Thursday, February 28, 2019


I've finally gotten around to transcribing the will of my 8x great grandfather the Reverend James Keith of Bridgewater, Ma. As I said in a previos post it is neatly written and this made transcribing it easier that has been the case with the wills of other ancestors. There are only two words I could not figure out at all and these are shown by (unknown word). A few others have (?) after them which means I guessed at the word.

The three witnesses are my 7x great grandfather Edward Fobes and his sons Ephraim and Benjamin.

I James Keith minister of the town of Bridgwarer in the County of Plimouth in New England being through gods goodness intire in my understanding & memory, but expecting my departure, and relying on the mercyof god in Christ for eternal life, do make my last will & testament with respect
to my outward estate, in manner &form as followeth.

Imprimis I appoint my executors mentioned upon this my will to receive all that may appear to be due to me & to pay all my just debts & to discharge my funeral expenses.

Besides what I have already given to my children, I do further give & bequeath to my five sons James Keith, Joseph Keith, Samuel Keith, Timothy Keith, John Keith, & my two daughters Margret Hunt & Mary Howard the produce (?) of my home being (?) housing and lands consisting of two & twenty acres, be it more or less, when said housing & lands are sold, & I do hereby appoint my executors, or such as they shall import(?) to make sale of said housing & lands in time convenient & the produce thereof to be equally divided among my said five sons and two daughters above mentioned to them, their heirs, or Asignes.

I give & bequeath to my son James Keith my best (nknown word) & (unknown word) my brown cloak, my boots, my best hat & best shirt to him, his heirs or Asignes. All the rest of my wearing apparelI give to my four sons Joseph Keith, Samuel Keith, Timothy Keith, John Keith to be equally among them, to them, their heirs or Asignes.

I give to my son Josiah Keith ten pounds to be paid to him his heirs or Asignes by my executors or such they shall appoint.

All the rest of my effects which shall be leftat my decease for that which is and by content to my loving wife Mary & what else(?) I am now posest of I may have occasion to dispose of before my departure & leave to my five sons James Keith, Joseph Keith, Samuel Keith, Timothy Keith, John Keith, & my two daughters Mqrgaret Hunt & Mary Haward to be equally divided among them, to them, their heirs or Asignes.

I do appoint my two sons James Keith & Joseph Keith to be joynt executors of this my will, which I declare to be last will & testament this thirteenth day of July in the year of our Lord one thousand  seven hundred & eighteen & in the fourth year of the reign of our gracious sovereign King George.
James Keith

Signed & sealed & declared
to be his last will & testament
in the presence of us
Edward Fobes
Ephraim Fobes
Benjamin Fobes

Wednesday, February 27, 2019


((First posted in 2011))

I've written here before about my 8x great grandfather the Reverend
James Keith of Bridgewater, Plymouth, Ma. Apparently he was a
friend and colleague of the famous Cotton Mather, who gave this sermon
on the occasion of my ancestor's death. I found it in a free Google
edition of "New-England historical and genealogical register, Volume 
19, page 245:

On The Death or Rev. James Keith, From The Text

*' Alas, The Angel of the Church of BRIDGWATER has this Last Week
heard that Voice from Heaven unto him, Come up hither! And he's flown!
A Desirable Man, if any among us were worthy to be Esteemed so !
Yea, you now know, whom I had in my Eye, while I was describing, A
Man Greatly Beloved: It was HE who Satt, for my Pencil to take the
Features from him! The Desireable and very Venerable JAMES KEITH,
who Preached his First Sermon in the Place where I am now* Standing,
more then Fifty Years ago, and sweetly Entertained - us again a Few
Months ago, is this Last Week Expired: That Silver Trumpet has done
Sounding. And it were a Fault in me, if I should not in this Place take
Notice of a Man who had so much of GOD in Him, and who deserves
so much to be had in Everlasting Remembrance." .... "Discharging
both Publickly and Privately, the Work of his Ministry, even to the Last,
and for Seven Years after he had passed thro' a Jubilee." ....
"He was the First Pastor of Bridgwater;" .... "'Twas then a Sett of Pious
and Praying People: A Town that stood in a Land of Unwalled ' Villages,
when there were Armies of Bloody Indians, destroying round about them,
not very long after their KEITH was come to be, their Decus ae Tutamen;
a Glory and a Defence unto them. It was Remarkable that tho' the Town
was often Assaulted by formidable Troops of Salvages, yet in all the sharp
Assaults it never lost so much as one of its Inhabitants. They wanted not
for Solicitations to desert their Dwellings; But having a KEITH to animate
them, they Resolved, that they would keep their Stations; and Stand still
to see the Salvation of God. Once the Indians began to Fire the Town;
but, they had a KEITH, with his Faith, to Turn to Flight the Armies of the
Aliens. The People with a noble Courage issued forth from their Garrisons,
to Fight the Enemy. But God at the same time Fought for them, with a
Storm of Thunder and Lightning and Rain, whereby a considerable part
of their Houses were preserved. 0 Man Greatly Beloved! Of whom it
might be said Cui Militat Aether!—After that Memorable Time, the Town
went on, Prospering and Flourishing under the Care of their Faithful
Shepherd; until anon they became Two Bands; Their Pastor did
generously Approve and Assist, the Peaceable Swarming of a New
Assembly from him; and on the Day when they First Met in their New
Edifice, he preached unto them, that Savoury Sermon, which was
afterwards Published under the Title of, A Case of Prayer, handled
on a Day of Prayer. A Sermon worthy to be their Perpetual Monitor.
And, which Two Years before his Death, he Concludes with minding them,
This Exhortation is given you, by your Aged Pastor, who hath served
you in the Gospel now full Fifty-Four years, and I hope, by the Grace
of God in some measure of Sincerity, tho' attended with much Weakness,
great Infirmities, and manifold Temptations."

Tuesday, February 26, 2019


In 2012 on the 344th anniversary of my 8x great grandparents Rev,
James Keith and Susanna Edson of West Bridgewater, Ma,  I
decided to celebrate by finally tracking down the location of
their tomb. Imagine how chagrined I was to find I'd visited the
Old Burying Ground in West Bridgewater the previous year and hadn't
found it there back then!  So I was bound and determined to
locate iton this visit.

When I arrived at the cemetery on South St there was some
roadwork being done and I had to drive past it, then turn
around and drive back to find a safe parking spot on that side
of the street. Then I walked back to where there was an entrance
through the stone wall. From pictures I'd seen online I thought
the grave would be a large vault which is probably why I
missed it on my first visit.(That, and the fact that there is no
sign with the name "Old Burial Ground"  there which on my
first visit made me think I had gone to the wrong location. Duh!)
Since then I've seen many family tombs which are under small
mounds so I knew better what to look for this time around.
And there it was, at the front of the cemetery behind the stone
wall, right next to the street. I'd have seen it earlier if the
view hadn't been blocked by the construction truck.

The inscriptions read:

Here lies the                                          Here lies the
body of the Rev.                                     body of Mrs          
Mr. James Keith                                    Susanna Keith
Died July 23, 1719                               Died Oct. 16 1705
Aged 76 years                                        Aged 65 years

                                  Mr. James Keith  
                       First Minister in Bridgewater
                    Educated in Aberdeen Scotland
                   and laboured in the Ministry in this
                                       town 56 years

Just to the left of the Keiths' tomb is the one belonging to Susanna's
parents(and my 9xgreat grandparents) Samuel Edson and  Susannah

So, mission accomplished!

Monday, February 25, 2019


((This was first posted back in August 2010> I found the graves a bit later and will repost
that story next. I  also have found some new information about the house which I will write a 
new post about.))

Now that I'm in better shape and the same true for Ping the Wondercar,
I decided to try to get out of the apartment more on my days off and do
some genealogy legwork. Today's inaugural adventure was a trip down
to West Bridgewater to try to find some of my ancestors' final resting
places. I'd made a unsuccessful try at this last Thursday but had left the
Googlemaps I'd printed out at home but this week I brought them with
me and set out optimistically.

After a short stop at CVS in Whitman to get some prescriptions filled
I continued down Rte 18 to East Bridgewater and then cut across to Rte
106 in West Bridgewater. I turned left on Howard St, drove past the
West Bridgewater Historical Society building, and then turned right onto
River St. According to the directions, the parsonage of my ancestor
Reverend James Keith should have been a little ways down on the right
but I drove to the end of River St without spotting it. A quick turnaround
in a driveway and I went back down the way I'd come, and there now on
my left, was the building. 

I pulled over to the side of the road and took a picture with my digital
camera(which once more insists it's October). It was a beautiful, warm
afternoon. The parsonage seems to sit in the middle of farm property,
with a barn on the left and a field with cows seeking shade under some
trees to the right. Across the street, on the other side of my car, a flock
of Canadian geese were foraging along the banks of a small river. Except
for the occasional car passing by on the blacktop road, it could have been
a typical summer day from Rev. Keith's time in the 17th century.

The building was closed so I resolved to find out when it might be open
and come back to see the inside. Then I drove on down River St, crossed
the bridge by the Canoe Club and continued on until I came to the Alden
Cemetery on my left. I parked across the street on Cross St and walked
over to the graveyard.

I was dismayed by what I found. While most of the markers are upright
and intact, some of them are beginning to lean over or sink into the grass.
And with the exception of perhaps fifteen or twenty markers, most are
unreadable. Inscriptions have worn away from the weather or obscured
by fungus. The stonewall at the front is so close to the first row of
markers that it surely must run over the graves themselves.The grounds
were obviously cared for and the grass mowed, but I had to wonder how
long  it would be before all the gravemarkers were unreadable and Alden
Cemetery was no longer cared for.

I have no ancestors at Alden Cemetery(that I know of, anyway) and I'd
intended to try to find the graves of Reverend Keith and  Deacon Samuel
Edson but it was already late afternoon and I knew the traffic on Rte 18
would be getting heavy. So I decided to call it a day and return to find
them another day.

So ended my first genealogy daytrip of the year.

Sunday, February 24, 2019


 ((This was originally written in February 2015, during the winter we called Snowmageddon))

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

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

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

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

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

In handwriting, neatness counts!


My 8x great grandfather the Reverend James Keith is one of my ancestors who, while not a major figure in New England history in general, is of some note in history of this part of Massschusetts. He was a protege of Increase Mather who recommended him for the first church position in Bridgewater, Ma.

Here's what Nahum Mitchell wrote about him in History of the Early Settlement of Bridgewater in Plymouth County, Massachusetts:

KEITH.—Rev. James Keith, a Scotchman, was the first Minister of Bridgewater; was educated at Aberdeen, in Scotland; came over 1662, at about 18 years of age; ordained Feb. 1664; m. Susanna, D. of his deacon, Samuel Edson, and had James, Joseph, Samuel, Timothy, John, Josiah, Margaret, Mary, Susanna. He m. a 2d wife, Mary, wid. of Thomas Williams of Taunton, 1707; d. July 23, 1719, as. 76.—Margaret m. a Hunt. —Mary m. Ephraim Howard.—Susanna m. Maj. Jonathan Howard, and d. young without children. It is said that his first sermon was delivered from a rock in Mill Pasture, so called, near the river.-p214

History of the Early Settlement of Bridgewater in Plymouth County, Massachusetts,  Henry T. Platt, Printer Bridgewater, Ma 1897

I'm descended from James' son Joseph Keith.

I've written earlier postd about Reverend Keith and will now be reposting them.

Monday, February 18, 2019


On 14 Aug 1878 some descendants of my 9x great grandfather Thomas Hayward gathered in Easton, Ma. to celebrate the centennial of the construction of a Hayward family mansion. George Washington Hayward gave a commemorative address in which he had this short description of our common ancestor:

Thomas Hayward and his wife Susanna were born in England; were last there at Aylsford in the county of Kent; came over in the ship Hercules of 200 tons, John Weatherby, master, with 5 of their children, in the early part of the summer of 1635. He first settled in Duxbury, and was one of the original proprietors, and one of the earliest and eldest of the settlers of Bridgewater. His will is dated in 1678, and he died in 1681, his wife not living at the date of his will. His children were Thomas, Nathaniel, John, Joseph and Elisha, born in England, and who came over with their father in 1635 ; Mary and Martha, probably born in Duxbury. Mary married Ensign Edward Mitchel; Martha married her cousin John Haward, (Hayward). -p5

Centennial Gathering of the Hayward Family with Address, John S. Sampson,  Printer, 1879, Taunton, Ma

Now Thomas' daughter Martha married my 8x great grandfather John Haward, which family name later became Howard. I don't know for sure if they were cousins.It might simply be another instance of the confusion between the various spellings of the Hayward and Howard family names.

Friday, February 15, 2019


John Howard and his wife Martha (Hayward) Howard had seven children. It is with them that the
complicated  relationships with the Packard, Fobes and Keith familes start:

JOHN m. Sarah Latham. John Jr. owned land in an area of Bridgewater known as Joppa, which is now part of East Bridgewater. It is near Route 18 and there was a restaurant located there called the Joppa Grill. When I went to college in Bridgewater I went through that area every day and never knew it was connected to my family.

JAMES. m. Elizabeth Washburn. James died in 1690 during the New England colony's attack on Canada.

JONATHAN. m. Susannah Keith

ELIZABETH, m. Edward Fobes. Their daughter Elizabeth would marry Joseph Keith.

SARAH, m. Zacheus Packard. Their son James married Jemima Keith, daughter of Elizabeth Fobes  and Joseph Keith

BETHIAH, m. Henry Kingman

EPHRAIM, m. Mary Keith

I'll be discussing Martha (Hayward) Howard's father Thomas Hayward next.

Thursday, February 14, 2019


I'm descended from two  of John Howard's daughters: Sarah, who married Zacheus Packard, and Elizabeth, who married Edward Fobes. I'll be dicussing the Fobes line later. Both they and their husbands are mentioned in the division of John Howard's estate. Heman Howard's book has a transcription of the document:

A true copy of the division of the estate of Lieut, John Howard, late of Bridgewater, who died intestate, as it was mutually agreed and consented to by all the several heirs apparent to said estate, on the fifteenth day of Oct., Anno Dom. 1701, which division is made according to the appraisement in the inventory taken of the said estate:—

To the widow, one hundred and seven pounds out of the moveable estate, and her thirds in the improved lands and housing.

To John Howard, the eldest son, as followeth :—Ninety-one acres of land, lying part of it at John's bridge where he now lives and near thereunto, (£45, 0 s., 0 d.), and the rest at Satucket river and Black brook; more, the house and barn and the land between the river and the highway that goes directly toward the meeting house, and ten acres joining to the said highway, on the north side, lying the whole breadth of the said lands, (£60, 0 s., 0d.) ; more, ten acres toward West meadow, (£05, 0 s.,0d.); half a lot of meadow in Flag meadow, (L04 Os., 0d.); the land at Tetaquat, (£02, 0s., 0d.); more, a quarter part of the undivided lands, and a quarter part of his right in the Cedar swamp, (L1, 07 s., 06 d.); more, a quarter part of a purchase right in the North purchase, (£5, 0 s. 0 d.) ; more, two lots of meadow, one of them in Poor meadow and the other at Black brook, (£10, 0 s., 0 d.). His whole proportion being 146 pounds, he hath given out of it also.. —£5 to his brother Jonathan, and £5 to his brother Ephraim.

To Jonathan Howard, the second surviving son, the land where his house stands, 49 acres, (£30, 0 S., 0 d.); more, 35 acres in the neck of land beyond James Keith's, (£17, 0 s., 0 d. ); more, 35 acres at Lathrop's swamp, (£17, 0s., 0d.); more, 25 acres near the same place, (£12, 10 s., 0d.); more, a quarter part of undivided lands, and a quarter of his right in the Cedar swamp, (£01, 07 s., 06 d.); more, a quarter of a purchase right in North purchase, (£5, 0 s., 0 s.).

To Ephraim Howard, the youngest son, the land on which his house stands, (£60, 0 s.  0 d.); more, 35 acres in the neck (£17, 10 s., 0 d.); ten acres near Bimeleck's hill, (£05, 0 s., 00 d.); one lot of meadow in Flag meadow, (£08, 0 s., 0 d.) ; more, ten acres at Lathrop's swamp, (£05, 0s., d..); more, a quarter part of undivided land, and a quarter part in the Cedar swamp, (£01, 7 s. 0 d) ; more, a quarter part of a purchase right in North purchase, (£05, 0 s., 0 d. ); more, a share in the north lands, (£02, 0 s., 0 d.).

To James Howard, the only son of James Howard, deceased, to be divided, the one moiety to him and the other moiety to his two sisters. The land where his house stands, and the land adjoining thereunto, being 45 acres, (£45, 0 s., 0 d.) ; more, half a lot of meadow in Flag meadow, (£04, 0 s., 0 d.) ; more, 40 acres of land above the stone house, (£08, 0 s., 0 d.); more, in moveables as per inventory, or 

money, (£14, 12 s., 06 d.); more, a quarter part of undivided land in Cedar swamp, (£01, 07 s., 06 d.).

To Edward Fobes, his wife, in money and moveables, (£68, 0s, 0d.); to Zacheus Packard's wife, in money and moveables, (£68, 0 s., 0 d.); to Henry Kingman's wife, in money and moveables, (£68, 0 s ., 0 d.); the said three daughters to have their part as appraised and as set in the inventory; and for as much as the above-mentioned lands divided to Ephraim, amounts to one hundred and three pounds, seventeen and six pence, he is to return to the estate £18, 07 s., 0d 

This above written is the mutual agreement of the sons, sons-in-law, and daughters of the above-named Lieut. John Howard, late of Bridgewater, deceased, made and agreed on the sixteenth day of October, 1701. In testimony whereof they have hereunto sealed and subscribed.
Signed, sealed and declared by the subscribers to be their agreement, in the presence of  

Elisha Wadsworth.
Thomas (T. S.his mark) Snell

Martha^ Howard, [Seal.]
John Howard, [Seal.]
Jonathan Howard, [Seal.]
Ephraim Howard, [Seal.]
Edward Fobes,
E. mark of Elizabeth Fobes, [Seal.]
Zacheus Packard,
In behalf of himself and Sarah his wife, [Seal.]
Henry K1ngman,
In behalf of himself and Bethiah his wife, [Seal.]
 Edward Mitchell,
As guardian of the children of James Howard, deceased. [Seal.]

Memorandum, that on the sixteenth day of October, 1701, the abovenamed parties to this agreement, who have hereunto sealed and subscribed, all of them came personally before me, the subscriber, Judge of Probate for the County of Plymouth, and acknowledged the before written instrument to be their act and deed.

William Bradford. Recorded, October 24, 1701.
Per Samuel Sprague, Register. 


The Howard Genealogy: Descendants of John Howard of Bridgewater, Massachusetts, from 1643 to 1903 Standard printing Company, Brockton, Ma  1903

To be continued ...


((This was first posted on 7Jul 2008. It's a nice story with probably a
little truth to it, but true or not it makes a good Valentine's Day story)).

I mentioned in my previous post about John Prescott that
there is a romantic (and probably romanticized) story about
his son Jonas Prescott's courtship of Mary Loker. I've found it
recounted in several different books on Google Books, and
while I'm not entirely sure it's true, it does make for another
interesting family tale.

The story is that Jonas and Mary fell in love but her parents
John Loker and Mary Draper had other plans for their
daughter. They wanted her to marry a lawyer, a man of
prospects, not the son of a blacksmith who was following his
father in the family trade and they forbade Mary from any
more contact with Jonas. One version told by Caleb Butler in
"The History of the Town of Groton" says the Lokers even
went so far as to install gratings on the windows of her room
and would lock her inside if Jonas was nearby. But even this
drastic measure didn't stand in the way of love:

"He (Jonas) took opportunities when the cold wind blew
and the
pelting storm raged when no listener could overhear
the soft
whispering of true lovers to place himself beneath
her grated window and
there enjoy sweet communion
with his dearly beloved ."

But eventually Mary's parents found out about this trickery.
Perhaps Jonas' idea of a whisper in a storm was a bit too loud?
At any rate, Mary's parents next decided to send her away to
a secluded village so Jonas could not find her while they looked
for a more suitable prospect for Mary's hand in marriage.
They sent her off to the small frontier town of Chockset which
is now Sterling, Massachusetts.

Jonas searched for Mary until one day while traveling near
Chockset he met some men of his own age and asked if they
knew of any pretty girls in the area. They told him there was
a quilting and a dance that night in Chockset and invited him
to come along.

You can see where this is going, I bet!

Jonas found Mary Loker and they continued to meet in secret
for some time until her parents once more found them out.
Mary's stubborn insistence that she would never marry any
man but Jonas Prescott at last forced her parents to give in,
although they did so with the angry condition that they would
provide no dowry for the bride. Legend says that the young
couple set up their household with so few essentials that
Mary used a large hollowed out pumpkin shell for a washpot!

I'm a bit skeptical about that pumpkin part but I think the
opposition of the Lokers to Jonas Prescott pressing his suit for
their daughter might have some truth to it. After all, although
Jonas' father John was well off, he was not exactly in the good
graces of the Puritan government, and the Lokers might have
had their hearts set on young Mary marrying someone who
could eventually rise to a position of power. Ironically, the
Prescotts eventually became one of Massachusetts' most
distinguished families.

I am descended from Elizabeth Prescott b 23Jan 1676,
d. 18Mar 1744.

She married Eleazer Green about 1694 or 1695. Their daughter
Elizabeth married John Ames(Eames), and their descendant
Arvilla Ames married my ancestor John Cutter West

Tuesday, February 12, 2019


One of the cool things in Heman Howard's book about the family history is this letter and his transcription. It's from my 9x great grandmother to her son, my 8x great grandfather John Howard:

This letter is a photographic reproduction of the original, which is in the possession of a member of the Howard family. It is supposed to have been written to John Howard, the progenitor of this family, by his mother, who spelled her name Hayward, which was not an uncommon way of spelling the name. As it is very difficult to read the letter, the following is printed as an aid:

London, Aug. 16, 1652. Lov1ng Son :—
Having a fitt opportunity by a friend to send to you, I could not, out of my motherly care to you and your brother, do less than write these few lines to you to certify you that both I and your sister are in good health, praysed be God, and that I earnestly desire to hear from you both, how you do and how and in what condition you are both. Your sister desires to be remembered to you both, and she and I have sent you some small tokens of our love for you. I have sent George 3 bands and a handkerchief, and an handkerchief to yourself, and I have sent you a shilling to you to pay for writing of a letter, if by long silence you have forgott. I wonder, son, you should so forgott your mother, whose welfare she tended more than anything in the world. Your sister hath sent you a book of your father's to you and a bible to George. Did we conceive you were alive, we would have sent you better tokens. Child, with my blessing to you both, desiring to hear from you and whether you ever intend for England, and how your cousing Sarah doth, with my daily prayer to the Lord for you, I rest.
Your Loving Mother,

Mary Hayward. For her loving son, John Hayward,
this :— In case he be dead, to George Hayward in New England.

-pp xvi-xvii

The Howard Genealogy: Descendants of John Howard of Bridgewater, Massachusetts, from 1643 to 1903 Standard printing Company, Brockton, Ma  1903

Somethings are universal and timeless. A mother worrying about her sons is one of them.

To be continued...

Sunday, February 10, 2019


My 8x great grandfather John Howard was another of the founding fathers of Bridgewater and West Bridgewater. In 1903 a man named Heman Howard, another of John Howard's descendants, wrote a family history and began with this:

JOHN HOWARD, with his brother George, came from England, and settled in Duxbury. He was among those who were able to bear arms there in 1643. He was about fifteen years old when he came to Duxbury. He lived in the family of Capt. Miles Standish, who came from Shorely, Lancashire, England. He soon removed to Bridgewater, and was one of the original settlers and proprietors of that town. Judge Mitchell, in his history of Bridgewater, says that John Howard, the first Howard to settle in Bridgewater, was a man of much influence in the new plantation.

In 1645 his name appears as one of the fifty-four original proprietors of the grant of land afterward known as Bridgewater. In 1656 he was one of the two surveyors of highways for his town. In 1657 he had taken the Freeman's oath. He was one of the fourteen men whose allotment of land was in the easterly part of the grant. He was one of the first military officers, and was appointed Ensign, Sept. 27, 1664. In May, 1676, during King Philip's War, Ensign John Howard, with twenty others, fought with some Indians and took seventeen of them alive with much plunder, and all returned without serious injury. June 5, 1678, he was a deputy to the General Court of Massachusetts; also on the same date was appointed a selectman of his town. In 1683 he, with Thomas Hayward, was a representative to the General Court. Oct. 2, 1689, he was promoted, and received his commission as a lieutenant. Mr. Howard was a carpenter by trade. He spelled his name Haward, and so did his descendants until after 1700. He m. Martha, a dau. of Thomas Hayward, one of the original proprietors of Bridgewater, who came on the ship Hercules, in 1635, from Sandwich, County of Kent, England, with five children and three brothers.

Mr. Howard lived in a house which he built near the first meeting house. It stood directly north of the house where B. B. Howard now lives, on the corner of Howard and River streets. The accompanying picture shows the spot of ground as it now appears; the well curb seen in the picture is over the well that was used with Mr. Howard's house. This was the first public house in Bridgewater, as Mr. Howard was licensed to keep an ordinary or tavern, in 1670, at this place. It would probably be difficult to find, in the history of all the taverns that have existed in Massachusetts, another of which it can be said, as Judge Mitchell says of this original Howard House, that " He (John Howard), was licensed to keep an ordinary or tavern, as early as 1670, and it is remarkable that a public house has been kept there by his descendants ever since, till within a few years." This house was owned and managed by John Howard and his direct descendants for a period of 151 years. John Howard opened the tavern in 1670, and kept it 30 years, until his death in 1700. His oldest son, John, then became proprietor, conducting it 26 years, until 1726. His son, Maj. Edward, was proprietor from that date to 1771, for 45 years. His son, Col. Edward, owned and conducted the house for 38 years, from 1771 to 1809, when he d. Then his widow and son, Capt. Benjamin Beal Howard, kept the house open 12 years, until 1821. The house was taken down in 1838. A list of the distinguished guests of this tavern, could we know their names, would make exceeding interesting reading. Without doubt, one of the early distinguished visitors was Mary (Chilton) Winslow, (the first lady who came on shore from the Mayflower), who was grandmother of the wife of the second proprietor, John Howard. An occasional guest was John Reed, D. D., who was a member of congress during Washington's administration. Oakes Angier, a young lawyer, Hon. William Baylies and Judge Howard, were other prominent and frequent visitors. Lieut. Howard d. in 1700. His property was appraised in October, the next year. It consisted of about 450 acres of land, and his estate was valued at about 840 pounds. Following is a copy of the division of his estate and of that of his widow, who d. before 1703

The Howard Genealogy: Descendants of John Howard of Bridgewater, Massachusetts, from 1643 to 1903 Standard printing Company, Brockton, Ma  1903

To be continued.

Thursday, February 07, 2019


My 5x great grandfather Reuben Packard was a Revolutionary War veteran (as were several other relatives). He was a sergeant in the company from Bridgewater led by Captain Hayden. He was one of the leading citizens of the town when the war broke out, married to Anne Perkins and by age 38 the father of eight children. After the war he and his oldest son Ichabod had moved to Sheperdsfield, Me. which is now Hebron, Me.

Reuben  followed the family tradition of being active in the formation of a new town. He built a sawmill and a gristmill on his property and led church services in his home until a Conregationalist church was built of which he became a deacon.

He and Israel were also among those who signed this petition:

To the Assessors of the plantation of Shepardsfield:
We the subscribers, being ten of the inhabitants of the said plantation, request you to call a meeting of the freeholders and other inhabitants of the said plantation, on Wednesday the twenty-eighth day of December current, at the dwelling house of John Greenwood, at nine o'clock A. M. for the following purposes, viz:

First, To chose a Moderator.

Second. To see if the inhabitants are of opinion to petition the General Court for an incorporation, also to see if they will agree to petition the General Court to have their taxes abated, and to act on any other business they may think proper at said meeting.
Shepardsfield December 19, 1791.
Agreeably to the foregoing request, the freeholders and other inhabitants of the plantation of Shepardsfield are warned to meet at the time and place, and for the purposes before mentioned. JOHN GREENWOOD
Assessors of Shepardsfield
Shepardsfield December 20, 1791.

Annals of Oxford, Maine   New England History Press in collaboration with the Oxford Historical Society, 1903 - Hebron (Me.

Reuben Packard died on 6Dec 1820 in Hebron, Me. I'm descended from his youngest child, Cynthia, who married James Dunham/Donham.