Friday, October 31, 2014

Billy Boy - Traditional Folk Song

In honor of my grandmother, Fern Lyndell (Cotton) Carter, I submit this for Bill West's Sixth Annual Great Genealogy Poetry Challenge.  I can still hear her singing this song when I read the lyrics and see the smile on her face and the twinkle in her eye. She married young, at fifteen, and was a wonderful cook so I think this song spoke to her. She loved little children and her eyes twinkled most when she was with them. Here she is with my son, Josh. 

I found a folk singer, Ed McCurdy, with his rendition on Youtube for those who don't know the tune. 

Oh, where have you been,

Billy Boy, Billy Boy?
Oh, where have you been, Charming Billy?
I have been to seek a wife,
She's the joy of my life,
She's a young thing
And cannot leave her mother.

Did she ask you to come in,

Billy Boy, Billy Boy?
Did she ask you to come in, Charming Billy?
Yes, she asked me to come in,
There's a dimple in her chin.
She's a young thingAnd cannot leave her mother.

Can she make a cherry pie,

Billy Boy, Billy Boy?
Can she make a cherry pie, Charming Billy?
She can make a cherry pie,
Quick as a cat can wink an eye,
She's a young thing
And cannot leave her mother.

How old is she,

Billy Boy, Billy Boy?
How old is she, Charming Billy?
Three times six and four times seven,
Twenty-eight and eleven,
She's a young thing
And cannot leave her mother.

Fern Lyndell Cotton was born March 22, 1922 and died October 31, 2002. She is greatly missed by her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. 


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Disorderly and Dangerous Practice

At the Essex Quarterly Court in 1672, the following edict was issued: Information and complaint being made to this court of a disorderly and dangerous practice of running horses near to houses and taverns to the hazard of themselves, children, and other persons, contrary to the rules of modesty and sobriety, also of an uncomely, offensive and rude manner of riding very fast to and from meetings on the Lord's day and other public church meetings, it was therefore ordered and declared that no person within this county under penalty of 40s. for every such offence and whosoever shall offend in riding or running their horses fast to and from the meetings shall forfeit 20s., unless it be upon some extraordinary occasion or necessity. This order was to remain in force until the General Court take further order concerning the same, and was to be published at the courts of Ipswich and Salem and a copy set upon the meeting houses of said towns. 

I have a number of relatives living in Ipswich and Salem at this time. I'd love to know if any of them were racing to and from the meetings. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

52 Ancestors #44 - Butcher Pirate and Ghost or Respected Fisherman

The Isle of Shoals is a group of very small islands between Maine and New Hampshire. It is rumored that they were a hangout of pirates including the infamous Blackbeard. During this time southern New Hampshire and Maine were under the control of Massachusetts Bay colony. Appledore (formerly known as Hog Island) is the largest of the islands that make up Isle of Shoals. It is here that the ghost of Philip Babb was said to have haunted. Here is the legend of my alleged pirate ancestor. 

Philip Babb is "supposed to have been so desperately wicked when alive, that there is no rest for him in his grave. His dress is coarse, a striped butcher's frock, with a leather belt, to which is attached a sheath containing a ghostly knife, sharp and glittering, which is his delight to brandish in the face of terrified humanity." ~ Celia Thaxter, local historian

Philip Babb made his fortune from dunfish, cod that has been thinly sliced, salted, and dried. His house was on the south side of the island, near a cove. It is generally agreed upon by historians that he and his friend, Ambrose Gibbons (another ancestor) dug a large pit. Legend has it that it is where he found a treasure chest but it was too heavy to lift. "Smoke came from its lid when they tried to beak the lock." ~ Oscar Laighton, local historian. 

Some even name Philip Babb as the pirate in the legend of Ocean-Born Mary. Heather Wilkinson Rojo has written two excellent posts about the true story of Ocean-Born Mary and her haunted house (the one she didn't live in...but hey, who cares about the truth when there's money to be made). See links below for Heather's posts. 

On the other hand, I found these sources...
Pioneers of Maine and New Hampshire says:
Philip Babb took the oath of allegiance to the Massachusetts government on November 16, 1652 and served as constable for Isle of Shoals (except for Starr Island) also in 1652. He was one of the commissioners for settling minor cases. He died on April 24, 1671 and his wife died not long after his death. 

This hardly makes him sound like a notorious criminal. 

Genealogical Dictionary of Maine & New Hampshire
Babb, Philip, prominent fishing master at Isles of Shoals (Hog) from 1652 or earlier until his death. Local magistrate. In 1668 Roger Kelly was bonded for abusive carriages toward Mr. Babb and his wife; in 1671 Lawrence Carpenter for cruel usage of Mary Babb's servant. 

And of his son
Babb, Sampson (2), Portsmouth. Lists 334a, 335a. 339. Will 1736-1739. Perh. m. 3 wives: 1st "Elizabeth," in list of church [p.72] members bef. 1708, likelier the minister's error for Sarah (wife of (2); Sarah, named as mother of Esther; Grace, named as mother of Benjamin and in will, prob. Grace (Taprill), widow of Israel Hoit, dau. of Robert and Abishag (Walton) Taprill. Ch. Sampson, m. Dorothy Hoit, dau. of Israel and Grace (Taprill).

This line needs a lot more work to solidify the documentation. Still, I think it's safe to say that Philip Babb was more likely a respected member of the Isle of Shoals community than a blood-thirsty pirate turned ghost. 

Philip Babb
Sampson Babb & Elizabeth? or perhaps Sarah? 
Sampson & Dorothy (Hoyt) Babb
John & Alice (Babb) Waterhouse
Richard & Lydia (Waterhouse) Garland
Isaac & Alice (Garland) Hayes
Richard & Rebecca (Greenwood) Hayes
Sydney & Apphia (Cole) Hayes
George & Anna (Rowe) Hayes
Estes & Eva (Hayes) Yates
Linona Alice Yates - my grandmother


Saturday, October 18, 2014

52 Ancestors #43 - Thomas Cousins - Attack at Black Point

In the late 17th century, settlers on the frontier suffered greatly from Indian attacks. Those settlers on the Maine coast were not part of the spread of settlers from Massachusetts and the Indians were seeking to halt the expansion and maintain their lands. The area that is now Scarborough encompassed a number of settlements including Black Point and Dunstan. From October 10-13, 1675, the settlers battled with the Wabanaki. Those at Dunstan were critical of the lack of support from Joshua Scottow's garrison at Black Point. Mary Beth Norton notes that several key figures in the Salem Witchcraft hysteria had connections to the area (see In The Devil's Snare, p. 141-143). 

My grandfather, Clayton Blake descends from Thomas Cousins who was serving in the company of Captain John Wincoll and gave the following deposition accusing Joshua Scottow of cowardice and failure to help those under attack. 

"The deposition of Thomas Cousens aged about 30 yeares makes oath that being with Capt. Winckoll when he was ingaged with the Indians neere Blackepointe and faire within sight of the garrison. Capt. Winckoll sent two men to Mr. Scottow for some reliefe, being then likely to have bene overthrowne, by the enimy, but the said Scottow would not send any help to us, he had at that time upward of forty men in his garrison, but from Mr. Foxwels garrison, which was as farr from us as Mr. Scottows garrison was, we have five men which did us a great pleasure, and they left but two men in the garrison, which if we had had releife from Mr. Scottows garrison, in an ordinary way with gods blessing, we might have given the enimye a great overthrow, and after the fight was over, this deponent went to Mr. Scottows garrison, and heard Souldiers generally say, that they see Capt. Winckoll ingaged with the enimy, and would have gone to have releived them. but Mr. Scottow would not suffer them, but charged them to Keepe the garrison, and further this deponent saith that it was generally reported at Blackpoint, that in theire great distress they could have no help from Mr. Scottows garrison, he being the comander thereof, and further saith not. 

Taken upon Oath the 16th January 1679
before me Sam'l Wheelwright

In answer to the charge, Capt. Joshua Scottow accused Thomas Cousins of perjury and although Thomas was acquitted, he was found guilty of a different charge, "presumptuous and reproachfull expressions" against Scottow. 

Thomas Cousins & Hannah Goodale
Hannah Cousins & George Jacobs
Priscilla Jacobs & Joshua Bartlett
Lydia Bartlett & Joshua Ripley
Nancy Ripley & Micajah Blake
Galen Blake & Dolly Moody
Charles G. Blake & Isabelle Brown
Harriet May Blake & ?
Clayton Leonard Blake - my grandfather

Norton Mary Beth, In The Devil's Snare
Davis Walter Goodwin, The Ancestry of Lydia Harmon

Thursday, October 9, 2014

52 Ancestors #42 - Isaac Cousins

Isaac Cousins was the 7th great-grandfather of Clayton Leonard Blake. He seems to have been a wanderer. I don't have any other colonial era ancestors who lived in as many places as he did. His occupation is listed as gunsmith and locksmith. Tracing his steps we find him in: 

Rowley in 1651, Haverhill in 1652, Ipswich about 1654, Boston in 1656, Portsmouth in 1659, Great Island in 1661, Boston in 1668, North Yarmouth, Maine in 1678, Dorchester in 1691, Boston in 1696-1702

Isaac Cousins married three times. His first wife was named Elizabeth and we don't know her maiden name. His second wife was Ann Hunt, whom he married in 1657. His third wife was Martha Priest. He seems to have been seeking to better his lot in life as he moved around and perhaps his best chance was when he became associated with the proprietors in North Yarmouth in Maine. However, Indian attacks doomed this settlement and the he moved back to the Boston area. In 1691 he was warned out of Dorchester and in 1696 he stated in a lawsuit against Richard Priest that he was "an ancient inhabitant of this country...fallen much into decay and waxen so poore." He claimed Richard Priest was withholding his household goods. By the time he died on July 23, 1702 he was a ward of the town. 

Isaac & Elizabeth Cousins
Thomas & Hannah (Goodale) Cousins
George & Hannah (Cousins) Jacobs
Joshua & Priscilla (Jacobs) Bartlett
Joshua & Lydia (Bartlett) Ripley
Micajah & Nancy (Ripley) Blake
Galen & Dolly (Moody) Blake
Charles & Isabelle (Brown) Blake
Harriet May Blake
Clayton Leonard Blake - my grandfather 

Thanks to the research of Walter Goodwin Davis, The Ancestry of Lydia Harmon, for the basic information in this post. 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

52 Ancestors #41 - She Wore the Pants in the Family

Dorothy Hoyt was my 10th great-aunt. She was the younger sister of my 10th great-grandfather, Thomas Hoyt. Her parents were John & Frances Hoyt and she was born on April 13, 1656. While researching the family, I found the following account in Walter Goodwin Davis's book, The Ancestry of Lydia Harmon.

"For her escapade of dressing up in men's clothes, when she was a young woman of twenty-one, the Puritan magistrates ordered her to be severely whipped. She had escaped from the jurisdiction, however, and her father, who doubtless connived at her departure, paid a fine of forty shillings in her behalf." 

It's hard to imagine being whipped for what one chooses to wear. I'm proud that her father stood up for her and helped her get away. 

John Hoyt
Thomas Hoyt & Mary Browne
Israel Hoyt & Grace Taprill
Dorothy Hoyt & Sampson Babb
Alice Babb & John Waterhouse
Lydia Waterhouse & Richard Garland
Alice Garland & Isaac Hayes, Sr.
Richard Hayes & Rebecca Greenwood
Sydney Hayes & Apphia Delphinia Cole
George Hayes & Anna Rowe
Eva Delphinia Hayes & Estes Gilbert Yates
Linona Alice Yates - my grandmother

SourceInformation:,1755­1836:wifeofJosephWaterhouseof Standish, Maine [database on­line]. Provo, UT: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005.
Original data: Davis, Walter Goodwin,.
The ancestry of Lydia Harmon, 1755­1836 : wife of Joseph Waterhouse of Standish, Maine. Boston, Mass.: Stanhope Press, 1924. 

52 Ancestors #40 - Two Murderers - One Gallows

While looking for records relating to my 9th great-grandfather, John Capen, I found a minor notation that he served on the jury in the murder trials of John Williams and and William Schooler. This intrigued me to investigate further and I came across a post by Robert Wilhelm on the blog, Executed Today. 

William Schooler was a man with a checkered past. He was an admitted adulterer who had fled to Holland to escape the law after wounding a man in a duel in England. He came to New England without his wife and lived on the outskirts of the town of Newbury, by the banks of the Merrimack River. 

Mary Scholy was a servant girl who for some unknown reason had come to Newbury from the area called Pascataquack (now Portsmouth, NH) and needed a guide to help her return to her master. 
Google Maps shows that it would be an 8-9 1/2 hour trip walking from Newbury to Portsmouth on modern roads - It would obviously have been more challenging in colonial times. 

When William Schooler heard that Mary needed a guide, he offered his services for fifteen shillings. She accepted without knowing he had never made the trip before. Schooler returned to Newbury suspiciously early with a scratch on his nose that he blamed on walking into some brambles and blood on his hat that he attributed to killing a pigeon. However, there was no evidence to contradict his story so nothing happened until her body was found in the woods north of Newbury by an Agawam Indian. She had been exposed to the elements for several months so not much could be told from her body except that her clothes had been removed and found in a pile nearby. Schooler continued to protest his innocence and refused to confess but in the end was convicted of ravishing and killing Mary Scholy. 

John Williams was a recent immigrant to the colonies who had been imprisoned in Boston for theft. he escaped with another prisoner, John Hoddy. As they traveled near the east end of the Wenham Great Pond, they had a fight that left John Hoddy dead. There are conflicting stories of how this came to be discovered - one blames John Hoddy's dogs for drawing the attention of neighbors and the other says Williams was recognized as a criminal arrested in Ipswich. Either way, the body of John Hoddy was located when a farmer's cows started bellowing and an investigation led to the discovery of Hoddy's naked body covered by stones. Unlike Schooler, Williams confessed to the murder but to protect his rights of due process, his case was tried before a jury and he was sentenced to death. 

Both men were found guilty of murder and hanged together on the same gallows on Boston Common on September 28, 1637. 

Photo by mlhradio/CCBY

For more information see this source: 

John Capen - on jury for both trials
James Capen & Hannah Lawrence
James Capen & Elizabeth Call
James Capen & Sarah Pinson
Thomas Capen & Mary Wyman
Thomas Capen & Mary Abbott
Timothy Capen & Sarah K. Abbott
Edward Abbott Capen & Mary Jane Abbott
Fanny May Capen & Edward Mellen Carter
Thomas Richard Carter - my grandfather

Edward Abbott Capen & Mary Jane Abbott were second cousins - Timothy Capen's sister, Deborah was Mary Jane's grandmother. Deborah married William Ackley - their daughter, Sarah Ackley married John Abbott and they were the parents of Mary Jane.