Saturday, June 30, 2012

Surname Saturday ~ Munroe of Lexington, Massachusetts

Here Lyes ye
Body of
About 90 Years
Dec'd Jan 27, 1718

The Munroe name is well known in Lexington because of the Revolutionary War.  The first Munroe in my lineage came to Massachusetts as a prisoner of war.  William Munroe, and his two brothers, were Scots captured at the Battle of Worcester in England in 1651.  They were shipped to London and packed aboard the “John and Sara” to be sold into servitude in Boston, Massachusetts.  William was free by 1657 when he was fined in Cambridge for not having a ring in the noses of his pigs.  By 1660 he had removed to Cambridge Farms, near the Woburn line, to a part of town that became known as “Scotland”.  It is now known as the town of Lexington.

What is interesting to me is that apparently the Munroe clan harbored somewhat of a grudge against the British.  In 1775, when the British marched on Lexington, the sergeant of the militia was another William Munroe, great grandson of the immigrant William.  He owned the Munroe Tavern and led a group in which about one third were his kinsmen (other Munroes, cousins, and relations).   He entertained George Washington at the tavern in 1789 when he visited Lexington to thank the townspeople for their participation in the American Revolution. 

There are many books with information on the Munroe family, but the three best are:

A Sketch of the Clan Munro and William Munroe, Deported from Scotland, settled in Lexington, Massachusetts by James Phinney Munroe

History and Genealogy of the Lexington, Massachusetts Munroes by Richard S. Munro, 1966

History of the Town of Lexington, Middlesex County, Massachusetts by Charles Hudson of the Lexington, Massachusetts Historical Society, 1913 (with genealogies)

Also, the Lexington Historical Society owns the Munroe Tavern and has much information on the Munroe family in their archives.  Please see the website for more information.   The official Clan Munro website is and their website has much information on the Lexington family.  The 2012 Munroe clan gathering will be in Boston August 9 – 12, 2012 and details are available at

I have many stories about the Munroe family here on my blog.  You may access them all at this link: 


My Munroe lineage:

1. William Munroe, born about 1625 near Inverness, Scotland, and died 27 January 1718 at Lexington, Massachusetts; married first about 1665 to Martha George, daughter of John George and Elizabeth Unknown; married second about 1672 to Mary Ball, daughter of John Ball and Elizabeth Pierce; and married third after 1693  to Elizabeth Johnson, daughter of William Johnson and Elizabeth Story.  He had four children by Martha and ten children by Mary.

2. George Munroe, born about 1672 in Lexington,  and died 17 January 1747 in Lexington.  He married Sarah Mooers, daughter of Jonathan Mooers and Constance Langthorne.  They had nine children.

3.  Andrew Munroe, baptized 4 June 1718 in Lexington,  and died 16 September 1766 in Lexington; married on 26 May 1763 to Lucy Mixer, daughter of Joseph Mixer and Mary Ball.  They had two children, and Lucy remarried on 6 December 1774 in Woburn to Caleb Simonds.

4.  Andrew Munroe, Junior, born on 31 March 1764 in Lexington, an died 7 August 1836 in Danvers, Massachusetts; married on 22 March 1785 in Burlington to Ruth Simonds, daughter of Caleb Simonds and Susanna Converse, his step-sister.  They had eleven children.  Andrew Munroe was a Major in the American Revolutionary War.

5.  Luther Simonds Munroe, born on 10 May 1805 in Danvers, and died 23 December 1851 in Danvers; married on 3 September 1826 in Reading, Massachusetts to Olive Flint, daughter of John Flint and Phebe Flint.  They had six children.

6. Phebe Cross Munroe, born 28 October 1830 in Danvers, and died 31 January 1895 in Salem, Massachusetts; married on 24 November 1853 in Danvers to Robert Wilson Wilkinson, son of Aaron Wilkinson and Mercy F. Wilson. Three children.

7.  Albert Munroe Wilkinson, born 7 November 1860 in Danvers, and died 12 May 1908 at Corey Hill Hospital in Brookline, Massachusetts due to complications of a gall bladder surgery;  married on 18 October 1894 in Salem to Isabella Lyons Bill, daughter of Caleb Rand Bill and Ann Margaret Bollman.

8. Donald Munroe Wilkinson and Bertha Louise Roberts, my grandparents.


To Cite/Link to this blog post:  Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Surname Saturday ~ Munroe of Lexington, Massachusetts", Nutfield Genealogy, posted June 30, 2012, ( accessed [access date]). 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Around Amoskeag Millyard, Manchester, NH

In the Amoskeag Millyard there is a hidden garden of New Hampshire wildflowers filling the old canal in front of the Public Service of New Hampshire offices.  You have to drive down into the parking area below Commercial Street to see the flowers.  This is one of the few places to see a lot of lupines in Southern New Hampshire, although I notice that the newly constructed segment of Route 93 has been planted with lupines, too, between exits 2 and 3.  They are very visible on the southbound lanes. 

Nearly everyone has seen the huge brick mill buildings here, but there are several other fun things to see.  There are great views of the River from Arms Park, where you can get close enough to the rapids to feel the splash of the water.  There is a fish ladder with a museum and viewing station to see the salmon and other fish swimming up the Merrimack River.  There is a history museum, and also a science museum.  

The Amoskeag Millyard was first developed in 1807 by Samuel Blodget with a small system of canals and locks for water powered textile looms.  This is when the area was renamed "Manchester" after the large industries Blodget had seen in Manchester, England. It became the largest textile manufacturer in the world, and stretched for more than a mile long.  Amoskeag was unrivaled for the quantity of cloth that it produced, and even produced the textiles used by Levi Straus and other famous clothing makers. 

The little red convertible was exploring Manchester last week

This enormous canal gate valve has quite a story.  See below

The lupine were just starting to bloom

The old canal was full of wild flowers.  It is a little early for lupines, but I suspect by around July 1st there will be a nice display here.  Don't get lost looking for this garden!  Just head into the parking area off Commercial Street and drive until you see the giant canal gate valve near the PSNH offices. There is also a nice lookout platform with a great view of Amoskeag Falls and the salmon fish ladder on the other side of the Merrimack River.

Have you seen Millie, the Mill Girl, in Manchester's millyard?  Click here:

The Millyard Museum, by the Manchester Historical Society

Old photos of the Amoskeag Millyard

Wikipedia article on the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company

Copyright 2012, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Thursday, June 28, 2012

2012 Annual Swimsuit Edition of Genealogy

This post was submitted for the 5th Annual Swimsuit Carnival of Genealogy blog posts.  To see all the blog posts submitted for the Swimsuit issue, click on this link: 

These are all photos taken at Misery Island, which is off the coast of Beverly, Massachusetts.  My Dad grew up in Beverly (and I did, too, in the same house!) and these photos reflect lazy days of swimming at Misery Island in the 1940s.  My Dad, Jack Wilkinson (1934 - 2002) was about thirteen years old in these photos.

front of the photo

The back of the photo lists all the boys:
Jack Wilkinson (my Dad), Jim Hoar
Bruce Miller, Dick Woodbury, Tom Kelly
1947 or 48

"The crowd at Misery Is.
July 1949
My Dad and his dog Jeff

I blogged about Misery Island last year at this link:

Copyright 2012, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

So, Where is Winthrop anyway?

An essay by a new guest blogger, Bette Pye Wing

The Deane Winthrop House circa 1675
Winthrop, Massachusetts
So where is Winthrop anyway? I grew up in Winthrop, but I always say I’m from Boston because no one knows where Winthrop is. I run into other New Englanders and they say the same thing, so I always say “me too, but I actually come from Winthrop.” Then I find out they’re from Lynn, Medford, Chelsea, Revere or another town they think no one has heard of. So then we have a great chat about Boston, the home towns and how much we miss New England. I call myself an outlander, but, in truth, I’m a died in the wool, sea water in my veins, New Englander.

But this isn’t about me, it’s about Winthrop. This little gem of a town is a peninsula jutting out into the northern reaches of Boston Harbor. There are only two ways into and out of town, one through East Boston and the other through Revere. This has provided the town with a bit of insulation. You usually have a reason for going there because you can’t go any further. There’s nothing beyond except the mighty North Atlantic. You don’t drive through Winthrop on your way to some other town.

Winthrop was settled in 1630 by just a handful of hardy people. Much of it was owned by John Winthrop, Gov. of Mass. Bay Colony. His son, Deane Winthrop (1623-1704) was one of the early settlers. The place that became his home was built in 1637 and he lived there 1647-1703. It has become one of the oldest wood frame houses in the country. Another distinction for this historical jewel is that it is the oldest continuously lived in home in the United States. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.

When I was a youngster, the people, who lived there as caretakers, were friends of my family. I spent many an afternoon there with my mother while she visited with her friend. I treasure my warm memories of this house, but one stands out vividly. Across from the front door was a closet built in under the staircase. This small, cramped closet held a secret, though. Way in the back was another door. I was allowed to go into that place, have the doors closed and for a brief moment in time, I experienced the fear those early children must have felt, for this was a hidey-hole, where they hid the children during Indian attacks. I don’t know if the Indians ever did attack, but those first settlers were prepared to save their children. The Deane Winthrop House is open to the public but you must call ahead for an appointment. (617) 846-8606 40 Shirley St, Winthrop, MA 02152 Sources: 

and Personal experience

by Guest Blogger Bette Pye Wing

Copyright 2012, Heather Wilkinson Rojo and Bette Pye Wing

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Weathervane Wednesday ~ Another Running Horse

I've been photographing the weather vanes in the historic area of Nutfield, New Hampshire.  Nutfield used to be where Derry and Londonderry are located today, but also covered Windham and parts of Hudson and Manchester, New Hampshire.   Today's weathervane is in Windham. 

Do you know the location of weathervane #49?   Scroll down to see the answer.

Today's weathervane is located at an old farm on Londonderry Road in Windham, New Hampshire.  It was built in 1815 by Deacon Silas Moore. In 1853 it was sold to John W. Noyes, and then owned by the following families:  Hills, Burns, McDaniels, Robie, Holmes, Jenness, Lord, Emery, Bonazoni, Snow, Fedas, and Rennard in 1974.  The Windham Historical Society has no record of the present owner.  The weathervane is a three dimensional horse with a two wheeled sulky and rider.  

From page 632 of the History of Windham in New Hampshire by Leonard Morrison :


1. Timothy McDaniel1, was b. in the Highlands of Scotland; settled in Portland, Me., and owned a large amount of real estate; was a teacher of note; was an officer in the Revolutionary army.  He m. Mary Winslow.  Their son,
2. Washington-Shirly2, also of Portland, then of Saco, then of Freedom, N.H. m. Polly Woodman.  Their son,
3. Ephraim3, of Windham, was b. in Freedom, Aug. 23, 1819; was a weaver 37 yrs; enlisted as a drum-major, Oct. 28, 1861, in Fifth Regt. N. H. Vols.; discharged Oct. 26, 1862; was severely injured during the seven day's fight and retreat in front of Richmond, from which he has never recovered.  He. m. Sarah-A., dau. of Kendall and Martha (Keyes) Swallow, of Dunstable, b. March 27, 1829.  He now owns the Dea. Silas Moore farm in the north part of town.  Children:-
4. Maria4, b. Lowell, Mass., Sept 23, 1843; m. Samuel Houghton of Fulton, Ill.; music-teacher.
5. William-Wallace4, b. Lowell, April 9, 1853; m. Emma-F. Stearns of Lowell, b. Chelmsford, Nov. 11, 1853. Ch.:  Edward-W.5; res. Lowell; overseer in mill.
6. Roscoe4, b. Freedom, N.H., Aug 18, 1857; musician; res. Lowell."

Thank you to Joan Normington of the Windham Historical Society for the information on this house. 

The History of Windham in New Hampshire, by Leonard Allison Morrison, Boston, MA: Cupples, Upham & Co., 1883. 

Rural Oasis, 1883 - 1975, by the Windham, NH Town History Committee. 

Copyright 2012, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Captain Jonathan Sparrow

Sorry, this is not Captain Jack Sparrow of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
These gravestones were photographed at the 
Cove Burial Ground, Eastham, Massachusetts on Cape Cod. 



The slate on this stone
has begun to split, but it looks like
it was repaired with resin

Captain Jonathan Sparrow married Rebecca Bangs on 26 October 1654.  She was the sister to my 8x great grandfather Jonathan Bangs (1644 - 1728).  His other wife, Hannah Prince/Prence, was the granddaughter of William Brewster (1566/7 - 1644), a passenger on the Mayflower.  

Copyright 2012, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Monday, June 25, 2012

Mystery Monday ~ Who owned Melissa's Trunk?

Last week I visited my hairdresser, Melissa.  She and I have long discussions about genealogy and the TV show “Who Do You Think You Are?” while she cuts my hair.  Melissa is much younger than I, closer to my daughter’s age, but we have genealogy in common.  Last year I drew up one of her lineages all the way back to Thomas Leighton (1604 – 1671/2) one of New Hampshire’s earliest settlers, and she was thrilled.   This time Melissa had a puzzle for me to solve.  She had found an antique trunk at a shop in Amherst, New Hampshire.   She didn’t notice until she was home that there was a name stenciled onto the front of the trunk:

Mrs. Charles F. Aldrich
SS Cedric
Stateroom #53

This was the mystery!  Who was Mrs. Aldrich?  Was she from New Hampshire? When did she sail on the SS. Cedric?  Was there a story behind this?   Melissa had spent some time online and she knew that the steamship Cedric was one of the White Star Line’s “Big Four”.  She knew it sailed about 100 years ago, and she even looked at some passenger records on Ancestry and found several Aldrich’s on board the Cedric.  Now she was stuck and looked to me for help.

At home I tried to recreate Melissa’s search on and I looked at, too.  I figured I could trace the Aldriches onboard the Cedric passenger lists with census records and other records found online.  But it wasn’t easy.  The Aldriches listed on these passenger lists didn’t quite fit the time period, nor did they seem to have husbands named “Charles F.”   I needed a way to narrow down all the Charles F. Aldriches of this time period, and there were quite a few on my list when I searched through and  I even searched old newspapers of the time period, using and the Boston Public Library website. 

While I was searching, I had a window open on my desktop running Facebook.  I decided to ask all my genealogy Facebook friends for advice.  I knew that some of my colleagues had a lot of experience with passenger lists and immigration records.  Within minutes I had over thirty comments!  And I had an answer thanks to genealogist Sue Clifford Maxwell, author of the blog “Granite Genealogy” [surprisingly not from New Hampshire!]   Later comments included Randy Seaver who said “Crowd-searching works well, eh?  Nice job!  Two hours!”  and from Glory Wedge who stated “Wow, How nice to see a group helping to find the answer.  Goes to show the power in numbers.”   Genealogist Alan Farrell even wrote that she had a relative serve on board the Cedric  as a cabin steward until 1921 (our mystery passenger sailed on the Cedric in 1929).

Here is the mystery passenger.

Maria Louisa Alexander was the daughter of Junius Brutus Alexander and Eliza Hickey Newcomb.   According to her passport application she was born on 16 March 1869 on Staten Island, New York.  On 25 November 1891  in Cambridge, Massachusetts she married Reuben Francis Richards.  He died on 26 February 1899 after two children were born.  The young widow married second on 25 December 1900 to Charles Frost Aldrich.  He was a son of Thomas Bailey Aldrich, the famous Portsmouth, New Hampshire author.  Thomas Bailey Aldrich wrote the semi autobiographical book The Story of a Bad Boy in 1870 which was the first American novel about a child that was not written as a lesson or a morality tale.  He became great friends with Mark Twain, entertained him in New Hampshire, and influenced Twain’s books Tom Sawyer and the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.   Aldrich became the editor of The Atlantic Monthly.  His boyhood home in Portsmouth is one of the museum buildings at the Strawbery Banke Museum. 

Unfortunately, Maria became a widow again when Charles Frost Aldrich died of tuberculosis on 6 March 1904 at the family’s summer estate at Saranac Lake in New York.  Mrs. Aldrich never remarried, but she remained socially active and traveled extensively.  There are many mentions of her in the social pages of old newspapers, including her daughter’s social debut in Boston in 1914.  She appears on at least a half dozen passenger lists to and from Europe between 1905 and the 1940s. has three of Maria Aldrich’s passport applications to view.   She was a member of the Colonial Dames Society, and a descendant of Mayflower passenger William Bradford.  “Mrs. Chas Frost Aldrich” is listed in the Boston Social registers.  Her summer home in Dublin, New Hampshire was lent to Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd in 1930 [he was the aviator and polar explorer who was the first to reach both the North and South Poles by air].  Dublin is only thirty miles from where Melissa bought the trunk.
The passengers aboard the Cedric 11 May 1929
included "Mrs. C. F. Aldrich"

Apparently this wooden trunk was used by Maria L. (Alexander) (Richards) Aldrich during her voyage on the Cedric which arrived in New York on 11 May 1929 from Liverpool, England.  She arrived in Boston on 19 May 1929 according to the passenger list.  I can imagine that as a wealthy socialite, she must have had many trunks of clothing bought in Europe, and other personal items.  Melissa joked that perhaps this trunk was packed full of shoes, and she might be correct! 

This voyage was a few months before the market crash that started the Great Depression.  I can’t find any more information on Maria Aldrich, other than the fact that her last cruise to Europe seems to have been on 29 April 1937 when she returned on the Saturnia from Naples, Italy.   I don’t know her death date, or where she is buried.  I haven’t yet found an obituary.

Maria Louisa Aldrich's 1929 Passport Application
with photo!  She was 51 years old at the time, and still traveling alone. 

Sources used:

Sue Clifford Maxwell in Sandy, Utah, author of the blog “Granite Genealogy”
Boston Public Library at
Strawbery Banke Museum at
1905 Summer Social Register, (Dilatory Domiciles) page 7
Clark’s Boston Blue Book, 1905, page 124
The 1907, 1911, 1919 and 1920   Social Register, Boston (probably others, but I have not seen copies)
Harvard Graduates Magazine, 1904, Volume 12, page 672

Two links to the Maria Louisa Aldrich passenger records on

2.) Book Indexes to Boston Passenger Lists, 1899 – 1940 at   (image of the “List of Cabin Passengers”)

Here are some photos of first class cabins and lounges on the Cedric.  Wow, these are some swanky cabins. Thanks, Terri Kallio!


To Cite/Link to this blog post: Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Mystery Monday ~ Who owned Melissa's Trunk?", Nutfield Genealogy, posted June 25, 2012, ( accessed [access date]). 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Londonderry Celebrated it's 290th Birthday!

On 21 June 1722 the little settlement of Nutfield was chartered as Londonderry, New Hampshire.  It had been originally granted to a small group of Scots Irish Presbyterians who arrived from Aghadowey, Northern Ireland in 1718.  Later, Londonderry was divided into Derry and Windham, New Hampshire.

A birthday party was celebrated on the Londonderry Town Common on Saturday 23 June 2012 for the 290th year of Londonderry, New Hampshire.  Townspeople turned out for fine weather, food and fun with fund raising to benefit the Londonderry Historical Society.  Enjoy the photos of the day, and we hope to see you next year for the 291st birthday party!

Londonderry's Historic Common was the site of the 290th Birthday Party

Londonderry High School's Drum Line opened the
entertainment for the afternoon

Tug of War was popular, as well as wheel barrow races,
frog jumping contests, and sack races for the kids

This little guy loved the pie eating contest! 

A 1931 Packard was a star of the day

All proceeds from raffles, food and Londonderry
themed T-shirts and hats went to the Historical Society

Copyright 2012, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Windham Mystery History Tour 2012

This past Wednesday night, 20 June 2012, I joined the Windham, New Hampshire Historical Society for their 19th Annual Mystery Tour.  No one knows the theme for the night until they show up for the tour, but this year the theme was "The Bicentennial of the War of 1812".  In the past years the themes were Ghosts, The 150th Anniversary of the Civil War, and even a surprise boat tour of Cobbett's Pond.

Our first stop in the tour was an air conditioned
lecture in the Windham History Museum!

I was the only "out of towner" attending this year's tour.  I was pleasantly surprised to see how organized the whole tour turned out to be, with a keepsake history book, and even costumed characters.  Since we were experiencing a heat wave, the first hour of the tour was inside the Windham Museum (in air conditioned comfort) before we all set out in cars to see the sites described in the lectures.  I was told that the lectures were usually given "on site".

The nicely prepared book for the tour included
historic maps, genealogies, photos and
lots of War of 1812 information from multiple sources

Frank Johnson portrayed General James Miller who was a hero of
the Battle of Lundy's Lane, near Niagara Falls in Canada.
Miller was born in Peterborough, NH in 1776

This table lists 36 Windham men who served in
the War of 1812, his unit, homestead in town (and sources!)
I learned a lot about the War of 1812 on this tour. One interesting bit of trivia is that only 4 men in Windham voted for the war.  So most of the men who served from Windham were probably recruits, not volunteers.  Since a large part of this war was fought at sea, nearly all the men from Windham who served in the war were stationed in Portsmouth for the protection of the harbor.  One man served in Bath, Maine.

Last month I posted the photograph of the honor roll of men from Windham which is displayed inside the museum.  You can see the photo at this link:     After researching the names on the honor roll list for the tour, the committee found several names missing.  The tour book lists all 36 men, their biographies, genealogies, excerpts from the town history about their service or family, as well as photos of their homesteads and gravestones.  There are still four houses standing in Windham which were the homesteads of veterans of the War of 1812.
David Campbell b. 1793 lived here until about 1837
when it became Windham's Poor Farm (Kendall Pond Road)
Campbell served in Capt. Godfrey's Company for 60 days.
He later removed to Wapello, Iowa with his
military land grant.

The crowd enjoying the stories at the Cemetery on the Hill

Robert Park Dinsmore is buried at the
Cemetery on the Plain.  He served in Captain
Goss's Company, and he was also the
chorister of the Presbyterian Church in Windham. 
Every tour ends at Johnson's Farm for ice cream, which was a nice surprise for me the "newbie".   Windham's own "Paul Revere" was Samuel Armour (1766 - 1831), who rode in from Haverhill, Massachusetts on horseback to spread the news that the War of 1812 had ended.  He rode up to houses in the eastern end of Windham and shouted "Peace, Peace, Peace!"  Samuel Armour was buried in the Cemetery on the Hill, and he lived at the house on the Range, which is now the Johnson Farm.

Stay tuned to be surprised for next year's Mystery Tour, which will be the 20th annual event given by the Windham Historical Society.

Farm fresh ice cream at Johnson Farm was the perfect
ending for the tour on the hottest day of the year!
The Windham, New Hampshire Historical Society

Copyright 2012, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Friday, June 22, 2012

Stone Wall Stories - #4 The Sheepcote

My Mum and I checked out the sheepcote
at the 2005 Wyman Family Reunion

The Francis Wyman house was built in Woburn (now Burlington), Massachusetts in 1666.  It is located on 56 Francis Wyman Road, and is owned by the Wyman Family Association.  Every fall there is a reunion at the homestead.  The first thing all the kids (big and little) do is to run over to the stone wall near the house and look for the “hidey hole” or “sheepcote” (a pen for sheep).

The entrance to the Sheepcote
This strange stone chamber pre-dates the 1666 house, and pre-dates European settlement, so it was probably never used as a shelter for sheep.  It is obviously too small for sheep, too.  There were Indian settlements nearby, but usually the Indians in this part of New England did not build stone structures.  The large stone which forms the “roof” of this structure would have been difficult to move into place without iron or metal tools.
The large "roof" stone of the sheepcote
I don’t know who named this the “Sheepcote”.  It is  a true history mystery!

The Wyman Family Association website

This post is part of a series of stories I wrote for this week all about stone walls.

Story 1 –  America's Stonehenge, Salem, New Hampshire

Copyright 2012, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Stone Wall Stories - #3 Dogtown, Massachusetts

Near Cherry Street in Gloucester, in a large tract of conservation land surrounding the reservoir, you can find the remnants of an early village.   This was the earliest settled place in Gloucester, when the town grew up inland.  After the War of 1812 the people felt safer about living near the harbor, and most left this area to move to the coast.  Only the poorest people stayed behind in what became known as “Dogtown” because of the abandoned dogs who scrounged the cellar holes and shacks.  Widows, vagabonds and the insane were left behind with the dogs.

This Babson boulder marks the spot
of Dogtown Square

During the Great Depression in the 1930s, Gloucester resident Roger Babson hired Italian stonemasons to carve inspirational quotations on 22 boulders in Dogtown.  At the time, the land was clear of trees, and there were numbers marking the cellar holes of colonial residents identified in his grandfather John James Babson’s “History of Gloucester”.  Now, the area is heavily wooded, and hikers have to search for the numbers, cellar holes and Babson boulders.

An antique postcard showing what Dogtown looked like
before it was swallowed up with forest

I had several ancestors and their relatives live in Dogtown.  I previously posted a story “Tammy Younger, the Witch of Dogtown” at this link:

Today’s post is part of a series of stories I wrote for this week all about stones and stone walls:

One of Roger Babson's inspirational boulders

Wikipedia story on Dogtown, Massachusetts -,_Massachusetts

This Dogtown website has maps and history, including the location of most of the Babson boulders.


Copyright 2012, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Weathervane Wednesday ~ Sailing Along

I've been photographing the weather vanes in the historic area of Nutfield, New Hampshire.  Nutfield used to be where Derry and Londonderry are located today, but also covered Windham and parts of Hudson and Manchester, New Hampshire.   Today's weathervane is in Windham. 

Do you know the location of weathervane #48?   Scroll down to see the answer.

Today's weathervane is located on Londonderry Road in Windham, New Hampshire.  It is on a cupola above a garage at a private residence.  In the back yard there was no sailboat to be seen, but I did see a small motorboat under a tarp!  

Copyright 2012, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Londonderry's 290th Birthday Bash

Stone Wall Stories- #2 Stone Walls and Cellar Holes

In those parts of New England where rocks sprout like dandelions, there are stone walls running hither and thither.  Often they run through the thickest forests, where it appears no one has ever lived.  However, at one time most of New England was deforested and agricultural.  These stone walls marked boundaries and places where crops grew.  Now, most of New Hampshire is as forested as it was before European settlement.  It is hard to imagine farmers farming these thick woods.

An old cellar hole in Windham, New Hampshire
As the trees were cut and the fields were cleared, the stones were piled around the boundaries.  Sometimes the walls were quite carefully constructed, and other times they were just places to put the rocks.   Over the years they have tumbled, and frost heaves have knocked the stones down.  In some places the stone walls have been carefully repaired and reconstructed, and in other places the walls have disappeared due to theft, ignorance or excavation.

Maple trees for collecting sap have grown up
near where there were once field crops or grazing pastures
By the late 1800s many thousands of New England farms had been abandoned for better farmland in the mid-west and far west.  The population of New Hampshire actually dropped, and stayed low until the turn of the twentieth century.  Cellar holes, now deep in forests, are the only sign that man ever lived in some of these places.  Sometimes only a lone apple tree or lilac bush marks where a cellar hole can be found.

As a girl growing up in Holden, Massachusetts, I remember playing in the streams near where there were abandoned mills.  Their sluiceways for waterwheels, and cellar holes marking where buildings stood were a mystery to me.  Often tall oaks and maples grew in the middle of the cellar holes, and I couldn’t imagine people living  and working there.  We walked along where canals and bridges were supported by granite boulders and blocks, and it seemed like an ancient civilization had been there thousands of years before.  But in reality, only 100 years before, there had been villages and settlements along those brooks and near those waterways.

Robert Frost wrote about how good stone walls make good neighbors.  There is also a drink popular around these parts called the "stone fence".  You need 2 oz of dark rum, a few ice cubes, and fill the glass with hard cider.  A very New England drink considering the history of rum and hard cider in these parts.   Share a few of these with your neighbors, and you'll be instantly popular! 

A wonderful video about New England stone walls can be seen here:

Someone is blogging about the cellar holes and stone formations found in New England at this link

This post is part of a series of stories I wrote for this week all about stone walls.

Story 1- America's Stonehenge-

Story 3- Dogtown, Massachusetts

Story 4 - The Stone Sheepcote in Burlington, Massachusetts

For the truly curious:
A poem about New England cellar holes - 


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Stone Wall Stories- #2 Stone Walls and Cellar Holes", Nutfield Genealogy, posted June 19, 2012, ( accessed [access date]). 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Stone Wall Stories Week, #1 America's Stonehenge

Located at 105 Haverhill Road, North Salem, New Hampshire, American™ Stonehenge is the former Jonathan Pattee farm atop Mystery Hill. Before the Pattee family settled here in 1734, there was evidence that native people lived nearby. But the most interesting inhabitants of this area may have been an unknown megalithic society that constructed a 12 acre astronomical stone calendar and a complex of underground chambers.

Mystery Hill is open year round, even winter, when snow shoe trails are open and snowshoe rentals are available at the gift shop. No one knows who built the stone chambers and megalithic calendar, but after viewing the museum, video and Mystery Hill, you will have fun discussing the possibilities with your companions. It is especially fun to have children come up with possible theories for the artifacts found at America’s Stonehenge.

Did you know that there are over 350 megalithic sites in New England? I have visited several in my travels, including the stone chamber in Burlington, Mass, the Tower in Newport, Rhode Island, and the so called “Westford Knight” carving found in nearby Westford, Massachusetts. Some look like megalithic sites in England or Spain, and there are also subtle differences. Each visit brings up more questions than answers!

For the truly curious:

America’s Stonehenge website  

A website about stone structures found in New England 


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Stone Wall Stories Week, #1 America's Stonehenge", Nutfield Genealogy, posted June 18, 2012, ( accessd [access date]).