Saturday, December 10, 2016


In August 1676 my 8x great grandfather Nathaniel Wilder and three other men were sentenced to death for the murders of six Indians: three women and three children.

On 26Sep 1676  two of his co-defendants,  Samuel and Daniel Goble were hung in Boston. Neither Nathaniel or the fourth man, Daniel Hoare, were executed at that time. In fact they never were. I have my own theory on why the death sentence wasn't carried out. My ancestor and Daniel Hoare were sons of two prominent residents of their towns. Hoare and the Gobles were from Concord where the murders took place but the Gobles were not from an influential family. Appeals for mercy were probably made and two weeks after the date on which they would have been executed the following ruling was made by the Court:

 Oct 1676. Upon the humble petition of Daniel Hoare & Nathaniell Wilder, presented to this Court, acknouledging the justice of this Court. & begging pardon for their lines, the Court haue granted their petition, and accordingly doe remitt the sentence of death passed against them, and order, that they pay prison ohardges and ten pounds apeece money, halfe towards the charge of witnesses. to be payd to the Tresurer of the country. and the other halfe to Andrew Pittime, & Swagon, ye Indians prosecuting against them: on payment whereof they are dischardged.
[Massachusetts Records.]

The Early Records of Lancaster, Massachusetts. 1643-1725  W. J. Coulter,Pub.Lancaster,Ma. 1884

So for the sum of ten pounds my ancestor escaped the hangman's noose.

But I wonder. Two Indians had brought the accusation of murder against the four colonists. Five pounds in recompense for the loss of three women and three children probably did nothing to soother their grief and anger. So, when the town of Lancaster was attacked again by Indians in 1704 it may not have ben just coincidence that Nathaniel Wilder was killed, nor the death of his son Jonathan three years later in 1707. Another son, Ephraim, was severely wounded in that 1707 attack as well.

Perhaps the Indians exacted their own justice .

Friday, December 09, 2016


I found details of my ancestor Nathaniel Wilder's murder trial in  Henry Stedman Nourse's book The Early Records of Lancaster, Massachusetts. 1643-1725:

Daniel Goble, thus executed with the murderers of the women and children of Lancaster, was a soldier, the ringleader in an atrocious murder of Indian women and children, during the popular excitement succeeding the Indian massacres. The sad story touched Lancaster, in the person of one of its most promising young men, and must not be passed over here.

" Wee the Grand Jury for our Soueraigne Lord the King doe Present & lndict Nathaniell Wilder of Concord [Lancaster] in the County of Midlesex in New England for that he not hauing the feare of God before his eyes & being Instigated by the Divil wth other his Accomplises at or on the 7th of August last, at or neere to Hurtlebury hill, in the woods in the precincts of Concord or neere therevnto did murder & kill three lndian weomen & three Indian Children contrary to the peace of our Soueraigne Lord the King his Crowne & dignitye the law of God & of this Jurisdiction. ‘ The Jurors fiinds this beill and leue hime to fl'urther triall.

RICHARD CALICOTT fi'oreman in the name off the rest off the Jurey.

[Endorsed] They finde a speciall vierdict. lf being present & seing the fact done & concenting, it be murder then we find him gilty according to lnditement, if not not gilty.

To the keeper of the prison in Boston.
You are hereby in his majtyc name, required to take into yo'safe custody the persons of Daniel Goble, Stephen Goble, Nathaniel Wilder & Daniel Hoare & them safely keepe, in order to their tryall for killing of seuerall Indians weomen & children wch they owned, and see that they be forth coming at the next court of Assistants, or whenever the authoritys shall giue further order, dated in Boston the 11‘h day of August 1676. By order of the Councill EDw" RAWSON Szcrery [Massachusetts Archives, XXX, 209, an, 221.]

The four soldiers were convicted and sentenced to death.

pp 117-118
The Early Records of Lancaster, Massachusetts. 1643-1725  W. J. Coulter,Pub.Lancaster,Ma. 1884

Now since I'm writing about the incident, Nathaniel Wilder wasn't executed.  His daughter Eunice,my 7x great grandmother was born after all this. I won't lie and say I wish Nathaniel had hung. But I am disappointed in Nathaniel, and I am pretty sure I know why he was spared.

I'll discuss that next.

To be continued,

Tuesday, December 06, 2016


As you can see, I had a very formal relationship with Santa
No laps for me. A simple solemn pose would do, thank you,
for the photo-op.

Formal attire was also worn when visiting Santa’s Village up in
New Hampshire. A sports jacket was de rigeur for the feeding of
reindeer but one was allowed to be more casual when posing with
the sled and full team. The girls are my cousin Terry and my
sister Cheryl.

Actually, I think we might have been there on a Sunday. We’d
have attended Mass in Berlin, NH and probably continued on home
 to Boston with a stop to visit the Village along the way.

But by the time those pictures were taken, I’d fallen from grace.

I no longer believed in Santa Claus.

I’m not sure how I figured it out but I do know I must have been around
six or seven years old because we were still living in Malden in the two
family house that my folks and my aunt and uncle co-owned. I know this
because when I found out there was no Santa Claus, I shared my
knowledge and I heard about it for years afterward.

Yes, I told my cousins who lived downstairs. I think that was the
year I got a lump of coal in my stocking (but there were still
presents under the tree).

I must have told my sister the awful truth later or if she
found out some other way. I do know I didn’t tell my kid brother.
After all, I was an adult of 17 by then and I had a greater appreciation
for what Santa meant to little kids!

But there it is.

I squealed on Santa.

Originally published in Dec. 2007.


This is the entry for my 7x great grandfather Nathaniel Wilder in Ellery Bicknell Crane's Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs of Worcester County, Massachusetts:

(VI) Nathaniel Wilder, son of Thomas Wilder (5) , was born in Charlestown, November 3, 1650, died July, 1704. He married Mary Sawyer, of Lancaster, daughter of Thomas Sawyer and his wife Mary and was born July 4, 1652. (See sketch of Sawyer Family.) He settled in Lancaster, was lieutenant in the company, and was killed by the Indians. The children of Nathaniel and Mary (Sawyer) Wilder were: Nathaniel, born 1675, settled in Petersham; Ephraim, born August 16, 1678, of Lancaster, representative in general court; Mary, born May 13, 1679; Elizabeth, born April 20, 1685, died 1707; Jonathan, born 1686, married, and was killed by the Indians 1707; Dorothy, born 1686, married Samuel Carter; Oliver, see forward.
Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs of Worcester County, Massachusetts: With a History of Worcester Society of Antiquity, Volume 1 Lewis Publishing Company, 1907 - Worcester County (Mass.)

Of course, seeing that "... was killed by the Indians...", I had to see if there was more to that.

What I found instead were the details of an incident twenty eight years earlier for which my ancestor was
charged with murder. It took place in the summer of 1675/1676, the year the town of Lancaster had
suffered two Indian attacks. Seven colonists had been killed , some others taken captive, and the town
had been deserted. On 11August four men, brothers Daniel and Stephen Goble, Daniel Hoar, and Nathaniel
Wilder were charged with the killings of six Indians, three women and three children.

To be continued.

Monday, December 05, 2016


My family was fortunate in that we never lived in the sort of place
where Christmas outdoor decorations becomes a blood sport.
Yes, people strung lights in their shrubbery or along their house
gutters but there was never anyone determined to turn their
front yard into the North Pole’s Southern Branch Office.

Now for light shows back then you went to someplace religious,
like Our Lady of La Sallette Shrine in North Attleboro or the local
cemetery with it’s entrance lit up, or even just cruised a stretch
of highway to look at the neighborhood lights that might be seen
from a distance as you drove by.

We didn’t really have outside lights ourselves until we left Boston
for Abington. Up until then the only lights other than on our
Christmas tree were the electric candles we put on windowsills.
But at the house Dad did the obligatory shrubbery and gutter
displays as well as one other spot: the apple tree in the front yard.

Dad had experience both with wiring and tree climbing so putting
a string of lights up in a small apple tree was a piece of cake. It
was the taking down part that didn’t seem to work at least for
the tree. One year, long after the other outside lights were down
and packed away, the lights still were hanging in the apple tree.
I’m not sure exactly when he took them down but I do know it
was well after Spring had sprung. I think they were even plugged
in one or two nights. I don’t know the reasons why they were
still there: my Dad’s sense of humor, perhaps? Or maybe an
instance where Dad’s Maine stubbornness and the Irish
stubbornness of my Mom brought about some impasse on the issue?

On my way home the other night from work I noticed at least
three of those large hot air snow globe scenes on front lawns.

Those families must have big electricity bills!

2010 Update: As I discovered in 2008, the apple tree  in
the front yard of the house is long gone. But a news report
the other night made me think of Dad. The holiday
lighting ceremony at Braintree has been postponed a week
because squirrels had eaten through the wires.

The lights had been left up all year since last Christmas!

2011 Update: The big snowstorms last winter had one
interesting effect. Some of the homes with heavily
decorated outside yards remained that way until
the snow melted. One home in particular had an inflatable
Santa and other decorations buried under snow drifts
and you could  just see the tops of them as you drove by
the house. I think they were there until mid-March!

2013 Update: It's a bit early yet apparently for the lights
to go up for Christmas around here. I don't work anymore
and haven't driven around much after dark so I haven't
seen any houses lit up yet. I did, however, spot two of
those big inflatable figures on someone's front lawn yesterday

2014 Update
 I'm not sure there be many houses lit up this year, or that they
will be many elaborate displays. The electric companies in the
New England area have raised their rates over 30% and that
may be too much for many people to afford to put up Christmas

2015 Update
There's only a few homes along the main streets in the area that have put up
their outside lights so far this year. But there are some in specific neighborhoods
and I've noticed word gets out via Facebook on where the best displays are to take
your kids to see them.

2016 Update:
Since my retirement I don't drive much after dark any more, so I haven't seen
any houses decorated so far. But there's a contest for best decorations going on,
and a Christmas Tree lighting going on at Island Grove as well,

(originally published in Dec. 2007)


Eunice(Wilder)White was the daughter of Thomas Wilder Jr., my immigrant ancestor. His father,
Thomas Wilder Senior never made ot to the New World, but his mother Martha (MNU) did.  Ellery Bicknell Crane has entries for both father and son in his book Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs of Worcester County, Massachusetts:

(IV) Thomas Wilder, son of John Wilder (3), was born in Sulham, England. He settled in ShIplake, Oxford county, but was proprietor of the Sulham estate. He was born and died in Shiplake, however. He married Martha___ . He died in 1634 and she went to New England where two of her sons, Edward and Thomas, settled. She came on the ship "Confidence" in 1638 with her daughter Mary. She settled near her son Edward in Hingham, where she was a proprietor in 1638. She died April 20, 1652. Some authorities spell the name Shiplake, Shiplock. The children of Thomas and Martha Wilder were: John, heir to his father's estates, died in 1688; Thomas, see forward; Elizabeth, born 1621, married Thomas Ensign; Edward, married Elizabeth Ames, settled in Hingham, Massachusetts, died October 28, 1690; Mary, came to Hingham also. .

(V) Thomas Wilder, son of Thomas Wilder (4) , was born in Shiplock, England, in 1618. He settled in Charlestown, New England, where he was a proprietor as early as 1638. He was admitted a freeman June 2, 1641. He bought land in Charlestown, October 27, 1643. He was selectman in 1660 and 1667 and held other offices. He removed to Lancaster in 1659. He married Ann in 1641.She died June 10, 1692. She was admitted to the church May 7, 1650. He died October 23, 1667. He may have been born later than the date given as he deposed June 17, 1654, that he was thirtythree years of age. His will was dated January 22, 1667-8 and proved March 4, 1667-8. He bequeathed to his wife and six children named below. The children of Thomas and Ann Wilder were: Mary, born June 30, 1642, in Charlestown; Thomas, born September 14, 1644; John, born 1646; Elizabeth, born 1648; Nathaniel, see forward; Ebenezer.

Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs of Worcester County, Massachusetts: With a History of Worcester Society of Antiquity, Volume 1  Lewis Publishing Company, 1907 - Worcester County (Mass.)

The thought struck me reading this that Martha Wilder's story is more interesting than her husband's or
son's.She could have stayed in England with her oldest son John and lived well, but instead came to
Massachusetts with her youngest daughter and owned her own land in Hingham, Ma. Quite a woman! 

I've found Thomas Wilder Jr.'s probate file over on and will post a transcription
here sometime in the future

Sunday, December 04, 2016


Alma Larkin White included one more field report from John White to  Lt.Governor William
Dummer, which is dated July 10, 1725. Two months later my 7x great grandfather was dead
at the age of forty-one.

"Dunstable July the 10 : 1725.
May it Please your Hon r :
Old Christian Being this morning Being Taken with a violent Bleed-
ing Caused our Companyes to stop and within a few hours he died &
the other mohaucks are not willing to Leave him before he is Buried
& our desine is to march ouer Merimack River and There to Take a
True List of our mens Names, & shall march as Quick as Possible.
Who Remain Still your Honours at Comand

John White
Seth Wyman"
(Massachusetts Archives, LII, 222.)
(From The Early Records of Lancaster, Mass., by Hon. Henry S.
Nourse.) "

Genealogy of the descendants of John White of Wenham and Lancaster, Massachusetts, 1638-[1909]
Chase Brothers Publishers, Haverhill, Ma 1900

His widow (my 7x great grandmother) apparently had a pretty strong opinion about what had
caused the death of her husband and two years later she sent a petition to the colonial government:
"To the Hon ble . William Dummer Esq r . Lieut. Governour and Com-
ander in Chief the hon ble . the councill and Representatives for the
Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England in General
Court Assembled at Boston the 23 d day of December Anno Dom

The Petition of Eunice White Relict widow of Capt. John White
late of Lancaster deced. Humbly Sheweth. That Whereas your Pet rs .
sd husband in his life time in the years 1724 & 1725 as well as at
other times performed sundry marches ag'. the Indian Enemy and did
other services for the good of his Country & was active and vigorous
in the Defence thereof against those barbarous Salvages, not only
hazarding his life but Expending good part of his substance therein,
as is well known to many. Some few Instances whereof your Pet r .
would humbly ripresent to this Hon ble Court. Yor . Pet rs . sd. hus-
band altho he had divers times had the honour to bear command yet
voluntarily Enlisted himself under the late Capt. Lovewell, and choose
rather to go as an Under Officer at that time because he would do
what in him lay to Encourage others to Enlist and marched with him
at the time when they killed the Ten Indians, in which march they
were out near Forty days. Then he performed a march to a place
called Cohosse on Connecticut River thinking to meet with the Enemy
there and came in at Fort Dummer, being out thirty four days, tho
they missed of their desired Success ; Then in about Eight days time
he had a Company raised and went to Pigwacket to bury Capt. Love-
well which he performed in a very difficult season of the year. Then
he went to Connecticut at his own cost and charge to get a Company
of Mohege Indians in order to go down to St. Francois to take an
Indian fort there, but failing of his aim, he returned home and then
enlisted a Company of Voluntiers and marched designing for a Fort
beyond Pigwacket, but was taken sick before he got there, returned
home and dyed leaving your Petr. his bereaved widow with seven
Children the Eldest about Fifteen years old and Four of them very
young, & one she then went with who is now living ; In all which Ser-
vices your Petitrs . said husband cheerfully underwent many hardships
and difficulties for the good of his country, and was at considerable
Cost and Charge, by Supplying those that Enlisted under him with
necessaries which could not be readily obtained elsewhere, purely to
make dispatch.

Now Forasmuch as the Sickness of which your Pet rs . husband dyed
was in all probability Occasioned by means of ye difficulties he under-
went in the Publick Service, & that he never in his life time had an
Opportunity of asking your Honrs . Favour for his past Services but
was taken away in the Strength and vigour of his life, without receiv-
ing anything from the Publick more than 2 s 6 d p day for the three
marches he performed as aforesd and in regard your Petr. is left a dis-
consolate widow with several Fatherless Children to bring up who
stand in daily need of relief and Support, your Petr. finding it very
difficult to provide for them, she therefore most humbly Implores
your Hon rs . pity and Compassion to herself & Children, and that as
you have been pleased in like cases to reward those that have served
the Province, and the Representatives of those that have lost their
lives in the Publick Service. So that she may Experience of the
Bounty & Goodness of this Honoble Court to her in her difficult Cir-
cumstances, and that you will be pleased to Grant her Two hundred
and Fifty acres of the unappropriated Lands of the Province that she
may dispose of the same for the Education and bringing up her afore-
sd . Children or that your Honrs, would otherwise relieve her as in
your Great Goodness & Compassion you shall see meet. And as in
duty bound your Petitr . shall ever pray &c.
Eunice White."

In the House of Representatives December 28 th . 1727. Read and
in answer to this Petition, Resolved That the sum of One Hundred
pounds be allowed and paid out of the publick Treasury to the peti-
tioner the widow Eunice White in Consideration of the good Services
done this province by her late husband Capt. John White, and great
expences for which he has had no Consideration, as particularly set
forth in the petition and the better to enable the petitioner to support
her Family and bring up her Children. Sent up for Concurrence

Wm Dudley Spr

In Council Dec. 28, 1727. Read & Concur d . J. Willard Secry
Consented to W m . Dummer.

(Massachusetts Archives, LXXII, 325, et. seq.)

( From the Early Records of Lancaster, Mass., by Hon. Henry S. Nourse.)

- ibid, pp41-43

It feels like Eunice had been fuming over this for the two yearsafter John's death. She knew the exact
number of days her husband had been away from home and the money he had been paid down to
the last cent.

I don't know if 100 pounds was the dollar equivalent of 250 acres, but I'm sure if it wasn't, Eunice
(Wilder) White probably let someone in the colonial government know about it!

Saturday, December 03, 2016


Nearly 9 million new records from Ireland, Scotland, and Australia are in this week's Findmypast
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Thursday, December 01, 2016


You know that part of the movie A Christmas Story where
the family goes out to buy the tree and the parents have a little
argument over it? Well, I laugh every time I see it because
like so much in that film it echoes my childhood.

Every Christmas when I was younger either we’d go shopping
for a tree or Dad would buy one on his way home from work.
Now as regular readers of this blog know by now, my Dad was
from Maine. But even more than that, he had experience in trees.
He’d helped his father cutting down trees, and he’d worked for a
landscaper in the Boston area when he’d first come home from
the war. Mom would remind Dad of his experience every year
when the tree was fixed into the tree stand, the rope cut from
the branches and the inevitable big empty space was discovered.
Usually the problem was solved by rotating the tree so the empty
spot was in the back facing the wall. The lights were strung(and
here we differed from the film. We never blew out the fuses.),
then the garlands, the ornaments, and the icicles. Finally the
angel went up on top of the tree and we were all set. With
judicious watering the tree would last us until around “Little
Christmas” at which time it would be undecorated and deposited
curbside to await the dump truck.

Of course our tree paled in comparison to the giant my Mom’s
Uncle Tommy and Aunt Francis had in their home down in
Milton. It was so big they cut the top off and the branches didn’t
taper at the top. They were all the same size: large. I could
never believe they'd gotten that big a tree into the house in the
first place!

Then the first artificial Christmas trees hit the market and Mom
began vowing she was going to get one as she vacuumed up pine
needles from the rug. Eventually we did but that provided us
with new challenges, such as assembling the tree.

As we all grew older the prospect of trying to get the tree
together became less enchanting and so it too was replaced, this
time by a small ceramic musical tree that was lit from within by
a light bulb. I used that tree myself for several years after Mom
died although I felt no great urge to wind it up for the music. It
lasted until a few years back when I dropped it and the base

Its replacement is a small artificial tree that I bought at work with
my employee discount along with a garland. Last year some
friends sent me some snowmen ornaments for it. I haven’t put it
up yet but think I will this weekend. It fits on top of the tv.

And at some point over the holidays I’ll see that scene from A
Christmas Story again and grin.

2009 update: I bought a small string of battery powered lights
to add to my tree last week!

2010 update: I lost my Christmas stuff in my move last April so
I'll be picking it up another one at work soon.

2011 update
I bought another teeny Christmas tree with lights and ornaments
at Borders. Since the company closed, it will remind me of my
store when I set it out each year.

2012 update
I haven't put up my teeny Christmas tree yet but plan to do it this weekend.

2013 Update
I'll be putting the tree out tomorrow. I may have to buy a new string of
lights this year since some of the teeny weeny bulbs may have died last year.

2014 Update
I haven't put the teeny Christmas tree up yet again. I think I will do
it tomorrow, though.

2015 Update
The teeny Christmas tree will go up this weekend as soon as I decide 
where it will go this year.  

Originally posted in 2007 as part of Thomas MacEntees's Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories.