For years I went to Agawam Cemetery in Wareham with my grandmother, Millie. She already had a stone for herself and her husband ready and waiting. My father’s name is there as well, although he’s buried out of state where he died. He hated that she put his name on a gravestone (without asking) while he was alive and kicking.
All I needed to do after she was gone, she told me as she tidied up around her parents’ stone, was make a call to have the year of her death inscribed on the stone. She and her husband could have had free burials at the National Cemetery in Bourne since he was a veteran. But she liked Agawam. She talked about it like other people would if they were buying a home: location, privacy, quiet, wooded. She told me about the tiff she’d had with her brother’s family about who could be buried in which plot and what type of stones they could have. I always thought it was odd she cared so much about a place for deceased people to let it cause problems with living ones, but for some reason it meant a lot to her.
During hurricanes, my grandparents usually refused to leave their ocean front home. They didn’t want to leave their dogs behind and go to a shelter. And it was in Millie’s nature to ride things out. People called her “Hurricane Millie” for a reason—she didn’t rattle easily. The one time they did leave (firefighters came and forced them to leave), they piled the dogs into their huge Cadillac and headed to, where else, but Agawam Cemetery.
In all those years of going to the cemetery and witnessing the burials of my great grandparents and grandparents, I’d never wandered over into the older part of the cemetery. I had no idea that my grandfather (they divorced but turns out later in life he also lived in Wareham) had ancestors buried there. Millie would have gotten such a kick out of that!
Rowland Sturtevant Bumpus and his family are buried at Agawam Cemetery. He was a lifelong Wareham resident, except for time in California. He was a “49er” who went in search of gold on two occasions.
If he found any gold, it probably was a negligible amount, as he came back to Wareham and apparently led a humble life there. Someday I hope to find more details about his adventure.
I haven’t found him on passenger lists yet, but there is an “R. Bumpus” listed as an arrival at Panama City on 24 Sept 1849 (the city was a stop for ships on the way to San Francisco during the Gold Rush). In the 1950 census, he’s listed with his family in Wareham as a miner.
When Rowland wasn’t dreaming of gold, he worked as a teamer at the Tremont Nail Factory in Wareham. Coincidentally, before I knew anything about my Wareham ancestry, I dropped in to check it out and visit the attached gift shop. In his son Nathan’s 1847 birth record, Rowland is called a furnaceman (maybe also a job at Tremont?) and in his own 1853 death record he is referred to as a farmer.
|Tremont Nail Factory, Wareham|
Rowland was born 20 Jan 1804 in Wareham, son of Jonathan Bumpus and Martha Chubbuck. Martha’s another loose end--I haven’t found her parents. There were early Chubbucks in Hingham, some later in Wareham, but I can’t find how Martha connects to them. There were also some Churbucks in Wareham.
Rowland descends from Edward Bumpus/Bompasse who came to Plymouth in 1621 on the ship Fortune. His line of descent: Edward1 >Thomas2 > Samuel3 > Thomas4 > Jonathan5 > Rowland6. Edit: Jonathan as a son Thomas is now in question.
On 5 September, 1825, Rowland married Lucy Nye Pierce at Wareham. Lucy was the daughter of David Pierce and Desire Nye, and I’ll write about her another time as she’s an interesting subject as well.
|Lucy Nye (Pierce) and Rowland Bumpus, property of Laurie Howland|
Lucy and Rowland had 10 children at Wareham: Frederick, Ambrose, Adeline, Rowland, Lucy, Caroline, Mary, Lucretia, Pelina and Nathan.
I wonder how Lucy felt when Rowland boarded the boat for San Francisco. Was she hopeful for the possibility of wealth? Was she terrified that her husband would never return? If so, how would she raise the five children she still had at home, with the youngest being not quite three years of age? How would she get by while he was gone and not earning his regular pay?
Rowland did return from California, but died at Wareham of consumption on 29 April 1853, at age 49. (Mass VR Vol. 76 p. 226). He joined his children already buried at Agawam Cemetery: Ambrose and Rowland each died at age 4 and Pelena at 11 months.
|Rowland Bumpus' stone at Agawam Cemetery, Wareham|
Rowland’s son Frederick was already married at the time of his father’s death. He married Jane Yates and they raised their four children in Wareham. Adeline was also already married and she too stayed in Wareham, marrying Samuel Williams. I haven’t found children for Adeline and Sam. Adeline, Frederick and their spouses are buried at Agawam Cemetery.
Lucy was also already married, she was wedded to Calvin Benson at Middleborough (as Lucy Maria Bump) in 1851, but I don’t know where they got off to after that.
Caroline would marry Calvin Baker at Marshfield in 1858 and have one daughter. In The Bumpus Genealogy by Lynn Albert Bumpus, she is listed as dying in 1930. Descendant Laurie Howland says family information states Caroline died in California in 1933.
Mary Briggs Bumpus is my 3rd great grandmother. She married Seth Washburn in 1856 and they lived in Plymouth, where they raised three children.
|Mary Bumpus Washburn, property of Laurie Howland|
Lucretia married Asaph Burbank in 1860 and raised their two children in Plymouth.
Nathan Cobb Bumpus married Susan Ellis in 1870 in Acushnet and they had six children there.
I had the good fortune of being put in contact with Lucy Day, who lives in California and is a descendant of Nathan Bumpus, who served in the Civil War. He came to live in Acushnet when his mother remarried and moved there. In turn she put me in touch with Laurie Howland, whose husband descends from the same family. Laurie had family photographs! What luck! She’s a kindred spirit in that she likes to figure out when the photos were taken and figure out who is in them and I am incredibly indebted to her.
Fortunately for Bumpus descendants, brothers Paul and Stephen Bumpus started a website that includes a transcription of the Bumpus Genealogy by Lynne Albert Bumpus:
They have another page with many useful links, but it is currently under construction. Save the URL to check back later:
Paul Bumpus was incredibly helpful to me when I started my Bumpus research, as was Richard Griffith, who lived in Wareham at the time. It never ceases to amaze me how the world of family history is chock full of kind, generous people.
Andrew Griffith has a fantastic History of Wareham website, which includes inscriptions and some photos of Agawam Cemetery gravestones, as well as other Wareham Cemeteries:
A few books I’ve found useful in my Wareham research:
Records of the First Parish Church of Wareham, by Leonard H. Smith.
Glimpses of Early Wareham, by Daisy Washburn Lovell, Wareham Historical Society