Wednesday, October 30, 2019


((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           

Friday, October 25, 2019


Samuel Haskell was born in Harvard, Worcester County Ma. to Samuel Haskell,Sr.
and Sybil Willard on12 Jun 1749. Twenty one years later he married his fourth
cousin Ruth Safford (they were both descendants of William Haskell and Elinor
Cook) on  6 Dec 1770. They had eleven children, all of whom were born in
Harvard, and sometime between 1799  and 1810 the family moved from Harvard up
to Gorham, Maine.:

   Samuel  b: 16 Jan 1772
   Sybel  b: 17 Nov 1773
   John  b: 4 Dec 1775
   Martha  b: 15 Feb 1780
   Ruth  b: 5 Jan 1782 
   Mercy  b: 11 May 1784  
   Eunice  b: 17 May 1786
   Ward Safford  b: 5 May 1788
   Betsy Elizabeth  b: 2 Sep 1790
   Sarah  b: 17 Apr 1793
   George  b: 23 Mar 1799  

I'm descended from Martha who married Moses Houghton.
By 1820 they were in Waterford, Maine, where Samuel died
sometime before 18Jan 1826 which is the earliest dated document in the Probate
File. I'm not sure why it took ten years for the estate to finally be settled. Samuel
died in debt and there are several court orders that the estate be sold over the
course of that decade.Eventually an auction was held, and one of the items on
the list of what was sold caught my attention.

The auction was held on 8 Sept 1834 and the items fill two pages and part of a
third. Here's an image I found on FamilySearch for that third page:

"Maine, Oxford County, Probate Estate Files, 1805-1915," images, FamilySearch Estate files drawer H52 Hamlin, Cyrus to Howe, Jacob,

The first two items on the page are:
"One bottle of pepper sauce      .17  Eunice  Haskell
Four bottles                               .17     Do       Do "

Eunice Haskell was one of Samuel and Ruth's children. The "Do" under her
name stands for "ditto". When I read what Eunice bought from her parents'
estate on that page I wondered why those two things. Ruth Haskell had died a
year after Samuel, so if Eunice bought the pepper sauce to eat and it was seven
years old, I'm not sure it would still be edible. Maybe it was something Eunice
herself had made since then on the premises since she was single and perhaps she
had stayed on at the family home after her parents died. Those other four bottles
she bought must have been empty, since there's no indication on the list that
they contained anything. Was Eunice going to make more pepper sauce and needed
those jars?

Dang, that must have been really special pepper sauce!

It's not a big question, just one of those things I run across in the Probate Records
that makes me wonder.

Thursday, October 24, 2019


((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.

Sunday, October 20, 2019


My 6x great grandfather Samuel Haskell  Sr.was born on 13Sep 1715, in Gloucester, Ma .He married Sybil Willard on 10May, 1744, in Harvard, Ma

Samuel was a prominent citizen. He owned a farm and for a time was a storekeeper and then innkeeper. He was a town selectman and had a seat in the front row in the Harvard Meeting House. Most notably he was a Captain in the town militia and during the French & Indian War.He led his company in the attempt to relieve Fort William Henry in New York from a siege by the French in August 1757 but the fort surrendered before help could arrive.

Samuel and his wife Sybil's children were all born in Harvard:
Elizabeth, 14Mar 1745
Samuel, 16Feb 1746
Lemuell, 22Feb 1747
William, 20Jul 1751
Sybil, 7Jul  1755
Oliver, 5Sep 1757
Joseph, 23Oct 1759
Ame, 25Dec 1761
Sarah, 14Apr 1768

I'm descended from Samuel Jr.

Samuel died  intestate on 13Octr 1771, in Harvard, at age  56. In his probate file he isdescribed as "Samuel Haskell, gentleman".Given the  fact that his estate was valued at over 2200 pounds,that seems like an apt description.

Thursday, October 17, 2019


My 7x great grandfather Henry Haskell was born on 2 Apr  1678, in Gloucester, Massachusetts
He married Ruth York in Harvard, Massachusetts, on 13 Jan 1703. Their first child, Ruth, was born 10 months later but lived only a week. Altogether they had seven children, all of them born in Gloucester

Ruth was born on 7Oct 1703, died  15Oct 1703  ,
Mary was born on 13Nov 1704, .
Henry was born on 6Jun 1706,
Ruth was born on 27Aug 1709,
Sarah was born on 19Aug 1713,
Samuel was born on 13Sep 1715,
Lydia was born on 28Jun 1718

Henry moved inland from Gloucester to Harvard, Ma. sometime around 1635 where he prospered  as a farmer.  He died in Harvard on 17Apr 1739 and Ruth survived him by ten years, dying in 1749.
At the time of his death he owned 145 acres of land. His estate was worth over 800 pounds according to his estate inventory.

One of the unique things in his will was that among the things Henry wanted his sons to provide his wife Ruth with was 20 pounds of tobacco. Apparently Ruth (York)Haskell was one of the colonial era women who enjoyed smoking a pipe!

Friday, October 11, 2019


With the recent discussion among my genealogy friends about the competitive nature of some FindAgrave volunteers and how it sometimes hurts the relatives of the recently deceased, I thought I'd share some thoughts of how and why of my own experience at FindAGrave.

I joined FindAGrave over eight years as something to do that got me out of my apartment. At first i was just fulfilling photo requests but then I started taking photos of the older headstones in the cemeteries those were requests were in. I began  doing that more often when I realized there were quite a few names from my own family tree on those old markers.

After a nearby town's cemetery was vandalized I started taking photos of the older markers at Mt. Vernon here in Abington, feeling that they were more likely to be permanently lost than the larger, modern headstones. I filed them on my computer in folders orgamized by the date they were taken. Then I've gone through the folders, checked the names on the headstones,against the FindAGrave site for Mt. Vernon and created a memorial if one had not already been done. If there is a memorial with no photo, I add the one I have to it.

Now, these are the rules I personally follow for my FindAGrave contributions:

1.I do not take photos of headstones who have died in the last 50 years except for photo requests.

2. If I am contacted with an edit for a memorial, I verify it wherever possible and then make that edit.

3 If a relative asks me to transfer ownership of their loved one's memorial, I do it as soon as I see the request.

4. If I have inadvertently created a duplicate memorial, I delete it.

5. I do not create memorials for graves I have not actually seen. No use of obituaries. No assumption that just because a person lived in a specific town, than he has to have been buried in that town's cemetery. Now that FindAGrave is used as a hint on Ancestry, that assumption of where a person is buried will lead to the spread of bad information,

6. I don't look at contributing to FindAGrave as a competitive sport. I don't worry about how many memorials or photos I've added. I do take a look at the end of the year at those stats and how many volunteer photos I've taken, but that's it.

I'll repeat, FindAGrave is NOT a competitive sport. It's a way to help others, whether mourners or family researchers, and to perhaps help  preserve local history.

That's how and why i "do" FindAGrave. How about you?

Wednesday, October 09, 2019


((First posted in October 2014))

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Saturday, October 05, 2019


((First posted in October2014))

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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