Monday, June 18, 2018

Colonial Boston in Miniature and in Giant Murals (in the same spot!)

1622 William Blaxton on the Shawmut Peninsula

On Newbury Street, right across from the New England Historic Genealogical Society, is the old New England Life Building.  It is known as The Newbry today. The main entrance is on 501 Boylston Street, but if you enter by the Newbury Street side and look to your left and to your right, there are four small dioramas set into the walls.  Each tiny masterpiece displays a scene from the origins of colonial Boston.  At the Boylston Street entrance is a massive lobby with eight murals showing Boston History up until the Revolutionary War (1622 – 1798).

The Boston Society of Natural History existed from 1830  until 1948 in Boston.  It was located in the financial district, and in 1864 it moved to 234 Berkeley Street in the new Back Bay neighborhood created by a massive landfill project.  The society evolved later into what is now the Boston Museum of Science, and removed from Back Bay to Cambridge.

These four intricate dioramas were built for the Boston Society of Natural History in 1863.  This museum was right on this block at the corner of Boylston and Berkeley Streets, and it is now recently the Louis Boston building, and is now a branch store of Restoration Hardware.  These miniature scenes were created by a woman, Sarah Ann Rockwell, and the painted backgrounds were done by Henry Brooks.  The first diorama displays a scene from pre-colonial contact, with Native Americans setting fish weirs in Back Bay. The second shows William Blaxton (AKA Blackstone) and his little settlement on the Shawmut peninsula. The third shows workers filling in Back Bay in 1858.  The fourth shows the miniature Boston Society of Natural History building described above, and Rogers Hall, which was the first MIT building in Back Bay (1866 – 1938).

Native American fishing weirs in Back Bay

1858 filling in Back Bay

1866 The Boston Society of Natural Science and MIT's Rogers Building
 According to the book Boston Curiosities, Sarah Ann Rockwell was a perfectionist.  She took two weeks to make a human diorama figure and a month to make a tiny horse. She researched the history of Back Bay, and even used original blueprints of the buildings in the fourth diorama to create the mini structures.

Charles Constantin Joseph Hoffbauer (1875 – 1957) was a French born Beaux Arts artist who worked for Disney and created several famous murals, including the mural inside the Battle Abbey in Richmond, Virginia started in 1913, and finished after he served for France in World War I.  Hoffbauer was hired by New England Life to create the murals for their new lobby.  He spent five months in Boston researching the local history.  Then he painted these murals in Hollywood, California and they were installed in Boston in May 1942 for a convention, then removed for final details and reinstalled four months later.  Hoffbauer became an American citizen in 1941, and later lived in Rockport, Massachusetts.

Building the USS Constitution
The Winthrop Fleet

This lobby is open to the public, but I always ask the guard at the lobby desk for permission to linger and loiter.  Most people rush right past these works of art to the elevators, but if you want to take in all the details you will be here for at least a few minutes, if not more!

For more information:

Boston Curiosities:  Quirky Characters, Roadside Oddities, and other Offbeat Stuff, by Bruce Gellerman and Erik Sherman, Morris Book Publishing, Guilford, CT, 2010.

Charles Hoffbauer at Wikipedia: 

(I could find no information about artist Sarah Ann Rockwell online)


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Colonial Boston in Miniature and in Giant Murals (in the same spot!)", Nutfield Genealogy, posted June 18, 2018, ( accessed [access date]). 

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Surname Saturday ~ GARDNER of Gloucester, Massachusetts


 Very, very little is known of my 8th great grandfather, James Gardner (about 1641 – 1684) who appears first in the Gloucester, Massachusetts records in 1661 when William Vinson deeded him some land.  He settled in the most eastern section of the Gloucester peninsula according to John J. Babson in his History of the Town of Gloucester, 1860.   He next appears in the vital records in 1661 when he married Elizabeth Vinson, daughter of the William mentioned above.  They had ten children together and both died rather young in 1684. 

I descend from James Gardner, Jr., my 7th great grandfather, who was the youngest child, not even four years old when his parents died.  James had five children with his wife Abigail (maiden name unknown) all born in Gloucester.  Again, I descend from the youngest child, Eunice, born in 1724, my 6th great grandmother, who married Jeremiah Allen from Manchester, Massachusetts. 

I have two other GARDNER lineages.  One is from Thomas Gardner at this link:
and the other is a brickwall ancestor in Salem, Massachusetts: 

My GARDNER genealogy:

Generation 1:   James Gardner, born about 1641, died 8 December 1684 in Gloucester, Massachusetts; married on 19 June 1662 in Gloucester to Elizabeth Vinson, daughter of William Vinson and Sarah Unknown. She was born 16 May 1644 in Gloucester, and died 4 March 1684 in Gloucester. Ten children.

Generation 2:  James Gardner, born 27 August 1681 in Gloucester, married Abigail Unknown.  Five children. 

Generation 3:  Eunice Gardner, born 18 March 1724 in Gloucester; married on 17 June 1748 in Manchester, Massachusetts to Jeremiah Allen, son of Jeremiah Allen and Lydia Tuck.  He was born 6 April 1728 in Manchester and probably died in Nova Scotia. Eight children.

Generation 4:  Abigail Allen m. Comfort Haley
Generation 5:  Comfort Haley m. Rebecca Crosby
Generation 6:  Joseph Edwin Healy m. Matilda Weston
Generation 7:  Mary Etta Healey m. Peter Hoogerzeil
Generation 8:  Florence Etta Hoogerzeil m. Arthur Treadwell Hitchings
Generation 9: Gertrude Matilda Hitchings m. Stanley Elmer Allen (my grandparents)

Heather Wilkinson Rojo, “Surname Saturday ~ GARDNER of Gloucester, Massachusetts”, Nutfield Genealogy, posted June 16, 2018, ( accessed [access date]). 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Weathervane Wednesday ~ A Fish by the Sea (Actually, Two Fish!)

I post another in a series of weather vane photographs every Wednesday.  This started with images of weathervanes from the Londonderry, New Hampshire area, but now I've found interesting weather vanes all across New England and across the globe.  Sometimes my weather vanes are whimsical, or historical, but all are interesting.  Often my readers tip me off to some very unique or unusual weathervanes, too!  If you know a great weather vane near you, let me know if you'd like to have it featured on this blog.

Today's weather vane was photographed in Maine.

Do you know the location of weathervane post #367?  Scroll down to find the answer.

Popham Chapel at Popham Beach, Maine

Now, look carefully at the house behind the chapel.  See the fish above the house?

These two weathervanes are located side by side in Popham Beach, Maine.  The chapel is right by the road, and the chapel house is set back behind the library next door.  Both are similar three dimensional fish weathervanes, with very slight variations.  The weathervane on the steeple of the chapel is much bigger.

Popham Chapel was built over 120 years ago.  It was renovated by the community after it fell into disrepair during the Great Depression years.  In 1988 the community also bought the house next door and turned it into the Popham Chapel House.  The Ladies of Popham Circle continue to raise funds for the upkeep of these buildings and community outreach.  Please see their website below.

Popham Chapel "The Little Church by the Bay"    

Click on the link below to see all the weathervanes featured at "Weathervane Wednesday": 


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Weathervane Wednesday ~ A Fish by the Sea (Actually, Two Fish!)", Nutfield Genealogy, posted June 13, 2018, ( accessed [access date]).

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Tombstone Tuesday ~ John Bell, Irish Immigrant, died in Bedford, NH 1767

This Tombstone is from the Old Burial Ground in Bedford, New Hampshire.

HERE LYES THE                                  HERE LIES THE
9TH 1746 AGED 49 YEARS                 2, 1765 AGED 67 YEARS
---------------------------- 0------------------------------

According to the History of Bedford and also Bolton's Immigrants to New England 1700 - 1775, John Bell was an immigrant from Ireland around 1736.  His wife, Katherine and his four children arrived in 1739. 

Other early Bell tombstones photographed in Bedford: 

and also "One stone for seven Bell children":


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Tombstone Tuesday  ~ John Bell, Irish Immigrant, died in Bedford, NH 1767", Nutfield Genealogy, posted June 12, 2018, ( accessed [access date]).

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Surname Saturday ~ CLEMENTS of Haverhill, Massachusetts


The first of the Clements family to come to America was Job Clements, son of Robert Clements, who came to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1639.  Soon after his wife, Lydia died in 1642 in England, Robert Clements came to New England permanently with his sons Job and John, and his daughters Sarah and Lydia.  He left behind two older sons, and a five year old Mary who eventually came to Massachusetts and married John Osgood. Her brother, John Clements, married Sarah Osgood, John’s sister. In 1692 Mary (Clements) Osgood was accused of witchcraft and confessed.  Several months later she recanted, saying she was forced to confess. She remained in prison until early 1693 when she was ordered to be released. 

Robert first lived at Salisbury, and then removed further inland and up the Merrimack River to Haverhill.  The Deed for Haverhill was signed in 1642 by six men, including Robert Clements and Reverend John Ward.  Clements is listed with he first 32 grantees in 1645, the same year he built the first grist mill.  He served as a representative to the General Court and as a Judge for Norfolk County. 

One of Robert Clements’ descendants was Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835 – 1910), also known as the famous author Mark Twain.  You can read about this connection in the article by Frank Emerson, “Mark Twain and his Connection to the Clemens and Emersons of Haverhill” The Essex Genealogist, August 199, pages 139 – 142.  I descend from both the Clements and Emerson families, too!

I descend from Robert Clements’ daughter Sarah (1626 – 1694) who married Abraham Morrill of Salisbury, Massachusetts.  You can read more about the MORRILL family at this link:

Some CLEMENTS family resources:

Ancestors and Descendants of Robert Clements, by P.W. Clement, 1927, pages 13-30

Dawes-Gates Ancestral Lines, by Mary Walton Ferris, vol. 1 (1943) and vol. 2 (1931)

Jeanie Thornton Roberts, “Robert Clement of Haverhill”, The Family Connection blog, posted January 2012, accessed 23 May 2018

Essex Antiquarian, Volume 7 (1903), page 158 for the will of Robert Clements of Haverhill.

My CLEMENTS genealogy:

Generation 1:  Robert Clements, son of Richard Clements and Agnes Unknown,  was baptized on 14 December 1595 in Cosby, Leicestershire, England, died 29 September 1658 in Haverhill, Massachusetts; married first  to Lydia Unknown.  She died 12 March 1642 in Ansley, Warwickshire, England; married second to Judith Unknown.   Judith remarried to John Whitney in 1659.  Eight Clements children with Lydia.

Generation 2:  Sarah Clements, born about 1626 in Ansley, died August 1694 in Salem, Massachusetts; married on 10 June 1645 in Salisbury, Massachusetts to Abraham Morrill.  He was born about 1615 in England and died 20 June 1662 in Roxbury, Massachusetts. Sarah married second to Thomas Mudgett on 8 October 1665 in Salisbury.  Nine Morrill children.

Generation 3:  Isaac Morrill m. Phebe Gill
Generation 4:  Mary Morrell m. George Tuck
Generation 5:  Lydia Tuck m. Jeremiah Allen
Generation 6:  Jeremiah Allen m. Eunice Gardner
Generation 7:  Abigail Allen m. Comfort Haley
Generation 8:  Comfort Haley m. Rebecca Crosby
Generation 9:  Joseph Edwin Healy m. Matilda Weston
Generation 10:  Mary Etta Healey m. Peter Hoogerzeil
Generation 11:  Florence Etta Hoogerzeil m. Arthur Treadwell Hitchings
Generation 12:  Gertrude Matilda Hitchings m. Stanley Elmer Allen (my grandparents)


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, “Surname Saturday ~ CLEMENTS of Haverhill, Massachusetts”, Nutfield Genealogy, posted June 9, 2018, ( accessed [access date]). 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Weathervane Wednesday ~ Weathervanes of Amsterdam

I post another in a series of weather vane photographs every Wednesday.  This started with images of weathervanes from the Londonderry, New Hampshire area, but now I've found interesting weather vanes all across New England and across the globe.  Sometimes my weather vanes are whimsical, or historical, but all are interesting.  Often my readers tip me off to some very unique or unusual weathervanes, too!  If you know a great weather vane near you, let me know if you'd like to have it featured on this blog.

Today's eight weather vanes were all photographed in Amsterdam in The Netherlands while I was on my recent tour with the General Society of Mayflower Descendants.  Since life in Holland is dependent on the weather, and since there are so many boats (many were formerly sailboats) on the rivers, canals and harbors, Amsterdam was full of great weathervanes.  Here are only a few of the ones we saw on our tour by foot, bus, and canal boat.

 Weathervane post #366

A merman with a shield, see on the church below

The Dutch Republic Lion weathervane on the
Amsterdam "Centraal" train station downtown
Another view of the same
weathervane in the rain

Amsterdam "Centraal" Train station, the weathervane is barely visible!

This ship weathervane is above a visitor center downtown on a canal

The birds were enjoying this banner weathervane on a church

A weathercock on a Protestant chuch

Another banner weathervane seen from the canal boat
The weathervane above is atop that turret on the right side of the photo
An interesting old banner weathervane
with a counterweight on the right
The weathervane above is atop that
church steeple high above the crowds
in downtown Amsterdam

This gilded ship weathervane is very detailed!
I love the crow's nest, and the planking on the hull

Click here to see the entire collection of Weathervane Wednesday posts!


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Weathervane Wednesday ~  Weathervanes of Amsterdam", Nutfield Genealogy, posted June 6, 2018, ( accessed [access date]). 

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Mariah (Eaton) Parker, d. 1826, Reading, Massachusetts

This tombstone was photographed at Laurel Hill Cemetery in Reading, Massachusetts

Memory of
~ Consort of Mr.
Gould Parker ~ 
who died July 10, 1826,
in the 22, year of her age.
Faith led her gently downward to the tomb,
While fix'd on heav'n her meek, yet steady eye
Pierc'd the thick shade that deepen'd
round its gloom,
And caught a gleam of glory from 
on high.

Gould Parker, son of Colonel Nathan Parker and Lydia Stearns, was born in 1804.  He married Mariah Eaton on 16 December 1824, just a year and a half before she died of consumption.  Gould Parker remarried second to Mary Flint in 1829. 

Mariah, baptized in Reading on 25 November 1804 was the daughter of Timothy Eaton and Lydia Bachelor, who were married in Reading on 16 June 1791.  


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Tombstone Tuesday ~ Mariah (Eaton) Parker, d. 1826, Reading, Massachusetts", Nutfield Genealogy, posted June 5, 2018, ( accessed [access date]).

Monday, June 4, 2018

Megan Markle’s New Hampshire Roots

Did you know that Megan Markle’s paternal grandmother, Doris Mary Rita Sanders (born about 1920), daughter of Fred George Sanders and Gertrude May Merrill,  was born in New Hampshire? She has a New Hampshire lineage that goes back for another ten generations in New Hampshire!

I won’t give her entire family tree here, since it is easily seen online at the resources listed below, and also since it would be enormous!  But I will tell you a little about Meghan’s New Hampshire ancestors.   The newspapers recently were all aflutter about Meghan’s Wentworth and Hussey shared ancestry with her husband Harry, but that goes back more than fifteen generations before they share an ancestor.  You might be even more closely related to the new royal bride if you match some of this New Hampshire ancestry.

From the lists of surnames below, I can see that I share common ancestors with Meghan through BURNHAM, PAGE, BATCHELDER, SANBORN, TAYLOR, SWETT, STACY and GODFREY, and kinship with a few other New Hampshire surnames.

Are these surnames in your New Hampshire family tree?  If so, you might be a cousin!  I’ve listed the surnames in Meghan’s family tree, and the immigrant ancestors of those surnames.

SMITH from Center Harbor, Meredith and Hampton (immigrant ancestor John Smith abt. 1616 – 1674)
MUDGETT  from New Hampton and Brentwood  (immigrant Thomas Mudgett abt. 1640 – 1701)
DRAKE from Holderness and Hampton (Abraham Drake 1623 – 1709)
MERRILL from Plymouth and Holderness (untraced before 1768)
HUCKINS from Gilmanton, Madbury and Durham (Oyster River) (Robert Huckins 1620 – 1694)
BICKFORD from Newington and Dover (John Bickford 1607 – 1677)
PAGE from Hampton  (Robert Page 1604 – 1679)
HOBBS from Hampton (Morris Hobbs 1615 – 1706)
SHAW from Cambridge MA and Hampton, NH (Roger Shaw 1600 – 1661)
BATCHELDER from Hampton (Rev. Stephen Batchelder 1561 – 1656)
DOW from Hampton (Henry Dow 1605 – 1659)
TAYLOR from Hampton (Anthony Taylor 1607 – 1687)
GODFREY from Hampton (William Godfrey d.1671)
HUSSEY from Hampton ( Christopher Hussey 1598 – 1685)
SANBORN from Hampton (John Sanborn 1588 – 1650)
MEAD (untraced before Hannah Mead m. Joseph Mudgett b. 1731)
SCRIBNER from Dover  (John Scriven (1623 – 1675)
SWETT from Hampton (Benjamin Swett 1624 – 1677)
THOMAS from Durham (Oyster River) (James Thomas (1642 – 1718)
GODDARD from Durham (Oyster River)  (John Goddard (1608 – 1666)
TIBBETTS from Dover (Jeremiah Tibbetts 1631 – 1677)
BENMORE from Dover (Philip Benmore 1630 – 1676)
ADAMS from Durham (Charles Adams (1621 – 1694)
WEARE from Nantucket and Hampton (Nathaniel Weare 1605 – 1681)
ROBIE from Hampton (Henry Robie)


Some of Meghan’s Essex County, Massachusetts ancestors:
LEE from Manchester
KILHAM from Wenham
LUNT from Newbury
BROWNE from Newbury
EATON from Salisbury and Haverhill
ROWLANDSON from Lancaster and Salisbury
WORTHEN (untraced)
TILTON from Lynn
BURNHAM from Ipswich
FRENCH from Salisbury
STACY from Salisbury
CARTER from Woburn
WHITCHER/WHITTIER from Salisbury, MA and Chester, NH
ELLSWORTH (untraced before Jeremiah Ellsworth 1692 – 1779 m. Hannah Tenney of Rowley, MA)

Some of the many online sources for Meghan’s ancestry:

from Fame Chain  

A chart of Meghan and Harry’s shared ancestry:


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Megan Markle’s New Hampshire Roots", Nutfield Genealogy, posted June 4, 2018, ( accessed [access date]).