Friday, August 28, 2009

George Emerson, Forty Niner

Carrie (Batchelder) Allen wearing the gold nugget
surrounded by her descendants, early 1950s

George Emerson’s parents were from New Hampshire, raised in Milford and removing to South Boston, Massachusetts sometime soon after their marriage in 1810. George was born in 1817, and married Mary Esther Younger in 1845. He was listed as a “boot and shoe worker.” This young family had two babies by the time gold was found in California in 1848.

Like many young men of the time, the call to go west and find his fortune hit George Emerson. He joined the New England and California Trading and Mining Company, which was headed by Herman H. Greene and Samuel Whitmarsh. 100 young fortune seekers paid $300 for a share in the corporation. $300 must have been quite a grand sum in those days. It seemed that every available New England ship was recruited to bring young miners to San Francisco that year. The New England and California Trading and Mining Company purchased the ship “Leonore”, which had been built in Newburyport, Massachusetts.

Before leaving Boston on February 3, 1849 the miners attended a special religious service at the Tremont Temple, and the Reverend Edward Beecher (brother to the authoress Harriet Beecher Stowe of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” fame) preached to them about morality. He admonished them to bring their good New England values with them as they traveled into the wilderness. After an uneventful voyage the "Leonore" reached San Francisco on July 5th. History books record the adventure as a bust, with no gold found and the ship "Leonore" was abandoned in San Francisco harbor.

Somehow George Emerson found his way home, because by 1851 he was back in Boston, and had fathered a third child. He eventually had eight children, and named the youngest, a daughter, Leonore. George became a Boston police officer, stationed at Field’s Corner. He died in 1890 at Dorchester, Massachusetts.

And what was his legacy? Well, at least one gold nugget was passed along in the family. His second child was Mary Katharine Emerson, who married George E. Batchelder in Chichester, New Hampshire in 1869. Their second daughter, Carrie Maude, born in 1872, wore the gold nugget on a chain around her neck, until she was quite elderly. According to a family story, it was going to be sold to finance her last years in a retirement home in Rowley, Massachusetts, but another son secretly sold it and took an extended vacation.

And what happened to the ship “Leonore”? Hundreds of ships were abandoned in San Francisco in the wake of the 1849 Gold Rush. Many became “ghost ships.” Many were scuttled for landfill. The “Leonore” became a whaler and eventually hauled timber.

The ‘49er George Emerson named his youngest daughter after her, and granddaughter Carrie named her eldest daughter Leonore, too. My great aunt Leonore (we called her Lena) was told that she was named after the covered wagon that took her ancestor west. It was only when George’s name was found on the passenger list of the New England and California Trading and Mining Company that we all found out the truth behind the gold rush myth!

Emerson Family Tree showing the girls named Leonore:

Gen. 1. Romanus Emerson, my 4th great grandfather, son of John Emerson and Katherine Eaton, b. 1 Sep. 1782 in Townsend, Massachusetts, raised in Hancock, New Hampshire, d. 10 Oct 1852 in South Boston, married on 22 Nov. 1810 in Boston to Jemima Burnham b. 9 May 1783 in Milford, New Hampshire, and died 5 Aug. 1868

Gen. 2. Son, George Emerson, my 3rd great grandfather,  b. 11 Jul. 1817 in South Boston, and d. 11 Jan 1890 in Dorchester, married on 11 Aug. 1845 to Mary Esther Younger, daughter of Levi Younger and Catherine Plummer Jones, b. 17 Feb. 1826 d. after 1910. Children of George and Esther (Eight born in Dorchester and South Boston)

Gen. 3. Child #2. Mary Katherine Emerson, my 2nd great grandmother, b. 25 Dec. 1847 in South Boston, d. 23 Apr. 1932 in Roxbury, m. on 28 Oct. 1869 in Chichester, New Hampshire to George E. Batchelder, b. 8 Oct. 1848, d. 28 Jul 1914 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He was the son of George E. Batchelder and Abigail M. Locke of Chichester, New Hampshire. (Nine children born in Chichester and Boston)

Gen. 4. Child # 2. Carrie Maude Batchelder, my great grandmother,  b. 22 Sep. 1872 in Chichester, d. 21 Jan 1963 in Rowley, Massachusetts, m. on 1 Nov. 1892 in Essex, Massachusetts to Joseph Elmer Allen. He was the son of Joseph Gilman Allen and Sarah Burnham Mears, b. 24 Sep 1870 in Essex, d. 12 Mar 1932 at the Masonic Home in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. (Five children born in Boston, Cambridge and Dorchester)

Gen. 5. Child #1. LEONORE Carrie Allen, my grand aunt, b. 20 Mar. 1894 in Boston, d. Jan 1973 in Stamford, Connecticut, m. 1. on 29 Dec 1912 in Essex, Massachusetts to Waldo Emerson Cooper, m. 2. after 1920 to Thomas J. McCormack.

Also in Gen. 4. Child #8. LEONORE Emerson, my second great aunt b. 28 Jan 1865 in Boston, d. 3 Mar 1944 in Los Angeles, California, m. on 17 Jun. 1903 at Boston to John Milton Earl Morrill. He was the son of John Langley Morrill and Elmina L. Mansfield, b. 8 Aug. 1857 in Middleton, Connecticut. And so it appears that "Leonore" went to California twice!  She had a daughter named LEONORE Ester Elmina Morrill, and a grand daughter named LEONORA High.

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Copyright 2009, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

New Hampshire Descendants of Francis Wyman

Francis Wyman House, Burlington, Massachusetts

Every fall for over 100 years, the Wyman Family Association hosts a gathering of the clan at the Francis Wyman house in Burlington, Massachusetts. The homestead still stands at 56 Francis Wyman Road, built in 1666, and is one of the three oldest houses in Massachusetts. Unlike most old, historical homes, the Wyman house is owned by the family association, not a museum or historical society. The house was originally built as a garrison, where families could flee in case of war or Indian attacks. It was used as a prison for captured British soldiers in 1775, and it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The house has suffered through fire and damage over the years, but the family association has taken on the burden of insuring, restoring and displaying the house to the public. A fire in 1996 caused major damage to the interior of the house. They are reconstructing an old Burlington barn on the property for rental purposes, to help fund the completion of the restoration.

Francis Wyman and his brother John came to America in 1636 with their uncles, Samuel and Thomas Richardson. They settled at Charlestown Village, now known as Woburn. The part of Burlington where the historic house sits was part of the larger settlement of Woburn in those times. Francis Wyman owned a tannery near the center of Woburn, on Wyman’s Lane. He lived to testify at the Salem Witch trials, and was buried in the Old Burial Ground in 1699.

The Wyman family had many descendants, and you can see the genealogy database at The official website of the Francis Wyman Family association also has many photographs, documents, web links, and minutes from past Family association meetings. There are two groups of Wyman descendants that made a large impact on New Hampshire history.

Wyman Tavern, Keene, New Hampshire

First, descendant Captain Isaac Wyman built a tavern in Keene, New Hampshire in 1762, and operated it as a public house for over 40 years. The first meeting of the trustees of Dartmouth College was held In the Wyman tavern on October 22, 1770. In April 1775 twenty nine Minute Men braced themselves for a long march to answer the call to fight at Lexington with a strong drink at the Wyman Tavern. The Wyman Tavern is run by the Historical Society of Cheshire County, and guided tours are available from May to mid-November.

Captain Isaac Wyman’s lineage from Francis Wyman the immigrant:
  • Gen. 1. Francis Wyman, b. 2 May 1617 in Westmill, Hertfordshire England, d. 28 Nov. 1699 Woburn (now Burlington), Massachusetts, married 1. Judith Pierce 30 Jan. 1643/4 in Woburn (no children), married 2.. Abigail Reed on 2 Oct. 1650 in Woburn. She was born on 30 Dec. 1634 in Dorchester, the daughter of William Reed and Mabel Kendall. (Seven children)
  • Gen. 2. William Wyman, b. 22 Feb. 1655/6 at Woburn, d. 1705, married on 25 Feb. 1681/2 at Salem to Prudence Putnam, b. 28 Feb. 1661/2 at Lynn, d. after 1745 at Medford. She was the daughter of Thomas Putnam and Ann Holyoke.
  • Gen. 3. Joshua Wyman, b. 3 Jan. 1692/3 at Woburn, d. 1770, married in 1722 to Mary Pollard. She was the daughter of Thomas Pollard and Sarah Farmer, b. 20 Aug. 1693 in Billerica.
  • Gen. 4. Colonel Isaac Wyman b. 18 Jan 1724/5 at Woburn, d. 31 Mar. 1792 in Keene, New Hampshire, married in 1747 at Deerfield, Massachusetts to Sarah Wells. She was the daughter of John Wells and Sarah Allen, b. 16 Mar. 1731/32 at Deerfield, Massachusetts.
Colonel Joshua Burnham m. Jemima Wyman, Milford, New Hampshire

Second, in Milford, New Hampshire, the homestead of Colonel Joshua Burnham stands on River Road. It is a privately owned house, not open for tours. Colonel Burnham’s wife was Jemima Burnham, who outlived her husband. Joshua started as a private in the American Revolution, but by the time he witnessed Washington taking command of the Army, he was at the rank of Colonel. The house was built by Joshua Burnham as a hotel, and sold to the Jesse Hutchinson family in 1822, and the sixteen children raised there became the famous “Hutchinson Family Singers”. The Hutchinson singers, also known as the “Tribe of Jesse,” were the original protest group of the 1800s. They sang all over the United States, Canada and England about abolition, temperance and the Civil War. You can read about them at the website

Jemima Wyman’s lineage from Francis Wyman the immigrant:
  • Gen. 1. Francis Wyman, b. 2 May 1617 in Westmill, Hertfordshire England, d. 28 Nov. 1699 Woburn (now Burlington), Massachusetts, married 1. Judith Pierce 30 Jan. 1643/4 in Woburn (no children), married 2.. Abigail Reed on 2 Oct. 1650 in Woburn. She was born on 30 Dec. 1634 in Dorchester, the daughter of William Reed and Mabel Kendall. (Seven children)
  • Gen. 2. Nathaniel Wyman, b. 25 Nov. 1665 in Woburn, d. 8 Dec. 1717 in Woburn, married Mary Winn on 28 Jun 1692 in Woburn. She was born on 1 May 1670 in Woburn, the daughter of Increase Winn and Hannah Satell. (Twelve children)
  • Gen. 3. Increase Wyman, b. 1 Mar. 1706/7 in Woburn, d. 5 Sep. 1739 in Woburn, married Deborah Pierce on 11 Mar. 1729/30 in Woburn. She was b. 4 Nov. 1709 daughter of Ebenezer Pierce and Mary Wilson. (Five children)
  • Gen. 4. Increase Wyman, b. 4 Jun 1732 in Burlington, married to Catherine Unknown. (Ten children)
  • Gen. 5. Jemima Wyman, b. 10 Feb. 1757 in Billerica, d. 6 Sep 1843 in South Boston, married on 21 Jan 1799 to Colonel Joshua Burnham. He was b. 26 Jan 1754 in Gloucester, d. 7 Jun 1835 in Milford, New Hampshire. (Eleven children)
Jemima Wyman and Colonel Joshua Burnham are my 5x great grandparents.

The 109th Annual Meeting of the Francis Wyman Association will take place on September 26th, 2009 at the homestead in Burlington. The house will be open all day, and at noon the annual Family Gathering Photo will take place on the front steps, followed by a bring your own picnic on the front lawn. Starting at about 1 PM will be the business meeting, followed by a presentation by re-enactors portraying “Abel and Ruth Wyman”. This year the FWA Meeting will coincide with the Burlington Town Fair held on the Town Common. A trolley will be leaving the common, making ten stops at historic sites around town (one will be the Francis Wyman house!) See the FWA website mentioned above for more information.

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Copyright 2009, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Monday, August 24, 2009

Wilkinson Surname Project in Northern New England

Donald and Janet Wilkinson, photographed in Salem, Massachusetts about 1905

Wilkinson Surname Project in Northern New England

It seems that everyone is familiar with the Wilkinsons of Rhode Island and the book “Memoirs of the Wilkinson Family in America” written in 1869 by the Reverend Israel Wilkinson. It outlines the descendants of Lawrence Wilkinson, one of the original settlers at Providence, and it also includes several other Wilkinson lines in Massachusetts. However, no book has ever been written about the Wilkinsons of New Hampshire and Maine.

It seems that the first Wilkinson in my lineage was Thomas, born about 1690, and his marriage to Elizabeth Caverly in August 1715 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire lists him as “from London.” He appears in the New Hampshire Provincial Papers as a proprietor of Barrington, and as a workman at Fort William and Mary. He was taxed in Portsmouth in 1727 and 1732, when he seems to have disappeared from the records. His son is listed as “William Wilkinson, son of Elizabeth, Oct. 17, 1736” in the records of the South Church of Portsmouth. Later his wife remarried to Phillip Jewel on 27 November 1739.

Through his son James Wilkinson, born about 1730 and married to Hannah Mead sometime before 1753, I have a long family tree that grows all along the Piscataqua Region of Maine and New Hampshire, with the descendants moving to the Berwicks, Sanford, Rochester and as far north as Conway, and as far west as around Lake Winnipesaukee. My own branch came to Massachusetts in the 1820’s when Aaron Wilkinson of South Berwick married Mercy F. Wilson on 23 June 1829 in Danvers, Massachusetts.

However, living in the same region of New Hampshire was a man named Samuel Wilkinson, who was born about 1722, and died in 1795 in Deerfield or Epping. He had at least three children, who were all mentioned in deed signed in 1796: Benning Wilkinson of Allenstown, John Wilkinson or Deerfield, and a daughter, Sarah Wallis of Epping. Samuel served in the revolution at age 58 years under Brigadier General John Glover. Was Samuel another son of Thomas? A brother? A cousin? He must have been some sort of relation due to the time and proximity to where Thomas’s family lived.

Through Benning Wilkinson there is another large family tree of descendants that lived near Lake Winnipesaukee. Benning died in Center Harbor in 1851, and his twelve children died in Laconia, Gilford, Campton, etc. One of Benning’s descendants married one of Thomas’s descendants- was this a cousin marriage?

As my list of Wilkinson births, marriages, deaths, deeds and newsclippings from New Hampshire and Maine grows and grows, slowly I am able to place nearly all the Wilkinsons into either Thomas’s tree or Benning’s tree. What would really be great would be to find the one clue that ties Thomas to Samuel and Benning Wilkinson.

Wilkinson Line A

Samuel Wilkinson born about 1722, died about 1795 in Deerfield or Epping, New Hampshire, wife unknown, children:
1. Benning Wilkinson born about 1764, Epping and died on 20 October 1851 in Center Harbor. Married to Deborah Langley on 4 Dec 1786 in Northwood, New Hampshire. She was born on 17 Jul 1765 in Nottingham and died 20 August 1845 in Center Harbor.

  • 1. Hannah m. Benjamin Perkins 26 November 1809 in New Hampton
    2. Jonathan m. Melinda George 1 January 1828 in Gilford
    3. Rhoda born 1787 married Benjamin Libby about 1805
    4. Susan born 1789 married Charles Huckins about 1815
    5. Bradbury born 1793 married Hannah Huckins 23 January 1820
    6. Charlotte born 1794 married Samuel Fogg 21 March 1816
    7. Benning, Jr. born 1797 married Clarissa Johnson 3 Augusut 1823
    8. Samuel B., born about 1800 married Eliza Harper Smith 28 Dec 1824
    9. John A., married Miram Clough 29 Dec 1803
    10. Jacob R, born 1 Jan 1805 on Stonedam Island, married Leah A. Rundlett on 25 June 1825
    11. Leah, born about 1808 married Jonathan Johnson Lovejoy in 1827
    12. Rachel, born 1810 married Richard Hadley 4 August 1833

2. John
3. Sarah, married to an Unknown Wallis. Previously it was believed that she had married Spencer Wallis, born about 3 June 1734 in Portsmouth, son of William Wallis and Comfort Cotton, but there is proof that this is another Sarah!
Wilkinson Line B
Thomas Wilkinson, born about 1690 in England and died before 1739, married to Elizabeth Caverly in August 1715 in Portsmouth. She was the daughter of William Caverly and Mary Abbott, born about 1696 in Portsmouth. Children:
1. William born 17 Oct 1736 in Portsmouth
2. James born about 1730 and died between 1796 and 1805 in Berwick, Maine. He was married 1. to Hannah Mead before 1753, daughter of Thomas Mead and Hannah Stilson, born on 9 August 1730 in Wakefield, New Hampshire. He married 2. Mary Unknown.

  • 1. James G., born 31 December 1753 in Newington and died 4 March 1827 in Alton, married 1. Mary Unknown before 1775 (eight children), married 2. Rebecca Whitehouse 2 Feb 1798 in Wolfborough (two children), married 3. Lydia Rand on 2 August 1812 in Alton.
    2. Anna, born 16 June 1754 in Newington, died before 1840, married 1. Samuel Hearle on 4 Mar 1779 in Berwick, Maine (five children), married 2. James Urban on 6 May 1796 in Waterborough, Maine.
    3. Joseph, born before 8 May 1757 in Berwick, Maine, died 26 August 1842 in Sanford, Maine, married Dorcas Nason on 23 Nov 1782 in Berwick. She was the daughter of William Nason and Abigail Wadleigh, born about 1761 and died 22 January 1849 in Sanford.
    4. George, born about 1761 and died 1846, married Mehitable Whitehouse on 12 January 1785 in South Berwick. At least two children.
    5. Samuel, born 1761, married Hannah Turner on 27 November 1785 in South Berwick.
    6. Daniel, born 1764 and died between 1850 and 1860, married to Hannah Weymouth on 27 August 1792 in South Berwick. She was born about 1772 in South Berwick, and died on 18 December 1845 in Effingham, New Hampshire. Six children.
    7. William married Mercy Nason on 7 February 1788 in South Berwick. She was born about 1764 in Kittery, daughter of Richard Nason and Mary Thompson. They had at least three sons, possibly more unrecorded children.

William Wilkinson and Mercy Nason were the parents of Aaron Wilkinson, born on 22 February 1802 in South Berwick. He died in Peabody, Massachusetts in 25 November 1879, married to Mercy F. Wilson on 23 June 1829 and producing eleven children. Aaron and Mercy are my 3x great grandparents.
Copyright 2009, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Mystery of Jonathan Batchelder, Chichester, New Hampshire

The Mystery of Jonathan Batchelder, Chichester, New Hampshire

The Batchelder name is liberally sprinkled over New Hampshire. There are eight Batchelder/Bachellor families listed in the white pages for the Londonderry area. There are Batchelder Roads in towns from Hampton, to Strafford, to Raymond, to Nashua. The first Batchelder immigrant to the New World was the Reverend Stephen Batchelder, born in 1561, who was a founder of Hampton, New Hampshire.

There is a huge red genealogy book labeled “Batchelder Batcheller” available on the shelves of many libraries in the Granite State, as well as in genealogy libraries across the United States. It was written by Frederick Clifton Pierce in 1898, and has had many additions and updates.

It was in this old book that I found my ancestor Jonathan Batchelder, a farmer in Chichester, New Hampshire. Unfortunately, his profile in this book is very scanty. His wife is listed as “Nancy” with no maiden name. He was born “about 1800 in Hampton.” It states that he died in “C. age 46.” I took this to mean Chichester, but it could also be nearby Concord. Why did Jonathan receive such short shrift in a tome full of lengthy and wordy biographies on all the Batchelders descended from Rev. Stephen?

I searched the New Hampshire Vital Records in the files at Concord. I searched the internet and the shelves of the New England Genealogical Society in Boston. I posted queries on genealogical bulletin boards and websites for several years, and didn’t hear anything. Nearly ten years later, I received an interesting email from someone in Seattle.

The Washington State resident who had contacted me had bought a box of old books, and included in them was the account book of Jonathan Batchelder of Chichester, begun in 1831 and ending in the mid 1840s. Stuck inside were the adoption papers of his daughter Paulina, orphaned in 1847.

The finder of this book mailed it me at no charge, and he was just happy to send it to a descendant. I searched the book, but found no clues. The contents listed events such as “rocks and lumber” hauled, necessities bought at the general store, labor hired out for pennies. It was clearly the account of someone who was barely surviving, scraping out a living in rocky Chichester.

At this point I decided to think like a detective. If someone died in 1847, where would it be recorded? I decided to search the old New Hampshire newspapers of the time. What turned up was a very sad story.

New Hampshire Patriot and State Gazette, March 11, 1847, page 4
Guardian's Sale
"By virtue of a license from the Judge of Probate for the county of Merrimack, the subscriber as guardian of Jonathan Batchelder, of Chichester, in said county, who has been decreed an insane person, will sell at public auction on Wednesday, the 24th day of March next, at ten o'clock in the forenoon, all the right and interest the said Batchelder has in the homestead place on which he the said Batchelder has heretofore resided, containing about fifty five acres of first rate land, on which there is a good lot of timber and wood; the house large and two stories, and recently painted; the barn and shed not old. Said farm is within about two miles of Pittsfield Village, and on the main road from Pittsfield to Concord and Manchester, on which road Stages pass and repass every day. Also, about fifteen acres of pasture and wood land, lying about one half of a mile from said farm, adjoining and of David Brown and others. Terms of payment liberal. Sale on the premises.
D. M. Carpenter, Guardian”

Apparently Jonathan died soon after this notice was published. The Concord State Hospital for the Insane was new in 1847, and it will take a court order to gain permission to look at the records to see what Jonathan’s fate was. The new movement of providing care for the insane in the early 1800’s was considered humane and kind at the time, but would probably give us 21th century citizens goose pimples.

Nancy’s fate is unknown. She was only 40 years old at the time of her husband’s death, and perhaps she rejoined her family in Pittsfield. Without a maiden name, we will never know. Pauline married David C. Watson, a clothing dealer in Boston, and she had two sons who owned successful businesses in Boston. Jonathan’s other child, George, was emancipated by the courts at age 18 and married Abigail M. Locke in South Boston. Abigail was also from Chichester, and they are both buried there in the Leavitt Cemetery. George and Abigail are my great-great grandparents.

I still treasure Jonathan’s old account book. It reflects the life of many unrecorded, and barely recorded, citizens of the Granite State.

  • Gen. 1. The Reverend Stephen Batchelder, b. abt 1561 in Wherwell, Hampshire, England and died about 31 Oct 1656 at "Robert Barber's home" in London, England, married to Ann Bate about 1586 in England. She was born about 1565 and died about 1623 in England. The Reverend Stephen Batchelder was married four times, going to Holland in 1608 with the Separatists, and on June 5, 1632 he arrived in New England aboard the ship "William and Frances" with some of his grandchildren. After living in Lynn, Yarmouth, Newbury and Hampston he returned to England.

  • Gen. 2. Nathaniel Batchelder b. abt. 1590 in England d. abt. 1630 in the Netherlands m. to Hester Mercer of Belgium. Nathaniel was a merchant, and as far as we can tell he never came to America, but lived with the separatists in Holland (some of whom became the Pilgrims).

  • Gen. 3. Nathaniel Batchelder b. abt 163o in England and d. 17 Jan 1709/10 in Hampton, married to Deborah Smith on 10 Dec 1656. She was born about 1645 at Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard and died 8 Mar 1675/6 at Hampton, daughter of John Smith and Deborah Parkhurst. Nathaniel was a farmer, selectman and constable.

  • Gen. 4. Nathaniel Batchelder b. 24 Dec 1659 at Hampton d. abt 1745 at Hampton Falls, m. to Elizabeth Foss about 1685. She was born abt 1666 in Portsmouth, daughter of John Foss and Mary Berry. Nathaniel was a farmer and Deacon of the church.

  • Gen. 5. Josiah Batchelder b. 1 Jul 1695 at Hampton, d. 9 Oct 1759 at Hampton m. on 31 Jan 1722/3 to Sarah Page. Josiah was a farmer and Deacon of the church.

  • Gen. 6. David Batchelder b. 13 Jan 1735/36 at Hampton Falls, d. 11 Mar 1811 at Hampton Falls m. on 24 Jul 1760 at Hampton Falls to Elizabeth Swett. She was b. 29 May 1742 at Hampton Falls, d. 12 Aug 1769 daughter of Benjamin Swett and Elizabeth Norton. David was a farmer and Deacon of the church.

  • Gen. 7. Elisha Batcheder b. 10 Jun 1763 in Hampton Falls, d. 11 Oct 1813 in Pittsfield, New Hampshire m. to Sarah Lane who was born on 24 Mar 1769 in Hampton Falls and d. 27 Feb 1819 in Pittsfield. Elisha was a farmer.

  • Gen. 8. Jonathan Batchelder b. about 1800 at Hampton, NH and died before 4 Nov 1847 in Concord or Chichester, NH m. to Nancy Unknown b. about 1804 in Pittsfield, NH and died after 1847. Farmer residing in Chichester.

  • Gen. 9. George E. Batchelder b. 13 Aug. 1822 in Chichester, New Hampshire d. 3 Apr 1848 in Chichester m. to Abigail M. Locke on 7 Sept. 1845 in South Boston, Massachusetts. She was born 10 Sept 1825 in South Boston, daughter of Richard Locke and Margaret Welsh, and she died on 15 Jan 1888 in Chichester, New Hampshire. Farmer residing in Chichester.

  • Gen. 10. George E. Batchelder b. 8 Oct 1848 in Chichester, New Hampshire and d. 28 Jul 1914 in Cambridge, Massachusetts m. to Mary Katharine Emerson on 28 Oct 1869 in Chichester, NH. She was born on 25 DEec 1847 in South Boston, d. 23 Apr 1932 in Roxbury, Massachusetts, daughter of George Emerson and Mary Esther Younger. Mechanic and farmer in Chichester, worked as a porter in the railroads and in real estate in South Boston.

  • Gen 11. Carrie Maude Batchelder b. 22 Sep 1872 in Chichester, NH and d. 21 Jan 1963 at the Sea View Convaescent and Nursing Home in Rowley, Massachusetts, m. to Joseph Elmer Allen on 1 Nov. 1892 in Essex, Massachusetts. He was born on 24 Sept 1870 in Essex, died 12 Mar 1932 at the Masonic Home in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, son of Joseph Gilman Allen and Sarah Burnham Mears. Joseph worked as a steam fitter with his brother's business in Boston and removed back to Essex to be a meat cutter and salesman for Gould's butcher shop in Essex. Carrie and Joseph were my great grandparents.

Copyright 2009, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Boyd and Towne Families of Londonderry

The Boyd Farm in Londonderry
is now Rolling Meadows Town Houses

A few years, ago two portraits were donated by a descendant to the Londonderry Leach Library, and their story was printed up in the Derry News. They were primitive style paintings of Robert W. Boyd and his wife, Mary Lund Towne painted by the itinerant portrait painter Horace Bundy in 1851. In the days before photography it was common to hire these roaming self taught artists to capture the family on canvas. Robert Boyd died only one month after sitting for his portrait. The Boyds are buried in the Valley Cemetery on Pillsbury Road in Londonderry.

I was very interested in the story because I live at Rolling Meadows, which used to be the Boyd Family Dairy Farm. As I write this I can look over the pond where they watered the cows. I can see a small cemetery there at the corner of Boyd Road and John Street, but it doesn’t contain any Boyds. Nothing survives of the homestead except for the calving shed, which now our maintenance man’s workshop. And the cows have left a legacy of lush green lawns around each modern building!

When I saw that Mary Boyd’s maiden name was Towne, I said to myself “Hmmmmmm???” Of course, this story set off a night of Googling and researching the Towne family. I knew I had Townes in my own family tree, and that they were linked to some interesting New England history.

Robert Boyd and Mary Towne were married on 24 December 1812 in Londonderry. The Boyds were descendants of some of the original settlers of Londonderry. The Towne family removed to Londonderry from Topsfield, Essex County, Massachusetts. The first Towne immigrant family from England was William Towne and his wife Joanna Blessing, who were married in Great Yarmouth on 25 April 1620, the year the Pilgrims sailed on the Mayflower.

William and Joanna had eight children, but their three daughters Rebecca, Sarah and Mary made their mark on history by all being accused of witchcraft in the 1692 hysteria. Rebecca (Towne) Nurse was actually executed on 19 Jul 1692, and her story has been made famous in numerous novels, plays and movies. You can visit her homestead in Danvers, Massachusetts and hear the story about how the elderly, pious Puritan housewife suffered through the trials.

Poor sister Mary (Towne) Estey, was released from prison, only to have her accusers redouble their efforts to slander her name, and she was executed on 9 September 1692. Sister Sarah (Towne) Cloyse, who was also accused, survived the trials and imprisonment, and was awarded a settlement of three sovereigns, one for her and the other two in her sisters’ memory. Three weeks after being released from rotting in jail for two years, and after having her sisters names cleared, she died and was buried with her coins. The fourth grade at South School used to read the young adult novel “Three Sovereigns For Sarah”, and it was made into a 1985 movie with Vanessa Redgrave. A colonial style home built for the movie still stands at the Rebecca Nurse homestead.

Our Mary Lund (Towne) Boyd is descended from the Towne sister’s brother, Jacob Town. Now, I wonder if the Harold Estey Lumber family located down the street from the Boyd farm property is related to accused witch Mary (Towne) Estey?

Generation 1- William Towne b. abt 1598 in England, d. abt 1672 in Topsfield, Massachusetts married Joanna Blessing

Generation 2- Jacob Towne b. abt 1632 in England, 27 Nov 1704 in Topsfield, Massachusetts married Katherine Symonds

Generation 3- Jacob Towne b. 13 Feb 1659/6 Topsfield, d. 4 Oct 1741 Topsfield married Phebe Smith

Generation 4- Jabez Towne b. 15 Jun 1704 Topsfield, d. 1 Apr 1783 in Londonderry married Triphenia Dwinnell

Generation 5- Jabez Towne b. 4 May 1731 in Topsfield married Lydia Perkins

Generation 6- Moses Towne b. 1757 d. 1828 married Charlotte Underwood

Generation 7- Mary Lund Towne b. abt 1791 d. 10 May 1887 Londonderry married Robert W. Boyd

  • The Towne Family Association, descendants of William and Joanna (Blessing) Towne, whose daughters Rebecca (Nurse) and Mary (Esty) were executed in 1692 during the witchcraft hysteria at Salem, Mass., will hold their 29th annual meeting September 25-27, 2009 at the Best Western Wynwood Hotel and Suites in Portsmouth, NH. For more information contact Elizabeth Hanahan ( ) or visit
Copyright 2009, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Monday, August 3, 2009

No MAN Shall Build a Meeting House at Chebacco (now Essex, Massachusetts)

I love this story. Its about some "just regular folks" in the family tree. Thomas Varney was born about 1630 in the Barbados and removed to Massachusetts to settle at the Chebacco section of the town of Ipswich before 1650. His first wife was Abigail Proctor, who was also just a "regular folk" except that her brother John was hung as a witch in 1692. Perhaps being a bit different from all the other Puritans in town ran in the family.

Usually most of the women in the family tree have blank spaces next to their vital statistics. We know their husbands were farmers or fishermen or maybe ministers, but the women hardly ever left identifying information. Abigail (Proctor) Varney's story can't be found in the history books, nor even in the town history. I really had to dig into the court records to find out more.

Chebacco was a section of Ipswich many miles from the meeting house.  The folks who lived there worshipped in a private house, and could not get consent from the First Parish to build a meeting-house.  The directive stated "No MAN shall build a meeting house at Chebacco" [emphasis mine]. 

So some women, without the knowledge of their husbands, as the Record says, and by the advice of a few men, went to other towns, and obtained help to raise a house of worship, March, 1679. Two men and three women were prosecuted for this act. May 28th. The Province Council order these individuals to confess, that such conduct was irregular at the next Quarterly Court in Salem, and thus be excused. --- The sanctuary, so erected, may be truly said to have been built "in troublous times." It stood to the northward of the present one, on the road leading to Ipswich.  The women were Abigail Varney, Hannah Goodhue and Sarah Martin.

Abigail was the leader of the party of women who raised the frame of the meeting house at Chebacco.  They met at her house, and enlisted the men from other towns (outside of the ban, which named only "men of Chebacco") like Wenham, Gloucester and Manchester. The women were arrested, acknowledged their offence, but they had already accomplished their purpose. Chebacco later became it's own parish, and now it's own town. The town of Essex has been separate from Ipswich, Massachusetts since 1819.

And that's all I know about Abigail. But it's more than I know about most of the women in Massachusetts in the 1600's and 1700's.

My line of descent from Thomas Varney and Abigail Proctor...

Gen. 2. Mary Varney b. 1669 m. Thomas Choate in 1690 in Ipswich

Gen. 3. Anne Choate b. 1691 m. John Burnham on 21 Oct 1710 in Ipswich

Gen. 4. Jeremiah Burnham b. abt 1716 in Chebacco Parish m. Abigail Andrews on 2 Dec 1736

Gen. 5. Abigail Burnham b. 12 Apr 1741 in Chebacco Parish m. Isaac Allen on 24 Nov 1763 in Chebacco Parish

Gen. 6. Joseph Allen b. 22 Sep 1776 in Chebacco Parish m. Judith Burnham on 5 Apr 1799 in Chebacco Parish

Gen. 7. Joseph Allen b. 31 Jul 1801 in Chebacco Parish m. Orpha Andrews on 28 Oct 1824 in Essex

Gen. 8. Joseph Gilman Allen b. 1830 in Essex m. Sarah Burnham Mears on 24 May 1863 in Essex

Gen. 9. Joseph Elmer Allen b. 1870 in Essex m. Carrie Batchelder on 1 Nov 1892 in Essex

Gen. 10. Stanley Elmer Allen b. 1904 m. Gertrude Matilda Hitchings on 14 Feb 1925 in Hamilton, Massachusetts (my grandparents!)

More information on Abigail Varney and the Chebacco Meetinghouse:

Copyright 2009, Heather Wilkinson Rojo