Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Revolutionary War Re-enactment

Here is another photo appropriate for the week of the Fourth of July. My dad was not a re-enactor, but he loved to joke and have fun. At this Revolutionary War encampment in Windham, New Hampshire in 1994 he enjoyed it so much he even tried on the uniforms. He teased that if he were to "join up" he'd play on the side of the British (his mom was born in England) or a Hessian because it was more fun to be the "bad guy" and they had better uniforms. Here he is trying on officer's gear from the New Hampshire First Regiment.

I think he looked pretty good. Dad had at least eight minutemen in his ancestry, and one Hessian soldier.

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Abiah Folger and Josiah Franklin

This simple obelisk is located at the Granary Burial Ground in Boston. Benjamin Franklin erected this memorial to his parents, Abiah Folger and Josiah Franklin, and I decided to write about it this week for Independence Day. After all, it was the day the Declaration of Independence was ratified, and Ben was one of the signers.

Abiah Folger, Franklin’s mother, was born 15 August 1667 on the island of Nantucket, Massachusetts, daughter of Peter Folger and Mary Morrill. Peter Folger came from Norwich, England to Massachusetts with his father John in 1635. In 1663 he went to Nantucket as an Indian interpreter for Tristram Coffin. Mary Morrill was a servant to Reverend Hugh Peters, so Peter bought her for 20 pounds to pay off her servitude. He declared it was the best appropriation of money he ever made. Now you know where Benjamin got is sense of humor! (from History of Nantucket, by Obed Macy, 1835)

Abiah Folger married Josiah Franklin on 25 November 1689 at the Old South Church in Boston. Josiah was from Ecton, Northamptonshire, born on 23 December 1657, and he died on 16 January 1745. He had previously been married to Anne Child, who left him with seven children when she died on 9 July 1689. You can see he wasted no time in remarrying Abiah, who not only raised his other children, but she had ten more! Benjamin was number eight, and the youngest son.

How do I know so much about this family? Well, my 7x great grandmother was Bethshua Folger, Abiah’s sister! Yes, Benjamin Franklin is my first cousin 8 generations removed. Bethshua (also known as Bathsheba) was born about 1650 on Nantucket Island, and she married Joseph Pope in 1679 in Salem, Massachusetts.

I previously blogged about my Franklin connection here in my post about the Franklin Chest, also known as the Pope Valuables Chest.

For more FRANKLIN blog posts, click here: 

For my POPE family genealogy: 


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Abiah Folger and Josiah Franklin", Nutfield Genealogy, posted June 29, 2010, ( accessed [access date]).

Monday, June 28, 2010

Amanuensis Monday- News Clippings from Essex, Massachusetts

News Clippings

21 February 1873, Cape Ann Advertiser "On Friday afternoon, as one of the workmen in the shipyard of A. O. Burnham was hoisting the bow hasping, it got the best of him and fell striking Mr. Gilman P. Allen (about 63 years old) a glancing blow on the shoulder and head, and knocking him down. Fortunately no bones were broken, but it was a narrow escape from a serious injury."

Gilman Allen (1809 – 1892) was my 3x great grandfather’s brother (Joseph Allen (1801 – 1894). Shipbuilding was a major industry in Essex until the 20th century. I'm sure there were some terrible injuries and even deaths once in while as they built the wooden ships over the years. There are only two wooden shipbuilding workshops in Essex, today.
The Essex Echo (1887 – 1918) was published on Fridays. First at B. F. Raymond’s Drug Store, and later at Leighton E. Perkin’s Store. It had eight pages and cost $1 per year, or 3 cents an issue.

30 Jan 1903, Essex Echo Newspaper “Albert Allen, youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Allen, is very sick at the home of his parents near the Hamilton line. Consumption has claimed him as a victim. His wife and child are with him."

Albert Allen died on 25 March 1903 in Beverly, when he was only 24 years old. He was the brother to my great grandfather Joseph Elmer Allen (1870 – 1932). His wife was Lillian Dorsett, and his son, Charles was born in 1902, so he was very small when this happened.


10 May 1907, Essex Echo Newspaper “Warren S. Allen and family of South Boston, Mrs. Lillian M. Allen and son Charles of Beverly, were guest of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph G. Allen on Sunday."

Joseph G. Allen (1830 – 1908) was my 2x great grandfather. His son, Warren (1864 – 1927) and wife Margaret E. Sullivan (1874 – 1954) had five children; the last one wasn’t born until 1915 so he wouldn’t have been at this reunion. They lived in the Neponset section of Dorchester, near Boston, by the waterfront. Warren was the brother of the Joseph Elmer Allen, mentioned above.

I found these little news clippings at the website According to the link to the Cape Ann Advertiser, these were contributed by Fred Buck of Gloucester, Massachusetts in 2002. The Essex Echo was published in Manchester, Massachusetts, and only a few columns covered news from the town of Essex. Those were contributed by Kurt Wilhelm, who is also one of the editors of the “Images of America: Essex” book published by Acadia Publishing just this year, 2010. Mr. Wilhelm also manages the Rootsweb page for the town of Essex, Massachusetts.

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Friday, June 25, 2010

2010 Felton Reunion – Peabody, Massachusetts

From Cora Felton Anderson, of the Felton Family Association:

The annual gathering of Felton descendants will be held on the 31 of July and 1st of August, 2010 at the site of the old houses of our ancestors in Peabody, Massachusetts. The area is now called 'Brooksby', but in the past it was known as Hog Hill or the Felton farm area of Salem, now Peabody, Massachusetts.

As many of you will know, this was what had been called the "Outer Village" of Salem during the early days of the colony in the 1630's. Our Nathaniel was appointed by Gov; Endicott to clear a place on the hill that could be used to signal the town of Salem below, in case of Indian attack.

We meet every year at the old houses which are said to be the "oldest set" of Father and son houses on the same property in the U.S. We come from all over the United States to honor our ancestors and learn of our heritage. Anyone who has a Felton ancestor in the background is most welcome to join with us at the gathering, as well as the Felton Family Association.

If you would like to join us there, please let me know so that we will have enough food for everyone.

Cora Felton Anderson,
We look forward to seeing you there.

For more information, please see the website at

The Peabody, Massachusetts Historical Society website, which contains photos and information on the Nathaniel Felton, Junior and Senior Home Sites, click on “properties”


Other local family reunions

Caverly Family Reunion: 25 September 2010, Bow Lake Grange, Strafford, NH, Descendants of William Caverly and Mary Abbott of Portsmouth, NH

Wyman Family Reunion: 12 September 2010, Francis Wyman House, Burlington, MA Descendants of Francis Wyman of Woburn, Massachusetts

Towne Family Reunion: 23 -25 September 2010, Omaha, Nebraska, Descendants of William Towne and Joanna Blessing of Salem, Massachusetts

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Thursday, June 24, 2010

New Hampshire Aviation Museum

This cute little building is now the Aviation Museum of New Hampshire, built in 1937 as the terminal for the airport in Manchester, New Hampshire. The Museum is run by the New Hampshire Aviation Historical Society. Soon this art deco style historic building is going to undergo an expansion to more than double its size, thanks to a million dollar donation by Eugene and Anne Slusser of Hopkinton, New Hampshire. Ground was broken on May 13, 2010 for the new addition which will resemble an old airplane hangar.

The building was one of the Great Depression’s Works Progress Administration projects. It was actually the second terminal at Grenier Field, replaced by a larger brick building in 1961, and then again in 1999 by the current 75,000 square foot Manchester Airport terminal. Slated for destruction, in 1995 the city of Manchester chose the terminal building for its annual preservation award. NHAHS applied for placement on the New Hampshire Registry of Historic Places, and this was granted in 2004.

In 2004 the New Hampshire Aviation Historical Society, the Manchester Airport and the Town of Londonderry raised the funds to move the 1937 building across two runways and save it from destruction. This move required approval of the Federal Aviation Administration and took all night, and the east west runway was closed for one hour, and then the north south runway was closed for an hour for the second crossing. The NHAHS raised 1.1 million dollars to restore the terminal building and convert it into a museum.

The New Hampshire Aviation Museum is open Fridays and Saturdays 10 AM to 4 PM, and Sundays 1 PM to 4PM. It is located at 13 East Perimeter Road, Londonderry, New Hampshire in the 1937 terminal building. For more information call the museum staff at 603-669-4820. The museum is located next to the runway, and has a wonderful close up view of planes landing and taking off from Manchester.


For more information: The website for the New Hampshire Aviation Historical Society The history of the Manchester-Boston Airport shown in a timeline

Manchester’s Airport: Flying Through Time, by Edward Brouder and Maurice B. Quirin, UBT Press, 2006

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

More Photos of Misery Island

Caption on the back of the photo
"Jack Wilkinson, Jim Hoar, Bruce Miller, Dick Woodbury, Tom Kelly
-- 1947 or 48"

Photographs from my father's childhood friend
Billy Poole of Beverly, Massachusetts
Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Wordless Wednesday- Swimming at Misery Island, 1949

My Dad, "Jack" John Warren Wilkinson (1934 - 2002) swimming at Misery Island with his dog Jeff. Misery Island is off the coast of Beverly and Manchester, Massachusetts- it can be seen off West Beach. Photo dated July 1949.

My uncle (towel on his head) and Dad (eating the banana) and neighbor friends.

The back of the photo, with names of all the kids described.
"The crowd at Misery Island
Left to right (front) Richard Wilkinson, Beverly Emory, Jack Wilkinson & Barbara Cann (in back) Priscilla Brett
July 1949"

Those were the days! Let your kids go off to an island all alone (no lifeguard) to swim! Great Misery Island and Little Misery Island are only accessible by boats. There were summer homes on the island until 1926 when they were destroyed by a great fire. Today it is a wonderful bird sanctuary and owned by the Trustees of Reservations. It is named after Robert Moulton, who was shipwrecked there in the winter for three miserable days in the 1620s.

Here is the story of an ancestor who met his fate on Misery Island in 1768. Daniel Poland was my 6x great grandfather. Its a good thing this story comes from my Mum's side of the family, or my Dad's Mum would never have let him go swimming at Misery Island!

Essex Antiquarian
Volume 1, page 66
"Drowning Accident
Salem August 23, Last Friday a very uncommon accident happened off Manchester, and the following account is related by a person who saw it....
Nicholas Whipple, Abraham Wyatt, and Daniel Poland, all of Beverly, were fishing in a canoe, near Little Misery Island, which lays within 2 or 3 leagues of this Harbour, and had out a Kellogg, or small anchor; while they were employed at their Business, to their inexpressible surprise, the canoe suddenly shot forward, with very great rapidity, without any apparent cause, and, before they could cut the painter, run the distance of about 70 or 80 feet, when she was pulled so low as to fill and overset, and then stopped. One of the Men swam ashore, another saved his Life by getting upon the bottom of the Canoe, then in sight, getting in Ballast; and the third, Daniel Poland, was unfortunately drowned, who, we hear, has left a Wife and 7 or 8 children. It is supposed that some large Fish run foul of the Painter, dragged the Canoe the above mentioned distance, and was then disengaged." - Essex Gazette, August 23, 1768
Trustees of Reservations Website page for Misery Islands
Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Leavitt Cemetery, Chichester, New Hampshire

The William F. Locke Family Plot. William (1826 - 1870) was the brother to my ancestor, Abigail M. Locke (1825 - 1888), wife of George E. Batchelder of Chichester. Abigail and William F. were the children of Richard and Margaret Locke (below).

Margaret Welch, wife of Richard Locke,
She is a Brickwall Ancestor- I have not idea who are her parents or family.
She was born aobut 1796 probably in Kittery, Maine, and died 11 March 1860 in Chichester, New Hampshire.

Richard Locke, son of Simon Locke and Abigail Mace. He is my 4x great grandfather. Captain Richard Locke went to Boston in 1811 to learn the blacksmith's trade, later was a sea captain and died in Chichester, New Hampshire in 1864, having made his will ten days before. He was listed in the 1850 census as a farmer, with his real estate valued at $10,000. His household in the Federal Census of 1850 included his wife, Margaret; his widowed daughter Abigail; his daughter Mehitable; his father, Simon; and his infant grandson, George E. Batchelder. He is a direct descendant of John Locke (1627 - 1695) who was killed by the Indians in Rye, New Hampshire whilst cutting hay on the marsh. (Locke Genealogy page 71)

Richard Locke
died March 23, 1864
AE 70 ys
I am again we hope to meet there when the days of life are fled
then in heaven with joy to greet thee where no farewell tears shed

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Monday, June 21, 2010

Amanuensis Monday- First Automobile in Haverhill, Massachusetts

Notice: If you are reading this on, you are reading copyrighted material taken from my blog without my permission.

A White Steam automobile,
photographed at the Heritage Museum, Sandwich, Massachusetts

William Henry Wilkinson, my 2nd cousin 4x removed, born 3 January 1850 in Effingham, New Hampshire and died 12 January 1934 in Haverhill, Massachusetts. He was married three times, first on 29 December 1870 to Emma Hayden in Great Falls, New Hampshire, second on 9 September 1888 to Estelle V. Saunders in Haverhill, Massachusetts, and third on 7 March 1922 to Alice F. Tilton in Nashua, New Hampshire. He had three children, Millie, Harry and Edward. William Henry Wilkinson was the son of Rufus Wilkinson and Catherine Bunker.


NEWSPAPER ARTICLE, Haverhill Gazette, dated unknown
William H. Wilkinson Brought Stanley Steamer in 1898

“When and by whom was the first automobile owned in Haverhill? This simple question appeared in the Questions Box editor and requesting the readers to assist him.
Readers responded promptly with clues and tips that led to identifying William Henry Wilkinson, 36 Green Street, a retired machinist, as the first Haverhill owner of an automobile.
He brought the machine, a Stanley Steamer, to this city in the spring of 1898. Mr. Wilkinson, when questioned about the machine, was unable to give the exact date of the purchase. He said that he had saved the bill of sale but could not located it among his old papers when he searched for it after reading the questions in the Questions Box.
Porter C. Croy, 23 Newcomb street, who brought the second automobile to this city, however, confirmed the theory that Mr. Wilkinson was the first owner.
Mr. Wilkinson purchased the machine after he had been to an automobile exhibition in Boston. It was the 10th Stanley steamer to be built. Mr. Wilkinson was employed in the W. W. Spaulding shoe factory at the time and also conducted a machine shop.
Mr. Croy, substantiating the fact that Mr. Wilkinson owned the first automobile in this city, said that Mr. Wilkinson got his car on a Monday and that he got his car on Wednesday. The purchase, said Mr. Croy, were made in the spring of 1898. Mr. Croy also brought a Stanley steamer.”


First car roared through city 100 years ago
By Julianne Bloise
Eagle-Tribune Writer

“HAVERHILL -- Exactly 100 years ago today, two unidentified men from Derry, N.H., whizzed through the city for the first time in a new contraption many had never seen before -- a car.

It traveled down Broadway, through Winter Street, up Main Street and onto Kenoza Avenue, attracting dozens of curious onlookers who ran out into the street after it, said Gregory H. Laing, special collections director at the Haverhill Public Library.

'' . . . And it broke down near Kaulback's Florist on Amesbury Road,'' said Mr. Laing, reading from an 1898 article in The Haverhill Gazette.

Two buckets of water were all that was needed to fix ''the auto,'' as the newspaper called it, and the unidentified Derry men went home. But it was more than one year later before the first Haverhill resident claimed one of the ''autos'' as his own.

''There was always some controversy and confusion over who had the first car,'' said Mr. Laing. ''Because there were two men who bought them at the same time.''

William H. Wilkinson and Porter C. Croy both attended a car show in Boston's Mechanics Hall on Oct. 5, 1899 and each purchased a Stanley Steamer, made in Newton, Mass.

Mr. Wilkinson drove his back to Haverhill that day, taking about two hours to get home. Mr. Croy had his shipped to the city by train, where it arrived two days later, said Mr. Laing.

Mr. Wilkinson made history a second time that day. As he was pulling up to his house at 38 Green St., he crashed into the white fence -- and had to send the car back to Boston for repairs.

''I find it interesting the first car accident in Haverhill was made in the first hour by the first driver of the first-owned car,'' said Mr. Laing.

Stanley Steamers had a wagon-shaped body over four wheels, which people climbed up into. They were two-seaters and did not have tops. Mr. Wilkinson's was the 10th Stanley Steamer to be built, said Mr. Laing.”


Family Tree Information:

Generation 1- Our immigrant ancestor, Thomas Wilkinson (abt 1690 England – bef. 1739) and Elizabeth Caverly (b. abt 1696, Portsmouth, New Hampshire)

Generation 2- James Wilkinson (abt 1730 – abt 1800, Berwick, Maine) and Hannah Mead (1730-1759)

Generation 3- Daniel Wilkinson (1759 – abt 1850) and Hannah Weymouth (abt 1772, South Berwick, Maine – 1845, Effingham, New Hampshire)

Generation 4 – Rufus Wilkinson (abt 1800, South Berwick – 1868) and Catherine Bunker (1806 Durham, New Hampshire – 1874)

Generation 5 – William Henry Wilkinson (1850, Effingham – 1934, Haverhill, Massachusetts)

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Father's Day Tree











We planted this oak tree on my husband's first Father's Day.


Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ona Judge Staines, A Slave Runs away to New Hampshire

A story for Juneteenth

How did a runaway slave from Philadelphia come to New Hampshire? And why was she instantly recognized? Well, she belonged to George Washington, and he had served the last part of his presidency in Philadelphia. Elizabeth, daughter of Senator John Langdon, had seen this slave woman when visiting the First Lady. The Chief Secretary to Washington was Tobias Lear, a Portsmouth native, who also knew the runaway by sight.

Ona Judge Staines was the daughter of an English indentured servant, Andrew Judge, and a black slave mother for the Washington family. She had belonged to Martha Washington’s first husband, Daniel Parke Custis. Children born to slave mothers were property of the slave holder. Ona was a seamstress, and Martha’s personal maid. She didn’t want to return to Virginia at the end of George Washington’s term, so she ran off and took passage on board a ship, the “Nancy”, bound for Portsmouth, New Hampshire. This advertisement appeared in the Pennsylvania Gazette on 24 May 1796:


Absconded from the household of the President of the United States, ONEY JUDGE, a light mulatto girl, much freckled, with very black eyes and bushy hair. She is of middle stature, slender, and delicately formed, about 20 years of age.
She has many changes of good clothes, of all sorts, but they are not sufficiently recollected to be described—As there was no suspicion of her going off, nor no provocation to do so, it is not easy to conjecture whither she has gone, or fully, what her design is;—but as she may attempt to escape by water, all matters of vessels are cautioned against admitting her into them, although it is probable she will attempt to pass for a free woman, and has, it is said, wherewithal to pay her passage.
Ten dollars will be paid to any person who will bring her home, if taken in the city, or on board any
vessel in the harbour;—and a reasonable additional sum if apprehended at, and brought from a greater
distance, and in proportion to the distance.
May 23

Somehow word made it back to Philadelphia that Ona was in New Hampshire. In November 1796 Washington wrote to Joseph Whipple, the Portsmouth Custom Collector, about returning his slave. Whipple obviously had anti-slavery feelings when he wrote back that a slave who returned voluntarily was “infinitely more value in the estimation of her employer than one taken forcibly like a felon to punishment."

By January 1797 Ona had married Jack Staines. Washington had asked his nephew, who was taking a trip to Portsmouth, to seize Ona and any children she might have had. The nephew, Burwell Bassett, arranged to have dinner with Senator Langdon. The Senator sent a message to Ona, who fled to Greenland, New Hampshire with her baby. She hid with a free black family, the Jacks. When Washington died three months later, she thought she was free.

In New Hampshire Ona found a marriage, religious freedom, and learned to read and paint. She had three children. She worked as a live-in maid for the Bartlett family of Portsmouth, and then removed to Greenland to live with the Jacks family, her former protectors. When she outlived her children, and could no longer work she was reduced to poverty. Ona was supported by several benevolent people of Greenland, and the town records show she received donations of firewood. She died on February 25, 1848. The Staines and Jacks family grave site is located off Dearborn Avenue in Greenland, New Hampshire.

The story of Ona Judge Staines was been made into play recently performed in Portsmouth in 2000. “Thirst for Freedom” was written by Emory Wilson. Several children’s books have been written about her, as well as a popular poem in 1900 written by poet M. O. Halls of Greenland, New Hampshire “Ona, Washington’s Runaway Slave”.

Ona, Washington's Runaway Slave

By M. O. Halls (1900)

But what I have to tell, is, how a slave was hid,
A maid of Martha Washington, a little kid,
And almost white; she had some help and found a way
To make escape upon a schooner down the bay.
The vessel came with wood; behind a pile she hid,
Until, just as the vessel sailed, she thought and did

Just what occasion prompted, slipped on board and hid
Again, and there she stayed in fear until they bid
Her to come on deck, and have no fear, for she was safe;
And all were drawn in pity to the little waif
Of fifteen years. The vessel, bound for Portsmouth, kept
Right on until she reached her port, and then she wept
For joy. Liberty is sweet (bear this in mind)
To all-to bird and beast, as well to all mankind.

A man by name of Staines took her to wife. By her
He had two daughters. 'Liza lived, and many were
The presents made to pave the way to see a slave
Of Washington. Now, when 't was known he wished to save
This chattel, she was warned and fled to this retreat.

The course pursued was very wise; he was discreet.
His letter showed the noble man he always was.
"His wife would like her back, but would not be the cause
Of any strife, take any action, give offence,"
He said, "if public feeling had become intense."
Charles Sumner, senator and statesman (this maintains,)
Was written the collector of the port 'bout Mrs. Staines.
And when the story spread, that she was wanted back,

She sought and found a shelter in the house of Jack.
The Jacks were very jealous of attentions paid
To this lone widow woman, and, when some were made
In common, took the lion's share, scoop in the whole
And treated little Staines as though she had no soul.

The ground where once the cottage stood, there by the brook,
To-day is all smoothed down, and in this garden nook,
Where once sweetwilliams, daffodils, and beds of rue,
Old fashioned flowers, perfumes mixed and drank the dew.

There's nothing left to tell the tale of daily strife,
Of constant struggle, ending only with the life.
They are all buried in a lonely, far-off spot,
Away from human kind-a lonely pasture lot.
Now let us leave this lovely, lonely, sacred dell.


For the truly curious, more information on Ona Judge Staines:  Ona Judge Staines from Seacoast Online, Portsmouth, New Hampshire from Wikipedia Ona’s story from the website of The President’s House in Philadelphia, including an interview in 1846 that appeared in The Liberator newspaper.


To cite/link to this blog post: Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Ona Judge Staines, A Slave Runs away to New Hampshire", Nutfield Genealogy, posted June 17, 2010, ( accessed [access date]).  

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Please note John Harvard's shiny buckled shoe!

On 21 May 2010 I blogged here about “Tour Guides and Their Myths”. I had heard so many far fetched, untrue, misguided stories out of the mouths of local Boston tour guides that I just had to compile them into a list. At the top of my list is the myth surrounding the statue of John Harvard at Harvard Yard in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Now, I fell for this story, too, as a freshman (freshwoman?) standing there at the foot of Harvard’s esteemed benefactor. Rub the shoe for goodluck! Kiss it for extra good luck before your exam or term paper! Go ahead! It's my advice to never fall for such an enthusiatic claim from upper classmen. There is a reason they are smiling so widely when you go ahead and touch John Harvard’s foot. Check my past blog post for a clue (or check the internet, I’m not going to print it out for you).

Well, a few days ago we received our copy of the National Geographic Traveler magazine in the mail. This is the July-August 2010 Issue. On page 38 is a story about touring Harvard Square, including a little map where the famous statue is number 4 on the tour. Below it reads “….for a gander at the iconic statue of the university’s first benefactor, (4) john Harvard, whose foot visitors traditionally rub for good luck.” !!!

Well, I always thought National Geographic had the market cornered on good information for travelers. Their maps are beyond compare, their photography is excellent. But their advice? Ewwwww!

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Wordless Wednesday- Great Grandfather's Engineering Certificate

The front of the certificate for John Peter Bowden Roberts, dated June 6, 1918 in Beverly, Massachusetts.

The back of the certificate has his birthday in Leeds, England as May 12, 1864. In England he worked as a stationary engineer in a brewery, like his father before him. After coming to America he worked at the United Shoe Machinery Corporation in Beverly.
Post Update!
The first person to comment on this post this morning sent me the following link to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Safety website. He said that in 1918 it was only an oral exam. Today it is both an oral and written exam.

"Brief Description of License:
This license allows the holder to have charge of and operate a boiler or boilers not exceeding, in the aggregate, one hundred and fifty horsepower when solid fuel is burned or not exceeding, in the aggregate, five hundred horsepower based uon the relieving capacity of the safety valves when steam is generated by the use of liquid, or gaseous fuel, electric or atomic energy or any other source of heat, and an engine or engines not exceeding fifty (50) horsepower each.

Who should have one?
Anyone who is in actual authority as the "Engineer-in-charge", of any boilers or boilers not exceeding, in the aggregate, one hundred and fifty horsepower when solid fuel is burned or not exceeding, in the aggregate, five hundred horsepower based uon the relieving capacity of the safety valves when steam is generated by the use of liquid, or gaseous fuel, electric or atomic energy or any other source of heat, or engines and turbines not exceeding 50 horsepower each, who is held responsible by the owners as well as the proper authorities for the daily operation and maintenance of the steam boiler, engines, and/or turbines. This person is also the person responsible for all persons operating these boilers, engines, and/or turbines.

What are the prerequisites?
To be eligible for examination for a Third Class Engineer’s License a person must be a citizen or furnish proof of having filed a declaration of his intent to become a citizen of the United States; must furnish evidence as to his previous training and experience and must have been employed in a boiler or steam power plant as a steam engineer, fireman, control room operator, water tender, auxilairy operator or engineer’s assistant for not less than one and one half years, or held and used an equivalent license in the United States Merchant Marine for one (1) year or held and used a equivalent license from another state for one (1) year, or held and used a First Class Fireman’s License for not less than one year. A strenuous written and oral exam must be passed."


Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Monday, June 14, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Fontevraud Abbey, France

Over the weekend I saw the new “Robin Hood” movie with Russell Crowe. I’m mad about this period of history, and enjoy all sorts of books and movies of the 12th century. This is one of the few Robin Hood movies to portray the English royal family in great detail, since it is actually a prequel to the usual Robin Hood myth. The producers spend the whole movie setting up how Robin becomes an outlaw, with portrayals of the crusades, and the tensions between Prince John and his brother Richard Lion Heart. Eleanor of Aquitaine makes a few appearances, as well as the princess Isabella of Angouleme who is referred to as “a piece of French pastry”.

And so I dug out some photos of our trip to the Loire Valley in France about ten years ago. Eleanor and Henry II are my 29th great grandparents, and the villainous Prince John and Isabella of Angouleme are my 28th great grandparents (… that is if you can believe medieval lineages!) On our trip each family member chose two castles to visit, to make everyone happy and to ensure a variety of experiences. One of my choices was the Abbey at Fontevraud, where Eleanor, Henry, Richard Lion Heart and Isabella are buried. We not only toured the abbey, we had a marvelous dinner and stayed there overnight. It was quite fun wandering around the grounds in the evening when the tourists had all gone home. I hoped to bump into Eleanor’s ghost, but it never happened.

Here are some books I’ve read recently about these historical figures:

Non Fiction:
Richard and John: Kings at War, by Frank McLynn, Da Capo Press, 2007
Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life, by Alison Weir, Ballantine Books, 2001
Eleanor of Aquitaine: Queen of France, Queen of England, by Ralph V. Turner, Yale University Press, 2009

Ivanhoe, by Sir Walter Scott, (any edition will do, but I read the Barnes and Noble, 2005 version with notes by Gillen D’Arcy Wood)
World Without End, by Ken Follett, Dutton, 2007 (same time period, not particularly about Henry and Eleanor)

The Lion in Winter, (See the 1968 version with Peter O’Toole as Henry II and Katharine Hepburn as Eleanor of Aquitaine. The 2003 version with Patrick Stewart and Glenn Close isn’t even close!)


Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Flag Day 2010

Crawford Notch, in the White Mountains of New Hampshire

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Amanuensis Monday- The Joe Gill Allen House

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.

The Joe Gill Allen House

News Clipping from the Salem Evening News, June 3, 1938
Old houses in Essex Of Historical Interest

“To start this series of articles on Old Houses in Essex, which will appear in this paper every Friday for a period of several weeks, there can be no more fitting house to start with than the first house over the line in Essex from Hamilton, on the main road from Beverly to Gloucester through Essex.

This house is known by the old settlers of Essex as the “Joe Gill Allen” house and is located in what they always speak of as Lakeville.

Little is known of who built this house or when it was erected but from the very simple construction it can easily be imagined that it was built in the very early seventeen hundreds.

Frank Mears, who has always lived in the neighborhood and well remembers the Civil War days, speaks of a Henry, and supplied the clammers gentlemen when Mr. Mears was but a boy, living in this house. He was known to everyone as Uncle Henry, and supplied the clammers and others with baskets, as he was by trade, a basket maker.

Henry Burnham was a son of Westley Burnham, and Mollie Woodbury of Beverly. He was born June 23, 1783, and married Sally Poland, Jan. 1, 1805. He died in 1867.

Sarah Mears, a daughter of Samuel Mears, was brought up in this home and she in turn married one Joseph Gilman Allen of Clay Point, South Essex.

The house has remained in the Allen family up to the present time, although it has not been lived in as an established home for a great many years.

The house boasts a very large central chimney, the fireplaces and oven, however, being bricked up. There are few windows, extremely low ceilings, with five rooms on the first floor, the second story being one unfinished room.

Those who remember one “Charlie Sam” as the town wit, can well see why he used to say that this house used to be a two story and a half house that had been there so long it just settled down into the banking.”


The Joseph Gilman Allen House
photographed in May 2010

Although my ancestors have lived in Essex since the 1630s, and the Allens were in Essex since about the time of the American Revolution, my grandfather and his brothers and sisters were not born in this house. He was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, when his father had gone to Boston to work as a pipefitter with his brothers during a tough economic time period at the turn of the century. This house was used as a summer house for the Boston side of the family when my mother was growing up in the next town, Hamilton, Massachusetts.

According to census records, all the men in this lineage were ships carpenters, since ship building was once the major industry in Essex. Several of the men were listed as day laborers or retired in their older years, but I couldn’t find anyone who listed their occupation as basketmaker. Perhaps it was just a way of making money on the side. The Allens, Mears and Burnhams are all buried near each other at the Spring Street Cemetery in Essex. Clamming is still a major industry in Essex, as well as tourism and antique shops. There is still one shipbuilder left in Essex.

Above I’ve posted a photo of this house as it appears in 2010. A small addition has been built onto the back of the home, and it has been lovingly restored.

My grandmother saved this old newsclipping.  Here is an explanation of some of the people mentioned in the news clipping and story:

Generation 1: Westley Burnham, son of Westley Burnham and Deborah Story, born 27 August 1747 in Essex, died on 1 September 1835; married on 5 December 1771 to Molly Woodbury, daughter of Robert Woodbury and Hannah Preston, born 29 July 1749 in Beverly, Massachusetts, died on 27 April 1830 in Essex. Ten children, including

Generation 2: Henry Burnham, born 23 June 1783 in Essex, died 1 July 1867 in Essex; married on 2 May 1805 in Essex to Sally Poland, daughter of Abner Poland and Sarah Burnham, born 27 November 1780 in Essex, died 9 February 1861 in Essex, one daughter:

Generation 3: Sarah Ann Burnham, born 23 October 1821 and died 23 January 1848 in Hamilton; married 20 April 1844 in Essex to Samuel Mears, son of Samuel Mears and Lydia W. Burnham, born 29 December 1823 in Essex, died 13 January 1904 in Lynn. Samuel was married 2nd on 26 December 1848 in Wenham to Lydia Gray, daughter of Israel Gray and Lydia G. Lacy. Five children, including:

Generation 4: Sarah Burnham Mears, born 30 November 1844 in Essex, died on 4 March 1913 in Essex; married on 23 May 1863 in Essex to Joseph Gilman Allen, son of Joseph Allen and Orpha Andrews, born 22 May 1830 in Essex, died 9 April 1908 in Essex. Ten children, including:
Generation 5: Joseph Elmer Allen, born 24 September 1870 in Essex, died 12 March 1932 at the Masonic Home in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts; married on 1 November 1892 to Carried Maude Batchelder, daughter of George E. Batchelder and Mary Katharine Emerson, born on 22 September 1872 in Chichester, New Hampshire, died on 21 January 1963 at the Sea View Convalescent Home in Rowley, Massachusetts. Five children, including:

Generation 6: Stanley Elmer Allen, born 14 January 1904 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, died on 6 March 1982 in Beverly, Massachusetts; married on 14 February 1925 in Hamilton, to Gertrude Matilda Hitchings, daughter of Arthur Treadwell Hitchings and Florence Etta Hoogerzeil, born on 1 August 1905 in Beverly, died on 3 November 2001 at the Pilgrim Nursing Home, Peabody, Massachusetts. Seven children, including my mother.


Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Two Genea-Bloggers meet up at NEHGS

On Tuesday I met blogger Barbara Poole of the “Life at the Roots” blog in Boston at the New England Historic Genealogical Society library on Newbury Street. I had asked her in an email if she’d like to join me on a jaunt to Maine to look at the vital records, but we changed our venue to meet in Boston. Barbara took the train and I drove down from New Hampshire. We had never met each other before, other than through blogging comments and email, but we recognized each other right away!

We both had our lists of things to research, and each of us, by coincidence, had a “genealogical act of kindness” to research for someone else. We both had something to look up in the manuscript department, too, which was surprising. We have similar research styles, as well as sharing lots of New England ancestry. There were other similarities that made us both smile.

1. We both prefer to work straight through, not breaking for lunch.
2. Neither of us likes to lug along our laptops, or carry too many things.
3. We both brought almonds to snack on, power food for genealogists!
4. We both didn’t find what we wanted in the manuscripts, Darn!
5. We both gave up around 3 o’clock and we both wanted to beat the traffic home (Barbara wanted to beat the crowds at North Station who were coming in for the Celtics-Lakers game, and I wanted to beat the commuters on Rt. 93)
6. We both don’t like using microfilm (unless we are in the mood!) That was the last thing on my list, and I pushed it aside for another day.

We also gave up on whispering and annoying the other patrons with our chit chat. After wrapping up our notes we retired to the lunch room so we could just have a good chat. It was the best part of the day for me to finally talk with Barbara. Lots of giggles and a few hugs later we walked out of the library two happy Genea-Bloggers, and as friends. Barbara, let’s do it again soon!


Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Matthew Taylor Descendants Reunion in Derry, August 2011

Matthew Taylor and his wife Janet Wilson came from Northern Ireland in 1721 and settled in Nutfield, now Derry, New Hampshire. Matthew was one of the original proprietors of the settlement. He was born in 1690 and he died 26 January 1770 near Beaver Lake. They had ten children and many descendants who lived in New Hampshire and Nova Scotia. Matthew and his sons, Adam and Samuel Taylor, are buried in Forest Hill Cemetery in Derry.

The descendants are planning a reunion for August 2011, and the committee chairs Betty Taylor Aube and Heather Taylor Facey were in Derry recently to search for a place to hold the reunion. You can read all about it by clicking on the article to enlarge it. For more information about the reunion, and the Taylor Family Association, please see the website

Events planned for the Reunion include tours of Forest Hill Cemetery, First Parish Church, The Taylor Library, the Taylor Up and Down Sawmill and the site of the Taylor Homestead. The Reunion is in honor of the 290th anniversary of Matthew and Janet Taylor’s arrival in America. For more information you may email Betty Taylor Aube at or Heather Taylor Facey at


For more information:

From my blog “Taylor Saw Mill in Derry” from October 25, 2009, a story about the up and down sawmill built by Robert Taylor, Matthew’s grandson.

See the online Nutfield News, April 15, 2010, page 9 “Matthew Taylor Descendants Plan Derry Reunion” or A recap of the 2008 Taylor Reunion The 2011 Taylor Reunion

Join the Facebook Group “Descendants of Matthew and Janet Taylor” for regular updates with the latest information

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Hotel Windham, Bellows Falls, Vermont

My transcription of a letter written on Hotel Windham stationary was the basis for my post on Monday. It got me thinking about the hotel, and I was able to find some old news, and some new stories about it. Hotel Windham is located in Bellows Falls, Vermont, on the Connecticut River forming the border between Vermont and New Hampshire. I’ve passed through Bellows Falls a few times in my life, but never got out of the car to explore.

The first hotel at the site of the Hotel Windham was built in 1816, known as “Webb’s Hotel”, and later as “Robertson’s Tavern”. Later it was run by a stagecoach business as “The Bellows Falls Stage House” until it burned in 1860. The next building was called the Towns Hotel in Bellows Falls, Vermont, it was destroyed by a fire in 1899 and in 1912. The Hotel Windham, which my great grandfather stayed in 1929 was destroyed by a fire in 1932. It was an old railroad hotel, run by the company that ran the trains in this part of New England. It was rebuilt in 1933, yet has been empty for the past 20 years. It is the fourth hotel on the site.

The Hotel Windham was purchased recently by the Windham Development Group composed of three owners: Tony Elliott, Jay Eschelman and Erik Leo. The project is estimated to cost as much as $3 million, and includes a 12 room hotel and office space as well a “community supported” restaurant. Customers would buy shares in the restaurant in exchange for later meals, like community farms or cooperative farm plans. I don’t know when construction will begin, nor when it is scheduled to be completed.


For more information:

History of the town of Rockingham, Vermont by Lyman Simpson Haynes, published by the town of Bellows Falls, Vermont, 1907. “Hotel Project Seeking to Restore Original Elegance”, Rutland , published March 23, 2010., “Bellows Falls, VT Fire Rages Downtown, Mar. 1912” posted June 17, 2008


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "The Hotel Windham, Bellows Falls, Vermont", Nutfield Genealogy, posted June 9, 2010,  ( accessed [access date]).

Not so Wordless Wednesday- Old Autograph Book

An old autograph book from my father's cousin. I think he got it from his grandmother, Mary Ann Bill (1861 - 1910), who married Andrew Nichols (1862 - 1897). He shared the autograph book with the family at our last get together in Danvers, Massachusetts.

Grandpa Bill was my great great grandfather, Caleb Rand Bill (1833 - 1902) , a music professor in Salem, Massachusetts. The inscription says : "An ?????, practical Christian life is the very highest type of human existence. It is encircled with the rainbow of infinite and eternal love. May this life be yours is the prayer of Grandpa Bill, August 7th, 1888"

Caleb's father was the Reverend Ingraham Ebenezer Bill (1805 - 1891), a Baptist Minister from Nova Scotia.

This was her father, Andrew Nichols, Jr. The inscription reads "Remember that you have 'One Life Only' to make or to marr, Andrew Nichols, Jr. Jan 28th, 1886"


Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday- Dunlaps of Chester, New Hampshire

The Dunlap Family of Chester

These gravestones were photographed for a Random Act of Genealogical Kindness a few years ago. They are located at the Chester Village Cemetery, on Rt. 102 in the center of Chester, New Hampshire. This is one of the oldest cemeteries in New Hampshire, and buried here are Revolutionary heroes as well as two governors of the state, Samuel and John Bell, William Richardson, Chief Justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court, Isaac Blasdel, the clockmaker, and others.

Martha (Neal) Dunlap, relict of Archibald Dunlap, died 1803

Lieut. James Dunlap, died 1803

Dorcas Dunlap, relict of Lieut. James Dunlap

Archibald Dunlap, died 1754, mostly illegible

Father of the Dunlap Furniture makers, John and Samuel Dunlap


Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo