Archive for the ‘surnames’ Category

This article is part of a series journaling my progress with what I call The Presidential Project. The first article was posted on 25 May, 2017 and can be found here: Back to the Blog and you can read forward to today.
Thursday, June 15, 2017

I was originally going to write for Thursday about my immigrant ancestors and the ships that brought them to America, but I realized that my data needs a little more cleanup in that respect, so I am deferring the subject to a later date. But that work suggested the following update. Consider this a Family Friday extra 🙂

I wrote about Deacon John Wright (1601-1688) last Friday. He is my direct paternal 9th great-grandfather and an immigrant to America from England. As I work with this blog, I am realizing there is much more to learn about John and am considering moving him up on my to-do list.

As I said on Friday, many secondary sources place John and his wife Priscilla in Charlestown, Massachusetts in 1630. That suggests he was part of the Winthrop Fleet migration but his name appears on no passenger manifest that has been found to date. I did find once source stating he was part of the fleet, but it requires supporting documentation.1

John first appeared in official records in 1640: “John, a first settler of Woburn, ]Mass.,] subscribed the “town orders” (at Charlestown) Dec. 18, 1640; selectman of Woburn, 1645-47, 1649-58, 1660-64, 1670, 1680-81; commissioner of the rate, 1646, 1671; deacon of Woburn church from Nov. 10, 1664, to his death.”2 A thank you to William R Cutter, esq., the town librarian of Woburn Massachusetts for his research into the town founders! There is a linear foot of papers on the Wright family in the Woburn Public Library awaiting my review. Some day …

Interestingly enough, John is not mentioned in The Great Migration series nor does he appear in the 1638 land records of Charlestown. One possible explanation is that he arrived after 1638 or, if the other sources that place him there in 1630 are correct, then it is likely he arrived as a servant, perhaps indentured. I wonder if a household census or survey exists for the 1630’s.

My curiosity is up and I will need to work this further. More to come at a later date.

Next Installment: Family Friday: The Family Food

1“Carr-Harris – History & Genealogy” by Carr-Harris, Gordon Grant Macdonnel, (Printed in 1966 for private circulation) Wright Pt I – App I p 1 Woburn [Mass.] Public Library, special collection, Call number: G2 C31C

2“Wright Family of Woburn, Mass.” By William R. Cutter, Esq., Librarian of the Public Library, Woburn, Mass. New England Historic Genealogical Register, Jan. 1883, Vol. 37, p. 76

(c) 2017 Philip G Wright, all rights reserved

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This article is part of a series journaling my progress with what I call The Presidential Project. The first article was posted on 25 May, 2017 and can be found here: Back to the Blog

My direct immigrant ancestor was Deacon John Wright (1601-1688). He was in Charlestown, Massachusetts as early as 1630 (multiple sources). But this article is not about him directly.

There are several write-ups for John on the internet about him and there was a web site dedicated to him and spouse Priscilla directly, www.wrightfamily.ca, but it seems to be off the air. If anyone knows the operator please let him know I would be happy to pick up the baton. Hmmm, maybe a future article about succession planning.

I found another nice write-up that has promising leads, here. And (distant, 9th, 1x removed) cousin Heather Wilkinson Rojo did a “Surname Saturday” article about John, back in 2013, here: Surname Saturday ~ Wright of Woburn, Massachusetts. I am going to write about her Nutfield Genealogy blog tomorrow because I am so impressed.

So what do I mean about “The Wrong Wright?” Everybody loves to have illustrious ancestors in their family tree, especially in a direct line of descent. There was such an illustrious Wright living in England with descendants in the right time-frame: Sir John Wright (1488-1551) of Kelvendon Hall. You will find many family trees in the popular places, such as Ancestry.com, showing a link, sometimes direct, to Sir John. I have not found one with a legitimate source to prove the connection.

Well, the last name matches, but Wright is almost as ubiquitous as Smith. John was a common Christian name in both of the lines of descent,  but there is nothing unique about that. But other than those similarities, I see no evidence supporting a link. Sir John’s descendants were “toffs”; my John was a tanner by trade. My John is from county Kent; Kelvendon Hall is in the adjacent Essex county. Not an impossible geographic distance, but distance back then meant a lot more than it does now.

To be honest, my Scope restriction has kept my research into English Origins pretty limited. I chose not to cross the pond but rather concentrate on lines of descent from my immigrant ancestors. Way down on the to-do list is to participate in a DNA surname study, which I think is the best bet in making the direct connections to the early Wrights, barring the luck of stumbling upon decent records from the 16th and 17th centuries.

So for now, Sir John Wright of Kelvendon Hall is the Wrong Wright.

Next Installment: Nutfield Genealogy

(c) 2017 Philip G Wright, all rights reserved

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As recounted earlier, my paternal roots go back to the founding of the New England colonies with six lines to The Mayflower, ancestors on the second and third ships, The [mis]Fortune and The Anne, the Winthrop Fleet, etc. As a result it was relatively (npi) easy to find books and other resources that documented my early lineage. Resources such as the New England Historic Genealogical Register, the Great Migration series, the Mayflower books, etc. My direct immigrant ancestor, Deacon John Wright, had an early write-up in the NEHGR, Volume 37, pages 76-83 (Jan 1883).

I will at some point do a Family Friday write up on Deacon John Wright (1601-1688), my 9th great-grandfather. He was present in Charlestown, Massachusetts in 1630 but I did find one book in the Salem, Mass. Public Library that had him in Salem in 1628. I just can’t put my hands on that note right now. That would put him with Endicott, I believe. I am surprised that John is not included anywhere in the Great Migration series.

So with all that available, I had a good start on doing a 10 generation study. In fact I had so much data that I felt it necessary to set a boundary for my research. I decided to cut it off “at the water’s edge,” choosing not to do too much tracing back to the mother country, Great Britain. Besides, the “all world” access package with Ancestry was a bit pricey, opting instead for a NEHGS research membership.

Up until The Presidential Project, I was pretty much able to stick with my scope restriction. I was about half way to completing my 10 generation chart. I did do a little bit of Royal trace-back when the data was right there, but stuck to the direct lines. I should add that on my mother’s side, she goes back to Early Colonial Canada and there is a wealth of research available there too. So you can see I had my hands full and the Atlantic seemed like a decent barrier to keep me focused.

I was also going to stick with my scope restriction for TPP but that darned Surname Alarm was just ringing too loud for me to ignore. Once I found The Peerage, scope was cast off and I was running down European Royalty to beat the band. But even there, I tried to set a stopping point because it was a lot – and I mean a lot – of data entry. I decided that I would stop with my 30th great-grandparents and save the first millennium for another day. That is only a couple of billion ancestors to track down.

Well, that lasted for about a week when I was finding common surnames amongst generation 33 and would need to go back a generation or two to see if there was a common ancestor. That has me running back as early as the 800’s with a hint there is even earlier data available. I have also resigned myself to enter in all the children as I have found many cross-connections 3 or 4 generations down the line.

For me the bottom line is that it’s beneficial to set some scope boundaries when planning my research. But as with any rule, it is made to be broken, especially when there is a good reason to do so.

Tomorrow’s installment: Credit where credit is due

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I use Family Tree Maker (FTM) as my genealogy software. I actually ran a weekly FTM SIG for a few years for my local genealogical society – GSSB, the Genealogy Society of South Brevard. I am quite happy with most of its functionality and not at all happy what Ancestry has done with it. But it is what I am familiar with and I am definitely not an Early Adopter. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

One feature that I have leveraged is the ability to define your own custom Facts in addition to the standard facts that are part and parcel of any genealogy software – birth, marriage, death, etc. You can specify whether the fact is date only, date and location, description only, all three, and a few other combinations. You then can specify how that fact will appear in the Person Report. Your custom facts are also searchable just as are the standard facts.

For example, I am blessed with Early Colonial American ancestry so a common datapoint is the ship that brought the immigrant ancestor to America. You guessed it, I defined a custom fact called “Ship” with all three fact attributes, date / location / description. Richard Warren’s entry for Ship is “1620 / Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts / the Mayflower” The fact would appear in the person report as “Arrived on the Mayflower at Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620.” (substituted data italicized for the article).

But perhaps the best use I make of my custom facts is to generate lists of ancestors using the Custom Report feature. If I want a quick list of ancestors who arrived on the third ship, “the Anne”, I use the select individuals feature, selecting fact Ship with exact content of “the Anne.” You can define the fields to appear in the Custom report so I include Person ID as well as Ship. Ancestors have a value in person ID and that lets me tell which passengers are ancestors and which are not.

Since I find myself currently “across the pond” back in the 10th century, I have added additional facts like “Knighted,” “Coronation,” and after my discovery that I recounted for the last Family Friday, “Canonization.” Other custom facts include “TGMB,” “DAR Ancestor Number,” and so on. By pulling a Custom Report down as comma-separated values into a spreadsheet, I can do almost anything with my data. I find this much more preferable than putting this information into the catch-all “Notes” field, whether attached to the person or the fact.

So if I ever change software, this feature is a “must have” requirement.

Today’s research “gem:” turns out my 30th great-grandaunt, Elizabeth de Vendôme, now carries the entry in the Cause of Death fact “circa 1000, boiled to death.” What a way to celebrate the first millennium!

Tomorrow’s installment: Setting (and breaking) Scope

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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…)

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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.

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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

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