Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Prisoner Exchange - Samuel Denning

Samuel Dennen/Denning served on a privateer in the Revolutionary War. He had the misfortune to be taken prisoner and sent to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Unfortunately, my search for additional information has not yielded much. The best information comes from a listing that tells of his return in a prisoner exchange on September 30, 1778.  The Revolutionary War, by Charles Patrick Neimeyer, notes that privateers who were captured by the British posed a real dilemma. Normally, pirates were sent to the gallows, but these enemy combatants were different. Many were pressured to join the British navy and doing so would increase the chance of surviving the war. The British were reluctant to consider them prisoners-of-war because that would be admitting that the United States was an independent nation. However, executing all those captured on the land and at sea was not practical either. It would greatly inflame the passions of the already highly motivated Patriots. In the end, several hundred American sailors were taken to Halifax, Nova Scotia and kept in a sugar house. I have no idea what happened to Samuel from his return until the end of the war. Did he continue his activities? 

A descendant applied for a veteran's gravestone and seems to have struggled to prove his service. It does appear that both the Sons & Daughters of the American Revolution have awarded membership to his descendants. His grave can be viewed on here. 

Samuel Dennen married Keziah Bray on March 14, 1754 in Gloucester, Massachusetts and at some point they moved to Maine. Thier children were: 

  1. Judith born in 1754
  2. Abigail born in 1756
  3. Job born in 1760
  4. Mary born in 1762
  5. George born in 1767
  6. Simeon born in 1771
Samuel Dennen
Judith (Dennen) Morgan
Martha (Morgan) Yates
Moses Yates
Gilbert W. Yates
Estes G. Yates
Linona Alice Yates - my grandmother


Sunday, September 27, 2015

An Unhealthy Obsession

Sarah Whipple was fifteen years old when a man named John Hobbs developed an unhealthy obsession with her. Sarah was my 8th great grandaunt, the daughter of my 9th great-grandparents, John & Sarah (Kent) Whipple. Her mother died when she was an infant and her father remarried, Elizabeth Woodman. When this happened, she was living in Newbury with her uncle, Richard Kent and it was Richard who filed the complaint against John Hobbs of Newbury in the Ipswich courts. I believe this is the John Hobbs who was born in 1652 to Thomas & Martha Hobbs. That would make him twenty years old and five-six years older than Sarah. 

Initially, Hobbs was found guilty and sentenced, but he appealed and was released on bond. He failed to appear at his next court appearance on September 24, 1672. He continued to "abuse her by many scandalous defamations and threatened to have the blood of any person that shall come to her under any pretense of love." Her father, John Whipple, then urged the court to bring Hobbs to answer for his behavior.

Sarah's testimony in the matter says that Hobbs had stated to her uncle that he would not allow any man to court her or it "would be the death of him" that tried. Rebecca Long backed up Sarah's testimony. (Rebecca is my 9th great-grandmother.) Beriah Browne testified that Hobbs told him that "he would be the death of any man who sought Sary Whipple in marriage and God's blud I think you are the man." Henry Akers testified that Hobbs also threatened Richard Doell and Beriah Browne because he suspected they were interested in Sarah.

Six months after failing to show up for his appeal, the Court record of March 25, 1673, reads "John Hobbs, for profane swearing the threatening to kill, for railing and shamefully abusing Sarah Whipple, and for not prosecuting his appeal at the last Ipswich court, was bound to good behavior, especially to Richard Kent and Sarah Whipple, and not to come into her company."

John Hobbs does not appear in the court record on this matter again. Sarah Whipple married Henry Short, Jr. on March 30, 1674.  There is no record of what reaction John Hobbs had to this event. What is known is that John Hobbs was one of the men killed during the Bloody Brook massacre on September 18, 1675.
Monument to those killed at Bloody Brook

John & Sarah (Kent) Whipple
Matthew Whipple - brother of Sarah
Dorothy (Whipple) Perkins
Ann (Perkins) Packard
Cynthia (Packard) Dunham
James Dunham, Jr.
Florilla (Dunham) Ellingwood
Nina (Ellingwood) Gibbs
Annie (Gibbs) Cotton
Fern Lyndell Cotton - my grandmother

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Pigs & Bacon - 52 Ancestors #38

One of my favorite stories about an ancestor because it is so funny to know that someone named Bacon got in trouble for stealing pigs. 

I bought a copy of Diane Rapaport's, New England Court Records, which is primarily a source book detailing repositories of early court records. Near the back of the book she recounts several interesting stories. One she originally wrote as a magazine article caught my eye. She calls this story "The Case of the Purloined Pigs." The story itself was interesting enough but even better to find my ancestor was the one doing the purloining (if that isn't a word, it should be). 

Michael Bacon, (you have to smile at the irony), showed up at the house of William Munro, of Cambridge Farms, after a late November snowstorm looking for his pigs. He was known for letting his pigs wander and this time they had traveled a considerable distance from his home in present-day Bedford. After separating Bacon's pigs from those of the Munro family, the Munros went about their business. Bacon's pigs did not seem to take kindly to being told where to go and soon returned to the Munro's. This time Michael did not take the time to sort them out. He just started herding them all away, toward his home. Martha Munro yelled for him to stop but he ignored her, prompting William to put on some snowshoes and go after him. 
Today this is about 4.5 miles on a nice road ~ 9 minutes by car, but it was over the meadow and through the woods in 1662.
William Munro was a tough Scotsman who had worked his way from Scottish prisoner of war to indentured servant to landowner. His livestock were valuable for food and income and he wasn't about to let even one of them be taken. Bacon's reputation left a lot to be desired. He showed up often in court records for multiple offenses: letting his livestock run free and causing damages to the crops of others, land disputes, slander, forgery, breaches of contract, and a paternity case. 

When Munro caught up with Michael Bacon, he found that one pregnant sow was missing and another was too "tired and spent that shee could not come back" so he had no choice but to leave her with Bacon. He gathered up the other pigs and returned home. The next day he want to the local constable's deputy and told him what happened. They went to Bacon's home and as in the past, Michael denied any of it had happened. When he couldn't convince them that nothing had happened, Bacon admitted that he had Munro's pigs with him the day before but said that he didn't have them anymore. "If Row [Munro] lost them, he must go look for them." Bacon did not offer to help. 

The next day Munro and two of his neighbors searched for his missing pigs and found one stuck in a drift but still alive. They brought her home but were still missing the other pregnant sow. Fed up, he took a trip to the nearest magistrate, Thomas Danforth's house, in Cambridge, and filed a claim against Michael Bacon. Because the amount was small, the matter did not need to go to court and Danforth issued a warrant ordering Michael Bacon to appear at Danforth's home to answer the complaint made by William Munro. Michael Bacon did not show up to answer the warrant but Munro appeared with several other witnesses to testify and Bacon lost the case. The penalty was for the constable's deputy to take a "branded steere" from Michael Bacon to make sure the damages were paid to William Munro. 

However, before Munro could collect on the judgment, his missing sow mysteriously appeared. She was delivered by a man claiming he "found" her and was asked by Bacon to bring her back. The sow was "lamed and went but upon three legs." William Munro was not impressed and demanded the judgment be paid. Michael Bacon asked for a rehearing and ended up owing, not only the original judgment but also the added costs of witness time and constable's fees. 

Still Bacon refused to pay and appealed to the Middlesex County Court. He hired a lawyer to draw up a petition with a number of technical arguments. The April 2, 1672, trial was held at the Blue Anchor Tavern. It appears that Munro also hired an attorney. The result was the same as before, Munro prevailed and more court charges were added to what Michael Bacon now owed. Rapaport says this is where the court records for this case end and based on that she concludes that Michael Bacon paid the judgment. So ends the case of Mr. Bacon and his purloined pigs. 

Illustration from -

Michael Bacon - 11th great-grandfather
Mary Bacon - 10th great-grandmother
Mary Lakin - 9th great-grandmother
Joseph Willard - 8th great-grandfather
Sybel Willard - 7th great-grandmother
Samuel Haskell - 6th great-grandfather
Martha Haskell - 5th great-grandmother
Sally Houghton - 4th great-grandmother
Florilla Dunham - 3rd great-grandmother
Nina Ellingwood - 2nd great-grandmother
Annie Florilla Gibbs - great-grandmother
Fern Lyndell Carter - grandmother

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Odds of Survival - 52 Ancestors #37

James & Mary (Cogan) Glass were my 11th great-grandparents. They never came to America, but their surviving children did make the trip across the ocean. Mary gave birth to twelve children, but only four lived to adulthood, Amy, James, Roger, and Henry. It is hard to imagine the loss of eight children. James and Mary also died relatively young. James was deceased by February 22, 1638 and his wife was also deceased, so his children were left to make their own way in the world.

The boys are listed as servants or apprentices of various Great Migration immigrants. It seems likely that Amy was also a servant to another family when she made the voyage to Massachusetts.

The children of James & Mary (Cogan) Glass.
  1. Henry was baptized on August 11, 1614 and likely died before a second Henry was baptized in September 1624. 
  2. Mary was baptized on February 2, 1618 and there are no further records - see below. 
  3. Amy was baptized on December 10, 1618 and lived to adulthood. 
  4. James is tentatively identified as belonging to this family and was probably born about 1620 based on the pattern of births. He lived to adulthood and was listed as a servant to his uncle, Henry Cogan and also a servant of Manasseh Kempton. Manasseh Kempton was my 10th great-granduncle. 
  5. Roger was baptized on August 7, 1623 and lived to adulthood.  Roger was apprenticed to John Crocker and later to John Whetcombe. 
  6. Henry (the second of that name) was baptized on September 26, 1624 and lived to adulthood.  He was a servant of Henry Phelps and later Nicholas Phelps. 
  7. Joan was baptized on January 28, 1627 and buried on July 12, 1627. 
  8. Unnamed daughter was buried on October 10, 1628 (possibly Mary above). 
  9. Joane (the second of that name) was baptized on April 2, 1629 and buried on May 1, 1640. 
  10. Richard was buried on August 24, 1629. 
  11. Peter was baptized on August 28, 1631 and buried on August 10, 1637. 
  12. Thamazen was baptized on January 26, 1635 and there are no further records.
July 12, 1627 - Joan #1
October 10, 1628 - Unnamed daughter
August 24, 1629 - Richard
August 10, 1637 - Peter
May 1, 1640 - Joan #2

No records of death for Henry, Mary, Thamazen.

Amy Glass married Richard Willis in Plymouth, Massachusetts on October 11, 1639. Richard died before 1645 and they only had one child, Richard Willis, Jr. He was born between 1641-1642. She married Edward Holman after Richard's death. At the age of 7, Richard Willis, step-son of Edward Holman was apprenticed to Giles Rickard, a weaver. Amy and Edward do not appear to have had any children and she is presumed to have died by 1648 when the apprenticeship was arranged.

James & Mary (Cogan) Glass
Amy (Glass) Willis
Richard Willis, Jr.
Ruhamah (Willis) Rogers
Experience (Rogers) Totman
Deborah (Totman) Barrows
Asa Alden Barrows
Rachel (Barrows) Ellingwood
Asa Freeman Ellingwood
Nina K. (Ellingwood) Gibbs
Annie F. (Gibbs) Cotton
Fern Lyndell Cotton - my grandmother

George E. McCracken, "Early Cogans English and American," New England Historical and Genealogical Register, 111 (1956), online images, American Ancestors ( : accessed 10 August 2015), 172-173.

Charles Henry Pope, compiler, The Pioneers of Massachusetts: A Descriptive List, Drawn from Records of the Colonies, Towns, and Churches, and other Contemporaneous Documents (Boston, Mass.: self-published, 1900), ; digital images, Open Library, ( : accessed 1 February 2015.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Left for Dead at Bloody Brook

"Bloody Brook Monument. South Deerfield, MA" by Tom Walsh - Own work.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons 
On September 17, 1675, a band of Indians attacked a train of wagons traveling from Deerfield to Hadley and loaded up with the wheat and corn harvest. This attack was part of King Philip's War. The colonists were led by Capt. Thomas Lothrop. When the news reached Deerfield, Capt. Mosely rushed to the scene with reinforcements and they engaged the Indians for about five hours with little progress. Only the arrival of Major Treat from Connecticut with his force of 100 men and 50 Mohicans turned the tide. 

From The History of Deerfield, George Sheldon, 1895:
"The soldiers crossed the brook and halted, while the teams should slowly drag their heavy loads through the mire; 'many of them,' says Mather, 'having been so foolish and secure as to put their arms in the cart and step aside to gather grapes, which proved dear and deadly grapes to them' ... 'This was a black and fatal day, wherein there was eight persons made widows, and six and twenty children made orphans, all in one little Plantation.'  Of the seventeen men of Pocumtuck who went out in the morning as teamsters, not one returned to tell the tale." 

The battle actually resulted in the deaths of between sixty and seventy men. Many were buried in a mass grave and a memorial marker was erected in Deerfield. The stream which was previously unnamed became known as Bloody Brook. 

Only a handful of men survived the attack at Bloody Brook. One of the survivors was Robert Dutch, son of Osmond Dutch and my 9X great-granduncle. 

Robert Dutch - only surviving child of Osmond Dutch's first marriage 
"As Mosely came upon the Indians in the Morning, he found them stripping the Slain, amongst whom was one Robert Dutch of Ipswich having been sorely wounded by a bullet that rased to his Skull and then mauled by the Indian Hatchets, was left for dead by the Salvages, and stript by them of all but his skin..."

In 1838, after confirming the location of the remains, a flagstone with Lothrop's name was put in place to mark the mass grave and a monument was erected nearby. Killed in the battle was my 8X great-granduncle, Joseph Balch. 

Osmond Dutch - father of Robert                         Osmond Dutch - father of Robert
Esther Dutch - half sister of Robert                     Grace Dutch - half sister of Robert
Robert Elwell                                                            Samuel Hodgkins
John Elwell                                                               Jonathan Hodgkins
Rhoda Elwell                                                             Rachel Hodgkins
Thomas Edgecomb                                                  Elizabeth Moody
Mary Edgecomb                                                       William Ackley
Benjamin Perley Philbrick                                     Sarah Ackley
Lizzie Philbrick                                                         Mary Jane Abbott
Ray Everett Cotton                                                  Fannie May Capen
Fern Lyndell Cotton - my grandmother              Thomas Richard Carter - my grandfather

John Balch
Benjamin Balch - father of Joseph Balch
Mary (Balch) Stone - sister of Joseph Balch
Ruth (Stone) Morgan
Luke Morgan
Samuel Morgan
Martha (Morgan) Yates
Moses Yates
Gilbert W. Yates
Estes G. Yates
Linona Alice Yates - my grandmother

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Fitter To Be A Chambermaid Than A Preacher - 52 Ancestors #36

Grace (____) Dutch was my 10th great-grandmother for two lines. She worked as a midwife, making her the perfect subject for a post about occupations. When Grace married Osmund Dutch on March 20, 1629, he was a widower with a young son. Osmund was in Newport, Rhode Island in 1638/9, but he moved quite soon to Cape Ann. He entered into the fishing trade with a Thomas Millwood of Noodle's Island and sent for his wife and children.

In 1653, there was some controversy involving William Perkins, the minister in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Grace and William & Sarah Vinson gave witness before the court regarding remarks made by a Mrs. Holgrave about Mr. Perkins. According to them, Mrs. Holgrave said, "He was fitter to bee a Ladies Chambermaid than a Preacher, & if ye Church had knowne as much as shee, they would not have Called him to office."

During this time, Grace (Pratt) Dutch and three others were accused of witchcraft. However, the accusations ended with Edmund Marshall being forced to go into three area meeting-houses in Gloucester, Ipswich, and Salem, and make acknowledgment of his sin of defamation.

"Edmund Bridges, attorney of John Caldwell, testified that, being in Goodman Bridges' shop, Goodman _______ being present, he heard him say that a woman and her daughter, gathering berries, saw four women, Mrs. Perkins, Goody Evens, Goody Dutch, etc. As they approached them, the four women sat upon the ground, but when they came near, the women had vanished. He could not say that they were witches."

Age and birthdays were not of importance during colonial times and ages given were often estimated. We see this in the testimony of Grace Dutch, midwife.  Her name appears in the court records from time to time and in 1658, she was forty-two years old, and "about 50" in 1660 and 1664.

Children of Osmund & his first wife, Margaret:

  1. Robert was born about 1621 and married Mary Kimball of Ipswich. 
  2. Margaret was buried in Bridport on February 13, 1629. 
  3. Marie was baptized December 1, 1627 and buried January 7, 1629. 
Children of Osmund & Grace (Pratt) Dutch - order uncertain
  1. Grace was baptized December 6, 1629 and died young.
  2. William was buried on February 9, 1632. 
  3. Susanna was buried on June 11, 1633. 
  4. William was baptized on September 21, 1635 and was buried on July 16, 1636. 
  5. Samuel was born about 1645 and died in Salem about 1695. His wife, Susanna More, was the daughter of Mayflower passenger, Richard More. 
  6. Alice was married three times: 1) John Newman; 2) Dr. John Dane; and 3) as his second wife, Jeremiah Meacham. 
  7. Grace married William Hodgkins of Ipswich. They had twelve children. 
  8. Esther married Samuel Elwell on June 7, 1658 and died on September 6, 1724. 
  9. Mary married Joseph Elwell on June 22, 1669. 
  10. Hezekiah was born on March 29, 1647 and his will lists two daughters. 
Grace (Pratt) Dutch                                                 Grace (Pratt) Dutch
Esther Dutch                                                             Grace Dutch
Robert Elwell                                                            Samuel Hodgkins
John Elwell                                                               Jonathan Hodgkins
Rhoda Elwell                                                             Rachel Hodgkins
Thomas Edgecomb                                                  Elizabeth Moody
Mary Edgecomb                                                       William Ackley
Benjamin Perley Philbrick                                     Sarah Ackley
Lizzie Philbrick                                                         Mary Jane Abbott
Ray Everett Cotton                                                  Fannie May Capen
Fern Lyndell Cotton - my grandmother              Thomas Richard Carter - my grandfather

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Five Daughters Suddenly Gone

Middle Interval Meetinghouse and Cemetery
At the beginning of September 1861, my 3rd great-grandparents, Elias & Rebecca (Williamson) Carter, had eleven children. By the end of the month, they had only six children. The household was struck by a diphtheria epidemic and five young daughters died in between September 13th and September 30th. Julia Elizabeth (age 11) died on September 13th followed by Helen Louise (age 7) who died on the 20th. Emily Jane (age 14) and Sarah Lillie (age 9) and died on the 25th and 26th, respectively. On September 30th, Anna Grace (age 4) was their youngest child and the final one to die in this household. 

The girls were buried in the family plot in the Middle Intervale Cemetery across the road from their home. 

One can only imagine what life must have been like in the household during that month. Two older daughters survived. The oldest, Frances Ann was 23 and Mary Elizabeth was 18 and surely helped care for their ailing sisters. There were four sons including my 2nd great-grandfather Augustus Mellen. He was twenty at the time and would soon be going off to fight in the Civil War. Edward Lawson was 16, Timothy Cullen was 15 and John Herbert was 7. John and Helen were twins.

"Throat distemper" is what diphtheria was often called in the death records of the 17th and 18th centuries. It was particularly lethal among children under the age of ten. In addition to local outbreaks, New England suffered a major regional outbreak between 1735-1740. Fortunately, today there are vaccines to prevent diseases like diphtheria that once took many lives each year. In the 1920s, there were about 150,000 cases with about 13,000 fatalities annually ( The diphtheria vaccine became available in 1926 and has been in widespread use since the 1940s. However, recently the number of children who are not properly vaccinated has increased. Hopefully, there won't be more outbreaks in the future. 

Diphtheria under the microscope - read the description below
Diphtheria: an acute infectious disease caused by the bacteria Corynebacterium diphtheriae. It is spread by respiratory droplets of an infected person or someone who carries the bacteria but has no symptoms. It can also be spread by contaminated objects or foods. The bacteria most commonly infect the nose and throat. The throat infection "causes a gray to black, tough, fiber-like covering, which can block the airways...Once infected, dangerous substances called toxins, produced by the bacteria, can spread through your bloodstream to other organs, such as the heart, and cause significant damage" (PubMed Health). 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

A Horrible Crime

This was a difficult blog post to write. Many times the colonial court records are filled with offenses that amuse us today. However, an attack on a thirteen-year-old girl is not amusing in any time period.

The basis for this story comes from The Great Migration Begins sketch of Humphrey Wyeth based on the research of Robert Charles Anderson.

My connection to this story comes from Thomas & Abigail (Wyeth) (Jones) Chadwell. Thomas Chadwell, Jr. was the second husband of my 10th great-aunt, Abigail (Wyeth) Jones. In 1667, an accusation of rape was leveled by the couple on behalf of Abigail's niece, Sarah Bursley, age 13. Sarah was the daughter of John & Susanna (Wyeth) Bursley. John was "of Exeter" and is not the same as the John Bursley in The Great Migration Begins, Vol. 1.  The accused rapist was a man named John Simple of Charlestown. I have not been able to find more information on major characters in this case. I don't know the age of John Simple, his marital status, or what happened to him after he was convicted. Likewise, I don't know what happened to Sarah, why it seems she was living with her aunt and uncle, or if she wasn't living with them, how they happened to be the first to see her after the attack. Did she have a family of her own one day?

First Sarah told her story and her uncle put up a bond for her appearance in the General Court.

On 14 march 1666/7, upon the "complaint of [worn] Chadwell his wife,""the examination of John Simple aged [blank]" was conducted. On the same day, "Sarah Bursly aged about 13 years sayeth that on Wednesday night last about eight a clock, John Simple without speaking to her she having a candle in her hand he took her by the arms & threw her upon the ground upon her back & put up all her clothes & lay upon her unbuttoning his britches, and by violence thrust his member into her body... & she was & now remains sore & that he made blood to come from her which is apparent & evident to her aunt, she likewise sayeth he had several times told her he would lie with her but never did until last night & then he begged of her that she would not tell her aunt." "Tho[mas] Chadwell binds himself in the bond of twenty pounds for Sarah Bursly's appearance at the General Court or else at the next Court of Assistants." [SJC Case #814]

The indictment of John Simple came around September 1667. The charges were set and the jury found him guilty of rape.

In an undated document (probably on or just before 3 September 1667), "Jno Simple you are indicted by the name of John Simple of Charlestowne for not having the fear of God before your eyes & being instigated by the devil did on or about the 13th of March last past attempt & commit a rape upon the body of Sarah Bursly a girl of thirteen years of age as by the evidence may appear."  "James Everell in the name of the rest [of the grand jury]" stated that "we find this bill that John Simpull commited a rape on the body of Sarah Bursly." "Tho[mas] Deane in the name of the rest [of the petit jury] ... find him guilty of an attempt upon the body of Sarah Bursly and a rape committed." [SJC Case #814]

Abigail Chadwell recounts how she found Sarah crying, listened to her account of the rape, and examined her niece.

On 3 September 1667, "Abigaell Chadwell aged five and forty years," deposed that "having been from her house on 13th March last a little time [worn] quarters of an hour or thereabouts and when she came home [worn] [kins?] woman Sarah Bursley, crying and this deponent [worn] reason wherefore she wept she made answer [that] John Simple had almost killed her and almost split her whereupon I took her up into the chamber and searched her [worn] and according to my apprehension found that he had abused her body finding some blood upon her shift and she deposeth [and] testifies upon oath that there was no man besides himself in the [house?] with her nor any after as she [illegible] till such time as that my husband [and] the constable came in."

Later that day, poor Sarah was examined by five other women of the town. I can't imagine how traumatic this must have been for Sarah.

On the same day, "Mary Sprague aged about 70 years Alice Rand aged about 72 years Suretrust Rouse aged about 67 years Anne March aged about 70 years" and "Hester Kettel aged about 60 years" deposed that upon "searching Sarah Bursly they found that some man had entered her body."

Humphrey Wyeth - grandfather of Sarah Bursley
Mary (Wyeth) Perkins - sister of Abigail (Wyeth) (Jones) Chadwell & aunt of Sarah Bursley
Luke Perkins, Sr.
Luke Perkins, Jr.
Mark Perkins
Ann (Perkins) Packard
Cynthia (Packard) Dunham
James Dunham, Jr.
Florilla (Dunham) Ellingwood
Nina K. (Ellingwood) Gibbs
Annie F. (Gibbs) Cotton
Fern Lyndell Cotton - my grandmother