Welcome! I really enjoy exchanging information with people and love that this blog helps with that. I consider much of my research as a work in progress, so please let me know if you have conflicting information. Some of the surnames I'm researching:

Many old Cape families including Kelley, Eldredge/idge, Howes, Baker, Mayo, Bangs, Snow, Chase, Ryder/Rider, Freeman, Cole, Sears, Wixon, Nickerson.
Many old Plymouth County families including Washburn, Bumpus, Lucas, Cobb, Benson.
Johnson (England to MA)
Corey (Correia?) (Azores to MA)
Booth, Jones, Taylor, Heatherington (N. Ireland to Quebec)
O'Connor (Ireland to MA)
My male Mayflower ancestors (only first two have been submitted/approved by the Mayflower Society):
Francis Cooke, William Brewster, George Soule, Isaac Allerton, John Billington, Richard Warren, Peter Browne, Francis Eaton, Samuel Fuller, James Chilton, John Tilley, Stephen Hopkins, and John Howland.
Female Mayflower ancestors: Mary Norris Allerton, Eleanor Billington, Mary Brewster, Mrs. James Chilton, Sarah Eaton, and Joan Hurst Tilley.
Child Mayflower ancestors: Giles Hopkins, (possibly) Constance Hopkins, Mary Allerton, Francis Billington, Love Brewster, Mary Chilton, Samuel Eaton, and Elizabeth Tilley.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

John Davis b. ca 1870 and Grace Ellis (1889-1964) of Falmouth, Mass.

John Davis was born in Massachusetts, or possibly Searsport, Maine, about 1870, the son of Andrew Davis and Charlotte Spencer (approximate date of birth from census records) He was raised in Blackstone, Worcester Co., Mass.

On 15 October 1922 he married Grace Pearle Ellis at Falmouth, Mass. They were members of the Baptist Church there. Grace had married, first, Nahum Leach on 4 April 1906, at Carver, Mass.

I am not related to John and Grace by blood, but they raised my grandfather Arthur Washburn Ellis. Arthur, nicknamed Art, was born 25 May 1913 in Plymouth, Mass., to Carrie Washburn. His birth was illegitimate as no father is listed on his birth record, but his sister said Carrie told her his father was George B. Smith, who died in a tragic accident before he was born. I wrote about Arthur here.

Arthur Washburn Ellis Davis
Carrie married Everett “Pete” Ellis on 28 August 1914 in Plymouth, Mass., and they had 10 children together. Their son, Francis, was born in 1915 and he also sometimes lived with John and Grace Davis. From what I understand, it wasn’t uncommon for couples with large families to send children off to live with relatives when money was tight. Grace and John also had a son Merle born in 1927.

Grace and John Davis
Grace Ellis Davis was the sister of Everett “Pete” Ellis. She was born 16 October 1889, in Bridgewater, Mass., to William and Maude Ellis.

Grace and John lived at Maravista Ave. and also Gifford Street, in Falmouth, Mass., and had a mushroom growing business and later a pig farm. Grace’s mother married, second, a man named Henry Coulter and they lived near Grace and John in Falmouth.

From Jack Sheedy and Jim Coogan’s book, Cape Cod Voyage, "Falmouth - America's Mushroom Capital." In 1911 the enterprise known as Falmouth Mushroom Cellars Inc. began doing business near the corner of Gifford Street and Morse Road. It was an 18 acre complex with growing rooms that maintained a steady 58 degrees. It prospered and by 1914 was not only producing a large number of high quality fresh mushrooms for the Boston market, but boasted that it was the largest commercial grower in the world. In the fall of 1916, the mushroom end of the business succumbed to a blight. With the US poised to enter WWI, the company shifted emphasis to the canning side of the business: tomatoes, beets and beans. It kept over 100 workers busy during the war years and provided a good market for Cape Cod farmers. After the war, fresh produce replaced the canned market and the company closed for good in 1922. The property was purchased by John Davis of Falmouth Heights who used the large cement buildings for a piggery. Today, as well heeled diners enjoy the ambiance of the nearby Coonamessett Inn there is nothing to mark what was once the largest commercial mushroom business in the entire world.

Mike Crew has a blog entry with old postcards depicting the mushroom cellars:

Grace died 28 March 1964. Her death certificate states she is buried at Oak Grove Cemetery in Falmouth, but the cemetery office has no record of her. John predeceased her.

I never knew my grandfather growing up, so one of the most rewarding aspects of family history research has been finding out more about Art and his family and having the extreme pleasure of meeting my Aunt Dot. I would love to hear from descendants of Francis, Merle or Arthur. I’m always eager to learn more about the family and am curious as to where John and Grace were buried.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Richard Sears ca 1595-1676 and Dorothy Jones ca 1603-1679 of England, Marblehead and Yarmouth, Mass.

Richard Sears was born about 1595 in England. Some have written he was the son of John and Marie (Egmond) Sears, but I’m not sure there is proof of that. He was my 9th great-grandfather on my grandmother Milly (Booth) Rollins’ side of the family. The last name is sometimes spelled Sayers, Sares and Seeres.  

Richard married Dorothy Jones by 1637. Dorothy was born about 1603, the daughter of George and Agnes Jones of Dinder, Somerset, England.
Portrait Purported to be Richard Sears from the Van Egmont Family (source: wikipedia)

Richard was first at Plymouth when he is seen on the 1633 tax list (but not on the 1634 list), then by 1637 (as early as 1634) one of the first to live in Marblehead (then part of Salem) and later Richard was one of the founders of Yarmouth, Mass. by 1639. They lived in an area of Yarmouth that became Dennis, on Quivet Neck between Quivet and Sesuit Creeks on land that is now 8 Old County Way.

Richard's homestead would be at the top of the map near Quivet Neck

Sears historian Ray Sears wrote that he believes Richard was part of the group of fishermen working for Isaac Allerton who came into Marblehead on the White Angel in 1632. For four years the group had no meeting house, which was scandalous at that time. In 1634 Allerton sent a group to Newburyport and the boat capsized in a tempest. Many were lost, including Anthony and Elizabeth (Jones) Thacher’s children. The couple felt God sent them a message, so must have mended their ways. Elizabeth was Dorothy’s sister.

The couple had three children:
Paul born about 1637
Deborah born September 1639
Silas born about 1641

I descend from Paul who married Deborah Willard. I wrote about that couple here.

Richard was listed on the Salem tax rate list 1 Jan 1637/8. In 1638 he was granted 4 acres that he had formerly planted. In 1639 he accompanied his brother-in-law Anthony Thacher in settling Yarmouth. He took the Oath of Fidelity there in 1639. He was made a freeman there in1652. It is unclear why he didn't apply sooner to be a freeman. To do so a man had to be a respectable member of the Church. Some avoided citizenship to escape petty offenses and court duties, which could be fined if declined.

20 Oct 1647 he entered complaint against 3 Indians.

Richard served on the grand jury in 1652, as tax collector in 1658/59, constable in 1660 and was deputy to Plymouth General Court in 1662. He is on the Yarmouth list of men ages 16-60 able to bear arms in 1643. On 26 October 1647 he served on the commission appointed to meet at his house to discuss Indian affairs. He was appointed 1 March 1568 to a committee to levy church tax. He signed complaint with 14 others against Nicholas Nickerson for slander of Rev. Thomas Thornton dated 30 June 1667. Same date court with 17 others against John Crow, William Nickerson and Lieut. William Palmer for trespass.

In 1664, Richard Sears, husbandman, purchased land at Sesuit from Alice Bradford, Governor William's widow, for 20 pounds. It adjoined land of Nicholas Snow and Peter Worden.

HG Somerby's manuscript in the NEHGS Library mentions Richard was in the militia and lost his right arm after being shot in a fight with Indians. This can't be confirmed through records.

In 1676 several prominent citizens including Richard Sears paid debt from King Philip's War.

Richard died 5 September 1676 at Yarmouth. He was age 81 years, 4 months.  King Philip’s War had just ended and there was an unnamed sickness taking many Yarmouth residents. A descendent erected a large monument to the family at the Ancient Cemetery at Yarmouth. His exact burial location isn’t known as the early settlers marked their graves with boulders. It is likely his remains are buried at the Ancient Cemetery as his house was just 200 yards away and the monument is at the location of his son Paul’s grave, so quite possible he would be buried near his son in a family plot.
Sears Family Monument, Ancient Cemetery, Yarmouth
Richard’s will was dated 10 May 1667, codicil 3 Feb 1676, both signed with his mark. (Plymouth Records Book 3, Part 2, p. 53-55)  Land valued at 220 pounds. Mentions wife, 3 children, son-in-law Zachary Paddock, brother Thacher, grandson Ichabod Paddock. Wife named Exec. Witnessed by John Thacher, Anthony Frey. Codicil witnessed by Anthony and Judah Thacher. Inventory 8 Oct 1676, includes house, land, cows, bed and furniture, 2 pairs sheets, 1 table cloth, 1 pillow, britches and hat, coat and cloak, stockings and shoes, 1 great Bible and other books, pewter and tin, brass, 1 pr stilliyars, iron furniture for the fire, rugg, 2 chests, 1 beer barrell, 1 earthen pot, 3 chairs, bees, two waitcoats, mare and colt, 1 pound plus in debts, 2 Indian trays. Total should be 269 pounds, 06 06.

Dorothy died in March 1678/79 at Yarmouth. Yarmouth records state she was buried the 19th of March 1678/79.

John W. Sears' speech in the Essex Genealogist, Nov 1986, contains inaccuracies about noble family connections.

L. Ray Sears is a great resource for Sears genealogists. He has a website where he has posted a .pdf of his book, The Sears Genealogical Catalogue. http://www.searsr.com/member/searscat.pdf

Sources Not Listed Above:

L. Ray Sears, Sears Genealogical Catalogue, 1992

Samuel Pearce May, The Descendants of Richard Sares (Sears) of Yarmouth, Mass., 1638-1888, 1890

Samuel Pearce May, Some Doubts Concerning the Sears Pedigree, NEHGR vol. 40, 1886.

Charles Swift, History of Old Yarmouth, 1884

Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633, 1995

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Samuel Wilbore ca 1595-1656 and Ann Smith, County Essex England to Portsmouth, RI to Boston, Mass.

Samuel Wilbore was born about 1595 (based on probable age at marriage), probably at Sible Hedingham, County Essex, England, the son of Nicholas and Elizabeth (Thickines) Wilbore. Wilbore is spelled in a variety of ways including Wildbore, Wilbour and Wilbur. He is my 10th great-grandfather on my grandfather Arthur Washburn Davis’ side of the family.

Samuel migrated to Boston in 1633, possibly on the ship Griffin and was an original settler of Portsmouth, Rhode Island in 1637. He also lived in Taunton, Mass.  

Samuel worked as a merchant and had shares in the Taunton Iron Works.
File:Iron Works sign Raynham.jpg
Plaque marking the site of the Taunton aka Leonard Iron Works, now in Raynham, MA

Samuel married, first, at Sible Hedingham, Essex, 13 January 1619/20 Ann Smith (NEHGR 112:117). Ann was the daughter of Richard Smith. Samuel and Ann had five children, all boys, born England:

1. Samuel
2. Arthur
3. William
4. Joseph
5. Shadrack

I believe Arthur and William died young. I descend from Samuel who married Hannah Porter. I wrote about them here.
“Samuell Wilbore and Anne his wife" admitted to the Boston Church on 1 December 1633 (Boston Church records 17).

Samuel was made a freeman in Boston on 4 March 1633/4.

Samuel married, second, Elizabeth (____) Lechford, widow of Thomas Lechford (on 2 May 1648 "Mr. Samu(el) Wilbore did depose that when he married the widow of Th Lechford late of Boston scrivener deceased, he never received or had any of the widow or other estate of the said Lechford no not so much as his said wife's wearing apparel" (NEHGR 30:201-2, citing SPR Case #71).

On 29 November 1645 "Elizabeth Wilbore the wife of our brother Samuell Wilbore" was admitted to Boston church (BchR44); she died after 30 April 1656, when Samuel wrote his will.

Samuel was banished to Portsmouth, RI for being a follower of Ann Hutchinson and her brother-in-law Rev. John Wheelwright. He later repudiated his signature on a Wheelwright petition and was allowed to return to Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Samuel signed the covenant at the foundation of Portsmouth on 7 March 1637/8 (RICR 1:52). It is referred to as the Portsmouth Compact and established a non-sectarian civil government upon the universal consent of the inhabitants, with a Christian focus. He was admitted as a freeman of the joint government of Newport and Portsmouth by 12 March 1639/40 (RICR 1:100). The group settled on the north east end of Aquidneck Island, establishing a settlement they called Pocasset, but in 1639 changing the name to Portsmouth.

Samuel was literate as he signed documents both in England and New England (NEHGR 113:100-01). His signature is on the Portsmouth Compact of 1638 at the Rhode Island State House and is also attached to a letter in possession of the Massachusetts Historical Society. He also signed as witness of his brother Robert's will, as well as that of Samuel Allen, and as a juror at Sible Hedingham in 1624.
Samuel's signature is 6th one on list of compact signers

File:Portsmouth Compact.JPG
Plaque at Founders' Brook in Portsmouth RI

Samuel served his communities in multiple capacities: on the Grand Jury 19 Sept 1637, Clerk of the Portsmouth train band, 27 June 1638, 13 March 1633/4, Commission for "the venison trade with the Indians," 16 Nov 1638, Portsmouth constable 24 January 1638/9, Auditor March 1640/1 and March 1643/4, and elected Sergeant.

On 1 June 1638 Samuel Wilbore was given permission to sell his house and garden plot to Mr. Offley and his house and ground Next Roxbury" to Samuel Sherman. In 7 September 1640 "Mr. Wilboare" was granted (4(0) acres" at Portsmouth. On January 1657/8 this grant was rescinded.

On 8 Nov 1648 "Samuell Wilbore of Taunton" sold to John Stanford of Rhode Island six acres of meadow in Portsmouth "& also one neck of land abutting upon the Cove."

On 6 May 1603 (sic, prob. 1653) Samuel Wilboare and Elizabeth his wife deeded to Richard Sherman and Elizabeth his wife the easterly part of the house and leanto and chimney in the house which they shared.

Ann (Smith) Wilbore died after 1 Dec 1633 when she was mentioned as a member of the Boston Church and before 1645 when Samuel married again.

In his will, dated 30 April 1656 and proved 6 Nov 1656, Samuel Wilbore of Taunton bequeathed to "my loving wife Elizabeth all the moveable goods that is or shall be in my house in Boston where at present I do inhabit...also my sheep and lambs at Dorchester...also a mare & colt at John Moore's of Brandtry"; to "Samuel Wilbore my eldest son all my lands at Rhode Island and all my debts due to me their first from Richard Smith the elder, and also a debt from Henry Bull which is 4 pounds and an ewe of two years old, also one cow in the hands of James Badcick, and also one cow that is at Bridgwater together with the rent for the said cattle according to agreement and also six hundred of iron lying at Taunton in my dwelling house there"l to "my son Joseph Wilbore my house and land where he my said son Joseph doth inhabit...with all the appurtenances...also twelve acres of grant...by the Iron mills, and also my share in the said Iron works"; to "my youngest son Shedrick Wilbore my house and lands thereunto belonging at Taunton where I dwell with all the moveable goods...and cattle excepting half the orchard and half the said dwelling house & two of the best cows & hay...which I give and bequeath unto my said wife Elizabeth provided she continue and dwell there, but in case my said wife should marry another man and inhabit elsewhere that my said son shall have the said (blank) allowing my said wife or her assigns the sum of 10 pounds"; to "my said son Shedreck my debt of James Seward, Ralph (illegible) & Henry Newland"; wife Elizabeth and son Shidrack executors; "my white horse unto my son Shedrick" and residue of cattle and goods to executors equally; to "Robert Blot of Boston 20s."; to "Goodman Flack 20s."; to "my said son Shedrick the time of service of my man Jno Mockcliet, a Scotchman"; to "Joseph a piece of blue trucking cloth"; to "my son Joseph...10 pounds in iron" (SPR 1:281-82).

Samuel died at Boston on 29 September 1656 (BVR 56).

Sources Not Listed Above:

Benjamin Franklin Wilbour, The English Ancestry of Samuel Wilbore of Boston and William Wilbore of Portsmouth RI, NEHGR, 1958

Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633, 1995

J.W.W. Hall, Ancient Iron Works in Taunton, NEHGR, 1864