Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Holbrook line: John Whittemore 1685-1748

What fun!  Most of our ancestors were good folks, either farmers or pastors, and sometimes it's hard to find something new to say about their lives.  But every once in a while, someone steps out of the box and does something entirely different, and perhaps is entirely different, from our norm.  John Whittemore just may be one of those men.

John Whittemore was born February 23, 1685 in Charlestown, Massachusetts, the son of John and Elizabeth Annable Whittemore, and he's one in a succession of four men named John Whittemore, each of whom is our ancestor.  Confusion reigns, but I think I have this man figured out. 

At some point in his life, John left Charlestown and settled in Boston.  He married Elizabeth Lloyd, the daughter of Edward and Hannah Griffin Lloyd.  The Lloyds were a Charleston family who had moved to Boston also.  I'm wondering if John was maybe an apprentice or some sort of shipworker there, because the marriage took place in Boston.  John and Elizabeth had at least five children together, including our John born 1714. 

I'm still trying to pull together John's story as far as his adult life goes.  I know that he was a mariner and a retailer, perhaps not at the same time or perhaps at the same time.  His father in law had died with a good supply of "rhum" and spirits, and John may have inherited or purchased that, as he also sold strong spirits.  So, basically he ran a tavern or a liquor store.  He must have been somewhat successful because he built a new home in 1733,   We know that because he was granted liberty to dig a frain from his new house, which was apparently on Sheaf St.  It looks like this would have been just blocks from what we know as the Old North Church, in the north end of Boston.  It was also near Copp's Hill Burying Ground

, which is where he was buried. 

Elizabeth died August 13, 1746 and John died April 21, 1748,  In his will, he left 100 pounds to his oldest son, John and 150 pounds (old tenor, not the new fangled money the colony had printed) to son Edward.  He also left each of them 1/4 of his "moveable estate".  Three grandsons, including another of our Johns, were to share 100 pounds.  To Elizabeth, his daughter, he left his house and land, and all his liquors.  One can speculate that the two sons were set up in life already but that Elizabeth would need some source of income.  I wonder what the city fathers thought of that. 

The only reference I found to a possible religion for John was that his son John was baptized at "Second Church", which is now known as Old North Church.  Increase Mather was the pastor at the time.  There doesn't seem to be any record of the other children's baptism.  Perhaps John was away so much that he wasn't often there to see that the children were baptized, or perhaps Elizabeth had enough to do to take care of her family.

I would love to find his inventory, to learn whether he was well to do or not.  I'd also love to learn more about his story as a mariner, and I do have a few new sources to look at for that.  If I find anything interesting, I'll do an update.  And of course, I'm wondering how involved he was in the slave trade, and whether he had one or more slaves.  That would be more than possible if he was importing rum, also. But for now, we at least have a sense that John lived in one of the (to me) most interesting places in the world, and had a fascinating career.  That's pretty cool.

The line of descent is:

John Whittemore-Elizabeth Lloyd
John Whittemore-Lydia Clough
Josiah Whittemore-Lucy Snow
Josiah Whittemore-Betsy Foster
Mary Elizabeth Whittemore=Joseph Holbrook
Fremont Holbrook-Phoebe Brown
Loren Holbrook-Etta Stanard
Gladys Holbrook-Richard Allen
Their descendants



Friday, March 27, 2020

Holbrook line: Benjamin Wheelock 1678-1746

 Earlier this week I wrote about Jonathan Thayer, of whom I could find little or nothing.  Now I'm writing about his son in law, Benjamin Wheelock, who lived in the same small town, and I've found a ton of information about him.  His father, also Benjamin Wheelock, was a founder of the town of Mendon, Massachusetts Bay Colony, and was respected in the town.  This Benjamin also was respected, sometimes being given the title of "Mr." in the town records, and his son Benjamin, who is not our direct ancestor, carried on the family tradition.

This Benjamin was the son of Benjamin and Elizabeth Bullen Wheelock and a grandson of Ralph Wheelock, the immigrant.  He was born December 12, 1768 and was one of at least five children.  He came to Mendon as a young boy and lived his whole life in this frontier village.

On December 9, 1700 he married his step sister, Huldah Thayer, who was the daughter of Jonathan and Elizabeth French Thayer (Elizabeth had married Benjamin's father, after they were both widowed).  Since it's reasonable to suppose that the two knew each other well, we can assume this marriage was a happy one.  They had at least eight children together, and the family, or at least Benjamin, seems to have prospered.

In The Annals of the Town of Mendon, it is often hard to differentiate between the three (at least) Benjamin Wheelocks.  But in 1707 ours is identified as Benjamin Wheelock Jr., as a selectman, so we are willing to consider the possibility that some of the remaining references to Benjamin between then and 1716, when his father died, could be our Benjamin.

 In 1705, Benjamin Wheelock and his successors were granted use of the "mill pond" for as long as they kept in in repair and serviceable for the town's use. The mill pond was used as a reservoir with water released as necessary to run the mill. I don't know if this signifies that the mill was run by the Wheelocks, or whether there is something else significant about this.  If someone knows, please let me know!

I didn't find anything specific about Benjamin in the military, but it seems likely he was in the training band, if nothing else.  I did find that he was appointed to a committee to oversee the building of the town meeting house in 1720.  It was to be 50 ft long, 45 ft wide, 20 ft high, and to be a "studded house", as differentiated from a log cabin, I suppose.  He also was appointed to a committee to sell the "pew rooms" in 1737.  I'm not clear on the meaning of this, either.

He was the recipient of several grants of land that the town made, and two of the three times I noted he drew a low number, so he chose some of the best of the land that was being divided.  In another grant, he drew lot 122, so this was probably mediocre at best.

Benjamin was a selectman several times, starting in 1707 and probably ending in 1739, when he was also chosen to be the representative to the general court in Boston.  He refused to serve, but it's not stated why he chose to stay home.  He was already 61 years of age, and may have not felt up to the task.  Just as likely, Huldah died July 7 of that year and he probably wanted to stay home, to care for her and watch after the family.

Benjamin remarried on August 21, 1740, to Rebecca Nurse Kinney.  (No, I haven't checked to see if she was connected to the Nurses of Salem).  He died 6 years later, on September 13, 1746.  His will is quite extensive.  He left twenty pounds each to the daughters of his deceased daughter, Mary Thayer, and some personal belongings beside.  His will specifies that all bequests are to be in the "old tenor", which is a reference to a fairly recent change in currency.  He wanted them to be given the money as he had known it all his life, and that carried more value than the more recent currency.

I was also fortunate enough to locate his inventory.  It is quite specific, including the value of items devised in the will.  His inventory was valued at over 1120 pounds, again in the "old tenor".  I think we would classify him as"well to do", if not wealthy.  Benjamin Wheelock was a family man, a civil servant, a member of the church, and a leader in the community.  We can be proud of him!

The line of descent is

Benjamin Wheelock-Huldah Thayer
Mary Wheelock-Ebenezer Thayer
Abigail Thayer-Jesse Holbrook
Amariah Holbrook-Molly Wright
Nahum Holbrook-Susanna Rockwood
Joseph Holbrook-Mary Elizabeth Whittemore
Fremont Holbrook-Phoebe Brown
Loren Holbrook-Etta Stanard
Gladys Holbrook-Richard Allen
Their descendants




Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Holbrook line: Jonathan Thayer 1658-1690

A life cut short...Jonathan Thayer was one of the several children of Fernando or Ferdinando and Huldah Hayward Thayer.  He was born January 1, 1658 and he died sometime in 1690.  He lived just 32 years.  That is probably why I can find so little information about him. 

He married Elizabeth French, daughter of John and Freedom French, on June 22, 1679, and that is where he and Elizabeth raised their family. Four children, Huldah, Grace, Deborah and Jonathan, were born to the couple, and our Jonathan also had an illegitimate child with Sarah Darling, Hezekiah Thayer, who died young. (This last was born in 1687). It would be interesting to find the court records for that situation.  Jonathan probably had to pay some kind of support for the young child, and Sarah could very well have been jailed and whipped.   

That is as much as I can tell you, and honestly, I don't have a source for the Hezekiah story.  It's on Find a Grave, so take it for whatever it's worth.

Now, I'm going to speculate for a couple of sentences.  Huldah, Jonathan's mother, died in 1690.  1690 was a horrible year for smallpox in the Boston area (Mendon was near enough for this purpose to be counted as Boston.)  Did both of them die of smallpox?  Jonathan apparently died before September 14, 1690 (date of inventory)  and his mother died in September,   Had one of them been caring for the other?

We can't tell much about Jonathan from the inventory, which was taken September 14, 1690.  The inventory included 10 acres of land, a dwelling and out (housing, laying, not sure what it says), two cows, three yearlings, and one calf, ten swine, 2 horses, a cart, arms and ammunition, a debt from his father, and a few household goods such as beds and a chest.  It's a pretty meager inventory. 

Elizabeth went on to marry Benjamin Wheelock in 1692, and her daughter Huldah, our ancestor, married his son Benjamin, also our ancestor.  It's nice to think that something good happened out of these tragedies. 

The line of descent is:

Jonathan Thayer-Elizabeth French
Huldah Thayer-Benjamin Wheelock
Mary Wheelock-Ebenezer Thayer
Abigail Thayer-Jesse Holbrook
Amariah Holbrook-Molly Wright
Nahum Holbrook=Susanna Rockwood
Joseph Holbrook-Mary Elizabeth Whittemore
Fremont Holbrook-Phoebe Brown
Loren Holbrook-Etta Stanard
Gladys Holbrook-Richard Allen




Friday, March 20, 2020

Allen line: Captain Thomas Stebbins 1687-1758

What's an ancestor without a mystery?  I haven't found many of those, and Thomas Stebbins is no exception.  My question is simple, but the answer is elusive.  I'd like to know why he was called "Captain"?  In the book of wills, his will is labeled "Captain Thomas Stebbings".  Now, the will book was made at some point after the death of our subject, so it's possible that he wasn't really a "Captain" at all, and that the recorder of the book of wills used a title that applied to a different Thomas Stebbins, because there were certainly several of them running around Massachusetts at the time.

Or, he did earn the title and we need to do more research.  Based on his age, I would guess that he probably served in Queen Anne's war, possibly on the aborted invasion of Canada (to take it from the French) or in King William's war, with the same aim.  There is also the strong possibility that he responded to one or another of the native American attacks on Deerfield. 

However, that is the middle of the story, or the lack of a story, for Captain Thomas Stebbins.  The beginning of the story is his birth on March 7, 1687 in Springfield, Massachusetts (Massachusetts Bay Colony, actually),  His parents were Edward and Sarah Graves Stebbins, and he was in the fourth generation of men named Stebbins to live in New England.  He was raised in Springfield, lived and died there, and except for whatever he did to be designated as "Captain", he probably never left the town. 

He belonged to one of the more well known families in Springfield, and grew to fill his father's shoes at least partly.  He married Mary Ely, daughter of Joseph and Mary Riley Ely, on May 1, 1711.  He and Mary had at least five children together, and life was pretty good for the Stebbins family.  He held several minor offices in town but was also constable at one point, and served on committees to audit the town accounts.  As was expected of Puritan boys, he could read, write, and do at least some arithmetic.

Thomas died  December 4, 1758, about a month after writing his will.  Mary died less than two years later, on October 14, 1760.  I haven't located an inventory, but Thomas left his oldest son, Caleb, his "gun, sword and belt" so we know he treasured those items.  He doesn't specifically mention any land or dwellings, just his "estate".  He left about 5 pounds to each of his daughters (Ruth got a little more than Mary did) and the rest of his estate, after his wife's death, was to be divided between the sons.  It's hard to imagine someone in Springfield not owning land, so I'm going to guess that Thomas did, too.  He likely inherited at least some of it from his father, although I'm not finding even a will for him. 

That is what we know, and don't know, about Thomas.  I would certainly like to learn more about him, because he probably met and conquered more challenges than we can imagine. 

The line of descent is:

Thomas Stebbins-Mary Ely
Ruth Stebbins-Samuel Hitchcock
Margaret Hitchcock-Richard Falley
Samuel Falley-Ruth Root
Clarissa Falley-John Havens Starr
Harriet Starr-John Wilson Knott
Edith Knott-Edward Allen
Richard Allen-Gladys Holbrook

Their descendants




Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Holbrook line: John Merryman 1678-1749

I don't have enough information to write a blog post about this ancestor, so this will be more like a placeholder, for now.  John Merryman is one of our early Maryland ancestors, he owned land, he married and had children, and that's about most of what I know about him.  There are other things we can speculate about.

John Merryman was the son of Charles and Mry Haile Merryman.  He was born in either Lancaster County, Virginia, where his parents married, or Baltimore County, Maryland, where they moved about the time of his birth.  We don't know why his parents moved but perhaps it was for religious freedom.  Also, this was about the time of Bacon's Rebellion in Virginia and perhaps they felt safer there.

John married Matha Bowen, daughter of Jonas and Martha Henchman Bowen, on December 30, 1702.  He already owned land on the north side of the Patapsco River, because he is taxed there starting in 1699.  He was left two parcels of land by his father, and acquired more as he matured.  The location of the land and the number of parcels he owned, plus the history of the other families I've reviewed for these posts, makes me speculate that he was a slave-owner.  He likely grew tobacco as at least one of his crops, and that depleted soils rapidly so that farms had to be kept in rotation.  This land was more or less directly east of what is now Fort McHenry in what is now Baltimore.

John and Martha had at least eight children.  Three sons are named in his will, and five daughters are mentioned but not named.  It is possible, even probable, that there were other children that didn't live to adulthood. We believe he was Anglican, as some of the family record's are at St Paul's Parish.  He wrote his will in 1746 and died July 17, 1749. 

That is what I know about John.  He is not a man who has been thoroughly researched, but surely there is more to be found about him.  I looked diligently for an inventory for John, but either it is misfiled or is lost.  I would love to know what his estate was worth, and more particularly, I'd like to settle the question of whether he owned slaves, and how many there were. This family was early and important in the area so there should be more information to be found.  If you know where and what it is, please contact me!

The line of descent is

John Merryman-Martha Bowen
Martha Merryman-Alexis Lemmon
Alexis Lemmon-Rachel Stansbury
Sarah Lemmon-Abraham Hetrick
Isaac Hetrick-Elizabeth Black
Mary Alice Hetrick-Louis Stanard
Etta Stanard-Loren Holbrook
Gladys Holbrook-Richard Allen
Their descendants




Friday, March 13, 2020

Holbrook line: Elisha Eddy 1710-1764

We come from a long line in the Eddy family.  Starting with Susan Eddy, we can trace back all the way to a John Eddy born in 1435, if printed information is correct.  However, for this post, we are interested in Elisha Eddy, who lived from 1710-1764 in Rhode Island. 

Elisha was the son of Zechariah (or Zachariah, or Zachary) and Anphillis Smith Eddy.  He was born in what was then Providence Plantation, Rhode Island.  Later Gloucester broke off from Providence, a peaceful event, and later still the town changed its name to Glocester, to avoid confusion with Gloucester, Massachusetts.  Elisha was born November 10, 1710 and he was one of at least four children.  Zechariah must have had some influence in the town because he was appointed town sergeant at its formation in 1731.   

Elisha, however, stayed pretty much under the radar.  We know he married Sarah Phetteplace, daughter of Walter and Joanna Mowry Phetteplace, on December 2, 1734 in Gloucester.  His father gave him 100 acres of land shortly before his death in 1737, and Elisha stayed there for several years, until he sold the land to his brother, Joseph, and purchased 200 acres from Richard Sayles.  (He left half of this land to his oldest son Enos in his will in 1764.)

Elisha and Sarah had at least four children, which was not a large family for the period, and for having been married nearly 27 years when Elisha died.  He describes himself in his will as a yeoman, and Enos as a husbandman, meaning both farmed land, but Elisha owned land and Enos was a tenant farmer at the time. 

His name is found on one Inman will as an executor, and as a witness on several deeds, but other than that he is not noted in town records that I'm aware of.  He would have served in the militia but we don't know whether, for instance, he was part of the French and Indian War, or any of the earlier wars that preceded it.  We don't know his religion, although based on the religion of others in the area he was likely "some kind" of Baptist. 

In his will, he set out an area 6 poles square (about 300 feet by 300 feet) for a burial location, where his father was already buried.  It seems to be listed as a historical cemetery, GL149, which has not been recorded but seems to be at or near the location of Elisha's home. 

Elisha died January 27, 1764.  Sarah was an executor of his will, and she lived until December 2, 1794.  (She saw the American Revolution.  Did she participate in some way, as in providing goods or services?)  Whether or not Elisha served in some capacity in the town, whether or not he served in the militia, and whether or not he was a Baptist or other religious persuasion, are really immaterial to this one fact:  He was our ancestor, and he helped give life to the next generation. 

The line of descent is:

Elisha Eddy-Sarah Phettiplace
Enos Eddy-Sarah Brown
Enos Eddy-Deborah Paine
Joseph Eddy-Susan Lamphire
Susan Eddy-Hiram Stanard
Louis Stanard-Mary Alice Hetrick
Etta Stanard-Loren Holbrook
Gladys Holbrook-Richard Allen
Their descendants

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Holbrook line: Peter Holbrook 1656-1712

Peter Holbrook has been a favorite of mine, ever since several years ago, when I read the will of his grandfather, Thomas, who died in 1677.  Peter was just about 21 at the time.  Thomas's will states that because Peter took care of him and of his wife in their old age, he was leaving his dwelling house, orchard, and arable land in Weymouth to Peter.  I don't know many young men who would care for their grandparents for such a long time, so I am already favorably impressed with this ancestor.

But let's back up and start at the beginning.  Peter was the son of Thomas and Joanna Kingman Holbrook on September 6, 1656 by the dating method most sites are using.  Peter was of the first generation born in New England, in Braintree, Massachusetts Bay Colony.   His father was about ten years old when he came to America with his father, so Peter may or may not have heard many stories about life in the home country.  He was raised a Puritan, so he knew how to read and write, and he'd learned enough about how to run a farm to take care of his grandparents; land.  He was probably a bright and hard working young man.

We don't know what he looked like, but he had enough going for him to capture the heart of Alice Godfrey, daughter of Richard and Jane Turner Godfrey.  Peter and Alice were married about
1677, apparently in Mendon.  It's hard to know the exact timeline because Peter was caring for his grandparents until March (grandfather) or April (grandmother's date of death, of 1677.

His responsibilities in caring for his grandparents probably explains why I don't find his name listed as a soldier in King Philip's War.  He had more immediate duties.  The town the young couple went to, Mendon, was totally burned by the Indians during the War, so it's just as well that the couple wasn't there yet.  They apparently did move to town soon after the war, though  Peter's name starts showing up in town records at least by 1685, when he is charged a high "rate" of one pound and five shillings to support Mr. Rawson, the town pastor, for sixx months.  Only a handful of men had a rate higher than Peter's.

While Peter and Alice were raising a large family of at least eleven children, Peter was making his way in the world.  I'm not sure just when, but at some point he went from being "Peter Holbrook" to being "Deacon Peter Holbrook".  He was a commissioner in 1685 and was a selectman several times over the next 25 years.  He was appointed to a committee to "run the lines" between Mendon and Sherburn in 1699, which may have required some diplomatic skill.

In 1694, Peter received a 7 year lease to the "training field", with the stipulation that he was to clear the field of "bushes" and have it ready for pasture.  Apparently the men were no longer using the training field, although I can't think that they were no longer training.  There were small wars in progress and Mendon, while no longer quite as exposed as it had been, would still have been aware of such things.  Military organization did not often make it into the town history books, so we are left to wonder about the training and military service of the town's men.

Peter died May 3, 1712.  Alice had died earlier, in 1705, and Peter married Elizabeth Shaw two years later.  His will makes generous provisions for her care, gives a double share to eldest son John, and leaves bequests to his younger children who had not yet received their land.  The three older sons had received lands by deed prior to Peter's final illness.  His inventory was valued at over 278 pounds, including real estate.  He had a few farm animals, furniture, bookx, and hand tools but there was nothing in the inventory to make me think he was especially prosperous, or at least not much of a spender.  Most of his wealth was in his land, and in his family.

I'm proud of Peter.  He was a good grandson, a deacon in the church, a respected man in his community and a good father.  No wonder Elizabeth Shaw was willing to marry him!

Our line of descent is

Peter Holbrook-Alice Godfrey
Joseph Holbrook-Mary Cook
Jesse Holbrook=Abigail Thayer
Amariah Holbrook-Molly Wright
Nahum Holbrook-Susanna Rockwood
Joseph R Holbrook-Mary Elizabeth Whittemore
Fremont Holbrook-Phoebe Brown
Loren Holbrook-Etta Stanard
Gladys Holbrook-Richard Allen
Their descendants

Fun fact:  Peter Holbrook was the ancestor of William Howard Taft, President of the US, Barbara Bush, and George W Bush, another President.