Tuesday, October 30, 2018


((First posted on October, 2011))

When we were small our Mom occasionally would recite this poem and would tickle us when she reached the "Gobble-uns 'll git you ef you don't watch out!" part. Then when I was in the third grade at the Frank V.Thompson school in Dorchester I read the 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. So it's a sort of Halloween tradition for me.

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 27, 2018


Just a reminder: there's only three weeks left to submit entries in this year's Great Genealogy Poetry Challenge . Thanksgivng Day falls on November 22nd this year so the deadline for submissions will be a week before, on Thursday, November 15th.

Here are the rules for the Challenge:

 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 15th
and I'll publish all links to the entries on Thanksgiving Day, November 22nd!

5. 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.

This is the tenth year of the Challenge and I'm looking forward to seeing what poems people find! 

Friday, October 26, 2018


I found a second poem for this year's Great Genealogy Poetry Challenge. It's about the arrival of the Pilgrims, some of whom were my ancestors, in the New World  What's unusual about it is it was written by Robert Southey who was a British Poet Laureate. I found it here on the website:

First Landing of the Pilgrims
Robert Southey (1774–1843)


DAYS pass, winds veer, and favoring skies   
Change like the face of fortune; storms arise;   
    Safely, but not within her port desired,   
              The good ship lies.   
          Where the long sandy Cape           
          Bends and embraces round,   
  As with a lover’s arm, the sheltered sea,   
            A haven she hath found   
From adverse gales and boisterous billows free.   

            Now strike your sails,           
  Ye toilworn mariners, and take your rest   
        Long as the fierce northwest   
          In that wild fit prevails,   
Tossing the waves uptorn with frantic sway.   
          Keep ye within the bay,           
            Contented to delay   
Your course till the elemental madness cease,   
And heaven and ocean are again at peace.   

            How gladly there,   
      Sick of the uncomfortable ocean,           
The impatient passengers approach the shore;   
  Escaping from the sense of endless motion,   
To feel firm earth beneath their feet once more,   
          To breathe again the air   
    With taint of bilge and cordage undefiled,           
  And drink of living springs, if there they may,   
And with fresh fruits and wholesome food repair   
      Their spirits, weary of the watery way.   

              And oh! how beautiful   
            The things of earth appear
            To eyes that far and near   
          For many a week have seen   
        Only the circle of the restless sea!   
            With what a fresh delight   
      They gaze again on fields and forests green,
              Hovel, or whatsoe’er   
    May bear the trace of man’s industrious hand;   
            How grateful to their sight   
            The shore of shelving sand,   
      As the light boat moves joyfully to land!           

  Woods they beheld, and huts, and piles of wood,   
            And many a trace of toil,   
  But not green fields or pastures. ’T was a land   
              Of pines and sand;   
    Dark pines, that from the loose and sparkling soil           
      Rose in their strength aspiring: far and wide   
      They sent their searching roots on every side,   
      And thus, by depth and long extension, found   
Firm hold and grasp within that treacherous ground:   
  So had they risen and flourished; till the earth,           
      Unstable as its neighboring ocean there,   
    Like an unnatural mother, heaped around   
  Their trunks its wavy furrows white and high;   
    And stifled thus the living things it bore.   
            Half buried thus they stand,           
            Their summits sere and dry,   
    Marking, like monuments, the funeral mound;   
    As when the masts of some tall vessel show   
Where, on the fatal shoals, the wreck lies whelmed below.
*        *        *        *        *
Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes, ed. by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Boston: James R. Osgood & Co., 1876–79

Saturday, October 20, 2018


One of the most frustrating and sometimes painful things that happens for family historians is finding out that someone you believed to be your ancestor isn' t.The most common reason for this is that there is more than one person in a family or community that have the same name, and for one reason or another you have the wrong one.

And this is what happened to me in the case of John Dunham Jr. and consequently his son Samuel Dunham.

Oops.Let me explain.

I had John Dunham Jr in my tree as my 8th great grandfather and his son Samuel Dunham as my 7th great grandfather. But when I finally got around to transcribing John's will the other day, there was no mention of Samuel anywhere in it. So I started checking the other information I had on the family and discovered that John Dunham Jr's son Samuel died in a house fire in August 1687/88, five years before John's will was written, and had never married. So he wasn't my ancestor.

Eventually I figured it out. The Samuel Dunham I am descended from was John Dunham Jr's nephew, who was married to Mary Harlow. And his father Samuel Dunham Sr was John's btother.

So how did this happen? Well, the Ellingwood and Dunhams were the first of my ancestors I added to my family tree, using my cousin Florence O'Connor's book. And she used the book by Isaac Watson  for her Dunham information. All of her Ellingwood research has checked out but I hadn't worked extensively on the Dunhams until now. And as I've mentioned in a previous post, Isaac Watson's  book has since been proven to have some erroneous information. But fifty or so years ago the book information was widely accepted.

I made a classic newbie error when I didn't double check the information  when I entered it on my family tree.

Luckily for me, I don't have to remove a whole branch from that tree, just one generation from my line of descent. I've already done that on Ancestry and RootsMagic. And I will have to redo Week 37 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks with the correct ancestor this time.

Live and Learn!


((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 of New 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.

Monday, October 08, 2018


My 9x great grandfather John Dunham Sr. has been the subject of much discussion by genealogists over the years. There is the question of John Singletary/ John Dunham which I won't go into here. And then there is the confusion caused by Isaac Watson's book which had many errors that were accepted by the genealogical community of the 19th century as fact.

I debated dicussing those errors here but then decided if I did so they might end up on someone's online family tree and spread further. Instead here is a link to the book, Dunham genealogy: English and American branches of the Dunham family. This is an edition published in 1907. What alarms me is that there are editions published as recently as 2017.

Luckily, more thorough research from reputable genealogists has produced these facts:
John Dunham  Sr was born in England around 1588/9. He married Susannah Keno around 1615 and they were part of the English Separatist community in Leiden Holland where they had three children together before Susannah's death. John's second wife was Abigail Barlow (or Ballou) who he married on 22Oct 1629 in Leiden. Their first three (possibly four) children were born in Leiden before the family arrived at Plymouth Plantation in 1632.  John's occupation is listed in the Plymouth records as weaver but he managed to acquire quite a bit of property and he was a prominent member of the community. He also was active in the town government  where he served on committees and worked as a town officer several times, He and his sons also occasionally were involved in some scurrilous incidents over the years. He died in Plymouth on 2Mar 1688/9.

John Dunham Sr.'s children with Susannah Keno, all born in Leiden, were:

John Jr., b. about 1616; died 6Apr 1692
Humility, b. around 1618
Thoma, b. around 1619; died around 1677

His children with Abigail Barlow/Ballou:
Samuel, b. in Leiden about 1623; died in Plymouth 20Jan 1711
Jonathan, b. in Leiden about 1625
Abigail, b. in Leiden around 1627
Joseph, b. 1631 (probably in Leiden)
Hannah, b. in Plymouth 1634; died in Plymouth 1Apr 1708
Persis, b. in Plymouth 1635
Benajah, b. in Plymouth 1637
Daniel, b. in  Plymouth 1639

I am descended from sons John Jr. and Joseph.

Thursday, October 04, 2018


There's been a change of plans in the next series of posts in the 52 Ancestors in 52Weeks series. Due to a question in establishing which John Ellis was the father of my 7x great grandmother Elizabeth (Ellis) Briggs I am going to postpone those posts for now. Instead I will be turning to the family tree of my 2x great grandmother Florilla (Dunham) Ellingwood, who is a descendant of immigrant ancestor John Dunham of Plymouth. Here's the relationship chart:

I'll also be posting about the other families in her line.