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.

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) 

Saturday, October 7, 2023

Francis Godfrey of Duxbury and Bridgewater, Mass., died 1669

Francis Godfrey is my 10th great-grandfather on my grandfather Art Washburn Davis’ side of the family. I haven’t found a great deal of information on Francis, so this is very much a work in progress. 

Francis Godfrey was likely born in England, say about 1599. Sometime around 1624 he married a woman,  Elizabeth —-?—-.  He immigrated by1638 when he is granted land. 

Francis was a carpenter and a bridge builder. He is on the 1643 list of men able to bear arms, in the Duxbury section. [PCR 8:189]. In August 1643 he appears on the muster roll of the Duxbury Company commanded by Captain Myles Standish. 

From the 24 January 1643/44 list of town of Marshfield debts: To Francis Godfry, 2 shillings paid for cleaving lathes. [Jeremy D. Bangs, Mayflower Descendant, “The 17th Century Marshfield Town Records,” 61:123, 2012]

At Marshfield town meeting 30 March 1646 it was agreed that Edward Winslow [the future Governor] should agree with F. Godfrey for making a bridge over South River and what he shall agree the town are ready to perform. Marshfield formed from a section of Duxbury, so people didn’t necessarily relocate to be living the new town but I’m not sure if this was the case with Francis. 

image from Movementum Realty video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqlaS4UQ5cM

Francis and, I assume Elizabeth, had one daughter named Elizabeth who was born about 1624, probably in England. She married in June 1644 John Cary/Carye/Carew. [PCR 2:79] I wrote about that couple here.

Francis was a man of means as he owned considerable land and in his will mentions two servants. He had some education as he signed a deed, and the Providence portion of his inventory include "1 Bible" valued at 8s. and "3 small books" valued at 1s. 6d.

On 3 September 1638, "Francis Godfrey is granted twenty acres of lands lying on the norwest side of Greene's Harbour River, and a garden place at Stony River, near Edward Bumpasse, to be viewed & laid forth for him by Mr. Collier, Jonathan Brewster, & W[illia]m Basset (which land was, the 28th October, 1640, by them laid forth as aforesaid …)" [PCR 1:95, 135].

On the "last of February 1644 [/45?]…Roger Chaundler of Duxborrow" sold to "Francis Godfrey of the same" twenty-five acres "lying on the northern side of the freshet that runneth into Greene's Harbour." [PCR 12:109]

On 16 December 1646 the freeman of the town of Marshfield acknowledged land promised to James Pitny that is lying between the lands of Francis Godfrey and Mr. Ralph Patridge’s fence, west of the Greenshar Bar River. Also nearby are Thomas Burne and Josias Winslow. [Jeremy D. Bangs, Mayflower Descendant, “The 17th Century Marshfield Town Records,” 62:141, 2013]

On 26 February 1648[/9?], "Constant Sowthworth of Duxbery and Thomas Sowthworth of Plymouth his brother" sold to "Francis Godfray of the town of Duxbery ... carpenter ... a certain parcel of upland ground containing an hundred acres or thereabouts be it more or less lying at the North River." [PCR 121:163]

On 23 Oct 1648 John Cary sold to James Lindell all the land, both upland and meadow, granted him by the town and at the same time “testified and affirmed” that his father-in-law Francis Godfrey, “did acknowledge and confess that he had sold his present right and interest of his said land lying upon Green Harbor River” to James Lindel.

On 10 December 1650, "Francis Godfry of Marshfield ... carpenter" sold to "Anthony Eames and Mark Eames the son of the said Anthony both of them of Hingham ... a certain parcel of land containing one hundred acres be it more or less together with one dwelling house upon it with all the appurtenances belonging thereunto lying upon the North River.” [PCR 12:206]

He removed to Bridgewater where he took the Oath of Fidelity in 1657. He is not on the 1656 list of original proprietors for that town. 

On 9 October 1665. Francis Godfrey received land in an allocation of lots by the town of Bridgewater. [“Massachusetts Land Records, 1620-1986” database on FamilySearch.org]

Francis Godfrey died Bridgewater between 26 February 1666[/67] (date of will) and 30 July 1669 (probate of will), likely closer to the 1669 date. 

Elizabeth is named in her husband’s will, so she died after 26 February 1666[/7], 

A significant portion of his estate was in Providence, now in Rhode Island, but he’s not mentioned in published records there, so I’m curious as to how that came about.

In his will, dated 26 February 1666[/7] and proved 29 October 1669, "Francis Godfrey, aged inhabitant of the town of Bridgwater," made "my wife Elizabeth Godfrey my sole executrix, and Mr. James Browne of Rehoboth and Samuell Edson of Bridgwater my overseers.” Bequests: 

  • wife Elizabeth Godfrey whole complete purchase of lands, both already laid out and to be laid out, with all the immunities and privileges belonging thereunto, with my dwelling house and outhouses ...lands laid out lying and situated as followeth: forty acres of upland lying at a place usually called Salisbury Plain running cross the way usually called the Bay Path, and twenty-four acres of upland lying upon the river usually called John's River …twenty acres of upland lying upon the Town's River ...ten acres of upland more joining meadow land upon the Town's River, two acres of meadow land more or less lying in the meadow called Flaggy Meadow, two acres and a half more ... joining on the one side to Arthur Harris his meadow and on the other side to John Carye Senior, and one share more at the north end of the plain called Salisbury Plain
  • to my wife Elizabeth Godfrey, one broad and one narrow axe, one handsaw, one hatchet, one square, one drawing knife, one adze, one hammer, one pair of chisels, two augers, one mortising auger, one smaller auger, three plains, one jointer, one smoothing plain, one rabbeting plain, all the best I have
  • wife Elizabeth also to receive residue of “estate goods cattle whatever” 
  • to my grandchild John Carye a complete purchase of lands both upland and meadows both already laid out or to be laid out, only I have exchanged six acres of upland with him lying to the lands at my house for six acres lying next to his land at John's River ... the six acres of land at my house belonging now to my house being given the my wife Elizabeth aforesaid”
  • to my daughter Elizabeth Cary, two cows called Moose and Dazey, two canvas sheets and my great Bible
  • to my grandchild Elizabeth Cary, one heifer
  • to my servant John Pitcher one broad axe
  • to "my grandchild John Carye, a black mare, green cloak, suit of apparel, trooper's coat, hat, pair of stockings, pair of shoes, and  all my working tools not disposed of as abovesaid
  • to my son-in-law John Carye Senior all the rest of my wearing clothes
  • to my servant Richard Ginings if he live with my wife Elizabeth Godfrey and carry himself as he ought until he’s twenty years of age, ten pounds

The will was signed by the initials F.G. and is witnessed by Wm Brett, Jas Keith, Nathl Willis, John Hill. Inventory 30 July 1669, totaled 117 pounds, 17 s, 5 d. [Plymouth probate records, Vol 7, p 179] 

The inventory of the movable goods and cattle of Francis Godfrey lately deceased being an ancient inhabitant of Bridgwater, was exhibited at the Plymouth court 29 October 1669 on the oath of Elizabeth Godfrey, widow. The goods at Bridgewater were appraised 30 July 1669, by William Brett and John Willis and totaled 63 pounds, 12 shippings, 11 pence. The goods and cattle appraised at Providence by John Field and Resolved Waterman taken 27 July 1669 and totaled 54 pounds, 4 shillings, 6 pence. Inventory was taken 30 July 1669. Total of both inventories is 117 pounds, 17 shillings, 5 pence; no real estate is mentioned. [MD 17:155-56, citing PCPR 2:2:57-58]

Note: Some researchers have him born Bath, Somerset in 1590 to Richard Godfrey and Isabel Ramsdale, but I haven’t found a source for this. 

Sources Not Included Above:

Torrey’s New England Marriages Prior to 1700

Seth C. Cary, John Cary the Plymouth Pilgrim, 1911

NEHGR, “Abstracts of the Earliest Wills Probate Office at Plymouth,” vol 7, p 179, 1853

New England Families Genealogical and Memorial,Third Series, Volume III, p. 1224