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, February 24, 2024

Charles Westgate 1805-1879 and Lydia Paulding 1810-1874 of Plymouth, Massachusetts

Charles Westgate was born 26 March 1805, at Rochester, Plymouth County, Massachusetts. Birth is estimated from age at death. He may have been the son of Benjamin Westgate/Westcott/Waistcoat and Rhoda Hawl/Hall, but I need to find documentary evidence. If anyone has a source for this, I’d love to hear from you! There is a 1824 probate file, no. 22326, for a Benjamin Westgate of Rochester and I was hoping for a will but he died 20 September 1824 intestate.

Charles Westgate of Plymouth married Lydia Polden of Plymouth, also spelled Paulding, on 4 November 1827 at Plymouth. (Plymouth VR 1:465) Lydia was born 5 January 1810, the daughter of George Paulding and Jedidah McLathley [birth calculated from age at death; parents’ names on death record].

Charles and Lydia are my 4th great-grandparents on my grandfather Arthur Washburn Davis’ side of the family. There is no father listed on Arthur’s birth record so it isn’t possible to prove this line with traditional documentation, but Arthur’s half-sister identified his father which is confirmed by DNA results.

Lydia and Charles had seven children, all born Plymouth:

  1. Lydia Westgate born August 1828; died Plymouth 14 Nov 1833; buried Burial Hill where her parents are listed on her stone as well as her age of 5 years 3 months
  2. Charles Howard Westgate born 29 May 1832; m. Lucy Bourne who was born in Gloucester, was a clerk when he died of pneumonia at New Bedford, Massachusetts on 24 Jan 1879 (Birth Plymouth Vital Records p. 7)
  3. Nancy Paulding Westgate born 19 Feb 1835 (Plymouth VR p 7); married George Bradley Brewster on 4 October 1853; died Plymouth 2 Apr 1910 
  4. Susan Westgate born 28 Apr 1838 (Plymouth VR p 7); m. James Kendrick; died Plymouth 1 Jan 1911
  5. Ellen Westgate born 15 Sep 1841; m. Miles Standish; died Plymouth 12 May 1898
  6. Edward Winslow Westgate born 25 Aug 1845 (gravestone) or 15 August 1845 (Plymouth Vital Records); m. Emma/Emmeline Bourne at Plymouth; died there 21 May 1910
  7. William W. Westgate, born 29 Jun 1848 (Plymouth VR p 591); m. Bridget A. Dolan 1855 in 1869; died Boston 19 Feb 1917

I descend from Nancy. 

I always enjoy seeing how some families took such pride in their Mayflower roots. Ellen Westgate married Miles Standish who I would imagine is a direct descendant of Miles/Myles of the Mayflower. Other Mayflower family names pop up in those of their ten children, including Mary Chilton, Alden, and Winslow. 

Charles is usually listed as a laborer or teamster in records.

In the 1840 Federal Census, Plymouth, Charles Westgate is head of a household of five people, including one male age 30-39, 1 female age 20-29, 1 male age 5-9, 1 female age 5-9, 1 female under age 5. The implied children’s ages fit to be his children Charles, Nancy, and Susan.

Charles Westgate is 45 in the 1850 Federal census, Plymouth, with Lydia Westgate age 38, children Charles 18, Nancy 15, Susan 12, Ellen 9, Atwood 7, William 2.

In the 1855 state census, Plymouth, Charles Westgate is 50, a laborer, with Lydia Westgate age 44, Susan age 17,  Ellen age 16, Edward age 12, William W. age 7. 

Charles is 55 and a laborer in 1860 Federal census, Plymouth, with Lydia Westgate age 40, Susan age 23 a shoebinder, Edward age 16 app [apprentice?] rope maker, Willie age 12. Next door is  George’s daughter Nancy age 25 with her husband George Brewster 26, rope maker, and their children Lydia 5, Georgiana 4, Charles 9/12.

In the 1865 state census, Plymouth, Edward W. Westgate, 20, laborer is head of household, with wife Emma age 20, son Edward N. Age 1, father Charles 60, laborer, mother Lydia, 54, and brother, William W. Westgate age 16, laborer.  

In the 1870 federal census, Plymouth, Charles is age 65, a teamster, living with his wife Lydia age 58. In the same house but separate families is his daughter Susan Kendrick, 33, with her husband James Kendrick, 29, and their daughter Mary age 7 and son George age 10 months and also George’s son Edward W. age 25, his wife Emma age 35 and son Edward age 6.

The census records show that Charles and his family were blue collar workers, some of their children went to work rather than attend high school, they lived in Plymouth decade after decade, and were close knit as they often lived together or near each other. 

Lydia Paulding Westgate died Plymouth 12 May 1874, daughter of George Paulding and Jedidah McLauthlin, both born Plymouth, married, age 64 years, 4 months, 7 days, from softening of the brain. (Plymouth Vital Records 266: 318)

Charles Westgate, died 9 February 1879 at Plymouth, widowed, age 73 years 10 months 14 days, due to old age, worked as a teamster, born Rochester, Mass. Unfortunately no parents are listed. (Plymouth VR, 311:295)

Charles and Lydia are buried at Vine Hills Cemetery in Plymouth. 

Charles and Lydia Westgate's gravestone at Vine Hills Cemetery

Sunday, February 18, 2024

John Nye ca 1645-1722 and His Wife Esther of Sandwich, Mass.

John Nye was baptized 29 June 1650 in Sandwich on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He was the son of Benjamin and Katherine (Tupper) Nye of Sandwich. He was born about 1645, calculated from age at death on his gravestone. He is my 8th great-grandfather on my grandfather Arthur Washburn Davis’ side of the family.

About 1672 John married a woman named Esther, likely at Sandwich. She was born about 1651, based on her age at death. Esther is often identified as the daughter of Daniel Shed of Braintree and Billerica, but I have found no documentary evidence of this.

John's father Benjamin owned land at what is now Spring Hill Road, which RA Lovell believes Benjamin gave to his eldest son John when he moved to the land on Old County Road where he built a new homestead and his mill, which operates as a museum owned by the Nye Family Association. 

Map showing location of Benjamin Nye's, and later John Nye's homestead from Sandwich A Cape Cod Town

Esther and John’s children:

1. Benjamin b. 24 Nov 1673

2. John b. 22 Nov 1675

3. Abigail b. 8 April 1678

4. Experience b. 16 Dec 1682

5. Hannah b 19 Jan 1685 

6. Ebenezer born 23 Sept 1687

7. Peleg born 12 Nov 1689 

8. Nathan born about 1691

9. Joseph born 1694 

10. Cornelius born 1697 

John, Benjamin, Abigail, Hannah, Ebenezer’s births are recorded Sandwich Vital Records p. 110. All ten children are mentioned in their father’s will; my research on them is a work in progress.

I descend from their son Nathan who married Dorothy Bryant and their daughter Experience who married Josiah Swift.  I wrote about Nathan Nye here and Experience and her husband Josiah here.

In a 9 June 1704 deed, Benjamin Nye mentions lands given earlier to "my son John Nye." 

In 1678 John Nye took the oath of fidelity. He served on the Grand jury the same year. On 10 May 1694, John Nye was appointed on a committee by the town to erect two cottages on the plain for the shepherds to dwell in. He was on a committee in September 1695 to provide a suitable person to keep school in the town that year for the sum of 10 pounds. He owned a farm and worked as a wheelwright. 

Land transactions:

In Feb 1689 200 acres at North Falmouth were granted to John and Ebenezer Nye, sons of Benjamin, of Sandwich. (Simeon Deyo) The brother had purchased 100 acres earlier. 

John Nye senior of Sandwich wrote his will on 19 July 1720, which he signs with his mark, and notes he is “grown into years” and “under Decays of Body.” He names his son John Nye Executor and leaves the following bequests: 

  • his loving wife Esther who would have use of the southeast end of his dwelling house and all the household goods and utensils while she continues to be his widow
  • Eldest son Benjamin Nye of Falmouth all the land where Benjamin is currently living and all his Falmouth land and meadow except for the New Purchase; Benjamin is to pay his brothers Nathan and Joseph Nye each 50 pounds within a specific time frame
  • Son John Nye the sheep pasture lot near Spectacle Pond, his best gun and cane 
  • Sons Ebenezer and Peleg Nye his lands near the pasture on the southerly side of the Country Road as well as the lands of the Giffords adjoining to the Springs that was laid out for his twenty acre lot to be divided equally between them
  • Sons John and Peleg Nye his dwelling house and barn after his wife’s decease 
  • Daughter Hannah to live in his dwelling house as long as she is unmarried, one feather bed with bedding and furniture, and 30 pounds
  • Sons John, Ebenezer, and Peleg Nye all the rest of his and, marsh, meadow ground, and real estate of all sorts in Sandwich to be divided between them equally with the understanding they will provided for his wife Esther by keeping her two good cows, a gentle horse for her to ride to meeting, provide firewood for her, and provide bread, corn, and meat as well as 30 shillings a year for her necessaries while she remains his widow 
  • Son Cornelius Nye 40 pounds in addition to what he has already been given 
  • Daughters Abigail Dillingham and Experience Swift 30 pounds each
  • Granddaughter Esther Nye who dwells with his five pounds
  • If his estate doesn’t allow for the cash bequests, he orders his sons John, Ebenezer, and Peleg to pay the remainder out of their own estates within four years of his death 

John Nye signed with his mark. Witnesses: Wm. Bassett, John Chipman, Wm. Bassett, Jnr, Mathias Ellis, Jr. 

(Barnstable Probate vol 4:69) The will was proved Nov. 27, 1722. 

Inventory of John Nye's estate was taken on 27 Nov 1722. It totaled over 2,551 pounds, a substantial estate for the time. It included his wheelwright tools, three guns, farm animals, molasses, tobacco, four spinning wheels, multiple plots of land in Sandwich and Falmouth, and books. (Barnstable Probate, 4:71)

He is shown to be a son of Benjamin by 9 June 1704 deed, mentions lands given earlier to "my son John Nye." 

Esther Nye of Sandwich wrote her will 18 September 1724 being in “tolerable health of body” and mentions her deceased husband John Nye and names son John Nye executor.

She left the following bequests:

  • Daughters Abigail and Experience Nye her two beds with furniture
  • All the rest of her household goods to daughters Experience and Hannah to be equally divided
  • Already had given a bed and furniture to son John

She signed the will with her mark and it was witnessed by Samuel Jennings, Deborah Jennings, Mary Chipman. It was proved 29 September 1726. 

Mr. John Nye died 6 November 1722 (Sandwich Vital Records, 2:1535). He was about 77 years old. 

Mrs. Esther Nye died at Sandwich in June 1726 (Sandwich Vital Records, 2:535). She was about age 75.

John and Esther are buried at the Old Town Cemetery in Sandwich Village:

Here Lyes ye body of 

Mr John Nye

Died Novembr ye 6th 1722 

 in ye 79th year of his age

Here Lyes ye body of 

Mrs. Easter Shed

Deceased June 1726

In the 76th year of her age 

Sources Not Listed Above:

RA Lovell, Sandwich, A Cape Cod Town, third edition published by the Sandwich Archives and Historical Center, 1996, first printing 1984

Simeon L. Deyo editor, History of Barnstable County, Massachusetts,1890

Representative Men and Old Families of Southeastern Massachusetts 

George Hyatt Nye and Frank E. Best, A Genealogy of the Nye Family, 1907

Ian Hilder, George R Nye, Jonathan A Shaw, NEHGS Register, “Origins of Benjamin Nye: Examining the Sources,” Vol 158:356 (2004) and Vol 159:69 (2005)

JH Beers & Co, Representative Men and Old Families of Southeastern Massachusetts, 1912

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Thomas Howes ca 1680-1736 and Content Smith b. 1680

Thomas Howes was born about 1680 in the part of Yarmouth that later became Dennis, Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He was the son of Joseph and Elizabeth (Mayo) Howes. He is my 6th great grandfather on my grandmother Millie Booth Rollins’ side of the family. My research on this family is a work in progress, primarily because of a fire that destroyed many Yarmouth records and a lack of early Chatham records.

Thomas Howes of Yarmouth married Content Smith on 11 December 1701 at Eastham on Cape Cod (Orleans-Eastham Vital Records, 1637-1853, p 342). They were married by Jonathan Sparrow, Esq, who is also one of my ancestors. Content was born Eastham on 8 June 1680, the daughter of Daniel and Mary (Young) Smith Orleans and Eastham Vital Records,1637-1853, page 328).

Soon after their marriage, Content and Thomas moved to Monomoit, later called Chatham, where on 8 April 1703 Thomas bought about 40 acres of land from William Griffith: his homestead lot of 26 acres in the Christopher Smith neighborhood, one-half of 20 acres on the Great Neck, and some meadow land. This land was located near “the Indian bounds or inlands” according to William Smith.

Chatham map showing William Griffith homestead sold to Thomas Howes homestead/right near Indian Boundary
(source: Cape Cod Genealogical Society)

Content and Thomas had seven children born Chatham but unrecorded, named in Thomas’ will, order uncertain:

  1. Daniel, b. about 1702, m. Elizabeth Doane
  2. Mary m. Zachariah Sears as 2nd wife 
  3. Joseph b. about 1708, m. Priscilla Harding 
  4. Thomas b. about 1712, m. first Rebecca Sears about 1730 who died of smallpox on 10 Dec 1765; he m. 2nd Hope (Sears) (Doane)
  5. Thankful prob married Paul Ryder of Yarmouth
  6. Hannah prob married Joseph Harding
  7. Elizabeth m. Samuel Stewart, as his 2nd wife, about 1730

I descend from Thomas and his second wife Hope Sears. I wrote about that couple here.

Thomas and Content both received bequests in their father’s wills: Joseph Howes wrote his will on 17 January, 1694/5, leaving a bequest of land to his son Thomas Howes, who was to receive an equal share with his brother’s Amos and Nathaniel of all the land that was not given specifically to brother’s Samuel, Joseph and John. In his 11 May 1716 will, Daniel Smith of Eastham left a bequest of five pounds to his daughter Content Howes to be paid at the time of her mother’s death or remarriage. 

Thomas Howes served his community in a variety of ways. He was a Selectman, town treasurer, constable, fence viewer/surveyor, and served on a grand jury. 

In 1715 he was an Ensign in the Chatham military company, later advancing to Lieutenant and then Captain. Not certain if this Thomas Howes, but man of that name served in the Queen's War which lasted 1702-1713.

Thomas’ signature is preserved—in 1715 he signed a letter supporting Ebenezer Hawes in a lawsuit against Rev. Adams. 

Thomas Howes' signature

Some of Thomas’ additional land transactions:

Two years after purchasing his Chatham homestead and land, he purchased by deed dated 22 October 1705, from Philip Griffith, a lot of four acres adjoining the homestead, the other half of the 20 acre lot on the Great Neck and another lot of meadow. Forty acres more of less, bounded "beginning on ye south side at a stone next ye lands of ye sd Thomas Howes & on ye west side it is bounded by ye sd Howeses land & John Paddock's land, from sd stone to a red oak tree, thence to ye Corner of ye fence, thence to a red oak tree by ye Cart way, thence by a sett off Easterly to a pine tree marked, thence a little Southerly to a white oak tree by a swamp side & so through ye Swamp to another white oak tree & thence by ye swamp to ye Indian bounds, leaving ye highway to ye Jury way, thence by ye sd Jury way Westward to ye first mentioned stone. And also ye one half of a twenty acre lot on ye Stage Neck, ye other half of said lot is now in ye tenure & possesion of ye sd Thomas Howes. And also half an acre of meadow, lying in Grigeries Neck adjoining to David Melvels meadow & was formerly William Griffith Junrs meadow." 

He also purchased by deed dated 6 April 1713, from James Eldredge, the farm inherited by the latter from his father Nicholas, which adjoined a portion of the Howes farm. Sixteen acres, "bounded on ye Southwest by an old ditch & post & rail fence down to ye White Pond so called & then bounded Northwest by sd Pond down to ye land of John Eldredg which was set out to him as a part of his Father's farm to a Beach tree marked, thence Easterly to a markt red oak tree near ye head of a swamp & stone set in ye ground & thence upon ye same range straight over a fresh pond to ye other side thereof. And then bounded by sd Pond down to meet with ye other land of ye sd Thomas Howes: Then it is bounded Easterly by ye land of ye sd Thomas Howes up to ye land now in occupation of Lieut Seth Taylor which he bought of Lieut Eldredge (excepting only ye highway or road throu) And then by ye land of sd Taylor to ye first mentioned ditch & post & rails (only still allowing to Elizabeth, ye mother of ye sd James to gather cherrys & other fruit for her spending in ye summer time & ye sd James to take off ye timer & old bords of ye old House thereon.”

In 1713-14 the town of Chatham conducted a division of common land amongst the “proprietors” and the “privileged men.” Thomas Howes was well regarded as he appears on the list of privileged men, to receive one lot. He drew the 11th choice and selected lot 27 (William Smith cites The Proprietors Book for Chatham 1713).

In 1711 thirteen families left Chatham for a variety of reasons, leaving about 33 families including Thomas’. Some possible reasons for the outward migration is that here was not an established church and there were disagreements about the dispersal of common land. 

Thomas Howes will is dated 29 May 1736 and was proved 19 Oct 1738. Children mentioned: Daniel, Elizabeth Stewart wife of Hugh, Mary, Joseph, Thankful, Thomas, and Hannah. His wife Content survived him. Inventory sworn to 9 March 1741/2 and amounted to over 2,353 pounds, a considerable sum. The real estate was divided 4 Jan 1769: one-third to Capt. Daniel Howes, one-third to Joseph Howes, and one-third to the heirs and legal representatives of Thomas Howes, deceased. The settlement of the estate so long after his death seems to indicate that this was soon after his widow Content passed.

Thomas Howes died in 1736 at Chatham, some time between 29 May (when he wrote his will) and 19 October (when his will was probated). A gravestone for him does not survive. He was perhaps buried on his own property or at Chatham’s Old Burial Ground aka Old Queen Anne Cemetery.

Content died, likely at Chatham, sometime between 1738 and 1769, probably closer to the latter date when her late husband’s estate is finally divided. 

Note: Howes Genealogy by JC Howes is incorrect as giving Rebecca Howes as the wife of Thomas. 

Sources Not Mentioned Above:

Charles F. Swift, History of Old Yarmouth; comprising the present Towns of Yarmouth and Dennis from the Settlement to the Division in 1794: with the History of Both Towns to 1876, 1884 

William C. Smith, History of Chatham, Massachusetts, 1909

Nancy Thacher Reid, Dennis, Cape Cod from Firstcomers to Newcomers, 1639 – 1993, 1996

James W. Hawes, Library of Cape Cod History and Genealogy, ”Thomas 1 Howes of Yarmouth, Mass., and Some of His Descendants, Together with the Rev. John Mayo, Allied to Him by Marriage," Pamphlet No. 31, 1917

William C. Smith, Library of Cape Cod History and Genealogy, ”Early Chatham Settlers," Pamphlet No. 36, 1915

Robert A. Howes, Genealogy of the Howes Family in America, Descendants of Thomas Howes of Yarmouth, Mass., 1637-2004, Dennis Historical Society, 2006

George E. Bowman, editor, The Mayflower Descendant, “Abstracts of Barnstable County Probate Records,”  23:68 (1921) (Joseph Howes’ will)

Old Barnstable Deeds, book 4, page 87l book 5, page 49, book 6, page 513, M.L. Luce papers (three Chatham land purchases)

Ancestry, online database (subscription) “Massachusetts Wills and Probate Records 1635-1991” citing Massachusetts Probate Records (Barnstable County) 1686-1894 (Daniel Smith’s will)

Ancestry database “Massachusetts, US, Wills and Probate Records, 1635-1991,” citing Barnstable Co Probate Records vols 4-5, 1721-41, p 366-367 (Thomas Howes will)