Friday, April 15, 2011

A House in the Smithsonian Museum

Last week, at the Smithsonian Museum of American History, we stumbled upon an exhibit that took my breath away. The exhibit is called “Within These walls”. It was a house from Ipswich, Massachusetts reconstructed inside the museum, showing the generations of families that had lived there since the 1700s until the mid 21st century. Yes, it was beautiful, but what I loved most were the names of the families. The first five families who lived in this house were from my family tree!

Timeline of house owners
click to enlarge
The first inhabitant of the house, and its builder in 1757, was Abraham Choate. He was my 1st cousin 8 generations removed. He removed to Maine in 1772 and sold his house to Isaac Dodge, my 3rd cousin 8x removed. Isaac sold the house to his brother Abraham Dodge in 1777 who served in the Revolution at the Battle of Bunker Hill. (My other ancestor Abner Poland enlisted in Capt. Abraham Dodge’s regiment at the start of the war.) In 1789 Abraham Dodge sold the house to Nathaniel Baker, who I suspect was a cousin through Abraham’s grandmother, Priscilla Baker (it was a small town, after all), who sold it to John Appleton in 1791, and he lived in it until 1798 when he sold it to Daniel Thurston and his wife Margaret Appleton. Margaret was a great granddaughter of Jacob Perkins, my 9x Great Grandfather, and she was the daughter of John Appleton, the previous owner.

After this the house was sold to many other Ipswich inhabitants, but I only recognized one other surname from my family tree (Mears). I'm sure there are other cousin kinships though!

In the lineages below, I have highlighted the residents of the house in red…

Choate Lineage:

Generation 1: John Choate, born about 1624 in Groton, Colchester, England, and died 4 December 1695 in Ipswich, Massachusetts; married about 1660 to Ann Unknown. Eight children. My 9x Great Grandfather. I descend from Thomas, below, and Sarah, who married John Burnham in 1693.

Generation 2: Thomas Choate, born about 1671 in Ipswich, Massachusetts, died 31 March 1745 in Ipswich; married about 1690 in Ipswich to Mary Varney, daughter of Thomas Varney and Abigail Proctor. My 8x Great Grandfather. His sister, Sarah, is also my 8x Great Grandmother (she married John Burnham in 1693) He had nine children and I descend from Thomas’s daughter Anne, who married John Burham in 1710. He was also married to Mary Ayer in 1734, and to Hannah Burnham in 1743.

Generation 3: Francis Choate, born 13 September 1701 in Ipswich, died 15 October 1777 in Ipswich; married 13 April 1727 to Hannah Perkins.

Generation 4: Abraham Choate, born 24 March 1732 in Ipswich, died 23 April 1800 in Whitefield, Maine; married on 13 March 1755 in Ipswich to Sarah Potter, daughter of Aaron Potter and Sarah Appleton.

Dodge Lineage:

Generation 1: William Dodge, born before 19 September 1640 in Middlechinnook, Somerset, England, died 24 March 1720 in Beverly; married to Mary Conant, daughter of Roger Conant and Sarah Horton.

Generation 2: William Dodge, born 20 March 1663 in Wenham, Massachusetts, died 20 October 1765 in Wenham; married on 27 July 1699 to Prudence Fairfield, daughter of Walter Fairfield and Sarah Skipper.

Generation 3: William Dodge, born 6 March 1705 in Wenham, died 11 April 1777 in Ipswich; married on 9 January 1728 to Rebecca Appleton, daughter of Isaac Appleton and Priscilla Baker.

Generation 4. Isaac Dodge, born 26 February 1732 in Ipswich, died 29 June 1785 in Ipswich; married on 8 November 1755 in Ipswich to Elizabeth Day. His brother Abraham was born 17 August 1740 in Ipswich, died 16 June 1786 in Ipswich; married first on 17 April 1762 to Abigail Cogswell; married second on 2 June 1782 to Bethia Patch. Abigail is my 1st cousin 8x removed because her grandfather, Robert Woodbury, is my 8x Great Grandfather. (confused yet?)

Margaret Appleton’s Lineage:

Generation 1: Jacob Perkins, born before 12 September 1624 in Hillmorton, Warwickshire, England, died 29 January 1700 in Ipswich; married about 1648 to Elizabeth Whipple, daughter of Matthew Whipple and Anne Hawkins.

Generation 2: John Perkins, brother to my 8x Great Grandfather Jacob Perkins, born 3 July 1652 in Ipswich, died 15 March 1717 in Wenham; married about 1677 to Mary Fiske.

Generation 3: Sarah Perkins born about 1688 in Ipswich; married 17 December 1701 in Topsfield, Massachusetts to Oliver Appleton.

Generation 4 : John Appleton, born 1707 in Ipswich, died 4 January 1794; married on 4 August 1731 in Ipswich to Lucy Boardman. Lucy’s great grandfather is also Jacob Perkins, above, so John and Lucy were 2nd cousins.

Generation 5: Margaret Appleton, born 1742 in Ipswich, died February 1822; married first to Daniel Thurston, married second on 3 June 1773 in Ipswich to John Kinsman. Believe it or not, John Kinsman is my 2nd cousin, 8x removed. He is related to me through his mother, Hannah Burnham, and his great grandfather, Robert Kinsman, is my 9x Great Grandfather.

The official link to the Smithsonian Choate House exhibit

A Massachusetts realtor’s website, a member of the National Association of Realtor’s who sponsored the exhibit in Washington DC

Descendants of John Choate

Descendants of John Perkins

The Dodge Family Association

The Perkins Family

The Family of John Perkins of Ipswich, Massachusetts, by George Perkins, Salem, Mass, 1889. The full text of this book is available on

Video of "Within These Walls", the Smithsonian Choate House exhibit:

Copyright 2011, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. I visited this exhibit last summer and it took my breath away also. I might have been a little annoying to my family explaining the process of how they found all the information though! They couldn't believe that I could had the knowledge of how the exhibit came together.

  2. What a nice surprise, esp. for those who have a name or names in our tree (like Dodge for me)associated with the house or town. Thanks for this post, almost makes me want to see it myself!

  3. I love this surprise. What fun to see you own ancestors featured at the Smithsonian.

  4. Visited this exhibit on Sunday, May 29th and it was amazing. I am happy for you to find your family. I was impressed with the way they weaved the stories of the homeowners in with the way the house changed over time. Their archives room looked very accessible. There website for the archives for the history museum is also very good. I am wondering if you have looked into anymore information on your family?

  5. I hope that I sometime can get to see this too. I am a Choate also decended fron John and Ann but through their son Samuel and Mary Williams Choate. Did you ever go to any of the national reunions in Essex? I have been to two of them in the late 90o's. Discovered just a few weeks ago that David the President of Choates in America passed away last July. My parents Hazael ( Vine ) and Lillian were both on the board of directors. We lost mom in 2010. I an trying to continue her work on the family history. Nice to discover your blog.

    Karan ( Choate) Cox

  6. A new dimension to the story of this house!