Monday, October 30, 2017


((First posted in Oct 2007))

Continuing in the Halloween vein(so to speak) for this month,
there is a story from my days as a camp counselor on
Cape Cod

We had counselors from all over the country and one year from
other nations. This particular summer, one of the staff was from
Minnesota. He’d never seen the ocean so part of the reason he’d
taken a summer job in Massachusetts was to see the Atlantic.
Since we hiked the kids down to Dennis Beach several times
during the summer Gary accomplished his goal early on, but a
few of us decided we’d take him down to Provincetown so he
could tell the folks back home he’d been as far out to the edge
of the States as he could get without leaving land.

This was back in the late `60’s. We were a bit more innocent back
then and so four of us thought nothing of hitchhiking on the
MidCape Highway. Luckily for us we made it safely down to
Ptown and spent the day walking around the town, poking about
in the great old Army-Navy Surplus Store on the main street,
and then finding and eating the cheapest meal available since we
weren’t exactly in a high paying job.

It was late afternoon when we started back for the highway. Now
I’m not sure of the exact location, because it’s forty years since it
happened, but we took a shortcut through a graveyard and as
we walked along the road we looked at some of the headstones.

And that’s when I saw it: a headstone with my name on it.

“William West”.

You can imagine the jokes from the others. It did spook me out
a little bit but I laughed it off and we eventually moved on to the
highway to “thumb” our way back up the Cape to Brewster.
Since drivers were less likely to stop for four hitchers than two,
we split up into two pairs and made plans to rendezvous at our
exit off the highway.

My companion and I were picked up by a pair of sailors who’d
been sightseeing the hippies at Provincetown as well as doing a
little drinking and it wasn’t long before I realized that perhaps
the one driving the car was a bit drunk and his friend was a whole
lot more drunk. He had a bottle and offered us a drink and when
we declined, he got insistent about us taking a swig. So we did.

By this time I already flashed back to that gravestone with my
name on it. Was it some sort of warning? So I did the sensible
thing. I lied and told the driver that the next exit was where we
had to get off. The other counselor nodded when he asked if we
were sure. He laughed, drove by it, and eventually let us out two
more exits up in what they must have thought was a cool joke.
We eventually caught a another ride, met up with the others,
and made it back to camp safely.

Apparently the sailors made it back to Boston alright as well
since we didn’t hear about any sailors killed in car crashes. And I
took a bit more ribbing over “my” grave.

It was the last time I hitchhiked on Cape Cod. The next summer
that I worked there I had my own car.

And occasionally I think about that headstone. I don’t recall
anything about the dates or the inscription. Maybe someday I’ll
look up the information.

But I certainly won’t do it around Halloween.

Sunday, October 29, 2017


((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 torecite 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           

Saturday, October 28, 2017


7x great grandfather Stephen Abbott was born in Andover, Ma. on 14 Feb 1678 and died there on 27 May 1766.  He married Sarah Stevens on 22 Jul 1708 and seems to have led a good long life, according to the family register compiled by cousins Abiel and Ephraim Abbot:

3 Stephen A., son of 2 John; m. 1708, 3 Sarah Stevens, da. of Ephraim S.; she d. Jan. 1751, a. 69. They lived near where Prof. Porter lived; the house taken down about 1808. He was industrious and successful, useful in town affairs, and respected for his Christian character. 4 Stephen, b. 1709; d. Nov. 1768; Ephraim, b. 1710; d. 25 April, 1745; Sarah, b. Oct. 1711; d.; m. Dea. 3 George Abbot, son of 2 Thomas, Concord, N. H.; 4 Mary, b. 10 Aug. 1713; d. 16 Aug. 1748; m. Joseph Holt, Lunenburg; Hannah, b. 10 Aug. 1716; d. 27 July, 1786; m. 3 Benjamin Abbot, son of 2 Thomas, Concord; Priscilla, b. 3 March, 1720; m. Jacob Fowle, Lancaster; Elizabeth, b. 29 Dec. 1722; d. about 1786; Samuel, b. 5 July, 1726; d. 1758, at Lake George; Mehitabel, b. 28 March; d. 27 April, 1728.-pp 16-17
A Genealogical Register of the Descendants of George Abbot, of Andover,  James Munroe & Co, Boston, Ma. 1847

Two of Stephen's daughters married Abbott cousins, and his youngest son Samuel died at Lake George during the French and Indian War. I'm descended from his son Ephraim.


((First posted Oct 2013))

Many legends have a basis in fact. Such is the case in this next Halloween Tale. There
was a Samuel Shute who was Royal Governor of Massachusetts from 1716 to 1723, and
there was an outbreak of smallpox in Boston over the winter of 1721-1722 that claimed
over 800 lives.  Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote a shot story about "Lady Eleanore's Mantle"
which this version is probably based on, and I first heard of this in another of
Edward Rowe Snow's books. I think Snow said he believed Edgar Allen Poe based "The
Masque of the Red Death" on the epidemic as well. It makes me wonder just how disliked
Lady Eleanor (if she were real)must have been to inspire such an unflattering story. 

LADY ELEANORE ROCHCLIFFE, being orphaned, was admitted to the family of her distant relative, Governor Shute, of Massachusetts Bay, and came to America to take her home with him. She arrived at the gates of Province House, in Boston, in the governor's splendid coach, with outriders and guards, and as the governor went to receive her, a pale young man, with tangled hair, sprang from the crowd and fell in the dust at her feet, offering himself as a footstool for her to tread upon. Her proud face lighted with a smile of scorn, and she put out her hand to stay the governor, who was in the act of striking the fellow with his cane.

"Do not strike him," she said. "When men seek to be trampled, it is a favor they deserve."

For a moment she bore her weight on the prostrate form, "emblem of aristocracy trampling on human sympathies and the kindred of nature," and as she stood there the bell on South Church began to toll for a funeral that was passing at the moment. The crowd started; some looked annoyed; Lady Eleanore remained calm and walked in stately fashion up the passage on the arm of His Excellency. "Who was that insolent fellow?" was asked of Dr. Clarke, the governor's physician.

"Gervase Helwyse," replied the doctor; " a youth of no fortune, but of good mind until he met this lady in London, when he fell in love with her, and her pride and scorn have crazed him."

A few nights after a ball was given in honor of the governor's ward, and Province House was filled with the elect of the city. Commanding in figure, beautiful in face, richly dressed and jewelled, the Lady Eleanore was the admired of the whole assembly, and the women were especially curious to see her mantle, for a rumor went out that it had been made by a dying girl, and had the magic power of giving new beauty to the wearer every time it was put on. While the guests were taking refreshment, a young man stole into the room with a silver goblet, and this he offered on his knee to Lady Eleanore. As she looked down she recognized the face of Helwyse.

"Drink of this sacramental wine," he said, eagerly, "and pass it among the guests."

"Perhaps it is poisoned," whispered a man, and in another moment the liquor was overturned, and Helwyse was roughly dragged away.

"Pray, gentlemen, do not hurt my poor admirer," said the lady, in a tone of languor and condescension that was unusual to her. Breaking from his captives, Helwyse ran back and begged her to cast her mantle into the fire. She replied by throwing a fold of it above her head and smiling as she said, "Farewell. Remember me as you see me now."

Helwyse shook his head sadly and submitted to be led away. The weariness in Eleanore's manner increased; a flush was burning on her cheek; her laugh had grown infrequent. Dr. Clarke whispered something in the governor's ear that made that gentleman start and look alarmed. It was announced that an unforeseen circumstance made it necessary to close the festival at once, and the company went home. A few days after the city was thrown into a panic by an outbreak of small-pox, a disease that in those times could not be prevented nor often cured, and that gathered its victims by thousands. Graves were dug in rows, and every night the earth was piled hastily on fresh corpses. Before all infected houses hung a red flag of warning, and Province House was the first to show it, for the plague had come to town in Lady Eleanore's mantle. The people cursed her pride and pointed to the flags as her triumphal banners. The pestilence was at its height when Gervase Helwyse appeared in Province House. There were none to stay him now, and he climbed the stairs, peering from room to room, until he entered a darkened chamber, where something stirred feebly under a silken coverlet and a faint voice begged for water. Helwyse tore apart the curtains and exclaimed, " Fie! What does such a thing as you in Lady Eleanore's apartment?"

The figure on the bed tried to hide its hideous face. "Do not look on me," it cried. "I am cursed for my pride that I wrapped about me as a mantle. You are avenged. I am Eleanore Rochcliffe." 

The lunatic stared for a moment, then the house echoed with his laughter. The deadly mantle lay on a chair. He snatched it up, and waving also the red flag of the pestilence ran into the street. In a short time an effigy wrapped in the mantle was borne to Province House and set on fire by a mob. From that hour the pest abated and soon disappeared, though graves and scars made a bitter memory of it for many a year. Unhappiest of all was the disfigured creature who wandered amid the shadows of Province House, never showing her face, unloved, avoided, lonely.
Charles Montgomery Skinner  Myths and Legends of Our Own Land: Vol. I (Google eBook) J.B. Lippincott, 1896 Philadelphia Pa  pp253-256


There are 1.4 million new records, mostly from Portsmouth, England, in this week's Findmypast Friday releases:



Hampshire, Portsmouth Baptisms

OVER 550,000 RECORDS  Did your ancestor’s baptism take place in the UK’s only Island city? Uncover their original baptism entry in brand new parish registers from Portsmouth to discover their birth date, baptism year, residence, and parents’ names.

Hampshire, Portsmouth Marriages

Add another branch to your family tree by uncovering the details of your Portsmouth ancestor’s spouse. Search original parish registers to discover when they were married and where they were married as well as the couples’ birth years, occupations and fathers’ names.

Hampshire, Portsmouth Burials

Find out if your ancestors were laid to rest in Portsmouth with parish burials dating back to the 16th century that reveal their birth year, death date, occupation, residence, parents’ names and next of kin as well as the date and location of their burial.

Hampshire, Portsmouth Parish Registers Browse

Browse through 873 volumes of parish registers of baptisms, marriages and burials held at Portsmouth History Centre. These records pertain to Church of England parishes in the deaneries of Portsmouth, Gosport, Fareham, and Havant.

Hampshire, Portsmouth Workhouse Registers

Were your ancestors admitted to the workhouse on Portsea Island? Explore admission and discharge registers spanning the years 1879 to 1953 and uncover details of the relief they received. Portsmouth’s workhouse was built in 1725 and by 1777 housed up to 200 inmates.


Irish Newspapers

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New title: Carrickfergus Advertiser
Covering: Carrickfergus, Antrim, Northern Ireland 1884-1910
Discover: Family notices, obituaries, advertisements, news articles, photographs and more

Friday, October 27, 2017


There's only a month left to send your submissions in for the Great Genealogy Poetry Challenge
The deadline is a week before Thanksgiving on Thursday, November 16th. If you find one long before that deadline you can post it on your blog now, but don't forget to send me the link to it before November 16th!
These are the Challenge rules:

1. Find a poem by a  poet, famous or obscure, about the region
one of your ancestors lived in. It can be about an historical event, a
legend, a person, or even about some place (like a river)or a local
animal. It can even be a poem you or one of your ancestors have written.
0r, if you prefer, post the lyrics of a song or a link to a video of someone
performing the song.

2. Post the poem or song to your blog (remembering to cite the source
where you found it.). If you wish to enter an older post, you may as long
as it has not appeared here in an earlier Poetry Challenge.

 3.Tell us how the subject of the poem or song relates to your ancestor's
home or life, or the area of the country where they lived.

4.Submit your post's link here to me by midnight Thursday, November 16th
and I'll publish all links to the entries on Thanksgiving Day, November 23rd!

If  you submit a humorous poem or song that will be entered under the
"Willy Puckerbrush" division. Willy was the late geneablogger Terry
Thornton's alias for some humorous posts and comments.


Every year I like to post some Halloween stories from New England folklore. 

This one from Charles Montgomery Skinner's Myths and Legends of Our Own Land: Vol. I  
 teaches a valuable lesson:never give any guff to an angry old lady with psychic powers.
First posted in October 2013.


ON a headland near Plymouth lived "Aunt Rachel," a reputed seer, who made a scant livelihood by forecasting the future for such seagoing people as had crossed her palm. The crew of a certain brig came to see her on the day before sailing, and she reproached one of the lads for keeping bad company. "Avast, there, granny," interrupted another, who took the chiding to himself. "None of your slack, or I'll put a stopper on your gab." The old woman sprang erect. Levelling her skinny finger at the man, she screamed, " Moon cursers! You have set false beacons and wrecked ships for plunder. It was your fathers and mothers who decoyed a brig to these sands and left me childless and a widow. He who rides the pale horse be your guide, and you be of the number who follow him!"

That night old Rachel's house was burned, and she barely escaped with her life, but when it was time for the brig to sail she took her place among the townfolk who were to see it off. The owner of the brig tried to console her for the loss of the house. "I need it no longer," she answered, "for the narrow house will soon be mine, and you wretches cannot burn that. But you! Who will console you for the loss of your brig?"

"My brig is stanch. She has already passed the worst shoal in the bay."

"But she carries a curse. She cannot swim long."

As each successive rock and bar was passed the old woman leaned forward, her hand shaking, her gray locks flying, her eyes starting, her lips mumbling maledictions," like an evil spirit, chiding forth the storms as ministers of vengeance." The last shoal was passed, the merchant sighed with relief at seeing the vessel now safely on her course, when the woman uttered a harsh cry, and raised her hand as if to command silence until something happened that she evidently expected. For this the onlookers had not long to wait: the brig halted and trembled—her sails shook in the wind, her crew were seen trying to free the cutter—then she careened and sank until only her mast-heads stood out of the water. Most of the company ran for boats and lines, and few saw Rachel pitch forward on the earth—dead, with a fierce smile of exultation on her face. The rescuers came back with all the crew, save one—the man who had challenged the old woman and revengefully burned her cabin. Rachel's body was buried where her house had stood, and the rock— before unknown—where the brig had broken long bore the name of Rachel's Curse. 

Charles Montgomery Skinner Myths and Legends of Our Own Land: Vol. I (Google eBook) J.B. Lippincott, 1896 Philadelphia Pa  pp306-307

Tuesday, October 24, 2017


Here's the second half of my transcription of my 8x great grandfather John Abbott's

Essex County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1638-1881.Online database. Case66 Page5

Essex County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1638-1881.Online database. Case66 Page6

I give to my well beloved son Stephen Abbott one half of ye land that I purchased
that was Hue Stones and ye other half I give to my well beloved son Ebenezer Abbott
now in the posescion equally to be divided also I give to my son Stephen Abbott
Three acers of land layd out near his house to mee be it more or less and bounded as
on Record. I give also to my son Ebenezer Abbott three acers of land lying on the
west side of the land that I gave him whear he now lives as it is butted and bound
 or be itt more or less; I also give my son Ebenezer Abbott four common wights as my
 Statement was in ye divishon or the same proportion by any other way
 of statement

Item-I give to my well beloved son Ephraim Abbott 40 pounds which he has received
allredy from me also I give him three acers of land layd out to mee near his house be
it more or less-as it is bound  on Record as allso two acers and a half of my common
wright as my statement was in ye first divishion or by same proportion in any way
of statment

Item- I give to my beloved son Joshua abbott  forty-five pounds in mony: which he has
received of mee all but ten pounds -------------------------------------------------------------------

Item-  I give to my well beloved daughter Sarah Chandler : two cowes and Six sheep and
half my moveables as  expresedt on the other side thetTwo cowes and six sheep shee
has received allready att her marage.---------------------------------------------------------------------

Item- I give to my beloved daughter Presilah Abbott two cowes and six sheep and half
my moveables as is on the other side expresed.---------------------------------------------------------

Item-I order my executors to take the whole care to provide for their honored mother
after my decease first she shall have ye liberty of which roome she pleases for to
live in and my executors to provide for her suitable cloathing of all sorts both
for lining and wooling and meat  drink washing  and fire wood and candles the
 wood to be  cut and brought into ye house and phisick and tendance in case of sick nes
 and for what ever she wants for her comfort so long as she remains my widow
if it be to the day of her death and att her death  I order my executors to give ye
honored mother a decent christian buriall if she dyes my widow but if she
shall see reason to marry again then my executors to be freed from what I have
ordered them to do for her.---------------------------------------------------------------------
And I doe hear by utterly disalow revoke and disannull every other will and testament
ratiifing this and no other to be my last will: and testament: and of this I make
my well beloved sons John Abbott and Joseph Abbott my executors they receiving
paying all my lawfull debts and receiving my dues and my loveing brother
George Abbott and Nathanel Abbott to see this my will performed In witness whear
of I have hear unto sett my hand and seal the day and year on the other side
Signed, Sealed published  pronounced  and declared by the said John Abbott
as his last will and testament in the presence of us
the subcribers.
Timothy Abbott                                                                                John Abbott & a seal
George Abbott, Jr.
Henry Abbott                                                                            This therein  appear and make oath
                                                                                                        April 10, 1721

Saturday, October 21, 2017


 There are nearly 1.3 million new records in this week's Findmypast Friday releases:


Thrift Genealogical Abstracts

OVER 150,000 RECORDS  
Explore genealogical abstracts created by renowned Irish genealogist Gertrude Thrift. Search copies of wills, bill books, parish registers, commission books, and freeman lists, as well as detailed family trees and pedigree charts. Records in this collection date as far back as the 16th century and up to the early 20th century.


Crossle Genealogical Abstract
Explore the various notebooks of 19th century genealogists Dr Francis Crossle and Philip Crossle to reveal a wealth of Irish genealogical resources including copies of records destroyed in the fire at the Public Record Office in Dublin in 1922.


Betham Genealogical Abstracts

Explore abstracts and genealogical sketches created by herald Sir William Betham, the Ulster King of Arms. The notebooks are an excellent substitute for missing records and include abstracts of wills, reconstructed family trees and detailed pedigrees.


Cork, Pobble O'Keefe Census 1830-1852
Search records from seven censuses - 1830, 1834, 1836, 1849, 1850, 1851, and 1852 - from the townland Pobble O'Keefe in Cork to discover who your ancestor was living with as well as their occupation, birth year and marital status.



Yorkshire Burials

New records: 75,911
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Covering: Anglican parishes and municipal cemeteries
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Wednesday, October 18, 2017


Essex County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1638-1881.Online database. Case66 Page 1

I found the probate file for my 8x great grandfather John Abbott over at
As you can see from the image, it's  about a page and a half of small cramped handwriting.
Luckily for me, I also found Charlotte Helen Abbott's four paged typewritten transcription, which was over on the Andover Memorial Hall Library's  website in the Abbott Genealogies collection.
I double-checked  her work and was surprised to see she had changed the spelling on some words and in some cases changed an entire word. Still, it helped me do my own transcription.

I'm posting it here in two parts. Part 1 is from about half of this first page of the will:

Essex County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1638-1881.Online database. Case66 Page5

In the name of God Amen. This sixteenth day of May in ye year of our Lord 1716
I John Abbott of Andover in County of Essex in New England being weake
in body but of perfect mind and memory blessed be God for itt therefore calling
to mind the mortality of my body and knowing that it is appointed for me once to dye
doe make and ordaine this my last will and Testament (That is to say) principally and
first of all I give and recommend  my soul into ye hands of God yt gave itt hoping through ye
death passion and meritts of my Saviour Jesus Christ to have full and free pardon
and forgiveness of all my sins and to inherit eternal life and my body I committ to ye
earth to be decently buryed att ye discretion  of my executor hereafter named noth-
ing doubting but at ye general resurrection I shall receive ye same againe by ye mighty
power of God and as touching worldly estate whear with it hath pleased  the
 Lord to bless me in this life, I give devise and dispose of the same in ye following man
or  and for me that is to say: First- I will yt all those debts and dues yt I owe in wright
or concciance to any manner of person or persons whasoever shall be well and truly
payed in a convenient time after my decease by my executors  hereafter

I give to my well beloved wife Sarah Abbot ten pounds in money and all my household  move
ables during her naturall life and when  ye Lord shall see good to remove her by death y
then my moveables to be divided between my daughters Sarah Chandler and Priscillah
Abbott   By moveables I mean my bedding linen, woolens, pewter, brass, iron,tin and all
wooden ware excepting baoles but it must be unders tood that what my daughter
Sarah Chandler hath received be accounted for when the divishon is made.

Item  I give to  my beloved son John Abbott one part of my whomestead  bounded  on ye north
by a stake st at ye highway side and so running to ye end of ye orchard to a white oke
tree marked as ye fence now stands then to a white oake tree marked standing near the fence
to south east att the westerly end of my whomestead with all my housing orchard and fences
and all upon it also my loome with all my weaver takoling and half my meadow att
Beaver Dam lying between Billerica and Oborn also a parcell of land laid out to me on the left
hand of the way goe ing  to William Lovejoy Junor containing a bout 4 acres and
a half be it more or less Bouned  as on Record: also I give him six common wrights and a half according to my state ment was in ye first divishon or the  same proportion
by any way of statement for paying what I shall order him to pay.

Item- I give to my beloved son Joseph Abbott the other part of my whomstead bound
att the stake above named then running to a whit oke att the end of the orchard as the
fence now stands then to a whit oke stand ing near the fence souest marked : all
this esterly  end  with  the  barn  orchard  and  fence and all upon itt also a pece of  land on the
west side of the way near his barn as it is now fenced: also a pece of mowing  ground
ly ing upon Roger brook and joyning to good man Ballards land as it is now fenced
and  half  my bevor dam meadow as it is butted and bounded also a pece of land lying
near the parsonage laid  out to mee for three acres be it more or less and bounded as
on record. Also I  give him five acers and a half of my com mon wright: as my
statement was in the first division of the same proportion by any other way of
statement be pay ing what I shall order him to pay

To be continued

Sunday, October 15, 2017


My 8x great grandfather John Abbott was the eldest child of my ancestors George Abbott and Hannah Chandler. I'm also descended from his younger siblings Benjamin and Sarah.The Abbotts were a prominent family in early Andover Massachusetts and John was no exception. Here's what William Richard Cutter has to say about him:

(II) Deacon John, eldest child of George and Hannah (Chandler) Abbot, was born in Andover, Massachusetts, March 2, 1648, and died there March 19, 1721. He lived with his father in the garrison house, and is said to have been a man of judgment and executive ability. He was employed much of the time in business for the town, and served as selectman and representative to the general court. When the church was organized in the south parish of Andover. in 1711, he was chosen deacon, and Mr. Phillips mentions that "he used the office well." Both he and his wife were much respected for uprightness and piety. Deacon Abbot married, November 17, 1673, Sarah, daughter of Richard Barker, one of the first settlers in Andover. She was born in 1647 and died February 10, 1729. They had nine children, all born in Andover: 1. John, November 2, 1674, died January 1, 1754. 2. Joseph, December 29, 1676, died January 9, 1757. 3. Stephen, March 16. 1678, died May 27, 1766. 4. Sarah, December 7, 1680, died March 6, 1754; married, 1707, Zebadiah Chandler. 5. Ephraim, August 16, 1682. 6. Joshua, June 16, 1685, died February 11, 1769. 7. Mary, January 2, 1687, died December 2, 1688. 8. Ebenezer, September 27, 1689, died January 14, 1761. 9. Priscilla, July 7, 1691, died May 24, 1791-p521

Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of the State of Massachusetts, Volume 1  Lewis historical Publishing Company, N.Y., N.Y.  1910

I've found his will and a transcription, which I'll discuss in the next post.

Saturday, October 14, 2017


Over 2.8 million new British records were added to existing records sets ion this week's Findymypast Friday:

London, Docklands and East End Marriages, 1558-1859

New records: 10,512
Total records: 102,762
Covering: St John Wapping, St Leonard Bromley, St Mary Bow & St Mary Whitechapel
Discover: Marriage date, marriage location, couple’s names, home parish, marital status & groom's occupation

London, Docklands and East End Baptisms

New records: 40,394
Total records: 783,077
Covering: St John Bethnal Green, St John Wapping, St Leonard Bromley, St Luke Limehouse & St Mary Whitechapel
Discover: Birth date, baptism date, address, parents’ names & church address

Greater London Burial Index

New records: 35,438
Total records: 1,670,403
Covering: St James Clerkenwell
Discover: Maiden names, birth year, death year, burial date, occupation, denomination, address, the names of other family members and additional notes

Kent, Canterbury Archdeaconry Baptisms

New records: 13,870
Total records: 937,319
Covering: The parishes of Chilham, Stalisfield & Staple
Discover: Birth year, baptism date, location, parents’ names, residence and parents’ profession

Kent, Canterbury Archdeaconry Banns

New records: 2,416
Total records: 219,155
Covering: The parishes of Chilham, Stalisfield & Staple
Discover: Banns date, location, marriage & the couple’s home parishes

Kent, Canterbury Archdeaconry Marriages

New records: 6,201
Total records: 496,386
Covering: The parishes of Chilham, Stalisfield & Staple
Discover: The couple’s birth years, marriage date, marriage location, residence, occupation, fathers’ names and fathers’ occupations

Kent, Canterbury Archdeaconry Burials

New records: 9,799
Total records: 700,205
Covering: The parishes of Chilham, Stalisfield & Staple
Discover: Birth year, death year, burial date & burial place

British Newspapers Update

New articles: 2,658,299
New titles: 16
Covering: South West England, South East England, Cheshire, Leicestershire, Yorkshire, Denbighshire, Paisley & Renfrewshire
Discover: Family notices, news articles, photographs, advertisements and more

PERiodical Source Index image Update

New articles: 10,902
New images: 30,004
Covering: Pennsylvania, Wyoming, Wisconsin, Toronto and Yorkshire
Discover: Articles, photos, and other material you won’t find using traditional search methods

Friday, October 13, 2017


((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 month
I first posted this on 13Oct 2012)) 

We had the first frost of the fall season last night in parts ofNew England 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 experiences 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 11, 2017


I'm about to move on to the ancestry of my 5x great grandmother Mehitable (Abbott) Abbott. She and her husband Jonathan Abbott were third cousins as descendants of George Abbott, as well as fourth cousins through ancestor Ralph Farnham Sr.

Here's Mehitable's relationship to George Abbott:

Her ancestors in this line include another Abbott line, along with Stevens, Parkers, and Barkers.

Through her mother Hannah Phelps, there are connections to other prominent early settlers of Andover, Ma: Ingalls, Poor, Dane, and Chandler.

Monday, October 09, 2017


The Findmypast Friday releases for October 6th contain over 600, 000 new records from England and Canada:


Warwickshire Bastardy Indexes 

OVER 5,000 RECORDS  Explore bastardy applications, registers, returns and appeals spanning the years 1844 to 1914. Each record provides the name of the mother, and most records include the name of the putative father. The putative father is the individual who is alleged to be the father of the child. The records do not contain the name of the child.


Berkshire Baptisms Index

New records: 79,693
Total records: 219,541
Covering: 80 Berkshire parishes, 1538 to 1917
Discover: Baptism date, location, parents’ names and additional notes

Berkshire Marriages Index

New records: 67,109
Total records: 315,528
Covering: 156 parishes across the county, 1538 to 1933
Discover: Spouse's name, date, location, residence, occupation, father’s name and occupation

Berkshire Burial Index

New records: 82,981
Total records: 830,723
Covering: 190 burial grounds across the county, 1536 to 1966
Discover: Death year, burial date, location, age and additional notes

Ontario Birth Index

New records: 334,374
Total records: 2,076,046
Covering: Civil registration records from 1860 to 1920
Discover: Birth date, registration year, location, parents’ names and images containing additional notes

Thames & Medway Baptisms

New records: 22,105
Total records: 357,642
Covering: Thames-side and Medway parishes, 1721 to 1984
Discover: Baptism place, baptism date & parents’ names

Thames & Medway Marriages

New records: 8,604
Total records: 145,656
Covering: Thames and Medway area, including parishes in Essex, Kent, Middlesex and Surrey
Discover: Marriage date, marriage place & spouse’s name

Thames & Medway Burials

New records: 8,914
Total records: 195,289
Covering: Thames-side and Medway parishes and prisoners who died on-board the Woolwich prison ships
Discover: Burial date, age at death, burial place

Saturday, October 07, 2017


((This was my very first post here back in February, 2007.I'm reposting it toay in honor of her birthday,7Oct 1898)

I’m a child of mixed heritage. On one side I’m
descended from a long line of Yankee settlers.
On the other, I’m descended from Irish Catholic
immigrants who came to Boston in the late
19th century.

Meet my maternal grandmother, Agnes McFarland.
In the family she’s known as Aggie. To us grandchildren
she was "Nanny". I believe the picture is for her Confirmation.

She was born in 1898, eighth child and third daughter
out of the ten children that would survive infancy. She
grew up in a Irish Catholic family, her father a laborer
on the Boston Elevated Railway.

She had rheumatic fever as a child in a time when it
was a deadly disease and although she'd survived it left
Aggie with a weak heart. In 1924 she married Edward F.
White Sr. They had two children before a third died, then
Edward walked out in the middle of the Great Depression
leaving Aggie to raise the children on her own.

Aggie divorced him in 1935.

It was hard for her; in those times the label "divorced"
was somewhat shameful for an Irish Catholic woman.

Work was hard to come by for a woman with children
so she scrimped and saved. Some nights dinner was
bread soaked in milk. My Mom and uncle were sent to
a nearby dental school to have their teeth worked on by
students. When Mom came down with what was known
as St. Vitus’ Dance in those days, Aggie somehow came
up with the money for the doctors and to buy liver to
serve at dinner to get Mom’s iron content up. I suspect
Aggie’s parents must have helped her out here and there
financially. My Mom once claimed that the legendary
Boston Mayor James Michael Curley helped out with
some problem as well.

But Aggie was no cream puff, either. One story my
Mom told was of the time she and Uncle Ed skipped
school to hang out at the cottage out on Houghs’ Neck
with their cousins. The place was owned by Aggie’s
younger sister Peggy and her husband Leo McCue and
was quite a distance away from the Jamaica Plain
neighborhood of Boston Aggie and her children lived

Yet suddenly my grandmother was walking down the
beach towards them. She’d taken the trolley and two
different buses to get there. She stayed long enough
to let Mom and Ed get their things and then took
them home by the same route she’d used to get there.

Somehow she did it. She raised her children to adulthood
even though it meant sometimes ducking her rebellious
son's head in the sink when he used swears or nursing her
daughter through a case of scarlet fever. She survived
watching her son join the Navy at 18 to fight in WW2.
All this while living life as a divorced Catholic woman
whose husband had left her for another woman.

She never remarried.

I knew her as Nanny, my grandmother, and she lived
with us when I was a kid. My Dad and Uncle Ed had
bought a two family home after the war in Malden on
a GI loan and so Aggie saw all five of her grandchildren
everyday. But she spent most of the time with my sister
and I because my parents both worked fulltime.

I have memories of her.

She was a quiet woman, black haired with grey streaks
and usually wore those one piece housedresses. She’d eat
peas by rolling them down the blade of her knife into her
mouth and looking back I think she did it to amuse me
and tease my mom. She never yelled but I remember
her breaking up a knockdown fight between two Italian
ladies who lived in the houses to either side of ours and
doing it with a slightly louder than usual voice and a
disgusted tone at their behavior in front of children.

I remember her being upset when the goldfish got sucked
down the drain of the kitchen sink when she pulled the
sink plug by accident after cleaning the goldfish bowl. And
I recall how she kept me from looking out the window after
a worker fell off the roof when it was being reshingled.
(He survived by the way; he broke his back and narrowly
missed landing atop the picket fence that ran between our
house and our next door neighbor’s.)

As time went by her rheumatic heart got worse and she
needed an oxygen tank in her bedroom for when breathing
was hard.

Aggie died at age 58 on February 12th, 1957.

She lived a tough life but she always carried herself like
a lady.


Sarah (Sterling) Farnham's father, my 9x great grandfather William Sterling is an interesting fellow. He has one of the longest entries of any of my ancestors in any of  William Richard Cutter's genealogy books. He earned a living in several professions, was married four times and had eighteen children with three of his wives. Here's what Cutter had to say about him:

(I) William Sterling, the immigrant ancestor, was born not far from London, England, in 1637, and died in Sterling City, Lyme, Connecticut, January 22, 1719. The first mention of him in New England is found in the Essex records at Salem, Massachusetts, 1660 61, where the names of five of his children are given as born "at Rowley Village at Mirimack." This village is now Bradford, on the opposite side of the Merrimac river from Haverhill, where William Sterling lived for many years. He was taxed in Rowley between 1660 and 1664; in 1662 bought land in Haverhill, and settled on a ridge east of that town on the Merrimac. A ferry across the Merrimac established in 1647, was operated from this land, and is still used, one of the oldest in the country. In the spring of 1669 he sold his Rowley property, with the provision that "the Road to ve Ferry be open for ever." Before 1683 the town conveyed to him a lot of about twelve acres, upon which he built a house, afterwards used for an inn. He is called "mariner" in the early records, and was also a shipbuilder and a miller. In 1684 the town granted him ten acres of land at the Fishing River, that he might set up a corn mill. This was in part payment for William's house and land, which the town had bought for the use of its minister. In 1692 he was elected one of six tythingmen, and reelected in 1694-95-96. He was also constable of Haverhill. Sometime in the autumn of 1697 or the spring of the following year, he removed to Lyme, Connecticut, and first bought land there November 29. 1701. He made other purchases of land at later dates. From early records it appears that he was a shipbuilder in Lyme. He spent the last years of his life at Sterling City, a hamlet within the bounds of Lyme, founded by his son Daniel. August 7, 1718, he deeded to the latter all his property.

He married (first), about 1659, Elizabeth___  , who died in Haverhill, February 6,1675; (second), in Haverhill, December 19, 1676, Mary (Blaisdell) Stowers, born there, March 5, 1641-42, died there May 29, 1681, daughter of Ralph and Elizabeth Blaisdell, and widow of Joseph Stowers. Her father was a tailor of Salisbury, received land there 1640, died before 1650; was in York, Maine, 163740. He married (third), in Haverhill, April 24, 1683, Ann Nichols Neale, widow of John Neale, whom she married in 1672. He married (fourth), in Lyme, Mary Sayer (or Sawyer), daughter of Hugh and Jane (Latham) Hubbard, and widow of Ichabod Sayer, of New London, whom she married in 1697; she was born November 17, 1674, survived her husband, and was living in 1714. Her father, Hugh Hubbard, was said to be from Derbyshire, England, and married in 1673. Children of first wife: William, born about 1660-61; Elizabeth, August 6, 1662; Richard, August 5, 1663; Mary, September 14, 1664: John, May 7, 1666; Hannah, February 14, 1667; Sarah, May 4, 1669; Abigail, May 27, 1670; Nathaniel, June 25, 1671; Daniel, October 2, 1672, died May 27, 1673; Daniel, September 19, 1673; James, February 6, 1675. Children of second wife, born at Haverhill: Jonah or Josiah, October 21, 1677; Jacob, August 29, 1678; Ruth, December 17, 1679; twins, May 21, 1681, died May 29, 1681. Child of third wife, born in Haverhill: Ann, March 14, 1684 -pp533-534.

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 2,    Lewis historical publishing Company,  New York, New York.  1913

There are some who say his first wife was Elizabeth Sawtelle but thst han't been established as certain yet.

Thursday, October 05, 2017


Normally I would now be starting to discuss  the ancestry of Mary Farnham/Farnum, wife of William Lovejoy, but I've run into a problem establishing the identity of her father. Some sources say her father was Ralph Farnham Jr,. others that he was Thomas Farnham, a brother of Ralph Jr. So until I can establish who it was I will move down to the next generation to the wife of Henry Lovejoy, who as it happens is another Farnham, Sarah. Her parents were Ralph Farnham III and Sarah Sterling, which means she and Henry were second cousins.

I found a brief biography of Ralph Farnham III in another of William Richard Cutter's books:

III) Ralph (3), son of Ralph (2) Farnham, was born June 1, 1662. He married Sarah Sterling, October 9, 1683. Children: Sarah, born May 5, 1685; Henry, September 15, 1687; Ralph, mentioned below; Daniel, January 21, 1691; Abigail, May 3, 1692; William, August 5, 1693; Nathaniel, July 25, 1695; Barachias, March 16, 1697; Benjamin, March 14, 1699; Joseph or Josiah, February 4, 1701. -p319
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 1  Lewis Historical Publishing Company,  New York, N.Y. 1913

I haven't found a Probate File or much of anything else  so far for Ralph III.

Sunday, October 01, 2017


((My favorite month for taking pictures. First posted in October 2014))

October 2012
It's October, one of my favorite months of the year. Even here in southeastern
Massachusetts I can enjoy the Fall foliage colors and I frequently take drives
in the afternoon to "leaf peep" and take pictures. But this morning I wondered
if my colonial ancestors were as entranced by the change of colors as we are
today. Back then most of them were farmers, so I suspect they were too busy
getting in whatever was left still in their fields and orchards. They wouldn't
be creating "corn mazes", they were too busy making sure they had enough
food harvested and preserved to help them survive through the Winter.

October 2011
October 2013
Looking for a poem about Autumn here in New England, I found this from
Robert Frost, who lived for many years in New Hampshire.


O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;

Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.

October 2014