Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ginger Harvey of Londonderry

Ginger Harvey
an African American and daughter of former slaves

At Sunnyside Cemetery, the Old Baptist Cemetery, on Litchfield Road, is an impressive gravestone for Ginger Harvey dated 1865. It is located right by the gate next to the sign for Sunnyside Cemetery. She was the daughter of slaves, so how could she afford such a nice tombstone? Legend has it that she once saved a family from their burning house by banging on the windows with a broom to awaken them. The family asked how they could reward her kindness, and she asked for a nice funeral. The Londonderry vital records say that she was 100 years old at her death.

This was quite a gravestone to an African American woman who was a pauper during her lifetime. In the book, “Annual Report of the Committee on Finance of the City of Manchester, 1847 “ by the Manchester, NH Historical Society, on pages 56 and 50 there are references to firewood, goods and groceries being delivered to Ginger Harvey. On page 250 of the “Manchester Historic Association Collections” Volume 11, there is a line “Ginger Harvey was struck off to James Young at five shillings per week so long as she may need assistance during one year”. In other words, at the March Town meeting for Manchester in 1826, instead of sending her to a poor farm, she was assigned to live with a local family.

Ginger Harvey was born about 1778 in Salem, Massachusetts. Her parents, Caesar Harvey and Jane Lea were married in Salem in October 1778 (Salem, MA VR). Caesar was the slave of John Dowse and Jane was owned by “the widow Lois Lee””. The Londonderry records state that “Caesor Hervy” married Jane Lea on 15 April 1771. Either way, Ginger Harvey wasn’t really 100 years old.

Recently, a descendant of Ginger Harvey contacted the Londonderry Historical Society to find more information on the Harvey family. I was given this interesting case to work on, and especially to find out more about the land Caesar owned in Londonderry. According to family lore, a son sold the farm to pay a large medical bill in 1825. The location of the land was also a mystery.

I asked Marian Pierre-Louis, the “New England House Historian” for a little help. Marian has a business researching property at Fieldstone Historic Research in Massachusetts, and writes two blogs. "Root and Rambles" and "New England House Historian". From Marian I learned about the database for the Rockingham County deeds at the website . At this search Marian found two deeds with Caesar Harvey’s name. First Caesar Harvey as buyer (grantee) "Caesar Harvey from Stephen Pingry", 1800, book 0162, page 0465, in the Rockingham County records of deeds [when he bought the farm] and then a second deed with Caesar Harvey as seller (grantor), “Cezar Harvey to Ginger Harvey”, 1814, book 0203, page 252, Rockingham County records of deeds [Caesar sold the land to his daughter]. There was no record of the land being sold in 1825 in Rockingham County.

After a search of the records in the Londonderry Leach Library, I found a story on pages 42-49 of “Early Londonderry, Vol. I” by the Londonderry Historical Society, 1962. In this story, a Mrs. Bertha Goodwin Hammond recalls the story of the Londonderry fire and how Ginger Harvey rescued the family. It also mentioned her father’s land was called “Caesar’s Beach”, located at Lake Massabesic. Today this lake is within the boundaries of Manchester and Auburn, New Hampshire.

I have friends who live on Lake Massabesic and they told me about a recent TV history show that featured Caesar’s Beach. This was a good hint, so I inquired at our local station, WMUR in Manchester, about the show. I also sent an inquiry to the Auburn Historical Society, and they sent me a map of the lake, showing the location of Caesar’s beach, near the Boy Scout Camp in Manchester.

With this information I was able to tell the Harvey descendants the location of the Harvey farm, and that now the property would be located in the boundaries of Hillsborough County, and the records would be available at the Hillsborough Registry of Deeds. We also confirmed that the family owned land. This is an interesting story about African Americans in early New Hampshire. The fact is that they were a Black family that owned land, even though they were quite poor.

There are a few short stories about Caesar and Ginger Harvey in the old book Willey's Book of Nutfield, by George F. Willey, 1895. This book also mentions Caesar's Beach on the banks of Lake Massabesic.

Our local historian, Fritz Wetherbee, who gives a daily New Hampshire history lesson every night on TV on channel 9 WMUR, had indeed recently told a story about Caesar Harvey, but it was full of inaccuracies. He stated that Caesar arrived with Captain John Smith in 1614 whilst exploring the Isles of Shoals, and escaped to Lake Massabesic. If so, he was over 200 years old when he sold his land to his daughter Ginger in 1814.* Another myth, just like the age of 100 written on Ginger’s gravestone!

Ginger Harvey's gravestone is located
right next to the gate at Sunnyside Cemetery

*WMUR “New Hampshire Chronicle” transcript, emailed to me on 1 Sept. 2010

The URL for this post is

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

October 2010 History Events

Haunted Happenings - A month long celebration of Halloween in Salem, Massachusetts. See the website for a schedule of events. For those interested in history and genealogy there is a play about Bridget Bishop, the accused witch, playing daily all month long, as well as historic house tours, Pioneer Village is open, and “The Legacy of the Hanging Judge” presented in the rooms of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s birthplace (his ancestor was Judge John Hathorne of the witch trials). There are many other fun, silly, scary and interesting activities all month long in Salem for all ages.

Concord, NH Literary Festival, October 21-23 Lots of free events in our capitol city, for kids, adults and everyone in between.

Apple Picking and Farmer’s Markets - Londonderry is blessed with FOUR orchards! Open through Thanksgiving, and some until after Christmas

1.) Merrill Farm, Old Mammoth Road, - apples, peaches, plums, pears, fresh eggs, veggies

2.) Mack’s Apples, Mammoth Road- U-Pick apples, pears, pumpkins, veggies, farm store with maple products, honey, pies and other goodies

3.) Sunnycrest Farm – 59 High Range Rd, U-Pick apples, pumpkins, berries, veggies, local milk and eggs, and homebaked goods, petting farm

4.) Elwood Orchards- 54 Elwood Rd, corn maze, U-Pick apples, peaches, veggies, hayrides

October 4- New Hampshire Cemeteries and Gravestones, Hampstead Public Library, 7PM Learn about history, art, epidemics and religion as you examine rubbings, photographs and slides of New Hampshire gravestones. Presented by the New Hampshire Humanities Council. Free

October 7- Witches, Pop Culture and the Past, Nashua Public Library, 7PM. Learn where history, tourism and performance collide when Salem tells it’s witch stories. Presented by the New Hampshire Humanities Council. Free

October 9- Lafayette and the Farewell Tour: An American Idol, Derry Public Library, 11:30 AM Presented by Londonderry’s own Alan Hoffman. Presented by the New Hampshire Humanities Council. Sponsored by the Molly Reid DAR. Free

October 12- A Woman That Keeps Good Orders: Women, Tavern Keeping, and Public Approval, Salem Museum, 310 Main St., Salem, NH, 7:30 PM. Presented by the New Hampshire Humanities Council. Free

October 16- Family History Day- Boston, Massachusetts Seaport Hotel, All Day, $38, see the website for details on the schedule of classes and registration information.

October 18- Brewing in New Hampshire: An Informal History of Beer in the Granite State, Griffin Free Public Library, Auburn, 7PM. Presented by the New Hampshire Humanities Council. Free

October 12 – November 16, every Tuesday, Introduction to New England Furniture, Collections and Conservation Center, Haverhill, Mass. 6:30 – 8PM, $75 Historic New England Members, $120 non members (includes Historic New England membership) Examine furniture from the seventeenth to the early twentieth century. Learn about regional variations in style, shops, craftsmanship, from conservator John Childs. Register by calling 617-994-5959 or visit

October 20- Crosscut: A Spoken Documentary, Derry Public Library, 7PM, New and vintage photo tell the story of logging in the mills, and the Androscoggin Valley from the boom years until 2007, marking the end of an era. Presented by the New Hampshire Humanities Council. Free

October 20, Crime and Punishment on the Isles of Shoals: The Ballad of Louis Wagner, Nesmith Library, Windham, 7:30 PM. Wagner was convicted and executed in 1873 for murdering two sisters on Smuttynose Island. How fair were the trial, media, and popular sentiment of the times? Presented by the New Hampshire Humanities Council. Free

October 23- Your Great Ancestral Connection, Family History Day, Concord, New Hampshire, LDS Church, 90 Clinton St., 8AM – 2PM. Free to the public. See the website for a schedule of classes and registration information.

Not So Wordless Wednesday- Little Boy Blue at Plimoth Plantation

I couldn't resist this photo taken last summer at Plimoth Plantation Museum. This cute little re-enactor reminded me of the popular nursery rhyme....

Little Boy Blue come blow your horn
The sheep's in the meadow, the cow's in the corn.
Where is the little boy who looks after the sheep?
He's under a haystack, fast asleep!

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday- The Towne Family Burial Ground in Londonderry

The Towne Cemetery is located on the corner of John Street and Boyd Road in Londonderry. I used to be able to see it from my living room windows, but the trees have grown up so much that I can't even see the stone wall surrounding the burial ground. The sign tacked onto a nearby tree says it was established in 1828.

Daughter of
Jabez & Mary

April 3, 1848,
Aged 54 years
& 9 mos.

The Towne Family lived on Boyd Road right next to the cemetery. I have a small book published by the Londonderry Historical Society in 1962, "Early Londonderry, Volume II". On page 136 it states "....the Towne Home, occupied by Jabez Towne, who lived to be over 90 years of age...across the field on the opposite side of the road, is the "Townes Cemetery", just beyond the present Jackson place. It is the last resting place of the Towne and Boyd families." Today I can no longer see any Boyd grave markers. There appear to many missing stones, and a third of those still standing are broken. There are eleven legible stones in this cemetery.

Memory of
who died
Jan 22, 1828
AEt. 70
[this appears to be the oldest stone in the cemetery
and the year the cemetery was established]

Charlotte, wife of Moses Towne
[note how the name is spelled TOWNE and also TOWNS]

On page 137 of the same book is a funny story about this cemetery. "The following experience is one never to be forgotten by Mr. Corliss. One day, when he was twelve or thirteen, Harry had been telling ghost stories out behind schoolhouse #4 with a group of boys, and the hour grew late. Harry was a little nervous as he passed the whispering birches which lined the road below the Cross place, but it wasn't until he was passing the "Townes" cemetery that he became really frightened. A pale moon shone overhead and there, moving weirdly about in the cemetery, was a ghostly figure emitting the most unearthly sounds, screeching and screaming! Terrified, Harry raced for home and fell upon the floor as he entered through the kitchen door. The next morning, a neighbor came down to the Corliss house swinging two white hens. It was she who had been in the cemetery in her nightgown the night before."

An old photo of the Towne Homestead,
from page 166 of "Early Londonderry" Volume II,
by the Londonderry Historical Society, 1962

For more information on the Towne and Boyd families, see my blog post from August 2009. In this post I give the Towne lineage down to Mary, daughter of Jabez Towne, who married Robert Boyd. I also give information on the link to the Towne family in Topsfield, Massachusetts and the relationship to the three Towne sisters accused of witchcraft in 1692 (Rebecca (Towne) Nurse, Sarah (Towne) Cloyse, and Mary (Towne) Estey).


Published under a Creative Commons License
 Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Tombstone Tuesday-  The Towne Family Burial Ground in Londonderry", Nutfield Genealogy, posted September 28, 2010  (  accessed [access date]). 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Amanuensis Monday- finding the word Amanuensis

Today I wrote a post for the Amanuensis Monday meme about Reverend William Bentley's diary. I had left Volume 4 out on the coffee table, and was reading it while my husband was watching TV. I accidentally turned to pages 484 and 485 I found this passage with the word "amanuensis". I was startled, but delighted to see this unusual word...and also a mention of Londonderry's own General John Stark in the same passage.

December 15, 1809
"Mr. Stickney of Bow, NH, tells me that he has discovered an inexhaustible abundance of Iron Ore in his vicinity, near to wood, water falls, & navigation, & that he has reason to believe it to be of excellent quality. He informs me this in the cover of a Letter from his father in law, Gen. John Stark, to who he serves in the absence of the Major as Amanuensis. I had addressed a Letter to Gen. Stark on the subject of President Madison."

I suppose the reference was to his serving as a clerk, who took dication for letters, etc?

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

400 years of Plymouth, Massachusetts

Plimoth Plantation Museum

In ten years Plymouth, Massachusetts will celebrate its 400th birthday. I first heard about the big plans for a celebration back in 2007, when Jamestown had a big celebration for its 400th birthday. The president and the Queen of England were in attendance for the party, but if you, like me, probably missed the news. The party was less than exciting. At the 2008 triennial congress of the Mayflower Society, this was discussed and everyone vowed to make Plymouth’s party unforgettable. The planning has already begun.

The 2020 Committee contains people I know, well known local representatives of local groups, and many diverse cultures, too. Paul Bumpus, the Mayflower Society Historian General; Peggy Baker, the Director of the Pilgrim Hall Museum; and Rev. Gary Marks, pastor of the Church of the Pilgrimage are people I have met and discussed history with a few times. There are representatives from the Wampanoag Nation, Plimoth Plantation, the town of Plymouth, and the Sachem of the Federation of Old Plimoth Tribes. Honorary members include the chairs of the 350th and 375th Anniversary Committees!

The Mayflower II in Plymouth Harbor

A Quadricentennial is rare in the United States! Let’s celebrate!

For more information: the official website of the 2020 Committee An article from the Boston Globe, 23 September 2010, about the plans for the 400th anniversary Town of Plymouth website, page for the 400th Celebration Commission The Executive Order to establish the Plymouth, MA 400th Anniversary Commission, by Governor Patrick, Massachusetts on 10 June 2008

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Amanuensis Monday - A mystery from Rev. Bentley's diary

Reverend William Bentley of Salem, Massachusetts
portrait by Frothingham at the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem

Last Monday I wrote about Reverend William Bentley of Salem, Massachusetts and his eleven volume diary.  I wrote about how he mentioned my 5x great grandparents, Mary Gardner and Abijah Hitchings, several times in his diary.  Abijah was also married to Mary's sister, Sarah.  In Rev. Bentley's diary I also found several mentions of Benjamin Gardner, my 6x great grandfather and father to Mary and Sarah.

Benjamin Gardner is a mystery to me.  There are many Gardners in Salem, and too many Benjamin Gardners.  I have not been able to ascertain his parents or lineage, but the following lines in the Bentley diary gave me hope: "June 7 1797, Died this morning suddenly, Mr. Benjamin Gardner, Ropemaker. He had within a week moved in with his daughter Hitchins, feeling infimities which took him in his labours. He was born in Boston. At the commencement of the war he removed to Marblehead where he married his second wife and thence removed to Salem. This second wife died 6 apr 1787 and since this time he has lived with the widow Hawkes. He lived upon terms of intimate friendship with Mr. Josiah Gaines who died 18 May 1796. He was industrious to the close of his life and had never known sickness. He was in his 77th year. He was a most worthy, consistant and industrious man. I loved him and visted him often. He was married in 1751. His wife died in Salem in 1781. He married again on Nov., 1782 in Salem." 

This was thrilling to me!  Obviously my ancestor was a great friend and companion of the Reverend Bentley.  I hoped to find out more genealogical information by searching the entire diary and every volume.  Unfortunately, although there were many references to Benjamin Gardner, there was not much genealogy in the diary.  However, I learned many details about my ancestor's life, including a migration trail from Boston to Marblehead to Salem.  I've been exploring the clues of ropemaker in Boston for several years- no news yet!

page 58
"April 6, 1787, Mrs. Gardner seemed in a decay, tho without any expectoration, was delirious for about six months, had dropsical complaints, upon the whole however died in a decay, which might be called consumption."

from Vol. 1, page 59
"15 April 1787. Benj. Gardner and children, d. of a wife"   [his second wife Mary Briers died on 6 April 1787 in Salem "former husbands were Ferguson and Bassett", ( Salem, MA VR)]

from the "Record of the Parish List of Deaths 1785-1819" by Rev. Bentley
page 5
"#49. Apr. 6.  Mary, wife of Benj. Gardner, aet. 56. Consumption. She was named Briers; her parents are living in Marblehed; former husbands were Ferguson and Basset (living two daughters by the first)."  [I have since found out more on Mary Briers, including her parents, lineage and chidren, thank you Rev. Bentley!]

from Vol 1, page 176
"27 sep 1789- Benja. Gardiner and children, death of a brother at Boston."  [I have since found a Thomas Gardner died in Boston 22 September 1789 (Boston Deaths 1700-1799)]

also by Rev. Bentley and Ira Patch "Record of the Parish List of Deaths. 1785-1819"
"June 7 1797, Benjamin Gardner, Dropsey aet 77., 1st marriage forty years, 2nd marriage 5 years, a son and daughter Hitchins survive by first wife, He was of Boston, married 1751, Lived and married in Marblehead 2nd time, there two years. Thence to Salem, here twenty years, See Day Book. "

The Diary of William Bentley, D. D. By William Bentley, Joseph Gilbert Waters, Marguerite Dalrymple, Alice G. Waters, Essex Institute, Salem, MA.

Dr. Bentley's Salem: Diary of a Town, by the Essex Institute, Salem, MA 1977.

Record of the Parish List of Deaths 1785-1819, by Rev. William Bentley and Ira Patch, Essex Institute, Salem, MA 1882.

My previous blog post about Rev. Bentley's diary and my GARDNER ancestors:

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Friday, September 24, 2010

Chasing Lobsters- Mythical and Real

Recently I was on a boat tour of the Essex River, Massachusetts when the tour guide told the tourists a nice story about how the prisoners kept in a certain island jail were fed so many lobsters they became ill, necessitating a law restricting their number of lobster meals to twice a week. I was shocked. My husband had to give me one of his looks, or I would have spoken up and spoiled the nice boat ride. Again, here is another myth being perpetuated by a tour guide (See my blog posts here and here). I’ve never seen real evidence of any such law in New England.

And today I read this myth again in the “10 Best Lobster Shacks in Maine” from the prestigious Travel and Leisure magazine. Check it out yourself. This is another famous legend of masters being forced by contract to limit the number of lobsters fed to servants or to prisoners in jails. The same tour guides and travel writers brag that lobster was so common you could gather them in a basket at the high tide line along the beaches of New England. Lobsters were food for paupers.

This myth is so popular in New England, that I’ve often heard it quoted on tours. Yet, earlier this year, J. L Bell in his popular blog “Boston 1775” stated, “Of course, if anyone does find an apprenticeship contract, or a law in Maine, or a petition in the Massachusetts archives that limits the number of lobster meals, I’d be happy to quote it here on Boston 1775.” I noticed in the comments section of this blog, no one has yet found proof.

Go ahead. Try it yourself. Google “ Laws against serving lobster to servants” or “prisoners” or “whatever” . I got 87,200 results for the first search. While in Alaska I heard the same myth from a tour guide but the vile lobster had been replaced with the ubiquitous local salmon. Hmmmm! This Google search gave me 289,000 results, including this real whopper from Burt Wolf, the CNN travel writer, who repeated the salmon myth in a story about Basel, Switzerland.

The icing on the cake came just the other day I read in George Wingate Chase's History of Haverhill, Massachusetts, published in 1861 where he declared: “It is well authenticated, that at one time it was nowise uncommon to stipulate in the indentures of apprentices, that they should not be obliged to eat salmon oftener than six times a week!” I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt for writing this in 1861, but it goes to show you how long this story has been repeated.

Finally, I did find a gold nugget story amongst all this dross . This website page is labeled “The Debunk House” and is right up my alley. The author clearly gives some reasons why these myths may have evolved.

Obviously I have too much time on my hands since I am choosing to chase this story across the internet tonight instead of writing a serious genealogy story! And this is the second time in two days I have written about food!


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Chasing Lobsters- Mythical and Real", Nutfield Genealogy, posted September 24, 2010, ( accessed [access date]).

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sheep - In the Freezer, not in the Pasture

Sheep in Ted's pasture,
next to one of New Hamsphire's ubiquitous stone walls

Every fall, Ted, one of Hubby’s co-workers saves a lamb for us. Or half a lamb. For the freezer. This has been a tradition since we moved to New Hampshire. At first it was a co-worker on the seacoast, and then another co-worker who also gave us half a pig for the freezer, and now Ted who has a gentleman’s farm in the Monadnock region. No, Hubby doesn’t work at a seed and feed store. He works at a major high tech company. It’s just a way of life that goes back in New Hampshire history! It's been a long time since there were full time farmers in the Granite State.

In the 19th century residents were leaving New Hampshire in droves to seek their fortunes in places where crops grew better than our annual harvest of boulders and frost heaves. Londonderry’s own famous son, Horace Greeley, came up with the quotable “Go West, Young Man!” and the rest was history. Life was warmer, easier and cheaper elsewhere. New Hampshire had never been a good place for farming.

Earlier, in colonial history, people lived in New Hampshire and tried to eke out an existence plowing up the stumps from the trees felled in the Great Northern Woods. The granite strewn ground could barely feed their own families. Horrid weather, steep terrain, swamps, boulders and flooding rivers made farming a torture. Unlike pastoral Vermont next door, our state is too rocky for most types of farming. But for a short time in the early 19th century sheep made New Hampshire farmers wealthy. This period of time is known as “Merino Mania” in the history books.
One of Ted's prize winners
Farmers invested in sheep in large numbers. They saw their neighbors becoming rich men keeping sheep, and thus put all their money into developing huge herds. It was perfect for our climate, terrain and landscape. Farmers became wealthy- but only for a short time. The market dropped out of wool when America switched to wearing cheaper cotton, and the whole market crash in wool left New Hampshire farmers destitute. They left the state in swarms, or stayed and faced untold hardships of poverty. The consequences practically ended agriculture in our state forever. Left over farmers had to become mill workers or they stayed home on the farm and starved. In the 19th century New Hampshire thrived as a state full of mill yards and mill towns. But small herds of sheep still reign as a small cash crop for many residents, most of whom do not farm fulltime.
So if your ancestors left New Hampshire during this time period, now you know why they might have fled.

And so, we contribute a bit to this part of the local economy. We buy our lamb or half a lamb for the freezer from our friend. We enjoy lamb burgers, lamb meatloaf, shepherd’s pie, roast leg of lamb, and lamb chops year round with nary a trip to the butcher except for chicken and the occasional steak.

Yummmm! Our lamb arrives next week!
Ted's farm in September 2003
The farmhouse is over 200 years old

For another story about the decline in population and farming in New Hampshire in the mid 19th century, please see my blog post

Also, gives a good background on the history of sheep farming in New Hampshire.
Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Not So Wordless Wednesday- Found under a Washing Machine in Spain

While we were visiting my in-laws in Madrid, they gave us a list of things to do around the house. "Can you reach this lightbulb?" "Can you help flip the mattress?" etc. Just like my Mom does when we visit, but she's only an hour away. Then the washing machine broke, and when it was pulled away from the wall my mother-in-law found a small plastic envelope full of family photos. It's a good thing it was a plastic envelope! This was a small treasure trove of pictures, going way back in time. She gave the envelope to me, and I took it home to scan the photographs. Each was tiny- the size of passport photos, school pictures or wallet sized snaps. Here are a sampling of some of the photographs....

Manuel Martin (abt 1880 - 1971) My husband's great-grandfather
Probably photographed in the village of Villar de Ciervo, Salamanca, Spain

Josefa Rivero (1884-1937) Manuel's wife

Orofila Gonzalez - Josefa's Mother
(I have no dates for her, even though I have her parents and grandparent's names,
she was born in Villar de Ciervo)

Jose Garcia (1908-1994) Sargent in the Guardia Civil
my husband's grandfather, born in Bouza, Salamanca, Spain

Maria Josefa Garcia (my mother-in-law) in a school uniform
She was born in Orbaiceta, Navarra, Spain during the Spanish Civil War

Maria Josefa Garcia - as a young woman in Madrid
Maria Josefa Garcia- in her Iberia Airlines uniform in New York City
where she moved to after marriage in Madrid
(probably a photo from an ID badge)

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday- The Patterson Family

The Patterson Family Monument
Glenwood Cemetery, Londonderry, New Hampshire
located right by the stone wall along Mammoth Road

Governor George Washington Patterson (1799- 1879)of New York State
erected this monument to his family in 1870
He paid $700 for the large stone of New Hampshire Granite,
and had it inscribed with the names of all the Pattersons
descended of Peter Patterson (1716-1800) the original Nutfield immigrant

Governor Patterson was the son of Thomas and Elizabeth (Wallace) Patterson.
He graduated from Pinkerton Academy and went to the Genesee Valley, New York
with his brother George. Later, brothers Robert and Peter joined them in New York.
The last brother, Thomas Patterson stayed in Londonderry.

Thomas Patterson lived on the Patterson Homestead on Adams Road.
It is now a cellar hole on Mack's Orchard land.
The Patterson Monument was photographed for RAOGK
and for a genealogy request through the Londonderry Historical Society.

Names incribed on the Patterson Monument:
Stone #31
Patterson, David 2/11/1793 - 2/12/1793
Elizabeth (Baker) 6/10/1791 - 6/6/1875
Elizabeth (Burns) 1765-1848
Elizabeth Wallace 10/14/1755 - 12/30/1875
Grisey (Barret) 3/26/1776 - 11/13/1850
Grisey (Burns) 1761 - 1845
Hannah 4/26/1798 - 11/12/1869
James 11/21/1777 - 6/4/1815
Jane (Frank) 10/30/1795 - 2/19/1867
John 1750-1793
Margaret (Holmes) 1755 - 1838
Mary (McNeill) 4/11/1783 - 2/22/1812
Peter 11/14/1779 - 2/18/1865
Peter 1716-1800
Rachel (McNeill) 1752- 1838
Robert 1744-1828
Thomas 10/23/1746 - 5/20/1834
Thomas 8/11/1786 - 10/27/1838
William 6/4/1789 - 10/27/1869

Also listed are several Wallaces and Wilsons and 1 Washington on Stone #31
Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Monday, September 20, 2010

Amanuensis Monday - Excerpts from Rev. William Bentley's Diary

Reverend William Bentley of Salem, Massachusetts
portrait by Frothingham at the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem

A few weeks ago I wrote about the Diary of Adolph Gaetz of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia here, and wrote about how I found many clues to my ancestors' Lunenburg lives in this book. Another diary, available in book form in many libraries, is the diary of Reverend William Bentley of Salem, Massachusetts.

Rev. Bentley (1759 -1819) was minister of Salem's Second Congregational Church from 1783 until the end of his life. He kept eleven volumes of diaries and journals, which were condensed and published in a three volume set. There is also a separate index available for his diary, with many surnames listed.

In this book I was able to find many Salem ancestors, some were described as the Reverend's close friends. Here are a few excerpts that helped me further my genealogical research. They were good clues, and some of them have led to primary source citations in vital records, and others remain elusive to me (so far!).

The Diary of William Bentley, D. D. By William Bentley, Joseph Gilbert Waters, Marguerite Dalrymple, Alice G. Waters, Essex Institute

From Volume I,
page 20 April 4, 1785 "Visited with Abijah Hitchins, wife, children"

page 83 "Novr. 23, Abijah Hitchins and wife, death of the youngest child. One of the family sick" (this child is not in the vital records.)

page 365 "Jan 30, 1792, Abijah Hitchins raising a pent house and out house back of his dwelling house, Beckett Street." (I wish I knew the number for that house! We've gone up and down Beckett Street, looking at each house!)

page 399 "Oct. 7, 1792. Abijah Hitchings and wife for her delivery" (this is the second wife, Sarah Gardner, who gave birth to Cynthia Hitchings on 7 October 1792 (Salem VRs) )

From Volume II
page 464 "Oct. 1795 - Mr. Hitchens is adding and repairing Renew's eastern end of a house in Derby Street, between Turner and Cromwell Sts, South side of the street." (Apparently he was a housewright. This is strange to me since Abijah Hitchings is listed as a hatter in other records. )

page 265 "15 April 1798 Sunday- Abijah Hitchens & wife, d. of his mother Hitchens, age 82, of Lynn. She was an Ingalls." (His mother was Hannah Ingalls, daughter of Nathaniel Ingalls and Anne Collins of Lynn, Massachusetts. Her death was also in the Vital Records).

Note: Rev. Bentley, and the vital records, have used many spellings for this family surname: Hitchens, Hichens, Hitchins, Hitchings, etc. Abijah Hitchings is my 5x great grandfather (1753-1826). He married first Sarah Gardner, and second Mary Gardner, two sisters, daughters of Benjamin Gardner and Sarah Randall of Salem and Boston.

For more information: about Rev. William Bentley

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Friday, September 17, 2010

Ellis Island Oral Histories- How I learned Something New!

R.M.S. Orduna

A few weeks ago I received an email from advertising their new database of Ellis Island Oral Histories. Ancestry has some great passenger lists into New York Harbor, ship images and other immigration records. Personally, I had already found all my Ellis Island records for my own family records at the website . I examined the new Ancestry database, didn’t find my Roberts family who arrived in 1915 nor any of their cousins who preceded them to America from Leeds, England, and so I carelessly dismissed the new information as “NOT FOR ME”.

What a big mistake! Just a few days ago I read Leah Allen’s post “Ellis Island Histories” at her blog, “The Internet Genealogist” at Leah had the brilliant idea of looking up the ship Madonna on which her ancestors had arrived from Italy. She described listening to a recording from a gentleman (unrelated) who had arrived on the Madonna just two months earlier than her own ancestor. She gained a lot of information from that recorded interview, and listed all the positive things to help her understand her own great-grandparent’s arrival at Ellis Island.

I made a comment on her blog about how I also found a recording from a woman named Florence E. Norris, of Manchester, England, who arrived on the Orduna in July 1915 one month earlier than my own grandmother, Bertha Roberts, who arrived on the Orduna on 15 August 1915 from Leeds, England. Florence was only 21 years old, and Bertha was 19 that year. There were many similarities between their stories, but it was only upon re-listening to the recorded story that a huge piece of history jumped out at me.

I was very lucky to have the journal of Bertha’s father, John Peter Bowden Roberts, which he wrote during his passage to America on the Cunard steamship Orduna. I wrote a blog post about his journal here I also had my own recording of Bertha telling her life story in the 1970’s, which I transcribed and posted here These two valuable heirlooms have given me so much information about their immigration that I was complacent, thinking I knew everything there was to learn about their Ellis Island experience. Boy, was I wrong!

In re-listening very carefully to Florence’s recording, I heard her describe how the Orduna had been shadowed by a German U-boat as it passed through the Irish Sea. The passengers on board did not know about this incident until they read about it in the New York newspapers after leaving Ellis Island. The Captain had saved their lives by running the American flag up the flagpole, so the Germans thought it wasn’t a British ship. Florence’s husband had arrived earlier in America that year- taking passage on the Cunard ship Lusitania! It was the last successful trip the Lusitania would ever take to America, since it was sunk on the very next passage.

Newspapers! What a story! I immediately found a dozen stories in the on-line New York Times archives confirming my grandmother’s story and Florence’s story. When my grandmother’s family boarded the Orduna at Liverpool a month later, the crowds of people on the wharves were begging them not to board. No wonder it was a scary moment Grammy mentioned in her own recording, and no wonder Florence mentioned that she vowed never to return to England after her experience! During Grammy’s voyage everyone slept on the top deck with their life jackets on until they had left the Irish Sea. This was only three years after the Titanic incident. Can you imagine the fear?

The Roberts Family in Leeds, England
Bertha is the baby here.
She was 19 years old the year they sailed on the Orduna to America.

You will want to listen to the recordings at this valuable Ancestry resource. If you don’t’ find a family member’s recording, you just might find someone who came from your ancestor’s village, region, or who traveled at the same time as your ancestor, or like Leah and I, someone who had arrived on the same ship. Listen carefully to the stories… you might learn something new, too!

For more information:

Wikipedia’s description of the R.M.S Orduna, including the 1915 incident with the German U-boat A New York Times article about the SS Orduna’s first voyage to New York from Liverpool in 1914 Another New York Times article describing the German U-boat attack on the Orduna, dated 19 July 1915 Another New York Times article, dated 21 July 1915, with a passenger’s description of the U-Boat incident


To Cite/Link to this post:  Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Ellis Island Oral Histories-  How I learned Something New!", Nutfield Genealogy, posted September 17, 2010, ( accessed [access date]).

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mayflower Day- September 16th, 1620

The Mayflower II in Plymouth, Massachusetts
On this day in 1620 the Mayflower and her sister ship, the Speedwell, left Plymouth, England carrying passengers to Virginia. Little did the people on board know that they would have to turn back when the Speedwell began to leak, and that their final destination would be Cape Cod, not Virginia! The Mayflower landed in what is now Provincetown Harbor on 9 November, 1620. It was a 66 day voyage that changed history. Two days later, on 11 November 1620, forty one of the one hundred two passengers signed the "Mayflower Compact" and established the first governing document of the Plymouth Colony.

To Cite/Link to this blog post: Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Mayflower Day - September 16th, 1620", Nutfield Genealogy, posted September 16, 2010, ( accessed [access date]). 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wordless Wednesday- Last week in Spain

The Alcazar in Segovia, Spain
The castle of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand

Inside the Alcazar is the "Room of the Monarchs"
which is a giant genealogy or line of succession for the Spanish Royalty.
Alfonso IV - my 29th great grandfather (on the left)

Queen Berenguela (wife of Alfonso V) my 28th great grandmother (on the left)
Ferdinand II - my 27th great grandfather, Berenguela's son (on the right)
Ferdinand's daughter was Eleanor of Castile, who married Edward Longshanks
(He was the evil king in the "Braveheart" movie, and another one of my ancestors)
All are ancestors of my Connecticut Ingraham line, and my Massachusetts Wymans

The Room of the Monarchs inside the Alcazar
they are carved into the ceiling freize
(that's me walking around whilst Hubby craned his neck to take photos)

The Alcazar's wall, looking down from the keep

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Not So Wordless Wednesday- Patton Park, Hamilton, Massachusetts

Patton Park, Hamilton, Massachusetts

About eight years ago my daughter had a high school assignment to interview older relatives about their memories of Pearl Harbor and World War II. This was not long after September 11th, 2001- so she could relate to my uncle telling about how he was in high school, listening to a football game on the radio, when he heard the news about Pearl Harbor. He must have been about her age at that time. We went down to Massachusetts so she could record the interviews with my aunt, uncle and Mom for the assignment.

That same day I drove her to Hamilton, Massachusetts. My mother grew up there, and I remember visiting my grandparents in Hamilton. In the center of town is Patton Park. General George Smith Patton lived in Hamilton, and Mom used to babysit his grandchildren. He had donated one of his famous Sherman tanks to the town as a war memorial. When I was little we used to be able to climb inside, but it's since been welded shut. As you can see, kids still enjoy climbing on it.

Note: I still have the audio tapes of her interviews. This is good because my uncle has since passed away. My aunt, uncle and Mom spoke for over an hour about the Great Depression, Pearl Harbor and the home front during World War II. By the end of the war, my uncle was serving as a Paratrooper in Europe.

Click here to see a blog post with a transcript of the tape mentioned above.

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Family History Day! Concord, New Hampshire, 23 October 2010

This year's Family History Day in Concord is "Your Great Ancestral Connection". It will be located at the LDS Church, 90 Clinton Street, right around the corner from the New Hampshire State Archives, on 23 October 2010, from 9 AM to 2 PM, with registration starting at 8 AM. There are over sixteen classes listed on the website already. Please see the website for class descriptions, presenters, class schedule and a link to a running blog on this event. Registration and refreshments are FREE!

Tombstone Tuesday- More Wilkinsons buried in Rochester, New Hampshire

Old Rochester Cemetery, South Main Street, Rochester, New Hampshire
Photographed by Michael Nason
William H. Wilkinson, b. abt. 10 Jun 1797 in South Berwick, Maine
son of William Wilkinson and Mercy Nason
d. 17 May 1882 in Rochester
m. first on 8 Feb 1820 in Berwick, Maine to
Joanna Varney, b. 1795
daughter of David Varney and Martha Goodwin
d. 16 Jul 1837 in Rochester

m. second on 8 Apr 1838 in Somersworth, New Hampshire to
Mary Lord b. abt. 1 Apr. 1809 in Berwick, Maine
daughter of Jeremiah Lord and Mary Frost
d. 1 Jun 1886 in Rochester

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Monday, September 13, 2010

Princess Ka'iulani Movie on DVD- In stores tomorrow!

The independent film "Princess Ka'iulani" I reviewed last May on this blog post ( ) is finally being released on DVD tomorrow, September 14th, 2010 in stores. You can read about it more at this link at Amazon and at the director's website

A background to the story of Ka'iulani, who was Queen Lili'uokalani's niece and her heir to the throne, can be found at my post from October 2009 at and also at the website "The Princess Kaiulani Project" by Jennifer Fahrni. The Kaiulani Project members also have a blog at with news updates on events, research and historical facts pertaining to the life and legacy of Princess Kaiulani of the Kingdom of Hawaii.

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

New Hampshire's Highland Games- September 17-19, Loon Mountain

Yours Truly, with my distant clan cousins!

This coming weekend is the Highland Games, set at beautiful Loon Mountain in Lincoln, New Hampshire. The official website describes the New Hampshire Gathering of the Scottish Clans as an annual event to perpetuate "dance, music, athletics and customs of the Scottish people and to the continuance of the Gaelic culture." I've attended the Games in the past, and greatly enjoyed the heavy athletics competitions (tossing of the caber, etc), genealogy workshops and the sheepdog competitions very much. I even heard Diane Rapaport give a great lecture on the Scots prisoners of war who came to America from Scotland in 1650, where she mentioned my ancestor, William Munroe of Lexington, Massachusetts.

Don't miss this delightful event! You might even want to sign up for the photo contest, scotch whiskey tasting, or the Grand Tartan Dinner and Dance.

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo