Monday, March 30, 2015


When I first started out researching my family tree, I was excited to find that some of
my ancestors had been killed in the New England colonial Indian wars. (They, on the
other hand, probably would have rather skipped the whole experience.) But after awhile,
as I discovered more such deaths, I was struck how some of my ancestral families had
worse luck than others. Such is the case with my Frost ancestors, and in particular my
8x great grandfather William Frost.  Here's what Everett Schermerhorn Stackpole  has
to say about William in Old Kittery and Her Families

William Frost witnessed a deed at Winter Harbor in 1667 and bought land in Saco of William Phillips in 1673. It may have been he who had a grant of land on Crooked Lane, in Kittery, in 1658. The Indian War drove him to Salem, Mass., where he was living, 1675-9. William Frost, cordwainer, of Salem, bought land in Wells, Me., in 1679, and had various grants and mill privileges in Wells till 1690. His estate was administered in 1690 by Israel Harden, and William Frost, Jr., was bondsman. Roger Hill wrote to his wife, 7 May 1690, "The Indians have killed Goodman Frost and James Littlefield and carried away Nathaniel Frost and burnt several houses here in Wells" William Frost married Mary, dau. of John and Elizabeth (Littlefield) Wakefield, granddaugher of Edmund and Annis Littlefield. Children were:

William m. (1) Rachel and had a daughter born in Wells 30  Sept. 1695. (2) 5 April 1706, Elizabeth Searle in Salem, Mass.; d. in Salem 23 Sept. 1721. Ch. recorded in Salem: Benjamin b. 24 June 1707; Elizabeth b. 22 Aug. 1708, m. John Brown; Benjamin b. 24 Sept. 1710; Hannah b. 4 July 1712, m. John Prince; Mary b. 2 Dec. 1714; William b. 4 Oct. 1715; Lydia b. 22 May 1717, m. William Cook.

Nathaniel, captured by Indians in 1690.

Elizabeth? m. in York, 8 Nov. 1608 Daniel Dill.

Mary b. at Salem 31-5-1677.

Abigail? m. in Salem, 14 Jan. 1702-3, Samuel Upton.
- pp426-427

Old Kittery and Her Families (Google eBook) Everett Schermerhorn Stackpole
Press of Lewiston journal Company, 1903 - Kittery (Me.)

So William and his brother in law James Wakefield were killed, and William's
son Nathaniel was carried off by the Indians, all in 1690. This was years after the end
of the King Philip's War, during which the Frost family had retreated to Salem, Ma, The
rest of the family seems to have returned again to Salem after William's death, where his daughter
Abigail Frost married my 7x great grandfather Amos Upton.

Sunday, March 29, 2015


The 13th New England Regional Genealogical Conference is only a few more weeks away,
(April 15-18 2015 at Providence, R.I.) and it's loaded with knowledgeable speakers giving
presentations on a variety of interesting subjects. One of those speakers will be professional
genealogist Michael Brophy. He's done research for the Who Do You Think You Are on Gwenyth Paltrow and for Dead Money, an Irish TV series.  He specializes in Irish and Irish-American
genealogy and in heir tracing, as well as technology for genealogy. Michael also is my fellow
resident of Abington, Massachusetts, a heavily Irish-American community. 

The organizers of the Conference asked New England genealogy bloggers to help get
out the word by conducting email interviews with the speakers.  I chose Michael because
of my own interest in my Irish heritage, and he graciously answered some questions for

1. What prompted you to become a professional genealogist?
After a beloved Aunt died on my maternal side her son published a book that included a well researched family history. After admiring the work, I asked my recently retired father what we know about the Brophy side. He replied “Not much”. That set me us off on a father-son research project to find out as much as we could about our ancestry. A few years later, after taking several courses and attending a number of conferences, I started to take on clients for research and giving lectures.

2. What are the unique challenges of researching Irish genealogies?
Some the main building blocks of genealogies in the United States are federal census records and vital records which are birth, marriage, death and divorce records. In Ireland, the most of the 19th century census records were either destroyed deliberately by the British government or lost in the destruction of the Irish Public Records Office in 1922. Civil registration of vital records did not start for all Irish citizens until 1864, a late start when compared to the vital records we have for most New England town dating back to colonial times. Other records such as tax records and church records are typically used to compile genealogies that are not nearly as complete as the records we have in the US.

3. We live in a state, Massachusetts,with one of the largest Irish-American populations in America.
What are the the advantages and disadvantages of researching Irish-American genealogy here?   

The advantages are we in Massachusetts are the most open record state in the nation. Vital records have no restrictions, meaning that anyone can view any birth, marriage, or death record up to the present day excepting special cases such as adoption and illegitimacy. Our records repositories are close by in the Boston area and are easily accessible. We have an active genealogy community here with experience and know how in researching Irish-American families.

I suppose the drawbacks are that getting into Boston to the record repositories means traveling into Boston with all the associated headaches with traffic and parking. As with Irish-American research, researching a common Irish surname such Murphy, Kelly, or Sullivan will require a lot of patience and persistence as you eliminate the possibilities. Published genealogies of Irish-American families in Massachusetts are rare when compared to more established families in Massachusetts and elsewhere in New England.

4. Assuming we aren't still buried in snow drifts, will you be attending the Abington St. Patrick's Day Parade this year? 

My family and I were there and the parade was great as always. We kept moving to stay warm!

Michael will be giving a variety of presentations at the NERGC:
Snag-it For Genealogists on "Tech Day", Wednesday, April 15  9:30-10:30am.
Descendancy Research on Saturday, April 18 8:30-9:30am 
Kilroy Was Here: A Genealogy Case Study of a WW II Icon on Saturday, April 18 3:15-4:15pm.

He'll also be holding a free Special Interest Group discussion on Thursday, April 16 at
7:45 pm in the evening. The subject will be Irish genealogy.

That's a wide range of subjects! You can read fuller descriptions at the Conference Registration 
Brochure page and learn how to register for the NERGC on their main page here.

My thanks to Michael Brophy for taking part in this interview!

Friday, March 27, 2015


For this week's entry in the 2015 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge, I'm looking into
the family of Samuel Upton's wife, the Frosts. The furthest back I can take that line
is to George Frost, Sarah's grandfather and my 9x great grandfather. I know nothing
about where and when he was born, nor do I know the name of his wife, nor the
date of his death. Given that he lived in an area of coastal Maine that suffered several
Indian attacks, it's possible any vital records were destroyed. What I do know is what I
found in this passage from Everett Schermerhorn Stackpole's book Old Kittery and Her Families:

George Frost lived at Winter Harbor, Saco, and was appraiser of the estate of Richard Williams in 1635. He served on the grand jury in 1640. Nothing more is known of him, but the fact that several Frosts appear in his vicinity a generation later, that can not be traced to any other ancestor, warrants the belief that he was the father of the following. Goody Frost was assigned to a pew in the church at Winter Harbor next to the pew of Goody Wakefield, 22 Sept. 1666.

Rebecca m. Simon, son of Robert Booth of Saco, who was born in 1641. They removed to Enfield, Conn., and she d. in 1668.

1 John m. Rose___

2. William m. Mary Wakefield.

Old Kittery and Her Families (Google eBook) 
Press of Lewiston journal Company, 1903 - Kittery (Me.)

Both George's sons, John and William Frost, were killed by Indians. Luckily, William's
daughter Sarah wasn't and eventually married Samuel Upton.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


I recently decided to finally take the plunge into backing up my files in the "cloud".
There are a lot of programs to choose from and for awhile I stressed out over which
one to choose. Dropbox, Google Drive, and One Drive were my final three choices, and
I ended up choosing Microsoft's OneDrive based on two features: first, the free 15GB
storage, and secondly, the OneDrive app for Kindle.

I went to the Micrsoft OneDrive website and created a Microsoft account (using a
different password than the ones I use for Gmail and Facebook). I then saw I could add
an additional 15GB by linking my Camera Roll to my OneDrive account. I knew I had a
Camera Roll on my Kindle, so if I was able to make that link I'd have a total of 30 free GB
to work with for my genealogy files.

Next I went to the Kindle App store and downloaded the Onedrive app. Once I did that,
I was able to link the Camera Roll and got the extra  15 GB. Now came the work. I have
over 110 surname folders and 2.66GB of images and documents in my genealogy files on
my laptop. Being paranoid, I didn't want to Move all those files to the cloud, just Copy them
there. I went to the Onedrive folder,  then to Documents and created a Genealogy folder.
Then over the course of this last week I gradually copied everything from the laptop to
the OneDrive cloud.

When I first started and checked the OneDrive app on my Kindle, the screen looked like this:

Pretty looking but I wondered if all those thumbnails might be a drain on my Kindle's battery,
so I changed to the more practical List format:

One suggestion: whether you Move or Copy folders to OneDrive, do it one folder at a time.
It's much faster.

And since my first post about the Kindle, I've learned how to take Screen Shots  with my
Kindle Fire HD6: you press the Sound Volume Bar and the Power button at the same time.
I don't know if this works for earlier Kindle models, but at least there won't be any more camera
reflections on images from my Kindle's screen.

 DISCLAIMER: I neither work for nor receive any compensation from Amazon or Microsoft.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


It's time for this year's edition of the American Civil War Genealogy Blogpost
Challenge. This year I've picked a submission deadline of May 13thto honor
May 13th, 1865, the date of the Battle of Palmito Ranch, Texas. Palmito Ranch
was the last battle of the Civil War.

This is how you can participate:

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

When the war ended, what did your ancestors do? Were they still living where
they had lived when the war began, or did they move elsewhere to find a new

Have you visited a Civil War battlefield or monument to those who fought?
It could be connected to your family history, or just one that you've visited
at some point.

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

The 150 year celebration of the Civil War is a great source for those of us
blogging about our family history. So, let's do a little research over the coming
weeks between now and May 13th. Find out the answers to the questions
I asked and write about them. Or if you think of another topic to do with your
family history and the Civil War, write about that. Send me the link when you
publish it on your blog and I'll post all the links here on May 31st.

This will be the final Civil War Challenge from me, (unless I'm still around in 2035
for the 175th Anniversary), so if you couldn't take part in the earlier editions, this is
your last chance to do so.

Monday, March 23, 2015


It's 31F degrees as I type this on March 23rd. Three days into spring and it still
feels like Winter. It's not surprising, I suppose, given that there is still so much
snow on the ground.

We broke several regional records this Winter here in New England: Boston had
a record amount of 94.4 inches of snow fall in 30 days, 24 Jan to 22 Feb. The old total
snow amount record of 107.6 inches was broken and we've had 110.3 so far. February
was the coldest and snowiest month recorded since they started keeping records back
in the late 1800's. As a result, many unusual things happened this Winter:

The icing over of many of the bays and harbors along the New England coastline led to:

-Coast Guard Icebreakers having to work further south than normal in New England. Yje
ferry from Hingham to Boston was suspended for several days due to ice, as were the
ferries from Woods Hole and Hyannis to Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard.

- A Coast Guard cutter spotting a coyote running across the ice over Hingham Harbor.

- A herd of deer falling through the ice at Wareham Harbor. Most of them could not be saved.

- Ocean water so cold it formed "slurpee waves".

- Small icebergs washing ashore on Cape Cod.

And the deep snow caused:
-The suspension of mass transit and commuter rail service in the Greater Boston area.

-The endless search by the highway departments of cities and towns for somewhere
 to put the snow lining the streets and covering sidewalks.

-The sighting of someone wearing an Abominable Snowman costume wandering the
streets of Boston 

- The snow was so high people were jumping out of apartment windows and off
roofs into snow drifts. Many of them were dressed in bathing suits. I can only ascribe
this as perhaps the effects of cabin fever.

- There were quite a few memes going around on Facebook about the weather. My favorites
were the mock Ken Burns style documentary, complete with "Civil War" type narration
and music, and another that paired snow photos with quotes from Samuel Beckett's

It's definitely been a Winter to remember. And even though it is Spring, the snow season
is not over yet. We could still add more snow to that total.

After all, we had a blizzard on April Fool's Day in 1997!


My 4x great grandfather Francis Upton continued the family tradition of having a
large family; he and Sarah (Bancroft)Upton had twelve children. John Adams Vinton
gives a list of them in The Upton Memorial, but when I double checked the information
against several Maine record collections at FamilySearch, I found some discrepancies
in the dates. So I've put my corrections in red ink below:   
The children of Francis and Sarah Upton, were—

Sally6, born March 29. 1801; married Jan. 1, 1827, Sumner Frost; died May, 1845. Their children were—Lydia (Frost), Maria (Frost), Fanny (Frost).

Francis6, born July 15, 1802; married__ ,1826, Sarah Gardner, of Boston, He lived in Bridgewater, Mass., and died there in 1856.  ((Died 15Jan 1859 at North Bridgewater , Ma.))

Edith6, born___ ; lived about one year.

Micah6, born May 27, 1807; married May___, 1834, Ruth Abbott; died___ . ((Married 9Apr 1838;

died 6Nov 1840))

Eben6, born June 1, 1809 ; married Nov. 30, 1837, Lydia Bancroft, of Norway. Lives in Albany, Me.
((died 6Dec 1887))

Mary6, born Oct. 5, 1811; died April 29, 1839.

Hannah6, born March 28, 1814; married, 1st, Cyrus Moore: 2d, Peter Emery. Children—Solon (Moore), Betsey Jane (Moore), Cyrus Newton (Moore), Harriet (Moore), Noah Roscoe (Emery). Francis Henry (Emery).

Lucy6, born July 7, 1816; married Jan. 8, 1839, James Knight : died__ , 1856. Children—Ellen
(Knight), Amelia (Knight), Celia Ann (Knight). Isaac (Knight), Harriet Matilda (Knight), Charles
(Knight). ((Lucy was married Jan 8 1840))
Sophronia6, born Aug. IS. 1818; married Feb. —, 1845, James Farmer. They lived in Aroostook County, Me. She died in 1808. Children—James Francis (Fanner), Charles Henry (Farmer), John Augustas (Farmer), Ann (Farmer), Catharine Winfred (Farmer), .Sophronia (Farmer), Andrew (Farmer).

Harriet6, born Nov. 28, 1821; married April —, 1845, Abram Greer.. Children—James Lewis (Green), Annette Augusta (Green), Emma Isadore (Green)—deceased, John Arthur (Green), Charles Sumner (Green), Carrie Emma (Green) —deceased. ((Harriet died 1871 at Otisfield, Me.))

Andrew6, born Dec. 28. 1824: married Sept. —. 1858, Mary Holmes.

John6, born July 11, 1828; married June 14, 1855. He served in the 10th Reg't, Me., Vols., in the war of the great rebellion. He was killed while shackling cars on the Grand Trunk R. R., in Bethel, Me., July 31, 1866. ((born 11Jul 1824))


Francis and Sarah's daughter Hannah is my 3x great grandmother through Betsey Jane Moore who
married Amos Hastings Barker.

Saturday, March 21, 2015


The 13th New England Regional Genealogical Conference is only a few more weeks away,
 (April 15-18 2015 at Providence, R.I.) and it's loaded with knowledgeable speakers giving
presentations on a variety of interesting subjects. One of those speakers will be historian Michael
Tougias, the author and co-author of bestselling books on stories of survival such as Ten Hours 
Until Dawn and The Finest Hours. He also co-authored King Philip's War: The History and 
Legacy of America's Forgotten Conflict with Eric B Schultz, and his presentation at NERGC
will be "King Philip’s Indian War in New England" .

The organizers of the Conference asked New England genealogy bloggers to help get
out the word by conducting email interviews with the speakers.  I have Colonial
ancestors who fought in King Philip's War so I was familiar with Mr. Tougias' book and he
graciously answered some questions for me:

1. How did you first become interested in the King Phillip's War?

I grew up in Longmeadow Mass and remember seeing various roadside signs about this war and wondered what it was all about.  When I learned it had a higher per capita casualty rate than the civil war, I became very interested.  Then when I learned that the Natives were winning in the first few months I was hooked!

2. Why do you think that one of the bloodiest wars in American history is among the
    least known?

I think the text books used in the schools skipped right over this period because it didn't fit with the "all-american" view of the first Thanksgiving, etc. So they conveniently jumped from the Pilgrims land here and the next thing you know we are in the American Revolution, skipping over a hundred years history!

3. What was the biggest effect on the English settlements in New England from the war?

It all depended on where you lived.  If you were in CT, the colony escaped with just one attack (Simsbury), while MA and RI were devastated, and took years to recover.

4.You've also written a novel about the war, Until I Have No Country. How did that come

My historical novel Until I Have No Country, was something I wanted to write since I was a boy.  I had dreams about this period and felt that if I could time travel I'd love to go back and see New England before the colonist's had expanded to every region.  I also felt readers would connect with a book told with balance.  That's why part of it is told from the perspective of a Native American, Tamoset, and part from Colonial farmer John Homer.  I'm an avid reader of historical fiction, and the best books have a realistic love story, and so Until I Have No Country also has a love story: between Tamoset and another Native American.  Even in war, there is love and day to day living.

My thanks to Michael Tougias for taking part in this interview. If you had ancestors in Colonial New England at the time of King Philip's War, Mr. Tougias' talk will give you some new insights into their lives, as will his books. 

You can see the information here on how to register for the NERGC, and see the Conference program

Thursday, March 19, 2015


I'm continuing with exploring my Upton family line for the 2015 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge. My 5x great grandfather Amos Upton, the son of "Deacon" Amos Upton  married his second cousin Edith Upton in North Reading, Massachusetts on 13Feb 1766. He was a Revolutionary War veteran, and one of the first settlers of Oxford County, Maine. Since I've already blogged about him two years ago, I'll move on to his son, Francis.

Here's what John Adams Vinton has to say about Francis Upton in his The Upton Memorial:

Francis Upton5, (Amos4, Amos3, Samuel2, John1,) eldest son of Amos Upton 4 and Edith Upton4, born in North Reading, February 24,1772; married, __ 1800. Sarah Bancroft, of Norway, Me. She was born at Lynnfield, Mass., July 11,1783, daughter of John Bancroft6, who with his family removed thence to Norway, about 1800. John Bancroft's father, grandfather and great-grandfather all bore the name of John, and descended from Thomas Bancroft, who died at Lynn End, now Lynnfield, in 1691. 

Mr. Upton went with his father from North Reading to Norway, in the then District of Maine, in September, 1790, and worked with him at making a farm in what had been, in all time previous, a wilderness, till the time of his marriage, he then being twenty-eight years of age. For his services his father gave him the grist mill which he had built, and the small farm which was attached to the mill property. He carried on the mill but a few years, and then exchanged with his brother Amos, for a farm a mile or two westerly, on the same road. Subsequently he sold that place and removed to the town of Gray; he lived there four or five years and then returned to Norway, and " carried on" a farm for one year.

The next year, I822, he bought land, all covered with wood, in the adjoining town of Albany, and, with the aid of his sons, he made a very productive farm. While at work on this Albany farm, he received a severe injury by the falling upon him of a limb from a tree which he was cutting down. The injury effected his head to such an extent, that he became insane, and remained so until his death, which took place in February, 1835, at the age of sixty-four years. pp198-200

I tried to find a record of the marriage of Francis Upton and Sarah Bancroft but had no luck
so far. I did find a record of his death on FamilySearch though, and the date is different from that
given in the book.

But John Adams Vinton was probably getting his information from family members nearly
forty years after Francis died, and he didn't have access to records over the internet as we
do today.

Which is why you should always double check the information in old family genealogies.  

To be continued.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


((The last in my repost of the series in honor of Clarence's 120th birthday
on 18 Mar 2015. This was first printed in 2008.

This is the last part of my Granduncle Clarence West’s
memories as taken from “The History of Wilsons Mills-and-
the- Magalloway -Settlements” . The subjects range from
“squirrel whiskey” to grist mills and the cost of food.

“P.C. Ripley worked at the dam when they were building it.
He was the top blacksmith. He could make most anything.
He made wrenches and tools of all kinds for the crews.
used to say that Brown Company kept all the
ingredients to
make `squirrel ’whiskey. You just mix up a
batch, then bury
it in the ground to season it. When you dig
it up it’s pretty
stout, but good. Just one drink of it will make
a squirrel go
up a tree tail first!

That grist stone they took out of the river this spring was
the top stone. If you look at it you can see the holes in it.
There’s a thing goes through the hole in the middle to pick it
up by. Too bad they couldn’t find the other stone. It used to
take days to sharpen those stones. It was all done by hand
and they all had to be the same. They had a nice grist mill at
Errol Dam. They had two stones, one special for buckwheat
and one for flour. The top stone sets still and the bottom one
goes around. You had to be awful careful to keep the grain
running all the time.

If you heard the click of the stones hitting together you
knew you were going to get something hard on your teeth.
The grain went down the cellar to a hopper, onto a
through a machine they called the `smut’ mill,
then back
upstairs and into a rig they called a bolt. This
was a cylinder
screen about 10 feet long and about three
feet around.
It had different sized screens and it kept turning
over and
over and the grain fell into a row of boxes under it.
When it
was done you pulled out a drawer and filled your

“There’s sure some difference in the price of flour and meat
and everything nowadays. I can remember when Joe and
Martha Brooks had a little store over in Upton. Joe would
a cow and go and peddle it around for three cents a
Milk was five cents a quart; butter was high,
cents a pound. Eggs were one cent apiece.
When I was going
to school, anytime I needed pencils or
paper or anything for
school, I’d go out to the barn and get
a few eggs to trade
for what I needed.

You know, I was thinking about it the other day, I’ve had
boats all the time I’ve been here, and that’s going on
fifty-one years, and I’ve only been to the head of the lake
ten times.”

Source: The Town of Wilsons Mills Maine, “The History of
Wilsons Mills-and- the- Magalloway-Settlements”
(Wilsons Mills, Me. 1975.) pp.96-97

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


((Another of three blogposts in celebration of Clarence West's 120th
birthday. First posted in 2008.)) 

Here’s part two of my Granduncle Clarence’s memories
of the construction of the Azicohos Dam as it appeared in
“The History of Wilsons Mills-and- the- Magalloway-
Settlements” including a wandering cow and Clarence taking
a shortcut across the top of the dam:

“Roberge cut the flowage. They used to bring the water
up to the
works to keep the frost out of the north side of
the dam. When the
water is low you can still see where
the steam pipes cooked the
cement. Roberge finished the
flowage by cutting off the trees right
at the top of the ice.
Brown Company’s tow-boats had quite a time
at first.
Sometimes they’d make a mistake and end up in the woods,

or wind the tow-line up in the propeller, or knock a blade
off the
propeller in the dri-ki(driftwood). Stan Wentzell was
the one who
finally corralled the dri-ki by booming it in the
coves. Stan was a
good man. When he told you something
you could believe it.

There used to be a quarry up in back of the barracks.
Clarence Gray logged in there a few years ago he
cut trees out of it.
That concrete pit up back was the water
pit. Water lines ran down
to the houses, storehouses, cook
camps, etc. On one of the cottages
the front porch was way
up high. When I had a cow, every time
she didn’t come
when I called, I always knew where to find her.
that porch!

They used to have a telephone line run up from the top of
the dam
to the foot of the sluice. You remember Pat
Crowley. It was his job
to stay on the top of the dam and
stop the wood if anything went
wrong. It took six feet of
water to sluice and the wood went
nine-tenths of a mile in
three minutes. That sluice was the slickest
piece of work I
ever saw. It sure took some figuring. George
designed it. He went to school with Paul Bean. He came

from Gorham, Me. After he left here he went to Chicago
to work
on a hotel that was tipping over. Then he helped
build a railroad
through the Rocky Mountains. After that
he went out to San
Francisco and worked on the Golden
Gate bridge.

Bean and Harris came up one day to see about doing
to the sluice gates. We drove around to the other
side of the dam
and then Bean discovered he need the
blueprints that had been left
over at the house. He was
going to send his driver over after them
but I told him I
could do it quicker. There was about an inch of
running over the splashboards but I went across and got
papers. When I got back, Bean stood there with his
hands in his
pockets watching me. He said `I didn’t like to
see you do that,
Clarence!’ It wasn’t long after that they
put in the bridge above
the splashboards.”

Source: The Town of Wilsons Mills Maine, “The History of
Wilsons Mills-and- the- Magalloway-Settlements”
(Wilsons Mills, Me. 1975.)


((I first published this and two other posts back in 2008. Today is the 120th
anniversary of Clarence's birth, so I thought I'd repost the series. It's an
interesting look into life in the lumber industry in early 20th century

My granduncle Clarence P(hilip) West was the caretaker of
the Azizcoos Dam in Wilsons Mills, Oxford, Maine for
fifty years. He was born in Cambridge, New Hampshire on
17 March, 1895 to Philip J. West and Clara (Ellingwood)West
and died on 5 June 1983. The SSDI gives his place of
residence as Errol, Coos Co., New Hampshire at the time
of his death.

Clarence married Mabel Jane Ilsley on 25 Jun 1919 and
together they had three children: their son Lee and their
daughters Leita and Ruth.

When Wilsons Mills celebrated its sesquicentennial in 1975
they decided to mark the occasion by publishing a book:
“The History of Wilsons Mills-and- the- Magalloway-
It includes an interview with Clarence about
his memories of his time at the Azizcoos Dam and it makes an
interesting companion to the memories my Aunt Dorothy
sent me about her and my Dad’s time there as children,
which I posted here.

Today is the 120th anniversary of Clarence’s birth, so in
honor of him, here’s part one of the interview from the book:

“Clarence P. West, at eighty still caretaker at Aziscoos
is an interesting man to talk with. He was here
recently to look at some
old pictures that had been brought
into the book committee on the
building of the Azizcoos
Dam and we got him talking of the old days.
He came here
as caretaker in 1924 and has been here ever since. We
asked him how he happened to come here. These are some
his comments.

“When we were first married I went to Pontook to work on
a survey
with Walter Sawyer. Mabel and I lived in a tent
that summer. Sawyer
would have had a nice dam there if
they had let him. He had one
planned that was near four
thousand feet across with penstocks clear
to Twitchell’s
for power. From that job I went to Lisbon to work in a

sawmill for West Bros. Later I went to see Mr. Bean about
a job and
he told me to send in my application. There were
about a hundred
other applications but when they got
narrowed down to five I was still
one of them. After
Vashaw died, Lewis Chadwick was transferred to
Errol and
I came up here. That was in 1924.

When the new Dam was built the gate house on the old dam
removed and set up for a blacksmith shop. It still stands
there to-day
just in back of the parking area. You know, the
timbers in that old
shop were hewed by hand.

One of the big towers to hold the cable was up back of the
the other one was almost over to where the road to
Rangeley is now.
There was a double track from the end of
the dam to the quarry up
back on the hill. The cars worked
from a cable, when one went down,
the other came back
up. There was a track with a whole string of cars
that they
loaded with a steam shovel. The tops of the cars turned

around to dump. That shovel was on wheels and they had
to keep
planks under the wheels all the time. It was set up
in a pit to load dirt
for fill on the south side of the cam. The
cars were hauled along the
tracks by a big black horse. And
when the whistle blew at quitting
time that horse stopped
right in his tracks and there he stood till
someone unhitched
him and headed him for the stables.

When they were building the dam it was nothing to meet
a string
of horses a half mile long from Colebrook to

(to be continued)

Source: The Town of Wilsons Mills Maine, “The History of
Wilsons Mills-and- the- Magalloway-Settlements”
(Wilsons Mills, Me. 1975.) pp.94-95


As I said before, I found Amos Upton's probate file in the  Middlesex County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1648-1871 at the website. Here's the image of the estate

Source: 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.)

And here's John Adams Vinton's abstract of the inventory items on page 67 of The UptonMemorial:

Four cows and one calf, £12. One heifer two years old, and three heifers one year old, £5.15. A pair of steers three years old, £5.10. One horse, £4. Six sheep, £2.14. One swine, £1.10. Farming utensils, cart and wheels, plough, harrow, iron bar, axes, hoes, beetle and wedges, &c £6.3.3. Trunk and chest, £0.6. Men's wearing apparel, £5. Bed's furniture and other linen, £10. Chest of drawers and tables, £2.5. Spinning wheels and chairs, £0.9. One kettle, pot, dog-irons, trammels, &c, £3.1. Pewter flax-comb, chafing-dish, £1. Books, looking-glass, glass bottles, china ware, and other articles, £1.12. Corn and meat, £1.10. Saddle, bridle and gun, £0.16. Home stead, buildings and out lands, £408. Total, £471.11.3.

Besides one thousand dollars of the old emission left in the house of the testator and not valued.*

 At the bottom of the page is this footnote:

• Midd. Prob. Records, 61: 257. The Continental Congress of the United States, in order to carry on the war, had been compelled to issue enormous quantities of notes, or bills, amounting in the end to more than three hundred millions of dollars. This currency soon depreciated. In Dec, 1778, it stood at six of paper for one of gold. In Dec, 1779, it stood twenty-seven for one. In Dec, 1780, it was seventy fur one. In the autumn of 1781, when the foregoing inventory was made, this currency came down to five hundred for one, and was regarded as absolutely worthless.

So the $1000 dollars included in the inventory was probably only good to use for tinder
to help start a fire in the fireplace!

This probably explains why some of the estates of my ancestors who died after the
Revolutionary War give the value of their possessions in the old English currency values
of pounds and shillings rather than in the new American dollars. The American currency
was unstable and nearly worthless. It must have been a worrisome time for the citizens
of the new country!

Monday, March 16, 2015


In Spring,  a young man's fancy turns to love, and a genealogist's fancy turns
to planning trips to archives, libraries, and cemeteries.

We still have snow on the ground here in New England as I type this, but I've
already been thinking about what I may do once it's melted, and how I could
make things easier for myself, like for instance my trips to cemeteries for Find
A Grave photo requests. In the past I'd print out the list of requests for a particular
cemetery. But back in October I bought a Kindle Fire HD 6 tablet, and I wondered
if there was an easier way to take the list with me, even where there was no internet
connection available.

So I did a Google search ro find out.

It turns out there were three ways I could send  the list to my Kindle from my laptop.
The first two was by a USB port connection between the two devices. The second
involved sending the list via email as an attachment. The third, and much easier method,
was the "Send To Kindle For Windows" application from Windows. I read about it in
a CNET review here and it seemed easy enough. I followed the link to the Windows site and
downloaded the app to my laptop and then install the program, which went pretty quickly.
It does require your Amazon account information when you register, so if you don't
already have an account, you need to open one to proceed.

The way "Send to Kind"le works on my laptop is very easy. Whatever document or image
that I want to send to the Documents program on my Kindle, I go to the Print menu for
the document on the laptop, and choose the "Send to Kindle"  as my printer:

I have a wireless network in my apartment, so after a few minutes I check my Kindle to
see if the document has arrived.

((Sorry about the camera reflection in the image.))

I can send images as well as documents.

And I can save the Find A Grave Request screen as well. This is for Mt. Vernon Cemetery
here in Abington. The full list requires two images, and I can zoom in on them to make
them easier to read.:

The only restriction that I can find so far is that the maximum size for the document or
image is 50MB. You also have 5GB free storage available "in the cloud" from Amazon.

The Kindle Fire HD6 tablet is small enough to fit in a pocket like one of the larger cellphones,
and costs less than $100 dollars. The HD7 model costs about $139, but the screen is larger
and it has more memory than the HD6. But either model may be a good alternative to your
laptop or larger tablet when you are out on a genealogy road trip!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


John Adams Vinton has an abstract of Deacon Amos Upton's will and the estate
inventory on pp65-66 of The Upton Memorial. I'll go into the inventory in the next

His will is dated May 24, 1780; proved Oct. 3, 1781; recorded Midd. Prob. 61 : 254—256. He calls himself Amos Upton of Reading, yeoman. He says: "I give to my wife Sarah the improvement of all my real estate that I have in Reading. To my son John Upton, all my real estate that I have in Reading * and all my live stock and husbandry utensils after my wife's decease, he paying the following legacies, viz:

To my son Amos Upton, thirty pounds lawful money, at six shillings and eightpence an ounce, or any other lawful money to the value thereof, to be paid in one year after my wife's decease.

To my son Benjamin Upton, the same.

To my son Nathaniel Upton, £16.13.4 lawful money, &c, besides what he hath already had.

To my daughter Eunice,t  five shillings besides what she already had.

To my daughter Sarah, twenty pounds. &c, (as in the case of Amos, repeating the same words).

To my daughter Rebecca, twenty pounds. &c, (as in the preceding case).

To my daughters Sarah and Rebecca,my in-door movables, after my wife's decease.

His wife Sarah was named executrix. The witnesses to the will were Joseph, Ebenezer and Elizabeth Upton.

* None of this property came into the possession of John Upton. He died several years before his mother. The other legacies, of course, were not paid.

t Eunice was already married, and had received her portion. Sarah and Rebecca were then unmarried.

I found Amos Upton's probate file in the Middlesex County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1648-1871
at the website: 

 Source: 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.)

There is a phrase in Amos' will "or any lawful money to the value thereof". I'll discuss
the significance of that in the next post, which will also discuss the inventory estate. 

Monday, March 09, 2015


This week's post for Amy Johnson Crow's 2015 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge is
my other Upton 6x great grandfather, Deacon Amos Upton. He was a much more
prominent figure in local affairs than his cousin Francis Upton, as his biography
in John Adams Vinton's The Upton Memorial:

Amos Upton 3, (Samuel2, John 1), widely known among his cotemporaries and still spoken of as Deacon Amos Upton, was brother of the preceding, and son of Samuel2 and Abigail (Frost) Upton; born in Darn ers; and baptized there, Oct. 20, 1717; married Dec. 5. 1739, Sahah Bickford, daughter of John Bickford of Salem town. She was admitted into full communion of the church in Danvers, March 28, 1756.

He resided in the north parish in Reading, which is now a town called North Reading, about a mile north east of the present meetinghouse, in a house yet standing, and in good condition. Of the church in that place, under the ministry of Rev. Daniel Putnam [pastor from June 29, 1720, to June 20, 1759], and Rev. Eliab Stone [pastor from May 20, 1761, to Aug. 31, 1822], he was deacon from Feb. 18, 1762, till his death in 1780. He was a man of great energy, and stern Puritan principles.

He died Oct. 6, 1780, aged sixty-three. His wife Sarah outlived him thirty-eight years, and at length died in North Reading, Nov. 17, 1818, at the advanced age of ninety-nine years and seven months. She remembered to have seen and talked with people who were living in this country prior to 1650. Three lives might thus, even at this time, 1872, comprehend our entire history as a people.
He was frequently called to serve his fellow citizens in places of public trust. In 1760, '56 and '61 he was Surveyor of Highways; he was Selectman in 1764.'66 and '68; Assessor and Parish Clerk in 1769; Moderator of North Reading parish in 1767, '72, '74 and '78.

 The Upton Memorial: A Genealogical Record of the Descendants of John Upton, of North Reading, Mass. ... Printed for Private Use Bath, Me. 1874

The book has a sketch of Amos Upton's house between pages 64 and 65:

The children of Deacon Amos Upton were—

Amos4, born Oct. 3, 1742; married, 1st Edith Upton4, daughter of Francis,; 2d Joanna Bruce,
3d Hannah Haskell.

Benjamin4, born May 7, 1745; married, 1st Rebecca Putnam. 2d Elizabeth (White) Cowley.

Sarah4, born Nov. 22, 1748; died young.

Eunice4, born Dec. 2. 1751; married, 1st George Upton of Danvers, son of Paul Upton, ; 2d___ Richardson.

 Nathaniel4, born Nov. 28, 1753: married, 1st Sarah Flint, 2d Jerusha Upton, daughter of Jabez

Sarah4, born April 9, 1757; married Job Bancroft of Reading, Jan. 10, 1782.

Rebecca4, born June 28, 1761; married Ephraim Pratt of North Reading, Feb. 24, 1785.

 Eliab4, born 176-; died young.

John4, born June 12, 1768 ; married Hannah Hart.

Notice that three of Amos and Sarah's children married Upton cousins. Another two
married members of two other families related to me, the Haskells and the Bancrofts.

To be continued,

Thursday, March 05, 2015


I mentioned in my last post about 6x great grandfather Francis Upton that there were
two things in it I wanted to discuss in this post.

One has to do with names.

In my abstract of the list of the children of Francis and his wife Edith Herrick there are
these two entries:

Edith4, born Oct. 24, 1744: married Amos Upton  the third, oldest son of Deacon Amos Upton, Senior. Feb. 13, 1760. 

Ruth4, born Nov. 2, 1748; married Amos Upton, Junior., son of Ebenezer Upton of Reading, June 30, 1772.

Confusing, isn't it? You'd think that Deacon Amos Upton's son Amos would be the Amos Junior, and that his his cousin Amos Upton, son of Ebenezer Upton, would be just plain Amos Upton.
But that's not how our colonial ancestors did things when there was a bunch of people living
in the same town with the same name. The people responsible for keeping birth, marriage, or death records went by date of birth, not by who was related to who:  

Deacon Amos Upton was born in 1717 in Danvers

Amos Upton Junior, son of Ebenezer  was born May 6 1738

Amos Upton the third, son of Deacon Amos Upton was born Oct 3 1742

According to the index of The Upton Memorial there were ten "Amos Uptons" born in
the area between 1717 and 1817.  I imagine there may have been several instances of
some of the labels changing as older ones died off and new ones were born.
So if you are looking for your colonial ancestor John Smith, Jr. and you find a record for one,
don't just assume it's the person you are looking for, because it could be another relative living
in the same town.

The second item is just something that caught my eye  about Francis Upton's signature
on his will. I had zoomed in on the document and it looks like it was originally written
faintly and then written over more darkly. Was the original too faint to read  and had to be
rewritten? Did someone else write his name for Francis for him to use as a model to
write his own name?

It's not important, but it's one of those little oddities I have run into researching my
family tree that makes me "go hmmmmm".