Saturday, August 31, 2013

Surname Saturday ~ Ratchford of Massachusetts and Nova Scotia


This lineage begins with James Radsford, who was born about 1719 and married Margaret Ball on 26 December 1738 in East Bridgewater, Massachusetts.  This couple is a true brick wall to my genealogy research, since I do not know the origins or parents of either one.  The name Radsford is often spelled as Ratchford in the Bridgewater records, and it is the spelling adopted by the descendants.  They had five sons, no daughters, in the vital records. 

I descend from Thomas Ratchford, the second son.   He married Desire Gore on 1 December 1760 in Groton, Connecticut.  She was the daughter of Moses Gore and Desire Burris/Burrows/Burroughs.   About 1763 he settled in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia.  He was part of the New England Planter movement, who came to Nova Scotia for the free land given away after the Acadian expulsion.  Records of his family can be found in the Township Book of Cornwallis.

Their daughter, Elizabeth Ratchford, is my 5th Great Grandmother.  She married David Lyons on 25 May 1779 in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia.  He was a recent settler from Connecticut to Nova Scotia.  They had twelve children in Cornwallis, and left many, many descendants.  My branch came back to New England.  I found much information about this lineage of Ratchfords in my ancestor, Reverend I. E. Bill’s, journals.  The Rev. Bill married Isabella Lyons Bill, the granddaughter of Elizabeth Ratchford and David Lyons.

I haven’t found any further Radsford or Ratchford records in Plymouth County, Massachusetts to trace this lineage back further than James Radsford, my 7th Great Grandfather.

My Ratchford genealogy:

Generation 1:  James Radsford, born about 1719; married on 26 December 1738 to Margaret Ball.  They had five sons in the Bridgewater, Massachusetts Vital Records.

Generation 2: Thomas Ratchford, born 19 June 1741 in Bridgewater, died 27 December 1813 in Horton, Kings County, Nova Scotia; married on 1 December 1760 in Groton, Connecticut to Desire Gore, daughter of Moses Gore and Desire Burris.  She was born 20 September 1740 in Groton, and died 11 April 1813 in Horton.  Three children.

Generation 3: Elizabeth Ratchford, born about 1764 and died 18 March 1845 in Nova Scotia; married on 25 May 1779 in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia to David Lyons.  Twelve children.

Generation 4:  Thomas Ratchford Lyons m. Ann Skinner
Generation 5: Isabella Lyons m. Ebenezer Ingraham Bill
Generation 6: Caleb Rand Bill m. Ann Margaret Bollman
Generation 7: Isabella Lyons Bill m. Albert Munroe Wilkinson
Generation 8: Donald Munroe Wilkinson m. Bertha Louise Roberts (my grandparents)


Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Friday, August 30, 2013

September 2013 Genealogy and Local History Event Calendar

Local Genealogy Club Meetings:

Barrington, NH Genealogy Club, meets the first Wednesday of the month at 6pm at the Barrington Public Library, 105 Ramsdell Lane, Barrington, NH  or email Wendy at

Chelmsford Genealogy Club, at the Chelmsford, MA Public Library, first Tuesday night of the month at 7PM in the McCarthy Meeting Room, contact Judy Sylvia 978-256-5521

Genealogy Roundtable, at the Derry Public Library, 64 East Broadway, Derry, NH  every first Tuesday of the Month, at 1 – 2:30 PM.  Contact: 603-432-6140 for more information.

Greater Lowell Genealogy Club meets at the Pollard Memorial Library, Lowell, MA 10AM to 1PM once a month. 

Hudson Genealogy Club, at the Rogers Memorial Library, 194 Derry Road, Hudson, NH  every 2nd Friday of the Month, at 1:30 PM contact 603-886-6030 for more information.  (on summer hiatus until September)

Meredith NH, Genealogy Club

Newton, NH Genealogy Club- Gale Library, Newton, NH, 603-382-4691, 3PM on the third Wednesday of the month. 

North Hampton, NH Genealogy Club, at the North Hampton Public Library, 237A Atlantic Avenue, North Hampton NH 603-964-6326

Rye Genealogy Club, at the Rye Public Library, first Tuesday of the month at 2PM.

RISE Genealogy Group at the Nashua Public Library, Hunt Room, on the first Friday of the month at 1pm  (Rivier College Institute for Senior Education, see )

Southborough, MA Genealogy Club, at the Southborough Library, 25 Main Street, Southborough, MA  508-485-5031 or   Third Thursday of the Month.  See the website for a schedule

Shrewsbury, Massachusetts Genealogy Club, meets third Monday of the month at the Shrewsbury Public Library, contact George C. Brown at 508-841-8531 or


August 30, 9am – 5pm, Free Fun Friday at Plimoth Plantation, 137 Warren Avenue, Plymouth, Massachusetts, sponsored by the Highland Street Foundation, the museum, grist mill and Mayflower II (open until 7pm) will be FREE all day.

September 4, 10am, New Visitor Welcome Tour, at the New England Historic Genealogical Society Library,  99 – 101 Newbury St. Boston, MA.  A FREE orientation and tour of the resources available at NEHGS with over 15  million artifacts, books, manuscripts, microfilms, journals, photographs, records and expert staff.  For more info 617-536-5740

September 5, 12-1pm, Shoulder Your Arms: Colonial Militias in Early Plymouth Colony, a “Lunch & Learn” lecture at Plimoth Plantation Museum, Plymouth, Massachusetts, Free for members, $8 non-members.  Learn the role of famous military figures (such as Capt. Myles Standish), and the importance of Colonial arms and armament in early New England.  Bring a lunch or buy one at the Patuxet Café. Please pre-register here

September 7, Saturday, 12:30pm Tell Your Life Story with Eddie Adelman, at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at 29 Ocean House Road, Cape Elizabth, Maine, sponsored by the Greater Portland Chapter of the Maine Genealogical Society.  Social Hour at 12:30pm and speaker at 1pm.  Business meeting to follow at about 2:10.

September 7, Saturday, Family Natutical Night at Battleship Cove, Fall River, Massachusetts.  Spend the night on a WWII battleship.  Sleep in the bunks, eat meals in the chow line, and rise and shine to the sound of reveille.  Guests will enjoy all day admission, two meals and the opportunity to participate in shipboard activities.

Further afield in Salt Lake City - for those with Hispanic ancestry
September 9 - 14th, Conferencia Iberoamericana de Genealogia, at 345 W. North Temple,  Brigham Young Salt Lake Center in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah.  Free classes to the public Friday September 13th and 14th and preceding the conference will be a four day gathering of genealogists, archivists, and professionals in the field of Hispanic research from September 9th to 12th.  This portion costs $90, register at the website 

September 9, 7pm, Monday, Digging into Native History in New Hampshire, at the Stratham Fire House (Morgera Mtg. Room), 2 Winnicut Road, Stratham, NH, contact the Wiggins Library for more info 603-772-4346.  Abenaki history presented by Robert Goodby who reveals archaeological evidence that shows their deep presence here in New Hampshire.

September 10, 7pm, Tuesday, Harnessing History: On the Trail of New Hampshire’s State Dog, the Chinook, at the Hampstead Public Library, 9 Mary E. Clark Drive, Hampstead, NH.  Contact 603-329-6411 for more information.  FREE to the public.  Bob Cottrell covers the history of Arthur Walden and his Chinooks.  Inquire whether the speaker’s dog will accompany him. 

September 11, 7pm, Wednesday, The Founding Fathers: What were they Thinking?  At the Wadleigh Memorial Library, 49 Nashua St., Milford, NH, contact 603-673-2408 for more information.  FREE to the public. Richard Hesse presents the cast of characters called “founders”, the problems they faced, and the solutions they fashioned.

September 12, 7pm, Thursday, New Hampshire Towns and the Civil War, at the Brentwood Historical Society Museum, 140 Crawley Fall Road, Brentwood, NH, contact 603-679-8635 for more information.  FREE to the public. Jere Daniell discusses the home front during the war, responses to the Civil War, with specific examples from the history of Brentwood.

September 12, 7pm, Thursday, The Capital Crime of Witchcraft:  What the Primary Sources Tell Us, at the Rochester Historical Society, 58 Hanson Street, Rochester, NH, contact 603-330-3099.  Margo Burns presents an array of witch craft prosecutions in 17th century New England, using facsmiles of primary source manuscripts, and cases from Salem as well as New Hampshire, Boston and Connecticut.

September 13, Friday, 1pm All Aboard the Titanic, Rye Congregational Church, 580 Washington Road, Rye, New Hampshire, contact 603-964-6281 for more information. FREE and open to the public.  Ted Zalewski explores the personal experiences of selected passengers and crew, including those with New Hampshire affiliations.

September 14, Saturday, 2pm African American Soldiers and Sailors of the New Hampshire during the American Revolution, at the Discover Portsmouth Center, 10 Middle Road, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, FREE and open to the public, call 603-380-0193 for more information. 

September 15, Sunday, 11:30am, World War II New Hampshire, Deering Community Church, 763 Deering Center Road, Deering, New Hampshire,  A documentary about life in New Hampshire during the war, with interviews, news reel footage, photos and radio reports from the battlefields, with a discussion facilitated by John Gfoerer.  Call 603-529-7764 for more information. FREE and open to the public.

September 19, Thursday, 6:30pm, A Woman That Keeps Good Orders: Women, Tavern Keeping and Public Approval, at the American Independence Museum’s Folsom Tavern, 164 Water Street, Exeter, New Hampshire, 603-772-2622.  A discussion on the regulations, licensing, handing drunks, controlling the flow of information- why would the Colonial era government allow women to run a tavern? Why would a woman want to keep one?  FREE and open to the public.

September 20 -21, First New York State Family History Conference, Holiday Inn and Conference Center, Liverpool, New York (just outside of Syracuse)  For complete details see the website at  Jointly produced by the Central New York Genealogical Society and the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society for the first ever statewide genealogical conference in New York State.

September 21, Saturday, Wyman Family Association Meeting and Reunion, at the Francis Wyman House, built in 1666, at 56 Francis Wyman Road,  Burlington, Mass., see for more information

September 21, Saturday, Maine Genealogical Society 2013 Fall conference, at Jeff’s Catering, 15 Littlefield Way, Brewer, Maine.  Featured speaker will be Laura Prescott with a keynote address “How the Internet Makes Us Sloppy Genealogists”.  There will be a number of breakout sessions on a variety of topics. Registration is $40 for MGS members, $50 for non-members (Register before August 23 and enter a chance to win a $50 LL Bean gift card).   For more info see the website

September 28, Saturday, American Canadian Genealogical Society’s 40th Anniversary Celebration.  Speakers will be Dick Eastman, Lucie LeBlanc Consentino, Joe Manning. Stay tuned for details.

September 28, Saturday, New Hampshire Historical Society Museum will offer free admission as part of the 9th annual Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day.  Visitors must present a Museum Day ticket to gain free admission for two.  9:30 am to 5pm at 6 Eagle Square, Concord, New Hampshire.  For more information visit  Regular admission is $5.50 adults, $4.50 seniors, $3 children 6 -18, $17 family maximum.  Call 603-228-6688 for more information.

September 30, Monday, 7:30pm Runaway Wives: When Colonial Marriages Failed, at the Riverwoods, 7 Riverwoods Drive, Exeter, New Hampshire, 603-658-3049, A lecture exploring how 18th century wives tired of the marriage contract could run, but they could not hide. FREE and open to the public.

October 11 and 12, Polish Genealogical Conference, at Central Connecticut State University, New Britain, Connecticut.  $80 early bird, $90 late registration, single day admission also available.  For info see

October 19, 2013, Saturday, 8:45 am – 1pm, Family History Day “Update Your Family History Toolbox”, LDS church, 90 Clinton St, Concord, New Hampshire.  This 6th annual conference is FREE to the public, recommended for ages 12 and over.  For more information contact Martha Methot  603-668-2958. Registration at EventBrite online   You will have a choice of four class sessions, 50 minutes each, from a large conference schedule. 

October 19, Saturday, 1pm – 5pm, Open House to Benefit the Hollis Hisotrical Society, 19 Main Street, Hollis, New Hampshire, across from the Wheeler House Museum.Visit the recently restored Whiting/Poole/Hackett House.  Nine rooms available for the tour after a boiler explosion in 2008 damaged much of the main floor. 603-465-3935, Tickets at $20 per person may be purchased ahead of time. 
October 22, Tuesday, 6:30pm  A Soldier’s Mother Tells her Story, Brookline Public Library, 16 Main Street, Brookline, New Hampshire, with Sharon Wood portraying Betsey Phelps, FREE and open to the public.  Contact Erin Kennedy at 603-673-3330 for more information.

November 7, Thursday, Our National Thanksgiving: With Thanks to President Lincoln & Mrs. Hale, portrayed by Steve and Sharon Wood as Lincoln & Hale, at the Ridge at Riverwoods, 10 White Oak Drive, Exeter, New Hampshire, FREE and open to the public, contact 603-658-1510 for more information.

November 7, Thursday, noon – 1pm, Native Foods, a “Lunch & Learn” lecture at Plimoth Plantation, Plymouth, Massachusetts, Free for members, $8 non-members.  Carol Wynne, the Wampanoag Foodways Manager at Plimoth Plantation will discuss Wampanoag foods and how they were grown, used and stored in the 17th century.  Bring a lunch or buy one at the Patuxet Café.  Please pre-register here

November 10, Sunday, 2pm Our National Thanksgiving: With Thanks to President Lincoln & Mrs. Hale, portrayed by Steve and Sharon Wood as Lincoln & Hale, at the Deerfield Community Church, 15 Church Street, Deerfield, New Hampshire, FREE and open to the public, contact Jeanne Menard at 603-463-9869 for more information.

November 12, Tuesday, 6:30pm Our National Thanksgiving: With Thanks to President Lincoln & Mrs. Hale, portrayed by Steve and Sharon Wood as Lincoln & Hale, at the Deerfield Community Church, 15 Church Street, Deerfield, New Hampshire, FREE and open to the public, contact 603-362-5234 for more information.

December 7, Pearl Harbor Day at Battleship Cove, Fall River, Massachusetts. Commemorate the 72nd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor with a brief ceremony at 12:55pm- the exact hour of the Japanese strike.  The service includes a wreath casting with remarks. Open to the public.

(never too early to plan ahead!)

Tickets are now on sale at Plimoth Plantation for the annual Harvest Dinner with the Pilgrims.  The 2013 dates are Saturdays October 13 – November 23rd, Sunday November 24, Wednesday November 27, Friday November 29 and Saturday November 30.  Tickets go fast!  For reservations and more information please see the webpage:

Also, there is a Thanksgiving Day Buffet on Thursday, November 28th, at four seatings, and a traditional American Thanksgiving Dinner on Thursday, November 28th and Friday, November 29th at several seatings.  See this webpage for reservations and more information:

Tickets are also on sale for Thanksgiving at Old Sturbridge Village.  The Thanksgiving Dinner Buffet and the more traditional Thanksgiving Dinner at the Bullard Tavern like at Plymouth, tickets sell out fast and there are limited seatings.


Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Some Thoughts about Cindy Crawford on "Who Do You Think You Are?"

On 27 August 2013, TLC aired an episode of WDYTYA? starring  supermodel Cindy Crawford as the featured celebrity.  She discovered that she had a colonial lineage that traced back to Thomas Trowbridge, her 10th great grandfather.  He was involved with the Siege of Taunton, England during their civil war in 1645.  She met with professional genealogists who presented her with impressive scrolls that outlined her lineage to Trowbridge, and ultimately a very fancy scroll that traced back about 30 generations to Charlemagne and early kings of Europe.

According to Matthew Deighton of, the research team at WDYTYA? spent more than 1000 hours of research on Cindy Crawford’s story.  Imagine how many hours this would take amateur genealogists to research?  Most viewers watching this show have never done any family history research.  Do they believe that they can walk into a repository or archive and be handed generations of genealogy? Does this support the myth that you can connect online at and immediately find an impressive lineage back to someone famous?

I’ve been at the Nashua Family History center and witnessed folks walking in off the street demanding to see their family history.  At the reading room at the NEHGS library in Boston I overheard a man requesting to see specifically “The last six generations of my family tree in book form, not microfilm, please”.  The ensuing discussion with the genealogist behind the desk was quite humorous. 

Although I am descended of too many farmers, paupers and simple laborers to count, I have found links between several colonial ancestors and royal lineages.  It took me hundreds of hours to reach that colonial immigrant ancestor, and then I relied on books such as Gary Boyd Roberts’ book The Royal Descents of 600 Immigrants to the American Colonies, or websites such as  William Addams Reitwiesner’s databases of European royalty and nobility.  Using these resources is the closest thing I know to being handed an impressive lineage scroll.   Someone else has done the work, and you need to verify your connection.   Just go to the NEHGS website at and try the library catalog search using the subject “families of royal descent” and you will find over 150 books and manuscripts. 

Never forget the hundreds, or thousands of hours it took to get to this point. And take this gift with a grain of salt.  I’ve pored over these genealogies and found many semi-mythical ancestors such as the Scandinavian descents from Odin, or ancient British king like Arthur or Beli Mawr, who also connect to biblical descents according to some genealogies (including Adam and Eve).  You must remember that historically the royalty maintained these written genealogies to prove they had “the blood of the gods” or inherited privilege.  Google the “Stone of Scone” to see how this tradition and myth is still perpetuated in the British Monarchy.

This episode seemed be about name collecting, which is something and other websites are blamed for promoting.  There was no mention of the 1000 hours I learned from Matthew Deighton.  As a spokesperson for, it would have been nice if the viewers knew that the verification of those many, many generations of Cindy Crawford's lineage took a long, long time and an entire team of researchers.Someone had to spend hours verifying this documentation. You can read all about this process at the ProGenealogist blog post here:

Some resources for working with royal and noble descents


The Royal Descents of 600 Immigrants to the American Colonies, by Gary Boyd Roberts, Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co, 2008

Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists Who Came to America Before 1700, by Frederick Lewis Weis, Baltimore, Md: Genealogical Pub. Co, 2004.

American Ancestors and Cousins of the Princess of Wales by Gary Boyd Roberts, Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co., 1984

Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England between 1623 and 1650: The lineage of Alfred the Great, Charlemagne, Malcolm of Scotland, Robert the Strong, and some of their descendants, by Frederick Lewis Weis, Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Pub. Co, 1982.

Ancestry of Catherine Middleton: Who Will Marry Prince William of Wales 29 April 2011, compiled by William Addams Reitwiesner,  edited by Christopher Challender Child  and Scott Campbell Steward, NEHGS, 2011.

The Magna Charta Sureties, 1215, The Barons Named in the Magna Charta, and some of their Descendants, by Arthur Adams, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co, 1964.

Medieval English Ancestors of Certain Americans: Many of the English Ancestral Lines Prior to 1300, by Carl Boyer, Santa Clarita, CA, 2001.

Plantagenet Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, Douglas Richardson, Baltimore, Md: Genealogical Pub. Co, 2011

Royal Families: Americans of Royal and Noble Ancestry, by Marston Watson, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co, 2004

William Addams Reitwiesner

Directory of Royal Genealogical Data by Brian Tompsett, University of Hull, UK

The Official Website of the British Monarchy


Native Hawaiian Genealogy Society website

Royal Lineages of Hawaii

See the Brian Tompsett website above for other places in Oceania

Other places in the world:

Islamic Dynasties by Brian Tompsett , see above

Genealogical Gleanings (includes Africa, Asia, Oceania, Near and Far East, including India)

The Royal Ark website for the Royal and Ruling Houses of Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas

Of special interest:

Papal Genealogy: The Families and Descendants of the Popes by George L. Williams, 2004


Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Weathervane Wednesday ~ A horse and sulky

Every Wednesday for two years I've been posting photographs of weather vanes located in or near the Nutfield area (the former name for the land where Londonderry, Derry and Windham, New Hampshire are now located). Most are historically interesting or just whimsical and fun weather vanes. Today's weathervane can be seen on the Maine coast. Have fun guessing where you may have seen this weather vane.
Do you know the location of weather vane #111? Scroll down to see the answer....

Today's weather vane was photographed at the Hotel Pemaquid, 3098 Bristol Road, New Harbor, Maine.  The three dimensional horse and sulky weather vane is atop the carriage house, across the street from the main part of the hotel.  This hotel was originally a farmhouse, and was converted to a hotel on 4 July 1888.  It is located only 150 yards from the ocean coastline, and is near the historic Pemaquid Lighthouse.  There is a weather vane of a sailing ship on top of the main hotel building, too, if you look closely.

Click here to see a blog post about Pemaquid Lighthouse and the 1635 Angel Gabriel shipwreck:

Hotel Pemaquid website

Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Rock of Ages Quarry in Barre, Vermont

This is where a large number of tombstones and memorials are made by the Rock of Ages Granite company in Barre, Vermont.  You might have seen the logo on a gravestone in a cemetery near you.  The granite mined here is also used for statues and memorials, such as the new World War II monument on the National Mall in Washington, DC.  At the visitor's center you can watch a film about the quarry, take a tour of the quarry, or visit the manufacturing plant next door where the granite is carved by artists into memorials and monuments.

This part of the granite quarry is over 600 feet deep, and the granite is a beautiful light gray color.

"In the late 1950's Rock of Ages
experimented with making lanes out of
granite for use in commercial bowling alleys.
Although a few such alleys were created
the concept never caught on.  This prototype
was used for many years by employees
and visitors alike, but then was neglected and
fell into disrepair.  We have restored the old
lane with a few exceptions.  We left the gutters
as they are to demonstrate how the reinforced
concrete has weathered, while the granite alley
is virtually untouched by the passing years.
There is no automation here. Step back in time
with your family to an era when "pin boys"
reset pins and returned balls.  Take turns as the
designated "pin person" and have a ball."

Carving gravestones and memorials is serious business, so I'm sure the artists had fun creating this granite bowling alley. Visitors sure had fun trying it out!

UPDATE: 4:20pm 27 August 2013
Barbara Poole, the author of the genealogy blog "Life from the Roots" posted in 2010 about a great resource from Rock of Ages.  They publish a small beginners genealogy book called Families Are Forever available at this link:
You can read more about it at her blog post at this link:

Rock of Ages, Barre, Vermont visitor information 

Rock of Ages video from YouTube

Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Sneaker King, Marquis Mills Converse

Kristen Stewart
wearing Chuck Taylor sneakers
on the red carpet in Hollywood
UP photo 2009
When I was just a teen aged kid, I started tracing our genealogy.  I had some help from a night class I took, and then I was on my own in the genealogy stacks of the reading room at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts.   I was lucky because it was the mid-1970s, and I had interviewed my grandparents, who had been born in the 1890s.  They knew all about their own parents and grandparents, which took me right to the “Tan Books”.  In those days (pre-internet), anyone doing Massachusetts ancestry used the Tan books, which are the published vital records for most of the towns in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.   The Tan books cover from the beginning of vital records in the early 1600s up to 1850.

I was also lucky because the AAS had, and still has, a great collection of compiled genealogies.  I was able to find a book on my MUNROE ancestors, and my EMERSONs, and then the CONVERSE family.  I carefully compared all the notes and dates to vital records.  I was sure that I was on the right track. However, the CONVERSE family had information on the family going back into the eons of time in England.  I took it all for granted and added it to my family tree.  There was no way of checking information pre-1620 in the Massachusetts Vital Records.

Still on the hunt for proof of my CONVERSE line led me to check the information I previously found with some books on heraldry and peerages.  All the Converse information matched, except for the leap from England to Massachusetts in the 1600s. Which is exactly where I found my first case of “trimming the family tree” a few years later.  As I advanced in my genealogy research experience, I learned about genealogy journals and using the latest available research.  The CONVERSE book I had read was published in the 1800s. Newer information in the NEHGS Register later in the 20thcentury straightened out the line and trimmed off my noble CONVERS line which had led to the knight Sir Roger de Coigneries, companion to William the Conqueror

Fast forward  - in the year 2001 a book was published called The Name’s Familiar II, a second volume of a book by Laura Lee which gives biographies and family histories on the inventors or historical figures who lent their names to brands, inventions, and other commonly used words.  This is the book for you if you are curious about the people and names behind CliffsNotes,  Bunker Hill, or Converse athletic shoes.   You can read this book online at Google Books.

The very first line of the sketch on Marquis Mills Converse, founder of the Converse athletic shoe company,  states “…was born October 25, 1861 into a family that traces its lineage all the way back to Edward III of England…”.   I wondered if they used his noble heritage in any early advertising.  And hey, that CONVERSE name sounded familiar?  Marquis Mills Converse turned out to be a relative. To me.  Not to any noble King in England.  If a fifteen year old could figure out that family history, why couldn't a book author?  (Did his parents name him "Marquis" after a mythical royal lineage?)

Did you ever wear a pair of Chuck Taylor basketball shoes? This is the same Converse shoe company, founded in 1908 in Malden, Massachusetts.  Our common ancestor, the Puritan Deacon Edward Converse first came to the New World and settled in Charlestown, and then Woburn, Massachusetts.  Malden was a great place for this famous sneaker factory since it is right in between the two towns where Deacon Converse lived in the 1600s.  These shoes are probably now made in China, but I don't know for sure.  Converse sneakers were wildly popular with both basketball players and teenagers in the 1950s and 1960s, until designer athletic shoes became the rage in the 1970s and 1980s.  The company is still making athletic shoes, and they are more popular today with skateboarders and red carpet actresses in Hollywood than with NBA athletes.

Here’s the real story!

The Converse Family genealogy:

          Richard Convers d. 1542 in Navestock, Essex, England m. Margaret Unknown
                                         John Convers m. Joan Fuller
                                         Anthony Convers m. Clemence Spady
                                         Deacon Edward Converse m. Sarah Parker
                                         b. 1590 Stanford Rivers, Essex, England
                                         d. 10 August 1663 Woburn, Massachusetts
                              I                                                                   I
James Converse m. Anna Long                                     Samuel Converse m. Judith Carter
                              I                                                                   I
James Converse m. Hannah Carter                              Samuel Converse m. Dorcas Pain
                              I                                                                   I
Robert Converse m. Mary Sawyer                                Thomas Converse m. Abigail Fay
                              I                                                                   I
Susanna Converse m. Caleb Simonds                           Joel Converse m. Elizabeth Bixby
                              I                                                                   I
Ruth Simonds m. Andrew Munroe                               Marquis Converse m. Electa White
                              I                                                                   I
Luther Simonds Munroe m. Olive Flint                        Peter Mills Converse m. Mary Spear Clement
                              I                                                                   I
Phebe Munroe m. Robert W. Wilkinson         Marquis Mills Converse m. Alice Houghton Sargent
                             I                                                   Founder of the Converse Shoe Company

Albert M. Wilkinson m. Isabella L. Bill                         
Donald M. Wilkinson m. Bertha L. Roberts
                (my grandparents)

Slightly inaccurate source:
The Name’s Familiar II, by Laura Lee, Gretna, Louisiana: Pelican Publishing Company, 2001.  (See pages 83-84 for the sketch on Marquis Mills Converse)

Better sources for CONVERSE genealogy:
NEHGS Register, Volume 146, pages 130 -132
NEHGS Register, Volume 153, pages 81 - 96
Great Migration Begins, Volume 1, pages 459 - 463

Internet resources:
Converse Shoes official website


Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Surname Saturday ~ Lyons, Loyalists from Connecticut to Nova Scotia?

Isabella Lyons (1806 - 1872)
wife of Rev. I. E. Bill


This is another brickwall line, and I was reluctant to post it as a Surname Saturday name until I realized that someone out there in cyber space may have the answer to my lineage problems.  So here is the story…

My line begins with David Lyons.   He appears in Nova Scotia records for the first time when he purchased land from Thomas M. Beckwith near the Pereau River on 6 April 1803.   He appears in the 1790 Federal Census of Stratford, Connecticut.   According to an article in Connecticut Ancestry “Connecticut Loyalists Who Went to Canada” 1974, Volume 17, No. 2, a “Daniel Lyon” was granted land in Canning, Nova Scotia.  Is this the same man?

On 25 May 1779 in Cornwallis, Kings County, Nova Scotia David Lyons married Elizabeth Ratchford, the daughter of Thomas Ratchford and Desire Gore, other new Nova Scotia planters from New England.  I know little else about Thomas and Elizabeth. David Lyons and his family are listed in the Cornwallis Township book, which gives the names and some dates for the twelve children’s births.

My line continues through their son, Thomas Ratchford Lyons, who married twice. His first wife, and my 4th great grandmother, was Ann Skinner.  She gave him seven children.  I only know a little about this generation from vital records in the Cornwallis Township Book and from a journal written by a son-in-law.  Their daughter, Isabella Lyons, married the Reverend Ingraham Ebenezer Bill, who wrote extensively about his life, his family and his conversion to the Baptist faith.  There is also some information about the Lyons family in the family sketches chapters of The History of King’s County, Nova Scotia by Arthur Wentworth Hamilton Eaton, 1910 (available to read online at at this link ).

Other LYONS researchers have uncovered information about a Patrick Lyons in Nova Scotia.  This Patrick Lyons lived previously in Connecticut, where he witnessed a will.  Patrick Lyons left a will mentioning his father’s burial in County Monaghan, Ireland, and a brother Edmund in Castleblaney.  Could he be the father, brother or kinsman of David Lyons? Was the family of Irish descent?  Were they Loyalists?

My LYONS lineage:

Generation 1:  Patrick Lyons?

Generation 2: David Lyons, born about 1759 in Connecticut? Died May 1812 in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia; married on 25 May 1779 in Cornwallis to Elizabeth Ratchford, daughter of Thomas Ratchford and Desire Gore.  She was born about 1764 and died on 18 March 1845 in Nova Scotia.

Generation 3: Thomas Ratchford Lyons, born 3 March 1780 in Cornwallis, died 1859 in Sackville, Nova Scotia; married first on 30 September 1802 in Cornwallis to Ann Skinner, daughter of Charles Skinner and Sarah Osborn.  She was born 9 March 1786 in Cornwallis and died 19 October 1815 in Cornwallis.  He married second to Anne Griffin.

Generation 3: Isabella Lyons, born 28 January 1806 in Cornwallis, died April 1872 in Carleton, New Brunswick; she married on 20 April 1826 in Cornwallis to Reverend Ingraham Ebenezer Bill, son of Asahel Bill and Mary Rand.  He was born on 19 February 1805 in Billtown, Cornwallis and died 4 August 1891 in St. Martin’s, New Brunswick.

Generation 4: Caleb Rand Bill m. Ann Margaret Bollman
Generation 5: Isabella Lyons Bill m. Albert Munroe Wilkinson
Generation 6: Donald Munroe Wilkinson m. Bertha Louise Roberts (my grandparents)


Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Friday, August 23, 2013

On the Trail of Johnny Appleseed

This spot, with the historical markers and miniature log cabin,
marks the birthplace of Johnny "Appleseed" Chapman, in Leominister, Massachusetts

Every time I drive to my Mother’s house we drive down Route 13 through Leominster, Massachusetts.  Along the way we pass a “Welcome to Leominster” sign that says “Home of Johnny Appleseed”, a  Johnny Appleseed school , Appleseed plaza, and lots of other references to the mythical hero.  But he was a real man, and his actual name was John Chapman.  He was my 2nd cousin, five generations removed.   His mother was Elizabeth Simonds, the niece of my 5th great grandfather, Caleb Simonds (1720 – 1811).

One day last month when we were passing though Leominster I said to my husband, “Let’s find the historical marker for his birthplace”.  Of course, it was located on Johnny Appleseed Lane, next to the Johnny Appleseed State Park.  It was easy to find with an iPhone using Google and a mapping app, or GPS.   The memorial was small and solemn, and easy to drive past if you don’t go slowly and keep your eyes open on Johnny Appleseed Lane.   There is no space to park and pay your respects, so we pulled over on the side of the road and took a few quick photos out the car window.

SEPTEMBER 26, 1774          MARCH 18, 1845

My fellow genealogists are gathering in Fort Wayne, Indiana this week for the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference.  This is near where Johnny Appleseed lies buried at the Johnny Appleseed Memorial Park.  You can see photos of this at at this link: Or here are a few from my fellow blogger Carol A. Bowen Stevens.  Thanks, Carol!

1774 - 1845

SEPTEMBER 25, 1965

Johnny Appleseed Memorial Park
Fort Wayne, Indiana
photo courtesy of Carol A. Bowen Stevens
In a funny coincidence, my ancestor Caleb Simonds, mentioned above,  had a first cousin married to Colonel Loammi Baldwin (1744 – 1807), who was a renaissance man - an engineer, inventor, politician and an officer in the American Revolution.  Loammi Baldwin has a statue in his hometown of Woburn, Massachusetts, and is widely remembered as the cultivator of the Baldwin apple among all his other acomplishments. He is the husband of my 2nd cousin six generations removed.   I wonder if Johnny “Appleseed” Chapman took Baldwin apple seeds with him on his journey to the midwest?   

This Johnny Appleseed statue is in the
Londonderry Leach Library, next to the Children's Room.
It was sculpted by Pat Verani of Londonderry.

Johnny Appleseed’s genealogy:

Generation 1:  John Chapman, born 26 September 1774 in Leominster, Massachusetts, died on 18 March 1845 in Fort Wayne, Indiana; unmarried.

Generation 2:  Johnny “Appleseed”’s parents were Nathaniel Chapman, born 13 September 1746 in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, died 18 February 1807 in Salem, Ohio; married as his first wife  on 9 August 1769 in Leominster to Elizabeth Simonds.  She was born 2 July 1748 in Ware, Massachusetts, died 18 July 1776 in Leominster.  

Generation 3: James Simonds, born 10 March 1717 in Woburn, Massachusetts, died in Leominster; married as his first wife on 12 May 1740 in Woburn to Anna Lawrence, daughter of John Lawrence and Elizabeth Stone.  They are my 5th great uncle and aunt.

Generation 4: James Simonds, born 1 November 1686 in Woburn, died 30 June 1775 in Woburn; married on 17 June 1714 in Woburn to Mary Fowle, daughter of James Fowle and Mary Richardson.  She was born 18 June 1689 in Woburn, died 9 March 1762 in Woburn.  They are my 6th great grandparents.

Generation 5: James Simonds, born 1 November 1658 in Woburn, died 15 September 1717 in Woburn; married 29 December 1685 in Woburn to Susannah Blodgett, daughter of Samuel Bloggett and Ruth Eggleton.  She was born 17 February 1663 in Woburn, and died 9 February 1715 in Woburn.  My 7th great grandparents

Generation 6: William Simonds, born about 1612 in Winchester, Hampshire, England, died 7 June 1672 in Woburn; married on 18 January 1644 in Woburn to Judith Phippen.  She was born about 1619 and died 3 January 1690 in Woburn.  My 8th great grandparents.

For more information:

The Chapman Family Association,

From the Chapman Family Association website, the Johnny Appleseed page at this link:

"This Day in History- September 26" video from YouTube by the Freedom Trail Foundation:
New England’s Insomniac Theater visits the Johnny Appleseed Birthplace, on YouTube at this link:

A story from the Worcester Telegram, 3 July 2011 “Johnny Appleseed Tale Grew Tall in Leominster” by Karen Nugent at this link:

Johnny Appleseed Country website, sponsored by Massachusetts Visitor Center on Route 2 westbound, located between exits 35 and 36 in Leominster, Massachusetts.

Carol A. Bowen Stevens blog "Reflections from the Fence"

The URL for this post is

If you are reading this at any other URL you are reading stolen content

Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Photos from Londonderry's Old Home Day, 17 August 2013

The Londonderry Historical Society hosted lots of historical activities on Old Home last weekend.  There were colonial era re-enactors, demonstrations of old fashioned crafts, a Farmers and Artisans market, and other fund raisers to benefit the re-construction of the Rev. William Morrison house on the museum property.  A record number of attendees had a wonderful time!

In 1899 New Hampshire governor Frank Rollins proclaimed the first Old Home Day for the third Saturday in August.  It brought home people who had moved to the big cities out of state, or to the mills in Nashua and Manchester for employment, or out west for better farming opportunities.  There are only about ten communities in New Hampshire that have faithfully carried on the Old Home Day tradition of the third Saturday in August.  Many other hold Old Home Day anytime in August, September or October. 

Little re-enactors

Children enrolling "for the militia" and learning to drill and march

There were lots of old time games and toys to play with, too. 

Yours Truly teaching children the art of weaving


The Morrison House was open for tours
The blacksmith demonstrations in the
Clark Blacksmith shop drew big crowds

This re-enactor was pouring lead into molds
to make musket balls

The Londonderry Old Home Day website

The Londonderry Historical Society

Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo