also been faithful in assisting her and the children since said Crosby's death. Sworn, Mar. 29, 1675, before Samll. Dalton,* commissioner.

Abraham Jewett and Henory Royley deposed that being desired by Mr. Crosbie to witness a deed given by him to Jonathan Plats and John Acie of all his houses and lands within five miles of the town of Rowley, the latter refused to take it, but Crosbie told them it might be well to preserve his estate for his wife and children. Sworn in court.

James Baily, aged about sixty years, and Joseph Trumble, aged twenty-seven years, deposed. Sworn in court.

Ann Swann, aged about sixty years, deposed. Sworn in court.

Benjamin Scott, aged about twenty-five years, deposed. Sworn in court.

Thomas Kimball deposed. Sworn in court.

James Bayly, sr., and Jno. Trumble deposed.

Jno. Hopkinson, aged about twenty-eight years, deposed that "divers years agoe, myself & Hannah pallmer being drawne Into Society one wth another, by some of her relations, our affections in time being set upon each other, it was discovered to my mother, whose consent I laboured to Gaine but she stil remained opposite, & the reasons was she sayd wee were childish: & our beginnings was Contrary to ye way that gods people went in: but her cheif Reason was because she would not be soe near related to y e Acies: which thing when John Acie understood, not many dayes after, he Came to me, & told me he did understand that the match between his Cousin Hannah & this deponant was broke: I Replyed not that I knew of, etc." Sworn in court.

Samuell Brocklebanke and Ezekiell Northend testified. Sworn in court.

Daniell Wickam deposed that being at work at Mr. Crosbie's house, etc. Sworn in court.

John Todd, aged about fifty-four years, deposed. Sworn in court.

John Johnson, aged about sixteen years, deposed that he asked John Acie why he was so set against him as to be Thomas Remmington's chief counsellor, etc. Sworn in court. Abraham Jewet deposed.

Sammuell Plats, sr., and Philip Nellson deposed that John Pickard told them that all the troubles in their town were caused by Mr. Shepard, and if it had not been for him, said Pickard would not have been fined so much in John Acie's action. Further he told them that he being at a meeting with the selectmen, they thought it best to choose the old selectmen to serve again, considering the difficulties of the division of the commons. Sworn in court.


Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts, Volume VI (Google eBook) 1675-1678, Essex Institute, Salem Ma 191t

I'll have some thoughts about all this in my next post.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


My 8x great grandfather John Acie seems to have been one of those people you
either love or hate. I've found several cases in the Essex County Court files in which
he figures either as plaintiff or defendant. In the following case he is the plaintiff,
trying to protect his good(cough) name. Interesting that the initial verdict was for
the defendant, but apparently the judge wasn't happy with the jury and sent them
out to rethink the verdict. When they came back, the found in favor of Acie.

One of the fun things about these court files is how the statements given by
witnesses sometimes wander hither and yon, throwing in bits of information that
that tells several stories. In this case. there's a love story involved:

John Acie v. John Pickerd. Defamation. Verdict for defendant. After being sent out
again, the jury brought in a verdict for plaintiff.*

*Writ: John Acie v. John Pickerd; defamation; for basely and reproachfully reviling him in a public town meeting at Rowley in falsely asserting that he had ruined four persons already, naming the persons; dated Mar. 22, 1674-5; signed by Tho. Leaver,f clerk; and served by Jeremiah Elsworth,f constable of Rowley, by attachment of the house and land of defendant.

John Acie's bill of cost.

Thomas Remington and Mehittabell, his wife, deposed that he, being named as one whom Acie had ruined, denied the charge. Sworn in court.

James Baly, sr., Joseph Trumble and John Hopkinson deposed that at the town meeting last winter Mr. Jeremiah Sheppard came in and was arguing with some persons. John Acie then present argued on his side. Jno. Pickard, sr., being there desired to speak a word to Mr. Sheppard and said that John Acie standing on his side would not make for his advantage, for said Acie had ruined Josuah Bradley, Doctor Crosbie, Hannah Palmer and Thomas Remington. Sworn in court.

Richard Swann, aged about sixty-eight years, deposed that he was at the Generall Court where there was a case about Capt. Marshall's marrying two persons too privately, and he spoke to Major Pike about them, Josuah Bradley and Judeth Lum, whom he married at Rowley, "which John Pickard I told him was much trobled att: and also that John Acie had some hand in it; he replyed he was much trobled at it when he heard of it; & he sayd he hoped it should be a warning to him for the future." Deponent saw Josuah Bradley and John Acie riding to town together the day of the marriage. Sworn in court.

Joseph Trumble, aged about twenty-seven years, deposed that being related to John Hopkinson, he knew about his proceedings in love which he made to Hannah, daughter of Jno. Palmer of Rowley, and was at Palmer's house when there was a discussion concerning breaking off the marriage. John Acie, Hannah's uncle, was there, and Hannah was in a melancholy frame of mind. Acie asked her if Hopkinson had given her any tokens of his love and she said he had, but refused to show them, saying those were the only comforts she had in his absence. Finally being importuned by Acie she gave them to him, he promising to return them to her in a week's time. Later she told deponent that Acie had returned the tokens to Hopkinson and had promised to give her ten pounds upon her marriage, if she would break off the match with Hopkinson. So John Acie broke off the match and gave Hannah a coat on that account. Both Hannah and John were much dejected, etc. Sworn in court.

John Pallmor and Margaret Pallmor deposed that they never heard their daughter Hannah say anything against John Acie, her uncle, ''and that we doe beleiue that any good that he could doe her by night or by day he would redily and willingly haue done it," etc. Sworn in court.

Mary Pearson, aged about twenty-four years, deposed that a while before Josuah Bradley went from Rowley, she heard him and his wife say that their reason for going was because they could never have any peace since Josuah had given in a testimony against Acie and the latter was enraged. Sworn in court.

Abell Platts, aged about twenty-five years, deposed that in the case between Thomas Remington and John Johnson, he heard John Acie say to Johnson that he would spend his estate before Johnson should have the gate* and a quarter again, etc. Sworn in court.

•gate, i. e. term used in Rowley to indicate a right to pasturage 

Thomas Wood, aged about forty years, deposed that being desired by his brother Todd to get hay from the meadow that he took from Dr. Crosbie by execution, they went and found Acie there who spoke threatening words and struck several persons, etc. John Todd testified to the same. Sworn in court.


Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts, Volume VI (Google eBook) 1675-1678, Essex Institute, Salem Ma 191t

The testimony shows two sides of Acie: loyal to his friends and family, but not a person you
wanted to have angry with you.

In the next part we get more testimony, including a statement from John Hopkinson, the
other half of the star-crossed lovers.


Working with probate files is sometimes a good news, bad news proposition.

The good news is you've discovered this set of documents that may hold all
sorts of information you don't already know about your ancestor.

The bad news is you can't read the bloody images. This could be for a number of
reasons: damage to the actual document, fading ink, or (most often) the abysmal
handwriting of whoever wrote out the will and inventory.

Even if you can read the handwriting, chances are you've found a whole bunch of
your ancestors' probate files and it will take awhile to get them all transcribed. That's
the situation I was in recently. So I did the only logical thing: I cheated. I used Google
to find already transcribed wills and inventories, and I found quite a bit of help. I
used the name of the ancestor, his date of death and the town or county in which he
died for my search terms. I found transcriptions in the following online places:

-Family histories
-Town or county histories
-historical society collections
-court records

Most of these sources are free but make sure you cite them in your records or blogposts.
When I use them on my blog, I add a link to where I found the transcription on the web.
Remember to compare the transcription with the document image to be certain they are
for the same person. And check to see if what you are reading is a full transcription of
the document or only an abstract of just part of it.

I hope this helps. Happy hunting!


Another interesting story from the Essex County Court Records involving one of my
ancestors. this time my apparently feisty 10x great grandmother Jennet Dickinson,
widow of Thomas Dickinson. After his death in 1662 a dispute began between
some debtors of both Thomas and some of his heirs which eventually involved land
the widow claimed as hers. By this time Jennet has remarried and was now known as
Jennet Whipple.  Things reached a head in August 1674, which brought matters to the
Essex County Quarterly Court on  29 Sep 1674. All spelling is that of the clerks and
transcribers. The small"t" after a name denotes they signed their names to the
document on which their testimony was given: 

Mrs. Jennet Whipple, widow and executrix, and one of the heirs of the estate of Thomas Dickanson, deceased v. Richard Waite and Returne Waite. Verdict for plaintiff. Appealed to the next Court of Assistants. Richard and Returne Waite were bound, with Thomas Marshall and Henry Skerry, as sureties.*

*Writ, dated Sept. 22, 1674, for turning her out in the extremity of weather, signed by Shu. Walker, t for the court, and served by Nicho. Paige,t constable of Boston. Bond of Rich. Wayte,t Returne Waitet Willm. Hudsont and Jno. Williams.t

Sarah Gile, aged sixteen years, deposed that she lived in the house in controversy when Return Wait came in to serve the execution and required Mrs. Whipple to go out for the house was Bozoon Allen's. She refused, and he took hold of her to put her out and asked Marshal Skirrey to assist him, which he did. They pulled her along, she taking hold of things to stay herself, and being too strong for her, forced her out of doors, it being rainy and nearly night. Sworn in court.

Mrs. Gennett Whipple's bill of cost, 2li. 3s. 8d.

Letter of attorney, dated Sept. 25, 1674, given by Rich. Wayte§ of Boston to Left. Richard Way of Boston. Wit: Ephraim Turnert and Jno. Williams.t Acknowledged, Sept. 25, 1674, before Edward Tyng,t assistant.

Jno. Pickard, aged fifty-three years, deposed that after the execution was served he found Mrs. Gennet Whipple standing in the rain out of doors, her head covered with her apron, and requesting shelter of Returne Wait and Marshal Skerry who stood under a pentice or house-side. She was forced to seek the neighbors' houses for relief. Nehemiah Jewet testified that he was also present. Sworn in court.


Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts, Volume V (Google eBook) 1672-1674 Essex Institute, Salem, Ma 1916

Reading this I could picture Jennet grabbing hold of tables and chairs and doorways trying
to keep from being thrown out of her house.

In this case the Court found in favor of Jennet, but the verdict was appealed.  I hope to
find out whether poor Grandma Jennet was once more thrown out into the "extremity of

Monday, December 29, 2014


It's the end of the year, that time when we look back at the year past and plan
for the year ahead. I'll be doing the usual posts on how I did with my goals for 2014
and what goals I have for 2015, but I thought I'd just take a general look at how this year
went for me genealogically speaking.

It started out for me with unhappiness with the new search engine.
I was working on my tree nearly daily for a few hours each night and
when the new engine came along I was getting less and less done in that time frame.
So first I experimented going a week without using the Ancestry hints and search
engine, using only what I could find using FamilySearch, Google ebooks and other
online record sources. That was how I'd worked prior to subscribing to Ancestry.
Then I dropped my Ancestry subscription. It's a slower process than using the
Ancestry hints but it's less aggravating than the new search engine and I enjoy
digging for the stories behind the facts. I still maintain and add to my Ancestry
public tree and use what free hints are available but the main portion of my
research is done elsewhere. (Don't get me wrong. I'm not one of those who think
all genealogy information should be free. Ancestry and other "pay to use" sites
are businesses and have every right to charge for their services.)

I got out more on the highways during the Spring and Summer, taking a daytrip
up to Andover and  Methuen looking for ancestral burial sites. I had success at
Andover, not so much at Methuen. I plan to do some more trips once Spring comes

Getting used to driving on the highways again was helpful in getting me to
two genealogy gatherings this year:  2014 New England Family History Conference
in Franklin and the 2014 New England Geneabloggers Bash out in Stirling(which was
the furthest I've driven on major highways in several decades). It was fun meeting
my genealogy friends face to face again.

One of the areas I spent more time on this past year were probate files, and really
hit the mother lode with the Worcester county files on FamilySearch and the
Essex and Middlesex county files on I found information
in those files for ancestors I'd had very little for beforehand, and there's quite a
bit of blogging material in there for next year. 

So, aside from the goals I did or did not meet this past year, my 2014 genealogy year
was a very good one!


((First posted in 2008))

I've written before about my ancestors' experiences and
encounters with the Native American peoples of New England.
In researching the Barker brothers I found several references,
including Mitch Barker's here, of them temporarily leaving the
Bethel, Maine area after an Indian raid. This turned out to be
what is considered the "Last Indian Raid" in New England and
it took place 233 years ago on 3 Aug 1781.

At that time Bethel was still part of Canada and was named
Sudbury. There has been many clashes between the English
settlers and Indians over the previous 150 years but there
had also been occasions when various tribes allied themselves
with the English against the French, but with the French
departure from Canada and then the American Revolution
the political landscape had changed. Neither the Indians
nor the Americans could count on the British as an ally
against the other.

While most of the Indians in the area were friendly with the
settlers, one leader, Tomhegan(supposedly an Anglicization of
Tumtumhegan) was not. One account cites a dispute over
lands near Rumford Falls as one reason for his animosity.
Whatever the reason for it, on the 3 Aug 1781 Tomhegan led
a small group of followers on a raid that went through the areas
of Bethel and Gilead, Maine and then crossed over to the
vicinity of Shelburne, NH, where a settler named Peter Poor
was killed.

At Bethel the raiding party had killed a man named James
Pettengill and captured two of the prominent citizens,
Nathaniel Segar and Benjamin Clark, along with two other
men who managed to escape. Tomhegan kept Segar and
Clark as hostages, forcing them to carry the loot taken from
settler's homes as they went north. Eventually they reached
Canada where Segar and Clark were sold to the British.
The men were kept captive at Montreal until the following
year when they were released and returned to Boston on a

The families in the Bethel area had fled to safety at the
approach of the attack and eventually returned to the area
along with more families. The 1790 census for Sudbury and the
surrounding area shows my ancestors Amos Hastings and
Jonathan Barker(and his brothers) among the inhabitants.
The town incorporated itself as Bethel in 1796 and in 1931
held a celebration to mark the 150th anniversary of the

As for Tomhegan, he was eventually captured and killed. Benjamin
Willey in his "Incidents in White Mountain History " claims he was
tied to the back of a horse which was set loose in an apple orchard
so that the branches of the trees tore Tomhegan to bits but there is
no official account to verify what seems to me folklore.

The final irony is that Tomhegan's name mainly lives on not as the
leader of the Last Indian Raid in New England but in the names of
various places in the Moosehead Lake area of Maine, one of which
is the Tomhegan Wildlife Sanctuary.

You can view Peter Poor's headstone here at the First Mountain
Forest site. Brief entries on prominent Native Americans in the
Bethel area can be viewed here at their site. Willey's account
of the incident is here at Googlebooks.

Written for the 53rd edition of the Carnival of Genealogy.

2014 Update:
Among those settlers living at Bethel at the time of the attack were the families
of my ancestors James Swan, Jonathan Barker, and Amos Hastings. One
of the  homes targeted by the Indians was that of Benjamin Barker, my
4x great granduncle


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. I've
been tracing the ancestral lines of my grandmother Cora Barker. continuing with
her Swan ancestors.

5x great grandfather James Swan is one of those people who seem bigger than life. He
was a seaman until a run in with a British press gang, then he became one of the first
settlers of several towns in Maine where he both fought and befriended Native Americans;
Here's some excerpts about him from William Lapham's History of Bethel, Maine:

James Swan was the son of Joshua Swan of Methuen, and a descendent of Robert Swan of Boston and Rowley. He married Mary Smith, and moved from Fryeburg to Sudbury Canada in seventeen hundred and seventy-nine. He settled on the Ayers Mason farm, a mile from Bethel Hill, toward Middle Interval. Mr. Swan formerly followed the sea and was impressed into the English service, but he and two others seized the ship and forced the captain to pilot her into Boston. This was before the war of the revolution, and fearing prosecution, he came to the wilds of Maine and was among the first to settle in Fyreburg. He was a friend of Sabattis, the famous Piquaket Indian, who long made his home with Mr. Swan. p40


In 1779, James Swan came from Fryeburg, Me., and settled on the farm now occupied by Ayers Mason & Son. He built a house east of the road between Alder river bridge and Ayers Mason's house, on land now owned by Samuel D. Phil brook. He had three sons who were young men when he came; Joseph Greely Swan, who lived with his father; Elijah, who did not make a permanent settlement in the town; James, who settled on Swan's Hill, and Nathaniel, who settled on Sunday river, in Bethel, and died there. Their father was known as the man with whom Sabattis, a well known Fequaket Indian, lived many years in Fryeburg.p302

James Swan, the early Bethel settler, was the son of Joshua and Sarah (Ingalls) Swan, and was born in Methuen, Mass.,  March 14, 1721-2. He married Mary Smith of Haverhill, April 10, 1746. He was in Bethel at the time of the Indian raid in 1781, having moved here from Fryeburg. His last two children were born in Fryeburg; the others in Methuen. He was the fourth in descent from Robert who settled in Boston and moved to Rowley, He died in 1800, in Bethel. Children:
i Elizabeth, b Jan. 13, 1747, m. Jesse Dustin.
ii Joseph Greely, b. Oct. 4, 1748, m. Elizabeth Evans.
iii Molly, b. Aug. 8, 1751, d. young.
iv Sarah, b. Feb. 9, 1756, m. Abraham Russell.
v Abigail, b. Aug. 25, 1758, m. Jeremiah Farrington of Fryeburg.
vi James, b. Dec. 2, 1760, m. Hannah Shattuck of Andover, Mass.
vii Elijah, b. July 5, 1763, m. Eunice Barton, d. Paris.
viii Nancy, b. Sept. 22, 1765, m. Jonathan Barker of Newry .
ix Nathaniel, b. Jan. 9, 1769, m. Elizabeth Colby of  Sutton, Mass.
x Naomi, b. May 22, 1771. m. Jesse Barker, s Newry.
History of Bethel: formerly Sudbury, Canada, Oxford County, Maine, 1768-1890; with a brief sketch of Hanover and family statistics (Google eBook) Press of the Maine Farmer, Augusta, Me. 1891

Two of the Swan children married members of the Barker family. Jonathan Barker and Nancy Swan are my 4x great grandparents. The two families had been neighbors in the Methuen
area in Massachusetts and that relationship probably influenced the Barker family's move to

As mentioned by Lapham, James Swan was friendly with the Indian Sabbatus (a friendship
formed when Sabbatis failed to wring my ancestor's neck) and the the Indian woman known as
Molly Ockett to the settlers (Molly was a friend to other of my ancestors as well).But he also
was one of those living in Bethel during the last Indian attack in New England. I posted about
that six years ago, and will repost that entry next.

Saturday, December 27, 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. I've
been tracing the ancestral lines of my grandmother Cora Barker. continuing with
her Swan ancestors.

My 7x great grandparents Robert Swan and Elizabeth Acey had eleven children, the
tenth of whom was my ancestor Joshua Swan.  Unlike his father and grandfather,
Joshua appears to have stayed clear of court appearances. He was one of those
residents of Haverhill Ma. who petitioned for the formation of the town of
Methuen. His marriage to Sarah Ingalls is my family's connection to author
Laural Ingalls Wilder of "Little House on the Prairie" fame.  

From William Lapham's article on the Swan Family in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register:
5. Joshua' Swan (Robert,' Richard1) and Sarah Ingalls were married in Methuen, date not given. He was a prominent citizen of that town, as the records clearly indicate. Children:
i. Elizabeth, b. Oct. 31, 1702; d. Jan. 19, 1717-8.
ii. Sarah, b. April 11, 1704.
iii. Mary, b. Oct. 6, 1706.
iv. Joshua, b. Oct. 28, 1708; d. young.
v. Francis, b. March 31, 1710.
vi. Timothy, b. Feb. 19, 1712-3.
vii. Abiah, b. Feb. 19, 1712-3.
viii. Joshua, b. Sept. 26, 1715.
ix. Caleb, b. April 12, 1718; m. Dorothy Frye.
x. James, b. March 14, 1721-2 ; m. to Mary Smith, of Haverhill, April 10, 1746, by Rev. Benjamin

The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Volume 33 (Google eBook)
New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1879

But if my 6x great grandfather led a comparatively quiet life, his son James more than made up for by leading an adventurous life.  We'll discuss him next in the series. 


I posted a few days ago why I love probate files. Here's an example why:

While searching through the Essex County Massachusetts Probate files on I found a file for my 10x great grandfather William
Towne of Topsfield, Ma. William died intestate around 1672, and the estate
was left unsettled and in the hands of his widow, Joanna (Blessing) Towne.
When she died ten years later in 1682 their children presented the following
petition to the Essex County Court. I transcribed it as best I could, leaving
the original spelling and punctuation. There are some words I could not
decipher and they are replaced by (?) in the document. 

(( Source: Essex County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1638-1881.Online database. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2014. (From records supplied by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Archives.)

To the Honored Court now seeting(?) in Ipswich
The Humbell Petision of us as here Named as under written(?) in way of the
Seatallment of a small estate left to us by our Honored father deceased about
ten yeres a goe who died and left no will of disposall of his estate but left the
estate in the hands of our Honored. thair was then an Inventory taken of what
estate was left and presented to the Next Court but the Honored Court did not
so cause at that time to doe anything in way of settlement of the estate only
entered the widow (unreadable) and so it remained till(?) her death unsattled
and the estate to this time not disposed of: Now your Humbel peticioners
Request is at this Honored Court  (?) (?) that the Estate may be sattled at as we
have unanimously Agreed which is as forthwith; viz: first that the lands both for
quality and quantity shall be equaly divided to his three sons:  Edmond Jacob and
Joseph : and the movabells (?) to the daughters Rebacka Mary and Sarah already
been given it shall (?)  in the (?); all so this that we at this time doe from the Estate
and what Claims shall after a Rise in aways of fulfillment of the estat to be equaly
born by all the six children both sons and daughters
Dat this 17 of January
Signed in the presence of us
John Howe
John Pritchet

Later I found this summary from the Court record in The Historical Collections of the Topsfield Historical Society, Volume 25

Petition for settlement of a small estate left the undersigned by their father, who died ten years ago leaving no will, but left his estate in the hands of their mother who was appointed administratrix and the estate remained unsettled until her death, and now they desire that the following division may be allowed: the land to be divided equally to his three sons, Edmond, Jacob and Joseph and the moveables equally to the three daughters, Rebecka, Mary, and Sarah; also the three brothers to pay all debts now due and what charges shall after arise in settlement of the estate to be equally borne by all six.

Dated Jan. 17, 1682.
Signed by Mary (her mark) Towne relict of Edmond,
Jacob Towne,
Joseph (his mark) Towne,
Francis (his mark) Nurs with the consent of Rebeka,
Mary (her mark) Estey formerly Mary Towne,
Sarah (her mark) Bridges.
Signed in the presence of us
John How, John Pritchet.

Allowed by the court at Ipswich Apr. 10,1683. Ipswich Deeds, vol. 4, page 515.

p-111 The Historical Collections of the Topsfield Historical Society, Volume 25 (Google eBook) printed by the Society, Topsfield Ma. 1920

Now besides the personal significance to my own family history, this document has some
historical significance as well because of two of the signers of the petition. One is my 9x great grandmother Mary(Towne) Estey, the other her sister Rebecca (Towne) Nurse.

Ten years after their petition to the Court to settle their parents' estate, Mary Estey and Rebecca
Nurse were hung as witches in Salem, Ma. 

Friday, December 26, 2014


((originally posted in December 2013))

When I was a kid the day after Christmas was a wonderful day: I knew I had a
week or so off from school and I had some new toys or games to play. If I
grew bored with them I'd just go to the library and take out some more books
to keep me occupied. If it had snowed, I'd go sledding over on Selden Street
with Barry Solomon and the other kids. 

The torn wrapping paper was stuffed into empty department store bags (
plastic trash bags didn't become popular until the 1960's) and the boxes that
toys and appliances came in were hauled out by the curb for the city
trash trucks. This was how we knew what  the other kids got for Christmas
or Hanukkah. Inside, gifts had to be removed from under the tree to our
rooms a day or so after Christmas so the pine needles under the Christmas
tree could be vacuumed up.  
If Christmas fell on a Friday or Monday that year there'd be a round of visits
to our McFarland and McCue relatives or they'd visit us. So Christmas decorations
stayed up for several weeks, sometimes to the end of January. When we were
living on Capen St. my Mom used Glass Wax stencils to decorate our apartment
windows but she stopped after one year when cleaning the windows off was
harder than usual. Besides, nobody could see them anyway since the apartment
was on the third floor! We also only used "angel hair" to decorate the tree

But eventually we'd take off the decorations, lights, and garlands from the tree
and pack them away, and the tree would be hauled out to the curbside. If it
snowed before trash pickup it might be out there an extra week or two. In time,
as we grew older, the artificial tree would be disassembled and taken down to
the cellar.

Christmas was  over.

2014 Update
Since I'm a single "senior citizen" the after Christmas cleanup is minimal. After New
Years I'll put away the six inch tabletop Christmas tree and it's decorations away. Easy

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


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 were 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. 

2013 Update: Christmas Eve will be at Chery & Pete's house tonight with
gift opening and food. Christmas Day will be at my nephew Paul's house

One nice change the past few years since my retirement is not having to
work on Christmas Eve. There were nights where one manager at the
Borders store would take FOREVER to close down the store, so it 
might be two hours before the unlucky few of us working the close
could go home. Luckily, the other two managers I worked for there
in later years were just as anxious to get home as the staff was, so 
we were out pretty quickly. And there was the Christmas Eve we
were all out of the store, the alarm was armed, and all the cash
registers were already locked away in the safe.... and two teenagers
ran up and asked if the store was still open and could we sell them
a cd they needed. No, we didn't reopen the store. If we had, there
would have been more people showing up and wanting to come in.

Ah memories...  

2014 Update:
Looking forward to tonight at Cheryl & Pete's. This will a special Christmas
as it's the first for their new granddaughters Lillianna and Abigail. And the
torch has been passed by Mike to a new generation as their grandson Noah 
now handing out the gifts to everyone.  

 ((Originally posted in 2007))

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


It's Festivus, and in the spirit of the holiday, I have some genealogy grievances I wish to air:

-I've been working on probate files for Essex and Middlesex counties, Massachusetts, and
while I've found many wills and estate inventories of ancestors,  I've also found files that
only have three images. The problem is that some of those might contain images of a will
and perhaps an inventory, and that's good. But others just have an image of a scrap of
paper with the words"No paper found" written upon it, meaning there are no actual records.
It's frustrating and I wish these sort of files were categorized separately from the rest of the
probate files to save me the time I spend on a useless file!

- I hate the Appletons. I don't know if they were related to each other but Daniel and Jonathan
Appleton appear to have been court clerks in 17th century Essex County and involved in a
number of the proceedings for those of my ancestors who died intestate. The
thing is, both Appletons had handwriting which is a pain the butt to decipher. Bah humbug!

-People who insist on writing "Worcester County" as "Worchester County". There is no
h in Worcester, which is why it's pronounced "Wis-tah", not "Wor-chess-ter".

That's all I can think of for genealogy grievances this year.

And stay off my lawn!


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!

2014 Update:
I just came back from the grocery store, where I bought a box
of imported Italian cookies. Some things are just "musts" at
Christmas time.

((First posted Dec 2007))

 The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at”

Sunday, December 21, 2014

52 ANCESTORS IN 52 WEEKS#50: ROBERT SWAN "...a passionate man."

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. I've
been tracing the ancestral lines of my grandmother Cora Barker. continuing with
her Swan ancestors.

 I've written before about my 7x great grandfather Robert Swan but this excerpt
 pints a picture of quite a personality. Robert sounds like a cross of J.R. Ewing
with a medieval baron:

Robert Swan was early in Haverhill and a lotholder, but he seems to have been often in hot 
water. The famous Council of 1656 thought “ there was too great appearance of much iniquity 
on Goodman Swan's part in this matter.” He was probably a passionate man. In 1666 he was 
fined by the County Court “ 30s. for striking John Carleton several blows," whilst Carleton 
was fined £3 for striking him. In 1673 the town ordered him to “ pull down ” a ditch he had 
made across one of the town’s highways or be prosecuted. In 1674 he was fined 200s for 
being drunk and cursing. July 2, 1694, there was a special meeting at which it was voted to 
resist Swan’s claim to the meadow laid out for the ministry. But be apparently had the confidence
of the people, after all. He served in King Philip's War, was on the committee with Mr. Ward in
1683 to procure an associate pastor, and in 1686 on the committee to view disputed or uncertain 
bounds.He was highway surveyor in 1692, and deputy to the General Court in 1684. In 1689 his
sons Samuel and Joshua were brought before Major Nathaniel Saltonstall as a magistrate, upon a complaint for cutting down some of Simon Wainwright’s best apple trees. Swan sent the major a 
notice which Myrick prints, forbidding him to proceed with the examination, and insinuating his 
opinion that if the major took it, it would “be altered when it comes to corte.” February 17th 
following, the magistrate entered at court a complaint against Swan “for a high contempt of authority and endeavoring to hinder him in the execution of his office as magistrate, and casting abominable, wicked reflections upon him to ye high defamation of his name.” But Swan's sons avenged the public upon him. They appear to have had a feud with Wainwright, for Samuel, the son, was, in 1690, tried, convicted and sent to jail for wantonly stabbing Capt. Simon Wainwright’s valuable horse with a half-pike. The testimony of Samuel lngalls is worth reproducing as a matter 
of justice to old Swan, and illustrative of the parental discipline of that day. He says: “I and Samuel Swan was at work together in the field of Robert Swan, Jun., and Goodman Swan, Sen.,came to us and asked us to goe into the hous with him, and then he asked Sam’l why he stabbed Mr.Wainwright’s horse. Samuel said nothing. Then said his father to him what is the reason yo doe wickedly in sinning against God in abusing the dum creature, and his father was so grievd at it yt he weped, and then he said I am resolved I will give you coreksion, and then he pulled off his close to his shirt and took a stick as big as a good ordinary nailing rod, and then he took Sam’l by one hand and streek him as hard as he cable to strike and streek him many blows. His father was a considerable while beating him and Samuel cryed out and beged of his father vari much yt he would beat him no more." pp1940-1
History of Essex County, Massachusetts: With Biographical Sketches of Many of Its Pioneers and Prominent Men, Volume 2 (Google eBook)
J.W. Lewis,Pub. (Philadelphia. Pa. 1888) 

Interesting guy, Robert Swan.


It's become a Geneabloggers tradition to join our Friend footnoteMaven in the annual Blog Caroling Event, when geneabloggers post their favorite Christmas carols. Then you can check the links on 
fM's blog and take a blog caroling tour of everyone's choices!

This year I still have my Irish up with a carol to reflect my Irish
heritage from my Mom's side of the family. It's the Wexford
Christmas Carol, which historians say dates from County
Wexford, Ireland in the 12 Century A.D. I first heard it
sung on a Lorena McKennitt album. There is a version
on YouTune with Allison Kraus singing with accompaniment
by Yo Yo Ma on cello that you can see and listen to here:   

Nollaig Shona Duit! (That's "Merry Christmas" in Gaelic!)

The Wexford Carol

Good people all, this Christmas time,
Consider well and bear in mind
What our good God for us has done
In sending his beloved son
With Mary holy we should pray,
To God with love this Christmas Day
In Bethlehem upon that morn,
There was a blessed Messiah born
The night before that happy tide
The noble Virgin and her guide
Were long time seeking up and down
To find a lodging in the town
But mark right well what came to pass
From every door repelled, alas
As was foretold, their refuge all
Was but a humble ox's stall
Near Bethlehem did shepherds keep
Their flocks of lambs and feeding sheep
To whom God's angel did appear
Which put the shepherds in great fear
Arise and go, the angels said
To Bethlehem, be not afraid
For there you'll find, this happy morn
A princely babe, sweet Jesus, born
With thankful heart and joyful mind
The shepherds went the babe to find
And as God's angel had foretold
They did our Saviour Christ behold
Within a manger he was laid
And by his side a virgin maid
Attending on the Lord of Life
Who came on earth to end all strife
There were three wise men from afar
Directed by a glorious star
And on they wandered night and day
Until they came where Jesus lay
And when they came unto that place
Where our beloved Messiah lay
They humbly cast them at his feet
With gifts of gold and incense sweet.

Friday, December 19, 2014


I've been happily going through more Massachusetts probate files the past few days: the Worcester County files on FamilySearch and Essex and Middlesex Counties on AmericanAncestors,org.
Probate files are a great source of information for a genealogist because they have information
that fill in the blanks about families.

For example, in the last few days, I've learned: 

-One of my ancestors was named executor of his father's estate because his
his older brother was insane. I have a pretty good idea why he did.

-Another ancestor's wife was a widow with two sons. After my ancestor died,
one of the stepsons sued the estate to recover his mother's dowry. Up until now I
only knew the woman's first name. Now I know her married name and her sons'
surname. From that I may be able to find out her maiden name.

-Among the things a third ancestor left his wife in his will was a woman named Grace,
a "Negro servant" who he stipulated should belong to his eldest son when the wife

All of these I be discussing in future blogposts.

Probate files can tell you what an ancestor's occupation was, and the inventory list
of the estates will tell you how big their farms were, what clothes they wore, what
tools they used. The names of the heirs could tell tell you who the daughters married
and the signatures of the witnesses could be those of the nearby neighbors who were
also your ancestors.

Of course there are some disappointments. I've found probate files that only consist of
an image of a small piece of paper with the words "No papers found" written on it. Some
times the writing on the documents is impossible to read, either because it's faded or
because the handwriting is just bad.

Probate files are well worth looking into, either online or wherever the documents are located.
The "shaking green leaves" give you the start of the story. Probate files and other court
documents flesh it out.   

Thursday, December 18, 2014


(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.

2013 Update: In 2011 my family gave a newer digital camera,
a Canon Powershot, which I've used to take some good photos
on my car trips and at cemeteries for Find A Grave. You can see
a few at the bottom of this post. 

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

  The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at”

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


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))

2013 Update: I think this is my favorite out of all the things 
I've posted every year about past Christmases. I remember the
windshield incident with a smile now but at the time I was 
a nervous wreck waiting for Dad's reaction, especially since I'd
had a few highballs at the Christmas party which probably had
a lot to do with my backing into the trailer. I also had to drive
the car home with no rear windshield in a snowstorm and I was
worried I'd get pulled over by the police. When I got home we
covered the broken window with something, probably a cut
open garbage bag and masking tape, and a few days later Dad
found a replacement at Goldy's, a local junkyard. 

Most of all, I remember Dad getting out of his car when he drove up 
to the  Child World warehouse, taking a puff on his cigarette, and 
giving me The Look before asking me "How the hell did you manage 
to do that?"

 The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at

Sunday, December 14, 2014


Dear Genea-Santa,
Well, it's that time of year again. I'm not going to ask for too much this year,
so the list is short. I'd like :

-More online probate files, specifically from Essex and Suffolk. Ma for myself, and all the other counties for those researching their colonial Massachusetts ancestors.

-And more online county court case files. I've found so many great stories about my Essex
County ancestors, I bet there are some more in the Middlesex, Plymouth, and Worcester
county files.

 -Lastly, I hate to nag, Genea-Santa, but I'm still waiting on that document or hint or clue
that will get me past that John Cutter West brickwall. I'm getting older, Santa, time is
running out (hopefully not to quickly) and I'd really like to solve this mystery.

Other than that, I have no complaints this year. Those Middlesex County Probate files
over on the  website were a great surprise, and so were the
Worcester County Probate files on FamilySearch.

Merry Genea-Christmas!


((Written for the Saturday Night Genealogy Fun Challenge from Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings))

Friday, December 12, 2014


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.  

2013 Update: It has been rumored that Margaret the Fruitcake
was brought to North Korea by Dennis Rodman where she is
presently being used as a stepstool by Kim Jong Un. 

2014 Update:
Margaret the Haunted fruitcake was spotted in a recent episode of the "Grimm"
television program wherein a truckload was instrumental in the defeat of a trio
of Wesen monsters. I think she was listed in the credits as "Head Fruitcake"

(originally posted in December 2007))

“The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at”


Here's an interesting story I found about my 8x great grandfather Richard Swan in the
Essex County Court Case files (Have I mentioned how much I love those files?). The small
letter"t" after names denotes that the person signed or made his mark in their testimony. All
spelling is as written in the original document:
Sept 29 1668
Richard Swan v. John Morgan. For taking away John Huttson. Verdict for plaintiff, the boy to be returned.*

*Writ: Richard Swan v. John Morgaine, commander of the Bristow ship, now lying in Marblehead harbor; for taking away John Hutson, servant of said Swan, and detaining him; dated 24 : 6: 1668; signed by Hillyard Veren, t for the court; and served by Henery Skerry, t marshal of Salem. Bond of John Morgan t and Moses Mavericke. t

John Gedney, aged about sixty-four years, deposed that he heard Mr. Morgan say that he had taken his cousin from Mr. Swan and delivered him to Mr. Oliver Purchas to take into his custody. Sworn, 21 : 7 : 1668, before Wm. Hathorne,t assistant.

Charles Browne, aged about forty-two years, deposed that he heard Goodwife Lambert of Rowley say that she sold John Hudson, her boy, to Richard Swan of Rowley for fourteen pounds to be paid in wheat and barley. Also that he heard John Hudson say that Richard Swan was to buy him and he rejoiced much at it. Sworn in court.

Walter Price, aged about fifty-five years, deposed that on 16 : 7 : 1668, he was summoned to appear before the Worshipful Major Hawthorne to testify concerning Mr. Morgan's reputed cousin. That when Morgan delivered the boy to Purchase, he asked him whether he would go with his old master Mr. Swan or his new, Mr. Purchase, and the young man chose Mr. Purchase, so Mr. Swan came away and left the young man there. Sworn, 16 : 7 : 1668, before Wm. Hathorne,t assistant.

John Cook, aged about twenty years, deposed that hearing people talk at his master's gate, he saw a man they called Morgan take a boy in the street, whom they called John Hudson, etc. Sworn, 16 : 7 : 1668, before Wm. Hathorne,t assistant.

Henery Skerry, aged about sixty-four years, and Richard Swan, deposed. Sworn, 21 : 7 : 1668, before Wm. Hathorne,t assistant.

Richard Swan's bill of cost, 1li. 18s. 8d.

Beriah Browne of Rowley, aged twenty years, deposed. Sworn in court.

Indenture, dated Dec. 1, 1664, John (his mark) Hudson,Jr son of John Hudson of Bristol, Eng., aged about twelve years, with the consent of Mr. William Woodcocke of Salem, to whom he was committed in trust, bound himself to John Hutchinson of Salem husbandman, for eight and one-half years. Wit: Benjamin Felton t and Edw. Norice.t

On Dec.17, 1667, John Hutchson t of Salem made over the boy to Richard Swone of Rouly, with the full consent of John (his mark) Hudson of Rouly. Wit: Richard (his mark) Huchinson and Thomas Hale.t This assignment was allowed by Samuel Symonds t and Daniel Denison.t


Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts: 1667-1671 (Google eBook) Essex Institute, Salem Ma., 1914

So, as I read this, my ancestor purchased the contract of the indentured servant John Hutchson
who was at first happy with his new master. Then his cousin John Morgan sailed into town, found
the boy and took him to Mr Purchase. Richard Swan found the boy, who wanted to stay with Mr.
Purchase.Wisely, Richard took the matter to court where the terms of John Hutchson's indenture
were upheld and the boy was returned to him.

Now I'm left wondering what happened afterwards. Did John Hutchson serve out the full length
of his indenture, or did Richard Swan sell the boy's contract to another person?   

Thursday, December 11, 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. I've
been tracing the ancestral lines of my grandmother Cora Barker. In this post I'll
start looking at her Swan ancestors, beginning with my 9x great grandfather,
immigrant ancestor Richard Swan. I hadn't known much about him before now,
so I had a bit of a surprise when I found this from William Richard Cutter

(I) Richard Swan, immigrant ancestor, was born in England about 1600, died in
Rowley, Massachusetts, May 14, 1678. He settled in Boston before 1638, and
was a husbandman there as early as February 6, 1638. He joined the church, January
6, 1639, and was admitted freeman, May 13, 1640. He was dismissed from the Boston
church to the gathering of a church at Rowley, November 24, 1639. He held various
town offices in Rowley and was deputy to the general court from 1666 to 1674.
He served in King Philip's war and the expedition to Canada. His first wife died in
England before he came to this country, and he married (second) Mrs. Ann Trumbull,
March 1, 1658. She married (first) Michael Hopkinson, who was buried February 28,
1648; (second) John Trumbull, June, 1650. She deposed March 30, 1675, tnat she was
aged about sixty years. His will was dated April 26, 1678, and proved May 23 following, bequeathing to wife Ann according to marriage contract; to son Robert and his son Richard, to son-in-law Joseph Boynton and his wife Sarah and to children: Elizabeth, Samuel and Sarah Boynton; to daughters: Frances Quilter, Jane Wilson, Dorothy Chapman and Mercy Warriner. His widow Ann made her will July 4, 1678, proved September 24, 1678, bequeathing to daughters Abigail Bayley and Mary Kilborne; to son Caleb Hopkinson a chest that his father made; to sons John and Jonathan Hopkinson; one book to John Trumble. Children: Richard; Dorothy, married Chapman; Jane, married Wilson; Frances, married Quilter; Robert, 1626 or 1628, mentioned below ; Jonathan: Susan, married Samuel Stickney, of Rowley; Sarah, married Joseph Boynton; John, born in Boston, baptized February 13, or November 24, 1638; Mercy, Rowley, July 4, 1640; Faith, Rowley, March 30, 1644-45.-

New England Families, Genealogical and Memorial: A Record of the Achievements of Her People in the Making of Commonwealths and the Founding of a Nation, Volume 3 (Google eBook) Lewis historical publishing Company, 1913

The surprise was that Richard Swan's second wife, the widow Ann Trumbull, was my
8x great grandmother by her marriage to John Trumbull. The Abigail Bayley named in
Richard's will was my 7x great grandmother Abigail (Trumbull) Bayley.

As if grandmother Barker's line wasn't already enough of a tangled thread!
To be continued...

Tuesday, December 09, 2014


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

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

Black Friday 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?)

2013 Update: A few more new ones:
NO THANKSGIVING DAY openings. The sales can wait until
after midnight.

No more Michael Bolton car commercials. I'm doing this for you,
Michael. Things can't be so bad you need to do these. Have some
self respect!

And while we're at it, no more Ron Burgundy car commercials.
They were funny at first, but now they're tiresome.

And another thing about commercials: I'd limit how many times
each commercial could be played an hour. Playing the same
commercial three times in ten minutes would be penalized
by being sent to the "penalty box" for twelve hours.

That's it for now. I'm sure I'll have more by next year!

2014 Update:

Things have improved greatly!  No Michael Bolton car
commercials! We are not being bombarded by the same
commercials being shown three times in a row.

However....the Joe Boxer pajama bottoms commercial
involving men pounding their beer bellies like kettledrums
has to to!

Monday, December 08, 2014


Just a few thoughts about the case and the people in it:

Whenever I find one of these cases the first thing I do is to see if the ages
of the people involved in the case are mentioned. Then I check them against
what I know about the family to see if they match up with the information
I have. For example, here's the family of Thomas and Hannah Chandler from
a Chandler family genealogy:

The children of Thomas and Hannah (Brewer) Chandler were:

i. Thomas, b. 2 Oct. 1652; d. 6 June, 1659, a. 7 years.
Salem Ilecords.

ii. John, b. 14 March, 1655 ; Andover ; m. 20 Dec. O. S. 1670,
Hannah Abbot.

iii. Hannah, m. 2 Dec. 1674, Daniel Bixby, of Andover.

iv. William, b. 28 May. O. S. 1659; m. 21 April, 1687,
Eleanor Phelps, by Rev. Francis Dane, of S. Andover.

v. Sarah, b. 20 Dec. 1661 ; m. 29 May, 1682, Samuel Phelps.

vi. Thomas, b. 9 Oct. 1664; m. 22 .May, 1686, Mary Peters,
by Major Saltonstall.

vii. Henrv, b. 28 May, 1667; in. 28 Nov. 1695, Lydia Abbot,
of Andover.

viii. Joseph.. b. 3 Aug. 1669; m. 20 Nov. 1691, Sarah Abbot.

Chandler, George The Chandler Family: The Descendants of William and AnnisChandler who Settled in Roxbury, Mass., 1637 (Google eBook)
Press of C. Hamilton,  Worcester, Ma. 1883

The case happened in 1678, and the ages given for the Chandlers are:
William, around 19 years old. (I have his birth year in my database as 1659)
Thomas, around 51 years old. (I have his birth year in my database as 1628)
Hannah, around  49 years old  (I have her birth year in my database as 1630)

That, plus the fact that William in my database is married to Elinor Phelps
makes me certain that this isn't another Chandler family.

Two of the witnesses in the case are also my relatives:
William Lovejoy is my 8x great grandfather,
John Ballard is my 8x great granduncle

-I am wondering how much Walter Wright was fined, No amount was given in
case file. And why was he let off so lightly? Were the knife wounds not as
serious as William Chandler testifies? Was there a sense that he had somehow
provoked Wright into the attack? Part of it might also be because Thomas Chandler
didn't seem to want to pursue the matter since he and Wright were neighbors.

-It seems our ancestors had a higher tolerance of pain than we do nowadays.
Even if the knife wounds were not serious ones, being slashed across your face
and in your hands and stomach must have really hurt. But the wounds were
"cured" (stitched?) by Return Johnson and everyone went back about their business. 

-Though the case was brought to court in Ipswich, the actual events took place in
Andover, Ma. where many of my paternal ancestors lived.

Finally, I think Walter Wright didn't follow through on his threat to shoot William
Chandler's horse.

If he had, I'm sure they would have ended up in court over it.

Sunday, December 07, 2014


((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 Midnighton tv who was telling
us  to drink our Ovaltine.

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.

 “The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at”

Saturday, December 06, 2014


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.

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 I 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. 

 “The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at”

Friday, December 05, 2014


One of my best sources of information about my Essex County, Massachusetts ancestors
has been the Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts
free ebook editions on Googlebooks. I've gained some insight into the lives and
characters of ancestors from them, as wel as some great stories. This latest discovery
concerns the family of my 9x great grandparents Thomas and Hannah Chandler, in
particular a violent incident between their son William and a  neighbor, Walter
Wright. Remember, the grammar and spelling is exactly as written by the court clerks:   

Court Held At Ipswich, Nov. 6, 1678, By Adjournment.
Upon complaint against Walter Wright for drawing his knife and offering to stab William Chandler, he was fined.*

*Warrant, dated Oct. 29, 1678, for appearance of Walter Wright, upon complaint of Ensign Chandler that he had lately assaulted and wounded his son William Chandler with a knife, also for witnesses, William, Hannah, Thomas Chandler and John Carleton, signed by Daniel Denison,f for the court, and served by Thomas Ossgood,f constable of Andover, by attachment of house and land of said Wright.

Thomas Chandler's bill of cost, Hi. 14s.

William Chandler, aged about nineteen years, deposed that a month ago Goodman Right early in the morning came up to his father's house and deponent being in the yard, he said to him, "Will, I will shoot your horse: I said to him why: because sd he: he hath ben in my lot to night I replyed I ame sorre for that: for I did for git to fetter him to night: but I hop I shall doe so no more: but Goodman Right replyed and sd you will always forgit it: but I will goe home and charge my gun and shoot him for he hath don me forty shillings worth of hurt this sumer: then I replyed knowing how falce the thing was that it was more like to be forty lyes then Right replyed sarar I scorne to lye as littell as you or your father ether: upon his retorting upon my father I was provoked and went to him and tuck him by the coler and sayd to him if he wod not hold his tonge about my father I whould make him and so only at that time gave him a shuf from me but did not then strike him upon which the sd Right caled me Roge and in grat violenc dru his knife and sd I I voe Il stabe you and accordinly stroke me with his knife twise upon the brest or belle be for I cold stop him then I stroke up his heles and lyeing over him to take his knife from him before I could command his hand his knife was in he indeauered as I thoght to cut my throt: which althogh throgh the goodnes of god he did not doe yet he came very nere it and cut a long deep gaus on my ceeke which came very nere my throt as may apere nowe by the scare only ocasiond by that cut as also stabd on deep wonde in my hand besid fiue or six other smaler cuts about my hand: but at length altho I could not get his knife out of his hand yet I brake it in his hand and so let him rise and then I confese I did giue him a smale crack behind and a box of the ere." Hanah Chandler, aged about forty-nine years, and Thomas Chandler, aged about fourteen years, testified to the same. Sworn in court.

Thomas Chandler, aged about fifty-one years, testified that he was not at home when his son was injured but found him very bloody when he arrived, etc. John Carlton told him that Goodman Right was afterward at his master's shop, etc. Sworn in court.

Roger Marke, aged about thirty-five years, deposed that after Wright had cut Chandler he was passing Joseph Willson's shop and talking with John Carlton, who was a little distance from the shop shaving hops, Wright came to the door of the shop and said that he did not care a twopence if he had killed Chandler. Sworn in court.

John Carleton, aged about seventeen years, deposed that he saw Chandler's mother also lay hold of Wright, etc. Sworn, Nov. 5, 1678, before Nath. Saltonstall,* assistant.

Return Johnson, aged about twenty-five years, testified that he told Chandler that in the interest of peace, said Johnson would cure the scratch. Ensign Chandler said that was the best way, for as he and Wright were neighbors they must live together in harmony and deponent cured the wounds for nothing. Sworn, Nov. 5, 1678, before Nath. Saltonstall,* assistant.

Christopher Lovejoy, aged sixteen years, deposed. Sworn, Nov. 5, 1678, before Nath. Saltonstall,* assistant.

Elner Phelps, aged twenty-three years, deposed. Sworn Nov. 5, 1678, before Nath. Saltonstall,* assistant.

William Lovejoy, aged about twenty-one years, testified that before the quarrel, Chandler told him that he met Wright on the highway on horseback, and took his horse by the bridle, commanded him to stand and challenged him down from his horse to fight. Wright not wishing to fight, Chandler struck him with a staff. This happened between Wright's and Chandler's houses. Sworn, Nov. 5, 1678, before Nath. Saltonstall,J assistant.

John Ballard, aged about twenty-five years, deposed. Sworn, Nov. 5, 1678, before Nath. Saltonstall,J assistant. pp95-97

Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts, Volume 7 (Google eBook) Massachusetts. County Court (Essex County), George Francis Dow
Essex Institute, 1919

To be continued...

Thursday, December 04, 2014


Continuing on with my Bailey ancestors:

My 7x great grandfather Joseph Bailey was about thirteen years old when
his father died in 1648. His mother Edna married her second husband,Ezekiel
Northend in 1649 and arrangements had to be made concerning young Joseph's

For explanation of the order given by the court Oct. 27, 1648, in answer to a petition received of Edney Bayly, widow, of Rowley, and final determination of the case, it is ordered May 3, 1649, that the 46li. given by Wm. Halsteed to her son, Joseph Bayly, by Richard Bayly, deceased, remain in the hands of Ezekiell Northin, her present husband, until he shall be twenty one, and then so much be paid him as the will of Wm. Halsteed appoints; that Joseph's portion out of his father's estate shall be 41li., which is two thirds of the estate, and shall also remain in the hands of Ezekiel Northin until he is fourteen years. Ezekiel Northin to give security to the next Ipswich court Mass. Bay Colony Records, vol. 3, page 148.

Joseph Bayly of Rowley acknowledges the receipt from Ezekiell Northend of Rowley, his father-in-law, of "all my whole portion given me by the will of my ffather Richard Bayly which portion was ordered by the Generall Court & apoynted to be forty one pound or there abouts, which was two thirds of the estate, and also of a legasie of nyne pounds foure shillings, given by my unckle william Halsted, also all rents of my whole portion and of the aforesayd legasie since I was of the age of forteene years." Dated Nov. 14, 1667. Witness: Phillip Nelson, Elizabeth Nelson, ffrancis Tildisleg. Ipswich Deeds, vol. 3, page 78.


The Probate Records of Essex County, Massachusetts: 1635-1664 Vol1 (Google eBook)
Essex Institute, 1916  Salem, Ma.

So besides the two thirds of his father's estate, Joseph had an inheritance of 46 pounds
from his uncle William Halstead. Considering that amount was nearly was larger
than his paternal inheritance, it's possible he was William Halstead's only living
male relative.  With that amount of money and property, he was able to take a
leading part in the town of Bradford, Ma.:

 (II) Deacon Joseph, only child of Richard Bailey, was born about 1635. settling on the Merrimack, in the north part of Rowley, near the Newbury line, in what is now Groveland. He was a leading man of Bradford, where he was selectman twenty-three years between 1625 and 1710, and was deacon of the church there in 1682 until his death, October 11, 1712. He married Abigail Trumbull, who survived him and died in Bradford, November 17, 1735- He died October II, 1712. Their children were: Abigail, Richard, Anne, Elizabeth, Joseph, Edna, Deacon John and Sarah.-p1310

Ezra S. Stearns, ‎William Frederick Whitcher, ‎Edward Everett Parker 
Genealogical and Family History of the State of New Hampshire: A Record of the Achievements of Her People in the Making of a Commonwealth and the Founding of a Nation, Volume 3 (Google eBook)
Lewis Publishing Company, 1908 - New Hampshire
 There is a discrepancy in that description. Since Joseph was born in 1635, he
couldn't have been a selectman in 1625. I think it's more likely the date was around
1685.  His daughter Edna married John Hastings and they were my 6x great grandparents,