Thursday, December 31, 2015


Time for a look back at my some of my genealogy activity  in 2015 and a comparison with 2014.

My research numbers as shown by RootsMagic 6:

2014-30,882 people, 104,934 citations, 574 sources
2015-30,823 people, 110,992 citations, 577 sources.

The number of people in my database actually decreased by 61. It's a result of ridding my
database of duplicates while adding new family members.

Find a Grave
My total contributions went up modestly:
2014- 548 memorials,  812 Photos, 109 volunteer photos taken.
2015- 615 memorials,  962 Photos, 162 volunteer photos taken

This is post 220 for this blog this year, the first time I've broken 200 posts since 2011. In 2012 I went down to 170, but have gone up every year since then.
2015 (220)
2014 (199)
2013 (179)
2012 (170)
2011 (248)
I doubled my posts on the Old Colony Graveyard Rabbit from 3 to um...6. Sigh. I have to work on that.

Not a bad year, but I'll do better in 2016, I hope!


In my research for my posts about my Butterfield ancestors, I came across this story about a Samuel Butterfield. This Samuel was not my 8x great grandfather, but rather his nephew, a son of Nathaniel Butterfield, and therefore one of my distant cousins. The incident took place during the Queen Anne's War, and Samuel Abbott Green (another distant cousin) wrote about it in his book Groton During the Indian Wars:

Penhallow, in his History, gives several instances of extreme cruelty to the prisoners on the part of the savages, and mentions the following case of a man who was captured in this town: —

A third was of Samuel Butterfield, who being sent to Groton as a Soldier, was with others attackt, as they were gathering in the Harvest; his bravery was such, that he kill'd one and wounded another, but being overpower'd by strength, was forc'd to submit; and it hapned that the slain Indian was a Sagamore, and of great dexterity in War, which caused matter of Lamentation, and enrag'd them to such degree that they vow'd the utmost revenge; Some were for whipping him to Death; others for burning him alive; but differing in their Sentiments, they submitted the Issue to the Squaw Widow, concluding she would determine something very dreadful, but when the matter was opened, and the Fact considered, her Spirits were so moderate as to make no other reply, than, " Fortune L'guare. Upon which some were uneasy; to whom she answered, If by killing him, you can bring my Husband to life again, I beg you to study what Death you please; but if not let him be my Servant; which he accordingly was, during his Captivity, and had favour shewn him." (Pages 38, 39.)

pp 94-95
Groton During the Indian Wars,  John Wilson & Son, Universtiy Press, Cambridge, Ma. 1883

Samuel was able to escape eventually:

Butterfield remained a captive for more than a year. It is not known how he obtained his release. His petition to the General Court sets forth the fact that he was an inhabitant of Chelmsford, and was sent by Captain Jerathmel Bowers to Groton, in order to help Colonel Taylor, in August, 1704, when the enemy came upon the place. It is as follows: —

To his Excellency Joseph Dudley Esqr Capt. General and Governor in Chief and To the Honoble the Council and House of Representatives now in General Assembly convened at Boston within 6* for her Majesties Province of the Massachust. Bay April 10th 1706.

The Humble Petition of Samuel Butterfield Sheweth
That yor Petitioner is an Inhabitant of the Town of Chelmsford, and in the month of August 1704, when the Enemy came upon Nashoway & Groton &: yor Petitioner (with others) was sent out by the Capt Jerathmel Bowers to Groton to assist Col. Taylor, when yor Petitioner being ordered out with some others to Guard a Man who was going to work in the field, the Enemy came upon them, killd one man and took yor Petitioner and one other Prisoners, tho yor Petitioner made all the resistance possible, killed one, and knockt down two more after they had seized him, for which yor Petitioner was cruelly used by them afterwards & threatened to be burnt, several times. May it please this Great and Generall Assembly, yor Petitioner was very well accoutred in all respects when he was taken, and then was stript of all and was between fourteen and fifteen months a Captive exposd to great hardships, and has sustained great Loss and damage.

Yor Petitioner therefore humbly prays the favor of this great and General Assembly to take the premises into yor serious Consideration and Grant him such Recompense for his Losses and sufferings, as aforesd as to yor wisdom and Goodness shall seem meet.
and yor Petitioner (as in duty bound) shall ever pray &c.
Samuell Butterfield

Apri1 10: 1706, Read.
In the House of Representative Resolved That the Sum of Five Pounds be allowed, & Paid out of the Publick Treasury to Samll Butterfield the Petitioner in Consideration of his Losse, & service. Sent up for concurrence.
Thomas Oakes Speaker

April. 11. 1706.
In Council.
Read & concurr'd.
Isa Addington Secry.
[Massachusetts Archives, LXXI. 195, 196.]

Butterfield had previously received, October 27, 1704, a bounty of four pounds for killing the Indian mentioned in this petition; but the present award was for his services and personal loss.


It's always struck me as ironic and sad that the Puritans, who sought to establish a godly commonwealth here in Massachusetts, should offer a bounty on the lives of other human beings, a practice that continued across the continent until the late 19th century.


My final subject for the 2015 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge is my 7x great grandfather Jonathan Butterfield. George A. Gordon has 0nly a little to say about him in his THE BUTTERFIELDS OF MIDDLESEX article:

12. Jonathan' Butterfield (Samuel, Benjamin) was born in Chelmsford; had wife Elizabeth, who died early, leaving one child:
1. Elizabeth,4 m. Adam Gould.
He married 2d, Elizabeth, a daughter of Thomas and _____Chamberlain of Chelmsford, who survived him. He was an husbandman. His will, signed " Buterfeild," made 10 July, 1728, was probated 7 August, 1738. Children:
25. Ii. David,* b. 1702.
26. iii. Jonathan.
27. iv. Robert, b. 1716.
v. Samuel, of Westford, where he d. unm. in 1764.
vi. Sarah, m. 16 Oct. 1744, Thomas Danforth of Billerica.
vii. Mary, m.____ Perham.


The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Volume 44 , Published at the Society's House, 18 Somerset Street. Printed by David Clapp & Son Boston, Ma 1890

I did find a will in his probate file at  and in it was this interesting item at the bottom of the first page:

Middlesex County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1648-1871.Online database. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2014. (From records supplied by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Archives.)case 3725 p8

Middlesex County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1648-1871.Online database. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2014. (From records supplied by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Archives.) Case 3725 page8

 Here's my transcription of that part:

I give and Bequeath unto my well beloved son David my part
of an orchard in Chelmsford and and Lyeth on the west side of
the Country Road and between the Land of John Butterfield and--
Daniel Blogett. And the Reason why I give David no more is because
I gave him to my Brother Samuel Butterfield at fourteen years of age
and he has had his service this twelve years and is to give him
a portion for the same as by promise - -

The document was written at a slant on the first page. While the writing on the second page is
straight and level it's still small and messy so it's slightly difficult to read, but it does have Jonathan's signature written in a big although shaky hand.

Middlesex County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1648-1871.Online database. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2014. (From records supplied by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Archives.)Case3725 page 9

I'll try to find the will of Jonathan's adopted father Samuel Butterfield to see if he kept his promise.

Sunday, December 27, 2015


Drawing close to the end of the 2015 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge, I've come to my 8x great grandfather Samuel Butterfield. George A. Gordon wrote this about Samuel and his family in his article THE BUTTERFIELDS OF MIDDLESEX:

4. Samuel 2 Butterfield (Benjamin1) was born in Woburn, 17 May, 1647, removed with his father to Chelmsford, where he remained till his death in 1714. He had a wife Mary. His will, signed 26 April, 1703, "Samuel Buterfeld, his mark," was written by Eliezer Browne, one of the witnesses, and probated 1 July, 1715. In it, he mentions his sons Samuel and Jonathan, and his daughters Mercy, Ann, Phebe and Deborah. It lies in the Middlesex Registry with the following certificate appended:

"Middx County
This Will of Samuel Bntterfield, late of Chelmsford in the county of Middx dec'd, contained in two sides of this sheet of paper was Exhibd for probate pr Samuel and Jonathan Butterfleld sons of the Sd Dec'd & Ex's in the same named & Jonathan Bowers made oath yt he together wth Nathaniel Blodgit (now dead) & Eliezer Brown (who now lives in Connecticut Colony) set to there hands as Witnesses in the Testator's presence & that he see him sign & seal & heard him publish the same to be his last will and Testament & that he was of sound mind & this Will is proved & approved & the administracon thereof is Committed to the sd Samuel & Jonathan Buttertield Executors aforesaid. Witness my hand and seal of office at Camb. July 1st 1715.
Pr. Fra. Foxcroft Judge Prob for Middx."

11. i Samuel,3
ii. Mary, m. 30 June, 1698, Samuel3 Spalding (John,2 Edward1); removed in 1700 to Canterbury, Conn., where she died in 1726. Six children, three born in Chelmsford and three in Canterbury.
iii. Ann m. (prob.) John Davis, son of the Chelmsford blacksmith.
iv. Phebe. m._____ How, of Plainfleld, Conn.
v. Deborah, b. 20 Aug. 1687; m. Joseph3 Cleveland (Josiah2 Moses1); removed, about 1706, to Canterbury, Conn.
12. vi. Jonathan.


The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Volume 44 , Published at the Society's House, 18 Somerset Street. Printed by David Clapp & Son Boston, Ma 1890

A few notes:
I've found the images of Samuel's will over on but didn't find one of the above statement.

Some sources say Samuel's wife Mary was Mary Ann Ballard, daughter of William & Grace (Berwick) Ballard of Andover, Ma.

Interesting to see that Samuel's sister Mary married a Spaulding. So there were earlier connections between the two families before my 5x great grandparents Lot Spaulding and Esther Butterfield in 1764


Due to the holiday I'm late posting the announcement for this week's Findmypast Friday new record collections. The new releases focus on Ireland and India:  

As well as new additions to our collection of historic Irish newspapers, find far-flung family connections with births, marriages, wills and more from the tropical climes of India and beyond.

For Christmas Day, we're bringing you over 870,000 new records and newspaper articles including:

Irish Newspapers Update
Our collection of Irish newspapers now contains an additional 819,000 articles and 5 brand new titles. Read historic articles from all over Ireland to find out what life was like for your Irish ancestors.
Do you have Irish relatives who made the news? »

British in India
Search the names of British people who either lived, worked or travelled in India from as early as 1664 up to 1961 with an index of births, marriages, divorces and deaths compiled by the Society of Genealogists.
Follow your family to India »

British India Office Births & Baptisms
Explore over 23,000 new additions to find the births and baptisms of ancestors who lived or worked in India and other territories administered by the India Office.
Discover if you had family members living in the British Raj »

British India Office Wills & Probate
Unearth the wills and probate records of European soldiers and civilians who died in India and Burma. Discover information about your relative's estate and what happened to it after their death.
Find out what they left behind »

These latest additions are a great opportunity to find ancestors that you can't find in other records, as so many sought their fortune on the subcontinent generations ago. Whether your relatives were clergy, aristocracy, tradespeople, merchants, civil servants or soldiers, the lowest and the landed all have stories to be told with these fascinating records.

Have a great Christmas,

Jen Baldwin

Full disclosure: I am a member of the Findmypast Ambassador Program which includes a
complimentary one year world subscription to Findmypast and a Findmypast First membership.

Saturday, December 26, 2015


((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

Thursday, December 24, 2015


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

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


Dear Genea-Santa
You've been so good to me in 2015, what with all those free Essex and Middlesex County
Probate Records images and other things on That's been keeping me
busy most of the year and I really appreciate eveything I discovered. So I'm going to keep my
requests for 2016 short. I don't expect you to give me all of this but any one would be nice:

-More help with finding probate records online would be nice, especially for Worcester County, Ma. I'm hoping FamilySearch will add more images soon to their "Massachusetts, Worcester County, Probate Files, 1731-1925 " collection.

-Court record files for more Massachusetts counties would be great too, especially for Middlesex,
Suffolk, and Worcester counties.  

-This one might be a bit more difficult: magic glasses. Magic glasses that will let me read the colonial documents with the worst handwriting. Hard to believe that there were people with worse handwriting than mine, but there were, and I need some sort of edge to decipher their while trying to decipher their scribbling.

-And finally, still waiting Santa for that hint that will let me break down that John Cutter West brick wall!

That's it for this year, Santa. If you can come through on any one of those I'll be very happy. Or surprise me, because the surprises you gave me this past year were great!
Merry Genea-Christmas!
((Inspired by a Saturday Night Genealogy Fun prompt from Randy Seaver over at Genea-Musings.))

Monday, December 21, 2015


...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!

2015 Update: 
There has been very little to complain about this holiday season.
But there is one minor annoyance: the car commercials with
the salespersons basically hostages to the couples taking test
drives. Wouldn't the car dealerships call the police when an
employee and car have been missing for hours? Why aren't
the salespeople using their cellphones to call for help?

Well, at least Michael Bolton isn't along for the rides!

Sunday, December 20, 2015


In his article THE BUTTERFIELDS OF MIDDLESEX in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, George A. Gordon gives this summary of Benjamin Butterfield's family:

1. Benjamin1 Butterfield, born in England; inhab. of Charlestown,
1638; Wobnrn, 1640; Chelmsford, 1654. Died 2 March, 1687-8.
His wife Ann died at Chelmsford, 19 May, 1661; he married 2nd,
3 June. 1663, Hannah Whittemore, widow of Thomas. Children:

2. i. Jonathan2, b. in England.

ii. Mary, b. in England; m. 15 Sept. 1653, Daniel Blogget. She d. 5 Sept. 1666.

3. ill. Nathaniel, b. at Woburn, 14 Feb. 1642-3.

4. iv. Samuel, b. at Wobnrn, 17 May, 1647.

5. v. Joseph, b. at Woburn, 15 Aug. 1649.


The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Volume 44 , Published at the Society's House, 18 Somerset Street. Printed by David Clapp & Son Boston, Ma 1890

I'm descended from Benjamin and Ann's son Samuel Butterfield:


(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”

Saturday, December 19, 2015


Records included in this week's Findmypast Friday collection releases for 18December include
some from New York state:
Trace your family's New York connections this Findmypast Friday with new additions to our collection of New York Genealogical & Biographical Society records.

Explore inscriptions left in family bibles from all over the United States to uncover details of important life events, plus gain invaluable insights into tracing your New York ancestors with new issues of two NYG&B publications. We've also added baptisms, marriages and burials from Dublin to help you find your Irish roots.

This week we've added over 3.7 million new records and newspaper articles including:

American Bible Society Index
Uncover family records of ancestors found inscribed in family bibles. Search or browse this index of over 8,000 names to uncover life events such as births, marriages, and deaths.
Did your ancestors leave behind a family bible? »

The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record Update
Three new issues have been added to the NYG&B Record, the second oldest genealogical journal in the United States. Search or browse to find valuable documentation to aid you in your family history research.
Discover the best ways to trace your New York family »

New York Researcher Update
Search or Browse the 2015 summer and fall issues of the New York Researcher, The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society's (NYG&B) quarterly review.
Get useful tips for researching people and places in New York state »

Dublin Registers & Records
Search through eight publications of parish records from the Church of Ireland dating from the 1600s up to 1800 to discover baptism, marriage, and burial dates of your ancestors.
Uncover your family's Dublin connections »

 We hope you enjoy exploring these rich and varied collections. Be sure to stay tuned for further special releases every week throughout the remainder of the festive season!

Have a great weekend,
The Findmypast Team

 You can learn more about this week's new records here at

Full disclosure: I am a member of the Findmypast Ambassador Program which includes a
complimentary one year world subscription to Findmypast and a Findmypast First membership.

Friday, December 18, 2015


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


It's become a Geneablogger 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 the
Friends of fM Facebook page and take a blog caroling tour of everyone's choices!

This year I've chosen The Carol of the Bells. It's one of those songs that's put me in the holiday
mood when I hear it and occasionally I catch myself humming it. I don't know all the words, but
I do a mean "ding dong, ding dong!  

The Carol of the Bells

Hark how the bells,
sweet silver bells,
all seem to say,
throw cares away
Christmas is here,
bringing good cheer,
to young and old,
meek and the bold.
Ding dong ding dong
that is their song
with joyful ring
all caroling.
One seems to hear
words of good cheer
from everywhere
filling the air.
Oh how they pound,
raising the sound,
o'er hill and dale,
telling their tale.
Gaily they ring
while people sing
songs of good cheer,
Christmas is here.
Merry, Merry, Merry, Merry Christmas,
Merry, Merry, Merry, Merry Christmas.
On on they send,
on without end,
their joyful tone
to every home.
Ding dong ding... dong!

There's many versions of the song out there but I like the traditional version, such as the 
one by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, which you see and hear it here on YouTube.

 Merry Christmas, fM!

Thursday, December 17, 2015


As I've been exploring the lives of my Barker family ancestors for the 2015 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge, it surprised me how many of them were involved in the settling of various Middlesex County, Ma. towns. Turning to the Butterfield family line I find that is again the case.

My 5x great grandmother Esther (Butterfield) Spaulding was descended from immigrant ancestor
Benjamin Butterfield and his wife Ann (Jundon?).  George A Gordon's article THE BUTTERFIELDS OF MIDDLESEX in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Volume 44 shows that Benjamin owned quite a bit of land in what would become Chelmsford, Ma.:

Benjamin1 Butterfield, from whom the American family chiefly derive issue, was at Charlestown, in the Bay Colony, in 1688. He probably married in England and brought a little family with him. His name appears among the first town orders of Woburn, and, in 1643, he was made a Freeman. In 1645, we find his name on the Woburn tax list. In 1652, the inhabitants of Woburn petitioned for leave to explore the west side of the Concord river. The report was, "a very comfortable place to accommodate a company of God's people." In 1653, Benjamin Butterfield headed a petition of twenty-nine, including the petitioners of the preceding year, for a tract of land six miles square, "to begin at the Merrimack river, at a neck of land next to Concord river," to run southerly on Concord river and westerly into the wild country. The spot was known to the natives as Naamkeek.* The Indian apostle, Rev. John Eliot, about the same time received a grant of "the Great Neck," lying between Pawtuckett falls on the Merrimack and the Massic falls on the Concord, as a reserve for the Christianized Indians. This tract was known as Wamesit. The six mile tract was occupied in 1654 by Butterfield and his associates, and in 1655 was incorporated as Chelmsford. The line between the Indians and the whites was run "on the east side of Butterfield's high way," and was marked by a ditch. On this highway Benjamin Butterfield pitched his farm and built his house, somewhere within the limits of what is now ward iv., Lowell. In 1656, he is named as one of the citizens of Chelmsford, to whom the Gov. Dudley farm of 1,500 acres in Billerica was conveyed. In 1661 his wife died, and 3 June, 1663, he married, 2d, Hannah, the widow of Thomas Whittemore, of Cambridge. In 1666, Newfields, a tract of 241 acres of intervale, across Stony brook and extending up the Merrimack, was granted to Chelmsford. Of this, perhaps the best land in the growing town, Benjamin Butterfield obtained 42 acres, the largest share of any one person. In 1686, the Indian reservation, Wamesit, was purchased by the whites. Three of Butterfield's sons, Nathaniel, Samuel and Joseph, were among the grantees (Mdx. Deeds, x. 19). This territory, which had been occupied by Wanalancit and his tribe as a cornfield and fishing station, is now occupied by the manufactories of Lowell. The purchase included, also. 500 acres upon the north and east side of the Merrimack, of " Wilderness" land, a general term for the unsettled country outside incorporated limits. Nathaniel and Samuel Butterfield settled on the Wamesit lauds, and Joseph in the wilderness, between Tyng's pond and the river.

 * Naamkeek, or Naamkeap, a fishing place, is cognate to Namoskeag (Manchester, N. H.), Naumkeag (Salem, Mass.), Nameaug (New London, Ct.), Namasket (Middleboro', Mai
The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Volume 44
, Published at the Society's House, 18 Somerset Street. Printed by David Clapp & Son Boston, Ma 1890

To be continued...

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


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.

2015 Update
The local supermarket is tempting me this year with two boxes
of Italian cookies for five dollars. The fiends!

((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”

Monday, December 14, 2015


The images for the inventory of Isaac Stearns are a little easier to read than his will:

Middlesex County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1648-1871.Online database. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2014. (From records supplied by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Archives.)21239 page4

Middlesex County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1648-1871.Online database. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2014. (From records supplied by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Archives.)21239 page5

And there was a transcription of it in The Stearns Genealogy and Memoirs by Avis
Sterns Van Wagenen:

A true inventory of the lands, goods and chattels of Isaac Sternes, Sen'r., taken the 28th, of 4th., 1671, who deceased the 16th of 4th, 1671, prized and taken by us, whose names are here underwritten:
Housen and homestall of twelve acres of land.... £100 00
Four acres of upland and two acres of meadow. ... 18 00
Eight acres of upland........................................... 26 00
Six acres of meadow........................................... 30 00
Three acres of marshe .........................................15 00
Fourscore acres of upland.................................... 60 00
Twelve acres of upland ........................................12 00
Nine acres of upland..............................................5 00
Sixty acres of upland.............................................15 00
Fifteen acres of upland ...........................................8 00
Foure acres of meadow land................................... 8 00
Twenty-five acres of meadow land ........................60 00
One hundred and ninety acres of meadow land.......40 00
One hundred and five acres of upland.................... 10 00
Two horses.......................................................... 10 00
Foure oxen.......................................................... 16 00
Six cowes............................................................ 18 00
Two heffers.......................................................... 4 00
Three yearlings ......................................................3 00
Seven sheep and five lambs.................................... 4 00
Wearing clothes, linning and wooling....................... 4 00
Beding and tabell linning......................................... 4 10
New Cloath............................................................4 10
Swine, to the value of............................................. 4 00
Beding and bedstead in the parlor............................ 4 10
Cubbord, stooles and table..................................... 3 00
Beding and bedstead in the hall............................... 3 00
One Moose skin .....................................................0 10
One old bed and other lumber in the old chamber..... 1 00
Sheep's wool......................................................... 0 08
Two old chests, two spinning wheels, a chese
press, and other lumber in ye low chamber ............. 1 00
Beame and scales, waites and measures.................. 1 00
One payer of quarnes and other lumber in the
quarne house.........................................................0 10
Brass putter and iron and other utensils in the
chimne................................................................. 6 10
Beer barrels, pondering tubbs and other small
utensils................................................................. 1 00
Corne and mealle................................................... 1 00
Mault and pease.................................................... .2 10
Lumber in the parlor chamber.................................. 0 10
Two bags of hopes.................................................. 3 00
Cart, plow, chains and other husbandry instruments... 3 00
Salt, meall and chees, other provisions...................... 3 00
Corne growing in the ground..................................... 6 00
Tobacco in the rowle and leafe................................. 0 06 08
Two muskets, one fowling peace, one sword..............2 00
To one cart rope...................................................... 0 05
To sacks and hay in the barns.................................... 0 15
Not footed in original. I make.................................. £524 04 08
"That this is a true coppie of ye orriginall attested in Oct., 1671, and yn put upon Record, and burned in ye fireing of ye court house, is sworn by Isaac Sternes and Samuel Sternes, 1, 8, 72, in open court, at Cambridge."
(From Vol. 4, pp. 129-130.)


Stearns Genealogy and Memoirs, Volume 1 Courier Press Company, Syracuse, New York 1901

A few things struck me:
- The moose skin was only worth 10 shillings. Was this an indication that moose were plentiful in Massachusetts in the time Isaac was living in Massachusetts Bay colony?

- The "one payer of quarnes" puzzled me as to what that might be, so I googled and discovered it
was probably a mispelling of quernes, which were hand operated mills used to grind corn, which
was a crop Isaac grew. The pronunciation may have sounded the way it is spelled though in the inventory.

- Likewise, I think the "two bags of hopes" refers to hoops. But "bags of hopes" is something that
makes me smile.

Update: Fellow genealogist Michael John Neill pointed out that "hopes" was probably a mispelling
of "hops" which is indeed much more logical for Isaac to have than "hoops". "

Saturday, December 12, 2015


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
had been a role-player for years although mine has been online
instead of tabletop Dungeons and Dragons. One of my characters
was an eccentric Scotsman and one 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 one 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".

2015 Update
I've heard reports that Margaret the Haunted Fruitcake is still pursuing a Hollywood
career, with appearances as ship ballast on the whale ship Essex in the movie "In The
Heart of the Sea" and as an inanimate alien in a new cantina scene in the new Star
Wars movie. 

(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”

Friday, December 11, 2015


This week's Findmypast Friday record collections releases for 11 December offer a variety of selections:
Build new branches of your family tree with parish baptisms and burials from Leicestershire or discover whether you had relatives affected by plague in the early 1600s with a plague rate index from Plymouth. We have also added over 198,000 transcripts from 19th century Portsmouth to our collection of UK electoral registers that are perfect for uncovering the history of your family home.

This week we've added over 200,000 new records including:

Electoral Registers from Portsmouth, England, 1835-1873
We've bolstered our large collection of UK electoral registers with over 198,000 transcripts from Portsmouth. Search the registers to study the history of your Hampshire family's home.
Were your Portsmouth ancestors eligible to vote? »

Baptisms from Leicestershire, England
Search over 2,000 transcripts of parish baptism records from Leicestershire to uncover when and where your ancestors were baptised as well as the names of their parents.
Add Leicestershire relatives to your family tree »

Burials from Leicestershire, England
Delve through over 3,000 transcripts of burials covering seven Leicestershire parishes. Locate you family member's final resting place and uncover the names of loved ones they left behind.
Find out where they're buried »

Plague Rates from Plymouth, England, 1626-1629
Explore a 15th century index of Plymouth residents who were taxed to fund the relief of an outbreak of bubonic plague that hit the city in 1627. Discover if they refused to pay, fled the area or succumbed to the dreaded disease.
Was your family affected? »

No British ancestors? Not to worry! More home-grown records coming soon. In the meantime, the anniversary of Pearl Harbor reminds us how important it is to honor your military ancestors. Search our World War 2 enlistment records to find your family's veteran today.

Have a great weekend,
Jen Baldwin

You can learn more about this week's new records here at 

Full disclosure: I am a member of the Findmypast Ambassador Program which includes a
complimentary one year world subscription to Findmypast and a Findmypast First membership.

Thursday, December 10, 2015


I found Issac Stearns' probate file over on As you can see, it's a bit
difficult to read:

Middlesex County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1648-1871.Online database. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2014. (From records supplied by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Archives.)21239 page2

Middlesex County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1648-1871.Online database. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2014. (From records supplied by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Archives.)21239 page3

Luckily, there was a transcription in the Stearns genealogy :

His will, dated five days before his decease, with his autograph signature, is extant on the files of the Probate Office of Middlesex County, and is as follows:

"I, Isack Stearns, of Watertown, in the County of Middlesex, being sick in body, but through the goodness of God in sound memory, do declare this to be my last Will and Testament, in manner and form as followeth:

"Imp.—ffirst, I return my spirit into the hands of God that gave it, and my body to the earth from whence it was taken.

2dly.—My will is, that Mary, my beloved wife, should enjoy my whole estate, for her maintainance, so long as she shall live a widow; but if my said wife shall marry again, then my will is that she should enjoy only what the law intended and provided for in the law titled dowers.

"3dly.—I give and bequeath to my grandchildren, the children of my sonne John Sternes, fower score pounds, (which) being added to what my son had formerly, will be a double portion with the rest of my children.

"4thly.—I give unto my son Isaac Sternes, seventy pounds, which being added to what he have had already, will be his proportion according to the rest of my children.

"5thly—I give to my son, Samuel Sternes, seventy pounds, which being added to what I formerly gave him will be his proportion with the rest of my children.

6thly.—I give to my grandchildren, the children of my daughter Mary, deceased, five and thirty pounds; my grandchild, Isaac Lernot, to have ten pounds of the said 35 pounds —the remainder, which will be twenty-five pounds, to be equally divided to the rest; which said thirty-five pounds being added to what I formerly gave my daughter, Mary Lernot, will be an equal proportion with the rest of my children.

"7thly.—I give to my daughter Sarah Stone, forty pounds, which being added to what she formerly had, will be her proportion.

"8thly.—I give to my daughter Elizabeth Manning twenty pounds, which being added to what I formerly gave her, will be her proportion; further, my will is. that the said twenty pounds given to my daughter Elizabeth aforesaid, be secured for the good and benefit of the children.

"9thly.—I give and bequeath to my daughter Abigail Morss, five acres of meadow, lying and being at Samuel's farm, to enjoy and possess for her and her heirs forever: and my will is. that my daughter Abigail Morss. may take the said five acres of meadow either next to Samuel's meadow, or next Capt. Mason's: and besides the meadow. I give to my said daughter Abigail, forty pounds, all which being added to what she have had formerly, will be her proportion.

"10thly.—My will is, that my kinsman Charles Sternes, shall have ten pounds of my estate. Further, my will is, that my whole estate remain whole and unbroken for comfort and maintainance of my beloved wife, as above said, so long as she doth remain a widow—save only the five acres of meadow given to my daughter Abigail, which she is to enjoy presently.

"ffurther, I nominate and appoint my beloved sons, Isaac Sternes and Samuel Sternes. executors, to this my last Will and Testament, and have hereunto set my hand, this fourteenth day of June, one thousand six hundred and seventyone, in presence of.

"Before subscribing, my will is. that when those several legacies are paid out according to my Will within mentioned, then my will is, that the remainder of my estate shall be equally divided among my children then living, and so subscribe the day aforesaid by putting to my hand in presence of,

ISACK STERNES. (This signature was written five days before his decease.) "WILLIAM BOND SEN'R. "JOHN BISCOE, SEN'R."

Stearns Genealogy and Memoirs, Volume 1 Courier Press Company, Syracuse, New York 1901

Now while the text of the will itself is transcribed, there's some more writing after that is not transcribed and which is difficult to make out:

That this is a true copy of ye originall wch was legally proven & left on file at ye court in October 1671 & yt burned in ye fireing of ye courthouse is attested on oath
1-8-72 at ye courthouse in Cambridge                                              by Isaac Sternes
                                                                                                     & Samuel Sternes

Next I'll take a look at the inventory of the estate.

To be continued.

Monday, December 07, 2015


((First published Dec 2011))

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

1. Ovaltine- Yes, I drank Ovaltine when I was a kid, but by the time I came
along in 1948 Little Orphan Annie was no longer the big radio hit it once was.
In fact, when I was Ralphie's age it was Captain Midnight on 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 (on the left) 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 it. 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”

Sunday, December 06, 2015


My 9x great grandfather Isaac Stearns, the subject of Week 49 of the 2015 52 Ancestors in 52
Weeks Challenge, was a Winthrop Fleet immigrant and a prominent citizen in the early days of
Watertown, Ma. I've been lucky enough to find his probate file and will at
I've also found a Stearns family genealogy by one of his descendants, Avis Stearns Van Wagenen.
Here's what she has to say about Isaac:   

Early in the morning of April 8, 1630, Isaac Stearns and family, Sir Richard Staltonstall and family, Rev. George Phillips, Gov. Winthrop and many others embarked at Yarmouth, England, in the good ship Arrabella and arrived in Salem, Mass., on the 12th of June. The ship Jewell arrived on the 13th. The ship Ambrose on the 18th. The Talbot on July 2. The passengers not being satisfied with Salem as possessing the desirable advantages for a permanent settlement soon proceeded from Salem to Charlestown and were among the first settlers of Watertown, near Mount Auburn, Mass. In 1642 we find his homestall bounded on the north by the land of John Warren; west by the highway; south by the land of John Biscoe; east by Pecjussett Meadow, a part of which meadow he owned. In the distribution of the estate of his son, Samuel, in 1724, this homestall, "where his grandfather had lived,"was assigned to his eldest son, Nathaniel. "Dec. 4, 1638, Isaack stearns and John Page were fined 5 shillings for turning the way about, (i c, changing the highway), and day was given till the next Courte. This was done at a Quarter Courte, holden at Boston, Mass." He was admitted freeman, May 18, 1631, which is the earliest date of any such admission, and he was Selectman several years. In 1647, he and Mr. Biscoe were appointed by the selectmen, "to consider how the bridge over the river shall be built, and to agree with the workmen for doing it, according to their best discretion," says Dr. Francis, in his history, "This is the first mention of a bridge over the Charles River, at Watertown."

Isaac Stearns' pedigree has not been ascertained, nor is it certainly known from what town he came, but it has been found that his wife was from the Parish of Nayland, in Suffolk, and his first three children were born there. Mr. Somerby obtained the following extract from the parish register of Nayland:

"Baptized, Jan. 6, 1626, Mary, dau. of Isaac Sternes.
"Baptized, Oct. 5, 1628, Anna, dau. of Isaac Sternes."

The names and ages of these two daughters seem to correspond with the supposed ages of the eldest two girls of the first Isaac Stearns, of Watertown; for, in the early records, Anna and Hannah were often used, the one for the other.

Mr. Beedham, of North Wales, England, sends the following items:
"1622, marriage of Isaac Sternes and Mary Barker.
1623, baptism of child of same.
1626, baptism of child of same.
1628, baptism of child of same."


Stearns Genealogy and Memoirs, Volume 1 Courier Press Company, Syracuse, New York 1901
The reference to Mary (Barker) Stearns being from Nayland Parish in Suffolk England is interesting,
since my immigrant ancestor Richard Barker is said to have come from there as well. I'll have to look into that to see if they are related.

I'll discuss Isaac Stearns' will and probate in part 2.
To be continued.


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, NH and probably continued on home
 to Boston with a stop to visit the Village along the way.

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 must have 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 04, 2015


It's Friday and time for more Findmypast Friday record collection releases. The releases for
4Dec includes wills and probate files from Staffordshire, England so I'll be checking my
database to see if I have any ancestors from there!

Here's this week's records announcement:  

We have added a diverse array of records that will help you discover previously unknown details of your family's journey through the generations. Discover new details about your ancestors in our PERSI update or fascinating facts about family relationships in brand new wills. We've also released military collections from the Napoleonic Wars and Colonial Africa as well as some enthralling records from mental health institutions.

This week we've added over 537,000 new records including:

PERSI Quarterly Index Update
We've spent years building the most complete version of the PERiodcal Source Index (PERSI) online, giving millions access to valuable genealogical gems. The latest updates are listed over on our blog.
Get on the trail »

Wills and Probate from Staffordshire, England, 1521-1860
If your ancestor from Staffordshire left a will, you'll gain valuable insight from these records. Some left revealing messages for their next of kin that will add to your family story.
What did you relatives bequeath? »

British Army Muster Rolls, 84th Foot, 1808-1818
The 1st and 2nd battalion of this regiment saw action in the Napoleonic Wars, facing guerrilla warfare in the Iberian Peninsula and deadly disease in the Netherlands.
Locate your military ancestor »

British Army Muster Rolls, 60th Foot, 1879-1882
This regiment fought in the Zulu War, 1st Boer War and in Egypt during this time period. Their stories tell the unique experience of warfare in late 19th century Africa.
Investigate a dangerous tour of duty »

 Stay tuned for some extra-special releases every week this holiday season!

If you have any queries or comments for us, or family history discoveries you'd like to share, get in touch here. We love hearing from you.

Have a great weekend,

Jen Baldwin

You can see fuller descriptions of everything here at Findmypast.

Full disclosure: I am a member of the Findmypast Ambassador Program which includes a
complimentary one year world subscription to Findmypast and a Findmypast First membership.


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

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

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

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

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

Those families must have big electricity bills!

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

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

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

2013 Update: It's a bit early yet apparently for the lights
to go up for Christmas around here. I don't work anymore
and haven't driven around much after dark so I haven't
seen any houses lit up yet. I did, however, spot two of
those big inflatable figures on someone's front lawn yesterday

2014 Update
 I'm not sure there be many houses lit up this year, or that they
will be many elaborate displays. The electric companies in the
New England area have raised their rates over 30% and that
may be too much for many people to afford to put up Christmas

2015 Update
There's only a few homes along the main streets in the area that have put up
their outside lights so far this year. But there are some in specific neighborhoods
and I've noticed word gets out via Facebook on where the best displays are to take
your kids to see them.

(originally published in Dec. 2007)

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