Monday, October 31, 2016


I have other ancestors who lived in Lancaster, Ma. during King Philip's War, some of whom died.
So it didn't come as a complete surprise to find out my 8x great grandfather Jonas Fairbanks was one
of those who had perished. Luckily, he'd already fathered  his daughter, my ancestor Hezadiah

 Lorenzo Sayles Farbanks has two sections on Jonas in his Genealogy of the Fairbanks Family in America, 1633-1897 . First this:

Jonas, the third son of Jonathan, removed to Lancaster in 1657, and became the progenitor of numerous families scattered through the New England and Western States. He signed the Covenant Mar. 7, 1659. In his family there was good ancestral stock on both sides of the house. He was a strong man, both in his mental and his physical personality. It may be presumed that he had received as fair an education and training as were afforded in the new settlement of Dedham where, as we know, the school and the church went hand in hand with the founding of homes, while his earlier education was no doubt begun in England. In short, he was qualified to be what he was called, "one of the fathers of the town." His wife was a daughter of John Prescott, who, as the historian declares, "was a rare type of man, the ideal pioneer." "Not one," he says, "of the famous frontiersmen, whose figures stand out so prominently in early American history, was better equipped with the many qualities that win hero worship in a new country than was (he) the father of the Nashaway Plantation." The story of his life is indeed interesting, but only this bare glimpse of his character can be given here.pp15-16

Genealogy of the Fairbanks Family in America, 1633-1897 American Printing And Engraving Company, Boston, Ma. 1897

In another section he gives more information, plus lists the children:

4. JONAS FAIRBANK, of Dedham and Lancaster, Mass.
Born in England; came to Dedham with his parents; removed to Lancaster in 1657; signed the covenant March 7, 1659, and was "one of the fathers of the town." He was a farmer, and, it is believed, also a carpenter.

In 1652 he was fined for wearing great boots before he was worth ;£200, which was contrary to a sumptuary regulation of the government of Mass. ordered in 1651. He was killed, with his son Joshua, by the Indians Feb. 10, 1676, during a raid upon the settlement. See biographical sketch, ante.

He married, May 28, 1658, Lydia Prescott, daughter of John Prescott, who came from Sowerby, Parish of Halifax, England. She was born in Watertown, Mass., Aug. 15, 1641. After his death she married Elias Barron, of Watertown, afterward of Groton and Lancaster.
1. Marie, born 20: 4 mon., 1659.
2. Joshua, born 6: 2 mon., 1661; killed by the Indians, Feb.10, 1676.
3. Grace, born 15: 9 mon., 1663.
4. Jonathan (12), born 7:8: 1666.
5. Hasadiah, born Feb. 28, 1668; married John Moore, of Concord, Jan. 1, 1698.
6. Jabez (13), born 8:11: 1670 ( ? ).*
7. Jonas, born 6:3: 1673. He was of Watertown in 1695-6, when he sold to his brother Jabez of Lancaster land in Lancaster, formerly of his father, Jonas. He died, probably, Sept . 13, 1697, and was buried in his brother Jonathan's lot in Lancaster.


((First posted on October, 2011))

I was a third grader at the Frank V Thompson School in Boston's
Dorchester section when I first read this poem in our English text
book. Years later I used to post it every Halloween on an email
list for a fantasy role playing group. And our Mom used to
recite the "Gobble-uns 'll git you ef you don't watch out!" part,
which was followed by tickling. 

 Anyway, it's the best Halloween poem I know. Enjoy.

And `ware th' Gobble-uns!

Little Orphant Annie

by James Whitcomb Riley.

LITTLE Orphant Annie ’s come to our house to stay,   
An’ wash the cups and saucers up, an’ brush the crumbs away,   
An’ shoo the chickens off the porch, an’ dust the hearth, an’ sweep,   
An’ make the fire, an’ bake the bread, an’ earn her board-an’-keep;   
An’ all us other children, when the supper things is done,         
We set around the kitchen fire an’ has the mostest fun   
A-list’nin’ to the witch-tales ’at Annie tells about,   
An’ the Gobble-uns ’at gits you   
        Ef you   

Onc’t they was a little boy would n’t say his pray’rs—   
An’ when he went to bed at night, away up stairs,   
His mammy heerd him holler, an’ his daddy heerd him bawl,           
An’ when they turn’t the kivvers down, he was n’t there at all!   
An’ they seeked him in the rafter-room, an’ cubby-hole, an’ press,   
An’ seeked him up the chimbly-flue, an’ ever’wheres, I guess;   
But all they ever found was thist his pants an’ roundabout!   
An’ the Gobble-uns ’ll git you           
        Ef you   

An’ one time a little girl ’ud allus laugh an’ grin,         
An’ make fun of ever’ one, an’ all her blood-an’-kin;   
An’ onc’t when they was “company,” an’ ole folks was there,   
She mocked ’em an’ shocked ’em, an’ said she did n’t care!   
An’ thist as she kicked her heels, an’ turn’t to run an’ hide,   
They was two great big Black Things a-standin’ by her side,          
An’ they snatched her through the ceilin’ ’fore she knowed what she ’s about!   
An’ the Gobble-uns ’ll git you   
        Ef you   

An’ little Orphant Annie says, when the blaze is blue,   
An’ the lampwick sputters, an’ the wind goes woo-oo!   
An’ you hear the crickets quit, an’ the moon is gray,   
An’ the lightnin’-bugs in dew is allsquenched away,—        
You better mind yer parents, and yer teachers fond and dear,   
An’ churish them ’at loves you, an’ dry the orphant’s tear,   
An’ he’p the pore an’ needy ones ’at clusters all about,   
Er the Gobble-uns ’ll git you   
        Ef you           


 My great grandmother Hazadiah(Fairbanks)Moore was a member of one of the better known colonial  Massachusetts families, the Fairbanks. Her grandfather Jonathan Fairbanks was one of the founders of
Dedham, Ma. and his name appears many times in the early records of the town.  The Fairbanks House,
which he began building in 1637 still stands, the oldest wooden frame house in the United States. I
drove  by it in Dedham a few weeks ago, 

In 1897 one of Jonathan's descendants, Lorenzo Sayles Farbanks  published a family genealogyand  gave quite a bit of information about Jonathan, including this paragraph about the arrival of the family in the colony:

He had a family consisting of his wife and six children, four sons and two daughters, namely, John, George, Mary, Susan, Jonas and Jonathan, who were all born in England. Of the ages of his children when he arrived here we can judge only by circumstances. The dates of their births, except one, have not been ascertained. Mary was born, according to a descendant of the Metcalf family, Apr. 18, 1622. If she was the third child, we may judge approximately of the ages of the rest; but the places of the daughters, as given in the table, may not be correct. In 1638 John was appointed, with John Rogers, to survey the Charles River, and he was married in 1641. George was married in 1646; Jonas in 1658; and Jonathan, the youngest son, about 1653. -p10

Genealogy of the Fairbanks Family in America, 1633-1897 American Printing And Engraving Company, Boston, Ma. 1897

Another paragraph  described some of the specifics of Jonathan's will.

By his will, executed June 4, 1668, the year of his death, he bequeathed his " whole mouable Estate whatsouer, as well within dores as without," to his wife, Grace. Small bequests were then made to his "second sonne," George, to his "daughter Mary, wife of Christopher Smith," to Jonas, to Jonathan, to Sarah, eldest daughter of his " sonne John," and to Ralph Daye, his "sonne in lawe," (husband of Susan), and to "each of the foure Children of the said Ralph." Finally he bequeathed to John, his eldest son, all his "houses & lands whatsoeur, not being foremerly aboue (mentioned ?) together with all my common Rightes & towne pruiliges whatsouer, to haue posses & injoy the same ( ) & his heyers (----) to enter vpon all my lands forthwith after my decease; and all my houses and yardes at the end of foure mo'nthes next following the same." And he made him sole Executor of the will.pp12-13

One of these days I need to visit that Fairbanks House!

Sunday, October 30, 2016


((First posted three years ago))

Yesterday I was doing some googling  on the Witch Trials trying to find out if
I had more relatives involved in them. I am a direct descendant of Rebecca Blake
Eames and Mary Towne Estey, and my relatives Willam Barker Sr and Jr were
also accused of witchcraft. But given how many ancestors I have from Essex County,
Massachusetts, I wondered if there were more. So I went looking and sure enough, there were two more female victims of the Trials.

All I had to do was find their maiden names. One was from my Ayer line, and one was
from my Hawkes line. They are related to me through my grandmother Cora Berthella

Mary Ayer Parker was the sister of my 8x great grandfather Peter Ayer. She married a man named Nathan Parker and was an old widow when she was accused of being a witch. She maintained her innocence and claimed they had the wrong Mary Parker since there was another woman with the same name living in Andover. The court wasn't convinced by her argument and she was executed on 22 Sep 1692.

The Hawkes relative is Sarah (Hooper) Hawkes Wardwell. She was married in 1670 to my 10x great grandfather Adam Hawkes who was 62 years old. They had a child, a daughter also named Sarah, before he died in 1672. Adam was a wealthy man when he died and left a third of the estate to his younger wife which made her fairly well off for a widow when she married Samuel Wardwell in 1673.The couple moved to Andover and were living there when Thomas, Sarah, and their daughters Mercy Wardwell and Sarah Hawkes were accused of witchcraft. Among Thomas Wardwell's accusers were my relatives Thomas Chandler and Joseph Ballard.

One of the things that mystifies me about the Witch Trials is not so much the accusations
as the admissions of guilt by the victims. Thomas, Sarah and Mercy all confessed to dealing with Satan and other acts of witchcraft. I don't know if my aunt Sarah Hawkes Jr. did as well.

Thomas Wardwell was hung on the same day as Mary Ayer Parker, 22Sep 1692. The three
 women were eventually released, but Sarah (Hooper) Hawkes Wardwell property had been confiscated at her arrest, which probably included what she had been bequeathed by Adam Hawkes. I wonder if it was ever returned to her?

So now there are two more witches on our family tree!

Friday, October 28, 2016


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My 4x great grandfather  Stephen Moore was one of my brickwalls. I posted about him this last
January and a comment from fellow genealogist Elizabeth Handler  helped break down that wall
and add several more branches to my family tree.

So in this post I'm moving on to Stephen's son, my 3x great grandfather Cyrus Moore. I don't have as much  information as I do on some of his ancestors, but I do know he was born on 20 Jun 1813 in Waterford. Oxford, Maine. He and Hannah Upton married sometime before the birth of my 2x great grandmother Betsey Jane Moore,   of the four children I've found so far.:

Solon Moore born about 1840,  probably in Waterford, Me.
Betsey Jane Moore 16 Aug 1842 Waterford, Me.
Cyrus N. Moore 1 Nov 1844 Albany Me
Harriet Moore (Birth information unknown)

Cyrus died sometime before November 23 1846 which is the earliest date on documents in his probate file.
Although there is no land in the inventory, the items listed in it seem to indicate he was a farmer.

Hannah was left with four young children  so it's not surprising she remarried a year after Cyrus' death. Her 
second husband was Peter Emery, with whom she had two more children.

Obviously, I need to do more digging on Cyrus! 

Thursday, October 27, 2016


((Oddly enough, both my parents occasionally would quote a line or two from Riley's
two most famous poems. This is the one Dad would quote; I'll post the other later this week
I first posted this on 13Oct 2012)) 

We had the first frost of the fall season last night and it put 
me in mind how Dad would  sometimes recite "When the
frost is on the pumpkin...". That's the only part of  the poem
he'd say. I think he must have had to recite it in school when he
was a kid and that's all he remembered.

Reading it just now I had to grin at the line about the turkey
since I've now had experience with a loud, "struttin" turkey
here in my own backyard!

 "When the Frost is on the Punkin"
                          James Whitcomb Riley

When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock,   
And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin' turkey-cock,   
And the clackin' of the guineys, and the cluckin' of the hens,   
And the rooster's hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;   
O, it's then the time a feller is a-feelin' at his best,         
With the risin' sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,   
As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,   
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.   
They's something kindo' harty-like about the atmusfere   
When the heat of summer's over and the coolin' fall is here—   
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossoms on the trees,   
And the mumble of the hummin'-birds and buzzin' of the bees;   
But the air's so appetizin'; and the landscape through the haze   
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days   
Is a pictur' that no painter has the colorin' to mock—   
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.   
The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn,   
And the raspin' of the tangled leaves as golden as the morn;   
The stubble in the furries—kindo' lonesome-like, but still   
A-preachin' sermuns to us of the barns they growed to fill;   
The strawstack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed;   
The hosses in theyr stalls below—the clover overhead!—   
O, it sets my hart a-clickin' like the tickin' of a clock,   
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.   
Then your apples all is gethered, and the ones a feller keeps   
Is poured around the cellar-floor in red and yaller heaps;   
And your cider-makin's over, and your wimmern-folks is through   
With theyr mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and sausage too!...   
I don't know how to tell it—but ef such a thing could be   
As the angels wantin' boardin', and they'd call around on me—   
I'd want to 'commodate 'em—all the whole-indurin' flock—   
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016


(( This Halloween Tale is a story within a story about how I 
seem to have started a scary folktale while working as a camp
counselor. I first posted this in October, 2007))

Back in my college days, I spent three summers as a camp
counselor at Camp Mitton in Brewster, Mass down on Cape Cod.

One night during my last summer there in 1970, I was sitting at
the Indian Council Ring with the campers and councilors as we
told stories around a campfire. One of the kids started telling a
story about the Black Hell Hounds that chased a murderer’s
ghost on the dirt roads by the camp and I had to grin. I knew the
story well.

In fact, I was the one who’d first told it.

Two years before I was trying to come up with the a story to tell
at the campfire that hadn’t already been told and a combination
of things led me to make up a new one.

One of the elements was the camp’s location. There were several
dirt roads that wound their way through old cranberry bogs,
some of which with old buildings nearby. We occasionally took the
kids on hikes down those roads and so the locale of the story
would be familiar.

Another element was that one of the councilors had snorkeled in
the lake the camp was situated on and found an old buckboard
type wagon on the lake floor. Everyone had wondered how it ever
got there.

And the third element? That would be Queenie the black Labrador
Retriever and two of her grown offspring who frequently hung
around the camp mooching scraps and attention from the kids.
And so, I came up with this story:

“Many years ago there lived down by the cranberry bogs a man
and his wife. They had no children, and the cranberry farmer’s
wife was lonely so the farmer bought her three black hounds to
keep her company and protect her when he was away from the

Things went well for several years until bad weather caused
the cranberry crop to be a small one and the farmer fell into
debt. He took to drinking and when his wife asked him to stop
they would argue. One night the man hit his wife and the dogs
who were trained to protect her attacked the farmer. In a rage
he grabbed his axe and killed the dogs and then his wife, and
then buried them all in an unmarked grave somewhere along
the dirt roads through the bogs. If neighbors asked he told them
his wife had left him and gone off to her parents’ home in

Then one night exactly a year to the night after the murder
the farmer was driving his wagon down a dirt road, the very
same road that runs right through the center of our camp, when
he heard the sound of hounds baying behind him. He looked
over his shoulder and by the light of the moon he saw the red
eyes of  three ghostly hounds racing after him in the

He whipped his horse to run faster, but still the hounds came
closer, and closer, and CLOSER until suddenly the wagon hit
the bump in the road just past where the softball field is
today and the horse broke free, while the wagon went racing
down into the lake, taking the farmer with it to drown.

And some say that every year the murderous farmer’s ghost
can be seen in his wagon being chased down the dirt road by
the three black Hell Hounds.”

Not exactly Poe but it worked well in the dark by the campfire,
especially with Queenie nearby begging for marshmallows.

I didn’t work at the camp the summer after I first told the story
but apparently it had been told by one of the campers that year,
and then the year I returned, another camper told it. I don’t
know if it continued to be told, since that was the last summer I
spent there. But if Queenie and her descendants were around I
suspect it might have been told again.

I think this must be how a lot of legends and ghost stories must
have started, a mixture of the commonplace with fantasy.

Oh. Did I mention that in my apartment complex nearly
forty years later, my next door neighbor’s pet was a black
Labrador Retriever?


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Sunday, October 23, 2016


((I first posted this on October 31, 2007.))

One of the many islands of Boston Harbor is Castle Island, though
for many years it’s been “attached” to the South Boston mainland
and is reachable by foot. In fact it was a favorite meeting place
used by the reputed mob boss Whitey Bulger.

The first fortifications on the island were begun in 1634 and
eventually they became Fort Independence, which has a long and
fascinating history.

But for this Halloween I’m writing about a certain young soldier
who, according to Edward Rowe Snow in his book “The Islands of
Boston Harbor”
, enlisted in the First Artillery on 26th May,
1827 and was sent to Fort Independence where he served for five
months under the name Edgar A. Perry.

His real name was Edgar Allan Poe.

While there, Snow speculates, Poe would have heard about a fatal
duel that took place on Christmas Eve seven years before in 1817
between two officers which resulted in the death of a Lt. Robert
Massie. Snow doesn’t give the name of the other officer involved
but he tells about the burial of the dead man on the island and
quotes the inscriptions on it. Lt. Massie’s remains and the
headstone, by the way, were moved three times and as of the
time that Mr.Snow was writing had ended up at the cemetery at
Ft. Devens in 1939. ((pp.68-69))

Snow and others over the years have pointed to the story of Lt.
Massie’s death as the inspiration for “A Cask of Amontillado” but
there are few facts available. For one thing the identity of the
second man varies from story to story. The basic story goes that
Massie’s opponent was a bully and that the dead lieutenant’s
friends took revenge by walling his killer up alive in one of the
casement walls. But again, there is no record showing an officer
mysteriously disappeared without a trace in the time after
Massie’s death.

Snow later in the chapter later says that an elderly man told him
that in 1905 a skeleton dressed in an old military uniform was
found when a sealed casement was opened during repairs to the
fort. They weren’t able to find out who it was and so it was
eventually buried. (p 76)

So far I haven’t found anything online about the discovery and
most critics dismiss the story about the skeleton as folklore. But
whether or not there was someone actually buried alive, it’s quite
possible Poe used some for the elements of the event in his story.

And even the dispute over the folktale is very Poe-like.

There may be another Boston area story that inspired Poe. I
recall reading once about somebody, the wife of the Governor of
the Colony, I think, hosting a party or ball during an epidemic and
that Poe might have been inspired to write “The Masque of The
Red Death” after hearing about it.

The information for this post came from:

Snow, Edward Rowe, “The Islands of Boston Harbor”
Commonwealth Editions, Beverly, Ma.

copyright© 1935,1971 by Edward Rowe Snow
copyright© 2002 by Dorothy Snow Bicknell

Sunday, October 16, 2016


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((First posted in October 2014))

My distant cousin Jonathan Moulton's first wife was Ann Smith who he married
in 1749 and with whom he had a family of eleven children. She died of smallpox
in 1775. He married  Sarah Emery in 1776, and their marriage resulted in four
more children. She is the "new wife" in a poem written by my 4th cousin 6x
removed John Greenleaf Whittier.   It's probable that Whittier may have met
one or more of Moulton's adult children, but as the foreword to the poem
indicates, he certainly was familiar with the legends that had sprung up
about Jonathan Moulton


[the following Ballad is founded upon one of the marvellous legends connected
with the famous Gen. M., of Hampton, N. H., who was regarded by his neighbors
as a Yankee Faust, in league with the adversary. I give the story, as I heard it when
a child, from a venerable family visitant.]

Dark the halls, and cold the feast—
Gone the bridemaids, gone the priest!
All is over — all is done,
Twain of yesterday are one!
Blooming girl and manhood grey,
Autumn in the arms of May!

Hushed within and hushed without,
Dancing feet and wrestlers' shout;
Dies the bonfire on the hill;
All is dark and all is still,
Save the starlight, save the breeze
Moaning through the grave-yard trees;
And the great sea-waves below,
Like the night's pulse, beating slow.

From the brief dream of a bride
She hath wakened, at his side.
With half uttered shriek and start —
Feels she not his beating heart?
And the pressure of his arm,
And his breathing near and warm?

Lightly from the bridal bed
Springs that fair dishevelled head,
And a feeling, new, intense,
Half of shame, half innocence,
Maiden fear and wonder speaks
Through her lips and changing cheeks.

From the oaken mantel glowing
Faintest light the lamp is throwing
On the mirror's antique mould,
High-backed chair, and wainscot old,
And, through faded curtains stealing,
His dark sleeping face revealing.

Listless lies the strong man there,
Silver-streaked his careless hair;
Lips of love have left no trace
On that hard and haughty face;
And that forehead's knitted thought
Love's soft hand hath not unwrought.

"Yet," she sighs, "he loves me well,
More than these calm lips will tell.
Stooping to my lowly state,
He hath made me rich and great,
And I bless him, though he be
Hard and stern to all save me!"

While she speaketh, falls the light
O'er her fingers small and white;
Gold and gem, and costly ring
Back the timid lustre fling —
Love's selectest gifts, and rare,
His proud hand had fastened there.

Gratefully she marks the glow
From those tapering lines of snow;
Fondly o'er the sleeper bending
His black hair with golden blending,
In her soft and light caress,
Cheek and lip together press.

Ha !— that start of horror !— Why
That wild stare and wilder cry,
Full of terror, full of pain?
Is there madness in her brain?
Hark! that gasping, hoarse and low:
"Spare me — spare me — let me go!"

God have mercy !— Icy cold
Spectral hands her own enfold,
Drawing silently from them
Love's fair gifts of gold and gem,
"Waken! save me!" still as death
At her side he slumbereth.

Ring and bracelet all are gone,
And that ice-cold hand withdrawn;
But she hears a murmur low,
Full of sweetness, full of woe,
Half a sigh and half a moan:
"Fear not! give the dead her own!"

Ah ! — the dead wife's voice she knows !
That cold hand whose pressure froze,
Once in warmest life had borne
Gem and band her own hath worn.
"Wake thee! wake thee!" Lo, his eyes
Open with a dull surprise.

In his arms the strong man folds her,
Closer to his breast he holds her;
Trembling limbs his own are meeting,
And he feels her heart's quick beating:
"Nay, my dearest, why this fear?"
"Hush!" she saith, "the dead is here!"

"Nay, a dream — an idle dream."
But before the lamp's pale gleam
 Tremblingly her hand she raises,—
There no more the diamond blazes,
Clasp of pearl, or ring of gold, —
"Ah!" she sighs, "her hand was cold!"

Broken words of cheer he saith,
But his dark lip quivereth,
And as o'er the past he thinketh,
From his young wife's arms he shrinketh;
Can those soft arms round him lie,
Underneath his dead wife's eye?

She her fair young head can rest
Soothed and child-like on his breast,
And in trustful innocence
Draw new strength and courage thence;
He, the proud man, feels within
But the cowardice of sin!

She can murmur in her thought
Simple prayers her mother taught,
And His blessed angels call,
Whose great love is over all;
He, alone, in prayerless pride,
Meets the dark Past at her side!

One, who living shrank with dread,
From his look, or word, or tread,
Unto whom her early grave
Was as freedom to the slave,
Moves him at this midnight hour,
With the dead's unconscious power!

Ah, the dead, the unforgot!
From their solemn homes of thought,
Where the cypress shadows blend
Darkly over foe and friend,
Or in love or sad rebuke,
Back upon the living look.

And the tenderest ones and weakest,
Who their wrongs have borne the meekest,
Lifting from those dark, still places,
Sweet and sad-remembered faces,
O'er the guilty hearts behind
An unwitting triumph find.


John Greenleaf Whittier Poems Benjamin B. Mussey , Pub. Boston, Ma. 1850


((First posted in October2014))

Last year for Halloween I blogged about various New England legends and
folklore, some of which posts I may repost this year. But tonight I was looking
for a new spooky legend and found a poem about a distant cousin written by
another equally distant cousin.

I am a descendant of 10x great grandfather John Moulton and his wife Anne.
One of their other descendants  is my second cousin 9x removed Jonathan
Moulton.  William Richard Cutter says this about him:

(IV) General Jonathan Moulton, son of Jacob Moulton, was born in Hampton, New
Hampshire, June 30, 1726, and died there in 1788, aged sixty-two years. He owned
a large amount of land and was a wealthy man. It was largely through his efforts
that two or three towns in the state were settled, as is told in the "Farmer and
Moore's Gazetteer" of 1823. On November 17, 1763, Moulton borough was granted
to him and sixty-one others by the Masonian proprietors. He had a distinguished
reputation for service in the Indian wars along the northern borders of the new town
before it was settled, in 1763. and many stories are told of his adventures at that time. 

Doubtless his service against the Ossipee Indians was the principal reason of placing 
him at the head of the grantees. Through his efforts the grant for New Hampton was 
obtained from Governor Wentworth. It is said he obtained it by presenting the governor 
with an ox weighing one thousand four hundred pounds, which he drove to Portsmouth 
and for which he refused money, saying he preferred the charter to the land which he 
named New Hampton. The town of Centre Harbor was formed from a part of his grant 
called Moultonborough Addition. He was known as a fearless commander, and although
his reticence and dignified bearing aroused the displeasure of some, he must have been 
thoroughly trustworthy and competent to be intrusted with such important commissions 
as were placed in his hands. He served many years in the legislature. He was a shrewd 
business man, ahead of his time in many ways. The poet Whittier has made him the hero 
of his poem, "The New Wife and the Old." S. A. Drake, in his "New England Legends and
 Folk Lore," has written an amusing story founded on the legend of Jonathan Moulton 
and the Devil...

New England Families, Genealogical and Memorial: A Record of the Achievements of Her People in the Making of Commonwealths and the Founding of a Nation, Volume 4 (Google eBook) Lewis historical publishing Company, 1915

Cutter then includes Drake's story about the Devil which is long so I won't include
it here, but there is this added by Drake at the end of it:

Another legend runs to the effect that upon the death of his wife—as evil report would have it— under very suspicious circumstances, the General paid court to a young woman who had been companion of his deceased spouse. They were married. In the middle of the night the young bride awoke with a start. She felt an invisible hand trying to take off from her finger the wedding-ring that had once belonged to the dead and buried Mrs. Moulton. Shrieking with fright, she jumped out of bed, thus awakening her husband, who tried in vain to calm her fears. Candles were lighted and search was made for the ring: but as it could never be found again, the ghostly visitor was supposed to have carried it away with her. This story is the same that is told by Whittier in the New Wife and the Old.- p2305

So of course when I read that John Greenleaf Whittier has written a poem about the
story of the two wives, I had to look for a copy of it. I found one, and I'll share it
with you in the next blogpost.

Monday, October 10, 2016


I was looking for another ghost story or poem I could post as part of the Halloween theme for October when I found this one by distant cousin ,John Greenleaf Whittier (we're Greenleaf cousins).

It's based on a historical incident as described in the foreword to the poem. It's a bit longer, but not as long as another poem about The Palantine, written by another distant cousin, Richard Henry Dana Sr. :


Block Island in Long Island Sound, called by the Indians Manisees, the isle of the little god, was the scene of a tragic incident a hundred years or more ago, when The Palatine, an emigrant ship bound for Philadelphia, driven off its course, came upon the coast at this point. A mutiny on board, followed by an inhuman desertion on the part of the crew, had brought the unhappy passengers to the verge of starvation and madness. Tradition says that wreckers on shore, after rescuing all but one of the survivors, set fire to the vessel, which was driven out to sea before a gale which had sprung up. Every twelvemonth, according to the same tradition, the spectacle of a ship on fire is visible to the inhabitants of the island.

Leagues north, as fly the gull and auk,
Point Judith watches with eye of hawk;
Leagues south, thy beacon flames, Montauk!

Lonely and wind-shorn, wood-forsaken,
With never a tree for Spring to waken,
For tryst of lovers or farewells taken,

Circled by waters that never freeze,
Beaten by billow and swept by breeze,
Lieth the island of Manisees,

Set at the mouth of the Sound to hold
The coast lights up on its turret old,
Yellow with moss and sea-fog mould.

Dreary the land when gust and sleet
At its doors and windows howl and beat,
And Winter laughs at its fires of peat!

But in summer time, when pool and pond,
Held in the laps of valleys fond,
Are blue as the glimpses of sea beyond;

When the hills are sweet with the brier-rose,
And, hid in the warm, soft dells, unclose
Flowers the mainland rarely knows;

When boats to their morning fishing go,
And, held to the wind and slanting low,
Whitening and darkening the small sails show,

Then is that lonely island fair;
And the pale health-seeker findeth there
The wine of life in its pleasant air.

No greener valleys the sun invite,
On smoother beaches no sea-birds light,
No blue waves shatter to foam more white!

There, circling ever their narrow range,
Quaint tradition and legend strange
Live on unchallenged, and know no change.

Old wives spinning their webs of tow,
Or rocking weirdly to and fro
In and out of the peat's dull glow,

And old men mending their nets of twine,
Talk together of dream and sign,
Talk of the lost ship Palatine, —

The ship that, a hundred years before,
Freighted deep with its goodly store,
In the gales of the equinox went ashore.

The eager islanders one by one
Counted the shots of her signal gun,
And heard the crash when she drove right on!

Into the teeth of death she sped:
(May God forgive the hands that fed
The false lights over the rocky Head!)

O men and brothers! what sights were there!
White upturned faces, hands stretched in prayer!
Where waves had pity, could ye not spare?

Down swooped the wreckers, like birds of prey
Tearing the heart of the ship away,
And the dead had never a word to say.

And then, with ghastly shimmer and shine
Over the rocks and the seething brine,
They burned the wreck of the Palatine.

In their cruel hearts, as they homeward sped,
"The sea and the rocks are dumb," they said:
"There '11 be no reckoning with the dead."

But the year went round, and when once more
Along their foam-white curves of shore
They heard the line-storm rave and roar,

Behold! again, with shimmer and shine,
Over the rocks and the seething brine,
The flaming wreck of the Palatine!

So, haply in fitter words than these,
Mending their nets on their patient knees
They tell the legend of Manisees.

Nor looks nor tones a doubt betray;
"It is known to us all," they quietly say;
"We too have seen it in our day."

Is there, then, no death for a word once spoken?
Was never a deed but left its token
Written on tables never broken?

Do the elements subtle reflections give?
Do pictures of all the ages live
On Nature's infinite negative,

Which, half in sport, in malice half,
She shows at times, with shudder or laugh,
Phantom and shadow in photograph?

For still, on many a moonless night,
From Kingston Head and from Montauk light
The spectre kindles and burns in sight.

Now low and dim, now clear and higher,
Leaps up the terrible Ghost of Fire,
Then, slowly sinking, the flames expire.

And the wise Sound skippers, though skies be fine,
Keef their sails when they see the sign
Of the blazing wreck of the Palatine!

The Writings of John Greenleaf Whittier: Personal poems: occasional poems: The tent on the beach. Prose works

John Greenleaf Whittier, Elizabeth Hussey Whittier,  Houghton, Mifflin,  Boston, Ma.1888

Friday, October 07, 2016


The Findmypast Friday releases this week have over 3.5 million British and American records:


Britain, Registers of Licences To Pass Beyond the Seas 1573-1677
OVER 27,000 RECORDS  released in association with the National Archives, listing the details of pioneering early travellers who left Britain for Ireland, continental Europe, New England, Barbados, Bermuda and other overseas colonies at the dawn of the golden age of sail.

Britain, Registers of Licences To Pass Beyond the Seas 1573-1677

Discover your early ancestors who travelled across the sea in the National Archives series PRO 57/4548.

United States Births and Christenings 1817-1961
Uncover details such as parents’ names, date of birth and date of christening in this collection of various states’ birth and christening records from 1817 to 1961.

United States Deaths and Burials 1833-1970
Find out where and when your ancestors died with over 130 years of death and burial records from right across the United States.

Wales, Monmouthshire Workhouse Registers 1837-1929
Explore workhouse admissions, medical notices, religious creed registers, and school admission records from the Abergavenny workhouse in Monmouthshire to find out if your family fell on hard times.

Wales, Monmouthshire Electoral Registers 1839-1889
Discover where your Welsh ancestors lived, whether they were eligible to vote and the details of any property they owned or rented.

Wales, Monmouthshire Electoral Registers 1832-1889 Image Browse
Browse these annual registers to trace your ancestor’s movements year by year and fill in gaps between the census years.

Wales, Monmouthshire Marriage Notices 1859-1877
Did your ancestor submit a marriage notice with the district superintendent registrar of Abergavenny? The notice will provide your ancestor’s marital status and residence, as well as the name of your ancestor’s intended spouse.

United States Marriages 
New records: : 4,042,872
Total records: 134,944,382
Covering: 21 states including Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia
Discover: Birth year, marriage date, location, parents' full names, spouse’s details

Yorkshire Baptisms
New records: 29,846
Total records: 4,614,004
Covering: Rotherham, Maltby, Kimberworth, Thrybergh, Wickersley
Discover: Baptism date, location, parents' names and religious denomination

Great Britain & Ireland, Society of Friends (Quaker) Periodicals
New records: 9,342
Total records: 65 publications in total
Covering: A complete run of the Annual Monitor from 1813-1918
Discover: The deaths and obituaries of Quakers in Great Britain and Ireland

Tuesday, October 04, 2016


((In  October2013  I posted a series of stories from among the New England legends about ghosts 
and witches. I thought I'd repost them again this year as I look for others to share.)) 

I thought for Halloween this year I'd post some old scary legends and folktales of
New England. So I did a Google search and came up with a collection of stories by
Charles Montgomery Skinner published back in 1896. I can't say for sure how
historically accurate any of these stories are, but they are important because they
give us a glimpse at the culture of the time and the stories our ancestors told
in front of their fireplaces to entertain each other at the end of the day. When you
read these, see if you can hear in your mind the voice of someone telling the tale.

The first of the stories tells about a legendary figure from Plymouth, Ma.


MOTHER CREWE was of evil repute in Plymouth in the last century. It was said that she had taken pay for luring a girl into her old farm-house, where a man lay dead of small-pox, with intent to harm her beauty; she was accused of blighting land and driving ships ashore with spells; in brief, she was called a witch, and people, even those who affected to ignore the craft of wizardry, were content to keep away from her. When the Revolution ended, Southward Howland demanded Dame Crewe's house and acre, claiming under law of entail, though primogeniture had been little enforced in America, where there was room and to spare for all. But Howland was stubborn and the woman's house had good situation, so one day he rode to her door and summoned her with a tap of his whip.

"What do you here on my land?" said he.

"I live on land that is my own. I cleared it, built my house here, and no other has claim to it."

"Then I lay claim. The place is mine. I shall tear your cabin down on Friday."

"On Friday they'll dig your grave on Burying Hill. I see the shadow closing round you."

"Bah! You have heard what I have said. If on Friday you are not elsewhere, I'll tear the timbers down and bury you in the ruins."

"Enough!" cried the woman, her form straightening, her voice grown shrill. "My curse is on you here and hereafter. Die! Then go down to hell!"

As she said this the cat leaped from her shoulder to the flank of the horse, spitting and clawing, and the frightened steed set off at a furious pace. As he disappeared in the scrub oaks his master was seen vainly trying to stop him. The evening closed in with fog and chill, and before the light waned a man faring homeward came upon the corpse of Southward Howland stretched along the ground.

Charles Montgomery Skinner    Myths and Legends of Our Own Land: Vol. I (Google eBook) J.B. Lippincott, 1896 Philadelphia Pa pp304-305