Monday, February 16, 2015


It's been a somewhat exciting month of February here in New England  weatherwise
as we're setting all sorts of regional records for snowfall. Since road trips and Find A
Grave activities are not possible for awhile I've been keeping myself busy working on
my family tree and uploading photos I already had taken to Find A Grave.  I've also
been looking for more family documents  on and FamilySearch,
and last night I found a pair of wills belonging to my ancestors James and Joseph Keith.

James Keith is my 8x great grandfather, He was born in Scotland, attended the University
of Aberdeen, and came to Massachusetts around 1662, becoming the first minister at
Bridgewater, Ma.  He married Susannah Edson, the daughter of his deacon. I'm descended
from them through their son, Joseph. Last night I found the Probate Files for both James and
Joseph in the Massachusetts, Plymouth County, Probate Estate Files, 1686-1915 collection on
FamilySearch I've got to say both wills are probably the most legibly written I've found so far
for my ancestors from that era of colonial history.

Here's James' will. Looking at the signature and comparing it to the body of the document
it is obviously the same handwriting. it's very neat, and the lines across the page mostly straight. 

Joseph married Elizabeth Forbes and had a very large family. One of their children was
Jemima Keith, my 6x great grandmother, who married James Packard. Joseph Keith was a
farmer, soldier, and a town Representative to the colonial government. The signature to
his will is different handwriting from the will itself so someone else wrote it for him.
Still, it's neat and readable, and on the second page Joseph leaves Jemima one sixth
of the fifty acres he was dividing up among his children.   

I'm very grateful to grandfather James and to whoever wrote Joseph's will because when
trying to read the writing on colonial documents a legible hand makes my life easier.
In handwriting, neatness counts!

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