Sunday, May 01, 2016


Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings has an interesting Saturday Night Genealogy Fun Challenge regarding the lifespans of my 2x great grandparents. Here's the Challenge:

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission Impossible! music) is to:
1)  We each have 16 great-great grandparents.  How did their birth and death years vary?  How long were their lifespans? 

2)  For this week, please list your 16 great-great grandparents, their birth year, their death year, and their lifespan in years.  You can do it in plain text, in a table or spreadsheet, or in a graph of some sort.

3)  Share your information about your 16 great-great grandparents with us in a blog post of your own, in a comment to this blog post, or on Facebook or Google+.  If you write your own blog post, please leave a link as a comment to this post.

Okay, I decided to compare the two sides of my family. What stood out to me immediately was that my 2x great grandparents on Dad's side lived much longer than Mom's,  with five living past
age 80 an one just missing it by a year.

Dad's Side
Jonathan Phelps West  (1834-1917) 83 years
Louisa Almata Richarson (1837-1925)  88 years
Asa Freeman Ellingwood (1828-1921)  93 years
Florilla Dunham (1832-1917) 85 years
Nathaniel S Barker (1830-1884) 54 years
Lucy E Coburn (1842-1904) 62 years
Amos Hasting Barker (1828-1907) 79 years
Betsey Jane Moore (1842-1924) 82 years

Mom's Side
Patrick J White (1848-1902) 54 years
Mary Powers ( 1848-?) ? years
Charles Offinger (1848-1881) 34 years
Johanna Luick (1844-1908) 64 years
Michael McFarland (?-?)  ? years
Dorothy  _____  (?-?)  ? years
Patrick Kelly (1829-1886) 57 years
Anne Byrne (1831-1900) 69 years

My Dad's farmer ancestors in Maine had longer lives than Mom's Irish and German immigrants in Boston. Of course, I'm missing information on some of the Irish relatives but I don't think that would
make a difference in the wide disparity of ages.

I hope I take after Dad's side of the family.   

Friday, April 29, 2016


Here's the Findmypast Friday record collection additions for 29April:

New additions from the UK, Ireland and the Boer War feature in this week's Findmypast Friday.

Over 163,000 new records from churches right across Dorset have been added to our collection of British parish records along with significant updates to our collection of historic Irish newspapers.

This week we're bringing you over 691,000 new records and newspaper articles including:

Irish Newspapers
More than 525,000 fully searchable articles and one brand new title from Northern Ireland have been added to the ever-growing collection. See what's new on the blog »

Anglo-Boer War Records, 1899-1902
Find out if your ancestor served in the Anglo-Boer War with over 2,500 new records that reveal their rank, regiment, service number, the awards they received and whether they were killed or wounded in the line of duty. Service history uncovered »

Dorset Baptisms
We've added over 68,000 new baptism records from churches across the English county of Dorset. Our Dorset marriages and burials have also been supplemented. Does your tree have roots in Dorset? »

Coming soon
We have some major new additions from the US and Canada up our sleeves, so be on the lookout for an exciting announcement in the coming weeks.
Jen Baldwin

Full disclosure: I am a member of the Findmypast Ambassador Program which includes a
complimentary one year world subscription to Findmypast and a Findmypast First membership.


Elizabeth O'Neal of the Little Bytes of Life blog is reviving the old genealogy blog carnivals with her Genealogy Blog Party challenges. Her first one has a Doctor Who theme where I could visit an ancestor as the Doctor's companion or be a Time Lord myself and the ancestor would be my companion. I would have the opportunity to ask the ancestor any questions. I could help them solve a problem or decide to tell them I was their descendant. It sounded like a fun idea for a blog post.   

So, if I were a Time Lord....

First of all, my name would be Doctor Whowhatwhenwhyandhow. (That's the original family name.The other guy had his named shortened at Ellis Island). Being a traditionalist, I'd dress in a big coat, wear a floppy hat and wear a loooong scarf. And the first thing I'd do is....break the rules!

Why are you surprised? The other guy breaks them all the time.

Then I'd take my TARDIS back to Boston in 1820 to....

Wait! I need a Companion (and here's where I break the rules). I make a stop first in Charlestown,
Massachusetts in the year 1805, to persuade a young lady named Anne Mayhew to take an adventure and go on a short trip with me. Once we're inside the  T.A.R.D.I.S I engage her in a
conversation and ask her about her parents, and their grandparents. I make sure to have K-9 my
robot dog record everything we talk about so I have a record. After all, it's not every day one gets to talk with their 4 x great grandmother.

Eventually we arrive at my destination, Boston in 1820 where we leave the TARDIS and seek out a young apprentice blacksmith named John Cutter West. I tell him I have a blacksmith business in Maine for sale and ask if he'd be interested in buying it. But first, he'd have to tell me about himself because I want to be sure I'm selling it to a man of character. I suggest the three of us go to a local tavern for something to eat while we discuss the matter.

All goes as planned. I get young John to tell me about his family, where he was born, what life was like in the town he grew up in as K-9 records it all through the small microphone on the collar of my coat. The mystery of my 3x great grandfather's  parentage is solved at last.

As the night wears on I notice Anne and John exchanging long glances and realize there is a danger
to the space time continuum and my very existence if nature takes it's course. I bring the conversation
to an end by telling John I have others I need to meet before I sell my business. I help Anne out of her chair and after bidding John goodnight, walk her back to the TARDIS.

We return to 1805 Charlestown. I had decided to tell neither of my ancestors who I am. Better to keep things simple. We say goodbye and I return to the 21st century. I've broken down two brick walls on my family tree in one trip.

My TARDIS sits in the back yard cleverly disguised as a yellow tool shed, waiting for our next
trip. There's the mystery of the identity of my 5x great grandfather Caleb Coburn's wife yet to be solved.

Thursday, April 28, 2016


I've written before about this photo of our Mom & Dad on their wedding day in 1947. They're standing
outside a building in the Jamaica Plain section of Boston, looking so serious on such a happy occasion.
My theory about it is that they'd already had some photos taken and just wanted to get on with the reception or their honeymoon. I wish I'd asked them what their wedding day was like.

Then last week when we were out at Ohio at my Aunt Dorothy's birthday party there was a table with a
display of old family photos, and I saw this picture:

Look at those smiles! They look much happier and more relaxed than in the first picture.

It's a bit overexposed, and it's a picture of a picture, but I think it's a better photo of my parents!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


My 9x great grandfather Michael Metcalf died in 1684. In his article in the NEHGS Register, Dr.Luther Metcalf Harris includes an abstract of our ancestor's will. One of the things I find interesting about it is how particular over which heir gets which of his books, and who he wants to have them after the deaths of those heirs.

Of course the best thing about wills and probate files is when they help establish relationships and the will does that in showing that Martha (Metcalf) Stow was Michael's daughter. Although I wonder why there is no mention of his grandson Nathaniel Stow who was born before Michael's death.

Lastly, I wish the estate inventory had been included in the article.

Here's the abstract of the will:

Michael Metcalf, died, Dec. 27, 1664. Will proved, and an Inventory of his Estate taken, Feb. 1, 1664-5. £364. 18. 05.
Inventory of the Estate of Michael Metcalfe, Jun. made, 31, 1. 1654. Power of Administration, granted, 26 April 1654, to Mary, his widow, "in behalf of her selfe and fiue children."

The following is an Abstract of the Will of Michael1 Metcalfe. 15.9. 1664.

Michael Metcalfe senior, of Dedham, being aged, Doe make this my Last will. Wheras, there is a Couenant Between my selfe and Mary my Wife, made before our marriage, bearing Date the 13th of August 1645, wherein it may appear that she reserued to her selfe, and to her dispose, her Lands, and Estate, so that I receiued no Estate with her; yet, neuerthelesse, I giue unto her ffor the terme of her widowhood, in household stuffe, and other goods, as shee thinkes meete to Chuse, for her use, not exceeding the ualue of sixteene pounds, and being not such as I shall particularly otherwise Dispose of, in this my Last will; which household stuffe, so Chosen by her, shall Bee to ffurnishe the Roome, which my Executor shall prepare for her, at his house, to Receiue her into, after my Decease. All which household stuffe and goods, I giue to my Executor, to haue, after the Decease of my wife. Unto my wife, six pounds, to be paid to her, within one moneth after my Decease, in Currant pay. Unto Sonne John Metcalfe, of Medfeild, one ffeather bed & Bolster, my second Book of Martyrs, Mr Perkins second Book, Luther on the gala; one siluer spoone, one pair of sheets, one Long Chest, in the upper Chamber, one Diaper Boardcloth. Unto my Executor & his Heires, all that my Land in Naponset plaine, and three Acres Laying in ye Low plaine, next Peter Woodwards. Also, halfe my Diuident in y« Cedar swampe, neer the Saw mill, & 3 Commons & ye odde. Unto my Grandchild, Michael Metcalfe, the Elder, all that my Land and Improuements within the Lott I Dwell in, my three acres in ye wigwaom plaine, my swompe next my house, prouided he giue my Executor that itle parcell of his swampe west end of his house, otherwise my gifte to be uoyd. Also I give him my Naticke Diuidend of twenty three acres, more or Lesse; four Cow Commons; halfe my Cedar swampe, at the Saw mill; my wood Land, at the West end of the Towne; all the particulars I haue belonging to husbandry, in one Kind or another; all the Remainer of my Household stuffe not Disposed of in this my Will. Also my first Book of Martyrs, Mr Perkins ffirst Booke, one siluer spoone. To my Daughter Wilson, ffortye shillings. To my Daughter Elizabeth Bancrafte, ffiue pounds. To my Daughter, Martha Stow, twenty shillings. To my Daughter, Joane Waker, forty shillings. To my Daughter Rebecca Mackentosh, ffiue pounds. To my wife's Daughter, Martha Bullerd, twenty shillings. To my Daughter, Sarah Onion, three pounds. All which six Legacyes, Last named, shall bee paid at, in, or Before, the second March next after my Decease, in Current payment.

To my Daughter Stowes Eldest sonne, which she had by her first husband, Wm Brignall, ffour pounds, to bee paid him, when he shall attayne to Lawful age. To my Grandchild, abovesaid, Jno. Mackintosh & Robert Onyon, all my wearing apparell, to bee equally diuided by my Execut', in order as their names bee heer set Downe; my Granchild to choose ffirst:—To my Granchild, abouesaid, all the Lumber in my House. Moreouer, if any of ye p sons that are Legatees in y' my present will, shall by themselues, or by any others, make, or Cause to bee made, any Disturbance, or Contortion, in word or Deed, in Reference to any thing given, in this my will; then, all that Legacye, to that p son, shall be utterly uoyde. Thomas Metcalfe, of Dedham, my sonne, to be my executor, to whom I giue all the Rest of my Lands and Goods, not formerly Disposed of. Michael Metcalfe.

Before the witnessing hereof, I giue to my Grandchild abouesaid, my single acre of Meddow, also my Largest gray Horsmans Coate, also two oxen, one Cow, to bee Deliuered to him at Lawfull age. All the Books, aforesaid, giuen to my sonne John, after his Death, I giue them to his sonne Michael, my Grand childe. Signed and sealed in the presence of us,
Peter X Woodioard,
(His Marke)                                              S Edward Rawson, Recorder.
Jonathan ffairbanke

-pp172-173 the new england historical & genealogical register for the year 1852 Volume 6  Thomas Prince, Printer And Publisher, Boston, 1852

Tuesday, April 26, 2016


My ancestor Michael Metcalf had been a weaver in England of a type of fabric called Dornick, a
heavy linen used as table cloths according to Google. After he and his family arrived in Dedham, Ma. he became one of the leading citizens in the town. Here's more from the article in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register:

Michael Metcalf was admitted a townsman at Dedham, July 14,1637; joined the church in 1639; and was Selectman in 1641. His name stands first, on the Committee, chosen to "contrive the fabricke of a meetinghouse." His wife, Sarah, died Nov. 30,1644; m. 2d widow Mary Ridge, of Roxbury, Aug 13, 1645.

In 1661, Robert Ware, exchanged land, near the brick kiln; bricks being manufactured here at an early period. "One of the principal clay pits, was on land of Michael Metcalf, on Dedham Island."

-p171    the new england historical & genealogical register for the year 1852 Volume 6  Thomas Prince, Printer And Publisher, Boston, 1852

The article also included a list of his children:
Children of MICHAEL,1 and SARAH'1 Metcalf, all born in England, were,
(2.) I. Michael, 2 b. Nov. 13, 1617, died young, in England.
(3.) II. Mary, 2 b. Feb. 14, 1618, m. Henry Wilson, Nov. 24th 1642.
(4.) III. Michael, 2 (13.) b. Aug. 29, 1620, m. Mary, dau. of John Fairbanks, senr. April 21, 1644, d. in Dedham, Dec. 24, 1654.
(5.) IV. John, 2 (18.) b. Sep. 5, 1622, m. Mary, dau. of Francis Chickering, March 22, 1647, d. Nov. 27, 1675.
(6.) V. Sarah, 2 b. Sep. 10. 1624, m. Robert Onion, of Dedham.
(7.) VI. Elizabeth, 2 b. Oct. 4, 1626, m. Thomas Bancroft, of Reading, Sep. 15, 1648.
(8.) VII. Martha, 2 b. March 27, 1628, m. 1st. Wm. Brignall, 2nd Christopher Smith, Aug. 2, 1654, 3rd ____ Stow.
(9.) VIII. Thomas, 2 (22.) b. Dec. 27, 1629, m. 1st Sarah Paige, Sep. 12, 1655 or 6, 2nd Anne Paine, Dec. 2, 1679. He was Deac. at Dedham; d. Nov. 16, 1702.
(10.) IX. Ann, 2 b. March, 1, 1631, died young, in England.
(11.) X Jane, 2  b. March 24, 1632, m. Samuel Walker, of Rehoboth.
(12.) XI. Rebeka,2 b. April 5, 1635, m. John Mackintosh, of Dedham, April 5, 1659.

-p172 ibid

I'm descended from two of the daughters of Michael and Sarah (Elwyn) Metcalf: Elizabeth, who married 9x great grandfather Thomas Bancroft, and Martha, who married Nathaniel Stow.
The NEHGS Register article also contained an abstract of Michael Metcalf's will, which I'll discuss in the next post.

To be continued.

Monday, April 25, 2016


It's now time to turn attention to the families of the women who married into the Stow family,
beginning with my 8x great grandmother Martha Metcalf who was the wife of Nathaniel Stow.

Martha's father was Michael Metcalf and he left England because of religious persecution. Even
though he was a weaver by trade he was well educated, and is one of the few of my early colonial
ancestors who wrote about coming to New England, The following article in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register contains an abstract of a letter he wrote describing his troubles
in England and how he finally left there:  

                                                          METCALF FAMILY.
[Communicated by Dr. Luther Metcalf Harris, Jamaica Plain, Roxbury, Mass.]
Michael Metcalf, the emigrant ancestor of this family, was horn in Tatterford, county of Norfolk, Eng., 1586. He followed the occupation of a Dornix* weaver, in the city of Norwich, in the same county, where he was made freeman, June 21,1618. His wife, Sarah, was born in the adjoining town of Waynham, (?) June 17, 1593, where they were married Oct 13,1616. Their seven eldest children were born in St.Benedict's, Norwich, and four, afterward, at St. Edmondsbury. "I was persecuted," he writes, "in the land of my father's sepulchres, for not bowing at the name of Jesus, and observing other ceremonies in religion, forced upon me, at the instance of Bishop Wren of Norwich and his chancellor Dr. Corbet, whose violent measures troubled me in the Bishop's Court, and returned me into the High Commissioners' Court. Suffering many times for the cause of religion, I was forced, for the sake of the liberty of my conscience, to flee from my wife and children, to go into New England; taking ship for the voyage at London the 17th of Sep' 1636; being by tempests tossed up and down the seas till the Christmas following; then veering about to Plymouth in Old England; in which time I met with many sore afflictions.

Leaving the ship, I went down to Yarmouth, in Norfolk county, whence I shipped myself and family, to come to New England ; sailed 15th April, 1637, and arrived three days before midsummer, with my wife, nine children, and a servant." The name of this servant, appears to have been Thomas Comberbach, aged 16. (Manuscript of Hon. James Savage.)

The above extracts, we take from a copy of his letter, written in Plymouth, Eng., Jan. 13, 1636, on his voyage hither; directed, "To all the true professors of Christ's Gospel within the city of Norwich." In the postscript, he remarks, "my enemies conspired against me to take away my life, and, sometimes, to avoid their hands, my wife did hide me in the roof of the house, covering me over with straw."

History informs us, that one of the charges, brought against Bishop Wren, by a Committee of Parliament, was, that during the term of 2 years and 4 months, while he held the See of Norwich, "3000 of his Majesty's subjects, many of whom used trades, spinning, weaving, knitting, making cloth, stuff, stockings, and other manufactures of wool; some of them setting a hundred poor people at work;" "transported themselves into Holland," and " other parts, beyond the seas," in consequence of his "superstition and tyranny." [See Appendix to Dr. Lamson's Hist. Discourses.]

-p171   the new england historical & genealogical register for the year 1852 Volume 6  Thomas Prince, Printer And Publisher, Boston, 1852

Michael prospered once he finally arrived at Dedham, Ma. I'll discuss that in the next post about him.

To be continued...

Sunday, April 24, 2016