Thursday, June 30, 2022

Ready to start with part 2

When I started writing these blog posts, I did it primarily so my descendants could know a few paragraphs about each of their direct ancestors who lived in North America.  Although I am still far short of fulfilling that goal, I've come to a stop for the time being, with much more research needed before I can possibly write about anyone else.  

In writing these posts, I've been struck by how often our ancestors were involved, even if peripherally, in many historic events, and how their different cultural backgrounds affected their lives here.  I've also become more aware of the connections that developed within and between families.  To explore these ideas and to give more context to the original posts, I am planning to write more posts about the families of each of our known ancestors, telling more about their children, about additional marriages they may have had, and trying to get a feel for what it was like to live as a family unit in the communities where our ancestors lived.  

My goal at this point is to post on Fridays only, rather than twice a week, and to keep the posts short.  Although I don't document my posts with notes and references, I will continue to point out anything that I add without having found a reference for it, such as, in my first post scheduled for July 8, speculation about whether the Holbrook families stayed in Weymouth during King Philip's War.

I have no idea how many posts I'll be writing, as the Lord is in charge of that, but I will continue as long as I am able.  As always, I hope to hear from cousins, and from cousins of cousins, as I write these posts.  

Monday, June 20, 2022

Holbrook, Allen, Beeks and Harshbarger lines: It had to happen sometime.

This is the end of part 1 of my blog posts.  It's number 930, if anyone is counting.  A few of those posts are now discredited, but still, I've written about over 900 of my children's ancestors, and a few of their siblings.  As of now, I don't know how or if I'll continue blogging.  Should I go back and see what stories I can find about some of the siblings of our ancestors? Should I try to take some lines overseas, to England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, France, Germany, Switzerland, and other countries of origin?  Should I write briefly of our royal and noble ancestors?  I am still trying to figure out what my family would be interested in, or if nothing, then what I'd be interested in.  

I will continue to try to verify the many, many names I have on the tree that at this point I can't document.  It's possible that a post about another ancestor will pop up, if I find more information or if I break down one of too many brick walls.  But don't look for a post on a regular basis, until I figure out what, if anything, I want to do next.  

I want to thank my followers and lurkers, especially those who have sent emails or made comments on my posts.  I hope I've helped some of you; I know I've learned from a lot of you.  Until next time, happy hunting!  

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Holbrook line: Francis Parsons 1647ish to whenever

 I've been frustrated for a long time in trying to find more information about Francis Parsons.  Since I am approaching the end of these sketches of our ancestors, he needs to be at least mentioned, even though I can't write even a brief sketch of him.  

The one seemingly undisputed fact that I can find documented proof for is that of his marriage to Eleanor Hitchman on May 10, 1671 it Wraxall, Somerset, England.  There are several candidates for his parents, none of which I can prove, but one set that at least has Somerset associations would be Francis Parsons and Elizabeth, perhaps Warde.  Francis Parsons and Susanna Atwoode also had a son named Francis of about the right age, but I can't connect them to Wraxall or to any nearby village.  Francis Parsons and Ann also had a son named Francis, but that son seems to have died in England in 1735 so I am tentatively ruling that couple out.  

Wraxall is a small village, now a suburb of Bristol, England.  It is a few miles inland from the coast, but would have had good access for exports from the port of Bristol.  The church there is a 12th century church (think Henry II of England's reign), and Francis likely would have attended here on a regular basis. 

There was a Francis Parsons who arrived in Maryland in 1671, but the daughter who is our ancestor was born at Durston, Somerset, in 1678, so either this isn't our Francis or he had returned to England for some reason.  We haven't yet identified when the family came to New Jersey, but that is apparently where they settled.  

I have an undocumented death date for daughter Frances in 1710 in Burlington, Burlington County, New Jersey, and another death date I can't verify for Francis himself of January 18, 1741, also at Burlington.  I have not located a will for Francis, but since he was in his 90's when he died, he was probably living with a child or grandchild.  

Based on this very sketchy information, I'm thinking it was likely that Francis was of a low social and economic status, perhaps a tenant farmer or servant to someone more powerful.  There is always the possibility that I will find records that prove otherwise, and that his will or estate records are  somewhere besides the New Jersey and Pennsylvania counties that I've checked.  The lack of available records for him makes us grateful for those many ancestors who did leave records.  

I'm hoping someone has had better luck than I've had, in documenting this ancestor, and will be willing to share their information!

The line of descent is:

Francis Parsons-Eleanor Hitchman

Frances Parsons-John Nations

John Nation-Bethiah Robins

Elizabeth Nation-Marmaduke Vickery

Jerretta Vickery-Joseph Nation

Elizabeth Nation-Christopher Myers

Phoebe Myers-Adam Brown

Phoebe Brown-Fremont Holbrook

Loren Holbrook-Etta Stanard

Gladys Holbrook-Richard Allen

Their descendants

Monday, June 13, 2022

Holbrook line: William Potter 1608 ish to 1662 (Adult content)

 I've known about this ancestor since long before I started blogging, and have delayed posting about him.  But honesty compels me to share the stories of all the ancestors I can locate, "the good, the bad, and the ugly".  William's story will get pretty ugly, although it starts out much as that of many of our ancestors of this time period.

William was the son of William and Ann or Hannah Langford and was born at Lewes, Sussex, England, on or before August 28, 1608, his baptismal date. (His parents had married on October 6, 1607).  He was the oldest of at least four children born to the couple, but sadly, his father died just 11 years later.  We know little of William's early upbringing, but his father is listed as a "houskeeper" in the burial records.  My best guess, which is still just a guess, is that he was a head servant in the house of a gentrymen or merchant's family.  One could choose to say he ran some sort of inn, or that he was a lighthouse keeper, but those seem a bit of a stretch. Ann/Hanna remarried within just a few months, to John Beecher, and William had two step-brothers and then two half brothers.  

One site I looked at said William was a Quaker, but it seems pretty clear to me that he was a Puritan.  We don't know the name of his wife, although it is frequently given as Frances Child or Childe (with no documentation).  We know they were married by 1635, when William, Frances, and a 20 week old child came to America on the ship Abigail.  Some say that the family first went to Boston, which is possible, but if so, they didn't stay there long.  When Rev. John Davenport went to what became New Haven, Connecticut in 1637, John Beecher, William's step-father, and perhaps his mother were with Davenport.  (Again, it's possible that Ann/Hannah stayed in the Boston area with William until 1638, when they all apparently went to New Haven.)

William and Frances had at least six children and it appears that the family lived together if not happily, at least with little known discord.  William received land and gradually moved "forward" in the church pews (assigned seating based on status and perceived spirituality). The only office that we know of that he held was that of fence-viewer, which was one that required a certain degree of tact.  He advised in court proceedings that he was well-educated, and could read.  Through both dividends and purchases, he acquired several parcels of land, which were used in his occupation as "husbandman"-small farmer who owned land, basically.

He was called into court at least once, to explain his handling of his niece's inheritance.  Potter had kept some animals that were to be the niece's, and he agreed to continue to raise the animals but to pay his niece a fee annually until she set up housekeeping and needed the animals.  

Something serious happened in the Potter household by 1660.  From this distance, it appears that the family was totally dysfunctional, and Joseph, the oldest son, backed up by his mother, made charges of bestiality against his father.  After some time, William "confessed".  It may be that the charges were based on fact and that William did the right thing in acknowledging them, even knowing that this would lead to the loss of his life.  It may also be that he had become a pariah of some sort, because bestiality was a crime that men on the fringes of society were charged with, similar to the witchcraft charges against women who were not witches at all.  Or it could be that it was a plot by Frances and Joseph, to acquire William's property and to rid themselves of a man they didn't care for.  Some readers have suggested that William was mentally ill and under duress when he "confessed", and that he just wanted his misery to be over.  

He was convicted, by his own words, and was hanged after the assortment of animals that he "admitted to" were hanged in front of his eyes, on June 6, 1662.  He wrote a will but it was not honored, at least not initially.  Frances took charge of the money and paid Joseph more than he was given in the will, and paid others money that was intended for William's other children.  There were more court cases to get the will properly executed, and it looks like eventually the children did get their inheritance.  

It's not our job to ascertain blame in this sad case, but simply to acknowledge that we may not know the whole story.  (At least one set of neighbors spoke against the charges, but when a man confessed, what was the court to do?)  We can't relate to the charge, but we can understand that there were some sad dynamics at work in this family.  None of the Potter children named any of their children William-or Frances.

The line of descent is

William Potter-Frances

Hope Potter-Daniel Robinson (Robbins)

Joseph Robins-Hannah Pack

Bethiah Robins-John Nations

Christopher Nation-Elizabeth possibly Swaim

Joseph Nation-Jerretta Vickery

Elizabeth Nation-Christopher Myers

Phoebe Myers-Adam Brown

Phoebe Brown-Fremont Holbrook

Loren Holbrook-Etta Stanard

Gladys Holbrook-Richard Allen

Their descendants


Thursday, June 9, 2022

Holbrook line: Roger Williams 1603-1683

 I hesitate to write this post.  What can I say about Roger Williams that has not already been said?  I have at least a half dozen books on my shelves about him, and that barely scratches the surface.  He was a great and imperfect man, and one of my favorite ancestors.  However, I started writing this blog in order to tell my family a few things about their ancestors, and I would be remiss if I didn't tell or remind them of this most famous (probably) of our ancestors who came to America.  

Williams was born about 1603, the son of James and Alice Pemberton Williams, in  London (the records for the parish church were destroyed in the 1666 fire, so we lack an exact date.)  His father was a "merchant tailor" and while not wealthy, was pretty close to being well-off.  "Merchant" generally means that he was able to import goods, and had employees.  He had at least two brothers, so didn't grow up alone but there were not so many children as to impoverish the family.  

Williams was a brilliant linguist, able to speak and read several languages, at one point tutoring the poet John Milton.  He apprenticed under Sir Edward Coke, the famous jurist, and attended Pembroke College at Cambridge University, earning his degree in 1627.  He took holy orders in the Church of England, but soon broke with the Church and became a Puritan.  

He married Mary Barnard, daughter of Richard Barnard, on December 15, 1629. As Archbishop Laud's strict regulations took effect, Roger had already been planning his move to the New World, and the couple left England soon after.  Their six children were all born in America.

Williams did not really fit into the mold of Puritanism in New England.  Boston chased him to a pastorate in Salem, then he went to Plymouth Colony, where he also preached, then he was back in Salem in an unofficial capacity, and finally he was exiled from Massachusetts entirely.  The story of his trek to a new home outside the jurisdiction is well known, including that he first settled on land that was later claimed to be part of Massachusetts Bay Colony, so he had to move again.

Prior to his exile, he had already begun doing missionary work with some of the native Americans, learning their language and providing a dictionary of sorts.  These same natives befriended him and helped the family and their supporters, who had arrived in Rhode Island about the same time as Williams, survive their first winter.  

It was in Rhode Island that Williams would exert his greatest influence.  He was the founder of "Providence Plantation" and was its leader, officially or unofficially, for many years.  He was a believer in religious freedom (except he had a hard time with Quakers), and founded a Baptist church before leaving that denomination and becoming a "Seeker" who didn't always attend church services.  His friendship with the local indigenous tribes was notable, although this did not prevent them from burning the Williams home (along with most of Providence) during King Philip's war in 1675-76.  

He died sometime before August 1, 1683 and was buried on the family farm.  He was 80 years old.  

Williams is known as the founder of religious freedom in America, as the governor of Rhode Island and Providence Plantation from 1654-1657, as one of the earliest Baptists, as a friend and missionary to native tribes, and as an author of several books.  I have great admiration for him, and also for Mary, who certainly had her work cut out for her in her marriage to this challenging man.  I like to think that their are traits in our family that can be traced back to him, especially his love for God and for the right to worship as one sees fit.  

For more information, there is a good wikipedia article about him, several good biographies, some novels, and numerous more scholarly articles.  This is just a quick survey to show our family a little of his greatness.

The line of descent is

Roger Williams-Mary Barnard

Mercy Williams-Samuel Winsor

Samuel Winsor-Mercy Harding

Joseph Winsor-Deborah Matthewson

Lillis Winsor-Nathan Paine

Deborah Paine-Enos Eddy

Joseph Eddy-Susan Lamphire

Susan Eddy-Hiram Stanard

Louis Stanard-Mary Alice Hetrick

Etta Stanard-Loren Holbrook

Gladys Holbrook-Richard Allen

Their descendants

Monday, June 6, 2022

Holbrook line: John Cole of Virginia and Maryland, maybe

 There is a good deal of controversy about John Cole (sometimes seen as Coale), as to his ancestors.  I am following the information provided by Robert H Barnes in his British Roots of Maryland Families, as to his parents.

John was the son of an early immigrant to Virginia, William Coale, and (probably) his wife, Frances.  William was in Virginia by 1635 (and perhaps as early as 1618), when John was born, probably in Accomack County.  We know next to nothing about his early life, but it appears that he may have been indentured to a Charles Scarburgh, and in 1657 he was to be set free if Scarburgh didn't return within 12 months from a voyage.  It's not know what kind of trade he pursued, but it must have been sufficient to provide for a family, because he married Mary Beedle in 1663 in Accomack County.  They may have had as many as six children together, but there were at least four, all listed in a trust agreement.

She may have brought some money to the marriage, or else John was a successful whatever he was, because by 1672 he operated a tavern and began buying land.  His purchase record hints that he may have been raising tobacco, as that crop required new land every few years, but he also moved from place to place, following the Northampton Court.  His tavern was usually located very near the court house, for sound business reasons.  

There are records for John in Accomack County up to 1697, when he was given a license for an "ordinary" near the court house, which also gave the right to retail liquors.  In 1691, he had put property in trust for his children and to provide for his wife, Mary, so perhaps he was slowing down physically by that time.  After Mary's death, son William was to get 150 acres of land, 125 acres each for Robert and Richard, and 100 acres to John.  

John may or may not have moved to Anamassex in Somerset County, Maryland, after that time.  He had filed several suits in Somerset County during his life, which is not surprising since Accomack County, Virginia and Somerset County, Maryland border each other.  (They are both located on the Eastern Shore of Chesapeake Bay.)  It is possible that one or more of his children had gone to Somerset County, and he may have lived with one of them during his final years.

John died about 1705, but nothing is known of the exact date, or where his death occurred.  We do know that John was literate, because he testified that he had written a will for someone in 1694.  We can see that he was ambitious, moving with the courts to keep his tavern business, and acquiring land to support the family, and possibly to pay taxes. (Currency of the early times was often represented by tobacco). He would have been at least nominally Anglican in religion, because that is what was allowed in Virginia at the time.  

It would be fascinating to know how or if John was affected by Bacon's Rebellion.  We know the government of Virginia left Jamestown to go to Accomack County, where they were "welcomed with open arms."  Did they visit John's tavern?  Did John whole-heartedly support the governor?  We don't know, but it seems possible.

What I know is that Accomack and Somerset Counties now need to be added to the list of counties I need to do research in.  That will make 240 counties!

The line of descent is

John Cole-Mary Beedle

John Cole-Johanna Garrett

Sarah Cole-Charles Gorsuch

Hannah Gorsuch-Thomas Stansbury

Rachel Stansbury-Alexis Lemmon

Sarah Lemmon-Abraham Hetrick

Isaac Hetrick-Elizabeth Black

Mary Alice Hetrick-Louis Stanard

Etta Stanard-Loren Holbrook

Gladys Holbrook-Richard Allen

Their descendants

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Holbrook line: John Whitmore 1590ish -1648

I've been writing about several John Whittemores in this blog, and here is another one.  Fortunately, he is easily distinguishable from the rest because he went to Connecticut, and because he spelled his name differently.  It seems that his family did come from the Whittemores of Hitchin, , Hertfordshore, England, but that his parents, Thomas and Mary Meade Whittemore (or Whitmore) had moved to Staffordshire.  We don't know why his parents moved, but there was a good deal of industry there and perhaps that influenced their decision.

I've not found a definite date of birth for John, but he was likely born in the 1580's to about 1590.  We don't know what John did in his home town of Newcastle-Under-Lyme, but he must have had a trade of some sort.  Perhaps he worked in a local industry, or perhaps he was a tenant farmer.  Sometime about 1611, he married an unknown wife, who was the mother of his five children and who is believed to have died in England.  We don't have firm birth dates for his children, so it's hard to know if we have the right man or not, but there was a John Whitmore who married Margerie Periam in 1617. 

John and his family were in Wethersfield, Connecticut prior to 1639, because he sold land there in 1639.  He seems to have followed a pastor (Cambridge-educated, so likely a Puritan) from Wethersfield to Stamford.  One source says he was in the colony by 1633 but I am not sure I'm convinced of that.  His name is not included in The Great Migration series.  

"By 1641", John married Hanna or Johanna Kerrich Jessup, who was a widow with six children of her own.   Some of their children were old enough to be on their own, but not all of them were.  

In Stamford, John was a freeman, a selectman, and a deputy, although we aren't sure which court he would have been a deputy to.  His name is not on the first list of men who received home lots, but he was in Stamford within months of the founding, and took part in the town government.  Because the immigrants from Wethersfield followed Reverend Richard Denton over some church controversy, we can believe that he attended church regularly.  

John Whitmore came to a sad end, and this is why we need to remember him.  He had gone out to check on his cattle on the commons, and was attacked and murdered by one or more native Americans.  There are various theories as to who committed the murder, but by the time his body was located, roughly three months later, it was difficult to determine the facts or do any real detective work.  It is easy to feel the fear that his family must have felt for those three months, not knowing what had happened to him but knowing he was not at home where he should have been.  The best guess that I could find was that the killing was random, by a native, not local, who had come to the area specifically to kill a white man.  

We are fortunate to have John's inventory, which was quite extensive for the time.  A Bible and two testaments were listed twice, which may or may not be an error.  I didn't see any mention of guns or ammunition, but it is possible that those were in his possession, and subsequently stolen, when he was killed.  He had a good number of farm animals, valued at more than 80 pounds, whereas his house and land were valued at just 50 pounds.  

In reflecting on John's life, or rather death, it brings home to me how lightly we throw around the words "lived on the frontier in dangerous times".  The people who lost their lives left behind grieving families who had to go on with the business of living, on the frontier in dangerous times.  Johanna lived until at least 1652 under these circumstances.  The courage of the survivors is amazing.

The line of descent is

John Whitmore-first wife

Ann Whitmore-Samuel Allen

Sarah Allen-Josiah Standish

Josiah Standish-Sarah possibly Cary

Hannah Standish-Nathan Foster

Nathan Foster-Elizabeth Lansford

Jude Foster-Lydia M

Betsy Foster-Josiah Whittemore (probably very distant cousins)

Mary Elizabeth Whittemore-Joseph Holbrook

Fremont Holbrook-Phoebe Brown

Loren Holbrook-Etta Stanard

Gladys Holbrook-Richard Allen

Their descendants