Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Surname Saturday - Ballard & Alcock Descendants Marry

Arresting a witch
In 1692, Elizabeth Ballard contracted a fever that she could not shake despite the best efforts of her doctors. Although Elizabeth lived in Andover, the witchcraft hysteria that was sweeping Salem was spilling over to other communities. It was decided that she must be a victim of witchcraft. Two of the afflicted girls, Ann Putnam and Mary Walcott were summoned to Andover and they fell into fits at the sight of Ann (Alcock) Foster. Ann's mother was Ann Hooker, sister to Rev. Thomas Hooker, founder of Connecticut. The fits were enough to get poor Ann arrested and taken to prison. Having a powerful family didn't help her. Some sources say Joseph Ballard was trying to get the land that belonged to Ann. My grandmother, Fern Lyndell Cotton, is a descendant of Ann Alcock Foster and her husband, my grandfather, T. Richard Carter, is a descendant of Elizabeth Phelps Ballard. 
Salem Witch Trials

Ann was the Ballard's neighbor and a 72 year old widowed mother of five. Her daughter, Hannah, had been brutally murdered by her husband, Hugh Stone, just two years prior. While in jail, Ann claimed she saw the devil several times in the form of a bird but continued to deny the accusations against her. Then Ann's daughter, Mary Lacey, and her granddaughter, also named Mary Lacey, were accused of witchcraft. The elder Mary Lacey decided to admit to being a witch and accuse her mother in an attempt to save her daughter. Next Ann confessed to save her daughter and granddaughter. Ann was convicted and died in jail on December 3, 1693. Her son, Abraham petitioned to clear her name and reimburse the family for the expenses associated with her incarceration and burial. 

Elizabeth Phelps & Joseph Ballard
Joseph Ballard & Rebecca Johnson
Elizabeth Ballard & Thomas Abbott
Aaron Abbott & Sarah Abbott
Sarah K. Abbott & Timothy Capen 
Edward Abbott Capen & Mary Jane Abbott 
Fannie May Capen & Edward M. Carter 
T. Richard Carter - my grandfather

John Alcock - brother of Ann Alcock Foster
Sarah Alcock & John Giddings
Elizabeth Giddings & Mark Haskell
Mark Haskell & Martha Tuttle
Martha Haskell & John Safford
Ruth Safford & Samuel Haskell
Martha Haskell & Moses Houghton
Sally Houghton & James Dunham
Florilla Dunham & Asa Freeman Ellingwood
Nina Ellingwood & George Gibbs
Annie Gibbs & Ray Everett Cotton
Fern Lyndell Cotton - my grandmother m. T. Richard Carter

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My DNA Profile started a new DNA testing program that is open by invitation only while it is in Beta testing. Because I've been a customer for quite awhile, I received an email invitation to take part in this program and they were offering a significant discount to those who accepted. Having seen the testing done on Finding Your Roots, the PBS show about celebrity genealogy, I was intrigued to find out what my DNA would say about my ancestors. My own research has shown that most of my ancestors from both my father's and my mother's families came from the British Isles to the American colonies in the early 1600s. While I figured I would have predominantly British ancestry, I was still surprised when the results came back as 100% British Isles.  No traces of intermingling genes with marauding Vikings or Barbarians, no evidence of dalliances with Frenchmen, Germans, or Italians...I seem to be about as white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant as it is possible for one to be. A bit boring to some but it does make tracing ancestors a bit easier. 
It does seem to explain my love for the British Isles. And why it is that I felt so comfortable and at home whenever I've visited England or Scotland. So I'll continue to embrace my ancestors and the culture I love. I'll find diversity in friends to make up for the lack of diversity in my genes. I had a great time last year helping my students trace their family trees to Italy, Scandinavia, and Germany. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Surname Saturday - The Strange Death of Florence Whitridge

Florence Norman was the sister of my 10th great-grandmother, Margaret Norman. They were the daughters of the immigrant, Richard Norman. Florence was born about 1619.  She was married twice, first to John Hart in about 1629 and second to Thomas Whittridge about 1657. Florence took her own life on or shortly before 2 Aug 1672. A coroner’s inquest “appointed upon the sudden death of Flouranc Whiteridg, late wife of Thomas Whitridg of Ipswich, on 2:6:1672 [Aug 2, 1672] found her ‘accessory to her own death by stifling or drowning herself in the water."

From the Memoir of the Rev. William Adams accessed on - see link below.

I went to Ipswich and at Wenham had from Mr. Newman the full relation of ye strange death of Thomas -- Thomas Whitteridge his wife, being a woman of no commendable life was by a fortune-teller told ye she should meet with great trouble, if she escaped with her life; afterward being in great horror, Mr. Richard Hubbard gave her several scriptures to consider of. When he was gone she turned ye Bible the best part of an hour saying there was another scripture if she could find it, which what it was or whether she found it being unknown to others she clapt the Bible too and said she would never look into it more, which by the just judgement of God she never did. At night she told her son, a youth about 12 or 13 years at ye most, yet it wold be as ye fortune teller had said -- the boy desired his mother yet she would not mind what he had said, for he believed that he was a lying fellow, but yet she would mind what was said in the word of God. At this word she flew up saying (as some report) He is come! The door either by her or of itselfe being opened with great violence she ran out. And being presently followed no sight could be had of her, but a shrieking or groaning or both was heard. The next morning there was to be seen a path made thro the thickest places of weeds and briars as if a great timber log had been drawn there which being followed her coat was found therein, and she a little further with her face thrust into a little puddle of water not sufficient to cover all her face, lying dead. Quam inscrutabilia judicia Dei!

I'd love to know more about this colonial era fortune teller. It seems so odd to think about a fortune teller being accepted in Puritan society. And most likely this was not a common occurrence and frowned upon on by majority of the population. Was it a travelling con man? Why did Florence have an interaction with this man? It is likely that the Norman family was not strictly Puritan and perhaps more open to exploring other aspects of spirituality. This is based on various court records that seem to indicate that they were not the best at keeping the Sabbath. Still there are many unanswered questions.

Richard Norman - father of Margaret & Florence
Margaret Norman & Richard Morgan
Samuel Morgan & Elizabeth Dixey
Samuel Morgan & Sarah Herrick
Luke Morgan & Ruth Stone
Luke Morgan & Martha Pulcifer
Samuel Morgan & Judith Dennen
Martha Morgan & William Yates
Moses Yates & Martha Whittle
Gilbert Yates & Laura Emmons
Estes Gilbert Yates & Eva Delphinia Hayes
Linona Alice Yates - my grandmother


Robert Charles Anderson. Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-33 [database on-line] Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc., 2000 The Yates book: William Yates and his descendants: the history and genealogy of William Yates (1722-1868) of Greenwood, Me., [database on-line]. Provo, UT: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

On the Ledge by Lucy Larcom

Restored unto life by the sun and the breeze!
Rich balsams float down from the resinous trees, 
Stirring into quick health every pulse of the air;
Released once again from imprisoning care, 
At the gate of green pastures my soul lieth free,
And to go in or out is refreshment to me.

Lo, yonder is Paradise! Softly below, 
The river that watereth Eden doth flow!
I behold, through blue gaps in the mountainous west, 
Height ascending on height, the abodes of the blest;
And I cannot tell whether to climb were more sweet
Than to lap me in beauty spread out at my feet.

There sways a white cloud on yon loftiest peak, 
A wind from beyond it is fanning my cheek;
Through the oak and the birch glides a musical shiver, 
A ripple just silvers the dusk of the river.
-- Though I may not know how, each is part of the whole
Perfect flood-tide of peace that is brimming my soul.

Here is shelter and outlook, deep rest and wide room;
The pine woods behind, breathing balm out of gloom;
Before, the great hills over vast levels lean, --
A glory of purple, a splendor of green.
As a new earth and heaven, ye are mine once again.
Ye beautiful meadows and mountains of Maine!
Bethel, ME., September 1879.

Lucy Larcom was born in Beverly, Massachusetts in 1824. Her father died while she was young and her mother moved the family to Lowell. Starting at age 11, she worked in the textile mills of Lowell to help support her family. She started writing and her poems caught the attention of John Greenleaf Whittier. This poem describes the natural beauty of my hometown. Bethel is where all my lines converge and where my interest in family history began.

Thank you to cousin Bill West for hosting the Fourth Annual Genealogy Poetry Challenge. Check out his blog at


Saturday, October 6, 2012

Surname Saturday - Carter

Reverend Thomas Carter
According to The History of Woburn, Middlesex County, Mass.: From the Grant of Its Territory to Charlestown in 1640, to the year 1860 by Samuel Sewall, M.A., Reverend Thomas Carter was the first pastor of the church in Woburn. He was born in England and earned two degrees from St. John's College at the University of Cambridge - a Bachelor of Arts in 1629 and a Master of Arts in 1633.  It is interesting to note that he was at Cambridge at the same time as Reverend John Harvard, founder of Harvard College. They became ministers in neighboring communities. 
Main gate of St. John's College - Source: Wikipedia
He was ordained as the minister in Woburn in 1642. Capt. Edward Johnson in Wonder-Working Providence describes the ordination: "After he (Thomas Carter) had exercised in preaching and prayer he greater part of the day, two persons in the name of the Church laid their hands upon his head and said, We ordain thee Thomas Carter to be Pastor of this Church of Christ, then one of the elders present, desired of the Church, continued in prayer unto the Lord for his especial assistance, of this his servant in his work, being a charge of such weighty importance as is the glory of God and the salvation of souls, that the very thought would make a man to tremble in the sense of his own inability to the work." 

Painting by Albert Thompson - Hangs in Winn Memorial Library, Woburn, MA - Source: Wikipedia

 The town of Woburn gave Thomas Carter a house and a starting salary of 80 pounds annually. He got one quarter of it in silver and the rest in the necessities of life (goods). In 1674 it was added that he receive twenty cords of wood annually delivered to his door. Reverend Carter died in 1684 and left a verbal will which was recorded by his assistant pastor, Jabez Fox and attested to by this wife, Mary and sons, Samuel, Thomas, and Timothy. His inventory shows his estate was valued over £403 with £50 due from the town and about £21 worth of debts. 

Thomas Carter
Timothy Carter
Benjamin Carter
Timothy Carter
Dr. Timothy Carter
Elias Mellen Carter
Augustus Mellen Carter
Edward Mellen Carter
Thomas Richard Carter - my grandfather