Friday, August 31, 2012

Ivory Wilkinson AKA Ivory Peirce AKA Ivory Moulton Part 2

The sensational headlines!
The Boston Globe, 3 December 1885
Front Page!
Yesterday I outlined the history and the lawsuit of Ivory W. M. Peirce to contest thewill of railroad millionaire Thomas W. Peirce.  What I found most interesting is that the newspapers in 1885 included entire transcripts of the testimony.  This testimony gave me much detail about the family dynamics and the family tree, including some names that did not show up in the Maine vital records. 

The following reads like a bad soap opera, but was actually extremely helpful to me! 

For example:

According to Ivory Wilkinson Moulton Peirce: “I went to my mother and asked her who was my father, and she told me Thomas W. Pierce and it was honorable; I was indignant at that and left her; I did not ask when or where she was married; have had nothing to do with her since; I saw her two years ago in Sanford but never had a word with her about the subject; should think she was married about 1845 by the name Julia Wilkinson; think she went by the name of Peirce before that in Sanford… Took the name of Peirce when 17 years old; after my mother told me about my parentage…” [reported in The Boston Daily Globe, Boston, Massachusetts, 19  November  1885, page 5 “Peirce’s Alleged Son”]  (All records after he left Maine, including his military enlistment in the Civil War, marriage in Massachusetts and his children's birth records all name him as Ivory W. M. Peirce, except for a run in with the law when he used the name "Ivory Sanford".) 

Or more testimony by Ivory W. M. Peirce: “My mother has other children by Mr. Witham; don’t know how many; visited my mother a few weeks ago; I saw a daughter, Georgie, down there. I have seen a son named Charley. I think he is older; have heard of one named Sarah Witham; you know as much as I do about them; have heard others mentioned; another girl; have reason to suppose there are four, but I don’t know but that she had a dozen others; I never heard of any older than myself or any younger except the Witham children; I presume my mother was married to Mr. Witham and know she was to Mr. Thomas W. Pierce; don’t know who my mother lived with in Sanford, Me., except my grandfather; Don’t know that she lived with Reuben J. Wentworth; I don’t know about her marriage to him, and I don’t think anybody ever did but you. Don’t know of mother having any relatives living; don’t know whether she is living or not. I understood she was married.  I understand she had another sister, Lucy Morrison. She had a brother James Wilkinson who died a few months ago. Have seen her sister, Hannah Ricker, in Lynn. Have been at her house in Great Falls, N.H.  Have seen her a great many times.  She visited me once in Lynn. She has no husband. I think he is dead.  I saw her last three years ago. Saw Lucy last in Sanford, Me. some ten or twelve years ago.  I know that Charles Witham is in Charlestown State Prison now.  I think I’ve never heard of James or Stephen Witham.” [The Boston Globe, Boston, Massachusetts, Wednesday, 2 December 1885, page 1, “Latest”] 

I found these children and more listed in the Witham household in census records, and I did also find Julia Wilkinson's marriage and divorce records to Reuben Wentworth, and her Witham marriage. I also found Hannah Wilkinson's marriage to Benjamin Franklin Peirce Ricker, and Lucy Wilkinson's marriage to Joseph Morrison.   I'm wondering if there were any closer kinship ties between the Wilkinsons and the millionaire Peirce family since Benjamin Franklin Peirce Ricker's first wife was a Mercy Peirce! 

There was even some testimony by Jeremiah Moulton, Ivory’s foster father:  “Ivory W. M. Peirce when he came to us, was called Ivory Wilkinson.  He was upon the town at the time, and a small pittance was paid for him awhile, and then we adopted him.  He was a hard boy.  An old gentleman and lady used to come to see Ivory from Farmington. They said their name was Pevey.  A question as to an alleged declaration by the old gentleman that Ivory was his grandchild was ruled out.  Never told Ivory Wilkinson that his name was Peirce.  Never told him that his father’s name was Thomas W. Peirce.  Never had any such conversation with him.  Knew Julia A. Wilkinson.  She use dto visit Ivory when he was with us.  Didn’t know her before that.  Knew she was a woman of bad repute.  Knew she had on child older than Ivory, a daughter, whom she used to go see, and one younger that couldn’t go alone.  Had a conversation with Ivory W. M. Peirce last Friday in Sanford.  He told me that he was the son of Thomas W. Peirce, and talked as if he was the sole heir.  He said that he had commenced to break the will.  That he should not have thought of doing much about it if the lawyers hadn’t put him up to it.  He thought there would be a compromise.  Cross examined:  I was born in 1825.  Kew Julia A. Wilkinson was of bad repute before Ivory was born, after she had the daughter.  First heard of it after the birth of the girl.  Knew the latter was called Sarah Ann Wilkinson.  She married William Wentworth, the son of Rufus Moulton.  They lived together as married people.  Don’t know where she is.  Witness left Sanford in the April he was 20.  Ivory Wilkinson came to the Moulton family when he was five years old…. He was 21 years of age when he first called himself to us Ivory W. M. Peirce.  It was before my father’s death, and he died 15 years ago.  I was told he was living in Lynn under that name by George Hussey and William Stackpole.  Ivory wrote father about his parentage.  Witness never inquired of him why he called himself Peirce.  When he left witness’ place he told him: “Don’t you wear my name any longer.” And he supposed that Ivory picked another one.” [from The Boston Herald, Boston, Massachusetts, 3 December 1885, page 3 “Trying to Break a Will”] (It is rather sad that as a child Ivory Wilkinson was auctioned off to be kept by the Moulton family.  New England town records are full of records of children, elderly spinsters and paupers being auctioned off in the days before Poor Farms and Poor Asylums.  I don't know the relationship with the Peavey family yet, and I haven't found a birth record for the daughter, Sarah Ann,  Julia Wilkinson supposedly had before the birth of Ivory, but I did find Sarah Ann Wilkinson's marriage to William Wentworth.)  

And some testimony from Simon Tebbetts of Sanford, Maine, deputy sheriff: “Knew Julia Wilkinson prior to 1839 and Knew of Such a Child as Ivory Moulton, and knew that she had a girl older than this boy.  She lived at the “brick schoolhouse” between Sanford Corner and Alfred.  She had the reputation when younger of being a very bad girl.  Cross-examined: Have been a trial judge and am now a farmer.  Had known Julia Wilkinson had a bad reputation before she gave birth to a child.  Should not refuse to shake hands with her as she was a pretty girl …..  Heard that Julia Wilkinson had gone to South Berwick or Kittery to work some two years before witness met Thomas W. Peirce.  Tom used to come up to Springvale to do business for his father, who sold liquor to the hotel and also dealt with firms doing business there.  Never heard of his going to the house of Julia Wilkinson’s father, but thought he had heard his name in connection with Julia Wilkinson’s.  Did not hear it in connection with a marriage.  He never married her, in witness’s opinion, but was going with her prior to the birth of a child.” [from The Boston Herald, Boston, Massachusetts, 3 December 1885, page 3 “Trying to Break a Will”]

According to my calculations, Ivory Wilkinson AKA Ivory W. M. Peirce would be my 3rd cousin 3 generations removed. With these newspaper articles, and over two dozen other articles, I was able to also piece together the extended family.  Many of the names were unknown to me before this month, but after finding the names in the newspapers I was able to find them in some Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts vital records.

1.                                                Thomas Wilkinson (abt 1690 - before 1739)
2.                                                James Wilkinson (abt 1730 - abt 1800)
3.       Joseph Wilkinson (1757 - 1842)                         William Wilkinson (? - after 1840)
                       I                                                                          I
4.       James Wilkinson (1786-1860)                            Aaron Wilkinson (1802 - 1879)
                        I                                                                         I
5.       Julia Wilkinson (about 1820 - 1904)                  Robert Wilson Wilkinson (1830 - 1874)
                        I                                                                         I
6.   Ivory Wilkinson AKA Ivory W. M. Peirce             Albert Munroe Wilkinson (1860 - 1908)
7.                                                                                 Donald Munroe Wilkinson (1895 - 1977)
8.                                                                          John Warren Wilkinson (1934 - 2002) my Dad
9.                                                                                       Yours Truly

To find all this nice juicy family information in newspapers I used:   - Free 10 newspaper views per day if you sign in with Facebook   - by subscription or free through your public library  - by subscription or free through your public library 

Chronicling America  Free newspaper search online from the Library of Congress


Click here for the first blog post about Ivory Wilkinson


Copyright 2012, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Blacksheep found with

I found this story when I was perusing with my surname and town names.  I wasn't looking for one particular person, but I was trying to see if there were any stories about WILKINSONs in Maine, New Hampshire or Massachusetts.  Wow, I found this story about a cousin who does not appear in any birth record, so I didn't know he existed.  As you read about Ivory Wilkinson, you'll be surprised, too! 
From The Biographical Directory of the Railway Officials of America, edited by E. H. Talbott and H. R. Hobart, Chicago: The Railway Age Publishing Co, 1885.

T. W. Peirce was a wealthy railroad tycoon in the 1800s.  Thomas Wentworth Peirce (16 August 1818 – 1885), was the second son of the eleven children of  Andrew Pierce, the first mayor of Dover, New Hampshire.  He made his money investing in the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway.  Peirce drove the Silver Spike uniting the second transcontinental railway between his railroad and the Southern Pacific Railroad in Val Verde County, Texas.  His ancestor was John Peirce of Watertown, Massachusetts, and he was a cousin to the only US President from New Hampshire, Franklin Peirce.  His lineage was John, Anthony, Benjamin, Benjamin, Benjamin, Andrew, Andrew Peirce his father.  Thomas Peirce’s mother was Betsey Wentworth, daughter of Thomas Wentworth and Mary Roberts.

As a millionaire he donated school s and churches, both in New England and out west in Galveston.  He was a summer resident of Topsfield, Massachusetts.   His summer estate had over 700 acres. A railroad spur was brought up to the house with a private car for his last years when he was in ill health.   He had two wives, Mary Curtis of Boston, and Cornelia Cook of Galveston.  He died in 1885 at the Sanitarium at Clifton Springs, New York and was buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery near Boston.   His estate was valued at $8 million and his more than 700,000 acres of Texas land were sold by his executors.

The settlement of Thomas Wentworth Peirce’s will was national news.  The news was especially interesting when an unknown man entered a lawsuit at Salem District court contesting the will.  Ivory Wilkinson Moulton Peirce of Lynn, Massachusetts was a shoemaker born in Sanford, Maine. He claimed that Thomas Peirce was his father, and that his mother, Julia Ann Wilkinson, would testify for him in court.    

As a young man, Ivory Peirce left Maine.  As Ivory W. M. Peirce he enlisted in the Civil War in the Massachusetts Infantry, 2nd Regiment, Company F on 25 August 1861 and mustered out on 28 May 1865.  In his 1863 marriage record in Lynn, Massachusetts, Ivory Pierce, age 24, is listed as a “gentleman”, and gives his father’s name as Thomas Pierce. On his daughter’s birth record in 1878 his occupation is listed as “leather cutter”.  In the 1880 census he was listed as as “works in shoe factory”.  Apparently he either fibbed about being a “gentleman” or lost his fortune.  Can you believe what you see on a marriage or birth record?  Do you take into consideration the truthfulness of the person reporting the information to the town clerk?

During the trial, several people testified about his family, including Ivory himself. Their testimony listed lots of family members I didn’t know about, entire branches of new relatives!  Most of the names and dates listed matched up with public records.  I’ve had fun comparing the testimony in the newspapers of 1885 to the Maine vital records to build new branches of my family tree. 

In the end, I never found a marriage or divorce record between Julia Wilkinson and the millionaire Thomas W. Peirce, and neither did the judge in 1885.  The case was thrown out being that “illegitimate” meant he could not inherit, which was more important back then than now.  A child found to be born out of wedlock today could still inherit, but that was not the case in 1885.  Even DNA would not have helped Ivory Wilkinson Moulton Peirce in those days.

To be continued tomorrow, when I’ll show some of the testimony that reads like a soap opera!  And once I had Ivory Wilkinson Moulton Pierce's name, I found his story in over three dozen newspaper stories, from over a dozen states coast to coast.

For more information:

Peirce Genealogy, by Frederick Clifton Perice, 1880. 

John Mason Hart, "PEIRCE, THOMAS WENTWORTH," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed July 31, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.  

Click here for Part II of this story:  

Copyright 2012, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My Parent's Wedding Anniversary

Mr. and Mrs. John W. Wilkinson
Just Married!  29 August 1958

My parents were married on 29 August 1958 in Hamilton, Massachusetts at Christ Church, the Episcopal chapel.  Today would have been their 54th Anniversary.  My mother often tells me that she wanted a candle light wedding ceremony, but the church didn't allow it.  Hurricane Daisy hit New England just before their wedding, and she almost had her wish, but the power was back on in time for the wedding, and there was minimal damage to the coast.  They held the wedding reception at the United Shoe Machinery Corporation employee golf club in Beverly, since both the father of the bride and the father of the groom worked for "The Shoe".

My parents wedding photos have faded a lot over the years.  About ten years ago I removed all the photos from her plastic wedding album and we put them into an acid free archival scrapbook.  But the photos still continued to fade.  Last year I scanned them all and wondered aloud on Facebook how to restore the images electronically.  Genealogist Sharon Gillis, one of my "Facebook Friends", saw my comment and offered to play with one of the images since she had just finished a PhotoShop class.  My parents' wedding photo was one of her first projects, and she did a great job!  Thanks, Sharon!  I'd love to "fix" the rest of the images someday.

Mom and I had a lot of fun looking over her photos.  It is especially fun since my daughter is in the middle of planning her wedding, so we've been comparing photos, dresses, and the customs between a wedding in the 1950s, my 1983 wedding, and the upcoming wedding in 2013.  And it is fun to look at the photos and remember my father, who passed ten years ago this month.  Don't Mom and Dad look so young and beautiful in these photos?

The photo above has been restored.  The following photos are in their original condition:

This photo of Mom and her parents
is in the worst condition

My parents and their wedding party (left to right)
back row- Buddy Allen, Dick McKenney, Barbara Allen Thacher, Mom, Dad,
Bob Wilkinson and Ed Thacher
front row- Janet Allen, Sandra Thacher and Barbara Allen

My mother's family- The Allens
Left to Right- Stanley Allen Jr., Bob Allen, Buddy Allen, Barbara Allen Thacher,
Stanley Allen, Gertrude Allen, Mom, Dick Allen, and Don Allen

Mom's neice, Sandra, caught the bouquet
and nephew, Mickey (Stanley Allen III)
 caught the garter

Copyright 2012, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Weathervane Wednesday ~ A Sailboat

 This is part of an on-going series of photographs of weather vanes in the Nutfield, New Hampshire area (formerly Derry, Londonderry and parts of Hudson, Windham and Manchester).  Some of the weather vanes are historical, some are whimsical, and all are interesting.  Today's weather vane was photographed in Derry, New Hampshire.

Do you know the location of weather vane #59?

Today's weather vane was photographed on North Shore Road, across from Beaver Lake.  It is a beautiful three dimensional sailboat, with shiny brass or copper letters marking the points north, south, east and west. You have to look carefully for this weather vane, because it is mounted on the gable end of the house, not on top of a cupola.  This is a great weathervane for the shores of Beaver Lake, which has been a summer resort area for over 150 years!

Please click here to see the entire series of Weathervane Wednesday posts!

Copyright 2012, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Samuel Dinsmoor, age 22, Windham, New Hampshire

This tombstone was photographed at the Cemetery on the Hill, Windham, New Hampshire.

Son of 
Lieut. John &
Mrs. Isabel Dinsmoor,
died Jan. 10, 1818
AEt. 22.

Death's sudden stroke dissolved my feeble frame,
Reader, prepare!  you fate may be the same!
Renounce thy sins, by faith to Jesus fly,
Then welcome death, his gain for you to die.

This is the second Samuel Dinsmoor I've written of this year.  The first was the New Hampshire Governor Samuel Dinsmoor at this link:

I also blogged about the 22 year old Samuel Dinsmoor's brother, Capt. John Dinsmoor, who died at age 37 and left his parents,  Lt. John Dinsmoor and Isabel Hemphill, to face growing old childless.  That story is at this link:

This stone caught my eye because of the scary epitaph written below the names and dates.  Also, there is a barely visible line of inscription near the bottom that reads "???? Marble ??? 10 "

Copyright 2012, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Monday, August 27, 2012

Volunteer Opportunities with Genealogy

I’ve been volunteering all these past months by transcribing the 1940 Census.  Thanks to the more than 100,000 volunteers, the state of New Hampshire 1940 census records have been completely transcribed, and are available for full searching on several websites.  It was a very enjoyable, easy job, and I set a goal of doing at least two pages a night.  Since the entire 1940 census has been completely transcribed (all the states and territories) I’m going to continue transcribing for  There are US draft cards, foreign records, vital records and all sorts of projects that need transcribers.  If you are interested, please click on  and sign up, too.  This helps make records free and searchable online for everyone.

What other volunteering have I done for genealogy?  I was a volunteer for Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness (RAOGK), which has now closed and reopened as a wiki at this link:   However, I continue to do “random acts” through the Londonderry Historical Society, and answer several genealogy queries a week.  You can do this through or your local historical society.  My “random acts” include lookups, photographing gravestones and homesteads, and finding obituaries on microfilm.  This is relatively easy, and a good way to hone your research skills.

If you join a genealogy club or society, you can volunteer to speak, write in the newsletter, find speakers, start a website or hold a workshop.  You can even start up a genealogy club in your local neighborhood or library if there is not one near you.  Genealogy libraries such as the American Canadian Genealogy Society in Manchester or the New England Historic Genealogical Society library in Boston are often looking for volunteers to work in the stacks, help with research, conservation, or to assist librarians. For our local New Hampshire Mayflower Society I sit on the board, edit the newsletter and chair the scholarship committee. 

There are many groups transcribing and photographing cemeteries.  The biggest international online project is , but is a new one that takes advantage of the GPS function built into smart phone cameras.  Check out both on-line projects and consider participating.
In 2013 the New England Regional Genealogy Conference will be held in Manchester, New Hampshire on April 17 to 23.  There is a need for many volunteers to help out, even if you aren’t attending.  Please see the website  or contact the volunteer chair Christine Bard at or call (603) 424-0961. 

If you know of any other volunteer opportunities in genealogy, especially any local projects, please leave a comment on this blog post.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

William Henry Wilkinson and Josephine Chase, married in 1872 New Hampshire

That William H. Wilkinson of Rochester in the State of 
New Hampshire and Josephine B. Chase of Conway
in the State of New Hampshire were by me Joined together in
on the sixteenth day of December in the year of our Lord
One Thousand Eight Hundred and Seventy Two
In Presence of
Rachel W. Bailey            J. Hawks
Eva M. Hawks                    Pastor

This lovely, framed wedding certificate belonged to William Henry Wilkinson and was passed down in his family.  I've had trouble tracing his descendants.  The New Hampshire records seem to be missing quite a few of the important people needed to find someone to pass this document on to. The certificate is beautifully framed, but it is torn in a few places. It is very legible and easy to read, although the ink is fading.  Someone had it professionally framed and matted, which must have cost quite a bit. This wedding document would be priceless to a family member.

The certificate was last owned by Robert Purdy of Rochester, New Hampshire and Oregon.  He left the certificate and a house full of heirlooms to his neice.  She would like to return this certificate to a descendant of William Henry Wilkinson.  Robert Purdy was born in Rochester, and his parents were Robert Purdy and Ruth Wilkinson. I have not found any record of Ruth Wilkinson in the vital records, nor a marriage record to Robert Purdy.  However I did find the following in the 1920 Federal Census of Rochester, New Hampshire:

Wilkinson, William H, head, age 70, b. NH, father b. ME, mother b. ME, baggage handler, railroad
           Josephine B, wife, age 55, b. NH, father b. NH, mother b. ME
Purdy, Robert, grandson in law, age 20, b. Mass, father b. US, mother b. US
         Ruth, granddaughter, age 17, b. NH, father b. Mass, mother b. NH, saleslady, newstand

William Henry Wilkinson was born in September 1849 in Rochester, New Hampshire, the son of William Henry Wilkinson and Mary Lord.  He was a descendant of Thomas Wilkinson who married Elizabeth Caverly in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in 1715.  His lineage is Thomas Wilkinson > James Wilkinson  > William Wilkinson >William Henry Wilkinson >William Henry Wilkinson, II. This William Henry Wilkinson, Jr. (1849 - 1926) is my first cousin 4x removed.  He married Josephine Berry Chase on 1872 in Conway, New Hampshire.  She was the daughter of John Chase and Nancy Berry.  Then had at least six children:

1.  Millie A. Wilkinson, born about 1874, married Windsor Ward Berry on 8 August 1894 in Rochester, New Hampshire.  They had two children: 1) Harold Edgar Berry born 8 September 1896 in Peabody, Massachusetts 2) Milton Theodore Berry born 12 March 1899 in New Hampshire m. Elizabeth Unknown.

2.) John W. Wilkinson, born 1 October 1877 in Portsmouth, died 7 July 1878 in Portsmouth

3.) Franklin Wilkinson, born 15 October 1879 in Conway, New Hampshire, died 20 April 1944 in Rochester, New Hampshire.  It is unknown if he ever married or had descendants.

4.) Henry Wilkinson, born 14 October 1881 in New Hampshire, married Beatrice Muriel Fielding and had two children: 1)  Mary M. Wilkinson, born about 1916 in Massachusetts  2.) A son born 2 June 1914 in Malden, Massachusetts

5.)  Charles W. Wilkinson, born 7 October 1884 in Rochester, died 26 November 1884 in Rochester

6.) George H. Wilkinson, born 28 May 1886 in Rochester, died 29 March 1887 in Rochester.

From this I cannot seem to find a living descendant.  Robert Purdy of Oregon did not have any children. He left a large bequest to the Rochester Congregational Church.   I don't know who the granddaughter Ruth was born to, perhaps there was another daughter besides Millie?  Another son? Perhaps Franklin married and was Ruth's father?   Part of this mystery is that I cannot seem to find this family in the 1880 census, nor can I find Ruth in any earlier census before 1920.

I would love to reunite this framed wedding certificate to a living descendant.  Are you out there?

UPDATE!  -  28 August 2012  I found the obituary of Josephine Chase Wilkinson.  It names descendants.  Do you know any of these folks?

The Portsmouth Herald,  Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Tuesday, January 13, 1942, page 3

 "Last Rites Held"
"Funeral Services for Mrs. Josephine Chase Wilkinson, 86 were held this afternoon with Rev. M. Ernest Hall, DD pastor of the First Church Congregational, officiating.
Mrs. Wilkinson, who died Sunday at the home of her granddaughter, Mrs. Ruth Dempsey, 27 Leonard Street, was born in Conway, the daughter of John and Nancy (Berry) Chase.  She had been a resident of Rochester for 70 years.
She leaves a daughter, Mrs. Millie Berry, a brother, Horatio Chase of North Conway, two sons, Franklin Wilkinson and Henry Wilkinson of Rochester, two granddaughters, Mrs. Ruth Dempsey of Rochester and Mrs. Nancy Roy of Malden, Mass; a grandson, Milton Berry of Nashua, and three great grandchildren, Robert Purdy of Rochester, Vilma Berry of Nashua and Donald Roy of Malden, Mass.
Burial was in the family lot in Rochester cemetery."

UPDATE 2016 - This wedding certificate was donated to the Rochester Historical Society


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "William Henry Wilkinson and Josephine Chase, married in 1872 New Hampshire", Nutfield Genealogy, posted August 25, 2012, ( accessed [access date]).

Friday, August 24, 2012

Update at Nutfield Genealogy

August has been a busy month, even though I wasn’t even home one week to work on genealogy!  I spent some time on Long Island, and found several interesting things to blog about later, including my posts on Shelter Island, the Dolan DNA Learning Center and the Walt Whitman Birthplace.  I always find something historical when we are sightseeing! 

Last month my newest guest blogger, Betty Pye Wing, launched her own blog The Pye Plate at   This is the third time I’ve encouraged someone to start their own blog, and they all are wonderful!  In fact, one of these bloggers has also started a second blog (unrelated to genealogy), so they must be having fun!  And I think that The Pye Plate is one of the all time great names for a blog!  

The Nesmith Public library in Windham has honored me by placing a link to my blog on their page of genealogical resources on their website.  Windham is one of the original towns that made up the grant of land known as Nutfield.  It’s always nice to learn more about Windham.  I was surprised to see quite a few hits on my blog that traced back to the library website.  What a great surprise.  Check it out!

Just last week a student at St. Anselm’s college in Manchester contacted me about using one of my photographs of a family burial plot in her presentation.  It is a lecture “for medical professionals that will contrast how the culture was in the 1800s vs. today for the acceptance of death and dying.”  I wish I could be a fly on the wall for that presentation!  I granted her permission, attributed to my photographer, Vincent Rojo, and I applauded her for asking.  I’m sure many more of my photos have been “lifted” without permission.  You can see the photo of the Pettingill Burial Ground of Londonderry at this link:

A story I posted last year on the Towne Family Burial Ground around the corner from my house will be published in the next issue of the Towne Family Association newsletter, “About Towne” (another great name!).   I just received permission to take photos of the folk art portraits of Robert Boyd and Mary Towne that hang in Londonderry’s Leach Public Library to accompany the article.  If you are a descendant of William Towne and Joanna Blessing who came to Salem, Massachusetts about 1635, you can read all about it! The condominium I live in now was built on the Boyd dairy farm in the 1960s.  The Townes lived across the street, near the burial ground.  William must have fell in love with “the girl next door!”

Cousin Connections:

While I was in Long Island I received an email from a brother and sister who were excited to find their Wilkinson ancestors on my blog.  They were able to trace 11 generations back!  Some photos of a graveyard  I had posted from my first cousin near Brownsville, Maine helped them to put it all together.  We are very distant cousins, but it’s always nice to meet another Wilkinson descendant.

Another sharp eyed reader found several common ancestors on my blog, HAM, HEARD and HULL among others, and sent me the link for the Tamsen Meserve counterfeiter story.  It was too good not to share, so it was yesterday’s post.  I hope you enjoyed it, too!

A third cousin wrote to me from Texas, after he saw my story about the Draper and Maynard Sports Equipment Company, and the very unique name of Cupe Adams.  He must have used Google.  I don’t think there are many people in the world with the name Cupe.  He said that he was Cupe Adams, the 5th George Herbert Adams.   He also divulged that the first George got the nickname Cupe from delivering love messages to the girls side of campus to the boys side of campus.  The students started calling him Cupid.  It evolved into Cupe.  It was a great name to use for “cousin bait”!   The story about Cupe Adams can be found at this link:

Enjoy what little of summer is left! 

Copyright 2012, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A 1731 Counterfeiter named Tamsen Meserve

Tamsen Meserve is the wife of my 6x great grand uncle, Joseph Ham.  He was born 3 June 1678 in Dover, New Hampshire and killed in an Indian Raid on 28 September 1723.  Tamsen remarried to Joseph Tibbetts about 1725.  Joseph Ham, the first husband, is the brother of Mercy Ham, my 6x great grandmother, who married Richard Nason.  I blogged about the Ham family recently.  A sharp eyed reader, Paul Clark, saw that post and sent me a link to this wonderful story about Tamsen.    I’m posting the entire article here.

This story is full of names from 1731 New Hampshire.  Are you related to a MESERVE, HAM, TIBBETTS, BYRN, McVICKER, STYLES, PITNEY, CROFTSWAIT, or a BRADFORD?

This is a Ten Shilling Note from
Massachusetts 1776.
Note the warning across the middle! 

Story published by the Arlington Coin Journal Vol. II - No. 7, dated Sept.- Oct. 1973


"This month we want to tell you about Tamsen Meserve. She had the dubious distinction of being the only woman counterfeiter to ever darken New Hampshire's shores.

Tamsen was an outgoing woman, with no little amount of ambition, curtailed, perhaps, only by the times and the premise that woman in those early days were meant to be seen rather than heard.
In 1704 Tamsen married Joseph Ham of Dover with whom she lived a typical and somewhat conformist life for 19 years, until her husband's death in 1723.

Two years later, scarcely out of the mourning period dictated by the times, she remarried - this time a widower named John Tibbitts. This marriage followed much the same pattern as her first one. That is, until 1731 when things began to look up for Tamsen. It so happened that a William Byrn, a painter (and perhaps a laborer, too) came to Dover from Rochester, New Hampshire. Now after a short while, the folks in Dover began to think pretty highly of Mr. Byrn and so implored him to "keep School." As he put it, "learn their children to write."

William cottoned to this idea, accepted their offer, and was at once boarded at the home of John and Tamsen Tibbitts. Now, Tamsen, being a bright young woman, soon discovered that the new boarder had latent talents; that is, he could do a mighty nice flower drawing, and had the ability to pen beautiful script.
Believing that such talent shouldn't go to waste, Tamsen brought a 20 Shilling Mass. bill and a few other notes to Bryn, and with a bit of friendly persuasion, prevailed upon him to copy them.

News of Byrn's skill somehow reached the ears of John McVicker and Samuel Styles, and soon a partnership was formed with the gifted penman. McVicker and Byrne, never ones to use their heads, made a foolhardy mistake of delivering to Styles two documents bearing their signatures. In one they promised to give Styles one-fifth of all the money he could pass, and also pay his expenses, while the other one they swore "by the living God" to betray him neither by signs or word of mouth.

Meantime, Tamsen was busy in her own way, having passed off a 30 shilling New Hampshire bill to Sarah Pitney, while Styles passed a 3-Pound 10 Shilling note to Hannah Bradford of Portsmouth and another to Sarah Croftswait.

This threw Styles under suspicion and he was promptly arrested and he was promptly arrested and searched. His pockets produced nine counterfeit 3 pound 10 shilling bills, along with much more incriminating evidence-the two documents given him by McVicker and Bryn.

At this point things began to happen pretty fast; warrants were speedily issued and both of Style's accomplices were tossed into jail. They were soon joined by the Tibbets, and it didn't take long to discover that the gang had a plate and that the only give-away on the nicely stuck bills were the signings.

At the court hearing, both Styles and Byrn wre given the same sentence-pay a fine of 14 pounds, stand one hour in the pillory at Exeter, each to have one ear lopped off, and each to be jailed for one year without bail.

The Court, backlogged with work, didn't have time for the other prisoners, so McVickers was returned to jail and the Tibbitts were released on recognizance of 500 pounds.

Byrn, who began to feel sorry for what he had done, began to repent, though more than likely spurred by the thought of perhaps drawing a lighter sentence, decided to blow the whistle on his friends and made a full confession of the whole ugly mess. He claimed the bills were not made by a plate but his own hand and pen at the instigation of Tamsen; and bitter at Styles for his carelessness which brought on Byrn's arrest, he let loose with everything he knew about him, too.

The outcome was that Tamsen and her husband were charged with counterfeiting and passing, but at a Court of General Sessions, the king's attorney couldn't get a grand jury to indict them, so they were dismissed after paying court costs. McVickers, on the other hand, was convicted, fined 7 pounds, pilloried for one hour, had one ear cropped, and spent a year in prison.

Thus New Hampshire's only woman counterfeiter, Tamsen Meserve Ham Tibbitts, bless her heart, came out of that nasty counterfeiting business smelling like a rose!"

Copyright 2012, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Weathervane Wednesday ~ Another Motorcycle!

Happy Anniversary to Weathervane Wednesday!  This is the first full year of weather vane photographs, and I'm up to number 58!  I never thought I'd find enough weather vanes for a full year, and now it looks like I have quite a few more for the next year, too.  I posted my first weather vane photo on 24 August 2011, and it was the centaur with a bow and arrow you can see on top of the barn at Mack's Apple Orchard in Londonderry, New Hampshire.

This is part of an on-going series of photographs of weather vanes in the Nutfield, New Hampshire area (formerly Derry, Londonderry and parts of Hudson, Windham and Manchester).  Some of the weather vanes are historical, some are whimsical, and all are interesting.  Today's weather vane was photographed in Derry, New Hampshire.

Do you know the location of weather vane #58?  Scroll down to see the answer!

Today's weather vane is atop a barn on the corner of Beckworth Road and Old Auburn Road, near the Chester townline.  This is the second time I've found a weather vane shaped like a motorcycle!  Just around the back of this barn is a small collection of windmills, for you whirligig fans...

Please click here to see the entire series of Weathervane Wednesday posts!

Copyright 2012, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Isaac Thom and his Children

This tombstone was photographed at the Cemetery on the Hill, Windham, New Hampshire

died in Boston
Jan. 29, 1832
AEt. 52
died Dec. 21, 1824
AEt. 23 mo.
died Oct. 7, 1828 AEt. 13 mo.
died Aug. 4, 1820 AEt. 7 yrs.
died Jan. 7, 1832 AEt. 22 mo.
Children of
Isaac Thom Esq. & Sophia
his wife

Isaac Thom was born 31 January 1790 in Windham, New Hampshire, the son of Benjamin Thom and Katherine Morrison.  He married Sophia Senter on 16 April 1809.  She was born 17 February 1789, the daughter of Asa Senter and Margaret Tufts.  She died 3 March 1849.  He died on 29 January 1832 in South Boston, Massachusetts, where he was a member of the city council. 


Copyright 2012, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Monday, August 20, 2012

Genealogy Research at the Nashua Historical Society

The Nashua Historical Society
photo courtesy of Barbara Poole

Recently I tagged along with the Hudson Genealogy Club on their recent field trip to the Nashua Historical Society.  The Hudson Genealogy Club meets every second Friday at the Rodgers Memorial Library, 194 Derry Road.  We had a personalized tour by Beth McCarthy, curator, and Frank Mooney, the Nashua city historian, and several other volunteers.  

The Nashua Historical Society owns two side by side properties, the Abbott Spaulding house and the Museum at 5 Abbott Street.  It was founded in 1870, and the collections were kept in private homes until the 1970, and lost twice to fires!  In 1972 the current museum was built.  Since then the collection of artifacts, records and documents has grown tremendously.  There are changing exhibits of life in Nashua, as well as archives and a meeting room. 

Some of the collections of interest to genealogists include books (including a large collection of city directories back to the mid-1800s), manuscripts, artifacts, and a large photograph and postcard collection.  The postcards are an underutilized genealogy resource, with messages to and from kin.  Imagine being lucky enough to strike genealogy gold on the back of some of these postcards?  There is also a large surname file, which is currently not cataloged, and new files are being added to this every month.  If your family has roots here in Nashua you should consult this file, or consider donating family notes and charts to this file.

Before visiting the Nashua Historical Society, fill out the request form on the website, or call or write by post.  This gives the Historical Society research committee time to research your request and pull files and material pertaining to your surname or family.  Much of the collection is not currently cataloged, and is stored in two buildings.  At the time of your visit your material will be ready for you, and a volunteer will be able to assist you.  This is a perk not available at most other Historical Societies in New England!

Their gift shop includes many books pertaining to Nashua history and, of special interest to genealogists, a cemetery guide to the Old South Burial Ground.   The historical society offers special events, free to the public (see the website or newsletter for a schedule).   They also sponsor a changing exhibit case in Nashua City Hall.  Please consider joining the Nashua Historical Society, too!

The website for the Nashua Historical Society is and the phone number is 603-883-0015. 

Copyright 2012, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Sunday, August 19, 2012

2012 Londonderry Old Home Day

The Morrison House Museum is open to the public
every Old Home Day in Londonderry

It was a beautiful day for Londonderry's 113th annual Old Home Day.  The rain held off, and so did the humidity and heat.  An estimated 15,000 people attended the foot race, parade, baby contest, games, contests, concerts and visited the booths on the town common.  I was too busy at the Morrison House Museum to see any of the other events, but I have a few photos of the re-enactors and craftspeople who were stationed there for Old Home Day.  And we had a special visitor when President Obama stopped at Mack's Apples for a bag of apples and to visit with some veterans and kids who had just marched in the parade.  He was on his way to events in Windham and Rochester, but took time out of his busy schedule to see Old Home Day!

Air Force One waiting while President Obama
enjoys Old Home Day! 

Copyright 2012, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Saturday, August 18, 2012

August 19, 1692 and how you can help the Salem Witch Trials Memorial

On Thanksgiving 2004 I brought my Father-in-Law
from Spain to see the Witch Trials Memorial in Salem, Mass. 

On August 19, 1692 five people were hanged in Salem, Massachusetts when found guilty of witchcraft.  Their names were Reverend George Burroughs, Martha Carrier, George Jacobs, John Proctor, and John Willard.   Jacobs and Proctor were my 9x and 8x great grandfathers.   Carrier (maiden name Martha Allen) was my first cousin 9 x removed. Willard is my first cousin 11 x removed.  Other family members include the jailor, several accusers, and many witnesses both for and against the victims. My family has lived in this area a long time, and I was born less than ten miles away from Gallows Hill.  

During this frightening summer the victims of the witchcraft hysteria were hanged on June 10, July 19, August 19, September 19 and September 22, until the Royal Governor Phips stopped the trials from proceeding with hangings.   Hundreds of people had been imprisoned, tortured, and the entire colony had been scared into blaming neighbors and even family members of the crime of consorting with the devil.

The Witch Trials Memorial in Salem, Massachusetts stands in quiet memorial to those who suffered death during the witchcraft hysteria.  It was dedicated by Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel in August 1992 as part of the 300th anniversary of the Witch Trials.  It consists of 20 granite benches along a granite dry wall.  Each bench is inscribed with the name of one victim, along with their cause of death and the date of their execution.  Nineteen people had been hung, and one tortured to death.   The entrance of the memorial contains a threshold of granite blocks inscribed with quotes from the victims. 

John Proctor
My 8 x Great Grandfather

I have visited this memorial several times.  It is located right next to the Charter Street Burying Point, and on my regular tour of Salem when we bring out-of-town visitors.  Many tourists leave flowers and other memorials on the stone benches.  The compassionate, the descendants, and the history buffs all spend a few quiet moments inside the granite enclosure.  It is a powerful reminder of intolerance, and a place to memorize the victims because most do not have proper burial sites to visit, or gravestones. (Rebecca Nurse has a cenotaph and George Jacobs a gravestone in Danvers). 

This simple, yet elegant, memorial has suffered neglect in the past twenty years, and is in need of a facelift.   Over six million visitors have walked through the memorial, and the City of Salem has provided regular maintenance, but several stones need to be replaced by a master mason, and the walls have shifted due to weather and frost heaves. 

Quotes taken from court records decorate the entrance,
but are cleverly cut off mid sentence.
This quote from Bridget Bishop reads in its entirety
"I am no witch. I am innocent.  I no nothing of it." 
The Salem Award Foundation has begun a major fundraising drive to restore the Salem Witch Memorial.  There is an urgent need to provide maintenance to the site, before the problems with the granite walls grow worse.  Please consider donating now.  You can visit the website below to make a donation electronically, or send a check to the address.

Bridget (Playfer) (Wasselbee) (Oliver)  Bishop
My 9x Great Grandmother

The Salem Award Foundation website.

The Salem Award for Human Rights and Social Justice Foundation
P. O. Box 8484
Salem, MA  01971

Disclaimer:  I am not affiliated with the Salem Award Foundation, nor was I asked to write this post, nor did I receive special treatment or monetary consideration.

Copyright 2012, Heather Wilkinson Rojo