Friday, August 15, 2014


Welcome to the blogpost roundup for the  Fourth Annual American Civil War BlogpostChallenge. These were the suggestions for possible topics I thought
my fellow geneabloggers might want to write about for this year's Challenge:

Did you have ancestors in America during the Civil War? If so, where were they
and what were their circumstances? How did the Civil War affect them and
their family? Did the men enlist and did they perish in battle or die of illness?
On which side did they fight, or did you have relatives fighting on BOTH sides?

How did the women left at home cope, or did any of them find ways to help
the war effort? Were your ancestors living as slaves on Southern plantations
and if so when were they freed?  Or were they freemen of color who enlisted
to fight?

Have you visited a Civil War battlefield or monument to those who fought?
It could be connected to your family history, or just one that you've visited
at some point.

If your ancestors had not emigrated to America as yet, what was their life
like around the time of the Civil War?

I didn't get many entries this year but I life to think the quality of the submissions
more than makes up for the lack of quality. I've also added some photos I've
taken over the years of Civil War monuments here in southeastern Massachusetts.
So let's get started!

Marshfield Hills Cemetery. Marshfield, Ma.

The Civil War took a terrible toll on families on both sides, with most or
all of their male family members killed. Ray Nichols tells the story of
one such Southern family over at his Growing The Family Tree blog in
the post Civil War: the Richards family tragedy

Civil War Veterans' Plot, Mt.Vernon Cemetery, Abington, Ma.

Amanda the Librarian of the ABT UNK blog is one of those who had
ancestors on both side of the conflict. Some survived, some didn't. You
can find their story and some pictures as well in Military Monday: 
My Civil War Ancestors.     

Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, Abington, Ma.

After the war, monuments were built all over the country to honor those
who had fought and those who'd died in the war. Doreen from Ohio 
of the Graveyard Rabbit of Sandusky Ohio shares photos of one in her 
Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Milan, Ohio  post.

Civil War Memorial Arch, Abington, Ma.

 The Fold3 website is a great place to find documents relating to the
wartime service of ancestors.  John Newmark recently found one that
gave the reason his wife's ancestor joined the Confederate Army and 
has published the transcript in Amanuensis Monday: Reasons for 
taking up arms on his TransylvanianDutch blog. 

Civil War Monument, Mayflower Cemetery, Duxbury, Ma.

My 5x great grandmother Lydia Phelps was the young widow of a 
Revolutionary War soldier with three small children when she 
married my 5x great grandfather John Ames. One of the descendants
of her son Sampson Reid fought for the Union in the War and was one
of those awarded a high honor for his service. I wrote about it here
on West in New England in AXEL REED, CHICKAMAUGA & 

Lincoln Statue, Hingham, Ma.
And that concludes this year's Civil War Challenge. I want to thank all the 
talented geneabloggers who took part this year, and urge my readers to leave
comments for them after you read their posts.

Next year will mark the fifth and final year of the Civil War 150th Anniversary
so if you haven't taken part in the Challenge yet, next year will be your last chance.

Or you can wait until 2036 when I run another Civil War Challenge to mark the
175th Anniversary!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Fellow geneablogger Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small has issued the
52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge. Basically, we have to post something every
week on a different ancestor, whether a story, picture, or research problem. For
this prompt I've tried to concentrate on ancestors I haven't researched as much
as I have others in my family tree. I thought I'd explore my Johnson line, starting
with William Johnson, my 11x great grandfather and one of my immigrant ancestors
who came to Charlestown, Ma.

I found a great article on Google books written by G.W.Johnson. It's from the The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Volume 33 published in January 1879 and
is one of those old style genealogies, where, for example, the physical appearance of
the Johnson men is judged to have been similar to those descendants living two centuries

WILLIAM JOHNSON, one of the early settlers of Charlestown, Mass., was born in England a little after 1600, was made freeman of Massachusetts Colony, March 4, 1634-5, and the year before became an inhabitant of Charlestown, and continued such over forty-two years, till his death, Dec. 9, 1677, at the age of over 70 years. Charlestown began to be settled in 1628, was laid out as a town in 1629, and, Salem excepted, is the oldest town in the colony, older than even Boston. I have not William's birth date; nor do I know in what part of England he was born; nor what relationship, if any, he bore to contemporary Johnson stocks in the colony

The author then speculates on which other colonists named Johnson might have been
related to William before getting back to him:

William was a Puritan of good parts and education, and brought with him from England a wife and child and means. He with his wife Elizabeth joined the Charlestown church, Feb. 13, 1634-5, of which they continued members in good standing till their death, over half a century. They probably belonged to a Puritan church in England. In order to be made a freeman of the colony, which entitled him to vote and hold office, it was required that the settler be a member of a congregational church, and be correct in doctrine and conduct. Feb. 10 of the same year he signed, with others, "An order made by the inhabitants of Charlestown at a full meeting for the government of the Town," which order the writer saw among the records of Charlestown many years ago. In his signature thereto we have his autograph. It is one of the fairest, and that of a practical penman. "The inhabitants of this town," says Mr. Frothingham in his History of Charlestown, "for a few years transacted all their local business in town meeting. * * * But their local government was not yet to their minds: 'by reason of many men meeting, things were not so easily brought unto joynt issue.' * * * The original proceeding on board the May Flower was imitated, providing for the government of the town by Selectmen. * * * No town has a more perfect history of its local government than is here presented." Within the first four years of his residence, William was assessed for ten separate parcels of land, which he cultivated. By profession he was a farmer, or, as he sometimes calls himself in conveyances, a "planter." This was his leading business, and it is by his leading or principal business a man is to be designated. His secondary employment was brick-making; and if he was called brick-maker in the record of his death, it was to distinguish him from William, son of Capt. Edward Johnson, who was also a farmer. From the start almost he appears to have been a well-to-do, thriving farmer. There were no large estates in the infant town, nor indeed in the colony. In 1658, twenty-four years after he became a resident, a division of town land was made among the two hundred and three heads of families and others of the township, in proportion to the possessions each one then had; and from this division it appears that after having considerably reduced his estate by portioning his children, over two-thirds of the townsmen stood below him in point of property, including Capt Edward Johnson; and many of the other third possessed but little more. His house-lot, on which there was a garden, fronted one hundred feet on "Greate" (Main) street, near the present Square, and was about one hundred and twenty feet deep. On this lot stood the house in which all his eight children, save the eldest, were born, and in which he died, and also stood two barns and two brick-making mills.

William discharged several of the town offices, but no colonial office except that of juror. In his time, office, except the highest, was regarded as a burden. Ill paid, it was not seldom imposed, subjecting him who refused it to a fine. At one time he was one of the five overseers " of ye houses and fields of ye towne," and at another one of the twelve special selectmen, comprising some of the principal settlers, his name standing third in the list, "to settle the rates of all workmen, labourers and servants' wages and for cart and boat hire," no one then being allowed to charge for his labor, &c, a higher sum than that prescribed by law. The judicial records show that William, with another man, was a witness to prove that a neighbor had Quaker books in his house; if a willing one, as probably he was, his sin was that of the entire community and the age in which he lived
. pp82-83

WILLIAM JOHNSON AND HIS DESCENDANTS. By G. W. Jouxson, of Royalton, N. Y.  The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Volume 33 , Jan 1879 Boston,Ma.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014


I was contacted last week by a cousin about our mutual ancestor Lydia (Phelps)
Read West. While answering a question I was reminded of something I'd
discovered seven years ago when I first began this blog involving the Civil
War. I decided it was a better topic for the Civil War Challenge than the one
I'd originally intended, so I decided to write about it instead. And here we are.

My 5x great grandmother Lydia Phelps had married her first husband Sampson
Read on 18Mar 1773 in Westford, Ma. He joined the Continental Army in 1776
and died in 1777 at age 23. I haven't as yet been able to find out if he was killed
in battle or died of natural causes. He and Lydia had three children; a son, Sampson
Read, Jr. and two daughters, Lydia and Amy. Sometime between 1777 and 1779,
Lydia met and married my 5x great grandfather John Ames m a Revolutionary
War veteran and blacksmith. There would be seven Ames children, and the family
settled around Hartford, Oxford County, Me.

John Ames taught his step-son Sampson the blacksmith trade. Eventually the young
man  married Jane Ellis. (she maybe a cousin through my Ellis line which I'll
have to research.) They  had a large family of ten children, one of whom was Sampson
Read III. He in turn married Huldah Bisbee and had eight children. One of these
was Axel Hayford Reed. The youngest of the seven surviving children, he apparently
was not happy farming and when he reached adulthood he moved West, eventually
ending up in Glencoe, Minnesota where he was living when the Civil War broke out.

He enlisted in  the Second Regiment of the Minnesota and became Sergeant of Company
K. Then in 1863 Axel got himself into trouble. In September of 1863  Axel's regiment
was part of Union General George Thomas' in the campaign along the Tennessee-Georgia
border. On 19Sep 1863 Axel Reed was under arrest at the reat of the lines when the
Battle of Chickamauga broke out. It seems he had written a letter to a newspaper that
had been critical of the food shortage of the army and was confined for it. When the
battle broke out, he either escaped or persuaded his guards to let him return to Company
K to fight with his men. The Second Minnesota helped stop a Confederate advance and
charges were dropped against Axel for his conduct on the field during the fighting.

Two months later Axel Reed was part of  the Union advance up Missionary Ridge in
Tennessee on 25Nov 1863. During that he was wounded which caused his right arm to
be amputated. Despite losing his arm he stayed on with the 2nd Regiment and by the time
he was mustered out in July of 1865 he had risen to the rank of First Lieutenant.

After the war he returned home, raised a family, started a bank and farmed. A diary
he kept during the war is cited in several history books. He died in Glencoe, Minnesota
on 21January 1917.

For his actions at Chickamauga and at Missionary Ridge, my 2nd cousin 4x removed
Axel Hayford Reed was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. You can read the
official citation at the U.S. Army Center of Military History website, and more details
of the two battles where Axel distinguished himself at the website for the NationalMedal of Honor Museum of Military History, which includes his photograph. 

Sunday, August 03, 2014


Fellow geneablogger Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small has issued the
52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge. Basically, we have to post something every
week on a different ancestor, whether a story, picture, or research problem. For
this prompt I've tried to concentrate on ancestors I haven't researched as much
as I have others in my family tree, This week I'm writing about my 10 x great grandfather
Thomas Harris.

Thomas is one of my immigrant English ancestors who settled in Charlestown near
Boston in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. My connection with him is through his
daughter Ann/Anna who married my ancestor Elias Maverick.  I found the following
information about him in a Harris family genealogy written by William Samuel Harris:

Thomas Harris and his wife Elizabeth were among the early emigrants from England to Massachusetts. Thev were in Charlestown, Mass., in 1630. After the death of Thomas his widow married, 2, Dea. William Stilson, of Charlestown, and died Feb. 16, 1670. In 1680 Dea. Stilson testified that Thomas Harris kept the ferry from Boston to Winnisimet (now Chelsea) and Charlestown, 49 years before, and that he (Dea. S.) married the widow of Thomas Harris and continued the ferry. This is the oldest ferry in the United States-Thomas and Elizabeth Harris had sons Anthony and William, and Anthony in his will, in 1651, mentions brothers Daniel and Thomas, and brother-in-law Elias Maverick, who married his sister Ann.

John, Thomas, and William Harris were among the first settlers of Rowley, Essex Co., Mass., in 1644, and Daniel came soon after; each had a two-acre house-lot laid out to him. The lots being of two acres each, shows that they were all men of property and importance. These four house-lots were all adjoining each other, which would indicate that they may have been brothers: and Daniel and William were certainly brothers.
It is very probable that all the following early settlers of New England were Thomas and Elizabeth Harris's

1. Anthony, of Boston, Mass.. was son of Thomas and Elizabeth; belonged Ui the artillery company,1644; was in Ipswich. 1648: died in Chelsea. Mass.. 1651: mentions no children in his will.

2. Daniel, of Rowley. Mass.. about 1645, is supposed to have been the  brother of Anthony. About 1652 he removed to Middletown. Conn., and died 1701. lie had ten children, the oldest born in 1651.

3. John, of Rowlev. Mass.. in 1644; may have come from London in 1635. aged 28. He is supposed to have been brother of Anthony. He had six children [see page 18, foot-note]: died in Rowley. 1695.

4. Thomas, of Ipswich. Mass.. in is supposed to have been the brother of Anthony, Hie married, 1647. Martha Lake: died 1687. He was the ancestor of the Harrises mentioned in this book. See Chapter II.

5. William, of Charlestown. Mass.. in 1642, was the brother of Anthony and Daniel, and was probably brought in youth to Massachusetts by his parents,He had five daughters, the second born in 1646, he afterwards removed to Middletown. Conn., and died in 1717.

6. Ann. the sister of Anthony, married Elias Maverick before 1651.

-pp7-8 The Harris Family: Thomas Harris in Ipswich, Mass, in 1636, and Some of His Descendents, Through Seven Generations, to 1883 (Google eBook)  Barker & Bean,
Nashua N.H. 1883

An entry for John Maverick on page 1242 of The Great Migration Begins says Elias
Maverick, John Maverick's son, married Anna Harris, daughter of Thomas Harris of
Charlestown sometime before 1635.

Saturday, August 02, 2014


Welcome to Part2! Several contributors submitted lists of blogposts they'd
done on World War One which necessitated my splitting the roundup into
two parts. I wish I could write an intro for each one of these posts but
time doesn't permit it. I urge you to visit them because there are some incredible
stories in them:

Living in War-torn Europe  

Odessa to Vancouver the Long Way via Vladivostok 

A Soldier Boy's Creed 

Wordless Wednesday: Twelve Tree Copse Cemetery, Turkey

52 Ancestors #26: "Not Likely to Become an Efficient Soldier"

52 Ancestors #29 -- He Died on a Flanders Field

52 Ancestors #30: Disabled in World War I


Paul Milner has done posts dealing with the war records for British soldiers and then used them to do case studies of his relatives who served in the War on his Paul Milner

WWI Soldiers – Online Records – pt1 Introduction

WWI Soldiers – Online Records – pt 2 case study Albert William Alfred Milner

WWI Soldiers – Online records – pt3 case study William Henry Milner

WWI – Finding the Dead – Commonwealth War Graves Commission part 1

WWI – Finding the Dead – Commonwealth War Graves Commission part 2

WWI – Finding the Dead – Commonwealth War Grave Commission part 3

Scottish Military Wills – Tips for Searching, Using the Results and Workarounds


Kathleen Scarlett O'Hara Naylor of You Are Where You Came From did a
series about the service records of her four great grandfathers:

John Joseph O'Hara's WWI Service Record and a Plea for Help

Joseph E. Mulcahy's WWI Service Records

Domenico Gatto's WWI Service Records

Carmine "Charlie" Lanzillotto's WWI Service Record

Lorine McGinnis Schulze sends us seven links. The first four are from her
Olive Tree Genealogy blog:

 Displaying Family Heirlooms - WW1 Medals and Photo

The Value of Military Records

Military Records: Looking Under a Stone, not just peeking behind it...

Remembering WW1 Soldier W. J. P. Bullock

The other three are profiles from the Canadian Military Heritage Project  

Jack Chapman

David Russell Hearns 


Blogger irisheyesjennifer has chosen seven of her blogposts on World War 1and her family. You can see the list in 'The big guns are coughing...': Commemorating the Losses of World War One at 'On a flesh and bone foundation': An Irish History:

 `On a celtic cross, a young man in a photograph':World War One

It all began with a bronze plaque: Remembering William Dunne 1880-1914 

A portrait trimmed in black crepe: William Francis Pell: 1891-1915

William Dunne & William Pell: Following the road of my two Williams 

 `Too many names upon these walls': World War One Commemoration 

Sepia Saturday #187: A very special journey with a remarkable book of poetry 

Commemoration in the landscape: The Irish National War Memorial Gardens


Finally, I did a series of posts here on my grandfather Floyd E West Sr :






And that concludes the Geneabloggers' First World War Challenge.
I want to thank all those who participated with such a great collection
of stories. I hope that those reading this post roundup will remember to
leave a comment of appreciation on these blogposts when you read them!


Welcome to the Geneablogger's First World War Challenge blogposts
roundup! I received a number of posts for the Challenge, so many in
fact that it's going to take two posts here to share them with you all.
It's a wonderful collection of posts, with submissions from Australia,
New Zealand, Ireland, Canada, and the United States. Some are new,
some are old; some are from familiar blogs, and some from blogs new
to me. They are all fascinating.

So let's get started with Part One!

When Jill Ball researched about her grandmother's first husband for an
ANZAC Day challenge, she discovered a story that started in England,
moved to Australia, and ended on a battlefield in France. Her post on
GeniAus is entitled ANZAC Day Blog Challenge @Kintalk
Alona Tester shares with us a wonderful picture of her great grandfather
Otto Rafael Winter a Finnish born immigrant who was proud of his
new country and joined the army when the War came. See it in the
post Anzac Day Blog Challenge: He Was Proud to be Australian on the 
lonetester HQ blog.

Irish support for the Allied side in the War was complicated by the issues
of Irish independence and British rule. I'm Irish-American on my Mom's side
so I was fascinated when I read Dora's recounting of the predicament of
her relative Frank McGrane in Conscription Into The Great War- An 
Irishman's Story at her Black Raven Genealogy blog. 

World War One ushered in the age of modern warfare with trench warfare
and gas attacks.Christine Blythe of Empty Nest Genealogy writes about two
granduncles whose bodies were never recovered while serving in France
in WWI War Stories.

Brenda Dougall Merriman's father was a pilot for the Royal Flying Corps and
kept a diary of his experiences. I think they'd make a great movie! See for
yourself in "Fell about a thousand feet" at Brenda's blog.

Some of us had relatives in several countries who fought in the War.Schalene 
Dagutis had one from the U.S. and another from New Zealand, and honors
them in a Memorial Day post, Honoring those Who Died in the Service of 
Their Countries at her Tangled Roots and Trees blog.

When Kathryn Creeden ordered the service record of her great grandfather's
brother from the NARA, she discovered a fascinating story of a man who
joined the U.S. Army shortly after deserting from the Marines. Eventually 
he ended up fighting in the War in the Canadian army. Kathryn details his
journey on her blog Kathryn's Quest in the post Military Monday - Deserter 
Becomes WWI Hero

Amanda Pape's blog is the wonderfully named ABT UNK. Her contribution
to the Challenge is a picture of her grandfather and his two brothers, all of
whom served in WWI. You can see it at her post Wordless Wednesday: "3
service stars in the window."

In Guy W. House,  "Dorene from Ohio" of  the Graveyard Rabbit of Sandusky
Ohio blog salutes the service of a cousin who died before she was born.

Donna Mierzejewski-McManus likes to research the people whose headstones
she's photographed in a Toledo cemetery and in her post Toledo’s World War I Veterans’ Experiences she tells the stories of two Polish-American soldiers.
The name of her blog is Toledo's Kuschwantz.

Shelley Bishop gives us the story of her granduncle who served in a heavy
artillery unit and survived the Battle of Argonne Forest over at her blog
A Sense of Family in Roy D. Eberhard, World War I Soldier: 52 Ancestors

Because of the infamous records fire of 1973, Jenny Lanctot had to resort to
other sources to find out about her great grandfather's WWI. Her persistence
paid off and she shows us what she found in Harold John Crowe – Indiana 
National Guard (WWI) at Are My Roots Showing? 

While actually hostilities broke out on 28Jul 1914, most cite the assassination
of Archduke Franz Ferdinand at Sarajevo a month earlier as the start of the War. 
John Newmark of the TransylvanianDutch blog tells us where his ancestors
were on that fateful day, June 28, 1914.

North Dakotan Adolph Myren's story is typical of many American soldiers 
in both World Wars. It's recounted by Mary P Nelson at Celebrating Family
Stories (Another great blog title!) in Military Monday: Adolph Myren.

Like Jenny Lanctot, Cheri Hudson Passey's research into her relative Frank
E. Sullivan Sr.'s World War 1 service was complicated by the 1973 NARA
records fire. She was able to find some information, though, in other
documents and she describes what she found in Military Monday - Clues 
From WWI Discharge Certificates at Carolina Girl Genealogy.

Carol A. Bowen Stevens over at Reflections from the Fence had the same
problem as Jenny and Cheri as she researched her WW1 veteran relative:
a lack of records. She turned to the newspaper collections at 
and through them shows us how a small Iowa town dealt with the draft
registration and enlistment of their young men. It's in World War I Soldier ::
Roscoe Clyde Lashbrook.

 At her Heritage Zen blog, Cynthia Shennette's grandfather was a mechanic
in the fledgling U.S.Army Air Service. She uses pictures, postcards, and 
records to construct a timeline of his military service in Over There!: My 
Grandfather and World War I  

Not many Americans know about a badly managed British expedition to Russia
during the War that included some American troops. Miriam Robbins' great
grandfather was one of the soldiers and she tells his story of that campaign
in A Polar Bear in North Russia at AnceStories: The Stories of  My Ancestors.

Sara Campbell has a real treasure: the letters her grandfather sent home from
boot camp and then the front in France. They were sent to his sister and to
his future wife and give us a look at what a young soldier saw and thought
about in wartime. They're at Sara's post WWI Chronicles of Pvt. Will Coleman 
on her Remembering Those Who Came Before Us blog. 

Some soldiers lost their lives in battle, some from illness, and some died 
from their injuries after they'd returned home. Wendy Grant Walter tells us
of one such cast on her blog From A to Zophar in her post Howard Mellor
Grant-Veteran of World War 1.

This concludes Part One. Some of the participants submitted lists of posts 
they've written on the War, and those will be covered in Part Two. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


On the same day that Stephen Webster brought my ancestor Robert Swan to court
over stolen wheat,  there was a second court case involving the two men. Apparently
Webster didn't take the theft of his wheat very well. From the Essex County Court records:

Stephen Webster was fined for speaking reproachful words to Robert Swan.*

*Robert Swan's complaint to the Worshipful Mr. Bradstreete against Stephen Webster : For saying that he would be the death of him, and for saying that Swan was a weak man and he could drive a dozen such as he before him through the town; also for threatening to burn said Swan's barn, which might be disastrous to himself, wife and children, for his dwelling house was very near the barn, etc. Elizabath Whiticker and Samuell Gile, jr., deposed that the same day that Robert Swan was charged with taking away the wheat, Stephen Webster said that if it had not been for Goody Swan, he would have knocked Robert in the head, etc. Sworn, Sept. 25, 1665, before Simon Bradstreete.f

Barthellme Heth deposed that Stephen Webster came to him with some neighbors to ask counsel, and soon after Robert Swan came for the same purpose. Webster desired counsel before his father Emiry and John Griffen, etc. Sworn in court. Abigale, wife of John Remington, deposed that being abroad in a hemp yard, she saw Webster go to her brother Swan's, and her sister Swan go with him to the barn. Webster said to Swan, "art thou a church Member, and dare to doe lyes," with which he stabbed at him with the fork he had in his hand, making a mark on his breast. Webster stood on the rails that were set up on the outside of the barn to fence in the mow, etc. Sworn, Sept. 22, 1665, before Simon Bradstreete.f

Robertt Swan deposed that they at first agreed about the wheat and shook hands and later Webster told him that he had played him a scurvy trick, sometimes he had put two sheafs together and Joseph Leigh, for many offences, was sentenced to pay a fine, to be severely whipped and bound to good behavior. He was to be imprisoned until the fine was paid, and upon his petition, the corporal punishment was changed to a fine and a fortnight's imprisonment.* again only one and a half. This he had done by taking some wheat out of the sheaf, putting it at the end of the band, drawing it up to the heads and twisting it together and made the band longer. Deponent told him that it was horrible wickedness for him to make deponent appear guilty when he was guilty himself, and he said it was good policy to use means to keep himself out of snares, etc. Elizabeth (her mark) Swan, wife of Robert Swan, deposed concerning the assault in the barn. She took the pitchfork from the men, and Webster told Swan that he would be the death of him if he hanged for it, etc. Sworn, 10 :6 :1665, before Simon Bradstreete.f

Elizabeth (her mark) Swan, daughter of Robert Swan, deposed. John Griffen deposed that being at the house of his father Sherred, etc. 

 p277  Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts: 1662-1667 (Google eBook) Essex Institute, 1913 

And that's all there is. I hope that whatever Stephen Webster was fined offset the
treble damages 7x great grandfather Swan had to pay. Reading this, I could
picture the two men in the barn, Webster poking at my ancestor with the pitchfork
until Robert's wife Elizabeth (Acey)Swan marched in to take the pitchfork away
before something serious happened between the two fools.

I love these Essex County court records. They give me a glimpse of what my
ancestors did and said. In this case, it painted a picture of a day in Robert Swan's
life that could have ended badly.

Monday, July 28, 2014


Fellow geneablogger Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small has issued the
52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge. Basically, we have to post something every
week on a different ancestor, whether a story, picture, or research problem. For
this prompt I've tried to concentrate on ancestors I haven't researched as much
as I have others in my family tree, This week I'm writing about my 7x great grandfather
Robert Swan's dispute with one of his neighbors in Haverhill, Ma. 

The story unfolds in the records of an Essex County, Ma. court session held at Ipswich
on September 26, 1665 :

Robert Swan, complained of by Stephen Webster for stealing wheat, was ordered to pay treble damages.*

*Stephen Webster deposed that upon Aug. 4, 1665, he and Robert Swan were in company with some of their neighbors, and they tried to agree about the wheat, etc. Zeackriah Whitt, aged about twenty-three years, deposed that he was employed to shock his master Webster's wheat, which grew upon land near to Robert Swann's house, and the last day they were reaping said wheat, Joseph Johnson was helping him. The next morning much of the wheat was gone, etc. He also mowed wheat for Swan near his orchard. Sworn, 10 :6 : 1665, before Simon Bradstreete.f

John Heasellton, sr., testified that he and his son Samuell plowed the land for Steven Webster, which land adjoined the little river near the saw mill, etc. Sworn, Sept. 25, 1665, before Simon Bradstreete.f

John Griffen, aged about twenty-four years, deposed that Swan told him that he had the wheat in exchange, etc.

Joseph Johnson, aged twenty-seven years, deposed that he worked upon the land that Steven Webster sold to Robert Swan, etc. Sworn, 10 : 6 : 1665, before Simon Bradstreete.f

Samuell Heazellton deposed. Samuell Gilde (also Guill), aged about sixteen years, deposed that his master Swan's cart, etc. Sworn in court. John and Joseph Johnson deposed. Sworn in court. Thomas Davis deposed that part of the land was sown with "silpy" and the other part with wheat, etc. Sworn, Sept. 22, 1665, before Simon Bradstreete.f

Edward (his mark) Brummidge deposed that Steven Webster's lot was near Abraham Whittiker's house, etc. Sworn, Sept. 22, 1665, before Simon Bradstreete.f

John Hazeltine and Stephen Kent, sr., deposed that Samuell Guile, jr., etc. Sworn, Sept. 25, 1665, before Simon Bradstreete.f

Jno. Griffin, aged about twenty-four years, deposed. Sworn, 10 : 6 : 1665, before Simon Bradstreete.f

-pp276-277  Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts: 1662-1667 (Google eBook) Essex Institute, 1913

As usual when I find one of these things, there is the unanswered question of
exactly how much money was the "treble damages" Robert Swan had to pay?

But it didn't end there. Like all the best of these colonial court cases, there was
a counter suit against Stephen Webster. I'll go into what my ancestor accused him
of doing in the next part.

To be continued.