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.

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Lydia / Lidian Jackson Emerson wife of Ralph Waldo Emerson 1802-1892

Today’s sketch is unusual for me in that Lidian is not my direct ancestor, but I find her so fascinating I have to write about her! Lydia Jackson was born Plymouth, Massachusetts on 20 September 1802 to Charles and Lucy (Cotton) Jackson. She is my 2nd cousin six times removed on my grandfather Arthur Washburn Ellis Davis’ side of the family. She is a descendant of Abraham 1 Jackson and Remember Morton. I wrote about the couple here.

By the time Lydia was orphaned at age sixteen she had already lost two siblings. She then went to boarding school and lived with relatives. Her surviving siblings were Lucy and Charles, the latter became a well-known physician. Lydia was particularly close to her sister Lucy, whose husband abandoned her and their two children. Lydia’s family was part of Plymouth society. She received a formal education, even learning German. Her father was a ship owner involved in foreign trade. The Jackson family lived in downtown Plymouth with the harbor in view from their large home. At nineteen Lydia was ill with scarlet fever and took mercury-containing calomel. She continued to have health troubles for the rest of her life, often described in a vague manner. 

Lydia married, as his second wife, Ralph Waldo Emerson, the famous essayist, philosopher, lecturer, abolitionist, poet, and Transcendentalist on 14 September 1835. They were married at her childhood Plymouth home, the Edward Winslow House, which is currently the headquarters of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants. 

Lydia attended two of Emerson’s lectures in Plymouth, meeting him at a social gathering afterward. Emerson was quite taken with her and soon proposed by letter. Even though she had  experienced a vision where she married Emerson, she did not jump at the chance to marry him and had to think it over. She was happy with her life and freedom as a single woman in Plymouth and was reluctant to leave her beloved hometown to live in Concord. She took some of her furniture from her house and her son Edward wrote that she bought tulips and roses from Plymouth to plant in her Concord garden. 

Emerson House Concord Source: RalphWaldoEmersonHouse.org

Despite her fragile health and late marriage for the times (she was nearly 33) Lydia and Emerson had four children: Waldo (who died of scarlet fever at age five), Ellen, Edith, and Edward. Ellen did not marry, helping her father in his work and being a constant companion to her elderly mother. Ellen died at age 69. Edith married, had eight children, and lived to 87. Edward Waldo was a Harvard educated doctor who married, had seven children, and lived to 85. You can view a photo of her holding her son Edward here: https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/emerson-celebration/Em_Con_72

Her daughter Ellen wrote of her mother: “In her fifty-seven years of life in Concord she had never taken root there, she was always a sojourner, her home was Plymouth, a never-dying flame of love for Plymouth burned in her heart and burst forth in praises of its people, stories of its glorious founding, reminiscences of its peaceful ways, its social life, and an enthusiastic observance of Forefather’s Day…of every movement of Plymouth, though only heard-of she felt herself a part. This was not willful, it was hardly conscious, purely natural.”

Emerson suggested she change her name to Lidian and had pet names for her as well— Queenie and Asia. Even though he implored her to call him Waldo, she elected to address him as Mr. Emerson but would often address letters to him as “Dear Husband.” In their Concord home, they entertained such luminaries as Henry David Thoreau, the Alcotts,  Margaret Fuller, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. The Emerson’s Concord home is open to the public in season. 

In 1861 Lidian casually mentions in a letter that she attended a party after one of Waldo’s lectures where she met Senator / abolitionist Charles Sumner and Julia Ward Howe who wrote the Battle Hymn of the Republic. 

Lidian was particularly close with Thoreau who lived with them for a time. Thoreau wrote that she was like a sister to him, so she must have been devastated when he died of consumption at age 44. Amy Belden Brown's historical fiction  (the latter being a key word) Mr. Emerson’s Wife presents the two having an affair which seems highly unlikely and that the she and Emerson did not have the best of marriages. Her letters to her husband are very warm. She wrote beautifully, including this in a letter to her husband: “It fell on the heart of your wife like the small rain on the tender grass.”

Lidian was religious, spiritual, and intellectual and was involved in many social issues. She was a member of the Anti-Slavery Society, advocated for women’s suffrage, Native American rights, and the humane treatment of animals, being a founding member of the Massachusetts Prevention of the Cruelty of Animals and vice president of the Concord branch. She could not even bear for rats in the house to be mistreated  and was secretly feeding one the rest of the family was trying to do away with! The horse that pulled their carriage was so used to her bringing him treats, that it proved difficult to get him to stand still when she was trying to get into the carriage. It surprised me that Waldo wrote in his journal that “Queenie” had a gift for cursing and swearing! Her daughter Ellen said they all got used to her screaming when she was startled or shaken. 

She did not always agree with her husband’s ideas as she was more conservative in her religious beliefs and was critical of Transcendental extremes. She was known as a devoted wife to her high-profile husband, a loving mother, a strong-minded independent woman with a sense of humor, and a welcoming hostess.  

Her letters to her children show her affection toward them but also her interest in their education. She wrote about Wordsworth’s poem Tintern  to her daughter Ellen: “It will tell you the beauty of fine scenery blesses us not only at the time we are viewing it but forever; that it becomes, as it were, a part of our being.”

To her son Edward she suggests he follow Goethe’s advice, which she paraphrases: “the senses and imagination become dulled by the routine of life, so it is important to read at least a page every day of some wise book or view art or hear good music.” I love this woman!

Her daughter Ellen wrote a biography about Lidian stating that “she is quite as wonderful as he,” referring to her father. The biography wasn’t published in Ellen’s lifetime, but she would read parts of it at gatherings. Perhaps she felt plenty was known about her famous father and she wanted her amazing mother to be remembered as well. Lidian gave the appearance of beauty as she was an excellent dresser and was regal in stature with a graceful walk from 20 years of dancing lessons. She was known for her verbal eloquence and enjoyed a good debate. She was fond of listening to lectures and voiced her own beliefs at the Alcott’s School of Philosophy gatherings. She liked high-quality clothing for herself and her children, but never embraced the latest fashion if she didn’t consider it flattering. She enjoyed nice household furnishings and kept an organized household. Although she liked some finer things, she was frugal overall in her spending habits. She loved gardening, kept chickens, and adored cats. She didn’t like to sew but she was an able artist and created embroidery designs. She craved fresh air and kept windows open year round. 

Her daughter Edith added a section to Ellen’s book that includes: “I found it one of her most charming traits that her faith was so deep and secure that she was always ready with comfort—for every one…” She wrote that her mother was upset by the ill treatment received from a family for whom a young Irish girl  worked. She spoke with a lawyer to make sure the law was on her side and found relatives for the girl to live with in Philadelphia. 

Lidan Emerson later in life Source: Wikipedia

Lidian Jackson Emerson died in Concord on 13 November 1892, at the age of 90. She died quietly at home with her daughter Ellen by her side. She is buried at on Author’s Ridge at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord next to her husband who died ten years earlier. 

Front of her stone, decorated with tulips:


Wife of Ralph Waldo Emerson

Daughter of Charles & Lucy Cotton Jackson

Born September 20th 1802 close by

Plymouth Rock as she loved to remember

Died November 13th 1892 in Concord

Back of her stone:


In her youth an unusual sense of

the Divine Presence was granted her

and she retained through life

the impress of that high Communion.

To her children she seemed in her

native ascendancy and unquestioning

courage a Queen, a Flower in 

elegance and delicacy

The love and care for her husband and

children was her first earthly interest

but with overflowing compassion

her heart went out to the slave, the sick

and the dumb creation.* She remembered

Them that were in bonds as bound with them.

*I would think this word should be creatures.

Source: Findagrave.com Kristi Martin


Sources about Lidian, the first two used to write this sketch:

Ellen Tucker Emerson, Life of Lidian Jackson Emerson, 1980

Delores Bird Carpenter, Editor, The Selected Letters of Lidian Jackson Emerson, 1987

Eugene Aubrey Stratton, Plymouth Colony It’s History & People 1620-1691

Amy Belding Brown, Mr. Emerson’s Wife, 2006 (historical fiction)

Sunday, October 23, 2022

John Hall about 1638 to 1710, Charlestown and Yarmouth/Dennis, Massachusetts

John Hall was baptized 13 May 1638 at Charlestown, a Boston, Massachusetts neighborhood (ChChR 47], one of the ten children (all boys!) of John Hall and his wife Bethiah whose maiden name is unknown [Thacher Reid writes her name as Farmer but without a source]. I wrote about that couple here. He is my 10th great-grandfather on my grandmother Milly (Booth) Rollins’ side of the family. 

The Hall family moved to Cape Cod, first to Barnstable in 1643 and then to Yarmouth before 1653. The Yarmouth area they settled later became Dennis. The location of their large lot of land today is between Nobscusset Road and Elm Street in the village of Dennis. 

About 1661 John married Priscilla, whose maiden name is not known with certainty. Most of my sources for this couple are older and not cited and give Priscilla as the daughter of Austin/Augustine Bearse of Barnstable. The more current work of Robert Charles Anderson finds no strong evidence of this. Torrey’s New England Marriages, Vernon R. Nickerson’s manuscript From Pilgrims and Indians… and Amos Otis’ Genealogy Notes on Barnstable Families, are just three that identify her as a Bearse. Some circumstantial evidence she is Priscilla Bearse is that she is the right age and her children share names with many of her siblings. 

John and Priscilla had nine, possibly more, children born at Yarmouth (now Dennis):

1. John born about 1661; died by 1666 when another child John was born

2. Joseph b. 29 Sept 1663, m. 1st Hannah Miller, 2nd Mary (Faunce) Morton

3. John b. 1666, m. Margaret Miller (buried Ancient Cemetery, Yarmouth, age at death gives 1666 birth year)

4. Bethiah (a daughter was born middle of November 1668 but her name is unreadable; possibly birth of Bethiah who married Zachariah Paddock died in 1707 age 41, so born about 1666 and not an exact match)

5. Priscilla born Feb 1671; m. John Paddock 

6. Hester/Esther born last week of April 1672; m. John Ryder

7. Mary born 1 March 1673/74

8. Martha born 24 May 1676; m. Robert Paddock

9. Nathaniel born 15 Sept 1678, m. Jane Moore

There is wear to the pages of the births of John Hall Jr.’s children in the Yarmouth Vital Records, 1:2-3. Births of children Joseph, Presilla, Hestar, Mary, Martha, and Nathaniel are legible. One of the sons named John is recorded, but the date is unreadable. A daughter was born in November 1668, but her name is illegible, perhaps this is Bethiah. 

I have more research to do on the children. Some researchers also give them a daughter Experience who married Ebenezer Ryder. The Hall sketch in the Cape Cod Library pamphlet gives a daughter Barshua, born April 1686 and married Joseph Crowell.  

I descend from Esther; I wrote about her here.

John was a Deacon of the Yarmouth Church where he was member as early as 1671.  He lived in the Yarmouth neighborhood of Hocanom which became Dennis when the latter was formed in 1793. 

In 1676 John Hall Jr. was taxed three pounds 6 pence towards King Philip’s War. 

John Hall died at Yarmouth (now Dennis) on 24 Oct 1710. He is buried at Hall Cemetery: Here Lies ye body of Decon [sic] John Hall aged 73 years departed this life October ye 24, 1710. The small family cemetery is located on the land of the original Hall homestead. 

John Hall's Gravestone in Dennis

Priscilla Hall died 30 March 1712, age 68 years, and is buried next to her husband: Here Lyes ye Body of Presiller Hall wife to Decon [sic] John Hall, Aged 68 years Died March ye 30 1712.

Priscilla Hall's Gravestone

John Hall of Yarmouth wrote his will 31 May 1709. He names his wife Priscilla Executrix. He leaves land to his son John and mentions that he had already given land to his sons Joseph and Nathaniel. Any of his moveables that his wife does not dispose of in her lifetime will go to his daughters, who he does not name, after Priscilla’s death. He signs his will.  His will was proved 4 January 1710/11, which seems late.

Deacon John Hall’s inventory was taken 16 November 1710, did not include real estate, and totaled over 179 pounds. It includes farm animals and tools, household furnishings, a spinning wheel, yarn, linen, Holland pewter, hour glasses, Indian and English corn, and an Indian servant whose value was not known. 


Otis, Amos, Genealogical Notes of Barnstable Families, being a reprint of the Amos Otis Papers, originally published in the Barnstable Patriot, revised by CF Swift, Volume 1 and 2, Barnstable, MA, The Patriot Press, 1888

Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins, 1995

Library of Cape Cod History and Genealogy, “The Hall Family of Yarmouth,” no. 67, CW Swift Publisher, 1913

Torrey’s New England Marriages to 1700

William Richard Cutter, Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of Boston and Eastern Massachusetts, volume 4, 1908

Nancy Thacher Reid, History of Dennis, Massachusetts From Firstcomers to Newcomers 1639-1993, 1996

John Hall’s probate, Ancestry  database “Massachusetts Wills and Probate Records 1635-1991,” citing Barnstable County Probate and Guardianship Records Vol 1-2, 1674-1742

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Book Review: Memories of Newburyport, Massachusetts by Henry Bailey Little 1851-1957

 Book Review: Memories of Newburyport, Massachusetts by Henry Bailey Little 1851-1957

This book was compiled by Margaret Peckham Motes and published in 2019 by Clearfield Company, Baltimore. It’s a collection of stories written by Henry Bailey Little that were assembled by his daughters for publication in the Newburyport Daily News in 1959. 

Henry Bailey Little lived to the incredible age of 106, working until he was 102! He witnessed so much history and vast change in his long life and wrote about the town he loved. He was raised on a farm in town and grew up to become President of the Institution for Savings. 

He shares remembrances of the small coastal town that was once a commercial port, including stories of seafaring men, town businesses, and the mayors of the town. He writes about childhood clothing fashion, life before central heating, and small sketches of some of the townspeople. The book also incudes tributes to Henry Little after his death.

This slim volume of 104 pages includes vintage photographs, some from the 19th century. I am always so appreciative of people who wrote down their experiences and also to those who came across these writings and share them with the world. Reading books like this are always a wonderful way to foster a stronger connection to the lives our ancestors lived. “Memories,” would be a wonderful addition to the personal library of anyone with 19th and 20th century roots in Newburyport, Massachusetts. It is available to purchase at genealogical.com

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Clearfield Company to review for this blog.

Friday, October 7, 2022

John Bryant 1620 England to 1684 Scituate Massachusetts and His Three Wives

John Bryant was born about 1620 in England. His last name is often seen as Briant in records. I believe he is my 9th great-grandfather on my grandfather Arthur Washburn Ellis Davis’ side of the family but have more work to do. He married three times and fathered a whopping 19 children.

John Bryant came to Plymouth Colony by the 1630s. He was made a freeman at Scituate in 1639. In 1643 he is on the list of Men Able to Bear Arms at Scituate. Percy Bryant wrote there is a tradition he came from Kent on the Ann and settled first at Barnstable on Cape Cod. I do not know of John’s origins. 

In 1638, John Bryant made an appearance at court when just a teenager, charged with drinking inordinately at John Emerson's house. He was released with an admonition, but James Till was whipped "for alluring" John to drink. On 2 March 1642, he was in court "for drinking tobacco upon the highway.” Perhaps “drinking” should be “smoking?”

Deane wrote that his farm was on the second Herring Brook, and in 1831 the site was ten rods east of the mill and the location was marked by an ancient orchard. His son John built the town’s first sawmill on this land and later a grist mill. 

John Bryant married, first, Mary Lewis on 16 November 1643 at Barnstable, Massachusetts. Mary was the daughter of George and Mary (Doggett) Lewis. 

Children of John and Mary, born Scituate:

1. John born 17 Aug 1644; married Mary ___; died Scituate 1708

2. Hannah born 25 Jul 1646, m. John Stodder of Hingham 

3. Sarah born 29 Sep 1648

4. Mary born 24 Feb 1649/50; died Scituate 1652

5. Martha born 26 Feb 1651/52

6. Samuel born 06 Feb 1653/54, was a sergeant in the military and died 1690 in Phipps’ Expedition to Canada 

Mary Lewis Bryant died 2 July 1655 at Scituate. 

John Bryant married, second, Elizabeth Wetherell on 22 December 1657 at Scituate. Elizabeth was the daughter of Reverend William Wetherell and Mary Fisher of Scituate.  She died between January 1661/62 and April 1664, after the birth of her daughter and before the remarriage of her husband. 

Children with Elizabeth, born Scituate:

7. Daniel baptized Scituate 5 Feb 1659/60

8. Mary born January 1661/62

I descend from Daniel who married a woman named Dorothy, maiden name is unknown. I wrote about what little I know of Daniel here. 

Deane wrote that on one Sunday morning John Bryant entered the meetinghouse late. After prayers, the Reverend William Witherell addressed him before the congregation saying: "Neighbor Bryant, it is to your reproach that you have disturbed the worship by entering late, living as you do, within a mile of this place and especially so, while here is Goody Barstow, who has milked seven cows, made a cheese, and walked five miles to the House of God in good season.” Rev. Witherell later became John’s father-in-law. I wonder if they looked back and laughed about this!

In April 1664, John married, third, Mary Highland, the daughter of Thomas Highland/Hiland. They had eleven children together, born Scituate:

9. Elizabeth born August 1665; d. 17 Dec 1683 at Scituate

10. Joseph baptized 7 July 1667; d. 16 June 1669 at Scituate 

11. Benjamin born December 1669; died unmarried in 1701 

12. Joseph baptized 16 April 1671

13. Jabez baptized 18 Feb 1671/72; died 1697 unmarried

14. Ruth, born 16 Aug 1673; m. William Wanton who became Governor of Rhode Island 

15. Thomas born 15 Jul 1675; m. Mary Ewell 

16. Deborah born 22 Jan 1676/77

17. Agatha  born 12 Mar 1677/78

18. Ann born 20 Nov 1679

19. Elisha, called youngest child in his father’s will 

After John’s death, Mary (Highland) Bryant married second Robert Stetson. 

John was a house carpenter, active in public affairs, a land owner, and a surveyor of public lands. He was a deputy to the Plymouth General Court in 1657 and 1677/78, and a selectman in 1677 and 1678. He apparently changed his ways from being tardy to church as a young man to became deacon of the Second Church of Scituate in 1669. His stature in the community indicate to me he had some education and was at least literate. His estate inventory included books, but it does not state how many he owned. 

Ephraim Kempton of Boston sold land at Scituate to John Bryant senior of Scituate, carpenter, on 24 May 1672. The parcel consisted of four acres of marsh and meadow bounded east to the North River, north by the meadow of said John Bryant, west by upland of Daniel Turner. Ephraim states that the land should be held in the manner according to East Greenwich, Kent. 

John Briant of Scituate’s will is dated 24 September 1684. Sixteen of John’s nineteen children survived him and received bequests. To sons Samuel and Daniel he left his lot of land near Barstow's tree at Grass Pond [in 1831 this was called Old Pond]. To Benjamin 20 shillings in trust of his grandfather Hiland until he turns 21. Joseph and Thomas received his house and land. Jabez [as "Jabesh"] received a lot of about 8 acres at White-Oak Plain as well as additional land including cedar swamp and 10 pounds when he reaches 21. Daughter Mary received a bed with furnishings she already had taken. Daughter Ruth to receive a bed with furnishings and 10 pounds when she reaches 18. Daughters Deborah, Agatha and Ann each to receive 5 pounds when they reach 18 or are married. Youngest child Elisha to receive 10 pounds when he turns 21. Son John 10 shillings. Daughters Hannah, Sarah, Martha, 20 shillings each. Wife Mary to receive widows thirds and all other property not named in the will unless she remarries. 

Signature from Dean's History of Scituate

The inventory of his estate was taken 11 February 1684[/85] and included: books; 400 boards at the mill; armor and ammunition; spinning wheels; beef, pork, tallow, and hogs fat; Indian corn; cotton wool, sheep’s wool, linen yarn; saddle, bridle, pillion; cord word; tobacco; a grindstone; cart, yoke, irons; woodenware, pewter, spoons, brassware, ironware; and horse, sheep, swine. His house, barn, upland and meadow were valued at 140 pounds. Three other lots were valued at a total of 28 pounds. His estate totaled 255 pounds, 19 shillings, 2 pence.

John Bryant died Scituate 20 November 1684. 


Jeremy Dupertuis Bangs, Seventeenth-Century Town Records of Scituate, Massachusetts, V. 3. (NEHGS, 2001)  

Torrey’s New England Marriages to 1700

Percy Bryant, NEHGR, “Descendants of John Briant, Sen., of Scituate, Mass.,” January 1894, volume 48, p. 46

Samuel Deane, History of Scituate, Massachusetts, From Its First Settlement to 1831, 1831

Plymouth Colony Records & Wills, 1633-1686, Vol. 4, pgs. 86-87