Saturday, November 30, 2013

Surname Saturday ~ CHAPIN of Springfield, Massachusetts


"The Puritan" at Springfield, Massachusetts
Samuel Chapin and his family were in Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1635.  His first five children were born in England, and then one born in Roxbury and the last in Springfield, Massachusetts.  His English origins are described in the book Thirty One English Emigrants (see below).

Chapin followed William Pynchon who left Roxbury in 1636 with a dozen families for Springfield which was first known as Agawam.  He was very influential in his new settlement, and served as one of the first five selectman, magistrate and was a deacon of the church for 25 years. He died in 1675 a few months after the town of Springfield was attacked by Indians and burned during King Phillip’s War.  His wife survived him by seven year, and his seven children all lived to adulthood and produced 72 grandchildren.

There is a large bronze statue of Deacon Samuel Chapin in Springfield.  It is called “The Puritan” and was sculpted by Augustus Saint-Gaudins in 1887.  You can read a blog post about this statue HERE.

Sources for Chapin family information:

Thirty-One English Emigrants Who Came to New England by 1662, by Dorothy C. and Gerald E. Knoff, Baltimore: Gateway Press, 1989, pages44 to 51.

Search for the Passengers of the Mary & John, 1630, Volume 17, pages 27 to 28.   See the website

The Chapin Book of Genealogical Data of the Descendants of Deacon Samuel Chapin by Gilbert Warren Chapin, in two volumes, Hartford, Connecticut: Chapin Family Association, 1924 reprinted by Higginson Book Company.

Life of Deacon Samuel Chapin of Springfield, by Howard Miller Chapin, Providence, Rhode Island: Snow & Farnham, Co. Printers, 1908. Available to read online at  

My Chapin genealogy:

Generation 1: Samuel Chapin, son of John Chapin and Phillippa Easton, baptized 8 October 1598 in Paignton, Devonshire, England, died 11 November 1675 in Springfield, Massachusetts; married on 9 February 1624 in Paignton to Cicely Penney.  She was the daughter of Henry Penney and Jane Unknown, born on 27 February 1602 in Paignton, died 8 February 1683 in Springfield. Seven children.

Generation 2: Catherine Chapin, baptized in April 1626 in Berry Pomeroy, Devonshire, England; died 4 February 1712 in Springfield; married on 20 November 1646 to Nathaniel Bliss, son of Thomas Bliss and Margaret Hulins, baptized on 28 December 1622 in Rodborough, Gloucestershire, England, died on 18 November 1654 in Springfield.  Four children.  Catherine Chapin remarried in 1655 to Thomas Gilbert, and in 1664 to Samuel Marshfield.

Generation 3:  Margaret Bliss m. Nathaniel Foote
Generation 4: Eunice Foote m. Michael Taintor
Generation 5: Eunice Taintor m. Aaron Skinner
Generation 6: Charles Skinner m. Sarah Osborn
Generation 7: Ann Skinner m. Thomas Ratchford Lyons
Generation 8: Isabella Lyons m. Reverend Ingraham Ebenezer Bill
Generation 9: Caleb Rand Bill m. Ann Margaret Bollman
Generation 10: Isabella Lyons Bill m. Albert Munroe Wilkinson
Generation 11: Donald Munroe Wilkinson m. Bertha Louise Roberts (my grandparents)

"The Puritan" at Boston's
Museum of Fine Art

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Copyright © 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Friday, November 29, 2013

December 2013 Genealogy and Local History Calendar of Events

Local Genealogy Club Meetings

Amesbury, MA – A new genealogy club has started, every last Monday of the month.  No registration, come to as many meetings as you would like.  For info contact Margie Walker, Local History Librarian, Amesbury Public Library, Amesbury, MA  978-388-8148 or

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, MA 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

Derry, NH Genealogy Roundtable, at the Derry Public Library, 64 East Broadway, Derry, NH  every first Tuesday of the Month, at 7pm to 8:15pm in the downstairs meeting room.  Contact: Alan Howard at 603-432-6140 for more information.

Hudson, NH 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)

Littleton, MA Genealogy Club, at the Couper Room in the Littleton, Massachusetts Reuben Hoar Public Library, third Monday of the month. For more information see the website at

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

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, NH 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

South Shore Genealogical Society, at the John Curtis Free Library, Rt. 139, Hanover, Mass at 1:30pm ever second Saturday of the month from September to June.

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

Wednesday Night Jewish Genealogy, Every 3rd Monday and Wednesday at NEHGS, 99 – 101 Newbury Street, Boston, Mass.

 December 3, Tuesday, 5:30pm Telling Our Stories is What Saves Us, Worcester Public Library, Sax Room- Main Library, Worcester, Massachusetts. Contact Maureen Ryan Doyle 508-829-6968 for more information. Worcester Women’s Oral History Project.

December 3, Tuesday, 2pm, Salem Spice presents: Exotic Spices, at the Danvers, Massachusetts Historical Society, Salem Spice’s David Bowie presents samples of spices from around the world, with a question and answer period.  Discover some of the spices that made Salem Maritime Merchant Joseph Peabody, one of America’s wealthiest men in the 19th century.  $40 per person.  Call 978-777-1666 for more information and tickets.

December 4, Wednesday, 6pm, A Recipe for Wellbeing: Health and Illness in Colonial New England, by genealogical speaker Lori Lynn Price at the Commonwealth Salon of the Boston Public Library, Free to the public. Commonwealth Salon of the Boston Public Library. Free to the public.  See for more information.

December 3, Tuesday, 5:15pm  Marriage and the Boston Massacre, at the Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston, Massachusetts, presented by Serena Zabin of Carleton College.  Phone 617-646-0568 for more information. Free to the public.
December 4, Wednesday, 7pm, New Hampshire on Skis, at the Hampstead Public Library, 9 Mary E. Clark Drive, Hampstead, NH, contact 603-329-6411.  Free to the public.  Professor E. John B. Allen presents a unique New Hampshire history.

December 7 and 8, Saturday 5-9pm and Sunday 4 – 8pm, 34th Annual Candlelight Stroll, at Strawberry Banke, Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  Bring the whole family for a stroll through the sights, sounds, and smells of American holiday traditions through the centuries.  $22 for adults, $11 for Kids 5 – 17, Kids 4 and under are FREE.  Family rate $55.  For more information click here  

December 7, Saturday,  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.

December 7, Saturday, Open House at the Millyard Museum, 200 Bedford St., Manchester, New Hampshire, Free admission 10am – 4pm.  Shopping, children’s activities, holiday music, silent auction and more! Sponsored by the Manchester Historic Association.

December 8, Sunday, 1pm, Strategies for Breaking down your Brick Wall, at the American Canadian Genealogical Society, 4 Elm Street, Manchester, New Hampshire.  A panel of experts will review methods to use in solving your genealogical brick walls.  A case study will be presented for everyone to solve.  This program is a prelude to our upcoming Brick Wall Sundays in 2014. or call 603-622-1554 for more information. Free for members, $5 for non-members.

January 7, Tuesday, Starting your Family History, at the National Archives facility in Waltham, Massachusetts, 380 Trapelo Road, Free to the public.  This workshop will provide you the strategies for collecting and organizing what you have found, and the methodology for embarking on this meaningful and engaging pastime.

January 13, Monday, 6:30pm Derry’s Medal of Honor Winners, at the Derry Public Library, Derry, New Hampshire, in the main meeting room,  presented by TJ Cullinane, contact Sherry Bailey at 603-432-6140 for more information. Free to the public.

January 14, Tuesday, New Hampshire’s One Room Rural Schools: The Romance and the Reality, at the Hampstead Public Library, 9 Mary E. Clark Drive, Hampstead, New Hampshire, Steve Taylor explores the lasting legacies of the one-room school house and how they echo today.  Contact the library at 603-329-6411 for more information.

January 16, Thursday, 5:30pm, When Subjects Talk Back:  Oral History, contemporary Biography, and the Runaway Interview, at the Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston, Massachusetts, a conversation with Joyce Antler of Brandeis University, Clair Potter Professor of History at the New School, and Ted Widmer, senior advisor to former secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Free to the public.

February 8, Saturday, 1:30pm, The Underground Railroad in New England, at the Derry Public Library, Derry, New Hampshire, presented by Eleanor Strang in honor of Black History month. Contact Sherry Bailey at 603-432-6140 for more information.  Free to the public.

February 10, Monday,  6:30pm, Local History Series: The Day that Made Robert Frost, at the Derry Public Library, Derry, New Hampshire, presented by the Derry Town Historian Rick Holmes. Contact Sherry Bailey at 603-432-6140 for more information.  Free to the public.

March 10, Monday, 6:30pm,  Local History Series: Houses of Derry, at the Derry Public Library, Derry, New Hampshire, presented by Karen Blandford Anderson of the Derry Heritage Commission and Director of the Derry Museum of History. . Contact Sherry Bailey at 603-432-6140 for more information.  Free to the public.

April 1, Thursday, Researcher Forum, at the National Archives facility in Waltham, Massachusetts, 380 Trapelo Road, Free to the public. Researching original records has changed in recent years, no longer are you winding the microfilm, and the resources and strategies have expanded.  Learn about the new and exciting initiatives for researchers, and use this open forum opportunity to tell the National Archives how researching can be made better for you.

April 14, Monday, 6:30pm, Local History Series: A History of Derry, at the Derry Public Library, Derry, New Hampshire, presented by Elizabeth Ives, Library Trustee and retired theater professional.  Contact Sherry Bailey at 603-432-6140 for more information.  Free to the public.

July 8, Tuesday, Passenger Lists, Censuses and Naturalizations: The Big 3 Sources for Family History, at the National Archives facility in Waltham, Massachusetts, 380 Trapelo Road, Free to the public.  Learn how to locate and use these resources, and there will be assistance from archives staff and volunteers.

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Copyright (c) 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Five Kernels of Corn Myth at Thanksgiving

NOTE - This blog post was updated in 2020, see this link:   

I originally blogged about the Thanksgiving Five Kernels of Corn in 2011, but I’ve learned a lot about this quaint tradition since then.  I decided to repost a new update on this myth (see the 2020 link above for the latest blog post on the Five Kernels of Corn).

For generations New Englanders, and some Mayflower families that moved south and west, practiced a quaint little tradition at their Thanksgiving table.  Each place setting was given five kernels of parched corn, often along with a card that had this little poem, or a similar one:

Five Kernels

The first winter in Plymouth was very cold
And hunger abounded as the the year unrolled.
Some days each only had five kernels of corn.
Their lives were becoming sad and forlorn.

But then spring came and their harvest grew.
The pilgrims began to thrive and their spirits did, too.
But they never forgot the bleak times they did abate
So on Thanksgiving they’d put five kernels on each plate.

The first kernel  reminded them of the autumn beauty.
The second one of the freedom that they held dearly.
The third reminded of their love and care for each other
And the fourth was for dear friends like the Indian brother.

The fifth kernel reminded of God’s love and care for all.
So as you prepare and celebrate Thanksgiving this fall,
Remember to put five little kernels on each dinner plate
To honor the pilgrims and give thanks for our good fate.

Families that follow this tradition don’t use popcorn (you would break your teeth), but they purchase roasted sweet corn.  You can make this yourself or search for it online or in your local market.  Or open up a can of corn and count it out onto the plates. This tradition was passed on for many, many years, and is mentioned in books, such as the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder (which makes sense because I have Ingalls ancestors from Lynn, Massachusetts, just like the author). 

It’s very true that the Mayflower passengers suffered greatly during their first winter here in 1620 until the spring of 1621.  Half of their company, fifty out of 102 passengers died of sickness and exposure.  It is also true that the following spring they planted a crop with help from several native members of the Wampanoag nation, which was followed by a successful first harvest.  They celebrated a traditional English “Harvest Home” celebration that fall, just like they always did at home in Europe, and were joined by many members of the local Wampanoag tribe.

You can learn more about how the myth of the Five Kernels started in a pamphlet published by the General Society of Mayflower Descendants in the 1950s.  Jim Baker, a former research at the Plimoth Plantation Museum, wrote this in 1998.

From Jim Baker:

"However, this never happened. There is no mention of the supposed division in any of the contemporary sources, nor is there any reason to believe that the colonial leaders would actually issue a daily corn ration of five kernals, which was not enough to be of any nutritional benefit. Instead, they simply ran out at the end of the spring season in April when they planted what they had put aside as seed." As J. A. Goodwin (1888) observed concerning the tradition, "the story rests on no foundation, and is opposed to common-sense." 1

Similarly, the effect of the suffering may be exaggerated. Bradford simply notes they were very badly supplied and lacked corn entirely for two or three months, being reduced to living on water, fish, shellfish, ground nuts and a few water fowl, and "now and then a deer." 2 As this was a healthy if highly unsatisfactory diet to the colonists, no one died or "succombed." Winslow does mention that he had seen "... some seasons at noon I have seen men stagger by reason of faintness for want of food", yet he does not give a specific date for this. As he then continues "...yet ere night, by the good providence and blessing of God, we have enjoyed such plenty as though the windows of heaven had been opened unto us.” 3 the use of the phrase may be more a general comment that a specific description.

Just as Plymouth Rock came to symbolize the heroic and providential nature of the Mayflower voyage, some icon was required to celebrate the Plymouth colonists’ courageous perseverance through their suffering and deprivation. The five kernals were adopted to point this moral at some point after the American Revolution. Their appearance is first recorded at the 1820 Forefathers’ Day dinner when the five symbolic parched corns was placed on each plate to remind the diners of "the time in 1623, when that was the proportion allowed to each individual on account of scarcity." 4

The story was related by subsequent writers such as Frances Baylies (1866) 5 and Joseph Banvard (1851)6 , but after the Bradford manuscript had been found and published and no evidence for the tradition was discovered, the Five Kernals myth gradually faded from public memory, and is seldom referred to today.

Another reference to five kernals of corn occurs in quite a different context. The Harlow Old Fort House (ca. 1677) Museum in Plymouth has been holding an annual juvenile pageant called "The Corn Planting" each May since before 1928. 7 A group of costumed school children enact a short re-enactment of the planting of corn by Squanto and the colonists which is witnessed by other students from local schools.

As part of this tradition, the hills of corn are each supplied with five kernals of corn, and the following rhyme is recited:
Five kernals of corn in a row
One for the blackbird, one for the crow,
One for the cutworm and two to grow. 8"
JWB 12/14/98

1. Godwin, John A. The Pilgrim Republic. Boston: Ticknor & Co., 1888, p. 242.
2. Bradford, William. Of Plymouth Plantation. S.E. Morison, ed. NY: Knopf, 1970, p. 123
3. Winslow, Edward. "Good Newes from New England" in Alexander Young. Chronicles of the Pilgrim Fathers. Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1844, pp. 354-554. Thacher, James. History of Plymouth. Boston: Marsh, Capon & Lyon, 1832, p. 248.
5. Frances Baylies. An Historical Memoir of the Colony of New Plymouth Boston: Wiggin & Lunt 1866, p. 121
6. Joseph Banvard. Plymouth and the Pilgrims, Boston: Gould and Lincoln, 1851, p. 136
7. Barker, Amy H. A History of the Plymouth Antiquarian Society. Plymouth: Plymouth Antiquarian Society, 1959.
8. Plimoth Colony Cook Book . Sally Erath, ed. Plymouth: Plymouth: Antiquarian Society, 1981, p. 41

There are many myths surrounding the Pilgrims.  Plymouth Rock is definitely a myth.  Who would land a boat on a rock? But now it is a National Historic Site.  Myles Standish did not court Priscilla Mullins, but Longfellow's poem is one of the most famous he ever wrote.  Although the myth of the Five Kernels was debunked in the 1950s, many families continue this tradition.  Americans love to count their blessings at Thanksgiving, and this little story and poem is part of that custom.   I know that we still do it at our Thanksgiving table, but I usually follow up with “Here’s what really happened” 30 second explanation.  Perhaps it is time for someone to write up a new, more accurate poem?

My original blog post “Five Kernels of Corn for Thanksgiving” from 20 November 2011 is at this link:   Within a few hours of publishing this post I had volumes of email and comments that made me publish a second update at this link:


 Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "The Five Kernels of Corn Myth at Thanksgiving", Nutfield Genealogy, posted November 28, 2013, ( accessed [access date]). 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Second Thanksgiving at Plymouth

The Second Thanksgiving...
When two of my ancestors collaborated on survival in New England 1623

"The Sacred Cod" hangs in the Massachusetts State House in Boston

David Thompson (1592 – 1628) arrived in New Hampshire in 1623, the first permanent European settler in our fair state.  He established an outpost at Pannaway, where Odiorne State Park is now located in Rye. His son, John, was the first European child born in New Hampshire.  He came to make money, to utilize the resources of New England for trade- salt cod, furs, and lumber.  One of his first visitors was Myles Standish from the Plymouth Colony, where, although they had been there several years, the people were starving and not able to grow significant harvests or pay back their creditors, the Plymouth Colony.  Thompson was successful at fishing, and brought a load of salt cod down to Plymouth where the settlers held their second Thanksgiving in his honor.

In his journal, Bradford mentions the cod fish incident, and the second Thanksgiving.  He doesn’t give credit to Thompson for the event.  The Separatist settlers who came for religious reasons, to be separate, perhaps did not hold the settlers who came for money making reasons in high enough esteem, even though they saved their lives.  Myles Standish is my 8th great grandfather, and David Thompson is my 9th great grandfather in a completely different lineage.

I find this story interesting because two of my ancestors, from completely different sides of the family, had this meeting which influenced New England history, and American history, almost 400 years ago.  By 1626 Thompson had removed to an island in Boston harbor, now known as Thompson’s island.  There on this island he met with Myles Standish in 1621. Along with others, and they brokered an agreement about trading and relations with the native Indians.

In another weird coincidence, David Thompson’s widow remarried to Samuel Maverick, who lived on Maverick’s island off Boston.  Samuel’s brother, Moses Maverick, married Remember Allerton, who was also a Mayflower passenger when she was only five years old.  I descend from Remember Allerton, as well as Myles Standish! 

And so, on the first Thanksgiving the Plymouth settlers celebrated with five deer brought by the Indians, and on the second Thanksgiving they celebrated with salt cod brought by David Thompson. 

The big questions is:  Are you having cod for your Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow?

For more information:

My blog post from 2020 about the new memorial plaque at Odiorne Point about this incident with the Pilgrims and David Thompson: 

The Islands of Boston Harbor:  Their History and Residents by Edward Rowe Snow, Andover Massachusetts: The Andover Press, 1935.   Available online at this link:

The Great Migration Begins, by Robert Charles Anderson, Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, Volume III, pages 1807 – 1809.

Myles Standish Speaks Out on NH’s First Settler, by J. Dennis Robinson, from his blog at “Seacoast New Hampshire”  at this link:

Turkeygate: 365 Year old Scandal, by J. Dennis Robinson, from his blog at “Seacoast New Hampshire”, 1997 at this link:   


To cite/link to this blog post: Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "The Second Thanksgiving at Plymouth", Nutfield Genealogy, posted November 27, 2019, ( accessed [access date]). 

Weathervane Wednesday ~ A Game Bird

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 weather vane can be seen Derry, New Hampshire. Have fun guessing where you may have seen this weather vane.

Do you know the location of weather vane #126? Scroll down to see the answer....

Today's weather vane was seen at a private residence on Lane Road in Derry.  It is on top of a cupola above a detached garage.  This is a nice three dimensional pheasant, with a beautiful copper or bronze patina.  There are six great weather vanes to see on Lane Road.  Most of these weather vanes are the usual weathercocks or running horses, but the Adams Female Academy building with the quill pen weathervane is on Lane Road, too.

Click here to see the entire collection of Weathervane Wednesday posts!

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Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Chandler, at Manchester, New Hampshire

These tombstones of the Chandler family plot were photographed at the Pine Grove Cemetery, Manchester, New Hampshire.

Buried here at this plot:
Henry Chandler (1850 - 1900_
Abigail J. Bond Chandler (1839 - 1903)
Annie B. Chandler (1865 - 1964)
Sallie M. Chandler Hill (1867 - 1950)
James W. Hill (1867 - 1940)

The sister, Mary Gould Chandler and her husband George Gould are interred in the Gould mausoleum nearby.

This impressive Chandler monument is at the same plot.  Here lie Henry's parents, George Byron Chandler and his wife Fanny Rice Martin, and a brother, Byron. George was the son of Adam Chandler and Sally McAllister of Bedford, New Hampshire.  He was a bank president, and also sat on the board of many other banks.  Fanny was the daughter of Banjamin F. Martin (Amoskeag Paper Mill) and Mary Rice.  George's first wife, Flora Daniels, died on 31 May 1868 in childbirth, and she and the baby are buried at the Valley Cemetery.  Another son, Alexander, son of Fanny is also buried at Valley.

The URL for this post is

Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Monday, November 25, 2013

Visit with the Ghouls and Goblins at the Edward Gorey House

When I was a child one of my friends owned the ABC book The Gashlycrumb Tinies: or, After the Outing.  It was written by Edward Gorey and published in 1963.  It is a satire of children’s books, told with a morbid sense of humor that might remind you of “The Addams Family” or more modern humor.  In the 1960s and 1970s it was considered quite inappropriate for children.  But we loved it as kids, and pored over the pages, and scoured the library for more books by Edward Gorey.  His books were very popular with children, although they were not specifically written for children. 

Millions of people are familiar with Edward Gorey’s cartoons and humor through the opening animated sequences at the beginning of the PBS series “Mystery”.  They have never seen one of his books, which are extremely collectible, and mostly out of print now.  He also illustrated books for other authors.  Many of his smaller stories and cartoons have been republished in a series of books called Amphigory, 1972; Amphigory Too, 1975, Amphigory Also, 1983, and so on. 

Wikipedia’s sketch of Edward Gorey includes a list of the many pseudonyms Edward Gorey used for his books.  Most of them were anagrams, and some were just silly puzzles, like Ogred Weary, Mrs. Regera Dowdy and E. G. Deadworry.  See this link for the complete list:

If you are on Cape Cod you can visit his house, which has been turned into a museum to his artwork.  It is located at 8 Strawberry Lane in Yarmouthport, Massachusetts and looks like a quaint and traditional New England home, but is full of weird and wonderful examples of Edward Gorey’s humor.   Proceeds from ticket and gift sales go towards several New England animal welfare organizations and to the Tufts Veterinary School.  It is not commonly known that Edward Gorey was an advocate for animal welfare.   

Edward Gorey's kitchen has been converted into a "gory" art gallery

Edward Gorey was born in Chicago on 22 February 1925 and Died 15 April 2000 in Hyannis, Massachusetts on Cape Cod.  He graduated from Harvard University in 1950, and studied art for one scant semester at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago.  Gorey’s influence is part of the Goth subculture, and reprints of his books, dolls and posters of his art can be seen in giftshops around the world.  His legacy lives on through his artwork.

For the truly curious:

The Gorey Fan blog “Goreyana”

The website for the Edward Gorey House, Yarmouthport, Massachusetts

The famous genealogist and archivist William Addams Reitwiesner worked out Edward Gorey’s ancestry at his website, click here   He has many New England ancestors including HEWITT, GAY, HODGKINS, ANGELL, and WILKINSON (from Rhode Island).

You can also see another version of Edward Gorey’s family tree at, along with a long biography.  Click here for the link

The URL for this post is

Copyright ©2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Surname Saturday ~ SMITH of Wethersfield, Connecticut and Hadley, Massachusetts


Samuel Smith and his wife and four children sailed from Ipswich, England for the Massachusetts Bay Colony on board the ship Elizabeth in April 1634.  They first lived in Watertown, and then were in Wethersfield, Connecticut in 1635. 

In the records of Wethersfield Samuel Smith is called “The Fellmonger” because he was a fur trader and a tanner. He was also part owner and builder of the Tryal, which might be the first ship built in the Connecticut colony.  Around 1659 he removed to Hadley, Massachusetts, where he appears in the records as “Lieutenant Smith”.   The regicides Whalley and Goffe supposedly hid in Smith’s home in Hadley.  (Seven men who signed the death warrant for King Charles I were known as the Regicides.  Edward Whalley, a relative to Oliver Cromwell, and his son-in-law, William Goffe,  escaped to Boston in 1660.  They lived openly for a while until orders arrived for their arrest. They fled to the New Haven colony, and then to Hadley where they lived for fifteen years.)

The only compiled genealogy about this family is Lieutenant Samuel Smith and His Children by James William Hook.  The sketch for Samuel Smith is found in The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1634 – 1635, pages 396 – 402. There is an article about the identity of Samuel Smith’s wife, who was Elizabeth Smith, in The American Genealogist, Volume 32, page 195 “The Wife of Lt. Samuel Smith of Wethersfield”.  The Smith family is listed on board the Elizabeth in NEHGS Register, Volume 14, page 329, Hotten’s Original Lists of Persons of Quality pages 280 and 282, Pope’s Pioneers of Massachusetts.  There is a short sketch about Samuel Smith in The History of Whately, Massachusetts.

My Smith genealogy:

Generation 1:  Samuel Smith, born about 1602 in Hadleigh, Suffolk, England, died 16 Jan 1681 in Hadley, Massachusetts; married on 6 October 1624 in Whatfield, Suffolk, England to Elizabeth Smith, born about 1602 and died 16 March 1686 in Hadley.  Six children.

Generation 2: Elizabeth Smith, baptized on 28 Jan 1627 at St. Mary the Virgin, Hadleigh, Suffolk, England and died after 1701; married about 1646 to Nathaniel Foote, son of Nathaniel Foote and Elizabeth Deming.  He was born on 5 March 1619 in Colchester, Essex, England and died in 1655 in Wethersfield, Connecticut. Four children.

Generation 3:  Nathaniel Foote m. Margaret Bliss
Generation 4: Eunice Foot m. Michael Taintor
Generation 5: Eunice Taintor m. Aaron Skinner
Generation 6: Charles Skinner m. Sarah Osborn
Generation 7: Ann Skinner m. Thomas Ratchford Lyons
Generation 8: Isabella Lyons m. Reverend Ingraham Ebenezer Bill
Generation 9: Caleb Rand Bill m. Ann Margaret Bollman
Generation 10: Isabella Lyons Bill m. Albert Munroe Wilkinson
Generation 11: Donald Munroe Wilkinson m. Bertha Louise Roberts (my grandparents)

The URL for this post is

Copyright © 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Friday, November 22, 2013

JFK in Nashua, New Hampshire

Fifty years ago today, on 22 November 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.  I thought it might be a nice idea to have a good memory of JFK instead of dwelling on the murderous act.

On 25 January 1960 the Massachusetts Senator John Fitzgerald Kennedy came to Nashua for the first campaign stop for the 1960 presidential elections. It was his first official election speech, given during a snowfall in front of the Nashua City Hall.  This was the first announcement that he was running for president. In those days, the primary was held in March, and the campaigning began just a few weeks ahead of time.  Today the politicians gear up for the New Hampshire primaries years in advance.  In 1960, the New Hampshire Primary was on March 8th, barely six weeks later!

ON JANUARY 25, 1960

On the back of the pedestal are words from JFK's inaugural address:

                    JOHN F. KENNEDY
                    JANUARY 20, 1961

Click here for a link to a 2010 Nashua Telegraph article about the 50th anniversary of this event:

On 23 November 2011, Presidential candidate Mitt Romney stood right behind this statue during his campaign during the New Hampshire Primary season, but never once mentioned Kennedy.  Both candidates were from Massachusetts, and both experienced religious prejudice.  Perhaps Romney would have been more successful if he had taken a few moments to mention the man on the pedestal?  On 18 February 1992 Bill Clinton made a campaign stop at this very place, and he won his bid for the highest office.  Yes, he mentioned Kennedy's legacy in his speech.


Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thanksgiving Turkeys

Does your employer give you a Thanksgiving turkey? Or maybe it happens on Christmas with a turkey or a holiday bonus? How long ago did this tradition start?

from the Saturday Morning Citizen, Beverly, Massachusetts
Saturday, November 27, 1886
Peter Hoogerzeil (1841 - 1908) was my Great Great Grandfather.  He owned an express company, with many employees, in Beverly, Massachusetts.  It was fun to find this little mention of him gifting turkeys to his employees in a local newspaper in 1886.

My husband has worked for the same company for 30 years.  It started as a small local engineering firm, and has grown to be merged by several international companies.  When the company was small, and only in New Hampshire, the management would distribute turkeys to the employees at Christmas.  Rain or Shine. Or snow!  Here's Vincent distributing turkeys in 2007. Now his company is very large and international, so they give out turkey certificates.  It is still appreciated, and many employees donate the certificates to food banks. (UPDATE 2018 - Now the turkey certificate is a supermarket certificate.) 

Vincent, in the snow, passing out turkeys to employees

It seems to me that today many companies and businesses are taking away from their employees on Thanksgiving, instead of rewarding them.   They make them work on the holiday, and pay them starvation wages, without bonuses or turkeys.  It reminds me of Scrooge in Dicken's A Christmas Carol.  In the end, Scrooge saw the error of his ways and rewarded his employee, Bob Cratchit, with a day off, a salary raise and a generous bonus- as well as a large prize winning fowl from the poulterer around the corner.  That story was written in 1843.

Do you have any evidence of your ancestors' generosity to employees, or their receiving gratitude from their employers in years past? Does this tradition still continue today?  The media today is full of reports of companies taking the holiday away from their employees, and one company even asked for donated cans to feed their their employees, instead of giving a gift to their employees themselves  [Company shall remain nameless here].

Remember that even Scrooge gave Cratchit a turkey, and let him take the holiday off to be with his family.

Library of Congress image (b&w film copy neg.) cph 3b18267
22 November 1912, men walking home from work after a company raffle with their Thanksgiving turkeys


To Cite/Link to this blog post: Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Thanksgiving Turkeys", Nutfield Genealogy, posted November 21, 2013, ( accessed [access date]).

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Weathervane Wednesday ~ A very Historical School

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 weather vane is a very historic building in Derry, New Hampshire. Have fun guessing where you may have seen this weather vane.

Do you know the location of weather vane #125? Scroll down to see the answer....

Today's weather vane can be seen on the Adams Female Academy building on Lane Road in Derry, New Hampshire.  It is a feather, probably representing a quill for writing.  The Adams Female Academy was founded in 1824 by Jacob Adams "to be located within one hundred rods of the East Parish meeting house in Londonderry" (in those days the entire town was Londonderry, later divided and the East Parish became the town of Derry).  This one of the first all female schools in New England, and it had several famous teachers, including Mary Lyon who later established the Mount Holyoke Female Seminary  which is now Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts.  Mount Holyoke is the oldest woman's college in the United States.  The Adams Female Academy in Derry is now a private residence.

Click here to read a previous blog post about the Adams Female Academy: 

Click here to see the entire collection of Weathervane Wednesday posts!

The URL for this post is

Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Brown, at Manchester, New Hampshire

This gravestone was photographed at the Pine Grove Cemetery in Manchester, New Hampshire.

The broken wheel is a symbol of a the end of the circle of life.  It is also appropriate here because it is the grave of Charles I. Brown (1859 -1914), a Manchester carriage maker and woodworker.  He lived at 999 Auburn Street and died at the Elliott Hospital.  This is ironic because Auburn Street no longer exists, and was approximately where the parking garage of the Elliott now exists.

Other people also buried here at the Brown family plot are Charles's wife, Myrna A. Jacobs (1862-1947), and his children (Nina Brown, Florence Brown, Ethel Brown wife of A. W. McLaskey, Rev. Roland Brown and his wife Marcia F.).


Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Monday, November 18, 2013

Anti-Gravity, History, Rocks, Finance, and Genealogy


This traffic island in the middle of New Boston, New Hampshire hides a secret! 
Under the plants and bushes is a monument to anti-gravity.  

I have been a fan of John J. Babson’s book The History of Gloucester, 1876, since it contains much genealogy information and historical stories about my ancestors.   In learning more about the Babson family, one of my favorite members has to be Roger Ward Babson (1875 – 1967).   He went to MIT, and worked for investment companies and invented Babson’s Statistical Organization in 1904.  His interest in business theory led him to found Babson College in Massachusetts, Webber College in Florida and the now gone Utopia College in Kansas.  He is famous for predicting the 1929 Wall Street Crash and the Great Depression.  On September 5, 1929, just a few weeks before the crash he gave a speech “Sooner or later a crashing is coming, and it may be terrific.”

Roger Ward Babson was also an odd character; he founded the Gravity Research Foundation in 1948, convinced that science could learn to harness gravity.  They also experimented with theories on anti-gravity and gravity insulators.  He built a headquarters for this foundation in the little village of New Boston, New Hampshire because he was convinced it was far enough from civilization to survive a nuclear bomb in Boston, Massachusetts. The Gravity Research Foundation still exists, and it gives a prize every year for the best essay about gravity. Don’t laugh because Steven Hawking is one of the prize winners (see, he’s not just a character on The Big Bang Theory).

Another odd interest of Babson’s was the early settlement in Gloucester, Massachusetts known as Dogtown.  He hired stonecutters during the Great Depression to carve inspirational mottos on the boulders throughout Dogtown.  You can still walk through this area today and read the boulders which say things such as “Keep out of Debt”, “Help Mother” and “Prosperity follows service”, as well as marking the location of Dogtown Square and the cellar holes of colonial era homes.

A "Babson Boulder" at Dogtown, Gloucester, Massachusetts

There is a Babson Museum in West Gloucester dedicated to James Babson, the first Babson in Gloucester, Massachusetts who was a cooper.  The museum is a cooperage, built in 1658.   Roger Ward Babson is a distant cousin to me through his ROGERS and WHIPPLE ancestors.

I would love to photograph all these monuments to anti-gravity and gravity research, but as you can see below, someone has already done that.  Here is a list of all the colleges with the Anti-Gravity Monuments (none are the three colleges he founded, nor his Alma Mater the Massachusetts Institute of Technology): 

Colby College in Waterville, Maine
Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont
Keene State College in Keen, New Hampshire
Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts
Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts
Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy, Massachusetts

We found this monument at Gordon College, Wenham, Massachusetts


For the truly curious:

The Babson Historical Association  Museum, genealogy and other Babson information and Images, including the Babson Family Association and Reunion.      from the Odd Things I've Seen website, this is the post that got me driving around New England looking for these monuments.  There are photos of all the monuments at this page.   my blog post about looking for the Babson Boulders in Dogtown, Gloucester, Massachusetts   A blog post about Roger Ward Babson, from Jan Brown’s blog “Cow Hampshire”, it includes a genealogy of the Babson Family.

The Gravity Research Foundation
Try your luck at writing a prize winning essay on gravity, or anti-gravity, just like Stephen Hawking


To cite/link to this blog post:   Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Anti-Gravity, History, Rocks, Finance, and Genealogy", Nutfield Genealogy, posted November 18, 2013, ( accessed [access date]).