Monday, February 1, 2016

Phebe Ann Jacobs Remembered

Uncle Tom's Cabin, 
Boston Edition
Is it possible that a former slave living in Brunswick, Maine, inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin? For more on Phebe Ann Jacobs, click on the link below. This research was inspired by a tribute I found when looking at old newspapers. Here is a transcription of the news article.

The Portland Weekly Advertiser, Portland, ME, Vol. LII, Issue 15, page 2.
April 16, 1850

Honor to Black Phebe. - Black Phebe, an old negro woman, born a slave, died in Brunswick on the 5th and was buried the 7th of last month.  - When carried to the grave, her pall was borne by no less noted characters than Ex-Gov. R.P. Dunlap, Prof. A.S. Packard of Bowdoin College, Dr. Isaac Lincoln, a most distinguished physician and surgeon of Brunswick, and John McKeen, Esq., Treasurer of Bowdoin College. The principle mourners that followed the corpse were Rev. Dr. Allen, late President of the College, and his two daughters, who repaired from Northampton, Mass., where they now live, to attend the funeral. She was buried in a grave dug by the side of President Allen's wife, and a daughter, who died whilst he resided in Brunswick. The funeral services were held in the Congregational Church, near the Colleges, and an effecting sermon was preached by Rev. Dr. Adams, Pastor of that Church. What called forth all these distinguished honors over the remains of a negro woman? It was her Christian character, which is to be honored as much in a black as in a white. The following is a brief account of her life: - 

'She was born a slave on the famous Beverwyck estate in Hanover, Morris county, near Newark, N.J. In early life she entered as a servant in the family of President Wheelock, of Dartmouth College, and living in his family and that of his daughters, Maria Malleville Allen the wife of President Allen of Bowdoin College, forty years. For the last eighteen years she lived alone in her house and she died alone and suddenly. In the same night and probably in the same hour, died her friend the wife of Rev. Dr. Adams. 

This circumstance added peculiar interest and pathos to his discourse. He said, that if his beloved companion (then lying dead, to be buried the next day) could have been permitted to choose an attendant spirit, as she passed through the dark valley, and in her upward flight to the paradise of God, doubtless she would have chosen Phebe. Black Phebe!, he exclaimed, she has sometimes been called; but her soul is whiter and purer than the light, and her heavenly garments more resplendent than the sun shining in his brightness.'
(Augusta Banner.)    

More About Phebe Ann Jacobs
Bowdoin College
Biography of Rev. Dr. William Allen

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Cold Snap!

In the winter of 1877, there was an ongoing cold snap. When I find items like this, it reminds me that lamenting the winter cold is an age-old preoccupation in Northern New England. 

For forty-three days, beginning with the 5th of December, the thermometer has not been to the freezing point of water in Bethel. So long and so cold, a spell so early in the winter, it is believed, has never been recorded for a previous winter. 

Courtesy of, Bangor Daily Whig and Courier,
Sat, Jan 27, 1877, Page 1

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Gloucester Intrigue

An interesting story unfolds in early 1663/1664. The wife of Thomas Prince* was seen doing a variety of strenuous activities, such as daubing clay on her house just before she gave birth to a stillborn child. It appears that William Browne was also blamed for frightening Goodie Prince just before she gave birth. Debrow Skilling deposed that she came to Goodie Prince's house and found her trembling and shaking and saying that Browne had been there and spoken such words to her "that her time was but short and the deuece (?) would fetch her away speedily." The commissioners of Gloucester, Sylvester Eveleth and William Vinson took this sworn testimony. It was feared that Goodie Prince might not survive and local women were taking turns tending to her.

Then there was the possibility that one of the girls caring for Goodie Prince, Mary Davis, spent the night in the bed of John Megus/Meagers a servant in the Dutch household. Some testimony seems to hint at scandal while another testimony seems to suggest that while Mary slept in his bed, he was in another room or another building.

Hanna Verry, aged about twelve years, deposed that she was at Goodman Prince's house when his wife lay in. Mary Davis being her nurse, and Goodman Prince at that time was at deponent's father's house, Thomas Verry's. Goodwife Prince desired her husband to be sent for and deponent went with Mary Davis, it being very late in the night about eleven or twelve o'clock, and when Mary returned instead of going home, she desired her to go in the opposite direction to Goodman Duche's house. Deponent said she must go home and go to bed, but Mary told her that she would go back with her. Said Mary knocked and called at the door, and Goodman Duch did not make any answer, but John Meagers asked who was there. Mary answered "a maide." Then Meagers came to the door and whispered a while with her and Mary pushed deponent away and went into the new room. Deponent stood at the door and called for Mary to go home with her, but the latter said she would stay with Mary Duch so Hannah went home alone. 

Osmond Dutch deposed, Jan. 19, 1663, that his daughter Mary saw Mary Davis in John Megus' bed in the morning and that Megus told deponent that he went into his other cabin. Sworn before Samuel Symonds. 
On Jan. 21, 1663, John Megus was bound for appearance at Ipswich court, William Canning, surety, and John Davis was bound for his daughter Mary Davis' appearance before Samuel Symonds. 

Grace Duch, aged about fifty years, testified that she was called in the night to a woman who was not well and when she came home in the morning, her husband told her what happened. Meager said he wondered that his landlady Duch did not hear Mary Davis, etc. The later had been around with the "Showlers" that night. (Any ideas on what the "Showlers" are?)

The testimony of Mary the wife of John Roe --
She saith that she did heare Mary Davis say that John Megus did let her in, & that he did lye in one Cabbyn & she in an other. This taken upon oath 28th of March 1664.

I haven't found any more information on the outcome of the story, but old court records are definitely interesting.

For more information:
Essex Court files
The Essex Antiquarian - volume 11, pp. 128-9.

*Margaret (Skillings) Prince, her daughter, Mary (Prince) Rowe, and her granddaughter, Abigail Rowe were all accused of witchcraft during the hysteria of 1692.

Osmund & Grace Dutch
Esther Dutch
Robert Elwell
John Elwell
Rhoda Elwell
Thomas Edgecomb
Mary Edgecomb
Benjamin P. Philbrick
Mary Elizabeth Philbrick
Ray Everett Cotton
Fern Lyndell Cotton - my grandmother

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

My Grandfathers - The Selectmen Who Rewrote the Book

On January 13, 1653, a meeting of Selectmen was held at the tavern of George Walton on Great Island in Portsmouth. In attendance were Brian Pendleton, Renald Fernald, John Pickering, Henry Sherburne, and James Johnson. As fate would have it, I am related to all except James Johnson. Frank W. Hackett, in his 1645-1656. Portsmouth Records, called them "men of force and character and all of them prominent in the records."

It seems that not everyone was happy with the extension of Puritan-controlled Massachusetts Bay authority over the Piscataqua region. Supporters of the Church of England and other religious non-conformists had attempted to break away from this control and been arrested. So the Selectmen decided to tighten the grip by looking at the old Town Book and crossing out the items that did not meet their approval. Then the approved items were copied into a new book. This eliminated evidence of conflicting land claims and allowed the Puritans to distribute the land as they saw chose. Obviously, they would favor those who agreed with their views and could use the land as rewards or to benefit their own interests.

Brian Pendleton continued to be active in extending Puritan control over the New Hampshire and Maine frontier. In England, Cromwell and the Puritans were in control and those who disagreed with their beliefs found little relief from the mother country.

On November 16, 1652, Pendleton and other commissioners met at the home of William Everet in Kittery. There the settlers agreed to submit to the authority of the Massachusetts Bay colony. On November 22, York also agreed to this arrangement. Brian Pendleton was made a justice of a County Court at Kittery. Other areas also fell into line; Wells, Saco, and Cape Porpoise in 1653. The towns gained representation in the General Court but they had other freedoms that those in Massachusetts did not. There was no religious test for voting rights and the local military groups were not required to join with others beyond their own town.

Lines to my dad's mother - Fern Lyndell Cotton
Brian Pendleton - 11th great-grandfather, Mary Pendleton, Pendleton Fletcher, Pendleton Fletcher, Jr., Sarah Fletcher, Gibbins Edgecomb, Thomas Edgecomb, Mary Edgecomb, Benjamin Perley Philbrick, Lizzie Philbrick, Ray Everett Cotton, Fern Lyndell Cotton

Renald Fernald - 10th great-grandfather, William Fernald, Margaret Fernald, Benjamin Cotton, William Cotton, William Cotton, William Cotton, Jr., John Henry Cotton, Francis Llewellyn Cotton, Ray Everett Cotton, Fern Lyndell Cotton

Henry Sherburne - 11th great-grandfather, Elizabeth Sherburne, Elizabeth Langdon, Margaret Fernald - see above

Lines to my mom's mother - Linona Alice Yates
George Walton - 11th great-grandfather, Abishag Walton, Grace Taprill, Dorothy Hoyt, Alice Babb, Lydia Waterhouse, Alice Garland, Richard Hayes, Sydney Hayes, George Hayes, Eva Delphinia Hayes, Linona Alice Yates

Renald Fernald - 11th great-grandfather, Mary Fernald, Mary Partridge, John Blaisdell, Stephen Blaisdell, Stephen Blaisdell, Jr. , Susannah Blaisdell, Stephen Blaisdell Rowe, Charles H. N. Rowe, Anna J. Rowe, Eva D. Hayes, Linona Alice Yates

Renald Fernald - 10th great-grandfather, Sarah Fernald, Timothy Waterhouse, John Waterhouse, Lydia Waterhouse - see above

John Pickering - 9th great-grandfather, Thomas Pickering, Mary Pickering, Elizabeth Fabyan, Temperance Downing, Molly Wildes, Jacob Emmons, Laura Emmons, Estes Gilbert Yates, Linona Alice Yates

Henry Sherburne - 10th great-grandfather, Ruth Sherburne, Ruth Moses, John Waterhouse, Lydia Waterhouse - see above

from Brian Pendleton and His Descendants, 1599-1910, With Some Account of the Pembleton Families of Orange County, N.Y., Ostego County N.Y., and Luzerne County, Pa., and Notices of Other Pendletons of Later Origin in the United States, Everett Hall Pendleton, compiler; accessed on

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Accentuate the Positive - Celebrating 2015!

Jill Ball who writes the blog, GeniAus, has issued her annual reminder to genealogy researchers to focus on all you have accomplished in the past year. I did this last year and really enjoyed it!  Those who participate in this challenge delete or modify the prompts depending on their personal circumstances so check out all her original ideas of things to celebrate! 

Here's a toast to 2015! It was a great year of genealogy!
On to 2016 and all the new things it will bring! 

A precious family photo I found was this picture of my grandmother, Fern Lyndell (Cotton) Carter (1922-2002), holding my father, Thomas Robert Carter (1939-__).

An ancestor's grave I found: I actually did more cemetery visits this year than previously. However, locating the Capen Cemetery was a highlight of my year. I knew my grandfather used to visit this small cemetery on private land. My dad lives nearby and talked to the landowners to find the cemetery and get permission to visit. 

An important record I found was the obituary for a student's father. This student had no connections to his family and knew very little about his family's story. He thought he would never be able to find anything because his father was dead and he was estranged from his mother and he had no extended family connections. Starting with his father's obituary, we were able to find 183 records and document 70 relatives. 

A geneasurprise I received was my Christmas present again! My family is sending me to NEHGS at the end of February for the Winter Research Workshop

My 2015 blog post that I was particularly proud of was One Maine Farm in 1860. The reason is that the prompt from Amy Crow inspired me to dig deeper into the agricultural schedule of the census and gain a greater understanding of what life was actually like for my ancestors. 

My 2015 blog post that received a large number of hits or comments was Five Daughters Suddenly Gone. I think many people related to it because of similar family stories of hardship and loss in their own trees. 

A social media tool I enjoyed using for genealogy was Facebook. Genealogists and bloggers especially are a great group. I enjoy all that is shared - personal stories of everyday life and the challenges of fitting our passion for research around the other demands of life, struggles and successes of research, tips and hints, and many great ancestor stories. 

A genealogy conference I attended and gained much from was NERGC 2015 in April. I saw great speakers, got to meet D. Joshua Taylor, Carol McCoy, and Judy Russell, and connected with many of those I "see" online. 

I am proud of the presentation email interviews I did for NERGC 2015. I was fortunate to get responses from two excellent presenters, D. Joshua Taylor and Casey Zahn.

I taught a friend a group of my students how to research their ancestors. You can read about their findings on my blog here.

A great repository/archive/library I visited was The New England Historical and Genealogical Society. It was an unexpected visit that came about when a school group needed another chaperone for the train trip to Boston. Just ride the train and the day in Boston was mine to do with what I pleased. I chose to spend it at NEHGS. 

A new genealogy/history book I am enjoying is The Great Migration Directory by Robert Charles Anderson. 

It was exciting to finally meet the New England Geneabloggers who attended the bash in September. It was a renewing of acquaintances with most. However, I had not met Pam Seavey Schaffner or Barbara Mathews in person until the bash. It was the first time I was able to attend and I look forward to more meetings in the future. 
Photographer: Vincent Rojo

A geneadventure I enjoyed was a road trip to Massachusetts in June. In one day, my husband and I visited The Balch Housethe Saugus Iron Worksthe Golgotha Memorial in Amesbury, and the Old Newbury Burying Ground and Founders Memorial

Another positive I would like to share is I am looking forward to making more connections with other genealogists and bloggers in 2016. I am going to work on Dear Myrtle's Finally Get Organized Challenge and Thomas MacEntee's Genealogy Do-Over.  

A big thank you to Jill Ball for this annual tradition! 
Jill Ball's blog, GeniAus Accentuate the Positive Challenge

2015 Year-In-Review

The end of 2015 and beginning of 2016 have not been good times for my blog. I got busy...I got sick...I have taken on too many projects...

However, I am going to attempt to get going again. Let's start by reviewing 2015. I participated in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge and managed to get to 49. With that said, I did post the most stories ever - 109! My previous three years included 79, 76, and 77 stories so I'm declaring 2015 a success. The 52 Ancestors theme has been retired so I will need to find new inspiration. I am working on Dear Myrtle's Finally Get Organized and a modified version of Thomas MacEntee's Genealogy Do-Over. Both of those things involve more tasks related to becoming a better researcher and fewer blogging tasks. I'll need to work on balancing the behind the scenes research and organization with the blogging about ancestors.

Let's look back on 2015:

My Top Ten Stories based on number of views:

  1. Petition of the Poor, Distressed Widow 
  2. Pigs and Bacon 
  3. The Crime of Fornication 
  4. Jane Walford: Accused Witch 
  5. Drummer Eleazer Cole 
  6. Passion over Perfection
  7. Five Daughters Suddenly Gone 
  8. A Horrible Crime
  9. Everyone Has A Story
  10. The Balch House 
The 3 most shared stories turned into 6 as they all had the same number of shares. 

Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Naughty Wife - 52 Ancestors #49

Frances, the wife of immigrant William Hilton, had a fiery streak. She appeared in court in a number of times. Her relationships with her husbands and her neighbors seem especially tumultuous.

Frances first shows up in court in October 1649 when she was admonished for fighting and abusing her neighbors with her tongue. William Hilton was also in trouble for violating the Sabbath by carrying wood from the woods and also for failing to have food and drink on hand for strangers and inhabitants.

June 28, 1655: Frances was found guilty of "railing at her husband and saying he went with John his bastard to his three halfe penny whores and that he carried a cloak of profession for his knavery." Her accusation and language resulted in her sentence to be whipped - "twenty lashes upon the bare skin." This would be set aside if she remained on good behavior until the next country court and no more complaints were brought against her. However, if she had other complaints against her, the authorities would carry out the original sentence. Her husband died within the next year.

After William Hilton died, Frances married Richard White. Richard was the administrator of the estate of William Hilton. Richard and Frances had some conflict with Rice Jones. In 1656, Richard sued Jones for slandering Frances. Jones countersued Frances White for "causelessly abusing" the wife of Rice Jones with "opprobrious and disgraceful speeches." In 1657, Joan Andrews was presented for "threatening Goody White (Frances) at York in a profane manner saying that she would swear herself to the devil but she would be avenged of her."

This might have to do with the accusations of adultery leveled against Frances. Magdalene (Hilton) Wiggin was presented to the court for saying that she saw "William Moore and her mother Frances White" in an act of adultery. Magdalene was either the oldest daughter of Frances or perhaps the youngest daughter of William Hilton and his first wife.

In 1658, Richard & Frances White were back in court because they were fighting with one another. Then in 1660, they were in trouble for allowing men to be drunk in their home on the Sabbath and for not attending public meeting. They were also accused of "common lying and backbiting of their neighbors and slandering them and for their great disorder in falling out and fighting one with another and for beating company in their house and for beating Mistress Gunnison and Joseph Davesse, his servants and Richard White for being drunk several times." Richard White paid a fine for this case and they seem to stay out of court records for a long time. In 1675, they were once again in trouble for not attending public meeting.

William & Frances Hilton
William Hilton, Jr. - two lines from him

Mainwaring Hilton - brother of Hannah (below)
Ebenezer Hilton
Ebenezer Hilton, Jr.
Samuel Hilton
Catherine (Hilton) Churchill
Loann (Churchill) Rowe
Anna (Rowe) Hayes
Eva D. (Hayes) Yates
Linona Alice Yates - my grandmother

Hannah (Hilton) Shepard - sister of Mainwaring (above)
Thomas Shepard
Robert Shepard
David Shepard
Sarah (Shepard) Emmons
Laura (Emmons) Yates
Estes G. Yates
Linona Alice Yates - my grandmother