Saturday, October 31, 2009

Stories in Stone, Part 2

This story from the Derry News is about the Forest Hill Cemetery, which is directly behind the First Parish Church in East Derry Village, where this New Hampshire State Historical Marker is located on East Derry Road.

from "The Derry News" Published: October 22, 2009

To the attentive visitor, cemeteries say much about a town's history

By Julie Huss

"The living come with grassy tread, to read the gravestones on the hill..."

From "In a Disused Graveyard" by Robert Frost

111For the hundreds and hundreds of those buried at Forest Hill Cemetery in East Derry, it's a study in stone as their stories and lives are etched into the aging granite.

The cemetery is the final resting place for many of Derry's finest — the notables who made their mark on the town's history and forged lives through the years.

One one afternoon, a visitor stops by the historic graveyard on the hill near First Parish Church for a stroll through history. It's quiet, solemn, with hardly a sight to be seen, except for rows of stones in every size, some crumbling under the weight of generations, others shiny and gleaming under an autumn sun. A scampering squirrel creeps and hides underneath one toppled stone, storing a winter's worth of acorns in a perfect, dark spot.

The 35-acre graveyard shows its age. Stones are falling, some teeter and almost drop over; others lie flat on the grassy ground. Some stones are missing completely, others are cracked in half, with various pieces strewn nearby. Some graves are not even visible to a visitor's eye, covered in the moss of time.

The stones reflect examples of every major carving style, showing images such as frowning angels, urns and ranging from simple designs to more detailed images of death.

Forest Hill is looking better these days thanks to many volunteers pitching in for various tasks at the graveyard, according to Dorothy Goldman, longtime cemetery supporter and currently working in Forest Hill documenting graves and photographing the stones. She said she sees improvements everytime she enters this hallowed ground — one of her favorite places to spend time.

Through her work at Forest Hill, Goldman hopes to get every grave documented for future generations to enjoy. Although the town's most notables lie there, many of those unsung heroes also call Forest Hill their final home. They are the people Goldman said she enjoys learning about the most.

"I'm trying to find the common folk," she said, "the ones not always written about."

Goldman said records of those buried at Forest Hill are available through the Derry Public and Taylor libraries, also at First Parish Church and the Derry Museum of History.

Here is a look into the lives of some of those buried at Forest Hill:

Everett R. Angell, died at the age of 10 and now laid to rest with one of the most interesting stones at Forest Hill. The inscription on the stone reads, "See them up yonder," as these are believed to be the boy's last words before he died as he saw visions of angels coming through his window to take him off to Heaven.

Gregory Smart, died in Derry at the age of 24 in May of 1990, the victim of a murder plot involving several teens and his wife, Pamela, who went on to be convicted of conspiring to murder her husband. She is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

The Shepard family, parents, and other relatives of America's first astronaut in space, Alan B. Shepard Jr.

The Derry-born astronaut's parents, Alan B. Shepard Sr., and Renza lie in Forest Hill as do his grandparents. The younger Alan, and his wife, Louise, were cremated following their deaths in 1998 and their ashes were spread at sea. A marker for the hometown hero is placed at Forest Hill.

Rev. James McGregor, one of the earliest settlers in this area, among the original citizens of Derry. Preached his first sermon near Beaver Lake and a leader of the original Nutfield colony. He died in 1729 at the age of 52 years.

John Parker, lived in Derry and was found dead in 1864 in the woods of North Andover, Mass. He served as a New Hampshire recruiting officer for the Civil War. His demise was deemed a murder. Parker worked for the town to procure substitutes to fill up its quota in the war.

For more stony stories from the graveyards of Londonderry, see next week's issue of the Derry News.

My computer is still away from home, so I decided to post the second part of this series from "The Derry News" you can see the story with photos at
Yesterday's post is the Derry News story about Londonderry's cemeteries.

Friday, October 30, 2009

History Lessons Carved in Stone

A Gravestone in Vally Cemetery
for two children of Deacon John Pinkerton

from The Derry News, October 29, 2009
History lessons carved in stone

By Suzanne Laurent

LONDONDERRY — Dry leaves crunch underfoot and trees take on their muted autumn hues, the brilliance of early October now gone. While cemeteries and old burial grounds are interesting in their own right, they are almost more fascinating as Halloween approaches followed by the melancholy days of November.

The cemeteries of Londonderry and Derry are grassy slopes of history. They tell of the time when Londonderry covered the entire area, before Derry branched off to become its own town.

Various religious and secular organizations were associated with the beginnings of the first four cemeteries. Private lots were once common in town, but the descendants of these families moved their ancestors' remains to public cemeteries in the 19th century.

The Old Hill Cemetery, east of the town center on Hovey Road, began as the first churchyard of the Presbyterian West Parish in the original Londonderry. A drastic change occurred in this cemetery in 1930 when officials decided to clean up the broken stones that were tilted at dangerous angles amidst tangled underbrush.

"No measurements were taken of the location where the markers originally stood," said Town Historian Marilyn Ham.

The cleared yard was plowed by tractor, leveled and seeded.

"When the stones were to be reset, most were at the roadside," according to an account in The History of Londonderry, Vol. 3, edited by Ferne Schmidtchen.

"The decision was to place them in rows beginning near the wall where they leaned. By chance, the space between the headstone and footstone was not the usual distance. As a result, the uninformed observer might believe that early Londonderry was inhabited by midgets."

Pillsbury Cemetery on Hovey Road is Londonderry's newest cemetery and abuts the Old Hill Cemetery established in 1733. It opened in the fall of 2004 as the town ran out of space for new plots in Pleasant View Cemetery on Mammoth Road.

The Valley Cemetery (1793) on Pillsbury Road is located between the Old Hill Cemetery and the town center. It was also known as the Rev. Dr. Morrison's Churchyard for his Presbyterian meetinghouse that stood to the east.

According to a story in the Derry News dated Friday, Nov. 11 1881, "The town of Londonderry appropriated $300.00 for improvement of cemeteries in town, and accordingly work was commenced last Saturday, on the cemetery near Col. Pillsbury's. Many trees have been cut down and among them the famous old white oak, that has kept 'watch and ward' for nearly sixty years, over the tomb of the beloved Morrison."

Here is a look at some interesting people buried in Londonderry:

Major John Pinkerton, the founder of Pinkerton Academy, was buried in the Old Hill Cemetery, also called Pinkerton Yard. His horizontal tombstone, raised on four corner posts, had an extensive inscription which included the amounts of his bequests to the Presbyterian Churches of both the east and west parishes.

The Pettengill family cemetery, once located on Harvey Road, was relocated to Sunnyside Cemetery when the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport built a new runway five years ago. There are two other private family cemeteries in town: The Kendall Cemetery on Kendall Pond Road and the Towne Cemetery on John Street.

George "Duffy" Lewis, a star outfielder for the Red Sox in the 1910s, is buried in the Holy Cross Cemetery on Gilcreast Road. In 2000, John Clayton, a columnist for the Union-leader, discovered that Duffy's grave was unmarked and wrote two articles about it. A subsequent fund in Duffy's name provided a gravestone and flowers in perpetuity.

Ginger Harvey's grave is located in Sunnyside Cemetery on Litchfield Road. Ginger's father was a slave and Ginger worked in a home in Londonderry. One day as Ginger was approaching the house to work, she noticed smoke. She grabbed a broom and banged on the windows alerting the still sleeping family. The family asked what they could do to repay her and Ginger asked that she have a Christian burial. She lived to be almost 100 years old and was interred in 1865.

David Rollins Leach is buried in a family vault in Glenwood cemetery. He bequeathed $3,000 to found the Leach Library which opened on Feb. 25, 1880 with 1,000 books.

Londonderry has a Pet Cemetery on Harvey Road established by Minnie McGuire who felt that pets, too, should have a suitable final resting place.
Credit to The Derry News,
-(My computer is with the Geek Squad so I've posted this Derry News story in lieu of having my own database and Word files available to research a story. Hopefully I'll be back on line soon with my own postings!)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pinkerton Tavern Ghosts!

Pinkerton Academy, Derry, New Hampshire

Pinkerton Tavern Ghosts
A Post for Halloween!

In October, thoughts of ghosts and witches come to mind. There were plenty of accused witches, even one who was found guilty in the 1600’s, and New Hampshire has its share of ghosts. When we first moved to Londonderry over 25 years ago, the first ghost we heard about was the one haunting the Pinkerton Tavern, in Derry. At the time, this building was an unfinished furniture store, and then a series of restaurants, now “The Pinkerton Tavern.”

The Pinkerton Tavern building is 270 years old, built by Elder James Pinkerton. James and his brother, Major John Pinkerton, were merchants in Derry. John started as a peddler, and soon owned a store. James was an influential man, a deacon of the church, a representative to the General Court, and Major John served in the American Revolution. They were quite wealthy for the time, and often made loans to the people of Derry, before there were formal banks. In 1814 the Reverend Edward L. Parker asked the merchant brothers to donate money to start a school, which is now known as Pinkerton Academy.
Pinkerton Tavern, Derry, New Hampshire

The Pinkerton family homestead lost its barn in a fire, and the land was later sold to the Hood Dairy Farm. Later it became the unfinished furniture store, and then restaurants. According to the Pinkerton Tavern website the resident ghost is called “Rachel”. I remember when it was a furniture store, and the clerk explained to me that the best place to see the ghost was on the stairway. The current owners say that “Rachel” is a friendly ghost.

When the restaurant used to be called “Neets”, about five years ago, the owners said that the ghost was often seen in the basement. Other restaurant staff said the ghost of “General Pinkerton” would slam doors, even though Major (not General) Pinkerton never lived there. You can read about the ghost at and how some ghostbusters apparently photographed this spirit!

Pinkerton Family Genealogy:

1. John Pinkerton, born about 1690 in Ireland, died 10 February 1780 in Londonderry; married about 1722 to Mary Elizabeth Farmer. Both are buried at the Hill Cemetery, Londonderry.


1. David, born 1732 in Ireland, died 8 May 1808 in Londonderry
2. Major John, born 1735 in Ireland, died 1 May 1816; married first about 1760 to Rachel Duncan, five children; married second 18 December 1801 to Polly Tufts, no children.
3. Matthew, born about 1738 in Londonderry, New Hampshire, died about 1814; married first to Ann McCurdy; married second to Mary Unknown.
4. Samuel
5. Elder James, born about 1747, died 6 January 1829; married first about 1771 to Elizabeth Nesmith, daughter of John Nesmith and Elizabeth Reid, born 19 April 1762 in Londonderry; married second 15 May 1809 to Susan Wallace, born 8 November 1741, died before 1835. (see children below)

Children with Elizabeth:

1. Betsey, born about 1780, died 1837; married 26 April 1807 in Boston to her first cousin John Aiken, son of James Aiken and Elizabeth Pinkerton.
2. Isabella, born about 1785
3. James, born about 1790, died young.
4. Mary B, born 10 May 1791; married William Choate.
5. Clarissa, born 1793; married Robert E. Little.
6. Jane, born 1796, died 1875; married 28 July 1815 in Londonderry to her first cousin, Joshua Aiken, brother to her sister Betsey’s husband.

Children with Susan:
John Morrison Pinkerton, born 6 February 1818, died 6 February 1881; unmarried
6. Mary, born 1740, died 23 September 1807.
7. Elizabeth, born 1748, died 1793; married May 1768 in Londonderry to Deacon James Aiken.
8. Rachel, born 1749, died 17 November 1796.
9. Jane, born about 1753, died 14 February 1809, buried at the Valley Cemetery in Londonderry; married about 1774 to Deacon David Brewster.

Londonderry Vital Records
"History of Londonderry" by Rev. Edward L. Parker

Copyright 2009, Heather Wilkinson

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Taylor Saw Mill in Derry

"The pride and joy of Ernest Ballard, 84, is this rare, water-powered up and down sawmill he erected at his home in Derry, New Hampshire." (There'll Always be Water Wheels by Neil M. Clark, December 3, 1955.)

This is the Taylor Up and Down Saw Mill at Ballard State Park

The Ballard State Forest in Derry is 71 Acres surrounding a pond, with picnic tables and walking trails, but the main attraction is the Taylor Sawmill. Built 200 years ago, around 1799, it was an advance in technology from a pit saw, where two men used a long two handled saw, one standing above the timber and the other in a dug pit below. The “Up and Down Sawmill” is a mechanized version of the pit saw, using a water powered system of gears and shafts to drive the long blade of the saw. Generally only the saw blade was powered and logs were pushed through by hand, but with some ingenuity the moveable carriage was developed, to move the log through the moving blade.

One of the beautiful results of this type of sawn lumber is that the wood doesn’t display the typical curved cut marks seen on lumber cut by circular saws. Preservationists and renovators prize finding original timbers in old colonial era homes that display the marks of pit saws or “Up and Dow” sawmills. Cut marks are even used for dating colonial homes. This type of lumber, known as “sash sawn” lumber, is produced at the Taylor Saw Mill on the second and fourth Saturdays of every month during the spring and summers. Demonstrations run generally from about 10AM to 3PM through the end of September, as long as there is sufficient water to run the waterwheel at the dam. (This shouldn’t be a problem in 2009!)

The “Up and Down Sawmill” was a short lived technology, which was replaced by the water powered circular saw by about 1825. Circular sawn logs, driven by water turbines, steam, electricity and computers are still the most common type of lumber produced today. Being a short lived technology, there are only a few examples of this type of “Up and Down Saw” surviving in the United States. Other than Derry, you can see one at Old Sturbridge Village, in Massachusetts, or at the Shelburne Museum in Vermont.

The Taylor Saw Mill is located on Island Pond Road in Derry, New Hampshire, on the left, about 3.7 miles from Clam Haven. The historic site is run by both the New Hampshire Division of Parks and Recreation and the Division of Forests and Lands Community Forestry and Stewardship Bureau. For more information see the Division of Forests and Lands website on the 200 year old Taylor Up and Down Sawmill.


The Taylor Family Tree:

Generation 1. Matthew Taylor was born about 1690 in Northern Ireland and died26 January 1770 near Beaver Lake, Derry, New Hampshire; married about 1720 to Janet Wilson and settled in Nutfield, New Hampshire in 1722. Ten Children

Generation 2. David Taylor, fourth son, born 10 August 1735 in Nutfield; married Margaret Kelsey. Seven Children.

Generation 3. Robert Taylor, born about 1770, died 10 May 1837 in Derry; married to Dolly Colby. Robert Taylor bought the property where the sawmill now stands in 1799. He began to operate the up and down sawmill in about 1805. He and Dolly had ten children, including a daughter Rebecca Morrison Taylor who married John Poulsand Langmaid and died in 1888. He was the uncle to the murdered schoolgirl Josie Langmaid. See the blog posting on Josie's murder on 14 October 2009.


This story was originally published at

Copyright 2009, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Nutfield Immigrant Families

Historical Marker in East Derry

Londonderry's Presbyterian Church

Immigrants to Nutfield, New Hampshire

It is well known that Nutfield was founded by a group of Ulster refugees, Scots Irish Presbyterians fleeing the violence of Northern Ireland for New England. They were not welcome to settle in Boston, so in 1719 a group came to settle in New Hampshire. They called their new home “Nutfield” after the abundance of nut bearing trees in the vicinity; butternut, chestnut and walnut.
I’ve had a lot of requests for the surnames included in this group, and so I decided to list the family names of subsequent immigration to Nutfield, now Londonderry, Derry and parts of Windham. These names are taken from the 1722 list of “Proprietors of Londonderry.” Surnames in this group include: Alexander, Allison, Anderson, Barnett, Clark, Clendenin, Gregg, McKeen, Mitchell, Morrison, Nesmith, Steele, Sterret, Stuart and Weir, led by Reverend James MacGregor.

Soon after more Scots Irish families followed: Moor, Adams, Karr, Aiken, Dickey, Watts, Mack, Holmes, Nevins, Boyd, Dana, Boice, Conant, McAllister, Patterson, Pinkerton, Humphrey, Campbell, Duncan, Woodburn, McClearey, White, Willson, McDuffee, McMurphy, Martin, Fling, Wallace and others.

According to Reverend Parker’s History of Londonderry, around 1790 a group of families arrived from Ipswich, Massachusetts including Cross, Choate, Proctor, Jewett, Caldwell, Cogswell, Burnham, Crocker and Low. From the town of Bradford came the Savory, Tenny, Barker and Hardy families. From Rowley came the Crowells and Plummers. From Topsfield, the Townes, Dwinnells and Esteys.

After the Ipswich families, another group of Adams family settlers came from Newbury, Massachusetts. Also from Essex County: Batchelder, Gilcreast, Goodwin, Corning, Annis, Avery, Leach, Greely, Kimball and Whittier families. Then a large group of Baptists came from southern Massachusetts, settling in western and northern Londonderry (a section then called “Canada”), and building a Baptist church in 1829, and this included the Manter, Ripley and Sampson families.

If you are from Londonderry or Derry, you will recognize many of these surnames, even just as street names around town. Genealogical sketches of these families can be found in “Rev. Parker’s History of Londonderry” along with other names on tax lists, etc. This book is out of print, but is available at the Londonderry Leach Library, as well in its entirety at


Copyright 2009, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

“A Baaaad Ancestor is Good to Find!”

International Blacksheep Society of Genealogists
“A Baaaad Ancestor is Good to Find!”

The International Blacksheep Society of Genealogists (IBSSG) website is a very interesting support group for those who can trace a direct family line to a thief, deserter, town drunk, or any other type of anti social characters. For those of you too shy to admit such relationships, the Blacksheep Society has a “Tender Lamb” category which will keep your identity a secret! Qualification for IBSSG membership is granted on the mailing list by posting your relationship to the family “blacksheep”, and why you think he or she is the blacksheep of your family. Private submissions can be made to the Tender Lambs coordinator. There are no dues. The coordinators of the lists were happy to accept my email questions, which were answered privately.

I posted a question to the coordinators, “What benefit would Mayflower Society members find by joining IBSSG?” I quickly received several emails from members who were happy to share their experiences. The first person who contacted me was a John Billington descendant! She said “My personal genealogy contained only two black sheep when I joined the society and since then I have accrued several more including John Billington of the Mayflower. My first reaction upon discovering I was a Mayflower descendant was one of extreme joy and then it was, admittedly, a bit of a letdown to discover both John and his son Francis were going to join my list of unconventional black sheep family members. A little more research revealed the marriage of Francis Billington's daughter, Martha, to Francis Eaton's son, Samuel. My Mayflower connection then balanced out between my conventional and black sheep ancestors….I feel in no way responsible for the actions of my ancestors but they are every bit part of me and I would NEVER try to hide them in the proverbial closet. Their blood runs through my veins and I am happy that it does.... they are me and I am them ~ gratefully!”

The Blacksheep Society list coordinator, Jeffrey Scism, sent me some statistics. There are currently about 115 members contributing to the primary list, but it has been as high as 600 members. The group began in October 1996, and was “official” as of January 1, 1997 with 42 charter members. Jeff was kind enough to write: “Our purpose is to help each other find ways around hidden information on blacksheep ancestors, by suggesting places to check, doing look-ups, and by being supportive.”

Anyone who has worked on a family tree knows that there are always relatives no one wants to talk about, and finding information can sometimes be a daunting task. The International Blacksheep Society of Genealogists is here to help you with this task, and to provide a social network to share the humorous and human side to the stories behind your ancestors. For example: between 1717 and 1775 fifty thousand English convicts chose deportation to the colonies for seven years rather than hang. The convictions were over stealing bread, cutting down trees without permission, or merely standing mute in front of one’s “betters.” Chances are that one of your colonial ancestors fits this category, too!

Over the past few months I have scanned some of the on-going conversations on the IBSSG website, and found some very interesting stories. There was a sad story of a town drunk, and the saga of a descendant who found a newspaper article in a 1941 newspaper describing his death in the streets. Through the help of volunteers the descendant was able to put together the earlier, happier details of her ancestor’s life. Other postings listed how to retrieve records on ancestors who died in asylums, and how to petition the court for the ability to view these records. It was also interesting to see that some behavior labeled as “anti social” in the past is considered acceptable today- such as divorce, gambling, or having children out of wedlock.

My own family tree contains several nasty accusers at the Salem Witch trials, a pirate, an inmate at the “Danvers Insane Asylum,” Baker Nason- who killed his brother with an oar halfway across the Piscataqua River in 1693, and youthful Mayflower passenger Ned Doty- accused of dueling, deceit and slander, among other assorted offenses. Ned Doty eventually settled down and overcame his juvenile antics to become an average member of the Plymouth community, because not many records are available on him after his marriage. Sometimes the records of our “Blacksheep” ancestors are much more interesting than the records of our more polite, law abiding family members!

You can find the International Blacksheep Society of Genealogists at

This is an article I originally wrote for “The Shallop” Volume 33, Number 2, page 4, the newsletter of the New Hampshire Society of Mayflower Descendants, Fall issue, 2009

Copyright 2009, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Friday, October 16, 2009

Princess Ka'iulani of Hawaii

Princess Ka’iulani of Hawaii

The Barbarian Princess Controversy?

On the anniversary of her birthday, 16 October 2009 will be the world premiere of a new movie about Princess Ka’iulani of Hawaii. She was born Victoria Ka’iulani Kalaninuiahilapalapa Kawekiu i Lunalilo Cleghorn on 16 October 1875, and was Queen Liliuokalani’s heir to the throne. Her father was Scots, and her mother was sister to the Hawaiian King. At this point in history, Hawaii was the center of all trade and shipping in the Pacific, and held a strategic position in world history. Japan, England, the United States and others were poised to influence its politics. In 1881, when Ka’iulani was just a child, King Kalakaua (her mother’s brother) tried to arrange a marriage with Japanese Crown Prince Yorihito, and in 1894 Queen Liliuokalani (her mother’s sister) gave the princess three Hawaiian princes to chose amongst, but the princess told her that she would prefer to marry for love.

Since the reigning Queen Liliuokalani was elderly and childless, it was hoped that Ka’iulani would become the next monarch. The monarchy was eventually overthrown in 1893 and the new government attempted to join the United States. The young Princess, who was being educated in an English boarding school, traveled to America and gave the press this statement:

"Seventy years ago Christian America sent over Christian men and women to give religion and civilization to Hawai’i. Today, three of the sons of those missionaries are at your capitol asking you to undo their father’s work. Who sent them? Who gave them the authority to break the Constitution which they swore they would uphold? Today, I, a poor weak girl with not one of my people with me and all these ‘Hawaiian’ statesmen against me, have strength to stand up for the rights of my people. Even now I can hear their wail in my heart and it gives me strength and courage and I am strong - strong in the faith of God, strong in the knowledge that I am right, strong in the strength of seventy million people who in this free land will hear my cry and will refuse to let their flag cover dishonor to mine!"

In reply, the pro Annexation propagandists called her “The Barbarian Princess” and a heathen. However, as Ka’iulani continued to travel across the United States, Americans came to know her as a beauty with impeccable British manners, speaking perfect English, French or German. She was invited to numerous balls and banquets, and even met with President Grover Cleveland at the White House. In the end, although Cleveland attempted to intervene on her behalf, Congress refused to restore the monarchy. In 1898 her homeland became the American Territory of Hawaii. By the end of that year she caught sick after a horse ride in the rain, and died on 6 March 1899. Most Hawaiians believe she died of a broken heart.

Marc Forby and Matador Pictures produced a $9 million film titled “Barbarian Princess” based on the life of Princess Ka’iulani. The star role will be played by Q’orianka Kilcher, who played Pocahontas in the Oscar nominated 2005 film “The New World.” It is the story of a young person of mixed races, caught up in the politics of her time, and so the title of the movie was pulled from the newspaper headlines of the times. As a result, the Hawaiian people have overwhelmingly protested the title of the movie, but are also embracing the idea of their princess heroine as the subject of a major motion picture. As of today, on, the trailer for the movie is titled “Princess Kaiulani” and the final title of the movie seems to be up in the air.

The Hawaiian Royal Family:

Chief Caesar Kaluaiku Kapa’akea, patriarch of the Kalakaua Dynasty, born 1815 in Molokai, Hawaii, died 13 November 1866; married in 1835 to High “Chieftess Analea Keohokalole (as her second husband), born 1816, died 6 April 1869. He was the son of Ali’I Kamanawa Opio II and Kamokuiki, she was of a higher rank than he, but they were cousins and their marriage was sacred because of their close kinship. She was the daughter of Chiefess Kamaeokalani and the High Chief Aikanaka, and her first husband was John Adams Kiiapalaoku Kuakini, an important advisor to King Kamehameha I in the early days of the Kingdom of Hawaii.

They had over 10 children, including :

1. Moses Kapaakea, born about 1834 and died young

2. James Kaliokalani, born 29 May 1835, died 2 April 1852 at age 16.

3. David Kalakaua, born 16 November 1836, died 20 January 1891, the last reigning King of Hawaii (“The Merry Monarch”); married to Kapi’olani. No children.

4. Lydia Kamaka’eha Kaola Mali’i Lili’uokalani, born 2 September 1838, died 11 November 1917; married 16 September 1862 to John Owen Dominis, later Royal Governor of O’ahu and Maui. He was the son of Captain John Dominis and Mary Lambert Jones of Boston (see my blog posting on 27 July 2009 for more on this Boston Connection to the Royal Hawaiian Family.) She was Queen Lili’uokalani, the last monarch and only queen regnant of the Kingdom of Hawaii. Princess Ka’iulani was her heir to the throne.

5. Kaiminaauao, born 1844, and died 10 November 1848 at age four of the measles.

6. Anna Kaiulani, born 1842 and died young.

7. Likelike aka Miriam Kapili Kekauluohi Likelike, born 13 January 1851, died 2 February 1887; married 22 September 1870 to Archibald S. Cleghorn, financier and later a Royal Governor of O’ahu. They had only one child, the Princess Ka’iulani.

8. William Pitt Leleiohoku Kalahoolewa, born 1854 and died 1877. He was Crown Prince under his brother King David Kalakaua.



“Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen” by Lili’uokalani, Boston: Lee and Shepard, 1898 (Princess Ka’iulani was half Scots and half Hawaiian) The Royal Family of Hawaii Official Web Site for information on the film “Barbarian Princess” released 16 October 2009


Copyright 2009, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day, Climate Change

Blog Action Day, Climate Change

Essex River, Ancestors and the Changing Climate on Earth

My ancestors have lived along the Essex River and Ipswich coast since the first settlers arrived in the 1630s. The last person in my family to live in Essex, which was first known as Ipswich’s Chebacco Parish, was my grandfather, who was born there in 1905. He was buried along with my grandmother and the rest of his family in the family plot on Spring Street. The Spring Street Cemetery is just a stones throw from the Essex River and the shipyard. My mother was born in Ipswich in 1835, but she grew up next door in Hamilton.

As the planet warms we will all be impacted, but not all will be impacted equally. The delicate balance of a tidal estuary, existing just at sea level, like the Essex River, is an endangered place. Many of the first English colonists arrived in Ipswich with John Winthrop’s Great Migration. From Ipswich they spread to Salem, Boston and then to other parts of Massachusetts and New England. Many of the Essex County, Massachusetts farmers who removed to Nutfield in the late 1700s were descendants of these first Ipswich settlers. Many hundreds of thousands of Americans are descended from these first farmers who depended on the salt marsh hay, also working as fishermen, ship builders and clammers.

Around the Essex Bay are barrier beaches, islands, the Cogswell Grant historic site, important nesting sites for endangered piping plovers, all existing only a few feet above sea level. The natural resources of the Essex Bay are tied to the local economy, history and recreation. It is part of the “Great Marsh” that extends from Salisbury to Gloucester, the largest continuous acreage of salt marsh in New England, over 25,500 acres. Look at the other first settlements in this part of New England and most are located in similarly marshy areas: Rumney Marsh (Chelsea, Massachusetts), Plymouth, Massachusetts, New Hampshire’s Great Bay and Kittery Maine.

Living just seconds away from the ocean, constant tidal action, hurricanes, coastal erosion, and manmade pollution, have changed the estuaries and the Essex River’s path over the years. My ancestors would probably not recognize the area where shipbuilding is now taking place near the Essex causeway. Climate change will cause these differences to become more pronounced, and it will happen quicker in the next decades.

What will be the impact on clamming, fishing, and shipbuilding? I’m sure that it will be huge, even though less and less people in Essex depend on these industries for a livelihood. More and more, the face of Essex has become one of suburbia and residences for commuters. Tourism businesses (such as the tours of the estuary), seafood restaurants, and antique shops will be affected if the causeway goes underwater, or is destroyed by a rogue wave from a hurricane. Historical places, such as the shipyard, churches or the burial grounds will disappear if the sea levels rise. We can build a new shipyard, and move a restaurant inland, but the historic places of our ancestors will be gone forever.


More Information:

“Take a Stand in the Sand: International Day of Climate Action” October 24, 2009 1PM at Cranes Beach, Ipswich. The Trustees of Reservations will be sending a message to the Massachusetts representatives and the global community that we need bold climate change legislation to protect our planet and the local places we care for. This is an example of local action in Ipswich. How local residents have taken steps to reduce their own carbon footprint, including voting on a wind turbine for the town’s electricity needs.

And The Essex Bay wetlands coastal management plan, an area of critical concern to the Massachusetts Government
Copyright 2009, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Murder of Josie Langmaid, Pembroke, New Hampshire

This week I twice watched the NH Public TV presentation of “Josie Langmaid: Murdered Maiden of Pembroke”. The young school girl was murdered in October 1875, and the drama rocked New Hampshire with lurid headlines and court testimony that was transcribed in detail in the local news papers. It was broadcast on October 5, 9 and 12th, and the story has also been told on NH Chronicle. Both were narrated by Fritz Wetherbee, my favorite voice of the Granite State. It is available for $29.95 at the NHPTV website.

Seventeen year old Josie was a beautiful young girl, murdered, raped and beheaded by a French Canadian drifter named Joseph LePage. This trial divided the Yankee New Hampshire community and the newer French Canadian residents, and resulted in LePage confessing to the crime and later hanging at the Concord State Prison in March 1878. Not only did it inspire hot headlines, but also a ballad “Suncook Town Tragedy” and a monument at the place where the murder happened, on Academy Road in Pembroke.

Sadly, just after Josie’s murder, her brother, Waldo, and last surviving sibling, died of Typhoid Fever. The Langmaid chidren are buried together in the Pembroke Cemetery. Of course, after learning about the family, I found a connection to some Nutfield History…..

Langmaid Family Tree:

Generation 1. William Langmaid, born about 1650 in Scotland or England

Generation 2. Samuel Langmaid, born about 1680; married to Mary Hanson

Generation 3. Samuel Langmaid, born about 1710;

Generation 4. Thomas Langmaid, born 29 September 1785 in Chichester, New Hampshire, d. 13 Nov 1845 in Chichester; married 5 April 1812 to Grace Pousland of Beverly, Massachusetts.

Generation 5. James F. Langmaid, born 25 April 1833 in Chichester, died Granite Falls, Minnesota, 1902; married 2 May 1867 in Pembroke, New Hampshire to Sarah Haseltine Cochran.

Children (all died young, all buried with their father and first wife at the Buck Street Cemetery in Pembroke):
1. Josie A. Langmaid, born about 1858, died 4 October 1875 (murder victim)
2. Waldo H. Langmaid, born about 1859 died 15 December 1875
3. Ella B. Langmaid, born about 1861, died 25 May 1862
4. Clarence B. Langmaid, born about 1862, died 12 September 1863

(James F. Langmaid had a brother, John Pousland Langmaid, born 24 April 1817 in Chichester who married Rebecca Morrison Taylor, born in Derry. Rebecca was the daughter of Robert Taylor and Dolly Colby. Robert Taylor was the son of David Taylor, born 10 August 1735, the fourth son of Matthew Taylor and his wife Janet, one of the first settlers of Londonderry.)


The New York Herald, 1875

The Boston Globe, 1875.

The memorial erected after her murder "by the citizens of Pembroke and vicinity to commemorate the place of the tragic death of Josie A. Langmaid."

“The Murdered Maiden Student: A Tribute to the Memory of Josie A. Langmaid” by Rev. S. C. Keeler, courtesy of the Pembroke Academy

“Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of Boston and Eastern Massachusetts”, Volume 4, by William Richard Cutter, New York: Lewis Publishing Co, 1908

Suncook Town Tragedy Ballad

Come all young people, now draw near;
Attend awhile and you shall hear,
How a young person of renown
Was murdered in fair Suncook Town.
It was in the morning very cool
When Josie started for her school,
And many the time that road she passed
But little thought she it would be her last.
It was at the foot of Pembrook Street
La Page lay ambushed with a stick;
Long time ago his plans were laid
To take the life of the fair maid.
The mother watched with eager air,
Hoping her daughter would appear,
But when the shades of night drew near
Her darling child did not appear.
The weeping father and the son
All thro' the woods their search begun,
And found at last to their surprise
The murdered child before their eyes.
Her head was from her body tore,
Her clothes were all a crimson gore,
And on her body marks did show
Some skillful hand had dealt the blow.
This monster now so deep in crime,
He thought the peoples' eyes to blind,
But found at last to his mistake,
They had him fast behind the grate.
It was at Concord he was tried.
Unto the last his crime denied,
But he was found to guilty be
And the judge said, "Death is your plea."
And now, La Page, your work is done
And you like Eveuse must be hung,
For we must all examples make
Till crime shall cease in the Granite State."


Copyright 2009, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pepperell Family of Kittery, Maine

Photo by Rich Beauchesne
Pepperell Family of Kittery, Maine
The original settlers of the Maine and New Hampshire coast were known as the “Piscataqua Pioneers.” Early settlements in Strawbery Bank, Portsmouth, Kittery and the Berwicks blended together before boundaries were settled between the colonies. York County, Maine was actually York County, Massachusetts, and the border below Exeter was disputed for generations. Recently, the Isles of Shoals and the island where the shipyard is located were still the subjects of lawsuits between the states of New Hampshire and Maine. Anyone with early seacoast ancestry is familiar with the confusing mix of records between Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine, and the guesswork of trying to find the correct archive for records.

One of these early families is the Pepperell family. On November 7, 2009 a colonial era tablet will be rededicated, on the 25th anniversary of Sir William Pepperell’s death. William Pepperell is famous as a merchant and soldier in colonial “Massachusetts”, even though he resided at Kittery Point. He lead the expedition to capture the Louisbourg fortress in Nova Scotia, and he was a profitable merchant. He married the grand daughter of Samuel Sewell, the Boston judge. He was the height of high society in pre-Revolutionary New England.

Curiously, his wife, the Lady Pepperell, seems more famous, and her elegant house in Kittery is locally known as the “Lady Pepperell House.” As a wealthy widow, she must have done some impressive entertaining in this mansion. Built in 1760, after her husband’s death and located near the Congregational Church. It is worth checking out the Pepperell sites (Lady Pepperell's house and the original Pepperell Mansion) the next time you head to the beach or to the outlets in Kittery. The tomb and memorial mentioned in the article below are on the road near both the Pepperell Mansion and the fort. The two houses are privately owned.

Donations can be sent to:
Friends of Fort McClary
P.O. Box 82
Kittery Point, ME 03905

Pepperell Family Tree:

Generation 1. Colonel William Pepperell, born 1646, in Tavistock, England, died 1734; married 1680 to Margery Bray, daughter of John Bray and Joan Pierce, born 1660, died 24 April 1741.

1. Andrew, born 1 July 1681, died about 1713; married 1707 to Jane Elliot, daughter of Robert Elliot. Had Sarah Pepperell who married Charles Frost, and Margery Pepperell who married William Wentworth.

2. Mary, born 5 September 1685, died 18 April 1766; married Judge John Frost and had sixteen children. Mary and John Frost were ancestors of the Derry Poet Robert Frost.

3. Margery, born 15 September 1689; married Pelatiah Whitemore, married 2nd Judge Elihu Gunnison.

4. Joanna, born 22 June 1692 married Dr. George Jackson

5. Miriam, born 4 September 1694; married Andrew Tyler, a Boston merchant

6. William, the Baronet, see below

7. Dorothy, born Jul 1698; married Captain Andrew Watkins

8. Jane, born 2 June 1701; married Benjamin Clark; married 2nd William Tyler, brother of Andrew, her sister Miriam’s husband.

Generation 2. Sir William Pepperell, born 1696, died 1759; married 16 March, 1723/4 to Mary Hirst, daughter of Grove Hirst and Elizabeth Sewell of Boston. Grand daughter to Judge Samuel Sewell and Anna DeQuincy Hull. Sir William did not have a son, so he adopted his grandson, William Pepperell Sparhawk, as his heir. Sparhawk agreed to change his name to Pepperell by act of the legislature.

Famous family's memorial uncovered in KitteryVolunteers reveal colonial-era tablet to be restored in time for Nov. 7 dedication

By Dave Choate
October 12, 2009 2:00 AM
KITTERY, Maine — The legacy of the town's most famous family is being restored from the history books by residents, two and a half centuries later.

Obscured by trees for the last 30 years, a memorial stone and tomb for the Pepperrell family is being unveiled and restored to its former glory by a group of citizen volunteers. The Pepperrell Project — headed up by Steve Estes and fellow members of the Pepperrell Project committee of the Friends of Fort McClary, with aid from the Kittery Historical and Naval Museum — has taken down the cedar trees blocking the view of the memorial stone and plan to landscape the area and professionally clean the tombstone in the near future.

It will all come together on Nov. 7, the 250th anniversary of Sir William Pepperrell's death, when a rededication ceremony will be held at noon. There will be maritime music in honor of Pepperrell's shipping empire, a visit from French and Indian War re-enactors and more for those who attend.
The memorial stone lists some of the accomplishments of the two most famous Pepperrells: The elder William, who came from England and served as a colonel in the Maine militia, and his son, Sir William, who tied together a thriving shipping trade, fought in the French and Indian War and had huge influence in the Massachusetts government. Both made their names during the age where Maine was a colony of Massachusetts and each state was a colony of Great Britain, and both are noted for their contributions to colonial history in the Americas.

Estes outlined the history of the Pepperrell family while standing by the engraved tomb with the helmet-and-pineapple coat of arms ("it signifies friendship," according to Estes) where some 40 members of the family are interred, and which will be professionally cleaned of the ravages of time Saturday.
It's Sir William Pepperrell in particular who is noted for building a family shipping empire, as well as his military, judicial and political service. He led what Estes described as a "ragtag militia" — with the support of the British Navy — up to Louisburg, in what is now Nova Scotia, to capture a fort, though the miserable fighting conditions led to chronic illnesses in his later years.
Pepperrell also served as the justice at the Court of Common Pleas in Maine, at one point settling a significant land dispute by ruling against the British. He also served on the very powerful Governor's Council for Massachusetts, eventually becoming its president. Estes compared the legislative body to the Executive Council in New Hampshire.

Business was another big piece for the Pepperrells. Sir William's trade ships crisscrossed the colonies and Canada, doing plenty of business in North Carolina. He owned substantial tracts of land throughout the area and as far north as Saco and Scarborough, Maine. The top of the historic Pepperrell homestead can be seen when standing by the memorial tablet; all of the history here is fittingly on Pepperrell Road.

His success in all endeavors drew the attention of King George II, who Estes said made him a baronet and bestowed the title of British Army General upon him. Pepperrell was the only colonist to ever receive a royal title, according to Estes.
The tombstone, which is about 275 years old, was brought over from Great Britain. The memorial tablet was erected by the Pepperrell Association much later, in 1907, almost 150 years after Sir William Pepperrell died.
Estes said the trees were planted in the 1970s to provide screening between residences in the area and the parking lot for Frisbee's Market across the street, but the trees grew to the point where the memorial tablet was blocked from view. Estes said many people in the last week or so have stopped and said they never knew the memorial was there until the trees were cleared out.
"The casualty was that this really disappeared from sight," Estes said.
Those who want to help the group to take care of the memorial tablet and tombstone through volunteering or donations can call Estes at (207) 439-3479, or e-mail

Copyright 2009, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Monday, October 12, 2009

Leif Erikson Day in New Hampshire

This story was posted today by WMUR, Channel 9, and I just HAD to pass it on....

Dozens March In 33rd Annual Leif Erickson ParadeMarchers Wear Scandinavian Sweaters, Viking Outfits Converge

DURHAM, N.H. -- Dozens of marchers clad in Scandinavian sweaters and Viking outfits gathered in downtown Durham, N.H., on Sunday for the 33rd annual Leif Erickson Celebration Parade.
A University of New Hampshire professor and two friends got the idea for the parade in 1977 while washing clothes at a Laundromat. They turned the laundromat into the parade's starting point, and decided to march 25 feet to a nearby restaurant.
This year's parade started at 6:30 a.m.
Erickson is thought to have been the first European to land in North America more than 1,000 years ago. Parade organizers told Foster's Daily Democrat they don't want to elevate Erickson above other explorers but feel each explorer should get an hour of praise.


Also reported in Foster's Daily Democrat

Leif Erickson parade showcases Viking prideBy Aaron
Monday, October 12, 2009

DURHAM — The start time is early and the parade route is short, to say the least.

But that didn't matter to the roughly 30 people who turned out Sunday morning for the town's annual Leif Erickson Parade. Some even came with their Viking gear, including plastic helmets and swords.

For many, the event is a chance to stay connected to and honor their Scandinavian heritage. Roger Berle, a Norwegian-American from Portland, Maine, took part in his first parade Sunday.

"Three years ago I came on the wrong day, so I ended up having a parade of my own," he said. "I've wanted to do this for the last 25 years since I read about it."

He said his grandparents immigrated to America in 1890, and his heritage is something he takes great pride in.

"I've visited Norway many times and every time I go, I feel I'm home," he said.

The Leif Erickson parade has gained national attention, mostly because of its unique format and simple beginnings.

The parade started in 1977 as a three-man tribute to the famous Viking explorer. Noble K. Peterson, a former University of New Hampshire professor, and two friends of Scandinavian descent were washing clothes at the Durham Laundercenter one morning when they decided to march next door to Young's Restaurant to celebrate the famous explorer.

Since then, many have gathered at the laundromat, located on Main Street, at 6 a.m. on the Sunday before Columbus Day to take the 25-foot march to Young's Restaurant while chanting "For noble deeds and daring done, we all salute Leif Erickson. Hoorah! Hoorah! Hoorah!"

"It's organized foolishness, but it's fun," said Hampton resident Bill Anderson.

He was participating in his second parade and took part as a way to recognize his Swedish and Norwegian heritage. He said he was the first Anderson in his family to be born in America. Before coming to America, Anderson's family was the Anderssons.

"But that got Americanized to one 's,'" he said.

The same happened with his mother's family — the Asbjornsens — which was changed to Osborne because no one could pronounce it, according to Anderson.

Ken Andersen of Durham has participated in the parade more than 20 times, but Sunday was the first time his son Dave joined him. Andersen said he lived in Denmark before coming to America years ago.

"We have strong ties to Denmark," he said. "I spoke Danish before I spoke English."

Dave said he has always heard his father talk about the parade but lives in Boston and never had a chance to check it out for himself. He was visiting this weekend and decided to finally try it.

"It's such a big part of my heritage," he said. "Plus, I'm looking forward to having breakfast after."

Marion Farrell came from Ossining, N.Y., to take part. She said her ancestors are both Scottish and Norwegian.

Farrell first found out about the parade from her husband, who took part in it once. Once he died, she decided to continue what he started by taking part."It's just a tradition now," she said. "It's a lot of fun."

Peter Andersen of Durham served as this year's parade marshal and said he's pleased people keep coming to participate. Before the parade started he urged the participants to chant loudly, so they could wake up some of the college students who live on Main Street."

For those of you who have been disturbed by the students in the past, now is the morning and hour to get even," he joked.After the march was done and the group settled into Young's Restaurant, he read a proclamation from Gov. John Lynch.

Leif Erickson Day is observed nationally on Oct. 9.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Jabez Treadwell's Will

In Memory
Mr Jabez Treadwell
who departed this Life
22d Day of Decr
In the 67th year of his age.
"Bleƒƒed are the dead which die in
the Lord that they may reƒt
from their Labours; and their
works do follow them."

When I first applied for membership in the Mayflower Society, I had eleven different passengers to choose from for my lineage papers. The easiest route to membership was to choose Isaac Allerton, because he settled in Salem and Marblehead, and I was born in Beverly, Massachusetts. To fill out my paperwork I used one of the silver books, and then I visited the town clerks in Beverly, Salem, Danvers and Hamilton and I was finished in one afternoon.

I give all my apologies to those of you working for years and years on your Mayflower applications. I understand fully how hard it is to complete those lineage papers, because in five years I haven’t done any of my supplemental lines. To finish those I need a trip to Nova Scotia and several states, and I’ve been lazy!

The lineage from Isaac Allerton to me leads through the Treadwell family in Ipswich. My great grandfather even had the name Arthur Treadwell Hitchings, because he was named for his own grandmother, Eliza Ann Treadwell. The family is mentioned in the Ipswich history, and they seemed very typical of the farmers in the area. I didn’t think of them as remarkable in any way. I recorded their vital records, searched a bit for stories and didn’t find any particularly interesting. I posted them on my website, along with the rest of the family tree, and that was that. Or so I thought!

Whenever I post something on the internet, interesting things seem to happen. I don’t get responses right away, but that’s fine, I don’t mind getting responses years and years later. I had a mysterious email from someone in South Carolina. It seems that she had an original 1780 copy of Jabez Treadwell’s will! She wanted to give it to one of his living descendants. Wow! This stranger had a grandfather who attended Suffolk Law school in Boston, Massachusetts way back in the 1920’s, and acquired this will somehow.

And so I acquired the will for just the cost of postage and a few email “Thank yous!” It was in very good shape, except for where it had ripped where it had once been folded and someone had tried to repair it with cellophane tape. The tape had fallen off long ago and left a yucky yellow stripe. It is legible, completely readable and quite a family treasure.

Lessons learned:

1. Post family stories online, and you’ll always reap rewards. Sometimes just a nice note in the email, and sometimes more!

2. Never repair a 1780 will with cellophane tape!

The lineage from Isaac Allerton through the Treadwell family:

Gen. 1. Isaac Allerton (Mayflower Passenger) born about 1586 in England, died 12 February 1658/9 in New Haven, Connecticut; married 4 November 1611 in Leyden, Holland to Mary Norris, daughter of Edward Norris, born 1567 in Newbury, Berkshire, England, died 25 February 1620/1 in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Gen. 2. Remember Allerton (Mayflower Passenger when she was about 5 or six years old), born about 1614 in Leyden, Holland; married to Moses Maverick, son of Reverend John Maverick and Mary Gye, born 3 November 1611 in Huish, Devonshire, England, died 28 January 1685/6 in Marblehead, Massachusetts.

Gen. 3. Abigail Maverick, born about 12 January 1644/5 in Salem, Massachusetts, died about January 1685/6; married about 1662 to Major Samuel Ward, son of Samuel Ward and Mary Hilliard, born about 18 November 1638 in Hingham, Massachusetts, died between 30 July 1689 and 12 Mar 1690 on the expedition to Canada (Siege of Quebec).

Gen. 4. Martha Ward, born 16 September 1673 in Salem, died 17 August 1723 in Ipswich; married 3 December 1689 in Ipswich to John Tuthill/Tuttle, son of Simon Tuthill and Sarah Cogswell, born on 22 April 1666 in Ipswich, died on 27 February 1714/5 in Ipswich.

Gen. 5. Martha Tuttle, born 21 November 1690 in Ipswich, died on 15 May 1763 in Ipswich; married about 14 Jan 1709 to Mark Haskell, son of Mark Haskell and Elizabeth Giddings, born 16 September 1687 in Gloucester, died 25 August 1775 in Ipswich.

Gen. 6. Lucy Haskell, born 21 May 1715 in Gloucester, died 21 September 1789 in Ipswich; married 20 November 1736 in Ipswich to Jabez Treadwell, son of Nathaniel Treadwell and Hannah Unknown, born 9 August 1713 in Ipswich, died 22 December 1780 in Ipswich.

Gen. 7. Nathaniel Treadwell, born about 28 October 1753 in Ipswich, died on 2 January 1822 in Ipswich; married on 17 July 1786 in Ipswich to Mary Hovey, born in Ipswich and died on 15 January 1832 in Ipswich.

Gen. 8. Jabez Treadwell, born 17 October 1788 in Ipswich, died on 4 November 1840 in Salem; married 17 November 1811 in Marblehead to Betsey Jillings Homan, daughter of Thomas Homan and Tabitha Glover, born about 1792 in Marblehead, died 1875 in Salem.

Gen. 9. Eliza Ann Treadwell, born 27 August 1812 in Salem, died on 31 January 1896 in Salem; married on 4 December 1836 in Salem to Abijah Hitchings, son of Abijah Hitchings and Mary Cloutman, born on 18 January 1809 in Salem, died 18 January 1864 in Salem.

Copyright 2009, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Ocean Born Mary, a Londonderry Character

The Ocean Born Mary Story

The Myth:

A Ship of Ulster protestant passengers was on its way to Boston, Massachusetts when, on 28 July 1720, Elizabeth Wilson gave birth to a daughter. About this time a pirate ship attacked, and the captain intended to rob and murder the passengers. Just in the nick of time, the captain heard the newborn child’s cries. He said he would spare all the passengers if the child was named Mary in honor of his mother, and he gave a bolt of silk to the baby girl for her wedding dress. The child and her parents later settled in Londonderry, New Hampshire. Later the pirate returned to Londonderry to look up the grown woman named Mary, and since she was recently widowed, he married her and built her a home in Henniker, NH.


The Truth:

Yes, the ship was full of Scots Irish fleeing the violence of Northern Ireland. And, Yes, there was a pirate, and a bolt of silk, and the newborn child was named Mary. The silk was used for her wedding dress, and bits of it are on display in Londonderry, Henniker and at the New Hampshire Historical Society Museum. Mary married in Londonderry, was widowed late in life, and she removed to Henniker to live with her son, William, for the last 18 years of her life. If she did marry the pirate after becoming a widow, she would have been 78 years old and the pirate over 100 years old. Chances are that the pirate marriage is myth.

Even better than this fanciful myth is the reality later caused by the myth. A fellow from Wisconsin, named Louis Roy, bought a house in Henniker in 1917, and thought that he had bought the house belonging to Ocean Born Mary’s son, Robert Wallace. In reality, she lived in a different house in Henniker, with her son William. Mr. Roy told of seeing her ghost in the home, started some imaginative house tours and even rented shovels to tourists and invited them to dig for buried pirate treasure in his garden. The Roy family continued with the ghost tours until the 1960’s.

William’s house became the Henniker town poor farm. It was destroyed by fire in 1923. There was a story about the “Ocean Born Mary House” in the September 1996 Issue of “Yankee” magazine, when it was up for sale for $875,000. This house for sale was the former Roy house. I guess the myth was so strong, that though it was proven wrong, it was OK to market the house as the “Ocean Born Mary” house even in a nationally known magazine!

If you Google Ocean Born Mary’s story, you will see that many people claim to see a tall, red haired, green eyed ghost in the Henniker house, where she never lived! Now that it is almost Halloween, ghost stories about Ocean Born Mary top the list of famous hauntings in New Hampshire. Her ghost even featured on page 538 of Volume 74 of the National Geographic magazine (OK, it was in an issue from 1939, but you get the idea!)


The Ocean Born Mary Family Tree:

Gen. 1. James Wilson, married Elizabeth Fulton in Northern Ireland and they removed to Londonderry, New Hampshire with a wave of Scots Irish immigration in 1720. James died about Jan 1721, and Elizabeth married second in 1722 to James Clark in Londonderry.

Gen. 2. Mary Wilson, born 28 July 1720 on the Atlantic Ocean, d. on 13 Feb. 1814 in Henniker, New Hampshire; married 18 Dec. 1742 to James Wallace in Londonderry, New Hampshire. He died on 30 Oct. 1781 in Londonderry and is buried in the Hill Burying Ground. Mary is buried in the Center Burying Ground in Henniker. James was the son of Thomas Wallace and Barbara Cochran of Antrim, Northern Ireland, also among the first settlers in Londonderry, New Hampshire.

Gen. 3. Five children, named Wallace, born in Londonderry.
  1. Elizabeth, married Major Thomas Patterson
  2. Thomas, b. 5 Nov. 1745, served in the Battle of Bennington
  3. Robert, b. 5 Sept. 1749, married Jeannette Moore, daughter of Robert and Mary Moore of Londonderry
  4. William, b. 17 Jan. 1760, married Hannah, sister of Jeanette (above)
  5. James, b. 8 May 1762, married Anna, another sister of Jeannette and Hannah (above). It is very interesting to note that the three Wallace brothers married three Moore sisters.

History of Londonderry, by Rev. E. L. Parker (See my blog post on Rev. Parker 11 Sep. 2009 at this link: )

“As I Please” by J. Dennis Robinson, Vol. 5, No. 7, April 21, 2001 “The Truth About Ocean Born Mary”

“The Geography of a Hurricane”, The National Geographic Magazine, by the National Geographic Society, page 538, Volume 74, 1939

A 2013 blog post on Ocean Born Mary:

To cite/link to this blog post: Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Ocean Born Mary, a Londonderry Character", Nutfield Genealogy, posted October 8, 2009, ( accessed [access date]). 

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Family History Day, October 24, 2009

Family History Day, October 24, 2009

October is Family History Month!

The following information was passed on to me by Harry Hadaway, a fellow board member of the New Hampshire Mayflower Society, and a Mayflower cousin. He will be one of the speakers at the Family History Day event mentioned below….

The Concord, New Hampshire Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is hosting a Family History Day on October 24 from 8 AM to 1 PM. This program is free and open to the public. Those interested can learn more about the activity and register for classes at the following web site:

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
90 Clinton St., Concord, New Hampshire

Registration from 8 to 9 AM, Classes from 9 AM to 1 PM

Registration and Refreshments are free

Sampling of Classes:

Eastern Canada
Brick Walls
Planning a Research Trip
Advanced Googling
Ins and Outs of Legacy
Writing a Personal History
Beginners Class

And More!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Nominations for the Top Genealogy Blogs by Family Tree Magazine

Dear Readers,

Last month Family Tree Magazine ran an article and solicited suggestions for the Top 40 Genealogy Blogs. Someone nominated my blog, Nutfield Genealogy. The contest is still on and the nominations were released today. Over 130 blogs are on the list in ten different categories.

You can vote for your favorites (Hint, Hint Nutfield Genealogy in the local/regional category!) at this link:

Thanks to all my readers for your support, and for nominating my blog. Congratulations to all the nominees!

Heather Wilkinson Rojo

The Spanish Flu of 1918 and Family History

US. Naval History and Heritage Command Photo #: NH 41731-A

The Spanish Flu of 1918

Years ago I heard the story of a family member who died during the 1918 Influenza Pandemic. It was interesting to me at the time, but even more interesting now with the Bird Flu epidemic.  It is well worth revisiting and re-investigating the story.

Between 1918 and 1919, an estimated 21.5 million people died of the “Spanish Flu” worldwide. However, the exact numbers are unknown. It is thought that about 675,000 Americans died, more than the total number of Americans who died in World War I. The dead were mostly young people, since survivors of an 1890 flu pandemic seemed to have immunity. This is surprisingly similar to what seems to be happening today, with people under 25 having a higher mortality rate than those who survived another flu epidemic in the 1970’s.

Frozen tissue samples show that the 1918 Spanish Flu was a variant on the influenza A virus, subtype H1N1. Sound familiar? However, remember that this was before penicillin could cure the ensuing pneumonia infections, and this 1918 strain had some nasty hemorrhagic side effects.

I was also surprised to read that the first American cases of the 1918 outbreak were in Boston. Several sailors came down with it on August 27th, followed by 8 more on the 28th, and 58 cases on the 29th. Two weeks later over 2,000 military men had the flu, because the sick soldiers were taken to the Chelsea Old Soldiers Home. By September the flu had reached Fort Devens. By January 16, 1919 about 45,000 people had died from the Spanish Flu in Massachusetts alone.

I now live in New Hampshire. It is interesting to note that since it was a rural state, New Hampshire had the least deaths in New England. The city of Manchester had set up some rather severe quarantines and restrictions on closing all soda fountains, and requiring restaurants to boil dishes. These strict regulations may have saved some lives.

In our family tree the flu victim was Waldo Emerson Cooper. He had married my great Aunt Lenora “Lena” Carrie Allen in 1912. On his World War I draft registration card, dated June 5, 1917, Waldo listed that he was a leather worker and bookkeeper, employed by James R. Cooper, his father, in Westborough, Massachusetts. He also listed a wife and two children as dependents, residing at 11 Beach Street. That fall, during the influenza outbreak, he died.

Aunt Lena was left widowed at age 24, with three babies. My grandfather, her brother, stepped in to become the man of the family, and left high school at age 14. He filled in for Waldo’s job at the family tannery, and Lena worked evenings playing the piano at silent movie theaters. To ease her burden, the smallest boy was adopted by the Cooper family, and possibly the other children was adopted, too.

Later, Aunt Lena remarried and lived a new life in Connecticut. Her first children remained in Westborough, but she adopted a new son. However, this story is not just about her first husband dying of the influenza. The death set up a chain of events in the family that could never be reversed. My grandfather never returned to school, and led a life of hard labor, including 40 years as a glazier at a large factory in Beverly. One of the little orphaned boys went to work for the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression, and the family rarely heard from his afterwards. Aunt Lena’s children were raised by her relatives. Even though she was able to set up a new life in Connecticut with her new husband and child, I’m sure that the memories of her first marriage were hard ones. And this is the just the story of one death due to the pandemic that took over a half million Americans.

Family Group Information:

Joseph Elmer Allen and Carrie Maud Batchelder, resided in Essex, Massachusetts, had five children, including their oldest child….

Leonore Carrie Allen, born 20 March 1894, Boston, Massachusetts, died January 1973 in Stamford, Connecticut; married first on 29 December 1912 in Essex, Massachusetts to Waldo Emerson Cooper, born 21 March 1890 in Somerville, Massachusetts, died 1918 during the influenza pandemic. He was the son of James R. Cooper and Ada Steves Oram; married second to Thomas J. McCormack.

Three children with Waldo Emerson Cooper

1. Charles
2. Waldo, born about 1913
3. Carolyn, born about 1915


America’s Forgotten Pandemic: The Influenza of 1918, by Crosby, Alfred. (Cambridge University Press). Available online for a limited preview on Google Books


Copyright 2009, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Bill Family Reunion

The Bill Sisters
Belle, Grace and Jennie
(restored with PhotoShop by Catalina Rojo,
great great grand daughter of Belle)

Caleb Bill's Descendants celebrating in Peabody
representing Alaska, California, Massachusetts,
Maine and New Hampshire
Descendants of Music Professor Caleb Rand Bill

Sometimes people can find lost ancestors and distant cousins in some very strange ways. When my Dad passed away, my mom found some obituaries and newspaper clippings in his dresser drawer. She gave them to me, since I’ve been designated as the official family historian. One clipping was from the 1970’s and it listed a relative I knew, but all the sons and cousins under the name were unknown to me. I figured that some of them might still be alive, so I asked some older relatives and used Google to track them all down…

The names listed were Nichols, Brewster and Bill. I had heard of these cousins, and I knew they had once lived in Essex County, probably in the Salem area. They had some sort of relationship to the Wilkinson family, but I wasn’t sure where they fit in. On line I found a story about a long lost ski area in Danvers, called Locust Hill, formerly owned by the Nichols family. Some of the names in the story seemed to fit, so I emailed the author.

Before I knew it, the author of the story had emailed several of her cousins and they all contacted me. Of course we were related, and they remembered my Dad, and his father, and my grandfather… We were all related four or five generations back by a common ancestor named Caleb Rand Bill and his wife Ann Margaret Bollman, both born in Nova Scotia. Professor C. R. Bill was a music teacher in Salem, Massachusetts, with six daughters, who all lived in the Salem area, and three sons who never lived to adulthood.

A few months later, one newly found cousin arrived back in Massachusetts from Palo Alto, California. His brother lived in Salem, and we all met for dinner. We passed around some old photos, drew up a family tree to see how we were related, and got to know each other all over again. We reminisced about my Dad and his parents, and generally had a wonderful time getting to know each other. And we all had a good laugh knowing that it took a news clipping and the internet to find each other.

This past weekend, the cousins from Palo Alto was out for his Salem brother’s 90th birthday, and we all wanted to meet up for a meal together again. We met in Peabody, and brought more cousins, an aunt and even a distant cousin from Alaska together. This time everyone brought folders of lovingly preserved old photos of Bills, Nichols, Brewsters and Wilkinsons. For nearly three hours we passed around the pictures and again drew up family trees on the backs of paper placemats to sketch out our relationships. The people around the table (ages 22 to 90 years old) represented living descendants from the fourth, fifth and sixth generations descended from Professor Caleb Rand Bill (1833-1902).
Family Tree Information:
Caleb Rand Bill, born 20 May 1833 in Billtown, Cornwallis, Nova Scotia, died 30 Dec 1902 in Salem, Massachusetts; married on 7 June 1858 in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia to Ann Margaret Bollman, born 11 September 1835 in Lunenburg, died 1923 in Salem, Massachusetts. They had 9 Children (born in the different places Prof. Bill taught music):
  • 1. Ingraham Ebenezer Bill, born 14 April 1859 in St. John's New Brunswick, died 9 October 1876 in Beverly, Massachusetts from "Pott's disease of the spine" (a form of tuberculosis)
  • 2. Mary Ann Bill, b. about 1861 in New Brunswick, died 1910 in Massachusetts; married in 1886 in Danvers, Massachusetts to Andrew Nichols, son of Andrew Ward Nichols and Elizabeth Perkins Stanley.
  • 3. Isabella Lyons Bill, born January 1863 in Machias, Maine, died 19 January 1935 in Beverly, Massachusetts; married 18 October 1894 in Salem to Albert Munroe Wilkinson, born 7 November 1860 in Danvers, died 12 May 1908 in Brookline, Massachusetts, son of Robert Wilson Wilkinson and Phebe Cross Munroe.
  • 4. Elizabeth T. Bill, born September 1866 in Houlton, Maine; married 26 December 1892 in Salem to Charles Foster Perkins, born 15 July 1869 in Manchester, Massachusetts, died in 1934
  • 5. Jane B. Bill, born Jan 1868 in Nova Scotia, died 1946 in Beverly, Massachusetts. Unmarried.
  • 6. Charlotte Grace Bill, born 30 Jan 1870 in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia; married 30 April 1898 in Danvers to Walter Frances Barton, born 3 May 1874 in Salem, died December 1964 in Massachusetts, son of Ernest Barton and M. Nellie Cross.
  • 7. Frederick Bremner Bollman Bill, born 27 Jan 1872 in Watertown, Massachusetts, died sometime after 1910, an inmate at Danvers State Asylum.
  • 8. Georgia Buffington Bill, born 4 Oct 1875 in Beverly, Massachusetts; married on 25 June 1901 in Salem to Charles Herbert Marshall, born 6 March 1876 in Beverly, Massachusetts, son of Francis Marshall and Madeline Woodbury.
  • 9. Edward Manning Bill, born 28 August 1880 in Beverly, Massachusetts, died 14 July 1881 in Salem, Massachusetts.
The link to Sandy Nichols Ward's Lost Ski Areas story
Copyright 2009, Heather Wilkinson Rojo