Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wedding Wednesday- Another Royal Wedding

No, I'm not reporting in on Prince William and his Kate, but another Royal Wedding at another time in history. During my research trip in Hawaii, I found this wedding certificate of Princess Lili'uokalani and John Owen Dominis at the Bishop Museum Library, in Honolulu. I was going to blog about the wedding, but I changed my mind and decided to blog about the process behind getting the permission to show you this wedding certificate.

What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. - Mat. xix: 6
This certifies that John O. Dominis, Esq.
of Honolulu was married to Miss
Lydia K. Paki of Honolulu
in accordance with the Laws of the Hawaiian Kingdom.
                                 Samuel C. Damon
                                                    Pastor of Bethel Union Church
Honolulu, Sept. 16, 1862.

This document is from the Bishop Museum Archives, Ms MC Liliuokalani Box 3.34, Marriage Certificate of John Dominis and Liliuokalani, 16 September 1862. Click on the image to enlarge.

When I was a child, being related to Queen Lili'uokalani was a family myth. My very first blog post last year was the story of how I proved the myth of "Auntie Lydia" to be the last Queen of the Kingdom of Hawaii. This past summer I took a research trip to Hawaii, which was fun not only because of the wonderful archives and museums, but for the chance to meet many new cousins. I've posted some of the letters I found in the Hawaii State Archives earlier this fall. The Bishop Museum was different from the Archives, since it is a private institution with strict rules governing the distribution of images from its archive.

This document is very interesting in several ways. First, it lists the bride as Lydia K. Paki (Lydia Kamakaʻeha Pākī was the name she was known as, Lydia Kamakaʻeha Kaola Maliʻi Liliʻuokalani was the name she was born with, and Lili'uokalani was her royal name) . The groom, John O. Dominis, is my first cousin, 4 generations removed. His mother, Mary Lambert (Jones) Dominis was sister to my 4x great grandmother Catherine Plummer (Jones) Younger. The minister of the ceremony was Samuel Chenery Damon, who was born in Holden, Massachusetts on 15 February 1815. He was a missionary from the First Congregational Church in Holden, where I grew up, was confirmed and married in the same Congregational church. Another coincidence, the Damon and the Dominis family plots are side by side in the O'ahu cemetery in Honolulu. This is why I made a copy of the certificate when I was in Hawaii. So much fun family information on one small piece of paper!

For the first time on my blog, or ever in my research, I had to write for formal permission to use an image. Usually attributing a source for an image is fine, or just obtaining permission via an email or a letter is enough, but in this case it proved to be a lengthy process. I started by sending an email to the Bishop Museum library, which was answered right away by Leah Caldeira of the archives. In her return email she stated "Usually we would charge a usage fee for anything going on the web. However, since this is family genealogical site - we will grant permissions without requiring payment provided that you put up a low resolution image (72 dpi) and cite Bishop Museum MS MC Liliuokalani Box 3.34 as your source. In addition, we would like you to complete the attached order form. We'll use this form as a record of your request and the first part of a contractual agreement for image use. We will provide you with a signed permissions statement granting you use of the image on your website as soon as we receive your form..."

I immediately began to fill out the proper form, and of course I had questions, so the email went back and forth a few times between New Hampshire and Hawaii. I mailed the form to the Bishop Museum in the first week of December. I received an email stating that the form was incomplete (my own fault) and so we went back and forth, and I had to mail a check for $10. Several weeks later, the day before Christmas Eve, I received the final email with permission to go ahead with the request, and the image was attached.

Of course, this lengthy process not only protected their rights to the image, but it allowed them to produce the image itself, scanned at the proper resolution and also protected the quality of the image associated with the Bishop Museum. Throughout the whole process, I understood that they were being very generous in allowing me to use the image without payment. The $10 transaction was only the fee for the scan. Usage fees are usually applied, which can cost much more, and involve hiring legal counsel. According to the form I filled out "Manipulation of the image is subject to restrictions. Advance written permission is required to crop or use a detail from an image" as well as strict instructions on how to cite the source of the image.

Hopefully, you might consider this whole process very carefully when asking permission to use images. Private institutions might also require you to sign releases and pay usage fees for your own genealogical purposes, too. When I saw the process and fee, I was tempted to forfeit the whole idea of posting the image on my blog, but then I saw the value in learning about the process. I never know when I might need to go through this again!


To Cite/Link to this post:  Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Wedding Wednesday-  Another Royal Wedding", Nutfield Genealogy, posted 29 December 2010
( : acced [access date]).

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Top Ten Stories for 2010

The coming of the New Year is always time for a few "Top Ten" lists. Here are my ten most popular stories posted this year, as calculated by the statistics page on my blog. Thank you to everyone who read my blog this year!

10. Treasure Chest Thursday- The Imprisonment Quilt, judging by the search terms I've seen lately on the statistic page of my blog, this story attracts both quilters and people researching Queen Lili'uokalani on line. There were also quite a few people searching under "Iolani Palace" and most interesting were the number of search hits for "Iolani Palace Frosted Windows". If you are curious about "why the frosted windows in Iolani Palace?", you must read this story!

9. The Value of Posting Brick Walls on Genealogy Bulletin Boards, need I say more? Isn't everyone searching for ways to break through those genealogical brick walls?

8. Baseball and Genealogy Research, was a fun story and it generated a record number of email. There is at least one baseball player in almost everyone's family tree. There were also many comments with ideas and links for good places to research old baseball records and players, so be sure to read the comments from readers if you read the story.

7. Blog Caroling - James Pierpont and Jingle Bells, this was a last minute entry for the year, and perhaps it was popular because of the Christmas theme. In looking at the search terms, "Civil War" and "abolitionist" came up quite a bit. If you are curious why, you must read about James Pierpont!

6. Internet Searches vs. A Real Library, was a surprise hit with readers and with search terms through Google, Bing and other search engines.

5. Family History Day, Concord, NH, 23 October 2010- another surprise hit, but perhaps folks were searching for directions? more information? registration links? And all I did was post some information about this upcoming event.

4. Ellis Island Oral Histories- How I Learned Something New- one of my favorite posts, and I guess a lot of readers liked it, too!

3. Beauport Mansion, this was a post I did on a historic home in Gloucester, Massachusetts, which has generated lots of hits on Google and Bing for Henry Davis Sleeper, the builder, and for his parents Jacob Henry Sleeper and Maria Wescott. There must be a lot of folks researching the SLEEPER genealogy.

2. Thanksgiving Proclamation 2010, Wow, I'm so glad to see so many people are interested in the story behind Thanksgiving, as well as interest in the Mayflower Society and New Hampshire governor John Lynch! Remember, you can't have your Thanksgiving dinner until someone signs this proclamation every year, LOL!

1. Canobie Lake, was a story I did about a local amusement park which is now well over 100 years old. I'm surprised by the number of hits on this by search engines, and I chalked it up to folks searching for directions and information during the summer. However, the hits keep on coming, even though the park closes after Halloween. I've surprised that this was the #1 story, but then again, there were a lot of surprises on this list.

Three posts tied for the most comments of all time: Treasure Chest Thursday-Publishing a Book for my Blog (a story about using Blurb book software to "slurp" your blog posts directly into book form- and I've recieved loads and loads of email from other bloggers since this was posted about their adventures into self publishing their blogs, genealogies and photo books), and Diabetes and Genealogy (another surprise, I guess diabetes runs in lots and lots of family trees), and also Vote for your Favorite Genealogy Blog, which was about the nominations for the Family Tree Magazine Top 40 Genealogical Blogs. Comments are some of my favorite things, so keep it up readers!

The most popular of all things on my blog, passing all posts and even the Canobie Lake story by double, is my page of "Surnames to 9 Generations". I'm thinking of expanding this to perhaps 12 generations, but since genealogy is exponential, this would be quite a large page! It makes me happy to think of all the hits on this page, and maybe they were made by some distant cousins!

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Monday, December 27, 2010

Happy New Year! - Double Dating Explained

[This post was originally written for my blog last year]

No, not the double dating you did in high school when you didn’t have a partner for the school dance, this is the double dating that shows up in history books and genealogies. If you use a good genealogy data base like Family Tree Maker, your software may actually change or challenge any dates you put in pre- 1752 between January and March 24. Or you may have tried to figure out how to calculate a date during this time period, only to notice that you were off by three months somehow when you finally find the correct vital records. What is going on here?

The date 10/21 February 1750/51 is an example of double dating. It appears to have too many numbers, or it appears to be a guess to some readers, such as an approximate date. However, this is a real date on the calendar, along with an interesting story…

In 1752 there was a calendar change between the Julian and Gregorian calendar systems. The Julian Calendar had been invented during Roman times, and on the advice of his astronomer Julius Caesar started this new system in 45 B. C. It is officially known as the Old Style calendar. Under this calendar, New Year’s Day was on March 25th, and the last day of the year was March. This was considered the first month of the year.

Sometime in the medieval period, the astronomers noticed that the calendar year was not accurately measuring the solar year. In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII, reformed the calendar, which is called the New Style Calendar (Gregorian). It was first adopted in catholic countries and later by the Protestant countries. In order to make the adjustment, ten days were removed, so that 4 October 1582 was followed by 15 October 1582. England and the colonies adopted the new calendar in 1752, and removed eleven days from the calendar again, so on 2 September 1752 was followed by 14 September 1752.

Double dating was used in Colonial America for the dates between 1 January and 24 March on the years between 1582 and 1752. You will see this in old records, especially in civil records. Some church records used the old system, especially the Quakers, who used “First Month” for March, etc. In Quaker records “3rd Month” is used for May. For example the Quaker record 3/12/1719 will become 12 May 1719. This was to avoid using the Roman names January (the god Janus) or August (Augustus) which were pagan names.

If a date is given in double dating, it is correct to leave it as such, and not to try to calculate the date. Check to see which style was used in the original primary source. The date should be written 20 January 1745 OS (if it was Old Style) or as 20 January 1745/6.

"Most people find dates repulsive enough without encountering them disguised as fractions" by Historian Garrett Mattingly, from his book “The Defeat of the Spanish Armada” in which he opted just to use Gregorian dates (Wikipedia)

For more information:  An article from Ancestry’s Magazine Nov/Dec 2000, Volume 18, No. 6

Marking Time: The Epic Quest to Invent the Perfect Calendar, by Duncan Steel, J. Wiley Publisher, 2000

"Double Dating" from Vita Brevis, the NEHGS blog

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Trees

The Robert Frost Farm
Derry, New Hampshire
Merry Christmas to my readers,
from New Hampshire!

Christmas Trees
a poem by Robert Frost (1874 -1963)

(A Christmas Circular Letter)

The city had withdrawn into itself
And left at last the country to the country;
When between whirls of snow not come to lie
And whirls of foliage not yet laid, there drove
A stranger to our yard, who looked the city,
Yet did in country fashion in that there
He sat and waited till he drew us out
A-buttoning coats to ask him who he was.
He proved to be the city come again
To look for something it had left behind
And could not do without and keep its Christmas.
He asked if I would sell my Christmas trees;
My woods—the young fir balsams like a place
Where houses all are churches and have spires.
I hadn’t thought of them as Christmas Trees.
I doubt if I was tempted for a moment
To sell them off their feet to go in cars
And leave the slope behind the house all bare,
Where the sun shines now no warmer than the moon.
I’d hate to have them know it if I was.
Yet more I’d hate to hold my trees except
As others hold theirs or refuse for them,
Beyond the time of profitable growth,
The trial by market everything must come to.
I dallied so much with the thought of selling.
Then whether from mistaken courtesy
And fear of seeming short of speech, or whether
From hope of hearing good of what was mine, I said,
“There aren’t enough to be worth while.”
“I could soon tell how many they would cut,
You let me look them over.”

“You could look.
But don’t expect I’m going to let you have them.”
Pasture they spring in, some in clumps too close
That lop each other of boughs, but not a few
Quite solitary and having equal boughs
All round and round. The latter he nodded “Yes” to,
Or paused to say beneath some lovelier one,
With a buyer’s moderation, “That would do.”
I thought so too, but wasn’t there to say so.
We climbed the pasture on the south, crossed over,
And came down on the north. He said, “A thousand.”

“A thousand Christmas trees!—at what apiece?”

He felt some need of softening that to me:
“A thousand trees would come to thirty dollars.”

Then I was certain I had never meant
To let him have them. Never show surprise!
But thirty dollars seemed so small beside
The extent of pasture I should strip, three cents
(For that was all they figured out apiece),
Three cents so small beside the dollar friends
I should be writing to within the hour
Would pay in cities for good trees like those,
Regular vestry-trees whole Sunday Schools
Could hang enough on to pick off enough.
A thousand Christmas trees I didn’t know I had!
Worth three cents more to give away than sell,
As may be shown by a simple calculation.
Too bad I couldn’t lay one in a letter.
I can’t help wishing I could send you one,
In wishing you herewith a Merry Christmas.

from the book Mountain Interval, by Robert Frost, 1916

First Church of Nashua

When we first moved to Londonderry, I was surprised to find there was no Congregational church. Nearly every town in Massachusetts has one! Almost every New Hampshire town has one, too, but since Nutfield was founded by the Presbyterians, the churches remained Presbyterian for a long time. The First Church in Derry changed to Congregational in the 1800s, and I tried a few services there. My husband was working in Nashua, and he said several co-workers attended the First Church in Nashua. We tried it out, and since we knew one or two people, it became our on again/off again church.

My husband is Catholic, and there were two Catholic parishes in Londonderry, so it was easier to attend mass then to travel all the way to Nashua. However, we still occasionally attend services in Nashua, and I love the ministers and their sermons. One day I was reading the church flyer and the history of the church surprised me. It was founded by Reverend Thomas Weld of Roxbury. I knew that was the name of one of my ancestors, so after church I hurried to my files to see what information I could find.

The church flyer said that Thomas Weld was ordained the day the First Church of Nashua was gathered, on 16 December 1685. The current building dates from 1894, and is the tenth building to house the First Church congregation. I found this Thomas Weld in my notes, as the 2x great grandson of my ancestor Thomas Weld (1595-1660). Reverend Thomas 5 Weld (Thomas 4, Thomas 3, Edmund 3, Thomas 1) removed from Roxbury (outside of Boston) to Dunstable, Massachusetts in 1683. It was a settlement near the Merrimack River that is now Nashua, New Hampshire. It was considered a real pioneer town on the border of the unknown frontier in those days.

According to the cousin calculator on Family Tree Maker, Reverend Thomas Weld is my second cousin eleven generations removed. I descend from Edmund Weld (1559 – 1608) and his wife Amy Brewster through their son, Joseph Weld (1598 – 1646) and his wife Elizabeth Shatswell. Reverend Thomas Weld of Dunstable descends from Joseph’s brother, Reverend Thomas Weld (1595-1660) . It was a long line of Reverend Thomas Welds. Now you know why I had to go look him up in the notes!

The Weld Lineage.

Generation 1. Thomas Weld, born about 1532 in Sudbury, Suffolk, England and died on 8 April 1597 in Sudbury; married Margaret Unknown who died 13 July 1593 in Sudbury.

Generation 2. Edmond Weld, born about 1559 and died about 1608 in Sudbury, Suffolk, England; married on 12 April 1585 in Sudbury to Amy Brewster.

Generation 3. Reverend Thomas Weld, born about 1595 in England, baptized in Sudbury, Suffolk, England on 13 July 1595, died on 23 March 1660/1 in London, England; married first to Margaret Unknown; married second to Judith Unknown, buried on 4 May 1646 in Gateshead, Durham; married third to Margaret Unknown.

Generation 4. Reverend Thomas Weld, born about 1626 in Terling, Essex, England and died on 17 January in Roxbury, Massachusetts; married on 4 June 1650 in Roxbury to Dorothy Whiting, born about 1628 in England and died 31 July 1694 in Roxbury, daughter of Samuel Whiting.

Generation 5. Reverend Thomas Weld, born 12 June 1653 in Roxbury and died on 9 June 1702 in Dunstable, Massachusetts (now Nashua, New Hampshire); married on 9 November 1681 to Elizabeth Wilson, born in September 1656 in Medfield, Massachusetts and died 19 July 1687, daughter of John Wilson and Sarah Hooker (daughter of famous founder of Hartford, Connecticut, Reverend Thomas Hooker).

For more information:

The American Genealogist Volume 55, page 145 for the Weld Genealogy

The First Church of Nashua website at


Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Schooner Fame, and three Abner Polands

The Schooner Fame in Salem Harbor
The schooner Fame is moored in Salem, Massachusetts at Pickering Wharf. She was built in Essex, Massachusetts by Harold Burnham, and launched in 2003. The Burnhams have been building boats in Essex since the 1640s. The original schooner Fame was an Essex fishing schooner used as a privateer in the War of 1812.

The interesting connection is that Abner Poland III served on board the Fame in the War of 1812. I’m descended of his sister, Sally Poland, and also twice descended from his great grandfather John Poland of Hamilton, Massachusetts. The current schooner Fame has a captain named Michael Rutstein, who contacted me in 2009 for more information about Captain Abner Poland. He found the connections between the Polands and the Burnham family interesting. Captain Rutstein also found it interesting that all three generations of Abner Polands served in the military in the first two wars in American History. Abner Poland was also the owner of the schooner Dart, built in Newburyport in 1792, and captain of the Cossack.

The first captain for the original Fame was William Webb, and his lieutenant was John Becket, Jr. John Becket was grandson of my 7x great grandfather, John Becket, and he was also a shipwright. The older John Becket a great grandson of Bridget (Playfer) Oliver Bishop, who was hung as a witch in Salem on 10 June 1692. She was my 9x great grandmother. John Becket, Jr., captain of the Fame, died at sea in 1816 and left a wife and three orphaned children.

The Fame and the Jefferson were the first two privateers sanctioned by the American government. It was a very lucrative business, and many more Salem ships entered privateering. A privateer was authorized by the government to attack foreign shipping, and allowed to rob cargo and take prisoners of war. These raiders interrupted the British trade routes during the War of 1812, at great risk of being captured as prisoners of war themselves. However, the seized cargo was allowed to be auctioned and the proceeds distributed amongst the crew, making it a desirable occupation during the War of 1812.

The Poland Family Tree:

Generation 1: Thomas Poland, immigrant from England, died 22 February 1666 in Wenham, Massachusetts; married to Hannah Unknown, three sons including:

Generation 2: John Poland, born about 1631 in England, died 3 August 1713 in Hamilton, Massachusetts; married first in 1657 to Bethiah Friend, daughter of John Friend; married second to Margery Unknown about 1680, widow of Anthony Dike. Seven children with Bethiah, including:

Generation 3: James Poland, born about 1665 in Wenham, died in 1722; married first in 12 April 19 in Wenham to Rebecca Kimball, daughter of Richard Kimball and Rebecca Abbye; married second to Elizabeth Unknown. Seven children with Rebecca, including:

Generation 4: John Poland, born about 1693 in Hamilton or Wenham, died 21 April 1777; married on 11 April 1718 in Hamilton to Abigail Davis, daughter of James Davis and Abigail Mettcalfe. Nine children, including:

Generation 5: Abner Poland, born about 1736 in Essex, died 9 Feb 1824 in Essex; married first on 3 April 1761 to Dorothy Burnham, daughter of John Burnham and Rachel Smith. My 7x great grandfather. He served in the American Revolution at the taking of Burgoyne at the Battles of Long Island, White Plains and Harlem Heights. This Abner, his son Abner, and his grandson Abner all served in the American Revolution.

Also, his brother Daniel Poland, born about 1724, died 19 August 1768 in Salem; married on 18 October 1747 in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire to Sarah Bishop, daughter of James Bishop and Sarah Holmes. Also my 6x great grandfather.

Generation 6: Abner Poland, jr. born 17 May 1761, died 14 January 1835 in Enfield, New Hampshire; married on 20 March 1783 in Essex to Sarah Burnham, daughter of Westley Burnham and Deborah Story of Essex. Abner, Jr. served in the American Revolution in the battles at Hubbardston, Stillwater, Monmouth, and Yorktown. He received the Badge of Merit, the highest decoration, from General George Washington. Eight children, Including:

Generation 7: Abner Poland III, born about 1781 in Essex, Massachusetts; married on 28 October 1819 at the Second Baptist Church of Boston to Lucinda Baker, married second to Mercy Kidder born 22 Mar 1792 in Enfield, New Hampshire, daughter of Joseph Kidder and Mercy Fox. One daughter. Abner III was a sailor during the American Revolution, and was captured aboard the Hawk and imprisoned at Forten Prison in England. He was master of the privateers the Dart and the Fame in the War of 1812.

For more information:

The Polands from Essex County, Massachusetts, by Lloyd Orville Poland, Book Crafters, Inc., Chelsea, Michigan, 1981

My blog post on 4 October 2010 about Abner Poland’s Badge of Merit from George Washington The website for the new schooner Fame, with sailing schedules and historical information.

My blog post on 19 November 2010 about Harold Burnham’s Shipbuilding in Essex, Massachusetts

Boatbuilding with Burnham, the blog for Harold Burnham in Essex


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "The Schooner Fame, and three Abner Polands", Nutfield Genealogy, posted December 23, 2010, ( accessed [access date]).

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Portsmouth African Burial Memorial

In 2003 on Chestnut Street in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, between State and Court Streets, city workers uncovered a burial ground with an estimated 200 bodies. These were the bodies of free blacks and African slaves buried between 1705 and the 1790s. Slavery existed in Portsmouth between 1645 and 1800. Five more bodies in wooden coffins were discovered at a dig in 2008.

A marker on the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail
for the site of the "Negro Burying Ground"

I’ve been following this story ever since, and visited the site in person last year. Portsmouth is a city with some carefully preserved ancient burial grounds, but this “Negro Burying Ground” was sadly neglected, paved over and houses were built on top. It is a shameful fact that this burial ground was neglected on purpose.

In the proposed site, the bodies will be re-interred with dignity in an underground vault. Life sized sculptures will represent the adults and children buried there. There will be an information kiosk and other historical markers, as well as symbolic African art. Several previous proposals were rejected by the African Burial Committee. The project is estimated to cost $1.2 million, and on Monday night, 20 December 2010, the Portsmouth city council pledged $100K in grant money towards the project titled “We Stand in Honor of Those Forgotten”.

Currently there is a Black Heritage Trail in Portsmouth, which gives visitors an overview of African history in the seacoast region. It is a self guided walking tour of twenty four locations around downtown Portsmouth. More information can be found at a website sponsored by the Greater Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail, Inc, a nonprofit organization preserving the African American culture of this part of New Hampshire.

For more information: link to the Boston Globe article, 21 December 2010 about the grant money the link to the Portsmouth Community Development Department website, with a video showing a visual of the proposed memorial project and other renderings.

The Greater Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail, Inc, 143 Pleasant St., Portsmouth, NH, email at

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Not so Wordless Wednesday - Fun in the Snow

These photos were all taken sometime before my grandparents married in Hamilton, Massachusetts in 1925. It was possibly photographed in Beverly, Massachusetts, where my grandmother lived before moving to Hamilton. She graduated Beverly High School in 1923, and she looks like a teenager here. The young people are all having fun, and the girls look like they are wearing their brother's or father's trousers for a romp in the snow!

The girls are: my grand mother, Gertrude Hitchings, in the middle
and her sisters Eunice and Millie.
The boys are possibly their brothers Gordon and Hollis?

Millie (1909- 1981), Gertrude (1905 - 2001)
and Eunice Hitchings (1904 - 1985)

My great great Aunt Belle,
Isabelle Hoogerzeil (1888 -1960)
Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Rev. David and Mary MacGregor of Londonderry

This stone is located in Derry, New Hampshire at the Forest Hill Cemetery, in the section known as "First Settlers". These honored gravesites of the Scots Irish founders are marked by an iron fence around their plot. The town was known as Londonderry at the time the Reverend James MacGregor was pastor of the First Church, which is located adjacent to the cemetery. Please note, he was not married to the Mary inscribed across the bottom of his stone!

Memento Mori
Eth mors indies accelerat tamen
Virtus poit Funera vivet
Here lies the dust of him who did provide
Salvation to lost souls in Jesus's Name
His Master call'd to give the great Reward
To those who here ye Flock of Christ regard
The Revd Mr. David Macgregore Son of
The Revd James Macgregore first
Minister in Londonderry
Died March 5 1729
In the 68th Year of his age
To his Memory this Monument
is erected by his Relict and Children
Relict of
Rev. David McGregore
died Sept. 28, 1783

detail - click to enlarge
As his gravestone states, James MacGregor was the first minister of Londonderry, and was considered the leader of the band of Ulster Presbyterians who traveled from Northern Ireland to the New World in 1718. He was probably born in Scotland about 1677 and ordained on 25 June 1701 in Northern Ireland. It is said by tradition that he was in Londonderry, Ireland at the time of the Seige, and he ws the young man who climbed the city wall and fired a gun to tell the inhabitants that the relief ships approached. When the settlers arrived in New Hampshire in 1719, he lead the first religious services under a nut tree near Beaver Lake, which was why it was first called "Nutfield" until renamed "Londonderry".

His son David became the minister of West Londonderry and his wife was Mary Boyd, who is memorialized here at the bottom of her father-in-law's gravestone. Reverend James MacGregor's wife was Marion Cargill, daughter of David Cargill and Janet Smith, married in Aghadowey on 29 August 1706. Mary Boyd was supposedly orphaned at a young age, and was a foster child of James and Marion.

For more information:

Memoir of the Rev. James MacGregor, D.D. by Rev. George Patterson, Philadelphia, 1859

The History of Londonderry, Comprising the towns of Derry and Londonderry, NH., by Edward Lutwyche Parker, Boston: Perkins and Whipple, 1851

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Monday, December 20, 2010

Amanuensis Monday - Salem's Deputy Custom Collector

This is a letter by my grandmother's grandfather. It was interesting to talk to my grandmother about Abijah Franklin Hitchings. In reading this letter and other published accounts by and about him, he seemed like a stern person. She remembered him only as a kindly grandfather, and called him "Dada Hitchings". He was wounded at the Battle of Fredricksburg, and walked with a cane. She remembered his house was located near the famous Salem Fire that destroyed most of historic Salem in 1914. He had a large home with servants, which was typical of his station in life at this time period. Those are her memories of him.

A photocopy of a letter by my 2x great grandfather
Abijah Franklin Hitchings
My Great Great Grandfather Abijah Franklin Hitchings (1841 - 1910) worked at the Historic Salem Custom House as a deputy customs collector from 1873 until he died. This is the same position Nathaniel Hawthorne held when he worked at the same office in Salem. My ancestor also wrote a book about Salem ships and their captains while he was there, using the records on file in the custom house. I wrote to the National Park Service, which now owns the custom house, to see if they had any record of his employement. This was the only document they could find. There is a copy of Great Grandfather Hitching's book in the rare books at NEHGS, the Phillip's Library in Salem, and at Google books.

Custom House, Salem, Mass
Collector's Office August 1, 1902

Messrs. Luscomb and Taggard,
Officers of the Customs

The Customs Regulations allow all
Officers of the Customs 30 days
leave of absence during the calendar
year, if for any reason any officer
is away from his duty without such
leave he should report it on his
book as absent without leave even
if it is no more than a half an
hour, this letter should be kept
on file and in the future your
actions are to governed by it
and in accordance with the
U.S. Regulations.
Respectfully yours,
A. F. Hitchings

For more information:
Ship registers of the district of Salem and Beverly, Massachusetts, 1789-1900, by A. Frank Hitchings, with annotations by Stephen Willard Phillips (Salem, Mass.: Essex Institute, 1906).

I transcribed three obituaries for Abijah Franklin Hitchings at a blog post on 26 July 2010. Both obituaries describe his military service in the Civil War and his appointment as deputy customs collector for Salem. You can view the obituaries at this link

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Advent Calendar - Christmas Stockings

My sister and I on Christmas morning 1974
with our stockings made by Mom

When I was little, my mom made my sister and I matching red stockings of felt.  She still hangs them up on her mantle at Christmas time, along with her own stocking and my Dad's.  They were made with love, and are real heirlooms.  I'm glad she still hangs them all up, even though Dad passed away many years ago.

When I was married, I made my husband a stocking out of felt and crewel embroidery with his name on it.  He surprised me by making one with my name on it the following year.  Well, not too much of a surprise since I had to show him the stitches, but surprising that he insisted on doing it!  Of course, when my daughter came along, she got one, too. And the cats (but theirs never had any embroidery). 

Many Christmases we weren't home to celebrate, but we went to visit my husband's family in Spain, or to their house in Puerto Rico.  In Spain, we never had a Christmas tree, and we only had a tree once in Puerto Rico.  However, we always brought our Christmas stockings.  I used to roll them up and carry them in my pocketbook so they wouldn't be lost.  They are our heirlooms now!   I can celebrate Christmas without a tree, but a stocking can be brought anywhere and filled with local goodies.   On Christmas morning we can still have our tradtions, no matter where we are in the world.

2003, Our family stockings, including the cats' stockings,
on our mantel in New Hampshire.  
Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Rose Blogger Award

I was very honored this week to be one of two bloggers presented with the "Rose Blogger Award" by Lucie LeBlanc Consentino. The Rose Blogger is "awarded to bloggers who keep the memory of their ancestors alive, and is named in honor of Lucie's mother, Rosanna "Rose" Levesque LeBlanc.

Lucie has two excellent blogs at Lucie's Legacy and at Acadian and French Canadian Ancestral Home. Please check out her research and storytelling. Both of her blogs are among my favorites. Lucie also runs three other websites: Acadian Gen Web, Acadian & French Canadian Ancestral Home website, and the Acadian-French Canadian Rootsweb Mailing List. There is a nice biography of Lucie LeBlanc Consentino at

Copyright 2010 Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Advent Calendar Grab Bag - Nacimiento - A Nativity Scene from Spain

In the center of Madrid is the Plaza Mayor (the main square).  This is where the Christmas Fair is held every December.  I've seen Christmas Fairs on television shows of Germany, Holland and France, so I know they are common in Europe.  In Madrid, this is the place to go to buy wrapping paper, outdoor light displays, poinsettia plants, Christmas foods and decorations.  They even sell a few Christmas Trees, but they aren't very popular over there.  The biggest decoration by far is the nacimiento or nativity scene. 

Here in the Plaza Mayor there are stalls full of people selling nativity sets, and individual pieces for manger scenes.  If you want just a shepard or a cow, you can wander for hours through all the stalls until you find the perfect one.  They sell figures in all sizes, made of all materials and styles.  This is where we bought our first set, and added to it over many years of Christmases in Madrid.

Our nacimiento has over sixty figures now, but they are only about 1 1/2 inches tall.  We started with the usual Holy Family, a few shepards, animals and the Magi.  Then we added the usual townspeople you see in Spanish nativities.  They represent all ocupations, the potter offering a pot, the weaver offering a piece of cloth, a farmer with a chicken slung over his shoulder.  Then we got carried away, and kept on going.....
click to enlarge
Now we have Don Quixote and his buddy Sancho Panza, Santa Claus, a matador, several Roman centurians, the Pope, a choir of children, a Flamenco dancer, a few medieval musicians (known as tuna in Spain) and the list goes on.  We added all the traditional townspeople representing occupations, including ones from the family tree like a few Guardia Civiles (a nod to my husband's grandfather) and a nurse (my Mom is an RN).  Of course, there is a well, because there is a Spanish Christmas carol about Mary washing Jesus's swaddling clothes at the well outside the stable, and you name it- we've got it!

When my daughter was little, it was a challenge to go to the Plaza Mayor and find something we DIDN'T already have.  We haven't added any new figures in the last five or six years, but then again we really don't need to add any more!  Now you know why sometimes in Spain, a nativity is often called a "Belen", which is the Spanish word for Bethlehem.  It represents the whole town!

There is one typical figure seen in nearly all Spanish nacimientos, even in churches, that I thought was not very appropriate so we didn't have one for years.  Finally, when my daughter was in middle school, she went to the Plaza Mayor with my husband and they came home giggling slyly.  I knew they finally bought "el cagón" who is usually hidden behind the stable.  I won't tell you what he is doing, you'll just have to Google it!  Don't be shocked.  It is just a part of Spanish humor I don't quite understand.  He is supposed to be a symbol of fertility, but I consider it quite naughty.

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Boston Tea Party , 16 December 1773

The site of the Boston Tea Party Museum,
in Boston Harbor, after a devastating fire in 2007.
Photographed during the 2009 Sail Boston Tall Ship Event

Two hundred thirty seven years ago today, a group of men disguised as Indians stole onboard three ships moored in Boston harbor and dumped all the tea over the side. It was an act of defiance against the British Government for passing the Tea Act, and against the East India Company for having a monopoly in the tea trade. They felt the Tea Act represented the worst side of the principal of taxation without representation. England responded by passing the even worse "Coercive Acts" in 1774, and among its provisions it closed commerce in Boston Harbor until the East India Company had been repaid for the lost tea. As we all know, there were more destructive events, mean spirited rhetoric and violence that escalated and ended up with the American Revolutionary War's first events in Massachusetts in 1775.

There is a probable list of the participants at the website for the Boston Tea Party Historic Site at However, since the act of dumping tea was considered vandalism, many of the participants remained (and still remain) secret. No one was proud to have been considered in a criminal act that caused so much political turmoil, and it was also considered an act of treason. It was not even named "The Boston Tea Party" until about sixty years later. I can see many names from my family tree: Frothingham, Gardner, Coolidge, Gore and Lincoln, but I don't know if there is a family connection. I probably never will know, either!

J. L. Bell has a slightly different list on his blog "Boston 1775" at the post He also had a post the following day, analyzing the list and the men on it at this link

There was a lineage society, named the "Improved Order of Redmen", formed by descendants of the men who participated in this historic event. You can visit their website at According to their home page "The Improved Order of Red Men traces its origin to certain secret patriotic societies founded before the American Revolution. They were established to promote Liberty and to defy the tyranny of the English Crown. Among the early groups were: The Sons of Liberty, the Sons of St. Tammany and later the Society of Red Men." It appears that now anyone can join this organization, not just descendants.

Since the reproduction of the brig Beaver and the Boston Tea Party Museum on the harbor are undergoing renovations the annual tossing of a few chests of "tea" into the water won't take place this year. It is scheduled to reopen during the summer of 2011.

The URL for this post is

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Not So Wordless Wednesday - Snow in New England

It hasn't snowed yet, or enough to cover the ground, so I was inspired to pull out some photographs from years past. Hopefully we'll have a White Christmas this year?

1963 in Rochester, New Hampshire
My Mom and her roommate from Nursing School!

1974 Our house in Holden, Massachusetts
1983, Holden again, with a big
snowdrift on the roof

2001, by our front door
Londonderry, New Hampshire

2005, record snow in Boston
with my daughter and a friend visiting colleges
and the sidewalks were like tunnels!

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - The Angell Memorial in Derry

Although Derry's Forest Hill Cemetery has the gravestones of the original settlers, it is also the only public cemetery in Derry.  It has a wide variety of stones from the 1700s until the present.  These are the stones erected to the Angell family.  I think the epitaph under Lizzie Angell's name is the most interesting I have seen in a long time. 

Stone to the left:
EDMUND R. ANGELL                          LIZZIE JAMES
CHEMIST                                      WIFE OF
             1848 - 1934                               EDMUND R. ANGELL
PRINCIPAL OF                                 1849 - 1932
           PINKERTON ACADEMY 1876-1885    " I DON'T KNOW HOW TO DIE"  
                        1884 VIOLA MAY HAZELTINE 1960     
                              WIFE OF RALPH H. ANGELL                   

Stone to the right:
1880 - 1890
1884   RALPH H. ANGELL  1968
1885 GRACE J. HESELTON  1943

Stone to the right reads:

The slanted stone read:

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Monday, December 13, 2010

Vote for your Favorite Genealogy Blogs

Family Tree Magazine has just announced its nominees for the Top 40 Genealogy Blogs.  My blog, Nutfield Genealogy made onto the ballot!  There are over 115 blogs on the list, in eight categories. 

You can vote as many times as you like before the deadline on Monday, December 20th.  This is the link to the voting ballot at the Survey Monkey website

Please vote for me, and your other favorite blogs at this website.  Nutfield Genealogy is listed in the MY FAMILY HISTORY category.  I feel very honored to have been nominated by my peers and readers!  There will be five winners in each category, and they will be published in the July 2011 issue of Family Tree Magazine.  

Don't forget to check out the other blogs on the list, they are all wonderful sources of genealogical information!   I read most of these blogs every week.

Copyright 2010 Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Advent Calendar- Holiday Travel to Puerto Rico

My husband's family is from Spain, but they still own an apartment in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where my husband spent his school years.  His father was a professor for many years at a university in San Juan.  It is always fun to escape cold New Hampshire to visit here anytime, especially at Christmas.  Here you trade Santa for the Three Kings, Christmas Trees for palm trees on the beach, and dinner is pasteles and roast pigs.  The Christmas light displays are much more elaborate than anything in New Hampshire.
The whole family in front of
La Fortaleza, El Palacio Santa Catalina,
the Governor's residence in San Juan, Puerto Rico
built between 1533 and 1540

Illumination displays of the Three Kings
near the beach

Public light displays in the Condado
neighborhood of San Juan  (The Three Kings again!)

Illuminated displays in Old San Juan,
Plaza Colon, with the walls of the city.
Our family visit with the Three Kings
(the Hispanic version of Santa Claus)
in a mall in San Juan

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Blog Caroling – James Pierpont and Jingle Bells

Thank you to the Footnote Maven for sponsoring this year’s Blog Caroling event. We are invited to blog our favorite Christmas Carol, but instead, as a genealogist, I’m writing about a connection between the family tree and a well known Christmas song. It is also the story of a family divided by politics and geography.

James Lord Pierpont was born 25 April 1822 in Boston, Massachusetts, and died 5 August 1893 in Winter Haven Florida. He served in the First George Cavalry during the Civil War, and wrote patriotic hymns for the confederacy. This is ironic because his father was a well known Massachusetts abolitionist. However, it was more common than not for families to be divided in opinions on the war, even in New England. His father was a Unitarian pastor, and served as chaplain for the 22nd Massachusetts Regiment.

James and his brother, The Rev. John Pierpont, Jr., removed to Valdosta, near Savannah, Georgia in 1853. John was the pastor of a Unitarian church, and James the organist.

James Pierpont missed the New England winters whilst living down south, and he wrote the popular Christmas song “Jingle Bells” in 1857. During his childhood in Medford, Massachusetts, where his father was a pastor, sleigh racing took place on High Street between Medford and Malden, Massachusetts, and the memory prompted his song

Massachusetts and Georgia both say they are the birthplaces of Jingle Bells. There is a plaque on the side of a building at 19 High Street in Medford, Massachusetts commemorating the “birthplace” of Jingle Bells. It was first recorded on an Edison cylinder in 1898, showing how popular this tune was even right after its inception. It has been recorded by pop stars, bands and orchestras all over the world in countless languages. It was the first song performed in space on 16 December 1965 when astronauts Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra sang it on board Gemini 6. The simple, catchy tune is probably the first Christmas carol you learned as a child, too.

For genealogical reasons, it is also interesting to note that James Lord Pierpont was the uncle of the famous banker J. Pierpont Morgan. James’s sister, Julia, was Morgan’s mother. Another interesting coincidence is that the popular Christmas carol “Over the River and Through the Wood” was written by Lydia Maria Child, who was born in Medford. Both were Unitarians.

In researching my Wilkinson, Gore and other Boston ancestors I was repeatedly looking up cousins and in-laws in the 2007 Pierpont compiled genealogy by NEHGS’s Helen Schatvet Ullmann. It was through this book that I read about all the fascinating Pierponts in history.

The original 1857 lyrics to Jingle Bells:

Dashing through the snow, In a one-horse open sleigh,
O'er the hills we go, Laughing all the way.
Bells on bobtail ring, Making spirits bright,
Oh what sport to ride and sing A sleighing song tonight.

: chorus :
Jingle bells, jingle bells, Jingle all the way!
O what joy it is to ride In a one-horse open sleigh.

A day or two ago I thought I'd take a ride
And soon Miss Fannie Bright was seated by my side
The horse was lean and lank, misfortune seemed his lot
He got into a drifted bank And we got upset
: chorus :

A day or two ago, the story I must tell
I went out on the snow and on my back I fell
A gent was riding by in a one-horse open sleigh
He laughed as there I sprawling lie but quickly drove away
: chorus :

Now the ground is white. Go it while you're young
Take the girls tonight and sing this sleighing song
Just get a bobtailed bay,two forty is his speed
Hitch him to an open sleigh and crack! You'll take the lead.

: chorus : [from]

For more information:

Reverend John Pierpont’s papers (father of James L. Pierpoint) are archived at the William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan.

J. Pierpont, “One Horse Open Sleigh”, Boston: Oliver Ditson & Co., deposited 1857 in the Library of Congress Man Who Wrote Jingle Bells” by Albert S. Pendleton for the Valdosta, Georgia Museum newsletter “YesterDay and Today” Volume XXXVIII, page 6.

The Pierponts of Roxbury, Massachusetts, by Helen Schatvet Ullmann, Boston: Newbury Street Press, 2007
Last year I wrote about the less well known song "Christmas in Boston" for the 2009 Blog Caroling event, you can read about it here at
Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Soldier's Life- José García Rivero, Guardia Civil in Spain

Sebastián García and his family in Spain.
This photo was taken about 1914.
José is the little boy. His brother Joaquín
also became a Guardia Civil.
José García Rivero was born 28 November 1908 in La Bouza, Salamanca, Spain, and he died on 3 December 1994 at the military hospital in Madrid, Spain. His father before him, Sebastián García Muñoz (1878 - 1962) was a military man- a carabinero or national police officer. José became a Guardia Civil- another national police division with a more military organization. This was just on the eve of the Spanish Civil War, and the Guardia Civil became a symbol of Generalissimo Franco. The famous tricorn hats and uniforms are symbolic of the Guardia Civil. Although many Americans equate the Guardia Civil with Franco and the failed attempt at a coup of the Spanish government in 1981, the Guardia Civil have a long history of peace keeping in Spain and abroad. They lost seven members in the war in Iraq before the 11 March 2004 attack in Madrid caused Spain to withdraw from that conflict. Spain continues to send troops to Afganistan, which it believes is the center for the terrorists who caused the 11 March attack.
José as a young military cadet,
about 1925

15 October 1956
José with his wife and daughter
in front of the Royal Palace, Madrid

The dress uniform of a captain, 1971
José was my husband's grandfather. He went to a military academy and with his brother, became a Guardia Civil. He fought the Spanish Civil War in Navarra, along the French border. José attained the rank of captain, and was much respected in his neighborhood. I remember visiting Spain when he was still alive, and the men in the local pub would call him "Don José" out of respect.

My husband now has his grandfather's Guardia Civil uniform and medals. Two of his tricorn hats, his spurs and his sword are on display in our home in New Hampshire. I'm glad my daughter has memories of her Bisabuelo (great grandfather) and that we can remember his role in Spanish history. His service spanned serving a monarch and a dictator, and he lived to see Spain become a parlimentary democracy.

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo