Anna Maria Largerin (1685 – ?) 52 Ancestors Week #19

Well, hats off to today because they made me look at my tree in a different light and pointed out an ancestor that I might have taken little notice of for some time to come.

How did they do that?

By sending me a report that highlighted what my last name would have been if it had been passed down through my maternal line rather than my paternal line. In other words, they traced back my mother, her mother, her mother, her mother, etc. until they found the oldest matrilineal line in my tree.

This was an interesting perspective, and not one that I had taken a look at yet.

What last name did they come up with?

Largerin, the last name of my 7 g grandmother, and the subject of this week’s 52 Ancestor Challenge, Anna Maria Largerin.

The only problem with this logic is that my 7 g grandmother was a widow when she married my 7 g grandfather. So, I suspect that this last name was actually her late husband’s last name rather than her own maiden name. And, even if it were her maiden name, it would have been her father’s last name, not her mother’s…so this can get quite confusing.

Still, I was glad that ancestry pointed out this remote ancestor to me, so I decided to see what I could piece together about her life in honor of Mother’s Day.

Anna Maria Largerin was born in 1685 in Oderen, Haut-Rhin, France in the Alsace region. This geographic location makes sense because this line of my

Although Oderen  is not marked on this map it is on the east side, near Switzerland, about under the V in Voges. About 100 miles from Bern, Switzerland.

Although Oderen is not marked on this map it is on the east side, near Switzerland, about under the V in Voges. About 100 miles from Bern, Switzerland.

ancestors were Anabaptists from Berne, Switzerland. At that time Anabaptists had endured over 100 years of persecution for their beliefs, by both the Roman Catholics and the Protestants. Even the monarchy of England had condoned their persecution, torture, and death. During the late 1600’s and early 1700’s Anabaptist refugees, largely from Berne, poured into Alsace. This region had lost a large portion of its population due to recent wars, so the government tolerated the Swiss immigration. It’s likely that Anna Maria’s parents were religious refugees.

Anabaptists were the precursors to several more recognizable religions, including the Amish, or as in my family’s case, the Mennonites. They believed in voluntary adult baptism and the ability to make an informed voluntary commitment to religion, rather than a lifelong commitment beginning at birth and recognized with infant baptism. They based their theology very closely on the Sermon on the Mount, meaning among other things, that they were pacifists who refused to take oaths or to serve in the military. These radical views were considered disruptive to the security of the government and established churches and led to violent persecution. Because of their pacifist beliefs, they refused to fight back against their persecutors. Whenever possible they immigrated to more tolerant locations, first in Europe and then in the United States.

They must have felt fairly comfortable in Alsace as they continued to live in the same town for several  more generations.  It wasn’t until Anna Maria’s great-granddaughter, Barbara Schneider, married a man from Basel, Switzerland that the family moved out of Alsace.  Subsequently, Barbara’s daughter, Catherine Wenger, my third great-grandmother, immigrated to the United States as a teenager, in the early 1800’s.

Despite living her life in France, it’s likely that Anna  Maria spoke Swiss German. This region had traditionally belonged to Germany and even though France had forcefully taken over the area, they did not require the inhabitants to change their language. Anna Maria’s family probably came from a German speaking area of Switzerland and continued speaking this language for generations. As I’ve written about previously, her descendants who immigrated to Indiana 150 years later still spoke this distinct dialect.

Anna Maria was a widow when she married my 7 great grandfather, Joannis Baubenriedt, in 1714. She was only 29 years old. It’s not known whether she already had children at the time of her marriage. She and Joannis did have nine children over the first 16 years of their marriage, including their 6th child, Barbara, my 6 great grandmother.

Unfortunately, nothing more is known about Anna Maria after the birth of her last child in 1730, when she was 45. But, now that she’s on my mind, I’ll start digging to see what information I can find out from French records.

The following (all female!) list shows how I am related to Anna Maria. If you are related to any members of this family, I’d be interested in hearing from you.

Also, let me know, what great grandmother do you find in your family tree when you search back through your mother’s line? Perhaps there is someone just waiting for her story to be told.


Anna Maria Largerin (1685 – ) and Joannis Baubenriedt (1689 – 1753)
7th great grandmother
Barbara Bobenriedt (1723 – ) and Johannes Hinder (1718 – 1773)
daughter of Anna Maria Largerin and Joannis Baubenriedt
Marie Anne Hinder (1754 – 1817) and Johannes V Schneider (1749 – 1825)
daughter of Barbara Bobenriedt and Johannes Hinder
Barbara Schneider (1786 – ) and Johannes Wenger (1784 – 1834)
daughter of Marie Anne Hinder and Johannes V Schneider
Catherine Wenger (1820 – 1900) and Jacob J. Liechty (1808 – 1881)
daughter of Barbara Schneider and Johannes Wenger
Barbara Liechty (1842 – 1920) and Christian Augsburger (1821 – 1903)
daughter of Catherine Wenger and Jacob J. Liechty
Elisabeth Augsburger (1877 – 1919) and Oscar Burry (1875 – 1951)
daughter of Barbara Liechty and Christian Augsburger
Verena Burry (1912 – 1995) and Lee Rutledge (1895 – 1954)
daughter of Elisabeth Augsburger and Oscar Burry
daughter of Verena Burry and Lee Rutledge







Patrick John (PJ) Calnon (1857 – 1940) 52 Ancestors Week#18

Patrick John (PJ) Calnon, 1901

Patrick John (PJ) Calnon, 1901

For this week’s 52 Ancestor Challenge, I am discussing my paternal great grandfather, Patrick John (PJ) Calnon. Any time I’m researching  an ancestor who lived in the recent past, I start by asking what stories family members have heard. I was expecting my father to be able to remember a few things as he was seven when his grandfather died, and I was not disappointed. He provided several stories and avenues to explore. But imagine my surprise when my younger brother told a story that no one else had heard! It seems that he had learned the story as a little boy from our grandmother, who was PJ’s daughter.

PJ’s parents were Irish immigrants from County Cork, who had escaped the famine some time around 1850. His parents had no education and his father worked as a day laborer all of his life. His mother had seven children before she died at the age of 44. The family was better off than if they had stayed in Ireland, but they were hardly prosperous. In fact, he told my grandmother that there were times that they had so little food in the house, that they would each have one bare potato to eat. Their mother would put a dish with a small bit of butter in the center of the table where they could all see it.  They would then eat their potatoes, all the while imagining the taste of the butter. He called this dish “Potatoes and Look”.

Well, I found this to be a charming idea and evidence of my grandfather’s imagination and creative use of hyperbole to tell a story.

Imagine my surprise while doing my research to learn that this story is actually a tradition in Western Ireland. It appears so frequently, that it is probably notpotatoes too exaggerated after all. The traditional dish is called Potatoes and point and involves eating a plain boiled potato, with a bit of salt or salt herring set  in a dish in the center of the table. So as not to use up the limited salt supply, each family member would point their potato toward the salt before taking a bite.

I found this similarity to a traditional story even more exciting, because it linked my family back to our distant Irish roots. 

The story had obviously changed to reference butter rather than salt, probably an indication of what was more scarce at the time of my grandfather’s childhood. But I find the change in the name of the dish to be quite intriguing. My grandmother was a strict English teacher who took manners very seriously. As children we were always told that ‘it was rude to point” and were admonished if we ever did so. It makes me wonder whether Potatoes and Look is really what my great-grandfather called the dish, or whether my grandmother felt a need to “clean up” the language before sharing the story, so as not to set a bad example for the younger generation!

And since I got this story from my younger brother, this experience is a reminder to myself to not assume that the only sources of valuable genealogical information are from family members who are older than I am!!

The following is my connection to PJ Calnon with links to for further information. If you are related to my family, or if you’ve learned something about genealogy from a family story, I’d be happy to hear from you.

Patrick John (PJ) Calnon (1857 – 1940) and Margaret MacDonell
great grandfather
Catherine Cecelia Calnon (1907 – 1997) and William Howard Stanford (1908 – 1978)
daughter of Patrick John (PJ) Calnon and Margaret MacDonell
Dad and Mom
son of Catherine Cecilia Calnon and William Howard Stanford



Anna Elizabeth Wulliman Johnston (1916 – 1986) 52 Ancestors Week #17

I have two new genealogy heroes in my world this week. One passed away in 1986 at the age of 70, and the other is young enough to be my daughter.  Both have added in their own way to my knowledge of my family and have enriched my family history.

My story starts in 1978 when my mother’s aunt by marriage (i.e. her aunt’s sister-in-law) decided, for reasons of her own, to make a homemade cassette recording of stories from her childhood in Berne, Indiana. On the A side, she recorded her stories in English, and on the B side, she recorded them in a language she called Swiss German, or more simply, Swiss.  She gave a copy of this tape to her family, which they presumably put away among their family mementos.

Fast forward thirty years, when a bright, young grad student studying linguistics is looking for a project for her master’s thesis. She reflects on her childhood in Berne, Indiana, and the older members of her community that speak a unique dialect of German. She realizes that this language and its attending culture is dying out due to assimilation into mainstream America.

She decides to interview as many members of this population as she can, and to document their nearly-extinct language. She meets with community members in their homes and in nursing care. She conducts sensitive interviews that enable them to reflect on their pasts and remember things long forgotten. As they struggle to remember vocabulary and expressions, they also come to life with long-forgotten jokes, traditions and treasured memories.  The interest she takes, as a scholar and as a Swiss descendant, invokes a sense of pride in members of an otherwise humble community.

During her interviews, someone mentions the tape made by my mother’s aunt, Anna Elizabeth Wulliman Johnston. This tape with its dual languages becomes, if not a Rosetta stone, at least a cornerstone of the master’s thesis. It contains phrases that are written verbatim into the report, and show the unique vocabulary and phrasing that differentiates this dialect from traditional German as spoken in Germany or in Switzerland.

Gretta, the grad student, goes to great lengths in her thesis, to explain the history of these people (my ancestors as well as hers!) who segregated themselves into a mountain community, even while living in Switzerland, in order to evade religious persecution. Years of isolation caused their language to develop into a dialect, distinct from the mainstream language. Then in the 1800’s, they traveled to the U.S., settling in a few small communities in northern Ohio, and in one community in particular, Berne, Indiana.

As many immigrants do, they kept their customs and their language intact for a generation or two. My own grandmother, Verena Burry, born in 1912, and growing up in Berne, spoke only Swiss German at home. She did not learn English until she went to school. As an adult, my own mother regretted that she had not also been raised to be bilingual. But by then, two wars with Germany had caused most American German speakers to suppress their language, in order to protect themselves and their children.

The result is a language, and a culture, that is all but gone. Gretta’s thesis and her documentation of the language means that it will not be forgotten altogether. And my mother’s aunt, who lacked Gretta’s education and sophistication, still came to the same conclusion: Her culture and her language were important, and they were being forgotten. She and Gretta made the same decision; they would take action to preserve the past. And in so doing, they met across 30 years to collaborate to that end.

I’ve been blessed by both these women. Because of them, I have a better understanding of my family’s culture and past. I also have a better appreciation for my grandmother’s mother tongue. When I was little, she would always tell me that she spoke “Swiss German”. When I got older, I assumed that was a needlessly redundant expression, and that she simply spoke German. Thanks to Gretta’s thesis, I now understand how significantly her dialect was tied to her family, her culture, and her past.

When I told my mother about the thesis, I asked if she had ever heard of Ann Wulliman Johnston, as I recognized Wulliman as my lovely Aunt Selma’s last name. My mother became excited at the mention of “Aunt Annie’s” name and launched into recollections of what a wonderful woman she had been. She had never heard of the tape before but immediately said that it sounded like something Aunt Annie would do, as she was always very clever and had a lot of initiative. My mom then said longingly how much she’d like to hear the tape, and the sound of her Aunt’s voice again.

I then tracked down Gretta via facebook and asked her to please make me a copy that I could give to my mother as a gift. Happily, she agreed and I hope to be able to give her a copy this Mother’s Day.

I know that sometimes when I write these family history stories I feel like I am whispering into the wind. Family members are so busy and so scattered and so focused on their own problems that they don’t have time for, or interest in, the past. I’m sure Aunt Annie felt that way as well when she made her cassette tape. There were probably recipients who thanked her politely, put in on a shelf, and didn’t think of it again – until after she was gone, or until an eager grad student came knocking on their door. So, Aunt Annie is an inspiration to me, to keep researching and to keep writing, because someday, somewhere there may be someone who discovers what I’ve written, and says, “I’m so glad she did”.

Aunt Annie is related to my grandmother through marriage. She was the sister-in-law of my grandmother’s sister. I’ve added three generations of her lineage to my family tree, in case it would be of help to any of her descendants.  You can click the link in her name to be taken to her entry in the family tree.  If you are related to this week’s subject of the 52 Ancestor Challenge,  Anna Wulliman Johnston, her sister-in-law Selma Burry Wulliman, my grandmother Verena Burry, or any members of the extended Burry family, I would love to hear from you.


Berne, Indiana Swiss Gernam: Lessons learned from a small-scale documentation project by Yoder, Gretta Owen, University of North Dakota, 2010, 165 pages.






Margaret Kilgellon Stanford (1886 – 1950) 52 Ancestors Week#16

One of the things I like about genealogy is that sometimes when you think you are going one place, something unexpected happens, and you end up someplace else, and if you’re lucky, you end up the richer for it.

That’s what happened to me this week as I prepared this 52 Ancestors challenge post that I thought was going to be about my grandfather, William Stanford. Last week, I had written about my grandmother, Catherine Calnon, and I wanted to follow up with a story about him. To start, I looked up his college yearbook online. I wanted to find a photo of him at about the age that he was when he met my grandmother.

William Howard Stanford 1931 Senior Yearbook Ohio University Athena

William Howard Stanford
1931 Senior Yearbook
Ohio University Athena

I found the yearbook and and found a photo of him, and of his brother George. This was no surprise as I knew they had gone to college together. Although my grandfather was one year older, he had waited, and they had both attended in the same class. But, imagine my surprise when I searched the yearbook, and found another Stanford in it – their sister Helen! I had no idea that she had gone to college! I mean, it was 1931, the height of the Depression, and there were three children in college! And one of them was a girl!!

George Alfred Stanford 1931 Senior Yearbook Ohio University Athena

George Alfred Stanford
1931 Senior Yearbook Ohio University Athena

I sent an email to her grandson (my 2nd cousin), someone who I had always vaguely known existed, but would not have a relationship with at all, if it were not for and our shared interest in family history (another one of those unexpected bonuses of this hobby!). He was delighted to learn about his grandmother but had no further information about how she had come to attend college.

Helen Stanford 1931 Freshman Yearbook Ohio University Athena

Helen Stanford 1931 Freshman Yearbook Ohio University Athena

I then called my dad to see if he knew anything about how his own father, uncle, and aunt ended up in college together. He said that sounded right to him, although he wasn’t sure she had graduated (true – I later discovered she completed two years). He said he thought they all worked in the summertime to help pay tuition. He also said that his great-grandfather had always had a paycheck throughout the depression (he was a manager at a pottery) and that they also invested in the stock market.

What? They were living through the Great Depression, a time when most people didn’t even trust banks, and they were still playing the stock market??

Then he said it was his grandmother who handled the investments. What?? A woman? Handling investments? In the 1930s????

He said that she regularly read the Wall Street Journal and that she would save up the papers in a pile for his father (my grandfather) to read when he came home from college on vacation. Amazing enough for any family, but my great-grandparents were not living in Manhattan or Chicago or San Francisco. They were living in the village of Sebring, Ohio. And my great-grandmother was the daughter of an Irish immigrant, who had worked all his life as a coal miner.

Where did she get the knowledge and the confidence to invest in the stock market, following the greatest economic collapse in our nation’s history?

And how progressive was my great- grandfather that he had trusted her judgment enough to leave the investment decisions up to her?

I especially love the fact that she set such a good example for her oldest son, of what a woman was capable of, by sharing her interest in finances with him.

No wonder my grandfather married a college-educated woman, and that they worked together as full business partners throughout their married life!

I’m hoping to find a photo of my great-grandmother. I’ll post it when I do. In the meantime, here’s to my great-grandmother, Margaret Kilgellon Stanford.

The larger point is that my father obviously had this information in his head, but either never thought it was significant, or had forgotten about it until I asked. Who knows what other stories exist that are just waiting for the right prompt to retrieve them?

So, here’s to the great genealogy tool of “poking around, and asking questions” – you never know where it will lead!

Here are the links to my tree on for more information. If you are related or know anything about my relatives, I’d love to hear from you!

Margaret Kilgellon (1886 – 1950) and George Albert Stanford (1886 – 1972)
great grandmother
William Howard Stanford (1908 – 1978) and Catherine Cecilia Calnon (1907 – 1997)
son of Margaret Kilgellon  and George Albert Stanford
Dad and Mom
Son of William Howard Stanford and Catherine Cecilia Calnon


Ohio University Athena, 1931

Catherine Calnon Stanford (1907 – 1997) 52 Ancestors Week#15

For this week’s 52 Ancestor Challenge, I am choosing to write about my paternal grandmother, Catherine Cecilia Calnon.  Today happens to be her birthday, so it seems especially fitting. She was born in 1907, so this would have been her 107th birthday. Instead, she died at the age of 89, about two months short of her 90th birthday.

As a genealogist I often find myself wanting to know more details about my ancestor’s personality. What were they like as people? Were they optimists or pessimists? Shy and reserved, or the life of the party? Quick to lose their temper, or as patient as the day is long?  These and a thousand other questions plague me. I believe that knowing those answers would help me to better know, understand, and convey who these people were. And yet, when faced with describing an ancestor whom I did know, I find that all that firsthand knowledge makes telling their story that much harder. Real people are much more complex than those two-dimensional shadows found in legal documents and old photographs.  Unlike my usual situation, I find that I have too much, rather than too little, to say.

In an effort to stay on point, I will share just a little about my grandmother’s life.

She was born in the Village of Potsdam, New York, about 30 miles from the Canadian border. (1)  Her mother, Margaret MacDonell, was her father’s second wife. His first wife had died during the birth of their fourth child, (who was stillborn).  Catherine (known as Kay) was her father’s fifth child, out of eight. Even as a little girl she loved to read and would often disappear with a book and a pocketful of apples to a cubbyhole by the back porch.(3)

When she was 21, she graduated from Potsdam Normal School. (4) She was the first member of her family to ever graduate from college. Her grandparents, who had emigrated from Ireland during the potato famine, had never learned to read or write. Her parents had each received some schooling and were literate. But she was the first one to get an advanced degree. This accomplishment was even more remarkable because she had paid her tuition herself, by working as a telephone switchboard operator. Her older sister, Anna (called Ann) was so proud of her that she bought her a new dress to wear to the graduation. (3)

Catherine Cecilia Calnon 1928 Senior Yearbook  Potsdam Normal Pioneer

Catherine Cecilia Calnon
1928 Senior Yearbook
Potsdam Normal Pioneer

Her photo in her senior yearbook shows a serious young woman who did not participate in any clubs or extracurricular activities. The pages are as pristine as the day she bought it, with no autographs or notes from fellow students.  She did have a circle of friends, as evidenced by her participation in wedding parties (6), and she was close to her sisters and brothers. But her need to work and the seriousness with which she approached her education must have caused her to make sacrifices on a social level.

After her graduation in 1928 she got a position as an English teacher in Ellenburg, New York. (2) Despite the start of the Depression in the following year, she kept this job until 1932.  At that point she was forced to leave because she got married, which was forbidden for female teachers. Some of my favorite stories about my grandmother surround her romance and engagement with my grandfather. Through most of her life she was the embodiment of the stereotypical stern English teacher, but love must have brought out her adventurous side.

My grandfather, William (Bill) Stanford, was a fellow teacher in Ellenburg. He joined the staff as a physical education teacher in the fall of 1931. It wasn’t long before the two had noticed each other. Because of the restrictions on relationships between staff, they had to keep their budding romance a secret. There was at least one time in which they were in my grandfather’s car (a yellow stutz bearcat!) and my grandmother had to bend down and hide under a blanket as they drove past someone who might recognize her!! Luckily she was scarcely 5 feet tall, so hiding was not too difficult.

William Howard Stanford 1931 Senior Yearbook Ohio University Athena

William Howard Stanford
1931 Senior Yearbook
Ohio University Athena

As part of their compensation, female teachers boarded in family homes within the community. My grandmother had a room at the house of a young married couple named Bruce and Eloise McGregor (2). Sometimes when my grandfather was on his way home after a late basketball game, or similar activity, he would go past her house and throw a pebble at her window to get her attention. Perhaps she would even open the window and lean out so they could carry on a whispered conversation. One winter night there was so much snow on the ground that he couldn’t find a pebble. Instead he packed a snowball and launched that at her window. She had already gone to bed but had left the window open to get some fresh air. The snowball flew clean through the window and landed right on her bed, startling her awake! I guess it was fortunate it wasn’t a pebble! (3)

My grandparents’ wedding anniversary is May 7, 1932. However, school that year didn’t end for at least another week, meaning that my grandmother broke the rules and worked as a teacher while married! On the day of their wedding they drove to Plattsburgh, New York where they met up with their two attendants, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Fadden, who were sworn to secrecy. They had a private wedding in St. John’s Catholic church.  Following a lunch at the Coffee Shoppe with the Faddens, they drove to Montreal where they spent their wedding night at the Berkely Hotel. (5) The next day they drove back to Ellenburg.

I don’t know what cover story they gave, but my grandmother went back to stay with the MacGregors and my grandfather went back to the boarding house. The story remained  a secret until the following week when the faculty all gathered in Montreal for a formal end-of-school-year dinner party (5). At some point during the evening, perhaps after a drink or two, a friend, who had been told in confidence, blurted out the news that Miss Calnon and Mr. Stanford were actually married. When my grandparents admitted it was true, the principal looked appalled and said, “Miss Calnon, I am astounded!” (3)

Although there have been several in the family who assumed they got married this way because they “had” to, they always insisted otherwise. Their explanation was that my grandfather had tickets for the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles. He had been planning this trip long before their engagement and so when they decided to marry, he had gotten tickets for her as well. In order to arrive by the starting date of July 30, they would need to leave immediately after the end of the school year and would not have time for a wedding. Instead they had looked at my grandfather’s calendar (which was a full one!). He had a track meet one weekend and a kite tournament on the other. He agreed to forego the kite tournament in deference to their elopement. (3)

That was their story and they stuck with it. My father, their only child, was born in October of 1933,  a year and a half after their wedding, so perhaps it is even true!

Here is the link to my grandmother on Catherine Cecilia Calnon. If you have a membership you can look at my tree for more info. If you are related to my grandmother or any of the people mentioned in this story, I would love to hear from you.


(1) 1910 United States Census, Potsdam Village, St. Lawrence County, New York, Enumeration District: 0173; p. 6B, family 163, dwelling, 152, lines 72 – 79; April 20, 1910;  Roll T624 1074; FHL microfilm: 1375087.

(2) 1930 United States Census, Ellenburg, Clinton County, New York. Enumeration District: 0020; p. 10A, family 198, dwelling, 195, lines 29-33; May 17, 1930; Image 1112.0; FHL microfilm 2841151.

(3) Calnon/Stanford Family Stories

(4) Potsdam Normal School Pioneer Yearbook, State University of New York, Potsdam, 1928, p. 35

(5) “Wedding of William Stanford and Catherine Calnon”, Plattsburgh Daily Press, Clinton County, New York, Monday, May 23 1932. Available online at

(6) “Wedding of Herbert W. Werich and Hilda Berry”, Potsdam Herald-Recorder, Potsdam, St. Lawrence County, New York,  Friday, August, 23, 1929. Available online at


Ann Hill (1633? – 1683?) 52 Ancestors Week#14

This week’s 52 Ancestor Challenge is a love story. It starts off romantically enough, but then it takes several dark twists and turns that are worthy of a Lifetime TV movie, or better yet, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter.

My 9th great grandmother, Ann Hill, was married in Christ Church Parish on the island of Barbados in 1649. She was a young bride, probably no older than 16. Her husband was Philip Tallman, a business associate of her stepfather. Tallman was of Dutch or German heritage. He was in his mid-twenties when he moved from Hamburg, Germany  to Barbados. There, he met young Ann, the daughter of a plantation owner,and at least ten years his junior.  Tallman was a businessman who had various dealings in the Caribbean and New England as well as New Netherlands.

Shortly after their marriage, Ann, her new husband, and her mother and brother all relocated to Rhode Island. However, it soon became apparent that Tallman was not the ideal husband and son-in-law that he appeared to be. In fact, soon after they arrived in New England, Ann’s mother (also named Ann) sued her son-in-law for “craftily” obtaining her goods and substance and being unwilling to pay for or return them.

Despite the tensions within the family, Ann and her husband began having children together. Over the next thirteen years, the couple had eight children. Indications are that Tallman was not only deceitful but was also “volatile, stubborn and prone to lawsuits.”  In fact, his mother-in-law sued him again in 1662, around the time that her seventh grandchild was born. This time she charged him with cheating her and her children (Ann and her brother Robert) out of 300 pounds. She lost the suit and appealed.

In 1660, a few years before the second lawsuit, Tallman hired a 17-year-old indentured servant, named Thomas Durfee. Durfee lived and worked in the Tallman household. Over the course of the next four years, Ann gave birth to her four youngest children, Joseph (1660), John (1661), Susanna (1662) and Sarah (1664).

Then, in 1664, after years of tension in the household, everything came to a head. Apparently twenty-one year old Thomas Durfee moved out of the Tallman household, and broke his contract of indenture. In June, 1664, Tallman sued him for breach of contract. Durfee paid him 10 pounds in damages, and was released from his service. A few months later, in October, Tallman sued Durfee again, this time for behaving inappropriately with his wife, Ann. In particular, the suit mentioned his “insolent carriage” toward her.

In March, 1665, Ann gave birth to her ninth child, a son, whom she named Robert. In May of that same year, her husband, Philip Tallman, petitioned “to be released from his wife”, stating that their latest baby was not his. Ann was brought to court where she admitted that the “child was none of his begetting, and that it was begotten by another man”.

Besides being grounds for divorce, this was a punishable offense in colonial New England. Ann, a 32-year-old mother of nine, asked the court for mercy. When asked whether she would be willing to reconcile with her husband, she responded that she “would rather cast herselfe on the mercy of God if he take away her life, than to returne”.

The court declared her an adulteress, and granted her husband’s divorce. She was fined 10 pounds, and thrown in jail until she could receive her physical punishment: 15 lashes with a whip in Portsmouth on May 22nd, and 15 more lashes in Newport on May 29th. The court then fetched Thomas Durfee, and

Image from a movie version of the Scarlet Letter. Some adulterers were required to wear an 'A" for adultery, although not Ann.

Image from a movie version of the Scarlet Letter. Some adulterers were required to wear an ‘A” for adultery, although not Ann.

charged him with adultery as well. He was also fined, and sentenced to 15 lashes.

Somehow, Ann was able to escape before she could be punished. She fled the colony. It’s not clear exactly what happened between Tom and Ann over the next several years, but it appears that they made every effort to be together, despite the laws of their community working against them. Although they were both now single, they were not free to marry. Ann was at fault for her divorce, which made it against the law for her to marry again. Her ex-husband, however, was free to remarry.

Ann was also a fugitive on the run. Any communication she and Thomas had, had to have been in secret. Others were also forbidden to help her. There were strict rules about who could be in a community, even as a visitor. One man in Plymouth Colony who tried to help her was charged for “entertaining the wife of one Talmon and the wife of William Tubbs.”

After a few years, Ann and Thomas returned to Rhode Island. Perhaps they were unable to find any other community that would accept them. Or perhaps Ann wanted to be near her children and her mother. Or perhaps that was the only place Thomas could get work. In any event they returned, and either turned themselves in, or were apprehended. Ann asked the court, once more, for mercy. She was made to pay a fine and endure 15 lashes, rather than the original 30.

A year later, the couple was in trouble with the court again. This time they were charged with fornication rather than adultery, since Ann was no longer married. Thomas was given a choice of 15 lashes, or a fine of 40 shillings. Ann was given a choice of being whipped twice, or of paying 4 pounds. It isn’t clear whether Ann’s punishment was more severe because she was female, or because of the way she handled the charges. While Thomas appeared in court and pled guilty, Ann did not appear in court, and was found guilty by the judge.

That appears to be the final time that the couple was punished for their relationship. They continued to have children, even in and around the court appearances. The exact birth dates of their children are not known but it appears they had four more sons, Richard (1667), Thomas (1669), William (1673) and Benjamin (1679). It is thought they continued to live together in a common law marriage until Ann’s death, sometime around 1683 when she would have been about 50 years old.

Shortly after her death, Thomas married Deliverance Hall Tripp. They had two daughters together, Patience and Deliverance. In a truly bizarre twist, their daughter Patience ended up marrying Benjamin Tallman, the son of Ann’s ex-husband, Philip, and his second wife. Philip did not live to see his son marry the daughter of the former servant who had brought an end to his first marriage, as he died five months before his son’s wedding.

Colonial laws meant that Ann would have had to give up custody of her children when she left her first husband. However, there are court and probate records that indicate she forged relationships with at least some of her Tallman children, once they were adults.

Ann and Tom must have loved each other a great deal to stay together despite the official and unofficial sanctions against them. They were willing to endure financial, physical and social hardships in order to be together. As the descendant of  Thomas Durfee, their third child together, I’m extremely grateful, and I hope that they were able to find both happiness and peace.

This story was based entirely on the extensive research conducted by Rick Durfey Balmer who has spent years documenting Ann and Thomas’ lives, based on numerous court records and other related documents.

The following shows my lineage from Ann Hill and Thomas Durfee. If you are related or know any more about their story, I would love to hear from you.

Ann Hill  (1633 – 1682) and Thomas Durfee (1643 – 1712)
9th great grandmother
Thomas Durfee (1670 – 1729) and Ann Freeborn (1669 – 1729)
son of Ann Hill and Thomas Durfee
Job Durfee (1710 – 1774) and Mary Earle (1703 – 1759)
son of Thomas Durfee and Ann Freeborn
Elizabeth Durfee (1735 – 1776) and Benjamin Chase  (1737 – 1826)
daughter of Job Durfee and Mary Earle
Mary Chase (1758 – 1852) and David Potter (1755 – 1838)
daughter of Elizabeth Durfee and Benjamin Chase
Daniel Potter (1783 – 1870) and Lydia Jane Hale (1787 – 1862)
son of Mary Chase and David Potter
son of Daniel Potter and Lydia Jane Hale
Elmira L Potter (1836 – 1905) and Perry C Morrell (1836 – 1898)
daughter of Daniel Potter and Chloe
Lettie S Morrell (1867 – 1939) and Samuel H Rutledge (1866 – 1958)
daughter of Elmira L Potter and Perry C Morrell
Leon “Lee” Herschell Rutledge (1895 – 1954) and Verena Burry (1912 – 1995)
son of Lettie S Morrell and Samuel H Rutledge
Mom and Dad
daughter of Lee and Verena



Susannah North Martin (1621 – 1692) 52 Ancestors Week#13

Like many people, I’ve been fascinated with the witch trials of Salem, Massachusetts since first seeing The Crucible in high school. But I never imagined that I would have a personal connection to this dark period of history. When I began tracing my ancestors back to 17th century Massachusetts, I was stunned to learn that my 9th great grandmother, Susannah North Martin, the subject of this week’s 52 Ancestor Challenge, was, indeed, tried for witchcraft.

In 1692, Susannah was a 67-year-old widow living in Amesbury, Massachusetts, about 24 miles from the Village of Salem. She must have heard of the goings-on in Salem and that at least a dozen people had been arrested for witchcraft, but she probably never thought it would have anything to do with her. Yet, when she saw the constable approaching her door that Spring morning, I wonder if her first thought was, “Not again!”

For years, rumors had swirled around Susannah, implying that she was a witch. It seemed like whenever a neighbor took sick or livestock died, there were whispers that Susannah was to blame. She, herself, did little to squelch the rumors. On some occasions she even seemed to encourage them, by muttering curses under her breath, or unapologetically voicing her opinions for anyone to hear.

Susannah had even been charged with witchcraft, more than twenty years before, but the courts had ruled in her favor. Later, her husband, George, had sued

Cradle belonging to Susannah North Martin on display at the Macy-Colby House in Amesbury, MA

Cradle belonging to Susannah North Martin on display at the Macy-Colby House in Amesbury, MA

her accuser for slander. The courts had found in George’s favor, but had awarded him less than a penny in damages. Apparently, they didn’t think the accusations could have done much damage to Susannah’s already difficult reputation.

But now, George was gone and her children were grown. Darkness and fear had overtaken the community. Indian attacks were on the rise and danger was in the air. There was fear that God was displeased, and that the Devil walked among them. It was in this atmosphere that Susannah was taken into custody, and escorted to the courts in Salem.

It appears that throughout her life, Susannah’s main trouble was that she was an intelligent and outspoken woman who did not like to be taken advantage of. She spoke her mind when she felt she had been cheated or abused. She did not suffer fools lightly, and would make a joke or sarcastic remark if she thought those around her were being silly. She had been in court numerous times, as a defendant and as a plaintiff. In addition to fighting charges that had been made against her, she had spent years fighting to prove that her father’s will had been falsified. Despite five appeals, she had lost, and her step-mother had succeeded in stealing her inheritance. So the Susannah who was dragged to the courthouse in Salem was not a woman who was easily intimidated.

Upon arrival in the Village of Salem, they immediately hauled her into court. It’s likely that this was the first time that Susannah realized who her accusers were. Perhaps word had not reached Amesbury about the writhing teenage girls. Because when Susannah saw them, shrieking and moaning and rolling on the floor, she did the unpardonable. She laughed.

When the prosecutor demanded to know why she laughed, she said because she found it amusing. When they demanded that she stop torturing the girls, she said that she had nothing to do with their afflictions. And when they asked her who was causing their pain, she said she wasn’t going to waste her time thinking about it.

During the course of her interrogation, Susannah refused to be cowed by her circumstances. She maintained her innocence and conveyed her contempt for the court proceedings.  She refused to confess to being a witch. Instead she described herself as a Godly woman, and quoted the bible to her accusers.

Unfortunately for Susannah, her years of disagreements with her neighbors caught up with her. They were only too happy to line up to accuse her of wrong-doing, some of it going back more than thirty years. In total, eleven men and four women provided evidence against their neighbor, Goody Martin.

William Brown gave the oldest evidence,  accusing Susannah of having cursed his wife Elizabeth thirty-two years before, causing her to be insane ever since.

Robert Downer claimed that after he told her that he believed the rumors she was a witch she cursed him.That night, an evil spirit in the shape of a cat had attacked him in his bed.

John Pressy said that once, coming home late at night,he had seen a strange light in the woods, which later turned into an apparition of Susannah Martin.

John and Mary Pressy said that after they had testified against her in her previous witchcraft trial, she had cursed them, saying that they would never prosper and never have more than two cows. In all the time since, something had always gone wrong for them, and they had never managed to keep more than two in their herd.

John Allen recounted how he had met Susannah on the road when he was hauling some items in a wagon with his oxen. She had asked him to haul some wood for her, but he had refused because his oxen were already overburdened. She had become angry and said that he would get no more use out of his oxen. Within a week, all but one had drowned.

John Kimball testified that twenty-three years before he had purchased land from George and Susannah Martin, which he had paid for with cattle. Susannah had wanted a different cow than the one he paid with. When he refused to give her that cow she had said, “it will never do you any more good” and the following April, despite appearing healthy, the cow had up and died.

John Kimball also said that after he decided not to buy a puppy from Susannah, she told a neighbor that she would be sure he had plenty of puppies. Not long after that he was chopping wood in the forest and suddenly was attacked by dark, mysterious puppies. He tried to fend them off with his axe but they disappeared into the ground. The next day a neighbor of his visited Susannah, and she said told him that it was all over town that Kimball had been frightened by puppies. But there was no way this could have been true, as Kimball was still in the woods, and had not told anyone about the occurrence.

John Atkinson said that he had purchased a cow from Susannah’s son, but Susannah had not approved of the purchase. After she muttered under her breath about it, the cow became so wild and willful that she eventually broke loose from her ropes and escaped. The only explanation was witchcraft.

Bernard Peche testified that Susannah’s apparition had come to him at night and sat on his chest, making it difficult to breathe, and that she had bewitched his cattle to death.

Jarvis Ring gave a similar account as Bernard Peche, saying that Susannah had come to him in the night and sat on his chest. However he also said that Susannah had bit him on the little finger of his right hand, and that the mark was still there to be seen because it was hard to heal.

Joseph Ring, Jarvis’ brother, said that he saw Susannah in the woods and that she had then turned into the shape of a black hog and run away.

Joseph Knight said he had once encountered her in the woods. From a distance he had seen her walking with a little dog that then jumped into her arms. When she got closer, he saw that the little dog had turned into a keg. He also had trouble getting his horses to cross the road where she had been.

Susannah Atkinson recounted a time eighteen years past in which Susannah Martin had come on foot to visit her in Newbury. It was the Spring of the year and a very dirty season. But when Susannah appeared at her door she was clean and her feet were dry. When asked, she wouldn’t explain how she had done it. The only obvious conclusion was that she must have flown.

Several other persons testified that they had either witnessed Susannah cursing the people who had testified above or had been afflicted themselves with mysterious pinching, choking or bite marks, which they attributed to Susannah’ s apparition.

Susannah was imprisoned for two and a half months during which time she was chained, starved, and physically abused. At the end of that time, Susannah, along with Rebecca Nurse, Sarah Good, Elizabeth Howe, and Sarah Wildes, were put into a cart and brought to Gallows Hill where they were hanged to death. Despite the name, no gallows were built on the hill. Instead, the accused were hanged on trees where they were left to slowly suffocate. Later, their bodies were tossed over a cliff into an open grave.

Here stood the house of Susanna Martin. An honest, hardworking, Christian woman. Accused as a witch, tried and executed at Salem, July 19, 1692. A martyr of superstition. Amesbury, MA

Here stood the house of Susanna Martin. An honest, hardworking, Christian woman. Accused as a witch, tried and executed at Salem, July 19, 1692. A martyr of superstition.
Amesbury, MA

During the long months of her ordeal, Susannah never wavered in her conviction that she was innocent of the crimes with which she had been charged. Unfortunately, she fought and died alone. Her husband was gone, and her children did not come to give her support. Perhaps she wanted it that way, as family members who lent support were often accused of witchcraft themselves.

Although most of the nineteen people who were executed as witches during the Salem trials were later exonerated, Susannah and four others were overlooked. It wasn’t until October 31, 2001, that the state of Massachusetts exonerated her and cleared her name of all charges of witchcraft.

Susannah has many descendants through her eight children, including President Chester A. Arthur. Below is my connection to Susannah North Martin. If you are related to her or to any of the participants in the Salem Witch Trials, I would be interested in hearing from you.

Susannah North (1621 – 1692) and George Martin (1618 – 1686)
9th great grandmother
John Martin (1651 – 1693) and Mary Weed (1653 – 1713)
son of Susanna North and George Martin
Mary Martin (1678 – 1745) and John Peaslee (1600 – 1660)
daughter of John Martin and Mary Weed
Sarah Peaslee (1709 – 1780) and Peter Morrell (1709 – 1801)
daughter of Mary Martin and John Peaslee
John Morrell (1734 – 1816) and Sarah Winslow (1741 – 1793)
son of Sarah Peaslee and Peter Morrell
Benjamin Morrell (1764 – 1830) and Mary Armstrong (1775 – 1850)
son of John Morrell and Sarah Winslow
Elfonso Morrell (1801 – 1877) and Elizabeth Lower (1808 – 1838)
son of Benjamin Morrell and Mary Armstrong
Perry C. Morrell (1836 – 1898) and Elmira L Potter (1836 – 1905)
son of Elfonso Morrell and Elizabeth Lower
Lettie S Morrell (1867 – 1939) and Samuel Harvey Rutledge  (1866 – 1958)
daughter of Perry C. Morrell and Elmira Potter
Leon “Lee” Herschell Rutledge (1895 – 1954) and Verena Burry (1912 – 1995)
son of Lettie S Morrell and Samuel Harvey Rutledge
Mom and Dad
daughter of Lee Rutledge and Verena Burry




Massachusetts Clears 5 From Salem Witch Trials. The New York Times. November 1, 2001.

Susannah Martin Executed July 19, 1692. Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive and Transcription Project. The University of Virginia.









Job Winslow (1641 – 1720) 52 Ancestors Week#12

I don’t know about you, but I have to admit that I scarcely remember any mention of King Philip’s War from my grade school history days. Whether that’s because they didn’t teach us about it, or because I was staring out the window at the time, I don’t know. But it’s a shame, because it was a terrible war that ended nearly 50 years of peace between the colonists and the surrounding native population. A higher percentage of the population was killed during that war than any of our subsequent wars, including the Civil War. Almost every one of the 110 colonial villages and towns, was attacked or destroyed. The early colonists were pushed back to a small strip of coastal land, before the tides turned in their favor. In the aftermath, all the remaining native Americans in the area were either killed or sold into slavery in Bermuda, virtually eliminating their population in New England.

I was surprised and saddened to learn that my family was in the midst of this war. My 1st cousin 10x removed, Josiah Winslow, was actually Governor of Plymouth at the time. His failure to understand and address the needs of the Native American population contributed to the start of the war. It’s a pattern that was to be continually repeated throughout the history of our country.

I was also amazed to learn that my 8th great grandfather, Job Winslow, the topic of this week’s 52 Ancestor Challenge, also played a part in the start of the war. However, his role was more one of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

It seems that in the summer of 1676, as tensions between the Wapanoag tribe and the Plymouth colonists began to mount, the Wapanoag received a prophecy by a spiritual leader. They were told that whoever drew “first blood” in the battle, would be the ones to lose. Therefore the Wapanoag warriors started a campaign of harassment to provoke a response from the colonists.

At that time, Job Winslow, his wife, Ruth, and two young babies, were living in a small town named Swansea. It was just across the river from the Wapanoag village. When the Wapanoag came across the river, the first house they found belonged to Job. There are different stories about where the family was at the time, possibly working in the fields, possibly gathered in the church, praying that the approaching war could be diverted. In any event, they were not home. The Wapanoag set fire to their house and it burned to the ground.

Several other acts of vandalism were performed over the course of the next few days. Eventually one young colonist lost his temper and shot at the Wapanoag, injuring one of them, and drawing “first blood”. After that, the war broke out in earnest and continued for over a year. In the end, over 600 colonists and 3,000 Native Americans died.

Overview or War

Overview or War

It’s easy to sit in judgement 400 years later, but in reality, we haven’t actually learned to avoid war to resolve our own disputes over territory and scarce resources. Like most genealogical findings, this discovery made me feel more personally connected to our nation’s history. Since learning about this time, I’ve found myself thinking more about what they could have done, what they should have done, and what lessons can be learned to apply to present day scenarios.

If you’ve found yourself rethinking any historical events, or feeling more closely connected to our country’s history because of your genealogical research, I would be interested in hearing from you.

The following list shows my lineage to Job Winslow, with links back to my tree in for further information.

Job Winslow (1641 – 1720) and  Ruth (?) (1651? – 1694?)
8th great grandfather
James Winslow (1687 – 1773) and Elizabeth Carpenter (1686 – 1759)
son of Job Winslow and Ruth
Benjamin Winslow (1717 – 1796) and Hope Cobb (1716 – 1797)
son of James Winslow and Elizabeth Carpenter
Sarah Winslow (1741 – 1793) and John Morrell (1734 – 1816)
daughter of Benjamin Winslow and Hope Cobb
Benjamin Morrell (1764 – 1830) and Mary Armstrong (1775 – 1850)
son of Sarah Winslow and John Morrell
Elfonso Morrell (1801 – 1877) and Elizabeth Lower (1808 – 1838)
son of Benjamin Morrell and Mary Armstrong
Perry C. Morrell (1836 – 1898) and Elmira L. Potter (1836 – 1905)
son of Elfonso Morrell and Elizabeth Lower
Lettie S Morrell (1867 – 1939) and Samuel Rutledge (1866 – 1958)
daughter of Perry C. Morrell and Elmira L. Potter
Leon “Lee” Herschell Rutledge (1895 – 1954) and Verena Burry (1912 – 1995)
son of Lettie S Morrell and Samuel Rutledge
Mom and Dad
daughter of Lee Rutledge and Verena Burry

Bodge, George. Soldiers in King Philip’s War: Being a Critical Account of that War, with a Concise History of the Indian Wars of New England from 1620-1677. Published 1906

Philbrik, Nathaniel. Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community and War. 2006

Schultz, Eric B. and Tougias, Michael J., King Philip’s War: The History and Legacy of America’s Forgotten Conflict,1999

Nicholas Hodgdon/Hodsdon (1615- ?) 52 Ancestors Week#10

I love discovering a story about my ancestors. But sometimes a story is literally too good to be true. That’s the case for this week’s 52 Ancestors challenge when I discuss my 9th great grandfather Nicholas Hodgdon (also spelled Hodsdon).

If you search for Nicholas in you’ll find a lot of trees that say he died in 1704. You will also find some references to the fact that  he was killed by Indians. When I first read that, I got excited. There must be a good story there!

I looked for some sources to provide more detail and found a reference to a letter written May 13, 1704 in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register:

Indian Depredations in 1704, at Wells, Me. — ” Piscataqua, May 13, 1704. Letters thence acquaint us of some more damage done us by the Skulking Adversary. On the 1 1th instant Nicholas Cole of Wells, with Nicholas Hodgdon, Thomas Dane & Benjamin Gough, Souldiers, went about a mile from Capt. Wheelwright’s Garrison to look after his Cattle, on their return were attacked by 12 Indians, who killed said Cole and Hodgdon, took Dane Captive, Gough escaping, advised Capt. Hales of it who immediately called his Souldiers together; but the enemy were fled.”— Boston News Letter, May 15 to 22, 1704.

Well, that  is exciting. Until you do the math. My 9th great grandfather Nicholas would have been 89 in the year 1704. I can’t envision him being referred to as a soldier, or being sent a mile from the garrison to look after some cattle.

I found an even more detailed account of the encounter in The History of Wells and Kennebunk:

The History of Wells and Kennebunk E.E. Bourne, 1875

The History of Wells and Kennebunk E.E. Bourne, 1875

Again, this does not sound like the activities of an 89 year old man. And if for some crazy reason, it was him, his advanced age would surely have been mentioned.

Finally, I checked the Genealogy of the descendants of Nicholas Hodsdon-Hodgdon of Hingham, Mass., and Kittery, Maine. 1635-1904 written by Andrew Jackson Hodgdon. This volume states that the family has no record of when or how the patriarch Nicholas Hodsdon-Hodgdon died. As much as I’d like to think otherwise, this story does not seem to apply to my 9th great grandfather. It’s likely that the story does apply to a descendant, but so far I have been unable to find a grandson of that name. It’s possible there is one that hasn’t been identified yet, or that the original letter writer got the name wrong.

I think it’s important in our search for stories that we don’t get too carried away by enthusiasm and misinterpret the evidence. This is a good story, it’s just belongs to someone else. The list below shows how I am related to Nicholas. If you are related to him or any members of my family, or have thoughts about the interpretation of this story, I’d be interested in hearing from you.

Nicholas Hodsdon (1615 – ) and Elizabeth Wincoll Needham
9th great grandfather
Sarah Hodsdon (1650 – 1710) and John Morrell (1640 – 1723)
daughter of Nicholas Hodsdon and Elizabeth Wincoll Needham
John Morrell (1675 – 1763) and Hannah Dixon (1684 – 1765)
son of Sarah Hodsdon and John Morrell
Peter Morrell (1709 – 1801) and Sarah Peaslee (1709 – 1780)
son of John Morrell and Hannah Dixon
John Morrell (1734 – 1816)  and Sarah Winslow (1741 – 1793)
son of peter Morrell and Sarah Peaslee
Benjamin Morrell (1764 – after 1830) and Mary Armstrong (1775 – 1850)
son of John Morrell and Sarah Winslow
Elfonso Morrell (1801 – 1877) and Elizabeth Lower (1808 – 1838)
son of Benjamin Morrell and Mary Armstrong
Perry C. Morrell (1836 – 1898) and Elmira L Potter (1836 – 1905)
son of Elfonso Morrell and Elizabeth Lower
Lettie S Morrell (1867 – 1939) and Samuel Harvey Rutledge (1866 – 1958)
daughter of Perry C. Morrell and Elmira L Potter
Leon “Lee” Herschell Rutledge (1895 – 1954) and Verena Burry (1912 – 1995)
son of Lettie S Morrell and Samuel Harvey Rutledge
Mom and Dad
daughter of Lee Rutledge and Verena Burry

Joseph Carpenter (1633 – 1675) 52 Ancestors Week#11

For this week’s 52 Ancestor Challenge, I am writing about my 9th great grandfather Joseph Carpenter.

Joseph came to New England with his family when he was five years old. They sailed on the Bevis from England to Weymouth, Massachusetts. A few years later, when Joseph was eleven, they relocated to the new town of Rehoboth on the edge of Plymouth colony, bordering the colony of Rhode Island. His father, William Carpenter, was one of the original town founders.

For the next ten years or so, Joseph’s life was fairly uneventful. He grew up and learned his father’s trade of carpentry. His father was educated and owned a small library of Greek and Hebrew grammars, Latin classics,  and some religious and legal texts.  Although he had no formal education, Joseph also learned to read and write, and eventually owned several Bibles and other books.

When Joseph was twenty-two, he married Maraget Sutton, who had also been born in England and relocated to Rehoboth when she was a child. She was twenty-one at the time of their marriage. The following winter Joseph’s father, William Carpenter passed away. A few months later Joseph’s first child, a son they named Joseph, Jr. was born. Over the next several years, three more children followed.

When Joseph was about thirty years old, new settlers came to the town of Rehoboth. They were a community from Wales, traveling with their minister, Reverand Myles. They had left Wales because they refused to conform to the official religious doctrine. When they arrived in New England they headed for Rehoboth because they had heard it was a place of religious tolerance. Once there, they established a Baptist church, becoming only the fourth Baptist congregation in the new world. Although most of the town frowned upon the teachings of Reverand Myles, Joseph found himself drawn to their way of thinking, which included the idea of reserving baptism for adult believers rather than for infants.

When Reverand Myles began holding worship meetings in the home of one of the townspeople, Joseph joined them.  The meetings consisted of only Reverand Myles and a total of six men, but it was enough to upset the rest of the community. They foresaw the Baptist faith growing in their community and drawing more and more people from their Congregationalist faith. They brought their complaints to the courts in Plymouth.  Consequently the men were fined five pounds each and forbidden from worshipping for a month.  They were told that if they wanted to continue to practice their Baptist religion they would need to remove themselves from Rehoboth and relocate somewhere where they would not disrupt a Congregationalist community.

So, Joseph faced a dilemma. Should he and his family stay in Rehoboth where they had grown up and where his brothers, mother, and in-laws still lived? Or should he uprrot his family and move to a new part of the wilderness, and establish a new settlement, in an area  just across the river from the main Wapanoag village of Sowams?

It’s likely this was a difficult choice for them to make. The new settlement would be about ten miles away, hardly an insignificant distance. The new village would be smaller and more remote, with fewer inhabitants, at least in the early years. They would have to clear the land, and build houses, and dig wells and privies.

In the end, Joseph decided to follow his conscience and move his family to the new town, which they decided to name Swansea, after the town in Wales that Reverand Myles came from. There, he became one of the seven founders of  the First Baptist Church of Swansea.  Over the next few years, the new town began to grow as other settlers joined them. They planted crops and built new homes. Two of these homes were reinforced, and stocked with provisions, so that they could be used as garrisons for the community to gather in, if trouble came.

Joseph and Margaret continued to expand their family. Margaret gave birth to five more children, four of whom survived.  In 1675, at the age of 40,Margaret was once again pregnant, when sadly, Joseph grew ill. When it became apparent that he would not recover from his illness, Joseph drew up a will.  He named his wife the executrix, and appointed his older brothers, William and Samuel, to be overseers. Although he mentioned his “five daughters”, he did not list their names. He did mention his three surviving sons, Joseph, Benjamin, and John, and stated that if the child his wife was carrying turned out to be a boy, that he would also get a share of the estate.

The day after the will was signed, Margaret gave birth to their final child, a daughter, whom they named Margaret. When the baby was two days old, her father was buried near “100 acre cove” (in that part of Swansea that is now known as Barrington, Rhode Island).

By the time Joseph grew ill, it had become apparent that war with the Wapanoag was unavoidable. On June 24, approximately six weeks after his death and the birth of his youngest daughter, war broke out in the town of Swansea.  The settlers, including Joseph’s widow Margaret, and her eight children ranging in age from Joseph, age 19, to baby Margaret, less than two months old gathered in the garrisons for safety.  How desperate and lonely Margaret must have felt, newly widowed, having just given birth, and now struggling to protect herself and her children.

The war lasted sixteen months.  During that time the towns of Swansea and Rehoboth were almost completely destroyed.  Most of the buildings, including the Baptist church, were burned. Margaret did not live to help rebuild her home. She passed away some time between March and October of 1676, just about a year after her husband died.

Most of Joseph and Margaret’s remaining children, including baby Margaret, grew up, married and had children. The First Baptist Church of Swansea, of which

First Baptist Church of Swansea, meeting house built in 1848

First Baptist Church of Swansea, meeting house built in 1848

Joseph was one of the original founders, still exists today. Although the original church was destroyed, the congregation continues to worship in a meeting house that was built in 1848.

The following list shows my connection to the Joseph Carpenter family, with links to my tree in There are many Carpenter descendants. If you are also related, I would be interested in hearing from you.

JOSEPH CARPENTER (1633 – 1675) and Margaret Sutton (1635 – 1676)
9th great grandfather
Benjamin Carpenter (1658 – 1727) and Renew Weeks (1660 – 1703)
son of Joseph Carpenter and Margaret Sutton
Elizabeth Carpenter (1686 – 1759) and James Winslow (1687 – 1773)
daughter of Benjamin Carpenter and Renew Weeks
Benjamin Winslow (1717 – 1796) and Hope Cobb (1716 – 1797)
son of Elizabeth Carpenter and James Winslow
Sarah Winslow (1741 – 1793) and John Morrell (1734 – 1816)
daughter of Benjamin Winslow and Hope Cobb
Benjamin Morrell (1764 – 1830) and Mary Armstrong (1775 – 1850)
son of Sarah Winslow and John Morrell
Elfonso Morrell (1801 – 1877) and Elizabeth Lower (1808 – 1838)
son of Benjamin Morrell and Mary Armstrong
Perry C. Morrell (1836 – 1898) and Elmira Potter (1836 – 1905)
son of Elfonso Morrell and Elizabeth Lower
Lettie S Morrell (1867 – 1939) and Samuel Harvey Rutledge (1866 – 1958)
daughter of Perry C. Morrell and Elmira Potter
Leon “Lee” Herschell Rutledge (1895 – 1954) and Verena Burry (1912 – 1995)
son of Lettie S Morrell and Samuel Harvey Rutledge
Mom and Dad
daughter of Lee Rutledge and Verena Burry


A History of Rehoboth, Massachussetts: Its History for 275 Years, 1643 – 1918

Eugene Cole Zubrinsky, “Joseph3 Carpenter (William1-2) of Rehoboth and Swansea, Massachussetts” (2008; rev. 16 Oct. 2012)

Eugene Cole Zubrinsky, “William2 Carpenter (William1) of Rehoboth, Massachussetts” (2008; rev. 16 Oct. 2012)