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 12, 2023

Samuel Freeman (1638-1712) of Watertown and Eastham and His Wife Mercy Southworth (1638-1712)

Samuel Freeman was born 11 May 1638 at Watertown, Middlesex, Massachusetts, the son of Samuel and Apphia (Quick). He was about six years old when his parents divorced, something that was highly unusual at the time. It seems the divorce did not hurt his mother’s reputation as she married, second, Plymouth Colony Governor Thomas Prence of Eastham. 

Samuel married Mercy Southworth on 12 May 1658 at Eastham (MD 6:201). Mercy was born 11 May 1638 at Duxbury, the daughter of Constant and Elizabeth (Collier) Southworth. Mercy’s parents were both from prominent Plymouth and Duxbury families. I wrote about Constant and Elizabeth here. Mercy and Samuel are my 11th great-grandparents on my grandfather Arthur Washburn Davis’ side of the family. 

Samuel and Mercy had as many as nine children. First five children recorded Eastham and Orleans Vital Records. Mercy/Marcy’s name is also included in the vital records but without a date. 

  1. Apphia born 11 December 1659; died 1661
  2. Samuel, born 26 Mar 1662, married Elizabeth Sparrow (mentioned in father’s estate settlement)
  3. Apphia  born 1 Jan 1666, married Isaac Pepper
  4. Constant born 31 March 1669, married Jane Treat 
  5. Elizabeth born 26 June 1671, married 1st Abraham Remick and 2nd Joseph Merrick 
  6. Edward born about 1675 (mentioned in father’s estate settlement) 

May have also had these three daughters whose births are not recorded:

        vii. Mary

        viii.Alice born 1673, married Nathaniel Merrick 

        ix. Mercy born about 1679, married Daniel Cole

I descend from Apphia. I wrote about Apphia and her husband Isaac Pepper here.

Samuel was made Deacon of the Eastham Church in 1676, which he remained until his death. In 1678 Samuel Freeman was on the Committee at Eastham to build a new meeting house. I have read he served as Representative to the General Court, but I need to find a source for this. Enoch Pratt wrote that he inherited his step-father Thomas Prence’s estate which would have been substantial. Samuel was literate as his estate inventory contained books.

Samuel died at Eastham on 25 Nov 1712 at age 74 and is buried at Cove Burying Ground. Mercy died before 17 October 1713 when she is not mentioned in the settlement of Samuel’s estate. 

Samuel Freeman's gravestone

An inventory was taken of Deacon Samuel Freeman of Eastham’s estate on 29 December 1712. It included four or five parcels of land valued at 40 pounds, household items totaled over 16 pounds and included books, a cane, spectacles, a butter churn, an hour glass, a silver buckle, a gun and cutlass. It notably lacks farm implements or livestock, so perhaps his sons had taken over Samuel’s original homestead. 

Isaac Pepper was named administrator of the estate of Deacon Samuel Freeman of Eastham on 28 Jan 1712/13. Samuel died intestate. On 17 Oct 1713 the remainder of Samuel’s estate was to be divided amongst his daughters who unfortunately are not given by name. It states that Samuel’s sons Capt. Samuel and Lt. Constant had been gifted much more than their sisters from their father during his lifetime. 

Sources Not Included Above:

NEHGR, Early Records of Boston; Vol. 7 (1853); pg.160 (Samuel’s birth)

Willis Freeman/communicated by, The American Genealogist, “The Ancestry of Samuel Freeman, of Watertown,” 11:171-179 (1934)

Robert Charles Anderson, Great Migration Begins, 1995

Barbara Lambert Merrick.  William Brewster of the Mayflower and His Descendants for Four Generations 

Josiah Paine, Eastham and Orleans Historical Papers, pamphlet no. 55 in the Library of Cape Cod History and Genealogy, 1914

David Hamblin, NEHGS Register “First Settlers of Eastham, Mass.,” vol 6, pg 45 (Jan. 1852) 

Enoch Pratt. A Comprehensive History, Ecclesiastical and Civil, of Eastham, Wellfleet and Orleans, County of Barnstable, Mass., from 1644 to 1844, pub. 1844

Sunday, November 5, 2023

John Gray 1661-1732 and His Wife Joanna Morton

 John Gray was born Plymouth 1 Oct 1661 son of Edward and Mary (Winslow) Gray (Plymouth VR p 663). He was the grandson of Mayflower passenger Mary Chilton. I wrote about his parents here.

John married Joanna Morton at Plymouth 9 Dec 1686 (Plymouth VR p 85). She was born about 1667 at Plymouth, the daughter of Ephraim and Ann (Cooper) Morton. Ephraim’s water damaged will does not mention a daughter Joanna, but Robert Sherman in Mayflower Families 15:37 states that John Gray married the daughter of Ephraim and Ann (Cooper) Morton and explains that although Joanna is not mentioned in Ephraim's will, the 1709 will of Nathaniel Morton (Ephraim's son) names Ann Gray, the daughter of his sister Joanna Gray. 

Births of children of John and Joanah Gray are listed in Plymouth VR p 5-6:
Edward  born 21 Sep 1687;  died 20 Feb 1688

Mary born 7 Dec 1688; who died at age 14 on 17 Mar 1703

Anne born 5 Aug 1691; m. John Tinkham; died Plymouth 30 Dec 1714 at age 39

Desire born 1 Dec 1693; died 6 Dec 1695 at age 2

Joannah born 29 Jan 1696; m. Ebenezer Fuller; died 25 Sep 1776 at age 80

Samuel born 23 Dec 1702; m. Patience Wadsworth 

Mercy born 4 Feb 1704; m. Jabez Fuller; died in 1733 at age 78

I descend from Anne who I wrote about here.

John Gray received a large amount of land from his father Edward Gray’s March 1682/3 estate settlement as the eldest son. John chose the house and land where his father lived, contained in the two deeds of John Cooke and Francis Combe given and delivered to his father, with those small additions of land which were granted by the town of Plymouth to his father, and also two shares and a half of Punckaeest (sp?) land, being about 28 acres. 

I’m not sure if these appointments are this John or another of the same name: 

John Gray was named surveyor of highways in Plymouth in 1690. 

In 1691 John Gray was appointed constable of Plymouth. 

I assume the John Gray of Plymouth who was brought before court multiple times for drinking was a different John Gray. The John Gray that is the subject of this sketch was the son of the wealthiest man in the Colony and a large landholder himself. Also there is never any mention of this John Gray being of Kingston and when John Gray died, he is referred to with the honorific of “Mr.” which wouldn’t be applied to a known problem drinker. 

  • Plymouth Court March 1688/89, John Gray was fined 5 shillings for being drunk, the fine going to help the poor.
  • Plymouth Court September 1700, a John Gray of Plymouth was at court for being drunk; charges couldn’t be proven so were dismissed. 
  • Plymouth Court, June 1704, John Gray fined 5 shillings for drunkenness, to go toward helping the poor. 

Again, not certain if the John Gray below is the one of this sketch. His father Edward was once himself in court for outspokenness. 

  • Plymouth Court, September 1692, John Gray of Plymouth was fined 20 shillings and court costs for cursing, swearing and Breaking the peace and rayling against Mr. Cotton.” Cotton was the minister. 
  • Plymouth Court December 1699, John Gray was presented for “reviling and rayling speeches against Major William Bradford and Mr. Ephraim Little, minister of Plimoth,” bound by recognizance to appear next term. 
  • Plymouth Court June 1703, John Gray of Plymouth presented for profane swearing. Found guilty by jury and was bound, ordered to pay court fees and costs, and stand committed. 
  • Plymouth Court June 1717, Samuel Fuller v. John Gray for defamation. Defendant pleaded in abatement. 

John Gray wrote his will on 23 September 1728 at Kingston. He mentions his wife Johannah, son Samuel Gray, son-in-law John Tincom, daughter Johanah Fuller, daughter Mercy Gray, daughter Ann Tincom. His will was probated 27 July 1732.

He left his wife Johannah the use, improvement and income of all his lands which he did not dispose of by gift and his best bed and furniture for it. Also 1/4 of the hay that son Samuel will cut.


He had already gifted son Samuel land by deed, but requested him all his lands, meadows, buildings and real estate not already gifted, after the decease of Johannah. Also all his wearing clothes and his gun and sword, a silver spoon, a bed and furniture (the bed he already has in his possession).

Samuel was to make sure John's daughter Marcy was paid what is due to the estate (30 pounds) by bond from his son-in-law John Tincom. He was also to allow daughters Marcy Gray and Johanah Fuller to pass over the land left to him. 

Also to Marcy above what he had already deeded her as a gift: a bed, bolster bedstead, suit of curtains, two pairs of sheets, a pair of blankets, two curtains, two pillows and curtain rods, two cows, chest of drawers, two black chairs, six common chairs, a pair of tongs and fire slice, a spit, trammel, small iron kettle, iron skillet, and a silver spoon. 

The rest of his personal estate: one third to wife, one third to be equally divided by three daughters Anne Tincom, Johanah Fuller, Marcy Gray, and all the remainder to son Samuel Gray, together with his pew at the meeting house in Kingston. Samuel was appointed executor. Witnesses: Thomas Croade, David Sturtevant, Jonathan Sturtevant. 

The inventory was taken at Kingston 7 Aug 1732 and included house and land worth 350 pounds; personal estate worth 211 pounds, 1 shilling, 4 pence. 

On 28 Sept 1689, John Gray of Plymouth two shares of land in the Puncateast Outlet in Little Compton in Bristol Co., deeded to Edward Gray. Nathaniel Southworth was a witness. (Note: Edward is John's half-brother.) (Mayflower Descendant, vol 34, 1937)

Mr. John Gray died Kingston 29 May 1732 at age 70. (Copy of Kingston’s First Book of Records, p. 36) He is buried at Kington's Old Burying Ground. 

Joanna died three months after her husband on 23 Aug 1732 at Kingston. She was about 65 years of age. 

Sources Not Included Above: 

Mayflower Descendant, Vol 21, page 62-64 (1919), transcription of John Gray’s will 

Torrey’s New England Marriages to 1700

Mayflower Deeds and Probates 1600-1850, p. 145, available on ancestry.com, Edward Gray’s probate

Richard Sherman, Mayflower Families Through Five Generations: James Chilton and Richard More, Volume 15, 1997

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Patrick Dennis Smith 1870-1947 and wife Mary A. Brewster of Plymouth, Mass.

 Patrick Dennis Smith was born Kingston, Massachusetts on 17 Mar 1870 to Patrick and Nancy (Reynolds) Smith who were Irish immigrants (MA VR Vol. 224, p. 385). Kingston is next to Plymouth, where Patrick spent most of his adult life.

Patrick married Mary Ann Brewster at Kingston on 25 Dec 1888 (MA VR Vol: 389 ; Page: 403). She was born South Boston on 28 Dec 1871, the daughter of George Bradley and Nancy (Westgate) Brewster (MA VR Vol 243, p. 34, Boston). Mary Ann and Patrick are my great-great grandparents. 

Mary and Patrick had ten children:

  1. Ellen, born 29 Apr 1889 at Plymouth, married Frederick Peck who owned a Plymouth funeral home, died in 1889 at age 84.
  2. Elizabeth “Lizzie” Agnes, born 15 May 1892 at Plymouth, she was a nurse, married John Henning Anderson, died at age 81 on 31 December 1973 and is buried in Watertown, Mass. 
  3. George Brewster, born 17 Sept 1894 at Kingston, married Helen Pearson on 24 Jun 1912 at Plymouth. He died 31 Mar 1913 at just 18 years of age when he was adjusting a load of furniture on a wagon, the horses took off and he was killed by impact with a bridge. He was married to Helen Pearson and they had a one year old son, George. 
  4. Nancy Reynolds, born 17 Mar 1898, Plymouth, married George Benjamin Ellis on 05 Dec 1914 at Taunton, Mass, I haven’t found her death record. 
  5. Lawrence Leonard, born 27 Oct 1900 at Plymouth, married his brother George’s widow Helen (Pearson) but they divorced by 1931 when she married Joseph Amado. He died Plymouth 09 Oct 1947 at age 46. 
  6. Charles Leslie born Plymouth 19 Mar 1903, married Edith Woodbury, died February 1931 at age 80 in Marshfield, Mass. 
  7. Herbert Linwood, born 13 Mar 1906 at Plymouth, married Beatrice Camille Burt, died March 1968, at Duxbury, age 62. 
  8. viii.William Raymond, born Plymouth 13 Jul 1909, died 23 March 1971, age 61, at Plymouth.
  9. Lila, born Plymouth 7 Nov 1911, married Charles Freeman, died Duxbury 06 Jun 1993 at age 81. 
  10. Leroy Bradford, born 16 Aug 1914 at Plymouth, married Julia Ann Salvaterra, died 1 March 1979 at age 64 in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. 

My research on the children is a work in progress. I descend from George, although I can’t prove this relationship using traditional records. He was the father of my grandfather Arthur Washburn Davis, who was the son of Carrie Washburn and had no father indicated on his birth record. He was born in 25 May 1913, two months after his father’s tragic death. I know that George is the father of Arthur through family information which is backed up by DNA matches to people who descend from George. I wrote about George here.

Patrick had a variety of jobs: farmer (marriage record), gardener (1900 census), moulder in an iron factory (1910 census), a chauffeur (1920 census, 1930 census, 1924/34/36 Plymouth Directories). 

Some of the places in Plymouth that Patrick and Mary lived (as renters) from census records and town directories: Sandwich Street, 58 Summer Street, 25 Bradford Street, 3 Watercure St, 69 Newfield Street. All are downtown Plymouth locations. 

69 Newfield Street, Plymouth

Patrick died in 1942 at age 71, likely in Plymouth. He’s buried Vine Hills Cemetery in Plymouth next to his wife Mary who died 22 Apr 1955 at age 83.

Patrick and Mary Ann's gravestone at Vine Hills Credit: Findagrave.com

Obituary clipping from Ancestry member; newspaper not cited but likely Plymouth’s Old Colony Memorial:

Mrs. Mary A. Smith

In Plymouth April 22—Mrs. Mary A. (Brewster) Smith, 83, widow of Patrick D. Smith, died Friday. She was born in South Boston, and came to Plymouth as a young girl.

Mrs. Smith is survived by three daughters, Mrs. Frederick W. (Ellen) Peck of Plymouth, Mrs. John H. (Elizabeth) Anderson of Watertown, Mrs. Charles B. (Lila) Freeman of Duxbury; four sons, Charles L., Herbert L., William R. of Plymouth and LeRoy of New York; 23 grandchildren and 27 great-grandchildren.

Funeral services were held Monday at 2 p.m. from the Peck-Garrity Funeral Home, 143 Court Street, with the Rev. Newman J. LeShana officiating. Interment was in Oak Grove cemetery. Bearers were six grand-sons, Lesle Anderson, Elliot Anderson, Arthur Peck, Clifford Smith, John Smith, and Leslie Smith.  [Note that the Peck-Garrity funeral home was owned by her son-in-law.]

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Book Review: "Generation by Generation: A Modern Approach to the Basics of Genealogy," by Drew Smith, 2023, Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore

Despite all of the online resources available for beginning genealogists, I find books on this subject invaluable. In his new book, Drew Smith offers the latest methods and resources available for research.  It is organized into two parts: Preparing to Research and Doing the Research. I appreciate the first section, because it is so important to prepare for the undertaking, rather than just plunging in. Doing your homework first means less errors, less wasted time, and less frustration. Within each section there are well-organized chapters that are heavily illustrated. Smith covers subjects from DNA testing to online resources to setting your research goals. 

Smith’s resource suggestions are extensive. I find that some people think FamilySearch.org is a collection of people’s personal trees that vary in accuracy, but the site also contains a huge amount of records, a valuable research Wiki that can be searched by location, and a wonderful library of digitized books.

Generation by Generation is useful for researchers with experience too. I am guilty of having my favorite go-to tools for research, and books like this remind me of what I may be under-utilizing. I have been lax in using newspapers in my research in recent years and Smith gives many resources for using newspapers, including The Directory of U.S. Newspapers in American Libraries from the Library of Congress. This indicates which repositories hold copies of the newspaper you are interested in accessing, especially valuable for those who are not interested in a subscription online newspaper service. https://guides.loc.gov/directory-of-us-newspapers/introduction

Drew Smith has an impressive genealogical resume: he’s a genealogy librarian, co-host of a genealogy podcast, contributes to the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly, and administrator of a large genealogy Facebook group. 

This is a great book to access whenever guidance is needed in your research, perhaps learning about the value of probate records or organizing the growing amount of information you are gathering. Genealogical Publishing Company offers it as a softcover book and an e-book. 

Disclosure: Genealogical Publishing Company provided a copy of this book for me to review.

Monday, October 9, 2023

Moses Benson 1774-1822, and his Wife Experience Gibbs of Middleborough, Mass. and Woodstock Vermont

Moses Benson was born Middleborough, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, 16 Oct 1774, to Elisha and Sarah (Stewart) Benson. He is my 5th great grandfather on my grandfather Arthur Washburn Davis’ side of the family.

On 15 May 1796 he married Miss Experience Gibbs at Middleborough, both of Middleborough. (Middleborough VR, vol 2, p 159)  Neither the record of marriage or marriage intentions lists their parents. William Cutter wrote (see sources) that Experience was born 15 Mar 1776 at Sandwich, Barnstable County, Massachusetts, but I have not confirmed this. Her parents are a mystery to me, although I would think she’s a descendant of Thomas 1 Gibbs of Sandwich. To further muddy the waters, there is a later Experience Gibbs born 1797 who also married a Moses Benson. 

Moses and Experience moved to Woodstock, Windsor County, Vermont where most of their children were born. There are quite a few Middleborough families who moved to Woodstock and many familiar Plymouth Colony surnames. Cutter wrote that Moses and Experience lived briefly at nearby Bridgewater, Vermont, before settling on a farm in Woodstock soon after 1797, where they were one of the pioneering families.

Source: History of Woodstock by Dana

Moses and Experience and nine children:

Ebenezer born 14 Feb 1797, Middleborough

Samuel born 07 Jun 1799, Woodstock Vermont (marriage record) or Middleborough (death record)

Moses born 09 Jul 1801, Bridgewater Vermont, died age 16

Hosea born 24 Apr 1803, Woodstock

Isaac born 03 Jul 1805, Woodstock 

John born 12 Apr 1807, Woodstock, died at 14 months

David born 06 Jul 1810, Woodstock, died at 3 months

Lydia born 12 Feb 1812, Woodstock

Susan born 14 Jul 1818, Woodstock

I descend from Isaac who married his cousin Amelia Benson and moved to Plymouth, Mass, where they raised their family. I wrote about that couple here.

1810 Federal census, Woodstock, VT:
Moses Benson head of household

Free White Persons - Males - Under 10: 3

Free White Persons - Males - 10 thru 15: 2

Free White Persons - Males - 26 thru 44 : 1

Free White Persons - Females - 26 thru 44: 1

Number of Household Members Under 16: 5

Number of Household Members Over 25: 2

Number of Household Members:  7

1820 Federal Census, Woodstock VT:

Moses Benson head of household 

Enumeration Date: August 7, 1820

Free White Persons - Males - 10 thru 15: 1

Free White Persons - Males - 45 and over: 1

Free White Persons - Females - Under 10: 2

Free White Persons - Females - 45 and over : 1

Free White Persons - Under 16: 3

Free White Persons - Over 25: 2

Total Free White Persons: 5

Total All Persons - White, Slaves, Colored, Other: 5

This census indicates that either Isaac or Hosea are living away from home at this time. 

The 1800 Federal Census, Brookline, Windham Co., VT has a Moses Benson but seems unlikely he is this Moses as he had two children by this time and only one is listed in the census, plus I’ve seen no mention of Brookline in other sources. 

Moses Benson died 27 Feb 1822, age 47, at Woodstock, after an illness which prompted him to write his will the June before. 

source: Findagrave.com

Experience Benson, wife of Moses Benson, died 16 Jan 1834, age 59, at Woodstock. They are buried at Prosper Cemetery (Find a Grave memorial Moses ID 79244269; Experience ID 79244298).  A later index entry of her death record from 1919 does not list her parents’ names. 

source: findagrave.com

Moses’ will is dated 1 June 1821. He was unwell when he wrote the will at age 46 and died about eight months later at age 47. He names wife Experience, sons Hosea, Isaac, Ebenezer and Samuel; daughters Susannah and Lydia. His friend and executor Robert Cone was made legal guardian to Hosea, Isaac, Susannah, and Lydia who were all minors. He left his farm to Hosea and Isaac and they were to eventually pay other siblings $25 each and provide for their mother and younger sisters. If they didn’t agree to the terms, the farm would go to another sibling in a specific order with that person paying the others $25. The inventory includes Woodstock land of 82.5 acres with buildings thereon, livestock, farm implements, household items including a tea set, maple sap, and barrels of cider. His estate was considered insolvent and the list of claims against the estate came to $121. Perhaps Moses bartered for many goods and services and didn’t have much cash on hand. Plus he was ill for some time so his livelihood which depended on his health must have suffered. The Windsor Gazetteer from 1883/84 mentions that his son Hosea did take over his farm on Road 17, so good to know that wasn’t lost in the settling of his debt. 

According to the 1883/4 Woodstock Gazetteer, Moses married Experience Gibbs, reared nine children, and was one of the twelve men who established the Christian Church in town. The area where Moses and Experience lived was called English Mills, situated about 2.5 miles from the Court House, on a branch of the Quechee formerly called Beaver Brook, then Barnard Brook or North Branch. It is named after an early settler, Joel English, who came from Andover, Connecticut, and the fact there was a grist mill and a saw mill in the area. Early settlers lived in log houses, later replaced by frame structures. Robert Cone, Moses’ friend, neighbor, estate executor, and guardian to his minor children, farmed and made boots and shoes. Cone was a man of evenness of temper and careful judgment who lost all of his children to fever and lived to age 85. 

Sources Not Listed Above:

Davis' Genealogical Register of Plymouth Families, Appendix, page 300: Moses Benson married Experience “Briggs”

William Richard Cutter, ed., New England Families Genealogical and Memorial, 1914

Vermont Probate Records, Vol 6-7, p 341-34 1816-1825, Hartford District, from Ancestry’s “Vermont Wills and Probate Records 1749-1999” (Moses’ will)

Henry Swan Dana, History of Woodstock, Vermont, 1889

Hamilton Child, History of the Town of Woodstock, Gazetteer and Business Directory of Windsor County, Vermont, for 1883-84, printed January 1884

Lydia Brownson and MacLean McLean, NEHGR, ”Thomas Gibbs of Sandwich Massachusetts,” 1969

Grace Hildy Croft, The Benson family; descendants of Isaac Benson and Mary Bumpas, and allied families: Archer, Bumpas, Howard, Knapp, Lewis, Luce, Meech, Milks, Potter, Reynolds, Waite, Whipple, Williams, et al., Provo, Utah, 1973. (Digitized on FamilySearch.org)