25 March, 2015

Samuel Richardson of Woburn, Massachusetts

This is a short biography of Samuel Richardson of Woburn, Massachusetts Bay Colony - 
my paternal 8th Great-Grandfather

Samuel Richardson
(1646-1712)


Middlesex Canal, Woburn, MA (wikipedia)


Samuel Richardson Jr was born 22 May 1646 to Samuel Sr and his wife Joanna Thake. Samuel's parents were from the town of Westmill in Hertfordshire, England and they arrived in Charlestown, Massachusetts Colony about 1636. From there the family removed to Woburn. Along with two of Samuel Sr's brothers, Ezekiel and Thomas and four other men, they founded the town of Woburn. The area where they lived still has a street called Richardson's Row today.

Samuel Jr. was born in Woburn where he grew up and married a woman by the name of Martha. Samuel's life in Woburn was to be far from tranquil. Martha died in 1673 giving birth to their fourth child, which included a pair of twins named Samuel and Thomas. But that was just the beginning of Samuel's woes.

He remarried to Hannah Kingsley the following year and early in April 1676 she gave birth to a healthy daughter. One week later, on 10 April 1676, while Hannah nursed the newborn in bed, Samuel had his six-year-old son Samuel with him, carting manure to the fields. Suddenly they heard screams coming from the house, and saw feathers flying from the terrified fowl in the front yard. Samuel raced back with his boy to find his wife slaughtered in the bed. Their nurse who had been helping the new mother in her recovery from the recent birth had tried to save the infant, but had dropped her outside in her haste to get away. The pursuing Indians had dashed the baby's brains out. Dead too was little Samuel's twin brother Thomas, age 6.

First Burying Ground, Woburn, MA (wikipedia)
Samuel Richardson and a group of his neighbors went out to find the Indians who had massacred his family. They came upon a group of three Indians and there was a skirmish in which one of the Indians was killed and the other two fled.

This horror took place against the backdrop of the King Philip's war, which had begun in June of 1675 and would continue until late summer of 1676. During this armed conflict between the local Native Americans and the English, in which our Samuel served, many colonists were attacked in such a manner and even whole villages were wiped out, the English inhabitants slaughtered or driven away. A dozen villages across Massachusetts and Rhode Island were thus eliminated before the killing ended after “King Philip”, or Metacomet, the leader of the Indian faction, was killed in August 1676. However, the war continued with ongoing raids occurring, mostly in what is now Maine, until a treaty was signed in April of 1678.

The grievances of the Native American populations included the expansion of the English population along with the taking of more and more land. In addition, the Native American people had been ravaged by diseases brought by the English to which the Indians had no immunity. Finally, break-downs in diplomatic relations between the Indians and English, often having to do with alliances with rival tribes, contributed to the boiling over of the Native Americans' frustrations which led to attacks on the English and war.

The King Philip's war is considered by many historians to be the deadliest war in American history. In the short space of sixteen months, twelve towns were obliterated, and over half of all New England towns were attacked, sending the colonial economy into a tailspin. The English population was decimated. Nearly a tenth of all military service aged men were lost. 

The best book and reference that I have so far read about this tragic series of events in American history is Flintlock and Tomahawk: New England in King Philip's War by Douglas Edward Leach.

Samuel Richardson survived this sad episode in history and remarried two more times, fathering a total of fifteen children. 




23 March, 2015

Tragedy in Plymouth

The citizens of early Plymouth Plantation were God-fearing, peaceful people, for the large part. Violence of any kind was uncommon among them. Though they were leery of the Native Americans that they met, they were willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and relations were cordial, even friendly, between them.

However, as with any society, there will be aberrations; incidents that go against the grain of the norm, leaving shock and horror in their wake. Such was the case of Alice Martin Bishop.


photo: blogs.plimoth.org
There is some dispute as to Alice's parents. Some research points to her parents being Francis Martin and Prudence Deacon. Many believe her to have been the child of Mayflower passengers Christopher Martin and Marie Prower, and that she sailed with them to America at the age of 4 years. However, as she was not mentioned in Governor Bradford's Of Plymouth Plantation, the Mayflower Society does not recognize her as a passenger. 

Bradford's account, though, has been found to contain errors, written as it was from his own memory beginning ten years after the voyage. The portion containing the passenger list was written more than thirty years after the voyage, and it is quite possible that Bradford either neglected to include the child on his list by error, or decided not to include her due to her, by then, infamy in the colony. A third possibility is that he mis-remembered whose child she was, since she must have joined another family, probably the Churchills, who raised her, as she was only four when her parents both perished.

Whoever Alice's family of origin was, my Mayflower ancestors certainly were her neighbors and knew her well, at the very least. Whether or not she was the child of passenger Christopher Martin, who died along with his wife the first winter in America, she was my 9th great-grandmother.

Alice apparently married a man by the name of George Clark who died young, leaving her with a toddler, Abigail, and a new baby, Martha, in 1644. She married again quite soon after his death to Richard Bishop and had two more children in quick succession, the youngest, Damaris, having been born in 1646. (some sources have Abigail as the child of her second marriage and born in July 1648)

In the month of July 1648, tragedy struck. On 22 July, a friend by the name of Rachel Ramsden visited the Bishop home, when Richard was away from the house. Alice and Rachel chatted and at a certain point, Alice asked Rachel to take a vessel of hers and go and fetch some buttermilk from her house and bring it back for Alice's use. At that time, Rachel later stated that the four year old Martha was asleep in the loft just above their heads.


source: upcyclemagazine.com
When Rachel returned with the milk, she noticed a large quantity of blood on the floor beneath the ladder that led up to the loft. Horrified, she asked Alice what had happened. Alice mutely pointed up to the loft. Rachel, too frightened to ascend, appears to have assumed the worst.

She ran from the home to summon her parents who came, quickly followed by others, all of whom, confirming Rachel's worst fears, witnessed the wounds to the poor dead child, including the slicing of her windpipe and several other slash and stab wounds.

Alice appears to have admitted her guilt immediately and been remorseful for her horrible deed. When asked why she had done such a thing, she stated that she had no recollection of perpetrating the crime at all. She was tried and convicted of murder and sentenced to hang. (Several of my ancestors were on the jury; Josiah Winslow, Anthony Snow and William Merrick.) Alice was hanged on 4 October 1648, aged 32 years. She was the first woman to be hanged in Plymouth Colony.

It is possible that Alice was suffering from a post-partum psychosis, since she had a toddler and there was no indication prior to this incident that she had been violent in any way. This is presumably the same condition that prompted Andrea Yates to drown her children in a bathtub in 2001. Naturally, no one at that time would have had any notion of such a condition and they must have been truly mystified at the motive for such a horrendous act against Alice's own innocent child. 

Of Alice's other children; little is known of Abigail and she probably died young. Daughter Damaris and son James both grew to adulthood, married, and had children.

Richard Bishop was, incidentally, a thief and general trouble-maker in the colony. He would be fined for theft of a neighbor's spade and, later, the sheep's fleece of another neighbor. He eventually joined his son-in-law William Sutton in New Jersey and died there.

We can be thankful that we live in the times that we do now. Had Alice Martin Bishop been alive today, symptoms may have been noticed and she might have been able to get the help she needed to avert the tragic fate of herself and her little girl.

Reference: Trial records of New Plimouth, 1648
                      Cape Cod History and Genealogy, C.W. Swift
                       Plymouth Colony, Its History and People - 1620-1691, Eugene Aubrey Stratton
                       Blog: http://alicemartinbishop.com/2011/01/

11 March, 2015

Kissin' Cousins on Both Sides of the Aisle


I have already written of my "cousin" Abraham Lincoln and our common ancestors. I have not explored much about other presidents, though I wouldn't be surprised to find myself "cousins" with several more. There are two others who have come to my attention accidentally while searching for other things online. 

I will leave the reader to guess which of the following dismayed me and of which I was glad to learn!


Cousin G W
First, I discovered that I am related via several early New England settlers to George W Bush and, of course, father George Herbert. Second, I stumbled onto a genealogy of Barack Obama a few nights ago and discovered a pair of shared great-grandparents with him as well! 

The first ancestor that I found in common with GW Bush, again accidentally while researching this ancestor, was John Lothrop (b 1584 in Elton, Yorkshire, England) of Barnstable who was my 9th and Bush's 11th great-grandfather. John was a highly influential figure in early New England, in fact he was the founder of the town of Barnstable, MA. However, his fame, or perhaps notoriety, began in England.


Rev John Lothrop
He was a graduate of Kings College, Cambridge and was appointed curate at a local Church of England parish. However John's beliefs, which were considered heretical, were not compatible with the Church and he left his position to become minister to a group of Independents who, like him, wished to do away with the hierarchy of the church. They also believed in freedom of religion and were among the first to support a separation of church from government, a radical thought at that time. Lothrop and his followers had to meet in secret, and were eventually discovered and imprisoned. His wife, Ann Howse, died  in prison due to the deprivations she suffered there, leaving their nine children in a perilous situation.

Undeterred, John Lothrop accepted a deal that he leave England in exchange for his freedom. He left for Plymouth aboard the Griffin along with a group from his congregation and his children, arriving in Boston on 18 September 1634. He preached for a short time in Scituate, then removed to the wilderness of Cape Cod where the town of Barnstable was founded by Lothrop and his parishioners.

Lothrop Home, Barnstable, MA
John married again to Ann Hammond and had a further five children. It seems that this family did not suffer infertility problems, and most of his children had large families, creating a pathway for many tens of thousands of descendants who live today all over the United States. (I am descended from no less than six of John Lothrop's fourteen children.) Other presidents who can claim Lothrop as their ancestor are Fillmore, Garfield, Grant, and F.D. Roosevelt. In addition both Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney are his great-grandchildren. In the entertainment arena, Lothrop descendants include Shirley Temple, Brooke Shields, Clint Eastwood, and Kevin Bacon. Literary figures that also descend from Lothrop are Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Oliver Wendall Holmes, among dozens of other well known people through the generations.

In addition to John Lothrop, George W and I share several other great-grandparents, including Nathaniel Foote, Austin Bearse and Samuel Hinckley.

Hinckley (b 1589 in Tenterden, Kent, England) happens to be
Cousin Barack
the ancestor who also connects me to Barack Obama. He and his wife Sarah Soule are Obama's tenth great-grandparents and my ninth. I know much less about this couple, but they arrived the year after Lothrop, aboard the Hercules in 1635. Sarah's uncle, George Soule, was a passenger aboard the Mayflower in 1621 and a signer of the Mayflower compact. 


The Hinckleys and their four children settled first at Scituate and were followers of Rev. John Lothrop whom we have already discussed. They moved after several years to join Lothrop's parish in Barnstable. Their eldest son Thomas became Plymouth Colony's governor from 1681 to 1692 and was an important asset to the Colony throughout his life.

Famous descendants of Samuel Hinckley and Sarah Soule include Sarah Palin (again), financier John Pierpont Morgan Jr, and John Hinckley Jr, the attempted assassin of Ronald Reagan.

So, Barack Obama is my 9th cousin once removed and George W Bush my 9th cousin twice removed. The two of them are 10th cousins, once removed. We are all one big happy family! 

10 March, 2015

Salem Witches and More DNA

Surely my ancestors who resided in Salem, Massachusetts in the late 17th century would have branded me a witch for claiming that information gleaned from my blood has helped me to name my ancestors! Yet that is what seems to have happened.

I do not claim to have definitively solved the mystery, but my dna evidence has provided some indication that I am on the right track in this instance. The question I was struggling with was an ancestor whose name was Elizabeth Walpee or 
Elizabeth Valpey/Valpy or possibly both names used interchangeably. 

Elizabeth was born about 1700 and married a man by the name of John Lilley in Marblehead (next door to Salem) in 1789. Their daughter Nancy Lilley married a Hersey, my maternal grandmother's family, and lived in Salem. Some on ancestry say that Elizabeth's parents were John Walpee and Mary __. Indeed there is a birth record of this Elizabeth born in Marblehead and the marriage record to John Lilley names Elizabeth Walpee as the bride. However, the daughter Nancy's death record has, in clear handwriting, the name Elizabeth Valpey as the mother.

To make a long story short, I came to the conclusion that this Elizabeth was not the child of John Walpee and Mary, but the daughter of Abraham Valpey and Lydia Clough, who also had a daughter Elizabeth in about 1700. She was presumably born in Salem as that was where the parents were born and lived. However, I had no records other than Nancy Lilley's death record to prove this identity of Elizabeth. Since Elizabeth's great x3 grandmother was the accused witch Elizabeth Carrington, I wanted to firm this link up, if at all possible.
Salem today

First, as to the name confusion, there are a few possible explanations to consider. Walpee and Valpey/Valpy are often found on the same document as alternate names for the same person. This indicates that the family probably used both surnames. 

There is something called a "dit" name (pronounced "dee" from the French word "to say") where a family takes on a second name or spelling to differentiate themselves from other branches of their family, or because it has been mis-spelled that way in records, or simply because it is a simpler spelling or pronunciation. For example, a document might say "Edward Walpee, dit Valpey" which would mean "Edward Walpee, aka Valpey".

These "dit" names were common among immigrants with French heritage. While I have seen the name Valpey as having derived from the Italian Volpi, it could very well have been a French name, such as Volpé or Volpée as well. A third possibility is that it was of German or Dutch origin, where the letter W has a V sound. This would explain the use of "Walpee" and transition to Valpy/Valpey. However, considering the other surnames associated with the Valpey family in England, and the fact that French Huguenots fled to the Channel Islands where these Valpeys lived, they were probably French. (associated surnames include Hamon, Coutanche, le Gallais)

I decided, after fruitless searches for records, to try another method. I went to my dna matches database and narrowed the list of matches by putting the various surnames of Elizabeth's parents, grandparents and beyond into the search box, ending up with lists of people whose dna matches mine AND who have these surnames on their family trees.

I found no people who are dna matches to me who have the name of Walpee on their tree. Although I also have not found any dna matches who share the Valpey/Valpy name, I have found dozens of dna matches who share common surnames in the right towns  and even exact individual ancestors belonging to Elizabeth Valpey's parents, grandparents and beyond.


Some of these include, from her mother's side, the names Clough, Page, Merrill, and Reeves, and from her father's side the names Hamon, Fowle, Paine, Ingersoll, Carrington, Thrower, and Felton. Again, these are not simply common surnames, but matches from the same towns and, in many cases, exact shared individuals in Elizabeth Valpey's line with lines from dna matches of mine.

It is unlikely that my dna would coincidentally be matched with so many others who have names and individuals in Elizabeth Valpey's ancestral lines in their trees without Elizabeth having been an ancestor of mine as well. So, while this does not conclusively prove that Elizabeth Valpey was the daughter of Abraham Valpey and Lydia Clough and the mother of Nancy Lilley, it does offer significant dna evidence that points in that direction. For now, it remains that way on my tree.

More about the "witch" in future post!

04 March, 2015

Beyond Great Britain

When my dna test came back, it indicated that a significant portion of my dna originated in Western Europe. Since what I know of my ancestors all come from Great Britain, I figured that result indicated the different Western Europeans who invaded the British Isles over the centuries. This is no doubt true, but I've recently found some direct ancestors who come from Western and even a few from Eastern Europe! This was exciting and fun for me, since so far they have all been from England, Ireland and Scotland and a few from Wales. And that's it!
Philip Lamoraal Von Egmont

This line is fairly strong, as there are many sources both older and more modern, that have traced this line. However, I always hold in mind that ancestral lines going back many centuries need only one link to be incorrect to invalidate the whole line. In this line there is a question as to the parentage of Marie Lamoraal von Egmond. Her father appears to have been Philip Lamoraal von Egmont b. c 1522 in North Holland. There is some confusion about this, but even if Philip Lamoraal is not Marie's father, it is certain that she was from this von Egmond family of Belgium/Holland.

In 1585 this Marie von Egmond married John Bouchier Sayer (jr.) in Amsterdam. John's father, John sr., was English and had fled to Holland due to religious persecution. John jr. was born in Amsterdam. The Sayer/Bouchier family had ties to the nobility of England, as Anne Plantagenet, granddaughter of King Edward III of England, had married William Bourchier ("r" later dropped) in 1405.

It is the family of Marie von Egmond, John Bouchier Sayer's wife, that brought me to many interesting people and countries in Western Europe. It would be their son, Richard Sears, who would emigrate to America.

Marie's paternal family were from the countries of North Western Europe: (what is now) Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland Germany and northern France. Her maternal family was mostly from Germany, with a notable exception. Her great x3 grandmother was Katharina von Habsburg, Grand Duchess of Austria whose brother, Frederick III, was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 1452. This places Marie as a descendant of the Habsburg dynasty of the Holy Roman Empire.
Habsburg Crown

Just as fascinating, Katharina's ancestors come from such wide and varied places as (present day) Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Russia, Belarus, Turkey, Italy, Czech Republic, Poland and Lithuania! More on the ancestors of the John Bouchier Sayer/Marie Lamoraal von Egmond union in later posts. For now, I am thrilled to find proof of other than the "generic" mix of British ancestors! 

Ref: - Americans of Royal Descent by C.H. Browning
       - Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of the State of Massachusetts, Volume 4                                      by William Richard Cutter, William Frederick Adams




30 January, 2015

Thomas Crosby of Eastham

This is a mini-bio of Thomas Crosby, my maternal 8th great-grandfather, of Eastham, Massachusetts. I have not yet collected much detailed information on Thomas, but I am still looking. Presented here are the facts as I have been able to gather them.


Thomas Crosby
(1635-1702)

Thomas Crosby was baptized at Holme-on-Spalding-Moore, East Riding, Yorkshire, England on 26 Feb 1635. His parents were Simon Crosby and Ann Brigham and he was named after his paternal grandfather. At the age of 8 mos his parents brought him on their journey to New England aboard the "Susan and Ellin", arriving on 2 Oct 1635 at Boston. 

Little is known of his childhood years, but his family settled in Cambridge on the site of what is now the University Press. He graduated from Harvard College in 1653. He was not, however, ordained as a minister. 

Nevertheless, he was invited to preach at the church in Eastham, MA on Cape Cod in 1655. He preached there until 1670, making 50 pounds per year. Thomas was also a good business man. In 1664 he was among those listed as dealing in "liquor, powder and shot" in the town of Eastham.

In 1662 he married Sarah Fitch, whose parentage is not clear. They raised a very large family, including a set of twins and a set of triplets, the third-born of which was named "Increase". Their children were: Thomas (1663-1731), Simon (1665-1718), Sarah (b 1666), Joseph (1668-1725), John (1670-1717), John's twin who died in infancy, William (b 1672), Ebenezer (b 1675), Anne, Mercy and Increase (b1678), Eleazer (b 1680).

Granary Burying Ground, Boston Common, Boston
Thomas Crosby moved his growing family to Harwich about 1671 and became one of the founders of the church there. He lived in Harwich, raising his large family, for 30 years. Sadly, he made a business trip to Boston in June of 1702 and was found dead in bed there, age 67 yrs. He was buried in the Old Granary Burying Ground in Boston. After his death, his widow Sarah re-married to John Miller (son of Rev John and Lydia Miller) of Yarmouth in 1703.



24 January, 2015

John Reid - A Long Journey from Scotland

In a previous post I wrote about how some wonderful Scottish ladies helped me to solve one of the "brick walls" that I had thought I would never break through. They discovered that the mysterious John Reid (great-grandfather on my father's side) had been born in 1872 to an unwed mother in a poorhouse in Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland. 


Paisley, Renfreshire, Scotland
Once this was established, the three of us set about tracing John's whereabouts and discovering when and how he ended up in Paterson, New Jersey. My friends found a child by the name of John Reid listed as a "boarder" at the age of 9 years with a couple named James and Margaret Kincaid in 1881, not far from where John was born in Paisley. John's mother Caroline had died in February of that year. We figured he must have been in what was then the "foster care" system, and the fact that the Kincaids had several other young boys with different surnames living with them seemed to confirm this supposition.

But what had happened to this orphaned boy? How did he manage to get to the United States where the first record of him was on the 1895 census in Paterson, New Jersey when he was 23 years old? Or was this John Reid, living with the Kincaids, even the right person? He was the right age, and he did appear as a boarder just after his mother's death, but how could we prove that it was the same child who later married Jane Richardson in Paterson?

My Scottish friends and I scoured ships manifests for John Reid with no success. On the 1900 census he had reported his immigration year as 1887. That would make him about 15 years old on arrival. Since he surely could not have had the means to make the trip alone at that age, we began, on a hunch, to search for Kincaids in Paterson, New Jersey.

Sure enough, one James and Margaret Kincaid appeared on the Paterson census of 1900! Still, we wanted to make a firm connection between them and our John who, by 1900, was 28 years old and married. Finally, a document came to light that made it certain enough that John had come to America in the care of the Kincaids. On his application for citizenship, John had stated that he lived on North York Street - the same address on the census for the Kincaids!

Since we now knew that he had arrived in 1887 with the Kincaids, we searched again for a passenger list. We did find, on the ship "State of Nebraska" that arrived in New York on 11 May 1887 Margaret Kincaid (mis-spelled Kincard) with
State of Nebraska
"sons" John age 14 and William age 7. William could have been their natural son, but more likely they simply presented the boys as their own to avoid red tape in bringing orphans to America. Certainly that was the case with John, who resumed use of his own name, once safely in his new country.


It is satisfying to know that this orphaned child of an impoverished single mother was apparently very much cared for by his foster parents. Certainly they would not have gone to the expense and trouble of bringing a teen-aged orphan with them to America had they not.

John went to work in the silk mill, which was the largest employer in the area at that time. His census reports lists his occupation as "silk weaver". The silk factories of the day were noisy and cramped, the work demanding and the hours long.

At the age of 24, John married Jane Richardson who had arrived with her parents from England in 1893. Sadly, the couple was not to have a very long marriage. They had four children between 1897 and 1905, the second youngest being my grandfather William Reid, born in 1903.

John Reid passed away in 1904, probably from tuberculosis, leaving his wife Jane and his five children. His widow died just a few years later in 1907. The children were placed in an orphanage in Paterson which is where my grandfather spent most of his childhood, this being one of the reasons for the "brick wall" and lack of information about his parents.

Amazing what a little digging will do! If the records are there, they can be found! It just takes determination, a little help from friends and a lot of luck.