Sunday, June 30, 2019


((First posted in September 2012))

In the last entry in this series about Elisha Houghton's Revolutionary War
Pension file, I posted the transcription of Elisha's request to be transferred
from the Massachusetts Veterans Roll to that of Vermont where he had
relocated.He made the request in January of 1823 and it was granted by
September of the same year. The final image from his file in a combination
of printed and handwritten information from both 1818, the year of the
original pension filing, and 1823 when the transfer was made:  

"4.189 From

to Vermont
Elisha Houghton
Capt Brown
Massachusetts line 1778 3 years

in the army of the United States during the Revolutionary War
Subscribed on the Roll of Massachusetts
at the rate of -8- Dollars per month to commence on
6th of May, 1818.
Certificate of Pension issued the 17th of Nov. 1818,
and sent to Jo. Woodbridge, Esq
Stockbridge, Ma.

Arrears to the 4th of Sept. 1818                 31.76
Semi-anl. all'ce ending 4th Mar 1819       48.00
          Continued                                            $79.76
                         {Revolutionary claim)
                            Act 18th March, 1818

He died Nov 1826
Berkshire Co

On the right hand side of the sheet  are three oval shapes that probably were
left by wax seals. There are also two handwritten items. One is written along
the left hand side of the fold the length of the paper from top to bottom and

"Notification sent September 6th 1823
Parker L. Hall, Lenox, Massachusetts "

To the right of that is another notation:

"Date of death on
other side
from AB."

The added notes are a little confusing. The "He died Nov 1826"  was added
later but because of where it was placed it makes it appear Elisha died in
Adams, Berkshire County, Ma. when he actually died in Vermont. Also there
are some figures just to the left of sum of 31.76 that I couldn't decipher.  

So my 5x great grandfather collected $96 dollars a year for eight years from
1818 until his death at age eighty in Vermont in 1826. Why he had moved to
Vermont, and who he was lving with. is something I need to investigate further.

Saturday, June 29, 2019


(( First posted in September 2012))

Sometime between 1820 and 1823 my ancestor Elisha Houghton moved to
Vermont from Western Massachusetts. So far I haven't been able to find out
why he went there instead of to Oxford County Maine where his children
now lived. Perhaps there were relatives or old friends living in Vermont.
In any case when he left Massachusetts he had to apply to have his pension
payments transferred to his new place of residence. The remaining images
in Elisha's file deal with that transfer.

The first image is a folded sheet of paper. On the left hand side is a hand-
written note:

"Elisha Houghton must make a new affidavit agreeably to the within form
and transmit it to the War Department before his name can be transferred.
                                                                               10 Jan 1823"

  On the right is the following (I'm not sure that the date is the 10th or 15th):

"Transferred from Massachusetts to Vermont on the 10th(? ) Feby 1823
from 4th Sept. 1823.
Elisha Houghton
Mar 19"

Next is the actual transfer application. It's another preprinted form with
information filled "in the blanks" which I've designated with italicized print:

                                                  APPLICATION FOR A TRANSFER  

"State of Vermont
County of Bennington ss.
On this 21st day of January 1823, before me, the subscriber, a Justice of the
Peace for the said county of
Bennington, personally appeared Elisha Houghton
who, on his oath, declares that he is the same person who formerly belonged
to the company commanded by Captain
Joshua Brown in the regiment
commanded by Colonel
Timothy Bigelow in the service of the United States;
that his name was placed on the pensions roll of the state of
from whence he has lately removed; that he now resides in the state
(district, or territory) of
Vermont where he intends to remain, and wishes his
pension to be there payable, in the future. That at present receives
dollars per month
                                                                                           Elisha   X  Houghton

Sworn and subscribed to, before
me. the day and year aforesaid    
}                  O.C. Merrill,  Justice of Peace.
NOTE. The oath to be taken before a duly qualified magistrate, whose
official character and signature must be properly authenticated."

Then on the back is a handwritten note:

"State of Vermont
I, Joel Pratt Clerk of Bennington County Court do hereby certify  that Orsamus
C Merrill Esquire is a Justice of the peace acting  under the Authority of this
State & that the within signature is his.
In testimony whereof I hereto set my hand & affix the seal of said county
court this 28th day of January AD1823-
Joel Pratt Clerk"

Next we'll see if Elisha's transfer  was allowed and the amount of his pension.    

Friday, June 28, 2019


((First posted in September 2012))

This image from Elisha's pension file is one of my favorite family
documents for the reasons that it was the first time I'd ever
heard of the word "firkin". (cousin Chris Dunham explained it to me).
The preprinted part is in bold face, the filled in parts are italicized. 

"District of Massachusetts,ss1

On this day Sixth day of July 1820:Personally appeared in open
Court before the circuit Court of Common Pleas, begun and holden
in Lenox ,within and for County of Berkshire ,in the Western Circuit,
on the 4th Monday of June 1820, the same Court, being a Court
of record for said Circuit; preceeding according to the course of the
common Law, with a jurisdiction, unlimited in point of amount,
kereping a record of its proceedings, and having the power of fine
and imprisonment,

Elisha Houghton aged 71 years, resident in Adams in the County
of Berkshire aforesaid, who being first duly sworn, according to
law,doth on his oath declare, that he served in the revolutionary
war as follows; that he enlisted in the company commanded by
Captain Brown in the regiment commanded by Colonel Bigelow
in the line of the State of Massachusetts on the Continental
establishment. That his original declaration is dated May 6th 
1818 and that his pension certificate is numbered 4,189.

And I do solemnly swear, that I was a resident Citizen of the
United States, on the 18th day of March, 1818, and I have not
since that time, by gift, sale or in any manner disposed of my
property, or any part thereof with intent, thereby to diminish it,
as to bring myself within the provisions of an Act of Congress
entitled "An Act to provide for certain persons, engaged in
the land and naval services of the United States, in the
Revolutionary war," passed on the 18th day of March, 1818,
and that I have not, nor has any person in trust for me any
property or securities, contracts, or debts, due to me, nor
have I any income, other than what is contained in the schedule,
hereto  annexed, and by me subscribed-schedule of property,
necessary clothing and bedding excepted-to wit:

1 Tub and firkin --------.33
1 Iron pot--------------- -.75
1 Salt mortar-------------.12
1 Tea kettle--------------.75
1 Sugar box of Plates---.19
1 Tin tumbler ------------.6
1 Old Pail------------------.13

That I am by occupation a Labourer that I am not able to labor,
that the number of my family residing with me is none.
(signed) Elisha Houghton                                              

Sworn to, and declared on the Five day of July 1820, before the
said Court                         
Parker L Hall (illegible) pro tem

I Parker L Hall Clerk of the Circuit Court of Common Pleas
within  and for the County of Berkshire do hereby certify, that the
foregoing oath and the schedule thereto annexed, are truly copied
from the record of said Court; and I do further certify,that it is the
opinion of the said Court, that the total amount in value of the
property exhibited in the aforesaid schedule is two dollars and  
thirty three cents.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and affixed 
the seal of said Court on this ninth day of August 1820.

Parker L Hall   }Clerk of the Court for the County of Berkshire."  


The next image is of the other side of Elisha's affidavit. It appears the piece
of paper was folded in half twice lengthways which created four panels. There
are some words I couldn't read and I note them in parentheses. Likewise,
there are two words I'm not sure I've read correctly so I've used a (?) to
show that.

The text above the first fold appears to be an earlier version of Justice
Samuel Putnam's certification of Elisha's testimony. Apparently he decided to
write it on the bottom of the first side instead. He didn't sign this version:

do certify that it appears to my satisfaction
that the said Elisha Houghton did serve
in the revolutionary war as stated in
the within declaration against the common
enemy and I now transmit the procedings
and testimony taken and had before me
to the secretary for the department of  war
pursuant to the directions of the (can't read it)
out of Congress-"

The second panel served as a cover to the document when it was folded
up. As such the writing is at a right angle to the rest of the page:

"Elisha Houghton
Bigelow's Mass. Regt.

The third and fourth panels are statements by two witnesses as to the
character of Elisha Houghton and the truth of his story.

"I Asa Dean of Adams in the County of Berkshire Physician do certify
that I have known Elisha Houghton within mentioned a number
of years & that his reputation
(?) for truth is good and I have no
no doubt of the truth of  this notation
(?) made by him within
mentioned as his story has always been the same
(can't read)
(can't read)                                                                   Asa Dean

May 6th 1818
Sworn to before me
S. Putnam  Just. S.J.C."

"I Nathan Putnam of Adams also do certify that I have
known Elisha Houghton a number of years & I have no
doubt but the certificate of Dr. Asa Dean above is true
                                                                  Nathan Putnam
May 6.  1818
Sworn to before me
S. Putnam J.S.J.C."

Thursday, June 27, 2019


((First posted in September 2012))

This next part of Elisha Houghton's pension file is an image
of a sheet of paper with handwriting on both sides. This side
is the more legible.The other side is a mess, so I'll discuss that
in the next installment.

"Commonwealth of Massachusetts
(“District of” crossed out) Berkshires  of Commonwealth of 

Massachusetts.On this sixth day of May 1818 Before me the 
subscriber one of the Justices of the Supreme Judicial Court
of said Commonwealth personally appears Elisha Houghton 
aged sixty eight years resident in the town of Adams in said 
district who being by me first duly sworn according to law 
doth on his oath make the following declaration in order to 
obtain the provisions made by the late act of  congress entitled 
`an act to provide for certain persons engaged in the land 
and naval services of the  United States in the revolutionary war
` that the said Houghton enlisted as a private in May 1778 in
the town of Harvard in the state of Massachusetts in the 
company commanded by Captain Joshua Brown of the fifteenth 
Regiment of commanded by Col. Timothy Bigelow.That he 
continued in the service of the United States until May 1781 
when he was discharged from service at West Point in the 
State of Newyork. That he was in the Battles of  Bunker Hill
Stillwater Monmouth and Newport and that he is in reduced 
circumstances and stands in need of the assistance of his 
country for support and that he has no other evidence now in 
his possession of his said services and relinquishes all claim
to any other Pension but what he now asks for.

Sworn to and declared before me this day and year aforesaid                                                        S. Putnam Just
May 6 1818                                                 S.J. Court of Massts

I Samuel Putnam one of the Justices of the aforesaid Court do 

certify that it does appear to my satisfaction that the said Elisha 
Houghton did serve in the Revolutionary war as stated in the
preceding declaration against the Common enemy and I now 
transmit it the preceding and testimony taken here before me to 
the Secretary of the Department of War. Given under my hand 
at said Court.

S. Putnam Justice S.J. Court of Massachusetts"


((First posted in September 2012))

This is the beginning of my transcription of the images of the Revolutionary
War Pension file of my ancestor Elisha Houghton. The file covers his original
filing in his native state of Massachusetts, and then his application to have
his pension transferred to the state of Vermont. THe pages are a mixture of
preprinted text and handwritten additions, so I've used a system I've used
previously by boldfacing the preprinted words  and italicizing the added
parts. Words or phrases that I couldn't decipher are in parentheses.

The first image is the file cover with the following:
Service                                                                                               Number
Mass.                           Elisha Houghton                                       S39725

The second image is of the beginning of Elisha's  paperwork. It's folded
in thirds, with no writing on the left hand panel. The middle is a preprinted
form.The file number 3925 is written above the printed word INVALID. To
the left of that is the abbreviation Revy for Revolutionary. The rest reads

File No. 39725
Elisha Houghton
Pri Rev War

Act: 18th March 18th
Index:--Vol.S, Page 232
(Arrangement of 1870)

On the right hand fold  someone wrote:

27-Aug-25 Hist. to Kate
Starbird. Her letter in
(I can't read the next word) of Elias
(I can't make out the rest).

This last part refers to a researcher named Kate Starbird. Apparently she'd
written a letter inquiring about the records of Elisha Houghton and Elias
Monk. A copy of a  typewritten reply to her on Elisha's record is included
in Elisha's record. It is dated August 25th, 1927.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019


((I first posted this material in 2012))

I was able to find Elisha Houghton's service records and muster rolls on
the website (Now the Fold3 website). This is the information
they gave me in chronological order of his  military career with the
Massachusetts 15th Regiment of the Continental Army in a company
commanded by Captain Joshua Brown. I've added three battles that
Elisha says in his pension file he was present at:

1May 1777  enlists for 3 years
19Sep 1777 Battle of Stillwater
1Nov 1777 appointed Sgt
10Dec 1777  Sick at Albany.
Jan 1778 reduced to ranks as Pvt.
21Feb 1778 On command at Albany  Jan 1778

5Mar 1778 Sick in Albany Feb1778 Valley Forge
Apr 1778 Sick in camp March 1778 Valley Forge
2May 1778 On Guard Apr 1778 Valley Forge

2Jun 1778 Sgt May 1778 Valley Forge
28Jun 1778 Battle of Monmouth
29Aug 1778 Battle of Newport

25Sep 1779 reduced to ranks as Pvt.
1May 1780 discharged at "Camp near Robinson's Farm(?)"

(This doesn't include his previous service with the militia at Boston.)

Elisha seems to have had a tumultuous time in the army. He was made
a sergeant, busted down into the ranks as a private, regained his
original rank, and then was busted down again where he stayed until
he was mustered out of the army. So far I haven't been able to find
out what caused his reduction of rank twice. Was he a discipline
problem? Many of the New England natives who'd joined the
Continental Army were used to the less formal discipline of the
their own militia. Unless Elisha did something notable enough to
make the journal of one of his officers I may never find out what
he did.  

In an earlier post on Elisha in 2009 I raised a question about terms.
I knew what "on guard" meant  and of course "sick", but what did "on
command" mean? Not finding much information on my own I asked my
friends on Facebook if anyone knew what the term meant. I received
answers and suggestions from genealogist and non-genealogist friends
alike, and I finally decided that the best explanation was that Elisha
was either on a special detail or detached duty from his company
during those periods he was "on command". Fellow blogger Susan
Clark of Nolichucky Roots sent me a link to a Google ebook that seems
to confirm my theory:

"The term "on command," as given on the published returns of the
Revolutionary Army, is understood to be equivalent to the term
"on detached service," as used at the present day, and the number
 of men so reported should be included with the number of "
present and fit for duty" to determine the effective force of the Army. . ."

((A letter from Col F.C. Ainsworth, quoted in The Scotch-Irish:
Or, The Scot in North Britain, North Ireland, and North America, Volume 1

by Charles Augustus Hanna,  G.P. Putnam & Sons, 1902, p.7))

So that's an overview of Elisha Houghton's Revolutionary War service
before I start the transcription of his pension file.


My 5x great grandfather Elisha Houghton, like his father Ephraim, got only a brief mention in the Houghton Genealogy. But because one of his descendants was a prominent clergyman in Pennsylvania, he got a slightly longer entry in a book edited by John Woolf Jordan:

(IV) Elisha, son of Ephraim and Hannah (Sawyer) Houghton, was born July 20, 1746. He resided at Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Children: 1. Maria, born 1777. 2. Moses, of whom further. 3. Aaron, twin of Moses, born March 22, 1781, died November 24, 1842; married, September 13, 1804, Martha Eaton.=p149

Genealogical and Personal History of the Allegheny Valley, Pennsylvania, Volume 1  Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1913  New York, New York

Elisha married Meriah Peirce in Harvard, Ma. on 30 Nov 1768 where his daghter Maria was born. After the Revolutionary War his twin sons Aaron and Moses were born in Fitchburg,.The family also lived for a time in Adams, Ma. but eventually Elisha ended up moving to Vermont where he died on 18 Nov 1826 in the town of Shaftsbury.

Luckily for me there were records online of Elisha's service in the Revolutionary War as well as his Pension File. I first blogged about them back in 2012 but I'm going to repost them in the next few blog entries.

Monday, June 24, 2019


6x great grandfather Ephraim Houghton is one of the people who I now think of as a "Between Ancestor": someone who is overshadowed by his parents and his children. There is very little about him online and what there is are mostly mentions of his second marriage to the widow of a Harvard University graduate.

Poor Ephraim even gets short shrift in the Houghton Genealogy written by John W Houghton:

(136) Ch. of EPHRAIM' HOUGHTON and Hannah Sawyer (James^, Ralph^).
170 i Ephraim*, b. 12, 1, 1727.
171 ii Joseph, b. 10, 12, 1731.
172 iii * Elisha, b. 7, 20, 1746. Res., Fitchburg, Mass.
172a iv Eunice. -
Houghton family genealogy  F.A. Hitchcock, Pub. New York, N.Y. 1912

And that's it! Not only that, the author gives Ephraim's wife's name as Hannah while Lancaster, Ma. town records say  it was Sarah Sawyer, Ephraim's 1st cousin.She died on 28May 1761. Ephraim married his second wife, the widow Lois Rogers, five months later in December.

Ephraim died on 15May 1777 and left a will, in which he named my 5x great grandfather Elisha Houghton as executor of his estate which included acting as guardian for Ephraim's oldest son, William, who was mentally handicapped.

Elisha declined the executorship in favor of his stepmother Lois. At first I was puzzled why Elisha had done this. But then I realized he wasn't able to perform the duties his father had expected of him.

Ephraim had died on 15May 1777.

But Elisha had enlisted in the Continental Army on 1May  1777 for three years. He would not be home for awhile.

Saturday, June 22, 2019


This is going to ramble a bit.

I live in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, USA.  My roots here go back to the Mayflower. So whenever I was doing photo requests in one of the old cemeteries I would also take photos of old  headstones that had any of my family names. It was for one of those ideas I had for a project, matching those names up to my family tree someday. I filed them in folders under the name of the cemetery, the town, and the date they were taken.

I haven't loaded many of them up to Find A Grave but over the years whenever I see a Photo Request for a family name I check those folders first and have fulfilled requests from them.

Here's the rambling part.

Lately I've been adding  and extending collateral lines on my Ancestry tree. The reason being I thought by extending those lines it might add more Shared Ancestor matches to my DNA results. And it has. But it's doing something else.

Today I saw a Photo Request for the headstone of Isaac Dunham and his wife Augusta (Packard) Dunham at a local cemetery. I have done requests before for that cemetery and I have Dunham and Packard ancestors, so I checked my cemetery folder and sure enough, I had taken a photo some years ago. So I Fulfilled the request, and then I checked my Ancestry tree to see if they were there and exactly how we are related.

It turns out Isaac is my 9th cousin 1x removed, the son of Isaac Dunham the lighthouse keeper I blogged about in 2012. I don't have a connection yet to Augusta Packard yet but I'm still collateral lines to that family so I hope to find that connection soon.

Genealogical synchronicity.

End of ramble.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019


Ancestry recently introduced a tagging feature to its family trees called MyTreeTags and I think it's a very useful feature. I've been messing around with it for a few weeks now and find it very helpful in making lists of things about my ancestors using the Custom Tags.

Ancestry already has four tag categories: DNA, Life Experience,  Research and Relationship tags. Each of them has several sub-categories. The one I use the most is Direct Ancestor in the Relationships category and I recommend using it on every one of your direct ancestors because it will be very helpful..

You can also create your own Custom Tags. I now have 27 of these, ranging from specific occupations like blacksmiths and farmers to tags for Mayflower ancestors, Revolutionary War soldiers  to accused witches

This is how the top of the page for my 4x great grandfather John Cutter West looks now with the tags:

I have a number of relatives who I know were blacksmiths and I've marked  some of them with a "Blacksmith" Custom Tag. I can now use that as a Filter when I do a Tree Search. When I click on that just above John Cutter West's name a Search column opens up on the right hand side of the screen.

Then I click on Filters and a list of my tags drops down. I click on Blacksmith, then click the green Done button.

Ancestry  then displays a list of  the five ancestors who I've tagged so far as blacksmiths:

Now it happens that all five of these are direct ancestors. But there are other occupations or experiences shared with collateral relatives. For example, it have several tags about the Salem Witch trials. including one for "Witch trial witness". This is where that Direct Ancestor tag comes into play.

Clicking on just the Witch trial witness custom tag  filter brings up a list of sixteen relatives.

Adding the Direct Relative tag narrows the list down to six.

 I'm still adding tags and custom tage to people. I hope this post is helpful to others. 

Monday, June 17, 2019


 ((Today is the 244th Anniversary of the Battle of Bunker Hill. Several of my ancestors took
part in the battles, including my 5x great grandfather Elisha Houghton. I first posted this on 21
August, 2012:)) 

I mentioned my ancestor Elisha Houghton the other day and
that he was a veteran of the Revolutionary War. I found this
story about him in History of the Town of Harvard, Massachusetts
1732-1893 by Henry Steadman Nourse (p323):

"Coliney of the Massachusetts Bay.

To the Honnorabel General Coart seting at Watertown the Petion
of Elisha Houghton a Solder under Comand of Captan Hastings in Conl
Whitcomb's Rigement in the year 1775 and I was in the fight on Bunkers
hill So Called in Charlston on the 17 of June in the year 1775 as above
sd and on my Return I and others Lited on one Jacob Davis who was
wounded who requested our help and in tacking Care of the sd Davis
Caused me your Petinor to take Mistick Road to convey the sd Davis to
where he thought he could be tacken Care of and in so Doing 1 came
acros by Winter hill to go to head Quater at Cambridge and in Coming
by the Gard of Connal Starks which was set on sd hill they took away
my Gun which I and others that Knew sd Gun Judged to be worth teen
Dolers. I Endevuered to Recover my Gun again but was Denied the
Same which may be made Evident to this Coart by Reading the Paper
acompining this Petition. 1 also Sertify this Coart that I have Never
Reseved my Gun since Nor any Consideration for the same. I therefore
your Poor Petitioner Humbly Pray that this Coart would be Pleased to
take my Case into your Consideration and alow me Pay for my Gun
and your Petitioner as in Duty bound Shall Ever Pray. Bolton Jan. the —
1776 Elisha Houghton

This may Certify that Elisha Houghton of Col Whitcomb's Regiment
in Capt. Hasting's Company was in the Action on Bunker's hill and
helping bringing the wounded men off to Cambridge went mistick Road over
Winter hill and the Guard that was set on winter hill took away the Guns,
and this sd Houghton's Gun was among the Rest, the next Day with [a]
number of others sd Houghton went in order to Get his Gun with an officer
with him, but could not find it and have Never heard of it since—as I know of.

Josiah Whitney, Lt. Col. of sd Rgmt.
Dorchester Camp Febury 29th. 1776"

I don't know if Elisha ever got recompensed for his lost gun, but I suspect he
was one of the earliest victims of "requisitioning" in the American military tradition.

Sunday, June 16, 2019


In honor of Fathers Day I'm posting pictures of some of the fathers on my family tree. From the Wests:

Our Dad, Floyd E West, Jr.


Great grandfather Philip J. West, Cousin Stanley & Grandfather Floyd E West, Sr.

2x great grandfather Jonathan P.West & wife Louisa Almata (Richardson)West
3x Great grandfather John Cutter West
Some of the maternal grandfather's from Dad's family:

2x great grandfather Asa F Ellingwood & wife Florilla (Dunham)Ellingwood.

2x Great grandfather Amos Hastings Barker & wife Betsy Jane (Moore) Barker.
3x Great grandfather Philip Richardson

4x great grandfather Moses Coburn

 And the only pictures I have from Mom's side of the family:
Great grandfather John McFarland & wife Annie (Kelley)McFarland.

Great Grandfather Edward J White.

Happy Fathers' Day!

Monday, June 10, 2019


My 7x great grandfather James Houghton returned to Lancaster, Ma. after the Indian raids and settled in the part of town now known as Harvard, Ma. He built a garrison house that was still standing when Ellery Bicknell Crane wrote the following:

(lll) James Houghton, son of Ralph Houghton (2), born in Lancaster, in 1661. (This date is given in the American Ancestry.) It is stated by some writers that he was born before the family came to Lancaster. Ralph Houghton's family was among the first to come, and was doubtless living there by 1650. James Houghton settled first on the Neck but removed to Still river before the massacre in 1697. with his brother-in-law, Caleb Sawyer, and built upon lands given him by his father, Ralph Houghton. He had eight children. The second son, Ralph, was a soldier in the Acadian expedition to Canada and died in 1710, in the service. His brother James was his administrator.

James Houghton died in 1711. His will was proved September 11, 1711. His widow was the Widow Mary Houghton mentioned in the list of those in the garrison house in 1711. The garrison house of James Houghton has descended from father to son for five generations, and has been occupied the longest of any in old Lancaster, continuously in the same family. The present house is a capacious farm house, including at least three structures, all ancient. The west end is the original garrison house which sheltered the families of the neighborhoods from Indian raids. It was built from 1692 to 1704. The first chimney was of stone, and the huge foundations still fills half the cellar. It was early replaced by the present many-flued brick pile, with eight fire places, ovens, cupboards, and smoke closet, where there is room enough to cure simultaneously the hams and shoulders of a dozen swine. Many of the little windows remain, though the sash has been renewed, at nearly double the height now thought convenient. The walls are filled with brick and stone so as to be bullet proof. The huge oak beams and plates show for a third of their length below plaster and laths. These timbers are 12x14 inches. Once when it became necessary to remove some of the panels of the wainscoting, during renovavations. the wood was found to be unpainted soft pine without knot or check, of excellent workmanship, thought to be from the hand of James Houghton. himself a carpenter, and builder of his own house. The house passed to Thomas Houghton, his son, also ancestor of Stillman Houghton. It passed to his son Elijah, to his son Thomas, to his son Cephas and then to his son now or lately the owner, Edward Warren Houghton, of Harvard, Massachusetts, as that section of Lancaster is now known.

Children of James and Mary Houghton were:
1. James, born 1690; married Sarah (called James Houghton, Sr., to distinguish him from James Houghton, son of Jonas Houghton, a younger man). 2. Ralph, died in service in Canada, his brother James administered his estate. 3. John. 4. Thomas (see forward). 5. Edward (see Houghton family under Knapp family). 6. Ephraim, joined in deed, with Edward and James, to Jonas. 7. Hannah. 8. Experience. In 1723 Ephraim, Edward, Thomas and John, sons of James, lived in the vicinity of the old house in Harvard. James Houghton, who married Sarah, was not there at that time

Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs of Worcester County, Massachusetts: With a History of Worcester Society of Antiquity, Volume 1  Lewis Publishing Company, New York, New York 1907

James' wife was Mary Sawyer is not only my 7x great grandmother but also a distant cousin because I am also descended from her grandfather John Prescott on the Barker side of my family.

James' and Mary's son Ephraim is my 6x great grandfather.

Saturday, June 08, 2019


 ((First posted in Nov.2011 ))

My ancestor Ralph Houghton was one the original settlers of Lancaster Ma.
But the town was abandoned after the destruction of the town in 1675/6 in
the colonial Indian Wars.Ralph and the other townsfolk retreated back to
the coast by Boston until it was once more safe to go back to Lancaster.
But while he and some of his children did return, Ralph himself  eventually
ended his days on a farm in the safer location of Milton Ma. 

Ralph's land sits near the Blue Hills and among it's features was a spring
fed pond that the local Indian's called the Hoosic-Whisck. While the
Indian name was still occasionally used as late as the early 1900's, over
time the pond became known simply as Houghton's Pond.. Today the
pond and the land Ralph Houghton once farmed are part of the Blue
Hills Reservation where among other things copperhead and timber
rattlesnakes roam in sight of the skyscrapers of Boston.

Milton is right next to the Dorchester and Mattapan sections of Boston
and when we were kids our parents occasionally took us to Houghton's
Pond for a swim during the summer(although not as often as we went to
Houghs Neck in Quincy). It amazed me when I started researching the
family tree to find out we had went swimming in a place named after
someone we were related to and we never had a clue!

Thursday, June 06, 2019


My 8x great grandfather Ratcliffe Ralph Houghton was an immigrant from England who was one of five founders of the town of Lancaster, Ma.  Ellery Bicknell Crane wrote this about my ancestor:

II) Ralph Houghton, son of Sir Richard Houghton (t), born in England, in 1633; died April 15, 1705, in Lancaster. He is believed to have emigratedo New England in 1635. He was in Lancaster in 1647, and was one of the founders of that town with five others: Edward Breck, Nathaniel Hadlock, William Kerley, Thomas Sawyer. John Prescott. He was the first town clerk, and the writing of the early records in his hand show that he was not only a good penman but well educated. His home was on the Neck. He was town clerk for many years: was admitted a freeman in 1668, and was deputy to the general court in 1673-89. He was one of the leaders, and was identified with the organization of the town and its government until his death. He had to abandon his home with the others at the time of King Philip's war in 1675. In 1682 he settled in Milton. He returned to his Lancaster home in 1685, but was again in Milton in 1690, and built a homestead there in which seven generations of descendants have been born. He married Jane __ who was born 1626, in England, and died January 10, 1700-1. Their children were: 1. Mary, born January 4, 1654. 2. John, born April 28, 1655. 3. Joseph, born July 6, 1657: settled in Milton. 4. Experience, born October 1, 1659; married May 22, 1784, Ezra Clapp. of Dorchester. 5. James (see forward). 6. Sarah, born February 17, 1664. Ralph Houghton, of Dorchester (Milton later), was lost at Port Royal June 7, 1782, aged twenty-eight, in the earthquake.-pp263-264
Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs of Worcester County, Massachusetts: With a History of Worcester Society of Antiquity, Volume 1  Lewis Publishing Company, New York, New York 1907

Two of the other five founders of Lancaster mentioned in that excerpt are also my ancestors John Prescott is my 9x great grandfather, Thomas Sawyer is my 8x grandfather. I am descended from Ralph Houghton's son James.


Next in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks I'll be moving on to the marernal ancestors of my 2xgreat grandmother Florilla(Dunham) Ellingwood. Her mother was Sally Houghton, daughter of Moses Houghton and Martha Haskell.

The Houghton line goes back to immigrant ancestor "Ratcliffe"  Ralph Houghton and includes marriages with the Peirce and Sawyer families.Those marriages connect with many other early colonial families, primarily in Essex County, Ma.

The Haskells are connected by marriage to the Safford, Willards, Yorks and Browns, and go back to immigrant ancestor William Haskell Sr.

I've done some blogposts on members of these families some years ago and I'll be reposting some of the more interesting ones along with new posts as I go along.