Saturday, June 28, 2014

Law & Order in Plymouth Colony

This is a reposting of something I wrote in 2012. 
There is nothing more horrifying than the violent death of child. On July 22, 1648, the bloody body of a four year old child was discovered in her Plymouth home...

Alice Martin was married to her second husband, Richard Bishop and had three small children in her home. Abigail & Martha Clark were daughters from her first marriage and she had a daughter, Damaris, with Richard. 

A neighbor, Rachel (Eaton) Ramsden, came by the Bishop home on the morning and saw
Martha sleeping in the loft with no apparent injury. Alice Bishop sent Rachel to fetch some buttermilk from the Winslow home and when Rachel returned she noticed blood at the foot of the ladder and asked Alice about it. Alice pointed to the loft and "bid [Rachel to] look." Frightened that Martha was dead, Rachel ran to tell her parents. When the Plymouth Coroners entered the Bishop home, they saw the blood at the bottom of the ladder and found Martha dressed in her shift and lying on her left side. Her throat has been slashed multiple times, severing her windpipe. There was a knife lying beside the dead child. Alice confessed to the murder of her daughter. She would repeat her confession on August 1st. 

The trial was held in October 1648 and Alice was found guilty of willful murder and sentenced to be hanged. Unfortunately, the records leave many unanswered questions. The obvious question is what motive did Alice have to kill her daughter but I also wonder where the rest of the family was when the murder occurred. Check out this blog for a more thorough treatment of this case. The author has graciously allowed me to base this post off her extensive research. 

Given the relatively small population of Plymouth at the time, estimated between 1500-2000, it is not surprising to find a number of connections between my family and this case. Both the Cotton and the Yates lines have multiple connections to the early Plymouth settlers. 

Rachel Eaton Ramsden - the neighbor who reported the murder - 10th Great Grandaunt

Members of the Petit Jury
John Howland - 12th Great Grandfather
Giles Rickard - husband of 11th Great Grandaunt
Thomas Pope - husband of another 11th Great Grandaunt 
Francis Billington - 2nd husband of 11th Great Grandmother & Rachel's step-father

Members of the Grand Jury
John Dunham - 10th Great Grandfather
Daniel Cole - 11th Great Grandfather

Members of the Petit Jury
James Cole - 10th Great Grandfather
James Hurst - 10th Great Grandfather
John Shaw - 10th Great Grandfather

Members of the Grand Jury
Ephraim Hicks - 10th Great Granduncle
Love Brewster - husband of 10th Great Grandaunt


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

52 Ancestors #26 - The Original Bachelor?

I have two lines of descent from Nathaniel Batchelder. The Bachiler/Batchellor/Batchelder contains some interesting characters. The immigrant ancestor is Rev. Stephen Bachiler and this Nathaniel is his grandson.

Nathaniel Batchelder is my 9th great-grandfather and my 10th great-grandfather. Confused yet? He married three times and had seventeen children with his first two wives! I have connections to both sets of children.

His first wife was Deborah Smith, daughter of John & Deborah (Parkhurst) Smith. Their children were Deborah, Nathaniel, Ruth, Esther, Abigail, Jane, Stephen, Benjamin, and Stephen(2). Deborah (Smith) Batchelder died on March 8, 1676. His second wife was the widow Mary (Carter) Wyman, daughter of Rev. Thomas & Mary (Parkhurst) Carter, and widow of John Wyman, Jr.  Mary did not have any children with her first husband but she would have eight children to add to the nine stepchildren she instantly acquired. Nathaniel & Mary's children were Mercy, Mary, Samuel, Jonathan, Theodate, Thomas, Joseph, and Mary(2). Mary died in 1688 and Nathaniel married for the third time on October 23, 1689. His third wife was Elizabeth Knill and they did not have any additional children.

According to Joseph Dow, author of the History of the Town of Hampton, New Hampshire, Nathaniel used a rather unorthodox method to find a new wife.

"When, after the death of his first wife, he had determined to marry again, he resolved to be governed in his choice by the direction in which his staff, held perpendicularly over the floor, should fall, when dropped from his hand. The experiment being tried, the staff fell towards the southwest, and in that direction he bent his steps. Having travelled as far as Woburn, he called on the widow Wyman, and offered her his hand, stating that he was going to Boston, and would call for her answer, on his return."

Since they got married on October 31, 1676, it must be presumed that she accepted his not so romantic offer. Can you even imagine someone showing up at your door and proposing? "My staff fell in your direction" sounds kind of naughty. What exactly did he say to her to convince her to accept? I wonder if he gave her a rose...

10th great-grandfather
Nathaniel & Deborah (Smith) Batchelder
Abigail Batchelder
Elizabeth Dearborn
John Garland
Richard Garland
Alice Garland
Richard Hayes
Sydney Hayes
George Hayes
Eva D. Hayes
Linona Alice Yates - my grandmother

9th great-grandfather
Nathaniel & Mary (Carter) (Wyman) Batchelder
Mercy Batchelder
Mary Dearborn
Benjamin Blake
David Blake
Micajah Blake
Galen Blake
Charles G. Blake
Harriet May Blake
Clayton L. Blake - my grandfather

History of the Town of Hampton, New Hampshire

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tombstone Tuesday - Carroll E. Yates

Carroll Estes Yates, son of Estes Gilbert & Eva Delphinia (Hayes) Yates, was born on June 25, 1918 and died April 28, 1992. He was my great uncle, brother to my grandmother, Linona Alice Yates. His grave is in the Middle Intervale Cemetery, on Intervale Rd. in Bethel, Maine. This cemetery is located behind a meetinghouse built in 1816. For much of my life, the meetinghouse was in the possession of the Carter family. When the upkeep became too much, the family donated it to the Middle Intervale Meetinghouse Association. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. 

I knew him as "Uncle Tom" because all of my grandmother's siblings had nicknames that did not match their given names. I didn't see him often because he lived in Colorado while I was growing up. He had both arms covered in tattoos - which was fascinating to me as a kid. He was the only person I knew with tattoos - what a different world today! He enlisted in the army on February 19, 1941. His enlistment record shows he had graduated from high school, was single with no dependents, had worked as a lumberman, and was 5 ft. 9" tall and weighed 157 pounds. He enlisted as a private but as his gravestone shows, he was promoted over time to T. Sgt. (Technical Sargeant). His Veteran's Death File record shows an enlistment date of January 29, 1941. I'm not sure what explains the discrepancy between the two records. It's quite interesting to see what kinds of things one can learn from different records. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

52 Ancestors - #25 Religion in School & Spanking Other People's Kids

This is a reposting of something I wrote in 2012. 
William Yates was the immigrant ancestor of the Yates line in my ancestry. He moved to Maine from Portsmouth, NH. He is credited with founding the town of Greenwood in 1802. He settled on Patch Mountain where he built a rudimentary log cabin until a frame house was completed a few years later. He was a farmer and a Methodist preacher. Some sources have William coming to the U.S. from Scotland and others from England. His first residence in Maine was New Gloucester where he met and married his wife Martha Morgan. William and Martha had 13 children - 9 sons and 4 daughters. 
Picture of Patch Mountain 

Things were very different in those days. There were clear rules of right and wrong and none of this "kids will be kids" mentality or "my perfect little Johnny wouldn't do that." 

A biographical sketch of his grandson, Octavius K. Yates in the Biographical Review gives the following story as an example of the character of William Yates. One time while he was preaching in the local school house, some boys put burrs beneath his saddle causing his normally calm horse to rear and throw him to the ground. The horse ran home, leaving William to walk. The next Sunday he delivered his usual sermon. He had figured out the identity of the culprits, kept them after the service, and "administered a sound flogging; then took them into the meeting-house and prayed for them.

William Yates & Martha Morgan
Moses Yates & Martha Whittle
Gilbert Yates & Laura Emmons
Estes Yates & Eva Hayes
Linona Yates & Clayton Blake

Biogaphical Review: This Volume Contains Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens of Franklin and Oxford Counties Maine - Boston 1897. Accessed on March 7, 2012. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

52 Ancestors #24 - Rev. Joshua Moody

Rev. Joshua Moody was the son of immigrant, William Moody and his wife, Sarah. His family came from England to Newbury, Massachusetts when he was about a year old. He is my ninth great-grandfather on two different lines. He was educated at Harvard College and graduated in 1653. He married twice - first to Martha Collins, sister of Rev. John Collins of London, and second to widow, Ann (Wall) Jacobs of Ipswich. 

In 1658, he went to Portsmouth, New Hampshire and started the First Congregational Church. His time in Portsmouth came to an end when he came into conflict with the Lt. Governor, Mr. Cranfield in 1684. After refusing to administer the sacrament (in the manner of the Church of England rather than in the manner of the Puritans) to Lt. Gov. Cranfield, Rev. Moody was indicted on February 5, 1684 and spent thirteen weeks in jail. His sentence was for six months but his supporters appealed and gained his freedom but if he started preaching again, he would be put back in jail. He moved to Boston and preached under Rev. Cotton Mather at the Old Church (First Church) in Boston until 1692. Rev. Josiah Moody was elected President of Harvard College on July 2, 1684. He declined, however, in favor of continuing his post as assistant minister of the First Church. 

During the witchcraft hysteria in 1692, Rev. Joshua Moody did not support the measures being taken to identify, try, and execute the alleged witches. He did all he could to support and free Philip & Mary (Hollingsworth) English - both accused witches. He helped them flee to New York in defiance of the popular sentiment. He was very lucky that he was not arrested for his actions and in the end, he also chose to leave Massachusetts and return to Portsmouth. He had remained in contact with his congregation there and the contentious Lt. Gov. Cranfield was gone. Rev. Josiah Moody died on July 4, 1697 at the age of 65 after a brief illness. Dr. Cotton Mather preached at his funeral. Two of his daughters married ministers and his son, Samuel was for several years a preacher at New Castle (Great Island), New Hampshire. 

Published works: 
" A Practical Discourse concerning the Choice Benefit of Communion with God in his house, witnessed unto by the experience of saints as the best improvement of time, being the sum of several sermons on Psalms 84:10, preached at Boston, on Lecture Days." Printed in Boston by Richard Pierce in 1685. 
"Sin of Formality in God's Worship, or the Formal Worshipper proved a liar and deceiver, preached on the weekly lecture in Boston, from Hos. 2:12." Published in 1691. 

The library of the Massachusetts Historical Society has 93 volumes of his sermons. The last is numbered 4070 and dated 30th September 1688. That is an average of two and a half sermons a week for thirty years! He had more sermons after that in Portsmouth. 

Rev. Joshua Moody
Rev. Samuel Moody
Joshua Moody
William Moody
Elizabeth Moody
William Ackley
Sarah Ackley
Mary Jane Abbott
Fannie May Capen
Thomas Richard Carter - my grandfather

Rev. Joshua Moody
Rev. Samuel Moody
Joshua Moody
Houchin Moody
Josiah Moody
Hezekiah Moody
Dolly Estes Moody
Charles Galen Blake
Harriet May Blake
Clayton L. Blake - my grandfather

52 Ancestors #23 - Samuel Ackley/Akley

Samuel Ackley (Akley) is my 5th great-grandfather. He was the son of Francis & Tabitha (Bull) Ackley.

Samuel Akley served in the Revolutionary War from 1781 to the end of the war in 1783. He enlisted on the day he turned 18 and was sent to West Point, NY to serve under Capt. Thomas Jackson in Col Crane's Third Continental Artillery. His job was described as "matross." I had to look that up! It is the assistant to the gunner. A matross is the one who assists the gunner with loading, firing, moving, and sponging the guns. They also marched as guards to protect the store-wagons.

When he applied for a pension, his possession consisted of one old horse, one old wagon and one old harness valued at $26 total; One table, two chests, and one trunk values at $2.59 total; One shovel, Some ironware and table furniture valued at $3; One axe and one scythe valued at 75 cents, and eight chairs valued at $2. The total of his property equaled $34.34. This is his signature from his first petition for a pension.

Samuel Akley married Elizabeth Moody on November 18, 1791 in Topsham, Maine and they had at least six children: William, Samuel, John, Susan, Joseph, and Caleb.

My descent from Samuel is as follows:
Samuel & Elizabeth "Betsy" (Moody) Akley
William Ackley
Sarah Ackley
Mary Jane Abbott
Fannie May Capen
Thomas Richard Carter - my grandfather

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Hens in his Britches

When researching the testimony used to convict Sarah (Averill) Wildes of witchcraft, I came across this amusing story. The spelling in the original is really awful so here it is in an easier to read format and the original follows it. The testimony was given by John Gould, brother of Mary (Gould) Redington aka Sister Redington or Sister Mary. Jonathan Wildes was the step-son of Sarah (Averill) Wildes. 

"...also Sister Mary told me that when Jonathan Wildes was ill at her house in strange manner so as he could go out the chimney tops into the barn, he'd get her hens and put them in to his britches [pants] and killed them. Sister Mary did ask Goodwife Wildes to take some of the dead hens and let her have some living hens and she did but sister said that they [the living hens] went moping about until they died and so shall I, said Sister Redington. And the last words I heard Sister Redington say was that it was Goodwife Wildes that brought her into that condition she did stand it until her death..." 

Original spelling
"...also sister Mary tould mee that When Johnathan Wilds was ele at her house in astraing maner so as he Could goe out at the Chimey tops into the barne hed git her henes and put them in to his britches and kiled them, sister Mary did aske GoodWife Wilds to take som of the dead henes and Let her have som Liveing henes and she did but sister said they went moping about tell thay died and so shall I said sister Redington and the Last words I herd sister Redington say was that it was GoodWife Wilds that brought her into that Condition she did stand to it tell her death..." 

While the execution of Sarah Wildes and the other convicted witches is not a laughing matter, the ridiculousness of this testimony makes me laugh. It makes me wonder how anyone could take this seriously. I have so many unanswered questions - like how exactly did he kill the hens in his britches? Did he sit on them? Smother them? What exactly does a hen look like when it mopes? What symptoms was Mary Redington experiencing that would cause her to link the death of her hens with her own decline? I think I'm trying to make sense out of nonsense. 

Sarah (Averill) Wildes was hanged on July 19, 1692. She was sixty-five years old. On that day, Elizabeth Howe, Susannah Martin, Sarah Good, and Rebecca Nurse were also hanged. 

John Wildes & Sarah Averill
Ephraim Wildes
Jacob Wildes
Ephraim Wildes
Molly Wildes
Jacob Emmons
Laura E. Emmons
Estes Gilbert Yates
Linona Alice Yates - my maternal grandmother

Frances Gould - sister of Sarah's accuser, Mary (Gould) Reddington

Peter Shumway
Hepsibah Shumway
Sarah Walker
Dr. Timothy Carter
Elias Mellen Carter
Augustus Mellen Carter
Edward Mellen Carter
Thomas Richard Carter - my paternal grandfather

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Family History Project 2014

For the past few years I've been refining my end of the year Family History Project. It is one option for my Advanced Placement US History students after they take the national exam in mid-May. It keeps getting better and better each year. My students did a great job and although I cannot write about them all, here are some highlights from this year's projects. 

  • One student, Dan, recognized a common ancestor from my blog - way back at the beginning of the year. His aunt had put together a family book and he remembered the name. With this project we sorted out our relationship - we are 5th cousins, once removed and both descend from William Yates, the founder of the town of Greenwood, Maine. Although his aunt had done much research, this project got him into his family's stories - interesting deaths, a cousin who was present at Lincoln's assassination, and conversations with living relatives. 
  • Andrew's family have been Mormon for many generations. He knew lots of names but not much of the story of his family's experiences. He researched and found his family was living in Nauvoo, Illinois during the persecutions and documented their pioneer migration to Utah. He was initially concerned that he would not have enough to research until he started to look beyond the names and dates. 
  • Eli knew very little about his Greek and Lebanese background. We found his immigrant ancestors and followed them through documents. With the help of Google maps we got a street view of the building where his great-grandparents once ran a bowling alley. It is now an Indian restaurant. 
  • Another student, Hawar, fled with his family from Iran when he was very young. His father was a freedom fighter. They lived in various places before settling in Maine. His project is more about his immediate family and their journey. I highly encourage the use of maps to illustrate family history if possible. 
  • Caroline, started a discussion with her grandmother who conveniently lives with her family. This led to her grandmother digging out a box that had not been unpacked since she moved to Maine. What a treasure trove! Pictures, newspaper clippings, original passports of her Italian immigrant great-grandparents, Italian birth and marriage certificates and more! I have students take pictures or make copies of valuable items because I don't want to be responsible for their originals. Most importantly, her grandmother was thrilled by her interest and some truly wonderful conversations happened. It would have been so sad if Caroline had never had a chance to learn all this about her family. 
  • I found some newspaper articles for students. One involved an accident where a circus tent pole fell during a performance and injured (fortunately, not seriously) a young girl who was either the student's great-grandmother or great-grandaunt. Census records revealed the NYC 2nd great-grandparents of another student were employed as a chauffeur and a seamstress for a sporting goods shop and his great-grandfather had worked 26 weeks on a CCC road project as a stone mason.