Archive for the ‘family story’ Category

You have probably heard the expression “My Sainted Aunt!” The Oxford Dictionary defines it as “an exclamation expressing surprise or disbelief.” It also says it is a dated, informal British phrase. Well, little did I know how appropriate that expression would turn out to be for my little project. Dated? Given I’m rooting around in the 11th century, that fits. But imagine my surprise (and a touch of disbelief) when I discovered the wife of my 28th great-grandfather, Malcolm III, the King of Scotland in 1058, is an honest-to-goodness Saint. Saint Margaret of Scotland, my 28th great-grandmother.

There is a very nice write-up in Wikipedia, here, on Saint Margaret, also known as Margaret of Wessex.  I was up to my ears in Norman ancestors so it was nice to find the tie to my Anglo-Saxon roots.

220px-StMargareth_edinburgh_castle2Saint Margaret was canonized by Pope Pope Innocent IV in 1250 “in recognition of her personal holiness, fidelity to the Roman Catholic Church, work for ecclesiastical reform, and charity.” Her feast day was moved to June 10th by Pope Innocent XII and moved again in 1969 to November 19th, the anniversary of her death.

I won’t repeat the Wikipedia article in this entry, but if you are curious, I recommend not only reading the article linked above, but also doing a search on Saint Margaret of Scotland. 389,000 results return including photographs of her stained glass window in St Margaret’s Chapel, Edinburgh. In the images returned by that search, there are even coloring pages for the great grandchildren, here, for example.

Saint Margaret is also venerated as a saint in the Anglican Church. There is actually a store-front Anglican Church a mile or so down my street. Looks like I need to go talk to the pastor. Meanwhile, may the great-grandchildren start coloring and send some artwork to grammy.

Tomorrow’s installment: a review of The Peerage.

Note for the family members:

I’ve started a major genealogical research project and felt compelled to blog about the experience. It is and will be a journal of my experience, primarily technical and giving me the chance to “think out loud.” Pretty boring stuff for most of you. But I did want to set aside one day a week to highlight our family history.

Relatively yours, Phil


Read Full Post »

My Thanksgiving Story

My Thanksgiving Story

Katie M. Wright

My Thanksgiving story is about my 11th Great Grandfather Richard Warren. That is my great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great- great-grandfather.

He was one of the pilgrims who came to America on the ship called the Mayflower in 1620. He was there at the very first Thanksgiving but his wife and five daughters were still in England. They came to America in 1623 on a ship called The Anne, including the middle daughter, my 10th great-grandmother Elizabeth Church.

The first thanksgiving was held in October of 1621, ten months after the pilgrims came to Plymouth. It was to celebrate their first big harvest. They invited the Indians who taught them how to grow corn. There were 51 Pilgrims and 90 Wam-pa-noag Indians at the feast. The chief’s name was Mass-a-soit and the state Massachusetts is named for him.

The Pilgrims served wild turkeys, geese, and ducks. The Indians brought five deer, along with lobsters, clams, oysters, and fish. The feast also included cucumbers, carrots, cabbages, turnips, radishes, onions, beets, corn, and wild fruits. The feast lasted for three days.

[ed. update: three other ancestors were present for that thanksgiving feast: Francis Cooke, John Rogers, and Mary Chilton. Shortly after the feast, the ship The Fortune arrived with thirty-five passengers and no provisions. The colony immediately went on half-rations and times were tough until the arrival of provisions on The Anne in 1623.]

http://www.nativeamericans.com/Thanksgiving.htm (more…)

Read Full Post »

We have several early immigrants in our family tree that came from Ireland, but most of them from the Protestant north. However, there is one notable exception … William Durgy, the first Irishman in Boston!

William Durgy was born in Ireland about 1632, possibly surnamed O’Durgy, and perhaps from County Meath as indicated by the surname. William was sent as a slave to the Barbadoes by Lord Oliver Cromwell after being captured in battle.[1] He was freed by King Charles II after 7 years of slavery. He arrived in the Mass. Bay Colony upon The Redemption, arriving in Ipswich on Nov 9, 1663 as the indentured servant of Thomas Bishop of Ipswich.[2]

Also working in the Bishop household was Martha Cross, daughter of Robert and Hannah (Jordan) Cross. Papa Robert sued young William for abusing his daughter and William countersued claiming that Robert withdrew his consent to their marriage. William won the suit and Martha’s hand; John Durgy was born two weeks later. William and Martha had a total of 10 children.

The surname soon appeared in the records as Durkee and most of the Durkee families in American are descended from John and his brothers Thomas and William.

John married Elizabeth Parsons of Gloucester who died soon after the birth of their 11th child, Mary, and John married Hannah Bennett a year later. By 1725, we find this Durkee line in Windham County, Connecticut where John Durkee Jr.’s fourth child was born. John Sr. died there in 1739.

Mary, the eldest daughter of John Jr. and wife Mary Lee of Manchester Mass,  married John Armstrong Jr. and their children were born in New London County, Connecticut. The eldest daughter, Olive Armstrong, married John Tenney. The family migrated to Hanover, Grafton County, New Hampshire, as did many Connecticut families. Their fourth child and eldest daughter Lydia married our patriot ancestor David Wright on September 16, 1783, after the end of the Revolutionary War.

So there is our oldest claim on the wearing of the green on St. Patrick’s Day but in honor of all the Ulster Scots ancestors, be sure to place a shot of single malt beside your pint of Guinness.


[1] Brian Lee Merrill, Internet post “White Slaves” at http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~mysouthernfamily/myff/d0011/g0000086.html

[2] Society of Genealogy of Durkee, Bernice B. Gunderson, ed., Durkee Family Newsletter, Vol. 5 No. 2, p. 27.

Read Full Post »

An Interesting Woman Ancestor in your Family Tree is the assignment for a genealogy group meeting tomorrow. I think I’ll dust off the one I did in Sept. 2006 and also post it here. Back then, we were going to do a presentation as an evening newscast and based on an article I just read, I eagerly volunteered to present the entertainment news. So here’s the report for G! Genealogy Entertainment News

This is the G! Genealogy Entertainment News Report and today’s story is about Cowgirls and Indians … from the frontier town of Haverhill, Massachusetts. The 1697 frontier, that is.

On August 23 of this year, The Eagle-Tribune reports big interest in bringing the Hannah Duston story to the big screen.

Hannah Dustin statue, Haverhill MA

Hannah Dustin statue, Haverhill MA

For those of you unfamiliar with the story, made famous by the likes of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau, the Reverend Cotton Mather, and chronicled in several books, some of which sit on our own Library shelves, here is the tale …

Hannah Emerson Duston, one week out of childbirth, was kidnapped by the Abenaki Indians on March 15, 1697. Also taken were her newborn daughter and her nursemaid, Mary Corliss Neff. Hannah’s husband and seven other children escaped. The baby was brutally killed.

Story plate 1

Story plate 1

Story plate 2

Story plate 2

Carried 100 miles up the Merrimack River to an island near today’s Concord NH, the Indians paused with their captives, promising the gauntlet for the next day. That night Hannah and an English boy captured a year earlier killed 10 of their captors and escaped with Mary in a stolen canoe. The trio turned back to take the scalps of their captors as proof and made their way back to Haverhill.

Story plate 3

Story plate 3

Story plate 4

Story plate 4

The Mass General Court received her as a heroine and granted her 50 Pounds. Over time the island was named for her and a statue of her wielding an axe was erected on Main Street in Haverhill.

Movie producers are wrestling with two versions of the story – the Abenaki descendants describing her as a bloodthirsty murderess and the Colonial Record, embellished with Cotton Mather’s enthusiastic report.

But the producers don’t need a screenwriter; they need a genealogist to determine the real story …

From a research of Hannah’s line, it turns out that four years earlier, Hannah’s aunt Elizabeth Emerson was executed on Boston Common, convinced by the very same Reverend Mather to plead guilty for the death of her twin infants.

It has been said that Hannah went back for the scalps to prove their story of a fighting escape, and I believe the fear was more of Cotton Mather than the Indians where the death of her infant was involved!

A genealogist would also find a love story from another Indian capture 6 years after Duston, involving her relatives. Hannah’s 1st cousin, Hannah Green Eastman, was captured 8 days after childbirth and again the baby, her daughter Abigail, was killed. Brought to Canada, Hannah eventually escaped and was befriended by a French woman. Not knowing how to return, she stayed with her new friend hoping her husband Jonathan would find her.

And find her he did when she saw him passing the house where she was staying, a house he passed three times in his desperate search. They then made the lengthy journey back to Haverhill.

Jonathan’s aunt was Hannah Corliss Neff, the nurse captured along with Hannah Duston. And Jonathan and Hannah Eastman are my 6th great-grandparents.

Presentation sources:

Regan, Shawn. (2006, August 23) Movie Makers Interested In Hannah Duston Story The Eagle-Tribune Online. North Andover, MA. URL: http://www.eagletribune.com/hhnews/local_story_235165434?page=0

Reference sources:

Coleman, Emma Lewis. (1989) New England captives carried to Canada : between 1677 and 1760 during the French and Indian wars. (2 vols) Bowie, Md. : Heritage Books. IRC Main Library R-GEN 974 COL V.1

HannahDustin.com (1999-2006) The History of Hannah Dustin / Duston and the Genealogy of the Cheney Family. URL: http://www.hannahdustin.com/

James, Jane Emerson. (1983) The Haverhill Emersons: Revised and Extended. Jane Emerson James, Lake Winnebago, MO., p. 25

Mather, Cotton. (1663-1728) Diary of Cotton Mather. F. Ungar Pub. Co. [1957?] (note: located through Worldcat)

Photos by the author, ©2007 All Rights Reserved

Read Full Post »

My family ties to The Last Naval Battle of the American Revolution
By Philip G. Wright, Brevard Chapter FLSSAR

In addition to being a member of the Brevard Chapter of the Florida Society, Sons of the American Revolution, I am active in my local genealogical societies. I started a policy of bringing in a birthday cake for the goodie table if an ancestor’s milestone birthday fell close to the meeting date. It is a good way to increase member participation and interest in our monthly meetings.

Such was the case one month after the March 2007 dedication ceremony of the cannon and marker commemorating the Last Naval Battle of the American Revolution. Preparing for the next day’s meeting, I knew that my 6th great-grandmother, Hannah Lowell, would be 300 years old on the meeting day – definitely calling for a cake in her honor.

To those from New England, the Lowell name would be instantly recognizable but how would I describe her family name to my Florida audience? It was time to do some additional research and see how she was related to the more famous Lowells such as the astronomer Percival Lowell or the poetess Amy Lowell. I’d accomplish this by entering in data about her aunts and uncles, grand and great, into my genealogy database.

Using a family genealogy book now available electronically through Google Books, The Historic Genealogy of the Lowells of America from 1639 to 1899, by Delmar R. Lowell, I start entering in the family tree. Hannah’s brother John and his wife Rachel Sargent had four children. At least that is how far I progressed until I was entering in their fourth child, Gideon Lowell. Gideon was a shipwright and Delmar Lowell notes he was famous for building the 32-gun frigate Alliance for the Continental Navy …[1]

WAIT, WHAT WAS THAT??? …the Alliance? Surely it couldn’t be … Captain John Barry’s ship? The one that fought the Last Naval Battle of the Revolution right off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida? The ship associated with that cannon memorial we just dedicated? Oh, my!

There are some discrepancies, though. A quick Google search has a number of authoritative sites documenting the Alliance was a 36-gun frigate and built by cousins Professor William and John Hackett in Salisbury, Mass., originally to be the Hancock[2]. Searching further, I find that “the Alliance was an exceedingly fast America-built ship of the class of large thirty-twos.”[3] That would likely account for the gun count discrepancy.

I also learn that Prof. William Hackett is a famous naval architect, perhaps best known for the 32-gun frigate Essex, built in 1799. Perhaps then cousin Gideon Lowell was the builder and Hackett the designer. Referring back to Delmar’s book I see a notation “see note under his son William” and that note holds an important key. It says:

“When 18 years old he [William Lowell] worked for Prof. William (179) Hackett on the frigate “Alliance,” 32 guns, which the Prof. was helping Gideon Lowell, the father of William, to build at Salisbury Point, Mass., for the Continental Congress, to be used in the Rev. War. It was built at Salisbury Point, Mass. “[4]

At least Mr. Lowell is remarkably consistent as to who built what. However, as it turns out from a research trip to Salisbury Point this past summer, only Delmar Lowell and one living relative’s grandfather assert that Gideon Lowell was the builder. Monuments and scores of other histories indicate otherwise. But, there are some intriguing clues that the story does not end there and that Delmar Lowell was not completely wrong.

Looking from Alliance Park at the junction of the Merrimack and Powow Rivers, a short way downstream you see Lowell’s Boat Shop[5], still in operation to this day and now a National Landmark and working museum, located quite close to the construction site of the Alliance. Maps of the area indicate Gideon’s boat yard was next to the Hackett’s yard. Considering the geography and what was involved in the construction of the frigate, I would be hard-pressed to prove that Gideon had nothing to do with the building of the Alliance.

So my research is not done. It is back to New England this summer to see what I can learn about the shipyards of the time and the true extent of cousin (1st cousin 7 times removed) Gideon’s participation in the building of the Alliance.

[1] Lowell, Delmar R, “The Historic Genealogy of the Lowells of America from 1639 to 1899,” (Rutland, Vt.: Tuttle Co., 1899), pp 314, 318, 337, 348-9. Retrieved from Google Books.p 318
[2] History of USS Alliance, Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, Naval Historical Center http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/a/alliance.htm.
[3] The Continental Navy “early warships” http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/ship/sail1.htm.
[4] Lowell, Delmar. p. 337
[5] Lowell’s Boat Shop, http://www.lowellsboatshop.com/

Read Full Post »