Friday, April 30, 2010

Body Snatchers 1819

Essex Ancient Burial Ground

In the spring of 1819 the residents of Ipswich’s Chebacco Parish (now the town of Essex) saw lantern light in the graveyard at night. Soon they discovered that the graves had been disturbed, and several families discovered that their relative’s graves were empty. Eight graves, going back to 1811, were disturbed.

According to a book by Christopher Benedeto, the winter of 1817-1818 was mild and the weather conditions were perfect for body snatching. Two little boys died in the same week in October 1817 and this was probably too tempting to the local doctor. One of those boys was ten year old Isaac (not William as has been reported), son of Joseph Allen and Judith Burnham, my 4x great grandparents. I’m descended of little Isaac’s big brother, Joseph, Jr. My mother was the last Allen born in Ipswich, in the 1930s. Several descendants still live in Ipswich and Essex (the former Chebacco Parish).

The local minister, Robert Crowell, had eight empty coffins reinterred in the cemetery, and he delivered a sermon on this occasion. “Who can adequately conceive . . . the keen anguish, and almost inconsolable grief of those, who are thus inhumanely robbed of the body of a husband, or wife, of a parent, or child, of a brother, or sister?” It is hard to imagine Joseph and Judith’s grief at having to symbolically go through a child’s burial for a second time. They named two other children Isaac, the third survived childhood and lived until 1872 when he died, unmarried, of insanity.

A five hundred dollar award was announced on April 25, 1818 for the “Most daring and sacrilegious Robbery” by the committee at Chebacco Parish, Ipswich.

It was finally found out that Thomas Sewell (April 16, 1785 – April 10, 1845), the local doctor and Harvard graduate 1812, was found in possession of an “unsanctioned corpse.” His lawyer was the famous Daniel Webster, but he was still found guilty and fined $800, the largest fee ever for body snatching in Massachusetts. Sewell was run out of Chebacco, and went to Washington DC on Webster’s suggestion. He helped to found the medical school at Columbian College in 1825, which is today’s George Washington University.

What led to Sewall’s disgrace was an 1815 law making it a felony to rob a grave. It was previously not considered theft. However, by 1831 a new law was passed allowing for anatomical studies of bodies, and permitted courts to surrender corpses that would have been buried at public expense (paupers, convicts, etc.) Doctors were able to legally study bodies (they had been doing so anyways for centuries) and the public no longer associated dissection with a crime.

For more information:

“History of Ipswich, Essex, and Hamilton” by Joseph B. Felt, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Charles Folsom, 1834

“History of the town of Essex from 1634 to 1700” by Egbert Crowell, Boston, Moody Printer, 1853

Harvard Medical School website

“A Most Daring and Sacrilegious Robbery” by Christopher Benedeto (in the NEGHS publication “New England Ancestors” Spring 2005, Volume 6, No. 2)


To Cite/Link to this blog post: Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Body Snatchers 1819", Nutfield Genealogy, posted April 30, 2010, ( accessed [access date]). 

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday -Old College Days

My daughter rowing 2007 on the Charles River, Boston
for Simmons V. Brandeis V. Lesley College
With Boston University in the background
Our serendipity photo (Three colleges from three generations represented in one photo)

Recently, we were recently sitting around the Easter dinner table discussing tuition, college and relishing the fact that we will no longer be paying tuition, since our daughter graduates with her Master’s Degree a few weeks from now.

My mom stated that she paid $110.00 for all three years of nursing school at the Beverly Hospital School for nurses. She graduated from Hamilton high school in 1953, so she attended nursing school until 1956. She is a registered nurse (RN). My daughter’s jaw dropped at that one, because she recently paid that amount for just one text book! Mom paid for the school herself. Neither of her parents had attended college. Her dad had an eighth grade education, and her mother had graduated from Beverly High School.

On my Dad’s side, he was the first to graduate college. Later his older brother graduated on a GI scholarship and became a teacher. My dad graduated from Beverly High School in 1952, and attended one year at Northeastern University in Boston, and then graduated from Boston University in 1957. Dad used to commute to classes on the train from Beverly. He switched his major from Chemistry (the influence of Sputnik) to Government and he wanted to go into the Foreign Service or teaching. He ended up in insurance. I didn’t know what he paid in tuition costs, so I emailed BU for the answer. To my surprise it was $800 for an academic year (two semesters!).

I went to Lesley College in the early 1980s. It was about $8,000 a year, including books, room and board in Harvard Square, our fair city of Cambridge, Massachusetts. This was an exorbitant amount of money compared to the tuition my sister paid for the University of Massachusetts. However, since it was a private school, the scholarships were extremely generous and I actually paid less for my education than my sister. Lesley was a private teacher’s college. I think I was paid about $18,000 a year when I graduated with a Master’s degree and began teaching in a public school.

Hubby attended MIT, also in Cambridge, and paid about $9600 a year, including expenses, and also received generous scholarship assistance. I remember that he worked part time his fourth year, but still in four years he earned a B.S. and his M.S. in engineering, saving us years of tuition payments. After graduation we married and he still worked the same job. On our first wedding anniversary he was offered a job in NH for about $25,000 and we thought that was terrific, Yippee! Both of his parents had attended college in Spain, his mother trained as a teacher, and his father attended a Jesuit Institution.

The year 2010 is a tough economy for recent grads. Our daughter also went to Boston and completed a five year program to earn a double major, double minor and Masters Degree. She was offered a full time job with benefits at a museum outside of Boston, so she grabbed it even though she still has one month of classes and a thesis to finish. Let me just say that her tuition was MUCH more than what we paid, and even more than my husband’s full first year salary, not including room, board, and books! I also realized as I wrote this that she is the third generation to graduate from an all women’s institute of higher learning. This is significant because they were common in my Mom’s day and becoming unpopular in the 1970s and 1980s when I went to college. Today there are only two women’s colleges left in the Boston area.

In my family tree there are teachers and ministers who attended Harvard and other New England institutions in the 1600s and 1700s, most never attending a formal school but learning “on the job.” However, in the past six generations, only the last three generations graduated from colleges. Tuition seems to be rising at a rate much higher than salaries. Harvard has become too exclusive and competitive for the average New England student. It used to be the equivalent of a local college, but now is considered a world class University, and educating scientists, lawyers and businessmen, not just small town pastors and teachers. It was a fun conversation, comparing tuitions, salaries and book prices. I wonder what Harvard tuition was in 1653?

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Not So Wordless Wednesday- Billtown Cemetery, Nova Scotia- Part 2

Margaret Ann Rankin (1833-1876) 1st wife of John Leander Bill

Ethelinda Dodge (1828-1863) wife of William Cogswell Bill

John Leander Bill (1830-1913) and 2nd wife Margaret Lee (1842- 1918)

Rebecca Cogswell (1805- 1845) wife of Senator Caleb Rand Bill


Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday- Billtown Cemetery, Nova Scotia

In 2006 we drove over 2,000 miles round trip from New Hampshire to Nova Scotia in this little red convertible. Our destination was Billtown, but we also saw Yarmouth, Lunenburg, Halifax, Louisburg, the Cabot Trail and the Bay of Fundy. It was a lot of fun, and we took a lot of photos. That is Yours Truly in the photo, with my daughter, the graveyard hound.

The Billtown Baptist Church
Home town of my 3x Great Grandfather
The Reverend Ingraham Ebenezer Bill (1805-1891)

The Bill Family Plot

Mary Rand Bill (1758- 1845)
My 4x Great Grandmother
"Sacred to the memory of Mary Rand
wife of Asahael Bill
who died 19 Feb 1845
in the 82nd year of her age"

Senator Caleb Rand Bill (1902-1872) and his wife Margaret Ann Bligh (1852-1938)
He was appointed to the Senate in 1867 by a royal proclamation of Queen Victoria, following Canadian Confederation that year.

Senator Bill was Reverend I. E. Bill's brother

Caleb Rand Bill's gravestone

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Monday, April 26, 2010

Bertha’s Audio Tape, Part 3

British Nannies with the Prams

This is part three of my grandmother’s audio tape, recorded in the 1970s. Bertha Louise Roberts was born in 1897 in Leeds, Yorkshire, England. Last week she was describing her church, and some of her church memories are continued here. She also begins to describe her life after school, and what it was like to go to work at age 13 as an undernurse at the vicarage. Parts of this story remind me of the old PBS show “Upstairs Downstairs”, which was a portrayal of servants in the same Edwardian time period in England.


“A few weeks before Christmas a few of us would get together, neighborhood children, and we would go out Christmas caroling. We'd go to the different houses, the small group of us, and sing the carols and when we got through singing them we would always say this ditty: "A little bit of spice cake, little bit of cheese, a glass of cold water and a penny if you please. If you haven't a penny, a ha'penny will do. If you haven't got a ha'penny God Bless You!" Well, some of the people would have us go in the house and give us some goodies and pennies. And we thought that was a lot of fun. We didn't have too much snow in those days, but it rained a lot there and of course it was very damp. And I can remember when I was a child we didn't wear overshoes or anything like that. But I would get chilblains, and then when I would get in the house and get near the fire these chilblains would start itching.

We lived in that house until I was about thirteen and then we moved to a larger house at the top of the hill. We thought that was something because the house I was born in we had to share our toilet with the next-door neighbor and further along the street. It was a short street, there were about eight houses, but each two houses shared a toilet. So when we went to the bigger house we had a little yard and the house went through to the next street. We had a toilet of our own and it (the house) was a little bigger and it was at the top of a steep street. I remember there was a factory nearby and the girls (it would get quite icy) and they would come running into the wall. We were at the top of the street and of course to go down that street it was kind of slippery.

At the church we also had a Girls Friendly Society. This was very nice. We could go and we had gymnasium and different things, different competitions, and I know they had a competition with all the different Girl Friendly Societies in Leeds. We would have a competition once a year on drilling and poetry and different things. I remember one year I got an award for reciting "Old Young Lockenbar." (sic?)

When I was thirteen I left school. The education stopped there unless you got a scholarship and you had to be brilliant to get a scholarship. So I thought I would like to be a children's nurse. So I was taken into this vicarage for another big church in Leeds and there were four children. There was a nurse, a nanny, dressed in a nanny's uniform. And there was twins. There was an older boy, the oldest boy, and then these twin boys, one of them had one leg shorter than the other. And I had to take him on the moor with the nurse. The nurse would have the baby in the pram. I would get up very early in the morning and have a lot of work to do. In fact, I really didn't know how to do too much housework because I was the baby of the family and really had never done too much. And it was difficult for me to get the fire started and lots of other things that I had to learn to do the right way.

The day nursery was a huge room and I had my work, a little pantry where I had to do certain things each morning. Such as clean the windows in the day nursery and the night nursery one morning and of course always see that the fire was lit and do quite a lot before the children got up in the morning. And then I helped bathe the children and I would... I didn't do any cooking or anything. I would go down to get the food and bring it up. But I had to clean the silver mugs that the children had. And things like that.

And then get ready to go on the moor with the nurse. The nurse and the cook didn't get along with each other and it made it difficult for me. I would go down and chop great big hunks of coal and cook didn't give me the newspapers that I needed for the fire and we didn't have any nice things sent up to us. We got the food but we didn't have any cakes or anything nice sent up so us. I was really very homesick and I would run all the way home, and my mother would say "If you're not happy, Bertha, you don't have to stay there." But I just felt that I had to. I was allowed to go home on Sunday afternoons so I could go to Sunday school and I would have supper with my family and then my father would take me back because the vicarage was in a very isolated part of the city. And I always had a lot of newspapers and a cake that Mother had made for me. Then I had half a day once a month that I could go home.

There was quite a class distinction over there and the vicar's wife was really very snobbish. I was just a little servant girl and there was lots of things I couldn't do. I wasn't allowed to do…. And lots of times they would have parties for the children and some of the children were probably just as old as I was. But if we played games I had to go outside of the nursery and then go back in again. I had to be the last one to go in. It gave me sort of an inferiority complex but finally I had big rosy cheeks and the nurse was very nice to me. But after she left I wasn't too happy there so I came home again.

I didn't know what to do really and my sister was working at dressmaking. Now when you go for a trade you go for a whole year and you don't get any pay and Mother thought I should go and learn to be a dressmaker. My sister was very good at it but I didn't really care for it. I wasn't cut out for that kind of work. But I went, and I never told anyone that I didn't like it. We worked for two maiden ladies and they were very strict. And we'd work long hours and I remember we'd have afternoon tea just long enough to run all the way home just long enough to have a piece of cake and a cup of tea and then run back again. We'd work until half past seven at night. And if we….… if I got up to sweep the floor before half past seven there was black lips given to me.”

Part 2 of Bertha's tape

Part 3 is above

Part 4 of Bertha's tape
Part 5 of Bertha's tape
Part 6 of Bertha's tape

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sentimental Sunday- Londonderry Apple Blossom Time

The steeples of the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches
On Londonderry Common are visible between the apple trees

Yours truly enjoying the view.... Miles and miles of apple trees...


To Cite/Link to this post:  Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Sentimental Sunday-  Londonderry Apple Blossom Time", Nutfield Genealogy, posted April 25, 2010, ( accessed [access date]). 

Friday, April 23, 2010

Blurb Blog Book Update

My Blurb Blog book
I’ve received many emails, comments and Facebook message about my post on Thursday “Publishing a Book for my Blog”. Most were questions from readers and other bloggers, asking about the process of “slurping” from Blogger to Blurb. Other readers wanted to know how to use this as an additional backup for their blog, which was an interesting idea. Here are some new facts I have uncovered:

1. Blurb’s software “Book Smart” imports blogs from Blogger, Live Journal, Typepad and You just select the blog service and then enter your blog’s URL (web address) and the software imports ALL your posts. You can then select which ones you want to have in your project by checking off them off the list. The BookSmart software is free.

2. You can have print out your project in a bound soft cover or hard cover book. Or you can print it out yourself, to your printer or to a PDF file. I’ve used the printer option to edit my work before sending it to the printer, because once you hit SUBMIT you cannot edit your project!

3. All your projects are saved on your own hard drive, in a folder called “BookSmartData”, and each project gets its own folder here with several files inside it for your text, photos, etc. You can then backup this folder onto your own external hard drive or internet service for safe keeping.

4. The earlier books I made with were sewn bindings, however today I received my copy of my Blog book and it WAS NOT sewn. My earlier projects were 40-80 pages, and this one is 132 pages, so maybe this is the difference? The quality of the paper, photo printing, cover and everything else is unchanged. I don’t know how this new type of binding will stand up.

5. Blog now offers a new type of premium paper. I don’t know if it is archival paper or not, but it a bit more expensive than the paper I’ve had them use in the past. I’m happy with their regular paper.

6. Putting your book project (blog book or photo book) up on the bookstore at Blurb is a good way for relatives to preview your work. It is also a good way to explain the binding/printing process to someone else who is trying to figure out what a finished project looks like. You can remove the book from the bookstore at any time with just a click. I’ve used the Blurb Bookstore to peruse other people’s projects, to get ideas for my own projects. There are lots of genealogy books up on the Blurb Bookstore right now.

Thank you to Carol from asking me some very good questions over the past few days. She is the one who found out that in BookSmart you can print to PDF to save a copy of your blog, which would be an interesting way to preserve a copy of your blog on your own hard drive.

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

The Zimmerman House- A Historical House from the 1940s!

When you think of historical houses in New England, are you thinking of saltbox style colonial era houses built in the 1600s and 1700s? There are plenty of houses from all historical eras here, Greek Revivals from the 1830s, stately Victorian “Painted Ladies” from the 1880s, shingle style cottages from the 1910s along the coastline, but what about contemporary architect built houses by Frank Lloyd Wright? I had the good luck to stay overnight in a Frank Lloyd Wright house about fifteen years ago in Michigan, and it was then that I began to appreciate historical houses from all eras. This house was charming with its warm wood trims and built in furniture. At about this time the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, New Hampshire acquired a Frank Lloyd Wright house and opened it to the public for tours. It is the only Frank Lloyd Wright house open for tours in New England. At the Zimmerman house, Frank Lloyd Wright designed everything, not just the house. He drew up the plans for the gardens as well as making all the furniture, even the mailbox. The Zimmerman family was made up of musicians, so Wright created a four way music stand so they could play together. People travel from all over the world to see the Zimmerman House. I don’t really appreciate modern architecture much, but I imagine that at one time even the houses of colonial America were criticized. I can imagine two Puritans having this conversation: “What thinkest thou of the pediment Ezekiel hath placed above his door?” “Me thinkest he believes himself above his station in life! Such an usual doorway!” Now you can not only visit the Zimmerman house, but there are new tours open just for photographers and photography. Just in time for the lovely gardens that the museum maintains around the house to burst into bloom! The photographer’s tours are only on Saturdays from now until June at 10:30 AM. The photographer’s tour costs $25 instead of the usual $20, and includes an extra half hour to take photographs. Price includes general admission to the Currier Museum. The tour begins at the museum where a bus brings you to the house, which is only accessible through the museum. Please make advance reservations at least one week ahead of time. For more information:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - Publishing a Book for my Blog

Over the past few years I’ve used and to create photo albums. Both were easy to use, both were about the same price, with similar options for how the finished product looked. After seeing the final printed versions of books, I decided to stick with Blurb. Not for any particular reason other than the Blurb book had a sewn binding, and the Shutterfly was glued. I made up a book of family photos with Shutterfly, which promptly fell apart at a family reunion after being passed around, and open and shut, and held up with “Look at this!” far more roughly than the average book probably would be treated. The Blurb bound books have stood up well over time.

One more plus for Blurb, your book resides on your own computer instead of residing in cyberspace. You can save and back up your own projects, instead of having a time limit on another company’s server. I know that once Shutterfly deletes your project, it’s gone forever. Also, Blurb allows you to sell your finished projects at their bookstore, which works out well for multiple copies of things, such as for family reunions.

I’ve tired of gluing and cutting and buying acid free materials for scrapbooks. Of course, I still do this for old photos and other ephemera, but for things already scanned, new photos from vacations, or other items already residing on my hard drive it’s hard to beat the easy to use software at these publish your own websites. The drag and drop options make it simple to easily put a book together, so simple your kids can help out. Groups can even collaborate together over the internet to put pages together or share photos.

I’ve made Mother’s Day books with generations of photos of the ladies; family tree books with charts, photos and documents; vacation books; graduation books; and a book of 30 years of photos for the Simmons College Crew Team. Then I saw recently that the Blurb software, which is called “BookSmart” can slurp your blog into a book. I was curious, so I slurped several months of posts into a book, just to see how it looked. It looked GREAT! I was so excited, and there was very little editing to do. I played a little bit with increasing the font size, and I moved around some photos, removed a few posts that I thought were boring, but otherwise the book was done! Just in time for Mother’s Day, since my mom was my first fan, and she is still my biggest fan. (Sorry, Mom, no surprises this year!)

Blurb also has a widget to put on your blog, in case you want to sell your book. I’ve placed a widget on my blog; just to see what would happen if I left it there a few weeks. Personally, I think the books are expensive, but at an OK price for a gift for someone special.

Check out my book by clicking on the image in the right column, and you can turn the pages to see the first fifteen pages. Perhaps you’ll be inspired to do your own book, or at least investigate the possible choices on line for producing a project like this. I can only comment on Shutterfly and Blurb, but some other companies you can try online are, Apple,, and

(I was not compensated in any way by or for my comments, but if they would like to pass along a coupon or two I wouldn’t object!)

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Carole Brinkman Unsolved Murder Mystery

This is not really genealogy, but it involves, newspapers, archives and a little bit of internet research knowledge.

Here is a back and forth with my cousin via Facebook....

Message 1:
"Hi Heather -

So I am about to embark on a project to reunite some very old photos with their owner.

Last year I purchased an old Kodak camera off of eBay, and when it arrived it still had a roll of very old film in it. I had the film developed through an archivist and there turned out to be some images on it. They look like they're from around the 50s or early 60s, and they clearly show some kids and family members at what might have been Christmas.

The camera came in its original box, with a camera store label on it as well as a woman's name. The camera store was Lumpkin Camera Store in Greenville, OH (no longer in operation) and the name on the box written in pen was Carole Brinkman."

I looked up Carole Brinkman on and I think I found her, but she's no longer living. The note I found was a death record from Darke County, no city listing that I could see, but Greenville OH (where the store was) is in Darke County, so I figure it must be her.

The problem is that I don't really know where to go from here. I was thinking about subscribing to to find more details, but thought I should ask the expert first. What kind of advice can you give me on how to move forward on finding some of these folks?"

My Reply:
"I love a good mystery! This one is pretty cool...

First, there is a very good genealogist named Maureen Taylor. She is known as the photo detective. Her website is and she takes queries. There are some other genealogists that specialize in old photos, too, at NEHGS in Boston. I usually look at obits to find next of kin. What was the date of death? I have a subscription to and a few other data bases, so I can do a few lookups for you. There are genealogy volunteers at who might be in Darke county and can probably assist, too. Send me the details (date of death, etc.) and I'll start on line. We can take it from there.


[In the meantime I found some disturbing newspaper articles on the website. Carole Brinkman was a young cashier, age 24, shot dead at a drive in movie theater in Greenville, Ohio, in July, 1967.]

Message 2:
"Matt, I sent you an article in the Greenville Newspaper about the death of Carole Brinkman. See the bottom of the page, "Cashier shot" I sent it to your email address. Spooky..."

The reply:

"Wow! Heather you are good! and yes, that is indeed very spooky. I found this on a search too: look at page 50. It's a notice in Boxoffice Magazine about the shooting."

Message 3:
"Matt, at this point perhaps the Greenville police department will have records of the next of kin. Her parents are probably not living (but you never know) and maybe she had siblings. It's weird that I can't find an obituary. She is buried at the Oak Grove Cemetery in Neave Township, Ohio (also called the Ft. Jefferson Cemetery) Carole Mae Brinkman, age 24
Also Found on under Ohio Death Records
Carole M. Brinkman, b. 1943, female, white, res. Greenville, Darke Co., Ohio, died 27 Jul 1967 at Wayne Hospital, Greenville, certificate 51810, age 24, certified by the coroner, no autopsy, never married.
Doesn't list parents or next of kin."

The reply:
"I think I'm going to give the Greenville police a call. I'll let you know what I find out. I'm going to start posting this up on my blog. Thanks so much for the help!"

[Matt’s blog is ]

Message 4:
"This is pretty exciting! I had the film developed last year and have been sitting on it since. I never thought it would lead me to an unsolved murder. Pretty crazy.
I spoke with Chief Whittaker of the Greenville Sherriff's department. He was really nice. I am going to email him the photos tonight, and he's going to see if he can find some of her family. They immediately knew who I was talking about, without me even mentioning the crime. He said he talked with her mom about 4 years ago and she wasn't interested in new evidence they had found, so it might end up being that she's not interested in the photos, and he's not even sure if her mom is still alive. Still, he's going to see about finding some relatives.

I'll know more tomorrow."

This was all last week. We are still waiting to find out more.

UPDATE- Matt was able to return the film to the chief of police, who gave it to one of Carole's relatives.  The crime is still listed as "unsolved".


To cite/link to this blog post:  Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "The Carole Brinkman Unsolved Murder Mystery", Nutfield Genealogy, posted April 21, 2010, ( accessed [access date]). 

Wordless Wednesday- The 1730 Londonderry Town Pound

The Town Pound
Built in 1730 by David Gilcreast
Located on Mammoth Road, about one mile north of the common

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday, Skagway, Alaska

Seeing this gold rush era cemetery in Alaska inspired me to investigate the family story of an ancestor's participation in a gold rush. See the story of George Emerson's trip to California as a '49er HERE.


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Tombstone Tuesday, Skagway, Alaska", Nutfield Genealogy, posted April 20, 2010, ( accessed [access date]).

Monday, April 19, 2010

Amanuensis Monday- Bloody Butchery by the British Troops

I read about Amanuensis Monday in Randy Seaver’s blog “GeneaMusings”, and Randy read about it on John Newmark’s genealogy blog “TransylvanianDutch”. Amanuensis: A person employed to take dictation or copy manuscripts.

This broadside poster is known as “Bloody Butchery by the British Troops” and was printed in Salem, Massachusetts by Ezekiel Russell in 1775. It is a bit of propaganda not very different from Paul Revere’s cartoon distributed in the aftermath of the Boston Massacre. An original can be seen at the American Antiquarian Society, and reproductions are sold in the gift shop at Minuteman National Park in Lexington. Click on the photo to enlarge it, and you can read the names of the fallen next to the coffins printed across the top of the broadside.

This is a partial transcription of the text:

Names on the coffins:

Robt. Monroe, Jonas Parker, Sam'l Hadley, J. Harrington, C. Harrington, I. Muzzy, John Brown, John Raymond, Nat. Wyman, Jed. Munroe, Jason Russell, Jabez Wyman, Jas. Winship, Deacon Haynes, -- Reed, Capt. Niles, Capt. Wilson, Capt. Davis, -- Horsmer, J. Howard, Azael Porter, Dan. Thompson, J. Miller, W. Barber's Son, Isaac Gardner, John Hicks, Hon. Putnam, Ab. Ramsdell, D. Townsend, Will Flint, Thomas Hadley, Henry Jacobs, Sam. Cook, E. Goldthwait, G. Southwick, Ben. Daland, Jot. Webb, Per. Putnam, Benj. Pierce, -- Kennison.


Being the PARTICULARS of the VICTORIOUS BATTLE fought at and near CONCORD, situated Twenty Miles from Boston, in the Providence of the Massachusetts-Bay, between Two Thousand Regular Troops, belonging to His Britannic Majesty, and a few Hundred Provincial Troops, belonging to the Province of Massachusetts-Bay, which lasted from sunrise until sunset, on the 19th of April, 1775, when it was decided greatly in favor of the latter. These particulars are published in this cheap form, at the request of the friends of the deceased WORTHIES, who died gloriously fighting in the CAUSE OF LIBERTY and their COUNTRY, and it is their sincere desire that every Householder in the country, who are sincere well-wishers to America, may be possessed of the same, either to frame and glass, or otherwise to preserve in their houses, not only as a Token of Gratitude to the memory of the Deceased Forty Persons, but as a perpetual memorial of that important event, on which, perhaps, may depend the future Freedom and Greatness of the Commonwealth of America. To which is annexed a Funeral Elegy on those who were slain in the Battle……..

The following is a list of the Provincials who were KILLED and WOUNDED.


1 * Mr. Robert Monroe, 6 * Mr. Isaac Muzzy,
2 * Mr. Jonas Parker, 7 * Mr. John Brown,
3 * Mr. Samuel Hadley, 8 Mr. John Raymond,
4 * Mr. Jonathan Harrington, 9 Mr. Nathaniel Wyman,
5 * Mr. Caleb Harrington, 10 Mr. Jedediah Munroe.

1 Mr. John Robbins 6 Mr. Joseph Amee
2 Mr. John Tidd 7 Mr. Ebenezer Munroe
3 Mr. Solomon Pierce 8 Mr. Francis Brown
4 Mr. Thomas Winship 9 Prince Easterbrooks (a Negro Man)
5 Mr. Nathan Parmer

11 Mr. Jason Russell 13 Jason Winship
12 Mr. Jabez Wyman

MISSING, (supposed to be on board one of the men of war)
Mr. Samuel Frost Mr. Seth Russell

14 Deacon Haynes 15 Mr. ---- Reed

16 Captain Miles

17 Captain Jonathan Willson
18 Captain Davis
19 Mr. ------ Hosmer
20 Mr. James Howard

21 * Mr. Azel Porter 22 Mr. Daniel Thompson

10 Mr. George Reed 11 Mr. Jacob Bacon

23 Mr. James Miller. 24 Captain William Barber's Son, aged 14

25 Isaac Gardiner, Esquire

26 Mr. John Hicks

27 Mr. Henry Putnam
12 Mr. William Polly.

28 Mr. Abednego Ramsdell 30 William Flint
29 Daniel Townsend 31 Thomas Hadley
13 Mr. Joshua Felt 14 Mr. Timothy Munroe

32 Mr. Henry Jacobs 36 Mr. Benjamin Daland, jun.
33 Mr. Samuel Cook 37 Mr. Jotham Webb
34 Mr. Ebenezer Goldthwait 38 Perley Putnam
35 Mr. George Southwick
15 Mr. Nathan Putnam 16 Mr. Dennis Wallis

39 Mr. Benjamin Pierce

40 ------ Kennison
17 Mr. Samuel Woodbury 18 Mr. Nathaniel Cleaves

19 Mr. ----- Hemmenway.

20 Mr. John Lane.

Those distinguished with this mark [*] were killed by the first fire of the enemy……


A complete transcription of the entire broadside can be found at


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Amanuensis Monday- Bloody Butchery by the British Troops", Nutfield Genealogy, posted April 19, 2010, ( accessed [access date]).

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Battle of Lexington, Re-Enacted

Yours truly and the Lexington Minuteman

Having so many ancestors and kin involved with the Battle of Lexington Green, I’ve always wanted to attend the famous re-enactment. And so, in April 2000 we attended the 225th anniversary of the event, and the customary ceremony on the town green.

We arrived in town the afternoon of the 18th, and went to the town common to see what happening. There were ceremonies and speeches, and re-enactors milling around in costume. After we asked a few questions, someone pointed out an actor recreating the role of Ebenezer Munroe. He explained that each actor in the Battle re-enactment had to research their part, including genealogies, and would be representing the role of their chosen patriot on the green. Each step was carefully choreographed, including who fired, where to stand, where to fall, etc.

We stayed to see the grand re-creation of Paul Revere’s arrival in town just before midnight. It was very meticulously accurate according to history, and I was happy. It was also very cold, and we had only a few hours to sleep before the battle began at dawn! We rushed to our motel, napped a few hours and then rushed back in the dark to find a good spot for the Battle scene.

We had excellent spots staked out along the rope, right next to the TV cameras. The front row was important since our daughter was still small, and she needed an uninterrupted view. April mornings are also very cold in New England before the sun comes up, so we were prepared with lots of clothes and blankets. It was an excellent reminder of how cold those patriots must have felt that morning, because depositions taken from witnesses of that Battle said there was snow on the ground. We all cheered as Paul Revere and friends carried the trunk full of traitorous documents from John Hancock into the woods to hide. Just in time…

The ominous sounds of British Regulars marching in formation came from down Massachusetts Avenue. You could feel the excitement in the crowd, but also the look of terror in the faces of the men on the town green. They were just a bunch of yeomen up against the most formidable army of the known world in 1775. The Regulars warned them to back down. The Lexington men dropped their guns, turned their backs to walk away and….

Bang! The shot heard ‘round the world! Babies cried, the men on the field shouted and the Battle was on! I felt tears running down my cheeks as my husband photographed the re-enactment. I had told him which actors were portraying my ancestor’s family members, and he got some great shots of them falling in action. I was a sobbing mess... I had no idea that seeing great uncles and distant cousins being bayoneted and shot would create such emotion!

Well, I thoroughly embarrassed my pre-teen daughter, but we all had a great time. We followed the scene carefully, wanting to sneak after the British as they continued marching in lines towards Concord, and wanting to run out to cradle the fallen. Women and children acting as wives and family members tenderly carried away the dead and wounded. After using a few Kleenex and wiping my glasses I was ready to jump in the car and race off to the Concord Bridge.

We hope to attend another re-enactment soon. I can’t believe it’s been ten years since we attended the Battle on Patriot’s Day! People ask me if I feel proud to have had relatives at the battle. I’ve thought about it, and I think we all had relatives and ancestors at similar battles- in the Civil War, the Revolution, and in Europe our ancestors faced Napoleon, the invading hordes of Huns, Vikings, and worse. I think they didn’t feel pride, they felt fear.


For more information on the Battle Reenactment at Lexington please see, sponsored by the Lexington Historical Society. This website has schedules, information, research links and everything you might need to learn about the Battle at Lexington or to visit on Patriot’s Day.


Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Friday, April 16, 2010

Cousins Collaborate ( and more relationships appear!)

Washington Place, Honolulu

Last week Leah, from "Internet Genealogist" and I collaborated on a story that involved our great-great aunts meeting in Hawaii in 1848. Her distant relation, Estelle Charlotte Mott, was a teenaged boarder at my distant relation’s (4x great aunt), Mary L. (Jones) Dominis’s boarding house in Honolulu. This story came about because a third person, Edna Haley Pace, wrote to me about my blog postings on the history of the Dominis family home, Washington Place, in Hawaii. The internet played a big part in putting this together, and of course, Leah and I used our blogs on the internet to write two complementary stories.

Soon after the stories were posted, I received a lot of email, and several were from other bloggers, such as Carol from “Reflections from the Fence”, who told me that her husband was also a Haley descendant. The Nova Scotia Haley/Healy family is part of my and Edna Haley Pace’s family tree. We are all descendants of Comfort Haley, born 1754 in Massachusetts and died 15 May 1821 in Chebogue, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. My great great grandmother was Mary Etta Healy, Comfort’s great granddaughter.

Also, Barbara Poole, at “Life from the Roots” had a distant relation, Anthony Ten Eyck, who was also a boarder at Washington Place, and in fact, he is famous for having suggested to Mrs. Dominis that her new home in Honolulu looked like Mount Vernon, so she should call it “Washington Place”. This name stuck when King Kamehameha IV agreed with the name and so it went down in history. Anthony Ten Eyck was in Honolulu serving as commissioner to Hawaii for President Polk, until he was replaced by Charles Eames in December 1848.

I have passed along Essie’s memoir to members of the Dominis family, descendants of Mrs. Mary Dominis, and to the curator at Washington Place. The curator wrote “the Mott Diary, a significant document that records and important slice of time…I love it…green shutters, pantelettes, contraband custards and stolen pies!” She also said that the museum has copies of letters of reproach “regarding John Dominis and the young Mott girls…” We can’t wait to see these copies! Another possible blog post in the making!

This story and the internet seem to have been made for each other! Please stay tuned to "Internet Genealogist" as Leah posts the rest of Essie's journal, including more pages about her life in Honolulu in 1848.

My story about Essie and Mrs. Dominis is at

Leah's post with the first part of Essie's story in Honolulu is at

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cousins at the Battle of Lexington

A view of Jonathan Harrington's house,
he crawled across Lexington Green
to die in his wife's arms 19 April 1775

My 5x great grandfather, Andrew Munroe was not at the Battle of Lexington. He had died in 1766, and his wife had remarried to Caleb Simonds in 1774. At the time of the conflict on 19 April 1775, my 4x great grandfather, Andrew Jr., would have been only about eleven years old. Was he there? I’ll never know. It is known that many townspeople witnessed the event from their homes or from behind stone walls and trees. It is my bet that an eleven year old boy couldn’t have resisted watching history that morning.

Who did die at the Battle? There were eight American deaths on the Lexington Green, and 49 total Americans killed on the march from Boston to Concord Bridge and back to Boston (not all Lexington men). Another 73 British soldiers also died. A tour guide told me that members of the Munroe family accounted for half the dead at the Lexington Green, and many of those who fought. (Tuesday I posted a photograph of the memorial on Lexington Green that only lists six names.)

William Munroe (abt. 1625 -1718) was one of the first settlers in Lexington. I know that my distant cousin William Munroe (1756- 1837) (great grandson of the immigrant William Munroe) was a leader of the Lexington Militia as Orderly Sergeant, and entertained George Washington when he visited the site of the Battle in 1789. He rallied his Munroe Clan, descendants of Scots warriors, to the Battle of Lexington Green that day in 1775. In response, the British commandeered the Munroe Tavern as a field hospital, and tried to burn it down on their retreat.

I wanted to see if the tour guide was correct. How many Munroes and cousins were present in the Battle?

To start, I examined a copy of a propaganda broadside printed up to announce the atrocities at Lexington. The names of the dead were John Brown, Samuel Hadley, Caleb Harrington, Jonathan Harrington, Robert Munroe, Isaac Muzzy, Asahel Porter and Jonas Parker. The dead were secretly buried immediately after the conflict, and then later re-interred in 1835 under a large monument on Lexington Common (which lists only six names, however). I researched each name to see if were a Munroe or a Munroe cousin. Here are the names of the dead in alphabetical order:

1. John Brown- no known connection…
2. Samuel Hadley- I haven’t found a connection yet to the Hadley family.
3. Caleb Harrington (1751-1775) - Andrew’s uncle, William Munroe (1756-1837) the Orderly Sergeant, was married to Abigail Harrington. Caleb was her first cousin.
4. Jonathan Harrington (1745-1775) - according to legend, died after crawling, wounded, to his doorstep and died in his wife’s arms! Also Abigail’s first cousin.
5. Robert Munroe (1712-1775) - He was Andrew’s older brother, and Andrew Jr.’s uncle. He and Jonas Parker were both veterans of the French and Indian War. Ensign Munroe, as he was known, was famous for having held the banner at the Battle of Louisburg in Nova Scotia thirty years earlier. Munroe and Parker stood on the front line, and were the first two killed by British bayonets.
6. Isaac Muzzy (1744-1775)- His grandmother was Sarah Langthorne (1660-1710) , whose sister Constance (b. 1652) was the mother of Sarah Mooer (1677-1752), wife of George Munroe (abt. 1672- 1747), William the immigrant’s son. He was a distant cousin to the many Munroes on the town Green.
7. Jonas Parker (1722-1775) - This one was easy. Jonas Parker was married to Andrew’s sister, Lucy. So Jonas was Andrew’s brother –in-law, or Andrew Jr.’s uncle. He was definitely another member of the Munroe Clan.
8. Asahel Porter (1746-1775) - His brother married Hannah Munroe, sister to Orderly Sergeant William Munroe. Asahel Porter lived in Woburn and was born in Danvers, Massachusetts, where Andrew Munroe Jr. eventually settled. A few subsequent Porters married Munroes.

Total “Lexington Green Dead” with ties to the Munroe family = 6 out of 8 men

Bill Poole, a historian, and the Lexington Minute Men Company, have identified seventy seven Lexington men at the Battle on the Green that day. They draw their conclusion from depositions and recollections of surviving militia members. As re-enactors, they try to replay the part of each man exactly according to a script they replay every 19 April on the Lexington Green. You can find this list here at     click on the tab "biographies".

I didn’t have time to research all seventy seven participating men, but I counted surnames and found eight Munroe Participants, including two killed (Robert listed above, and Jedediah Munroe killed later during the retreat). There were four Parkers participating, including Captain John Parker, who headed the militia, and Jonas, named above as one of the dead). There were nine Harringtons, including the two mentioned above. Two Muzzys. Two Simonds.

Prince Estabrook, the black man wounded that day on the Green, was a slave to the Estabrook family. Prudence Estabrook married Benjamin Munroe. Joseph Estabrook, Prince’s owner, had a daughter, Millicent, who married a distant cousin of the Munroes, a Jonathan Rand.

Total participants on 19 April 1775 with ties to the Munroe family = 25 out of 77, and I haven’t even researched the other surnames. Lexington was obviously an interconnected small community at that time, with extensive kinship networks including the Munroe family.


Please see my blog about the Munroe family from November 18, 2009


For more information:

History of the Town of Lexington Massachusetts, Volume II, Genealogy, by Charles Hudson, 1913. This book names all the dead, some of the participants and also gives some short family genealogies of some families.

Paul Revere’s Ride, by David Hackett Fischer, 1994 In my humble opinion, this is the best account of the day of the Battles of Lexington and Concord.

Prince Estabrook, Slave and Soldier, by Alice Hinkle, 2001

History and Genealogy of the Lexington, Massachusetts, Munroes, compiled by Richard S. Munroe, 1966   The homepage of the re-enactors who put on an excellent recreation of the Battle of Lexington Green every year. Sponsored by the Lexington Historical Society.

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Lemuel Haynes- A Black Minute Man

Lemuel Haynes (1753 – 1833) was born of a white mother and an African father in Connecticut. He was abandoned as a baby and given into indentured servitude, raised by a Deacon, and educated at the home of the local minister. He joined the local militia in 1774 and saw battle at the siege of Boston, and Ticonderoga. He wrote a poem about the Battle of Lexington that was not published until 1985.

Lemuel Haynes is often compared to Phyllis Wheatley because of his patriotic poetry, including writing about George Washington. He wrote a treaty called “On the Illegality of Slave Keeping” which was also unpublished until the 1980s. He became a Congregational minister in Vermont in the 1780s. He was the first black man to serve as the pastor to a white congregation in Rutland, Vermont, where he remained for thirty years. He was given an honorary master of arts in 1804 by Middlebury College.

This week we celebrate another anniversary of the Battle of Lexington and Concord, celebrated in New England as Patriot’s Day. Ruth Bogin made Lemuel Haynes’s story known in her 1985 article in the William and Mary Quarterly with her article “’The Battle of Lexington’: A Patriotic Ballad by Lemuel Haynes” 3d Ser., 42, October 1985, pages 499-506.

Excerpts from
The Battle of Lexington

The Nineteenth Day of April last
We ever shall retain
As monumental of the past
Most bloody shocking Scene

Then Tyrants fill’d with horrid Rage
A Fatal Journey went
& Unmolested to engage
And slay the innocent…

At Lexington they did appear
Arrayd in hostile Form
And tho our Friends were peacefull there
Yet on them fell the Storm

Eight most unhappy Victims fell
Into the Arms of Death
Unpitied by those Tribes of Hell
Who curs’d them with with their Breath….

For more information about Lemuel Haynes:

Amazing Grace: An Anthology of Poems About Slavery, 1660- 1810 by James G. Basker, Yale University, 2002

Sketches of the life and character of the Rev. Lemuel Haynes, A. M.: for many years pastor of a church in Rutland, Vt., and late in Granville, New-York , by Timothy Mather Cooley (1837) available at Google Books.


Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Not so Wordless Wednesday- Patriot's Day Symbols

The Lexington Minute Man

Not as artistically elegant as the Concord statue....

but it portrays my Lexington ancestors

The Concord Minute Man Statue
This is the better of the two, sculpted by Daniel Chester French
....the farmer leaving his plow at a moment's notice....
Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday- Battle of Lexington

This week we celebrate Patriot’s Day in New England, and all over the United States. On April 19, 1775 the men of Lexington faced the British Regulars at dawn on the town green. There were about 75 men there, and 8 fell dead. These men were first buried secretly in the town burying ground, and later removed to a spot of honor on Lexington Green.

Sacred to Liberty & the Rights of mankind!!! The Freedom & Independence of America, Sealed and defended with the blood of her sons.

"This Monument is erected by the inhabitants of Lexington, under the patronage & at the expense of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, to the memory of their fellow citizens, Ensign Robert Munroe, Mess. Jonas Parker, Samuel Masey, Caleb Harrington and John Brown of Lexington, Ashael Porter of Woburn, who fell on this field, the first victims to the sword of British tyranny & oppression, on the morning of the ever memorable nineteenth of April, An. Dom. 1775.
The Die was cast!!! The Blood of these Martyr’s, in the cause of God & their Country, was the cement of the Union of these States, then colonies & gave the spring to the spirit, firmness, and resolution of their fellow citizens. They rose as one man, to revenge their brethren’s blood and at the point of the sword to assert & defend their native Rights. They nobly dar’d to be free!! The contest was long, bloody & affecting. Righteous Heaven approved the solemn appeal; Victory crowned their arms; and The Peace, Liberty & Independence of the United States of America, was their glorious reward.

Built in the year 1799."


Ground marker:

"The remains of those who fell in the Battle of Lexington were brought here from the old cemetery, April 20, 1835, and buried within the railing in the front of this monument."

Monday, April 12, 2010

Amanuensis Monday- Bertha’s Audio Tape, Part 2

All Souls Church, Leeds, Yorkshire, England

I read about Amanuensis Monday in Randy Seaver’s blog “GeneaMusings”, and Randy read about it on John Newmark’s genealogy blog “TransylvanianDutch”. Amanuensis: A person employed to take dictation or copy manuscripts.

This is part two of my grandmother’s audio tape. Bertha Louise Roberts was born in 1897 in Leeds, Yorkshire, England and she came to Beverly, Massachusetts in 1915, via Ellis Island, with her parents and brother Horace. They joined her sister Hilda, who had already married and come to Beverly.

Last week Bertha described her preschool years, and in this section of her audio tape she describes her playmates, the conditions in the crowded neighborhoods, and her Sunday school memories at the All Soul’s Hood Memorial Church.


“My mother would give me a penny and at the bottom of the street where we lived there was a nice sweet store. Of course we called candy there "spice." And I remember the different things I would get. They had the candy potato and in the middle there was a tiny prize of some kind. And I remember the licorice ladders we got. And the different things I bought. I thought that spice shop was just the most wonderful place.

We had no yard to play in so we would play on the sidewalk. Sometimes we would go up to the moor, the Yorkshire moor. Part of this moor was cultivated and part was just rough and I remember they had band concerts there and they had sand piles the children could play in. I was very happy playing the different games especially jump rope and then we had a game called "Whip and Top." These tops were in different shapes. Some were in the shape of a big round top and the others were carrot tops, the shape of a carrot. We would chalk designs of different colors on the top of the top and then spin it and whip it all the way along the sidewalk. And of course when we were in school, after school we could play in the school yard. We had another game - shuttle cock and battledore. This was something like badminton. We had a battledore and a little cork with feathers sticking out of it, and we'd spin it up in the air and bat it with the battledore. See how many times we could keep it up.

Then we had another game called "Buttons." And we were very fortunate in my house because evidently my father and mother had worked in the mills and they had a lot of buttons. This game consisted of chalking a ring on the sidewalk and then determine how many buttons we would throw from a certain distance. The one that got nearest to the center of the ring was the first one to have their turn and they would push the buttons and if they got them in the ring they kept those buttons. And of course we played hop scotch and a lot of the games the children have here.

When I was a little girl we belonged to the Episcopal Church. Now our church had two, there was two churches. The high church and the low church. The name of it was All Soul's Hood Memorial Church. They had a vicar to preside over the church and three curates. Now I went to the low church which was nearby. It was rather unique the way it was built. It was built so that the church was high up and underneath it was the gymnasium and the great big room where they had the social events. To go up to the church there was a gradual incline going round and gradually up to the top. At the top of the incline was the vestry where the curate would have this little office and the boys and men would put on their surplices. My brother was in the choir. The choir then consisted of just boys and men. And it was a high church. By that I mean it had quite a few different rituals. The surplices were changed on the minister according to the time of the year and the choir was led by a cross. I loved to go to church and I especially liked to sing the psalms that we all sung. And my father and mother would take me.

And where we had the piano my sister started taking piano lessons and we would love to get around the piano on a Sunday and my father would love to sing… the old songs like "Rocked in the Cradle of the Deep" and "Whispering Hope" and the hymns and we really had a good family life.

The Sunday School was in another building near this factory I mentioned before, the furniture factory. In back of that factory there were these hills leading up to a highish plateau. At the bottom of those hills we tiny children would play with the clay just like the children play with the sand at the seashore.

And my mother worked very hard. She kept the house very clean and the steps were washed every Saturday morning and the sidewalk and the window sills and the people there would use this clay to use on the edge of the steps. And Saturday morning everybody would do this cleaning. All the way down the street it really looked nice and clean. My sister would go to a neighbor to do some chores to earn some spending money. And she would come home with some goodies. And my brother and I being much younger would raise the dickens and want to eat some of the goodies that she got.

My….. I had an aunt that lived nearby. And she was left a widow with five children. So Mother and Dad helped them as much as they could and two of these little girls were just a little older than I was and whatever I got to wear Mother would try to give them the same thing.

When we went to school we had school shoes and a school dress and a pinafore. And when we came home from school we had to change into our play clothes. The pinafores were plain to go to school, but on a Sunday we had a pretty pinafore with our Sunday dress. And I remember wearing high shoes and then when I was real tiny I wore the ankle strap shoes. And I remember being in little plays and things in the Sunday school, and how proud I was to be with it, with those things.

As I got a little older the church had what they called the Needle Brigade. And of course I had been baptized there and I had my godmother as the head one of this Needle Brigade. We learned to knit and make things for this bazaar that we had once a year. And my godmother would read a story while we were working. We knitted dish cloths and different things and the older children knitted pretty things and this bazaar was quite an affair. We would all get on the stage and sing some hymns first and then of course the tables had all these things on that we had made. And as I got older I was in charge of one of the tables and I thought that was really something.

Then at Christmas time we would have a party. And had a Christmas tree at the Sunday school. We didn't have a Christmas tree at home but we had this party and were given an orange and an apple and a small gift and we thought that was wonderful.”

To be continued on another Amanuensis Monday...

Link to part one

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Cousins Collaborate on a Genealogy Story

Sometimes I will post certain stories from “Nutfield Genealogy” at the website GenealogyWise. This is a social networking website for genealogists. There I had re-posted my series of stories about my 4x great aunt Mary Lambert Jones (1803-1889), who married Captain John Dominis and removed to the Hawaiian Islands. She built an impressive home in Honolulu, and lived there with her little boy, John Owen Dominis, who later became the husband to Queen Lili’uokalani of Hawaii. A few years earlier, her two teenage daughters died whilst at a boarding school in Schenectady, New York. The little girls never saw Honolulu.

Captain Dominis disappeared on a trip to China in 1846. Mrs. Dominis moved into her big mansion home built by her husband in 1847, and lived as a widow. Because she was now deprived of her husband’s substantial income, and she had to support her large home, she took in boarders. Most of the boarders were visiting Americans. One boarder, a Mr. Ten Eyck, suggested the name “Washington Place” for her new home because it looked like Washington’s Mount Vernon.

I’m sure that Mary Dominis missed her homeland, her little daughters and her husband very much. The endless boarders coming and going at Washington Place must have entertained her mind and given her company. Two little girls came to her as boarders in 1848, and their presence at Washington Place must have been quite a blessing. These two girls were Estrella Charlotte Mott (b. 1835) and her sister Eveline (1830-1849).

And so the granddaughter of Essie Mott wrote to me via Genealogy Wise that she had read my post about Mrs. Dominis and Washington Place. Even better, she had a memoir, written by Essie in 1913, reminiscing about her voyage in 1847 and 1848 from her boarding school in New York to Hawaii on the way to reunite with her family in Mazatlan, Mexico, where her father had business. Her journal was 50 pages, and Leah at the blog “The Internet Genealogist” has been patiently transcribing the journal and posting a few pages at a time. Leah is the great niece of the owner of Essie’s journal.

It is definitely serendipity and a blessing that these two women have shared Essie’s journal with me. Through Essie’s stories about her six months at Washington Place I have learned quite a bit about Mrs. Dominis and her son, the then sixteen year old John Owen Dominis. Essie also reminisces about meeting the children at the Royal School, including Prince Alexander and Prince David (Lili’uokalani’s brother, the future King Kalakaua). Essie even attended a reception at the Royal Palace, and mentions some other members of the Hawaiian Royal family. I have also passed along copies of the scanned images of Essie’s journal to Dominis descendants, and to the curator of Washington Place Museum.

I have also learned that not only do I share this story with Leah; we are also Haley/Healey cousins. Essie’s sister, Mary Gertrude Mott (1852-1927), married Comfort Gordon Haley (1838-1910) of Nova Scotia. Comfort was cousin to my 4x great grandfather Joseph Edwin Healy (1823-abt 1860) who removed from Nova Scotia to Beverly, Massachusetts. The power of the internet strikes again!

Washington Place served as the home to the Dominis family for many years. Queen Lili’uokalani served her imprisonment here, and left the home to her heir John Aimoku Dominis. Later, the Dominis family left the home to the state of Hawaii and it served as the Governor’s residence. It is now a museum.


Please visit Leah’s blog “The Internet Genealogist” at

Leah’s transcription of Essie Mott’s journal, with her arrival in Honolulu is at this link

and a second part of the journal, with more about Mrs. Dominis's house at

and a third section of Essie's journal, with stories about parties in Honolulu and Prince Alexander

Leah’s genealogy webpage is


My previous blog postings about Mrs. Dominis:

February 2, 2010 Four John Dominises

February 1, 2010 Chronicling America and Hawaiian Cousins

December 7, 2009 Christmas in Hawaii

July 27, 2009 Hawaii- The Boston Connection to a Royal Lineage


Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Masonic Genealogy Workshop

The National Heritage Museum, 33 Marrett Road, Lexington, Massachusetts

We were at the National Heritage Museum today for the wonderful exhibit "Jim Henson's Fantastic World" (it runs through June 27th, 2010, and it's FREE!) When the staff pointed out to me this genealogy workshop

The Van Gorden-William Library and Archives stafff (at the National Heritage Museum) will be sponsoring a workshop on Masonic Genealogy, Saturday, May 15, 2010, 1:00 - 3:00 PM. The workshop will include information on the types of Masonic records that exist, where they are located, and how they may be useful to genealogical research as it relates to Freemasonry.

For more information, contact (781) 457-4109 or

Pre-registration is required, call (781) 861-6559, ext. 4101
$15 for NHM members and Freemasons, $20 for others
Registration limited to 10

The National Heritage Museum is supported by the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry

Friday, April 9, 2010

People are talking about Genealogy…..

This week I went to the hairdressers. Usually I love being pampered at the salon, but this week I was especially looking forward to going. My 20 something hairdresser has fallen in love with genealogy since the start of NBCs “Who do You Think you Are?” She is a chatterbox anyways, but now we chat about family history.

My daughter had a hair appointment with her two weeks ago, and I sent her in with a chart I had developed just from listening to my hairdresser chat about her family. I knew her surname, and where her grandparents were born, and few other names. Using census records and I made up a tentative lineage back to Thomas Leighton and Elizabeth Nutter, in the early 1600s at Dover, New Hampshire. Using the caveats of “this hasn’t been proven yet by primary sources…” I sent it to the hair salon.

She was so happy, she wrote me nice Thank You card, and wrapped up a little gift (…PS, I love the windchime!) We talked about family history the entire time again. I was so happy to see a young person excited about genealogy- it made my week! Then upon arriving at home I saw an article in our local newspaper “The Nashua Telegraph” about a reporter who had been inspired by the NBC TV series. I wrote to Stacy Milbouer and she gave me permission to copy it in my blog. Stacy’s interest in doing her own genealogy research was piqued after watching the TV show, and she went to some local Nashua, New Hampshire genealogy resources. She also had the good luck of running into Helen Ullmann at the Nashua Family History Center.

All credit to the Nashua Telegraph. To see the complete article, with photos, please go to

Monday, April 5, 2010
Search for Grandma starts opening Doors
By Stacy Milbouer

As everyone knows by now, it’s U.S. census time. You have either filled out your form and sent it back, are about to fill out your form, or a Census worker will visit your home. But things were a lot different 100 years ago when the 1910 census was taken. How do I know? I’ve looked at dozens of pages of that 100-year-old census on my quest to do genealogical research and to do it for free or nearly free.

We are lucky that in the Nashua area there are a lot of resources that make this fairly easy to do. In the past week, I’ve accumulated historical information about family that would have taken me months and a lot of traveling expenses 10 or 15 years ago, and I never traveled more than a mile and a half away from my home.

Inspired by the new NBC show, “Who Do You Think You Are?,” which follows celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker and Emmitt Smith as they research their family history, I decided to go on my own ancestral journey.

I followed the lead of the show and started tracing a single member of my family and followed that person as far back as I could. I didn’t tackle all my grandparents or great-grandparents at the same time. I also noticed that the show was sponsored by, which boasts 4 billion online records and is the most popular commercial genealogical Web site out there. It’s very convenient and easy to use, but it’s also pricey: ranging from $20-$30 a month, depending on the package.

Many public libraries, including Nashua and the Rodgers Memorial Library in Hudson, have the library version of called Ancestry Library Edition, which can be accessed in the library only.

You can also access some other genealogy databases in-house and those available to the libraries from home, online with a library card.

“The genealogy databases are very popular,” said Rodgers’ reference librarian Gayle St. Cyr. “Every once in a while you’ll hear someone shouting out ‘ah’ or ‘oh’ when they find that little piece of information about an ancestor they’ve been searching for.”

The Nashua Public Library periodically offers a free class on using computers to research genealogy. The next will be April 21, from 2:30-4 p.m., and registration is required.

Since my father’s mother died when he was a very young, and my father has been dead since 1980, I knew practically nothing about my paternal grandmother, so I decided I’d look for her. I wasn’t even sure of her proper name. I only knew that she was called Lulu, which someone had once told me was short for Louise. One of my brothers and I both thought her last name might have been Von Adolph, but we weren’t sure. And we also thought she had died in childbirth at a young age and that the child did not survive either. I also knew my father was born at home in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1918.

I started at home on my laptop by Googling the “best free genealogical websites.” I started with HeritageQuest

An hour or so later, I was able to come up with a scanned-in copy of the 1920 Census that showed my father as a 22-month-old living in Brooklyn, N.Y., with his father, Joseph, and his mother whose name was shown as Louvize. The census also showed that Louvize was born in California and that her mother and father (whose names were not on the census) were both born in Missouri.

On one site, I saw a popup with this information; on the other, Heritage, I could pull up an actual scanned copy of the census. At that time, all census data collection was done in person, written by hand. Fortunately for me, the census taker, Anna Gould, used legible cursive. I have to say there is something thrilling about seeing the actual handwriting of the person who was looking at my father as a baby, who was in the room with my grandfather and grandmother, whom I never met, and who would both be dead before the next census was taken. In a weird way, it was like visiting with them.

From there I was determined to find out more about Louvize Milbouer, and I’d gone as far as I could on my own. The 1910 census had no record of her as far as I could find. I knew that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had Family History Centers throughout the country and that one was here in Nashua on Concord Street. There I met Helen Ullmann, the assistant director of the history center, who explained why the church focused so much on genealogy.

“Mormons believe in life after death,” she said, “and we believe after death, people are organized by families, so then genealogy becomes very important.”

She explained that in the Mormon church, baptism and other “saving ordinances,” such as sealing marriages, must be made accessible to everyone who has ever lived and to make them available to people who did not go through when they were alive, they can be done by proxy. Because of that genealogical research is done so that relatives who were not baptized into the church when they were living can be baptized by proxy in death by a stand-in or proxy living relative.

So the church began collecting genealogical research resources and allows anyone to use them, regardless of their religious affiliation.

Not only can you get help at the Family History Centers, like the one in Nashua, but also on the Church’s genealogical Web site,, which is free to use from home. I needed Ullmann’s help and she was more than generous with her time. Initially, she couldn’t find out any more online about Louvise than I could, but she knew where to look to gather more information. After an hour, we still couldn’t find her maiden name – which is key to go further back in time. But she didn’t give up. She searched through various databases, censuses and cemetery listings.

“It’s always best to start with the earliest information and move forward in time,” she said, suggesting I get copies of my grandparents’ marriage certificate and my grandmother’s death certificate in hopes of finding her last name and maybe more. She found where those documents could be ordered and filled out the order forms with me. The documents cost $5 each, a mere pittance compared to a subscription to, which might or might not have that same information.

But the documents had to be delivered the old-fashion way, by mail and not instantly on a computer. I was bummed. I may have lived 53 years without knowing anything about my grandmother, but once I started looking, I wanted to know everything at once.

But fortunately for me, a man named Bill, a passionate amateur genealogist and regular at the Family History Center, came to my rescue.

He suggested I look on another free Web site called Cyndi’s List – a treasure trove of genealogical resources, including, said Bill (who chose not to tell me his last name), a bride and groom registry. For a few minutes, I had no luck finding a groom named Joseph Milbouer and his bride Louvize, but then I remembered that so many people have misspelled our family name with an “a” instead of a “u.” Bingo. There was my grandfather, Joseph, in the groom directory and the date that he married Louvize Adolph – Dec. 19, 1914, in Manhattan. So my grandmother had a last name and now my search for her could begin in earnest. Bill and Ullmann using the same Web site also found out that my grandmother died July 31, 1921, at age 28, when my father was 3 years old. With Ullmann’s help, I ordered a copy of Louvize’s death certificate to see if it were true that she and the baby she was carrying died in childbirth. I also ordered a copy of my grandparents’ marriage certificate.

But this is not the end of the story. It’s just the beginning. Bill, my newfound friend from the Family History Center, said it all.

“Twenty-one years ago all I knew was that my family came from Ireland and nothing else,” Bill said. “I haven’t stopped researching since. It’s an obsession.”

Stacy Milbouer can be reached at