Saturday, November 1, 2014

Surname Saturday ~ FOLGER of Watertown, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, Massachusetts

A replica of the Pope Valuables Chest
at Plimoth Plantation


John Folger (my 9th great grandfather), his wife Meribah, and son Peter arrived in New England on board the ship Abigail with the Reverend Hugh Peter in 1635. He lived first at Watertown, and then removed to the island of Martha’s Vineyard with Thomas Mayhew (my 10th great grandfather).  He died intestate about 1660. 

In the second generation, Peter Folger was my 8th great grandfather, and his wife Mary Morrill was an indentured servant for Rev. Hugh Peters.  Peter saved his money for seven years and paid 20 pounds to buy her out of servitude and declared “it was the best appropriation of money he ever made”.  There is too much information about Peter Folger to include in one blog post, but I'll put the highlights here. 

Peter went to Nantucket in 1663 to be an Indian interpreter for Tristram Coffin.  He was very influential in assisting the first settlers on this island with negotiations with the native people.  In the records Peter appears as a surveyor, miller, weaver, blacksmith, school master, and the clerk of the records.  His poem “A Looking Glass for the Time” was published on 23 April 1676. This poem gives his opinions on religious freedom and government, including freedom of speech.  

In the next generation, Peter had 12 children. One daughter was Bethshua, my 7th great grandmother, and another was Abiah, mother of the famous Benjamin Franklin.  Several authors have attributed Benjamin Franklin’s wit to his grandfather, Peter.  Others have compared Franklin’s concepts of religious freedom and free speech in the Articles of Confederation with his grandfather’s writing. 

My 7th great grandmother, Bethshua Folger, married Joseph Pope and lived in Salem, Massachusetts.   Their initials and wedding date is carved upon a "Valuables Chest” that was passed down in the family and auctioned off at Christie’s in 2000 for a record breaking $2,422,500.00  [see the link below for the full story].  The Popes were wealthy Quakers, who had been persecuted by the Salem authorities in earlier days.  During the witch craft hysteria of 1692 Joseph and Bethshua were accusers against John Proctor (also my ancestor), and Bethshua claimed to be tortured by some of the accused witches, including Giles and Martha Corey, and Rebecca Nurse (sister to another ancestor, Edmund Towne, my 9th great grandfather).   When he died, Joseph Pope’s gravestone was described as “a pretentious stone of slate” by Jasper Marsh  [in the Historical Collections of the Danvers Historical Society, Volume 10, page 93].

Some sources for more information on the Folger family:

Mayflower Quarterly, Volume 72, pages 243- 264 (Peter Folger and his descendants)

Away Off Shore: Nantucket and Its People, by Nathaniel Phibrick, New York: Penguin Books, 2011

History of Martha’s Vineyard by Charles Edward Banks, Boston, 1911

History of Watertown, by Henry Bond and Horatio Gates Jones, Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1860.

“The Folger Family” by William Coleman Folger in the NEHGS Register July 1862, Volume XVI, pages 269 – 274.

The Devil Hath Been Raised: A Documentary History of the Salem Village Witchcraft Outbreak of March 1692, by Richard B. Trask, Danvers, Massachusetts: Danvers Historical Society, 1992, pages 38 and 57.

A previous blog post about Joseph Pope and Bethshua Folger’s “Valuables Chest”

My Folger lineage:

Generation 1:  John Folger, born about 1590 in Norwich, Norfolk, England, died about 1660 on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, in Massachusetts;  married before 1618 in England to Meribah Gibbs, daughter of John Gibbs and Alice Elmy.  She was born about 1595 in Freyn, Norwich, Norfolk, England and died about 1635 on Martha’s Vineyard.  They had five children.

Generation 2:  Peter Folger, born about 1618 in Norfolk and died about 1690 in Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard; married on 23 June 1644 in Watertown, Massachusetts to Mary Morrill.  She was born about 1623 in England and died 1704 on Nantucket.  They had twelve children.

Generation 3:  Bethshua Folger, born about 1650 on Nantucket island and died in Salem, Massachusetts; married in 1679 in Salem Village (now Danvers), Massachusetts to Joseph Pope, son of Joseph Pope and Damaris Unknown.  Nine children

Generation 4:  Jerusha Pope m. George Flint
Generation 5: George Flint m. Hannah Phelps
Generation 6: Phebe Flint m. John Flint
Generation 7: Olive Flint m. Luther Simonds Munroe
Generation 8: Phebe Cross Munroe m. Robert Wilson Wilkinson
Generation 9: Albert Munroe Wilkinson m. Isabella Lyons Bill
Generation 10: Donald Munroe Wilkinson m. Bertha Louise Roberts (my grandparents)

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Copyright ©2014, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

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