Saturday, July 4, 2015

Salem Willows Horribles Parade

There are a lot of strange traditions in Salem, Massachusetts.  Perhaps this is due to its “interesting” history?  It is a place where you can do odd things such as celebrate Halloween for the entire month of October, eat chop suey sandwiches, and watch a “Horribles Parade” on the 4th of July.  

"Wilson's Band" at Salem Willows Horribles Parade 2015
complete with a Home Depot bucket drum line

If you are not from New England or Massachusetts, especially Essex County, you won’t know what are “Horribles Parades”.   I grew up in Beverly, where there is still a Horribles Parade every 4th of July.   They are also celebrated in Gloucester and Marblehead. 

According to Wikipedia, the first Horribles Parade was held in Lowell, Massachusetts on July 4, 1851.  It was called the Ancient and Horribles Parade to make fun of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company which parades on patriotic occasions.  This is the oldest military group in the United States, and they take themselves very seriously.   The Ancient and Horribles Parade made fun of this with people dressed in costumes, and sometimes making fun of local politicians.

“In the morning there were some mock military displays. The "Antique and Horrible Artillery,"were under command of Capt. J. G. Peabody, who appeared in a venerable coat, said to have been worn at the battle of Bunker Hill. The company numbered about seventy-five, and no two had uniforms alike; there were high crowned hats and low crowned hats; long tailed coats and strait jackets; long guns and short guns; and everything that was grotesque and ludicrous”. (Boston Daily Atlas, July 7, 1851)

The idea of the Horribles spread.  Local New England communities hold these 4th of July parades and uphold the tradition of satirizing local public figures, elected officials and whatever is currently in the news.  Most of the parades also feature local marching bands, local business with vehicles and homemade floats, and lots of men dressed in drag, and everyone else in funny costumes.  No Halloween type scary costumes at all.  There are often prizes for the most funny costumes, or for the best parody of a local theme.

Can you guess the current events spoofed in this year's parade? 

Besides the literal parades on the 4th of July, the phrase “parade of horribles” lives on in American slang as meaning “if we do the following actions, horrible things are going to happen”.    There was a movie Parade of Horribles  in  2007 starring Stephen Vause.  Last year the Supreme Court used the phrase "parade of horribles" in one of its decisions.  Now you know the history. 

Local communities that still hold 4th of July Horribles Parades (no particular order):

Chapachet (a village of Glocester), Rhode Island first celebrated in 1926

Arnold Mills, Cumberland, Rhode Island

Gloucester, Massachusetts  (Fishtown Horribles Parade) first celebrated in 1945

Beverly, Massachusetts has TWO parades of horribles!
     And also one at Ryal Side   

Salem Willows, Massachusetts

Swampscott, Massachusetts

Andover, Massachusetts

Marblehead, Massachusetts

Needham, Massachusetts

Peabody, Massachusetts

Hopkinton, Massachusetts

Danvers, Massachusetts (Highlands Horribles Parade, see their Facebook group )

I also understand that the towns of Winchester, Fairhaven,Wilmington and Marlborough, Massachusetts; Pelham, New Hampshire; and Wickford Village, North Kingston, Rhode Island  have annual Halloween Horribles Parades for children.  Does anyone else know of any other towns that still celebrate the 4th of July Horribles tradition, with the adults of the community participating, too?


Published under a Creative Commons License
Heather Wilkinson Rojo,  "Salem Willows Horribles Parade", Nutfield Genealogy, posted July 4, 2015, ( accessed [access date]). 

Happy 4th of July!

4th of July 2006 at the Portland Head Light
Portland, Maine

Published under a Creative Commons License
Heather Wilkinson Rojo,  "Happy 4th of July", Nutfield Genealogy, posted July 4, 2015, ( accessed [access date]). 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Moving a lighthouse… in 1844 and in 2015

The Gay Head Lighthouse, photographed in 2004
On the island of Martha’s Vineyard, there is a lighthouse at Gay Head.   The first lighthouse was built in 1796, and it was wooden. In 1838 the parabolic lantern in the top of the lighthouse were lowered 14 feet in order to shine below the fog line.   In 1844 the wooden lighthouse was moved back 75 feet because the clay cliffs were eroding.  These colorful red and white cliff were what gave the area its name “Gay Head”, which was originally known to the Wampanoag Indians as “Aquinnah”.  This move was purported to cost $386.87.

In 1854 a new, more modern lighthouse was built on Gay Head, in a new location (further back from the cliffs again) with more lamps and reflectors.  This lighthouse was closed in 1956, and it was retrofitted to run automatically without a lighthouse keeper.  In 1986 the light was re-opened to the public for tours.  By 2013 the lighthouse was declared “excess property” by the Coast Guard and the town of Aquinnah acquired it.  The Martha’s Vineyard Museum now manages the tower and the tours.

In 2012 the lighthouse was only 46 feet from the eroding clay cliff.  The “Save the Gay Head Lighthouse Committee” was formed to move the lighthouse away from the cliffs to safety.  A plan was made in 2014, and in April 2015 the lighthouse was moved back 135 feet from the cliffs.  This move has cost over $3.5 million dollars.

My sister lives on Martha's Vineyard, and she was married on the top of the Gay Head Light house in 2006.  I know that the lighthouse has been a special place in her heart, even before the wedding, and it is special to many people who live on Martha’s Vineyard island.  She was so happy to be part of the committee to save the lighthouse, and became the landscape architect for the landscape design team.  You can see her proposed design and rendering for the park around the lighthouse at its new location at this link  (click on the image of the rendering at this link to enlarge):

And here is the completed landscape rendering and final design (you can see the old and the new locations of the lighthouse):

Lighthouse Relocation chair, Len Butler,
with landscape architect, Laurel Wilkinson,
(my little sister in a hard hat!)
Photo courtesy of Derrill Bazzy
At the many meetings and during the intensive research that went on as part of moving this enormous 400 ton brick lighthouse, my sister learned that in 1844 the original wooden lighthouse was moved by “John Mayhew of Edgartown”.   She thought that was wonderful, since our family is descended from the original Governor Thomas Mayhew of Martha’s Vineyard.  She asked me “Were we cousins?”

Well, we descend from three of Thomas Mayhew’s children, two from his first wife Abigail Parkhurst, and one from his second wife Jane.  There were many, many “John Mayhews” in the family tree.  Which one was the John who moved the lighthouse?

I asked a few fellow genealogists for help.  Janice Webster Brown, genealogist and fellow New Hampshire genealogy blogger at "Cow Hampshire",  leaped to the challenge and had a lineage for me before I could even get back to my computer that same day. Janice has a Mayhew ancestor, too. After some fiddling, here is our cousin connection:

                     Governor Thomas Mayhew m. Jane, widow of Thomas Paine
                                  I                                            I
Matthew Mayhew m. Mary Skiffe            Hannah Mayhew m. Thomas Daggett
                                  I                                            I
Paine Mayhew m. Mary Rankin                Thomas Daggett m. Elizabeth Hawes
                                  I                                            I
Thomas Mayhew m. Lydia Lothrop           Elizabeth Daggett m. John Butler
                                  I                                            I
Paine Mayhew m. Margaret Wass              Keziah Butler m. Samuel Osborn
                                  I                                             I
Arnold Mayhew m. Jerusha White             Samuel Osborn m. Sarah Wass 
                                 I                                              I
Constant Mayhew m. Rowena Phinney     Sarah Osborn m. Charles Skinner
                                 I                                              I
John Mayhew m. Deborah Jernegan          Ann Skinner m.  Thomas Ratchford Lyons
                                                                    Isabella Lyons m. Rev. Ingraham E. Bill
                                                                    Caleb Rand Bill m. Ann Margaret Bollman
                                                                    Isabella Lyons Bill m. Albert Munroe Wilkinson
                                                                    Donald Munroe Wilkinson m. Bertha Louise Roberts
                                                                                           (my grandparents)

Many years ago I received assistance on my three Mayhew lineages from Catherine Mayhew (imagine that! Another cousin!), the librarian at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum.  This spring Patricia Stano Carpenter, a fellow member of the Massachusetts Society of Genealogist, put me touch in Catherine Mayhew and Jane Manning, a genealogist on the island.  Catherine sent me the following excerpts from Banks History of Martha’s Vineyard, Volume II “Annals of Gay Head”, pages 28 – 31 in this email:

Leavitt Thaxter’s will confirmed the relationship naming his “adopted and beloved children John Mayhew, Esquire, and Martha Leavitt Thaxter”.6

 After the children’s father died Constant Mayhew died at Williamsburg in December 1827 of typhoid fever, he left five children ranging in age from 10 years to 2 months of age. A few years later Thaxter and his wife ‘Patty’ Martha (Mayhew) took in the two middle children, raising them as their own.1 The girl Martha Mayhew, also called Patty, was 13 when as “Martha Leavitt Mayhew, an adopted daughter of Leavitt Thaxter” she changed her name to Thaxter on 13 March 1832.5

 The boy John Mayhew never changed his name. His obituary says he came to Edgartown to attend Thaxter’s Academy by the time he was about 12, in 1834. At 18 he trained as a carpenter, then worked as a clerk in the custom house for about six years. In 1850 he established a successful express shipping business on the Islands while acting as purser for the steamboat company. Later he was also a general freight agent with the New Bedford, Nantucket & Martha’s Vineyard Steamboat Company for fifteen years.1

 I would be very interested in any facts found about the purported move.”

And from the book:

“Gay Head Light
..  approved 1799 by the General Court of Mass. a tract of two acres and four rods passed into possession of the government.  The tower first built was of wood, forty feet high, and the lantern  supported by eight large pine beams, was reached by ladders.  …The wooden tower, which had been reduced ten feet in height, lasted sixty years … and the site can be seen yet [c1930].  The second and present tower was built in 1858-9 and is of brick construction sixty feet high.

Another mystery?  Was the lighthouse really ever moved?  Or did John Mayhew just lop off the top of the wooden tower?  Well, at least we now know who was John Mayhew (1822 – 1899).  And yes, he was a cousin!

 More resources for the truly curious: 

The Gay Head Lighthouse

Gay Head Lighthouse at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum website

Gay Head Light Wikipedia article

Save the Gay Head Lighthouse Facebook page

“Gay Head Light reaches final destination after historic move” by Doug Fraser, for The Cape Cod Times, May 31, 2015,

“Day Three: Cheers All Around as Historic Lighthouse Move is Complete” by Alex Elvin for The Vineyard Gazette, May 30, 2015

Stay tuned!  Both PBS's NOVA and the National Geographic channel filmed the Gay Head Lighthouse move for future broadcast as part of documentaries to be broadcast later.

Published under a Creative Commons License
Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Moving a lighthouse ... in 1844 and in 2015", Nutfield Genealogy,  July 2, 2015 ( accessed [access date]). 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Weathervane Wednesday ~ This one is unique!

Weathervane Wednesday is an on-going series of photographs I post weekly.  I started by publishing weather vanes from the Londonderry area, but now I've been finding interesting weather vanes all across New England.  Sometimes my weather vanes are whimsical, or historical, but all are interesting. Often, my readers tip me off to some very unique and unusual weather vanes, too!

Today's weather vane  is from somewhere in Vermont.

Do you know the location of weather vane #215? Scroll down to see the answer!

Today's weather vane was spotted in Chester, Vermont.  It is a two dimensional silhouette of a bulldozer or plow, possibly a snow plow. Perhaps this is a piece of advertising art for the owner of this building, or perhaps it is just a symbol for winter in Vermont? Whatever it symbolizes, it is the only weather vane of a bulldozer I've ever seen!

Click here to see the entire Weathervane Wednesday collection! 

The URL for this post is  
Copyright (c) 2015, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Col. John Goffe and his wife Hannah

         This tombstone was photographed at the Old Burial Ground in Bedford, New Hampshire

In memory of Col. John
Goffe Esq. & Mrs. Hannah his
Col. Goffe was             Mrs. Goffe was
bo     35th               born Octr. 2nd
    [illegible]               1702 & deceasd
[illegible]  86th Year        in the 96th Year  
of his age.         of her age.

The memory of the just is blessed


detail of the epitaph at the bottom of the tombstone
"The memory of the just is blessed"
Here is the vital information missing from this broken stone:

John Goffe, son of John Goffe and Hannah Parish, was born 25 March 1701 in Boston, Massachusetts and died 20 October 1786 in Derryfield (now Manchester), New Hampshire.  He is buried at the Old Burial Ground, which is now located in the town of Bedford, New Hampshire.  He married Hannah Griggs on 16 October 1722 in Roxbury, Massachusetts.  She was the daughter of Ichabod Griggs and Margaret Bishop.  Margaret Bishop's grandfather was William Cogswell (1619 - 1700), the brother of my 8th great grandfather, John Cogswell (1622 - 1653).  

Hannah Parish's mother, Mercy Crispe (1648 - 1686) is the sister of my 9th great grandmother, Elizabeth Crispe Lawrence (1637- 1681).

The URL for this post is
Copyright (c) 2015, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Monday, June 29, 2015

July 2015 Genealogy and Local History Calendar

July 1 to 5, The Boston Harborfest 2015 This festival includes historical re-enactments, concerts, fireworks, historical tours, and much, much more.  Over 200 daily events in Boston’s historic downtown and waterfront districts.  Check the website for schedules and more information.

July 1 to 31, Boston National Historic Park, tours, lectures, children’s activities and special events calendar at this link

July 2, Friday, noon, Lunch and Learn:  Artisanry in the Modern World, at Plimoth Plantation, Plymouth, Massachusetts, Free to members, $8 non members, Bring or buy lunch and learn about the role of collegiate artisan programs and their applicability in a modern economy.  Click here to register 

July 3, Friday, 3pm, A Visit with Abraham Lincoln, at the Meredith Bay Colony Club, 21 Upper Mile Point Drive, Meredith, New Hampshire, a living history presentation by Steve Wood.  Free to the public, call 603-279-1500 for more information. 

July 3 to 5, Independence Day Celebration at Sturbridge Village Museum, at Sturbridge, Massachusetts.  Old fashioned family fun, parade, a patriotic reading of the Declaration of Independence, crafts, drill with the militia, learn dances from the 18th century, and play 19th century “base ball”.  See this link for more information:

July 4, Saturday, 10am – 5pm, An American Celebration!  At Strawbery Banke Museum, Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  An old-fashioned 4th of July celebration with children’s bike and wagon parade at 2:30pm, a visit by Abraham Lincoln, traditional games and crafts, garden tours, live music by Bedford Big Band, living history exhibits, hands on activities, food and fun for all! Active military families FREE. 

July 7, Tuesday, 6:30pm Family Stories: How and Why to Remember and Tell Them, at the Plaistow, New Hampshire Public Library, 85 Main Street, Plaistow, New Hampshire.  Contact Brianna Sullivan at 603-382-6011 for more information. Free to the public

July 9, Thursday, 7pm, I can't but die once - Harriet Tubman's Civil War - a living history performance, at the Amherst Town Public Library, Amherst, New Hampshire. Presented by Gwendolyn Quezaire-Presutti.  Free to the public thanks to the New Hampshire Humanities Council.  

July 9, Thursday, 2:30pm  Big House, Little House, Back House, Barn:  The Connected Farm Buildings of New England, at Tad’s Place, Heritage Heights, 149 E. Side Drive, Concord, New Hampshire.  Contact Ruslyn Vear at 603-673-2288 for more information.  Free to the public.

July 10, Friday, 8:30 am- Taste of Haymarket,  a 2 hour tour of historic Haymarket in Boston.  This tour departs from the corner of Congress and Hanover Streets, and is $25 for members of Historic New England, and $35 for non members. Learn the history of the Haymarket, how it has changed over time, visit vendors, sample fruits, vegetables, cheese and pizza.  Registration required at 617-994-5920.

July 11, 1pm, Discover Mount Auburn – A Walking Tour, at Mount Auburn Cemetery, 580 Mount Auburn Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts. A 1.5 mile walking tour will focus on the history, monuments and lives of those buried here. Register online at this link:  This tour will be repeated August 1st.

July 11, Saturday, 10am, Walking Tour- The Irish and the Acre, at the Lowell National Historic Park Visitor Center, Lowell, Massachusetts, a 90 minute FREE walking tour. 

July 11, Saturday, 10am, Walking Tour: Our Franco-American Pioneers, a tour of Mount Calvary Cemetery, Goffstown Road, Manchester, New Hampshire.  Meet at the Mausoleum/Office parking lot on Goffstown Road, opposite the cemetery. $5 Manchester Historic Association members, $10 general public, please pre-register at 603-622-7531. 

July 11, Saturday, The Maine Genealogical Society Fair at the Cultural Building, Home of the State Library, Archives and Museum, Augusta, Maine, Free admission. Visit with genealogical and historical societies from around the state of Maine.

July 11, Saturday, 1pm, Abigail Adams:  Life, Love, Letters, at the North Bridge, Visitor Center, Buttrick Garden, Concord, Massachusetts, sponsored by the Minuteman National Park Service, Join Abigail Adams as she reflects on her courtship and marriage.  Bring a lawn chair.  Free to the public.

July 11, Saturday, 6 – 8pm, Prohibition Repealed!  A celebration of the repeal of the 18th amendment on the grounds of the Roseland Cottage, 556 Route 169, Woodstock, Connecticut.  For those ages 21 and over, historic cocktails and hor d’oeuvres, dancing, costumes encouraged but not required.  Proceeds to support the preservation of Roseland Cottage,  $35 Historic New England members, $35 non-members.  Registration required at 860-928-4074. 

July 11, Saturday, 10am – noon, Historic Curb Appeal:  Style and Color for your Old House, at the Quincy House, 20 Muirhead Street, Quincy, Massachusetts, A walking tour to learn the history and architecture of Quincy’s Wollaston neighborhood, and tips on adding curb appeal to your old house through historic paint color combinations.  $5 Historic New England members, $10 non-members.  Registration required at 617-994-5930. 

July 8-9, Hermione in Newport, Rhode Island, Lafayette’s replica ship will be in Newport. See the website

July 10, Friday, 9am - 5pm FREE Fun Friday at NEHGS, The New England Historic Genealogical Society will participate in the Free Fun Fridays program sponsored by the Highland Street Foundation with a FREE day, with free lectures, tours, and 15 minute consultations at their library at 99 - 101 Newbury Street, Boston, Massachusetts.  

July 11, Saturday, 8:30pm,  July Evening Lantern Walk, at Colonial Pemaquid in Maine. Step into the past as you tour a 17th century village, meet some of the inhabitants and be challenged by an 18th century soldier on guard duty at Fort Frederick.  Rain date is Sunday, July 12.

July 11 and 12, Hermione in Boston, Lafayette’s replica ship will be in Boston. See the website

July 12, Sunday, 10am – 3pm  Vintage Base Ball Quadruple Header, at the Spencer Peirce Little Farm, 5 Little’s Lane, Newbury, Massachusetts.  Free to Historic New England members, $5 non-members.  Four games played with 1860s rules.  Snacks, baseballs, and cards sold.  Grass field seating, bring blankets and lawn chairs.  Weather permitting, please call 978-462-2634 for more information. Come for all four games or just stay for one or two!

July 12, Sunday, 3pm, Historic New England Wallpaper Workshop, at the Nickels Sortwell House, 121 Main Street, Wiscasset, Maine, $5 Historic New England members, $10 non-members.  Registration required at 207-882-7169. 

July 14, Tuesday, 6:30 pm, A Soldier's Mother Tells Her Story, at the Richards Free Library, 58 North Main Street, Newport, New Hampshire.  A Civil War living history presentation by Sharon Wood as Betsey Phelps.  Free to the public.  Call 603-863-3105 for more information. 

July 14, Tuesday, 7pm, Crosscut:  The Mills, Logging and Life on the Androscoggin, , at the Salem Historical Museum, 310 Main Street, Salem, New Hampshire.  Contact Beverly Glynn at 603-893-8862 for more information.  Free to the public.

July 14, Tuesday, 4 – 5:30pm, DNA Testing and Revolutionary Ancestors,  at the Boston Public Library, Copley Square, 700 Boylston Street, Boston, Massachusetts, presented by Jennifer Zinck.  Free to the public.

July 14, Tuesday, 7pm, Vanished Veterans – NH’s Civil War Monuments and Memorials, at the Nashua Public Library, 2 Court Street, Nashua, New Hampshire.  Contact Carol Eyman at 603 – 589-4610 for more information. Free to the public.

July 14 – 15, Hermione in Castine, Maine, Lafayette’s replica ship will be in Castine. See the website

July 15, Wednesday, 6:30pm, World War Two New Hampshire, a documentary film that tells the story of life in NH during the second World War through interviews, film shorts, photos, and radio reports.  at the Lane Memorial Library, 2 Academy Avenue, Hampton, New Hampshire. Contact Darrell Eifert at 603-926-3368 for more information.  Free to the public.

July 15, Wednesday, 7pm  New Hampshire Cemeteries and Gravestones, at the Freedom Town Hall, 12 Elm Street, Freedom, New Hampshire.  Contact David Trook at 603-539-1051 for more information.  Free to the public.

July 18, Saturday, 10am – 4pm, American Independence Festival, at the Gilman Garrison House, 12 Water Street, Exeter, New Hampshire, this is a town wide event celebrating the reading of the Declaration of Independence.  Free to the public. Call 603-436-3205 for more information.

July 18, Saturday, 10am to noon, When Johnny Comes Marching Home, at the Cedar Hill Cemetery, 453 Fairfield Avenue, Hartford, Connecticut. Join researcher Mary A. Falvey in a walking tour of Cedar Hill Cemetery as she shares the stories of residents and veterans of the Civil War era.

July 18, Saturday, 1pm and 3pm.  Pirates at Pemaquid!  At Colonial Pemaquid in Maine.  Living history presenter and local author James Nelson re-creates the infamous Dixie Bull who attacked and sacked Pemaquid in 1632. Rain date Sunday July 19th.

July 20, Monday, 7:30pm  Our 18th Century Heroes and Hellraisers and How they Affect us Today.  At Colonial Pemaquid in Maine.  Historian Chip Griffin reflects on the profound influence and legends surrounding Maine’s early Scots-Irish settlers.  $5 donation.

July 20, Monday, 6:30pm  Lizzie Borden Took an Axe, Or Did She?  A review of the case, and connections to New Hampshire are discussed.  At the Derry Public Library, 64 East Broadway, Derry, New Hampshire.  Contact Sherry Bailey at 603-432-6140 for more information.  Free to the public.

July 22 – 26, Sail Portsmouth 2015, Fish Pier on Peirce Island opposite Prescott Park, Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  A parade of tall and small ships through Porstmouth.  Good views at Four Tree Island, Great Island Common, Ft. Foster in Kittery and Portsmouth Yacht Club in New Castle.   There will be deck tours, day sails, exhibits, food, music and souvenirs. See the website for more details

July 23, Thursday, 10am to noon, Every Dish has a Past: Historic Recipe Research Mini-Workshop, at the Castle Tucker, 2 Lee Street, Wiscasset, Maine.  $25 for Historic New England members, $35 non-members.  Learn how recipes develop and about nineteenth century ingredients and cook techniques.  Registration required at 207-882-7169. 

July 25, Saturday and July 26, Sunday, 17th Century Encampment on the Grounds of Colonial Pemaquid, at the Pemaquid State Historic Site, New Harbor, Maine, 9am to 5pm.  An outdoor interpretive weekend showcasing civilian and military aspects of 17th century life. Free to the public.

July 26, Sunday,  Massachusetts Genealogical Council Annual Meeting and Seminar, Mansfield, Massachusetts

July 26, Sunday, gates open at 10am - 4pm, 92nd Annual Nipmuc Nation Powwow, at the Hassanamisco Indian Reservation, Grafton, Massachusetts. For more information see the website or the Facebook group 

July 26, Sunday, 10am – 3pm, Vintage Base Ball Quadruple Header, at the Spencer Peirce Little Farm, 5 Little’s Lane, Newbury, Massachusetts.  Free to Historic New England members, $5 non-members.  Four games played with 1860s rules.  Snacks, baseballs, and cards sold.  Grass field seating, bring blankets and lawn chairs.  Weather permitting, please call 978-462-2634 for more information. Come for all four games or just stay for one or two!

July 27, Monday, Beginner Genealogy Classes - Class 1: Getting Started, at the Londonderry Historical Society, Parmenter Barn, 140 Pillsbury Road, Londonderry, New Hampshire, taught by certified genealogist Amylynne Murphy, register at or call 603-820-6706.  $20 per class, $50 for all 4 classes (July 27, August 3, August 10, and August 17th).  Proceeds to benefit the Londonderry Historical Society. 

July 28, Tuesday, 1:30pm, Intro to Genealogy, at the Haverhill, Massachusetts Public Library.  Learn to use the special collections room, which has a wealth of genealogy and local history resources.  Advance registration required, call 978-373-1586.  

August 1, Saturday and August 2, Sunday, 9am – 5pm  17th Century Encampment, an outdoor interpretive weekend at Colonial Pemaquid in Maine.  Re-enactors showcase civilian and military life with equipment, crafts, cooking, games, etc.  Sponsored jointly by the Friends of Colonial Pemaquid and the State of Maine.

August 1, Saturday, 1pm, Discover Mount Auburn – A Walking Tour, at Mount Auburn Cemetery, 580 Mount Auburn Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts. A 1.5 mile walking tour will focus on the history, monuments and lives of those buried here. Register online at this link:   This tour will be repeated September 5th.
August 1, Saturday, 10am  Walking Tour: Abolitionists in Lowell, a 90 minute walking tour of Lowell with Bob Forrant, Professor of History at UMass Lowell. Free to the public.  Meet at the Lowell National Historic Park Visitor Center in Lowell, Massachusetts.

August 1 and 2, Saturday and Sunday, Redcoats and Rebels, At Sturbridge Village Museum, Sturbridge, Massachusetts.  This is the largest military re-enactment in New England with nearly 1,000 soldiers playing British, Irish, Spanish, Scottish, French and Colonial troops. Events and activities including extended hours until 8pm are all listed 

August 3, Monday, Beginner Genealogy Classes - Class 2: Basic Records and Resources, at the Londonderry Historical Society, Parmenter Barn, 140 Pillsbury Road, Londonderry, New Hampshire, taught by certified genealogist Amylynne Murphy, register at or call 603-820-6706.  $20 per class, $50 for all 4 classes (July 27, August 3, August 10, and August 17th).  Proceeds to benefit the Londonderry Historical Society. 

August 6, Friday, Noon, Lunch and Learn:  The Yale Indian Papers Project, at Plimoth Plantation, Plymouth, Massachusetts.  Free to members, $8 non-members, bring or buy a lunch and learn about the cultural significance and potential historical impact of the Indian Papers Project.  Click here to register:   Click here for the Indian Papers Project 

August 8, Saturday, 10am, Walking Tour: Honoring Manchester’s Greek Community, a tour of the Greek section of Pine Grove Cemetery, Manchester, New Hampshire.  Meet at the chapel.  $5 Manchester Historic Association members, $10 general public, please pre-register at 603-622-7531.

August 8, Saturday, 10am – 12:30pm, Preparing Your Own Home Remedies, at the Watson Farm, 455 North Main Road, Jamestown, Rhode Island, join herbalist Kristin Minto to for a workshop to learn the historic ways to make teas, tinctures, medicinal oils, and to correctly prepare plants to use in oils. $15 Historic New England members, $20 non-members.  Register at 401-423-0005. 

August 10, Monday, Beginner Genealogy Classes - Class 3: Sourcing and Organization, at the Londonderry Historical Society, Parmenter Barn, 140 Pillsbury Road, Londonderry, New Hampshire, taught by certified genealogist Amylynne Murphy, register at or call 603-820-6706.  $20 per class, $50 for all 4 classes (July 27, August 3, August 10, and August 17th).  Proceeds to benefit the Londonderry Historical Society.

August 11, Tuesday, 4 – 5:30pm, Mustering Military Resources for Revolutionary War Genealogy Research,  at the Boston Public Library, Copley Square, 700 Boylston Street, Boston, Massachusetts, presented by David Allen Lambert.  Free to the public.

August 15, Saturday, 1 – 5pm, Fletcher’s Scouting Company Re-enactment at Colonial Pemaquid, New Harbor, Maine. Historical re-enactors will set up camp on the grounds of the state park and demonstrate 17th century activities such as cooking, wood working, military drills, weaponry, etc.  Rain date is Sunday, August 16. Free to the public.

August 15, Saturday, 11am to 4 pm, Living History Event at Former World War II Coastal Artillery Fort, Fort Stark State Historic Site, 211 Wild Rose Lane, New Castle, New Hampshire.  Living historians will bring the World War II era to life with camp set-ups, military vehicles, field offices, home front and militaria displays.  Re-enactors will be dressed in period military and civilian attire. Free to the public. Not handicapped accessible.

August 16, Sunday, 11:30 am Runaway Wives:  When Colonial Marriages Failed, at the Deering Community Church, 736 Deering Center Road, Deering, New Hampshire, contact Don Johnson at 603-529-7764 for more information.  Free to the public.

August 17, Monday, Beginner Genealogy Classes - Class 4: Discussion & Sharing, at the Londonderry Historical Society, Parmenter Barn, 140 Pillsbury Road, Londonderry, New Hampshire, taught by certified genealogist Amylynne Murphy, register at or call 603-820-6706.  $20 per class, $50 for all 4 classes (July 27, August 3, August 10, and August 17th).  Proceeds to benefit the Londonderry Historical Society

August 22, Saturday, 10am, Walking Tour:  Manchester Hebrew Cemetery, meet inside the entrance to the cemetery chapel on Beech Street, Manchester, New Hampshire.  $5 Manchester Historic Association members, $10 General Public, please pre-register at 603-622-7531. 
August 29, Saturday, 10am Walking Tour:  Lowell Monuments a 90 minute walk visiting some of the city’s most interesting monuments with Richard Howe, the Register of Deeds of the Middlesex North District and the official tour guide of Lowell Cemetery.  Free to the public. Meet at the Lowell National Historic Park Visitor Center in Lowell, Massachusetts.

September 3, Friday, Noon,  Lunch and Learn:  One Colonial Woman’s World, at Plimoth Plantation, Plymouth, Massachusetts, free to members, $8 for non-members. Bring or buy lunch and learn about Michelle Marchetti Coughlin and her book which chronicles the life and times of Mehetabel Chandler Coit (1673-1758) and her diary, which may be the earliest surviving diary by an American woman.

September 15, Tuesday, 4 – 5:30pm, Beyond Historical Records: The Old Colony Historical Society Revolutionary War Collection,  at the Boston Public Library, Copley Square, 700 Boylston Street, Boston, Massachusetts, presented by Andrew Boisvert.  Free to the public.

September 19, Saturday, The Maine Genealogical Society’s Annual Conference and Membership Meeting, in Brewer, Maine.  Keynote speaker will be Michael Strauss.  See  for more information

September 19, Saturday, 7:30 pm, Talking Baseball with Doris Kearns Goodwin and Ken Burns, sponsored by the Concord Museum,  at the Fenn School, Concord, Massachusetts. Join Doris Kearns Goodwin, curator for the Art of Baseball exhibit, and filmmaker Ken Burns for a lively conversation about their shared love of baseball moderated by Jeff Idelson, President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.  Registration required.  priority seating for members opens on July 15th.

September 19 and 20, Return to No. 4: Revolutionary War Weekend at the Fort at No. 4, Charlestown, New Hampshire. One of the biggest re-enactments of the year with battles both days at 1:30pm.  Fortified village tours, sutlers row for shopping, and self tours of the camps where you can see drills, open hearth cooking and demonstrations of colonial camp life. See the website for more information and a schedule of events

September 26, 1pm, From Amistad to Brown v. Board of Education: Mount Auburn’s Supreme Court Justices and Civil Rights Cases, at Mount Auburn Cemetery, 580 Mount Auburn Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts.  This walking tour will visit the graves of some of the 12 US and Massachusetts Supreme Court Judges, and a few others, whose beliefs and determination shaped the lives of a generation of Americans.  $7 members, $12 non-members. Register at this link: 

September 26 and 27, Saturday and Sunday,  from 11am – 3pm both days, rain or shine, The 11th Annual Portsmouth Fairy House Tour, the world’s largest fairy house tour, held in Portsmouth, New Hampshire’s historic South End at the Governor John Langdon House, Strawbery Banke Museum, Prescott Park and Peirce Island.  More than 100 handcrafted fairy houses made by local artists, florists,  garden clubs, and businesses on display.  A great way to expose your children to historic homes and gardens.  Advanced tickets are highly recommended.  For more information and to purchase tickets click at this link: 

October 13, Tuesday, 4 – 5:30pm, Using the DAR Genealogical Research System to Find Revolutionary Patriots and Descendants,  at the Boston Public Library, Copley Square, 700 Boylston Street, Boston, Massachusetts, presented by Carolyn Holbrook.  Free to the public.

November 10, Tuesday, 4 – 5:30pm, Our Ancestors in the Revolution: Telling the Story to Family,  at the Boston Public Library, Copley Square, 700 Boylston Street, Boston, Massachusetts, presented by Barbara Matthews.  Free to the public.

November 14, Saturday, 2pm, How to Discover Your Family and Community History, part of the “Exploring the World War One Home Front” series at the National Heritage Museum in Lexington, Massachusetts.  This workshop will support you in exploration of family stories from the World War 1 era, and help you find the documents and resources to uncover your family narrative.  Free to the public, registration required by November 5th, contact


Published under a Creative Commons License
Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Family Reunions, 2015", Nutfield Genealogy, posted June 29, 2015 ( : accessed [access date]). 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Surname Saturday ~ FRIEND of Salem and Manchester, Massachusetts

John Friend was in New England around 1637 and became a church member in Salem, Massachusetts in 1640.  He resided in the part of Salem that became Manchester, and he was a farmer, grist mill operator and a builder.    On 16 March 1640 several landowners, including John Friend, petitioned the General Court to establish Manchester as a separate village from Salem. This was granted in 1645, as you can see above on the town seal. 

In 1649 John also petitioned to build a grist mill on the Bass River. He built a dam and a grist mill near what is now the Cummings Center (the old United States Shoe Corporation), and near where my ancestor John Balch was living at the time (the Balch house is still standing and is owned by the Beverly Historical Society).  Around 1650 he sold the mill and land to Lawrence Leach, another one of my ancestors.   This is only a few blocks from 7 Dearborn Avenue in Beverly, Massachusetts, where I grew up, and where four generations of my family lived and walked to work at “The Shoe”.

There were several other John Friends in New England at this time period.  In the Essex Genealogist, Volume 16 (1996), page 139 a letter is quoted from John Winthrop to his son, John, dated 10 June 1636 “… I pray deliver this letter inclosed to Jo: Friend…”  This may have been a different John Friend.  Also, there is a John Friend in Boston at this time, a member of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company, who is probably a third John Friend.

It is unknown when John Friend died, but his will was dated 4 November 1655 and it was probated on 27 January 1655/56 in Salem. 

from The Essex Antiquarian, Volume VI (1902), page 157

The will of John Friend was proven in the court at Ipswich 27:1:1656.  The following copy is from the original on file in the office of the clerk of courts at Salem, Volume III, leaf 47.
The last will & Testament of John ffreind made ye 4: of ye ii mo: 1655
I John ffriend being weake & sick of Bodie by of pfect Memory doe ordaine this as my Last will & testament
Imp.  I giue & bequeath unto my Sonn Samuell ffriends a double portion out of my whole estate personall & Reall:
Item  I giue unto my duaghter Elizabeth pecker: befides that tenn pownds I haue in my hands wch her granfather gaue her, twente shillings
Item I giue & bequeath unto my other thre children Bethiah Hester & James, Equall portions one as much as ye other: & for ye better pformance of this my will I appoynt my Sonn Samuell to be my Executor, & defire & appoynt my Louing ffiends william Dodg & william King to be my ouerfeers in witnefs whereof I haue herunto fet my hand ye day & yeer firft above written:
witnes George Emery
             Edmond grouer  [no signature]
             Henery Hericke"

Some FRIEND resources:

The History and Genealogy of John Friend of Salem, Massachusetts and his descendants, by Peter Pindar Stearns, Baltimore, MD: Gateway Press, 1997.

Also see the following articles, “John Friend of Salem and His Descendants”, Part 1  and Part 2, by Peter Pindar Stearns, The Essex Genealogist,  Volume 16 (1996), page 138 – 145, and Volume 16 (1996), pages 212 – 220.

My FRIEND genealogy:

Generation 1:  John Friend, born about 1605 in England, died between 4 November 1655 and 27 January 1656 in Manchester, Essex County, Massachusetts; married Unknown.  Five children

Generation 2: Bethiah Friend, born about 1637 and died before 1680; married about 1657 to John Poland, son of Thomas Poland and Hannah Unknown.  He was born about 1631 in England and died 3 August 1713 in Hamilton, Essex County, Massachusetts. Seven children.  John Poland married second to Margery Unknown, widow of Anthony Dike, about 1680.

Generation 3:  James Poland married Rebecca Kimball
Generation 4: John Poland married Abigail Davis
Generation 5:  Daniel Poland married Sarah Bishop
Generation 6:  Martha Poland married Alexander Mears
Generation 7:  Samuel Mears married Lydia W. Burnham
Generation 8: Samuel Mears married Sarah Ann Burnham
Generation 9: Sarah Burnham Mears married Joseph Gilman Allen
Generation 10: Joseph Elmer Allen married Carrie Maude Batchelder
Generation 11: Stanley Elmer Allen married Gertrude Matilda Hitchings (my grandparents)


Published under a Creative Commons License
Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Family Reunions, 2015", Nutfield Genealogy, posted June 27, 2015 ( : accessed [access date]).  

Friday, June 26, 2015

My Great Great Grandfather, the Deputy Customs Collector

Salem, Massachusetts is famous for the witch trials and the hysteria of 1692, but it is more important for its role in role as one of the most lucrative ports during the age of clipper ships to the Far East, importing porcelains, tea and spices.  This age of wealth was short lived when the larger ships to Asia and the Pacific no longer fit in Salem harbor.  By the time of the Civil War, most of the trade had moved to larger ports such as Boston and San Francisco.  Nathaniel Hawthorne worked at this custom house as a surveyor from 1846 – 1849, before he removed to Concord, Massachusetts.   The opening paragraphs of his famous book The Scarlet Letter describe the custom house in Salem.

In the 1870s, my 2nd great grandfather, Abijah Franklin Hitchings (1841 – 1910), began to work at the custom house.  He was a Civil War veteran, injured at the Battle of Fredericksburg, and unable to do manual labor.  He walked on crutches for a long time, and used a cane later in life.  He was the deputy customs collector until his death in 1910. 

This is the only photograph I have
of Abijah Franklin Hitchings
in his Salem Zouave uniform from
the Civil War

While he was at the custom house he wrote a book that listed all the ships registered in Salem since 1789.  You can see copies of this book at the Phillips Library in Salem and at the New England Historic Genealogy Society in the rare books collection.  The book lists the ships by name, with their statistics and the names of the captains and owners.  It is a valuable resource for Salem genealogy and maritime history.   His obituary mentioned another book about earlier ships that was unfinished at the time of his death, but I don’t know what happened to that manuscript. (See below for the obituary and genealogical information)

This custom house was built in 1819.  It was the thirteenth custom house on this site since the first one was built by the English in 1649 to collect duties for the British Crown.  This building housed the US Customs officials and their offices, and a warehouse for storing bonded and impounded cargos.  The eagle on the roof was carved by Joseph True in 1826.  The customs service was active here until the 1930s, and in 1938 the building was acquired by the National Park Service as a National Historic Site.
The interior of the Salem Custom House

The park ranger let me hold the key to the
Custom House inside the Deputy Collector's Office.
This would have been my 2x great grandfather's office

You can see that room #3 was the
Deputy Collector's Office

This was the collector's office, which was open to the public in its day

The collector's desk, where paperwork was filed and customs duties were levied

Today you can tour the Salem Custom House by appointment.  Only 20 visitors are allowed inside at any one time, accompanied by a park ranger.  On the day we visited, the custom house tour was combined with a tour of the USS Friendship, which is moored in front on Derby Wharf.

A view from the second floor of the Salem Custom House,
from the window of the Custom Collector's private office.
You can see Derby Wharf and the USS Friendship

My great great grandfather’s book:

Ship Registers of the District of Salem and Beverly, Massachusetts, 1789 – 1900, by A. Franklin Hitchings, Salem, Massachusetts:  Essex Institute, 1906.

Salem Custom House links:

The Salem Maritime National Historic Site

The US Custom House in Salem: Introduction

Salem Maritime National Historic Site at Wikipedia

The Records of the Salem Custom House 1762 – 1901 are held at the Peabody Essex Museum, under the call number MH 261.  They contain 9 boxes and 9.5 linear feet of material.

Additional material is held under The Records of The U.S. Customs Service , Record Group 36 at the National Archives and Records Administration in Waltham, Massachusetts.

A blog post which contains a transcription of a letter written by A. F. Franklin, the Deputy Custom's Collector, in 1902 

Genealogy Information:

Generation 1:  Daniel Hitchings, born about 1632 in England, died 15 April 1731 in Lynn, Massachusetts (yes, he was nearly 100 years old!); married first to Eleanor Unknown, mother of his children.  She died 10 September 1694 in Lynn.  He married second to Sarah Cushman, widow of John Hawkes, daughter of Thomas Cushman and Mary Allerton (my 10th great aunt in another lineage, daughter of Isaac Allerton, the Mayflower passenger, my 11th great grandfather).   I descend from two of Daniel Hitching’s five children.

Generation 2: Daniel Hitchings, born about 1660 in Lynn, died 15 January 1735 in Lynn; married first to Sarah Boardman (no children), and married second to Susannah Townsend on 19 October 1708 in Lynn.  She was the daughter of Thomas Townsend and Mary Davis, born 5 November 1672 in Boston and died 12 May 1737 in Lynn. Five children.

Generation 3:  Daniel Hitchings, born 19 October 1709 in Lynn, died 25 April 1760 in Lynn; married in June 1735 in Lynn to Hannah Ingalls, daughter of Nathaniel Ingalls and Anne Collins.  She was born about 1713 and died before 15 April 1798.  Twelve children.

Generation 4: Abijah Hitchings, born 18 January 1753 in Lynn, died 27 March 1826 in Salem; married first on 24 June 1775 in Lynn to Mary Gardner, daughter of Benjamin Gardner and Sarah Randall.  She died before 1792.  He married second to her sister, Sarah Gardner.

Generation 5: Abijah Hitchings, son of Abijah and Mary, born about 1775 in Lynn and died 26 July 1868 in Salem; married 21 December 1795 in Salem to Mary Cloutman, daughter of Joseph Cloutman and Hannah Becket.  She was born about 1775 in Salem and died 28 November 1853 in Salem.  Eleven children.

Generation 6: Abijah Hitchings, born 18 January 1809 in Salem, died 18 January 1864 in Salem; married on 4 December 1836 in Salem to Eliza Ann Treadwell, daughter of Jabez Treadwell and Betsey Jillings Homan.  She was born 27 August 1812 in Salem, and died 31 January 1896 in Salem.  Four children.

Generation 7:  Abijah Franklin Hitchings, born 28 October 1841 in Salem, died 19 May 1910 in Salem; married on 22 September 1864 in Salem to Hannah Eliza Lewis, daughter of Thomas Russell Lewis and Hannah Phillips.  She was born about 1844 probably in Salem, and died 15 February 1921 at the Danvers State Hospital, Danvers, Massachusetts.  Two children.

Generation 8: Arthur Treadwell Hitchings, born 10 May 1868 in Salem, died 7 March 1937 in Hamilton, Massachusetts; married on 25 December 1890 in Beverly to Florence Etta Hoogerzeil, daughter of Peter Hoogerzeil and Mary Etta Healey.  She was born 20 August 1871 in Beverly and died 10 February 1941 in Hamilton.  Eight children.

Generation 9:  Gertrude Matilda Hitchings, born 1 August 1905 in Beverly, and died 3 November 2011 in Peabody, Massachusetts; married on 14 February 1925 in Hamilton to Stanley Elmer Allen, son of Joseph Elmer Allen and Carrie Maude Batchelder.  He was born 14 January 1904 in Cambridge, Massachusetts and died 6 March 1982 in Beverly.  Seven children, including my mother.

Obituaries for Abijah Franklin Hitchings:
May 20, 1910
Newspaper unknown (found in a file at Harmony Grove Cemetery, Salem, Massachusetts, where Abijah Franklin Hitchings is buried).

Was Deputy Collector of the Port of Beverly and Salem for Many Years

                A. Frank Hitchings, deputy collector of customs for the district of Salem and Beverly, died at his home, 8 Bentley Street, last night.  He was born in Salem, was the son of the late Abijah and Eliza (Treadwell) Hitchings, and was in his 69th year.  He was educated in the Salem public schools, and afterwards worked at shoe making.  He was one of the original minute men, enlisting as a boy of 19 years, in the old Salem Zouaves.  Company J, Eighth regiment, M.V.M., Capt. Arthur F. Devereaux, and serving until discharged August 1, 1861.  He re-enlisted as a sergeant in Company H., 19th Massachusetts regiment, and was discharged July 25, 1863 on account of wounds received at the battle of Fredricksburg.  He joined Post 34, G.A.R., May 17, 1869.
                Nov. 19, 1873 Mr. Hitchings was appointed an inspector in the Salem Custom house and assigned to duty as clerk.  June 3, 1881, he was promoted to deputy collector, succeeding Col. J. Frank Dalton, who resigned May 7, 1881, to become postmaster of Salem.  Mr. Hitchings has held the position of deputy collector ever since.  He was a fine penman, very careful and methodical in everything that he did, and was a valuable government official.  In connection with Stephen W. Phillips he prepared for publication by the Essex Institute the official register of all Salem vessels of which any record could be found in the Salem Custom house, a work which is extremely valuable today.  He was a member of the Essex Institute.  He possessed a fund of valuable information of Salem's early history, gleaned from his long service in the custom house.
                Mr. Hitchings leaves a widow, a son, a daughter, and grandchildren.

Also, from a newspaper clipping (newspaper unknown)

May 24, 1910
In Memoriam
A. Frank Hitchings

                The death of Deputy Collector A. Frank Hitchings removes from Salem one of those characteristic figures we can ill afford to lose.  Since William W. Oliver, the Salem custom house has had no officer so thoroughly imbued with a love of all that was best in the city's commercial past, so absorbed in his allotted work, so thoroughly familiar with the detailed knowledge which makes a functionary of his class invaluable.  He had been identified with the government service long enough to become a part of it.  Enlisting for the Civil war among the youngest, he encountered every peril and bore every hardship with a murmur, and, at the end of the struggle, brought home, like so many more, wounds which have slowly sapped the currents of his life.
                Mr. Hitchings produced, four or five years ago, a complete abstract of all the ships' registers recorded at this port under the Federal constitution.  The aid rendered by George H. Allen and Stephen W. Phillips enabled him to make this monumental work a unique contribution to the antiquarian resources of this region.  It left only one thing to be desired.  The lack of a single feature, an index to the names of owners and masters, was a serious handicap to its practical utility.  Such an index would have been too bulky to be printed with the book, but without an index, curious descendants of the old worthies who made Salem famous could only trace the voyages of their ancestors where they knew before hand the names of their ships.
                This task Mr. Hitchings set himself at once to supply.  He had undertaken a card catalogue, already well advanced, which was to embrace, not only the ship's registers here since 1789, but also such earlier Salem ships as could be traced, besides the added tonnage of Newburyport, Gloucester and Marblehead.  A good deal of material for this work was already to be printed.  But the task awaits for its completion the time, energy, patience and skill of some public spirited deliverer in the hidden things.  The student who takes up the task where Mr. Hitchings has left it, and carried in forward to success, will be able to congratulate himself, not only on providing ready access to the very tonnage owned by each merchant, commanded by each shipmaster, of Salem's palmy days, but also on completing a well earned monument to one of the modest, painstaking, earnest workers in the field of local research.

R.S.R. Salem, May 23


Published under a Creative Commons License
Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "My Great Great Grandfather, the Deputy Customs Collector", Nutfield Genealogy, posted June 26, 2015 ( :  accessed [access date]).