Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Elihu Stevens, 1871, Manchester, New Hampshire

This tombstone was photographed at the Valley Cemetery in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Cot. 17, 1871
AE. 69 yrs.
his wife.
Died Jan. 2, 1896
AE. 85 yrs.

This gravestone and the plot it sits on were neglected and abandoned by the City of Manchester.  It was weed infested and overgrown.  Volunteers have been clearing out the Valley Cemetery, and trimming back the over growth to uncover lost tombstones and family plots.  If this were my ancestor, I'd be appalled at this neglect.  If it were my family member, I'd complain to the city for their lack of "perpetual care."

You can read more about the volunteers at Valley Cemetery at this link:

Here is a photo taken by Pat Van Den Berghe of Elihu T. Stevens' tombstone for the FindAGrave website in 2010.  Please notice the vegetation in the foreground and background between 2010 and 2017.

Pat Van Den Berghe/FindAGrave 2010

Vincent Rojo/Nutfield Genealogy 2017

Elihu T. Stevens was born about 1802 and died 17 Oct 1871 in Manchester, New Hampshire.  He served in the First Massachusetts Cavalry around 1823.

In June 1832 in Exeter, New Hampshire, Elihu Stevens married Mary Anne Odlin, daughter of William Odlin and Elizabeth Leavitt.  She was born on 29 July 1810 in Exeter, New Hampshire. They had four children: Caroline Odlin Stevens (married Captain Amos Blanchard Shattuck), William Odlin Stevens, Mary Anne Stevens (married Ruben Lord Griffin) and Julianna.

A link to the Find A Grave Memorial for Elihu T. Stevens ( Find A Grave Memorial #62695553):


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Tombstone Tuesday ~ Elihu Stevens, 1871, Manchester, New Hampshire", Nutfield Genealogy, posted August 22, 2017, (https://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2017/08/tombstone-tuesday-elihu-stevens-1871.html: accessed [access date]).

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Obituary of Sarah (Osborne) Skinner, 1848, Nova Scotia

From the Christian Messenger, Friday 14 April 1848, pages 116a and 117.  This was a Baptist newsletter in Nova Scotia, Canada. 

Mrs. Sarah Skinner was the daughter of the late Mr. Samuel Osborne.  Both Mr. And Mrs. S. were born in Martha’s Vineyard, U. S. where they were married.  They removed, thence to Casco bay Maine, from thence to N. B. and finally to N. S.
                Sarah, their daughter, and the subject of this notice, was born on the 22nd July 1760 and was sprinkled in her infancy, as were the rest of the children.  Their mother instructed them in the belief and practice of the Pedobaptists, - and exercised over their morals watchful care – taught them to repeat prayers and read their Bibles, &c.  Sarah’s mind was seriously exercised from childhood about her soul’s interests and at twelve years of age her concern became more pungent, and notwithstanding, her having been early instructed, that having been dedicated to God, and be properly termed, truly religious instructions, calculated to impress her mind with the necessity of a divine change, and lead her to the right source and practice, irrespective of the Spirit of God and His Word, were very limited.  When about nineteen years of age, she heard a sermon preached by Henry Allen, who was a Pedobaptist Congregational Minister, and all the churches formed thro’ his instrumentality were of that order, consequently she did not make a public profession of religion until she was bout forty six years of age.  About this time there was a Close Communion Calvinistic Baptist Church organized in Cornwallis by Elder Case, from Maine, consisting of only seven members who separated from what was then called the Open Communion Church, consisting of Baptists and Pedobaptists, over which Elder Edward Manning was Pastor, but who was subsequently immersed by the late Rev. T. H. Chipman, and re-ordained by Elder Case, as the Pastor of the newly organized church.  This being the first Baptist church ever formed in Cornwallis, which Mrs. Skinner untied with, and remained a consistent member until her demise.  It may be truly said that but few persons in life were more rooted and grounded in the truths of the Bible, more circumspect in her deportment, and possessed stronger faith during the whole course of her religious life – and notwithstanding the various conflicts she was called to pass thro’, it bing her lot in the Providence of God, to be what the world is wont to call poor, yet she was rich in faith, and an heir of the Kingdom of God, and in much patience possessed her soul, -- was always cheerful and resigned, and possessed abiding reliance in the strong arm of Jehovah – and a confident assurance of a blessed immortality, knowing that her hope rested alone on the merits of Christ’s death.  She was familiar with her Bible, enjoyed much communion with her Saviour, and always delighting in the Gospel. She loved the house of God, and the communion and fellowship of the saints.  Her life was one continued example of piety – she had, it is true, her inbred corruptions to content with and lament, yet her faith in Christ’s blood triumphed over them.  For a number of years after her husband’s death, she resided with her brother in law, the late W. A. Chipman, Esq.  They highly appreciated her company, but she preferred living with her children during the latter part of her life.  She retained the use of her faculties remarkably in old age, her memory was good – the choice sayings contained in the book of God were always her support, and with much emphasis would she relate them, her mind being richly stored with them.  For a number of years before her demise she was unable to go to the house of God, but when sermons were preached in the house where she resided, she would greatly rejoice in the truth.  She would often repeat appropriate hymns to her state of mind and with pious emotions; and looking forward with joyful expectation of entering into the full enjoyment of that rest that remains for the saints of God.
                One circumstance among many that might be named as interesting might be adverted to.  At one time she was tempted to believe that there was no Heaven.  The thought exceedingly distressed her, and she immediately retired and threw herself prostrate on the ground, and begged of God to relieve her mind.  She returned to the house in agony, and fled to her Bible, and when she opened it the following words from Isaiah met her view “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, &c”  instantly all her doubts were removed, and she then resolved in future when any similar suggestion came to her mind that would reject it and this proved a source of great comfort and safeguard to her through her life.  About two years before her demise she took a severe cold which settled in her limbs and rendered her incapable of walking – yet she could sit up through the day – but for the last year she was principally confined to her bed, but always patient and cheerful, -- and her whole theme was the subject of religion.  She gradually declined, and finally when the closing scene drew near, she was like one looking for and hastening unto the day of God.  Death was no terror to her, she could triumph over it.  She knew that her Redeemer liveth, and that his promises would never fail.  How oft would she repeat the saying of our blessed Lord, “In my Father’s house are many mansions &c.”, she had no doubt that there was one for her and that she should soon enter there.  She retained her senses until the last.  Tuesday, before she expired the writer of this sketch saw her, found her dying, but still capable of speaking so as to understood.  In answer to questions proposed to her, she relied that she knew she was dying—that her hope of heaven was strong—She had no fears – all was well.  Being asked if she wished him to pray with her, she replied “Yes!  Prayer is sweet.”  After prayer she said “Amen,” in token of her approbation.  She finally fell asleep in Jesus on the 15th January 1848, in the 88th year of her age.  Her death was improved by a sermon preached by the Rev. A. Stronach.
                She was married at the age of sixteen to Mr. Charles Skinner, in N. B. who was a native of Connecticut.  She had by him eight sons and seven daughters, all of whom have been married except on daughter and one son who died when in his eighth year. Most of her children have publicly professed religion, and for the others she was not without hope.  She had one hundred and thirteen grandchildren, forty-seven of whom have professed religion, and all except two are Baptists.  Upwards of sixty great grand children, a number of whom have also professed religion.  There are four Baptist Ministers connected with her family.  One her own sons, Pastor of a Baptist Church in N. B., Elders Ed. Manning, Cornwallis, and Geo. Dimock, Newport, N. S., who married her daughter, and Rev. I. E. Bill, of Nictaux, who married her grand daughter.  – Communicated by Rev. W. Chipman.
                Pleasant Valley, March 29th, ‘48


Sarah Osborne Skinner was my 5th great grandmother.  She was the daughter of  Samuel Osborn and Sarah Wass, residents of the island of Martha's Vineyard who removed to New Brunswick, Canada.   She was born 22 July 1760 in Fredricton, New Brunswick, and died 15 January 1848 in Pleasant Valley, Cornwallis, Nova Scotia.

At age sixteen Sarah married Charles Skinner on 24 November 1774 in Passamoquoddy, New Brunswick.   They had fifteen children, including my 4th great grandmother, Ann Skinner (1786 - 1815) who married Thomas Ratchford Lyons.  Ann's daughter, Isabella Lyons (1806 - 1872), married the Reverend Ingraham Ebenezer Bill, who is mentioned in the obituary above.  Ann's sister, Rebecca Skinner (1781 - 1857) married Reverend Edward Manning, who baptized my 2nd great grandfather, Rev. I. E. Bill. 


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "The Obituary of Sarah (Osborne) Skinner, 1848, Nova Scotia", Nutfield Genealogy, posted August 21, 2017, (https://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2017/08/the-obituary-of-sarah-osborne-skinner.html: accessed [access date]). 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Should I Stay, Or Should I Go?

"Should I Stay, Or Should I Go?"

I often wonder how my ancestors made the decision to step aboard a 17th century sailing ship and cross the Atlantic ocean.  When I see refugees fleeing the Middle East or North Africa by boat I often wonder how desperate they must have been to leave the known world for the New World. Especially my Mayflower ancestors, who had only a few reports from Jamestown to help them make up their minds.  I even asked my mother-in-law this question, although she didn't board a ship to come to the USA, but she boarded a Lockheed Constellation and landed at LaGuardia airport in 1960 from Spain. 

Today, when you visit Plymouth, Massachusetts, the first thing that is noticeable is the missing Mayflower II.  I've grown so accustomed to seeing this ship in her home berth, that the sight of her gone is rather startling.  But, don't worry!  The folks at Plimoth Plantation have developed a fun new interactive display for the pavilion on State Pier that used to house the Mayflower exhibits.  

The new exhibit "Should I Stay, Or Should I Go?" opened earlier this summer, and has been refined to the interactive game I experienced last week as part of a members only party held by Plimoth Plantation staff.  Upon entering the exhibit, visitors choose the identity of an un-named Mayflower passenger or crew member.  I chose a 50 year old woman who was part of the Leiden congregation.  You can also choose a man or woman from England (Pilgrims or Strangers), a child, or one of the Mayflower mariners. They all had different experiences, views, and reasons for being on board the Mayflower in 1620. 

These exhibits show what life was like aboard the Mayflower. Visitors read color coded signs to follow their chosen "passenger" through the exhibit. You are free to repeat the tour and read all the signs to see how other passengers and crew experienced their passage to New England and life during the first year in Plymouth. The exhibits are interactive. You can hoist supplies aboard, raise flags, experience your sea legs, or climb into this tiny cubby that housed an entire family for the 66 days it took to cross the Atlantic ocean. 

If your chosen Mayflower character was male, and "of age", and not a crew member, he might have signed the Mayflower compact.  In this photo below was pointing to my ancestor's (Isaac Allerton) signature.  I was wearing my identity card around my neck as I perused the exhibit.  It was color coded so I could read my character's story as I passed through. 

My favorite part of this member event was signing a trunnel with my name with a permanent marker. A trunnel ( "tree nail" ) is the wooden peg used in post and beam construction, and for the 17th century ship building techniques being used to renovate the Mayflower II in the Mystic Seaport shipyard.  These trunnels will be used on the Mayflower II, and will become part of her structure.  How cool is that! 

This exhibit takes a visitor from England, across the Atlantic, to Cape Cod, to Plymouth and the first encounters with the Native Wampanoag people.  There are lots of hands on things for the kids, and great signs and explanations along the way for the older folks. I would have liked to have seen more displays on the ultimate destinies of those people represent by our chosen "character" tags around our necks during the visit.  Did they survive? Did they perish that first winter? Did they return to England? Did they flourish in the New World? Or was life a struggle?

What is missing from the photo below?

Mayflower II is missing... but we enjoyed the new exhibit! You can enjoy it, too, until the Mayflower returns to Plymouth harbor (probably sometime in late 2019). 

Plimoth Plantation official website:  http://www.plimoth.org/  

The Waterfront Experience "Should I Stay, Or Should I Go?"


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Should I Stay, Or Should I Go?", Nutfield Genealogy, posted August 19, 2017, (https://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2017/08/should-i-stay-or-should-i-go.html: accessed [access date])

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Surname Saturday ~ HOWLAND, A Mayflower Passenger

The Jabez Howland House in Plymouth, Massachusetts
home of John Howland's son. 

John Howland is my 11th and 10th great grandfather because I descend from two of his daughters. He was the famous passenger on board the Mayflower in 1620 who almost lost his life when he fell overboard during a storm.  Thankfully, he was saved with a rope and a boat hook, thus ensuring thousands, and perhaps millions of descendants.   The only first person account of this event reads that “a lusty young man called John Howland, coming upon some occasion above the gratings was, with a seele of the ship, thrown into the sea; but it pleased God that he caught hold of the topsail halyards which hung overboard and ran out at length. Yet he held his hold (though he was sundry fathoms under water) till he was hauled up by the same rope to the brim of the water, and then with boat hook and other means got into the ship again and his life saved. And though he was something ill with it, yet he lived many years after and became a profitable member both in church and commonwealth." [from Of Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford]

The Mayflower passengers are among some of the most studied and researched immigrants to America, and you can read much about them in books, scholarly journals and online.  I will summarize some of that research in a few paragraphs, and list some of the best genealogical sources below. John Howland was a cooper, who came aboard the Mayflower as a young servant to John Carver, the first governor of the Plymouth Colony.  He was one of the 41 men who signed the Mayflower Compact, and he is buried on Burial Hill in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

John Howland was married about 1623 to Elizabeth Tilley, who was only about fifteen during her passage to Plymouth on board the Mayflower.  Elizabeth’s parents, John Tilley and Joan Hurst died that first winter in New England, 1620 – 1621, and Governor Carver became her guardian.  However, Governor Carver, died in April 1621 and his wife died in May 1621, which made John Howland the head of the Carver household, which included Mrs. Carver’s daughter Desire Minter (by her first marriage).  John and Elizabeth Howland named their first child (my ancestor) after Desire (see below).

John and Elizabeth Howland raised ten children at their home in Rocky Nook, which was part of Plymouth but is now in the town of Kingston, Massachusetts.  John’s brothers, Henry and Arthur Howland both came to New England and left descendants, too.  Famous descendants of John and Elizabeth Howland include Presidents George W. Bush, George H. W. Bush, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, as well as the writers Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, actors Christopher Lloyd, Humphrey Bogart, Stephen Baldwin, and the founder of the LDS church Joseph Smith.  Henry Howland is the ancestor of presidents Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford.  Arthur Howland is the ancestor of Sir Winston Churchill.  

In the second generation I descend from sisters Desire (1623 – 1683) and Hope (1629 – 1684).  Desire married Captain John Gorham in 1644.  He was a tanner who lived in Barnstable on Cape Cod, and he owned a grist mill.  He served in King Philip’s war where he contracted a fever and died in 1675.  Hope Howland married John Chipman in 1646.  He arrived from England on board the Friendship with Isaac Allerton (one of my other Mayflower ancestors) as a servant to Richard Derby.  He became a resident of Barnstable and an elder of the church. (See the lineages listed below)

HOWLAND resources:

The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620 – 1633, by Robert Charles Anderson, 1995, Volume II, pages 1020 – 1024 for John Howland, and pages 1016 – 1019 for Henry Howland.

John Howland of the Mayflower: Volume 1, the First Five Generations, Documented Descendants Through his First Child Desire Howland and her Husband Captain John Gorham, by Elizabeth Pearson White, 1990.

John Howland of the Mayflower: Volume III: Documented Descendants Through His Third Child Hope Howland, Wife of John Chipman, by Elizabeth Pearson White, 1990

Of Plymouth Plantation, 1620 - 1647, by William Bradford (many editions)
The History of Arthur, Henry and John Howland and Their Descendants, by Franklyn Howland. 

The Pilgrim John Howland Society (Family Association) http://www.pilgrimjohnhowlandsociety.org/  

The English origins of the three HOWLAND brothers are in an article in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Volume 75, pages 105 – 116, and 2016 – 225.

For children, The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower: Or John Howland’s Good Fortune, by P. J. Lynch, 2015, (the story is good, but the illustrations portray John Howland in 1620 as a boy instead of the being “of age” and old enough to sign the Mayflower Compact).

My HOWLAND genealogy (two lineages):

Generation 1:  John Howland, son of Henry Howland and Margaret Aires, born about 1592 in Fenstanton, Huntingdonshire, England, died 23 February 1673 at Rocky Nook, Plymouth; married about 1623 in Plymouth to Elizabeth Tilley, daughter of John Tilley and Joan Hurst, born 30 August 1607 in Henlow, Bedfordshire, England and died 21 December 1687 in Swansea, Massachusetts.  Ten children (I descend from Hope and Desire):

Lineage A:

Generation 2: Hope Howland, born 30 August 1629 in Plymouth, died 8 January 1684 in Barnstable, Massachusetts; married 13 September 1646 in Plymouth to John Chipman as his first wife.  He was the son of Thomas Chipman, born about 1620 in Bryant’s Puddle, Dorsetshire, England, and died 8 January 1709 in Sandwich, Massachusetts. Twelve children.

Generation 3:  Hannah Chipman, born 14 January 1659 in Plymouth, died 4 November 1696 in Barnstable; married on 1 May 1680 in Barnstable to Thomas Huckins as his first wife.  He was the son of Thomas Huckins and Rose Unknown,  born 25 April 1651 in Barnstable, and died before 15 October 1714 in Barnstable. Nine children.

Generation 4: Hope Huckins, born 21 September 1689 in Barnstable, died after 4 January 1730 in Barnstable; married first to Benjamin Hamblin (4 children), son of John Hamblin and Sarah Bearse, born 11 February 1687 in Barnstable, died before 8 March 1718; married second to Ebenezer Childs, son of Richard Childs and Elizabeth Crocker, born March 1691 in Barnstable, died 17 January 1756 in Barnstable (2 children).

Generation 5: Hannah Hamblin, born about 1714 in Barnstable, died 26 July 1791 in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia; married before 7 March 1734 to Jonathan Crosby, son of John Crosby and Hannah Bangs, born 2 November 1705 in Harwich, Massachusetts, and died 26 July 1782 in Yarmouth.  Eleven children.

Generation 6: Ebenezer Crosby, born 26 August 1747 in Mansfield, Connecticut, died 26 February 1826 in Yarmouth; married on 8 September 1774 in Chebogue, Nova Scotia to Elizabeth Robinson, daughter of Jabez Robinson and Tabitha Green.  She was born 17 June 1750 in Falmouth, Massachusetts, and died 27 July 1837 in Nova Scotia.  Eleven children.

Generation 7:  Rebecca Crosby, born 19 December 1789 in Yarmouth, died 1889 in Nova Scotia; married 12 August 1808 in Chebogue to Comfort Haley, son of Comfort Haley and Abigail Allen.  He was born 9 October 1787 in Chebogue and died 3 December 1874 in Chebogue. Eleven children.

Generation 8:  Joseph Edwin Healy, born 12 August 1823 in Belfast, Maine or Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, died 17 June 1862 at the Battle of Saint Charles, Arkansas during the Civil War; married on 3 February 1848 to Matilda Weston, daughter of Zadoc Weston and Mary Clements.  She was born October 1825 in Yarmouth, and died 19 August 1909 at 43 Bartlett Street, Beverly, Massachusetts.  Four children.

Generation 9: Mary Etta Healey, born 19 May 1852 in Beverly, died 23 July 1932 in Beverly; married on 14 March 1870 in Salem, Massachusetts to Peter Hoogerzeil, so of Peter Hoogerzeil and Eunice Stone.  He was born 24 June 1841 in Beverly, and died 10 May 1908 in Beverly. Six children.

Generation 10:  Florence Etta Hoogerzeil, born 20 August 1871 in Beverly, died 10 February 1941 in Hamilton, Massachusetts; married on 25 December 1890 in Beverly to Arthur Treadwell Hitchings, son of Abijah Franklin Hitchings and Hannah Eliza Lewis.  He was born 10 May 1869 in Salem, and died 7 March 1937 in Hamilton. Eight children.

Generation 11:  Gertrude Matilda Hitchings, born 1 August 1905 in Beverly, died 3 November 2001 in Peabody, Massachusetts; married on 14 February 1925 in Hamilton to Stanley Elmer Allen, son of Joseph Gilman Allen and Carrie Maude Batchelder.  He was born 14 January 1904 in Cambridge, Massachusetts and died 6 March 1982 in Beverly.  Seven children. (My grandparents)

Lineage B:

Generation 2: Desire Howland, born 13 October 1623 in Plymouth, died 13 October 1683 in Barnstable; married on 6 November 1644 in Barnstable to John Gorham, son of Ralph Gorham and Margaret Stephenson.  He was born 28 January 1620 in Benefield, Northamptonshire, England, and died 5 February 1675 in Swansea. Eleven children.

Generation 3:  Desire Gorham, born 2 April 1644 in Plymouth, died 30 June 1700 in Yarmouth, Massachusetts; married on 7 October 1661 in Barnstable to John Hawes, son of Edmund Hawes.  He was born about 1635 in Duxbury, Massachusetts and died 11 November 1701 in Yarmouth.  Eleven children.

Generation 4:  Elizabeth Hawes, born 5 October 1662 in Yarmouth, died between 25 December 1732 and 13 February 1734 in Edgartown, Massachusetts; married on 22 January 1684 in Bristol, Rhode Island to Thomas Daggett, so of Thomas Daggett and Hannah Mayhew.  He was born about 1658 in Bristol, and died 28 August 1726 in Edgartown.  Ten children.

Generation 5: Elizabeth Daggett, born about 1690 in Edgartown, died after 1753; married 16 December 1708 in Edgartown to John Butler, son of John Butler and Priscilla Norton.  He was born about 1674 and died after 6 February 1754.  Six children.

Generation 6:  Keziah Butler, born 1710 in Edgartown, died October 1768 in Edgartown; married on 9 September 1731 in Edgartown to Samuel Osborn, son of Samuel Osborn and Mercy Norton.  He was born about 1711 in Edgartown and died after 8 October 1753.  Ten children.

Generation 7:  Samuel Osborn, born 1732 in Edgartown, probably died in Nova Scotia; married on 28 April 1755 in Martha’s Vineyard to Sarah Wass, daughter of Wilmot Wass and Rebecca Allen.  She was born 24 January 1738 in West Tisbury, Massachusetts; and died 23 February 1813 in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia.  Five children.

Generation 8:  Sarah Osborn, born 22 July 1760 in Fredricton, New Brunswick, died 15 January 1848 in Pleasant Valley, Cornwallis; married on 24 November 1774 in Passamoquoddy to Charles Skinner, son of Aaron Skinner and Eunice Taintor.  He was born 3 January 1748/9 in Colchester, Connecticut, and died before 1837 in Nova Scotia.  Fifteen children.

Generation 9: Ann Skinner, born 9 March 1786 in Cornwallis, died 19 October 1815 in Cornwallis; married on 30 September 1802 in Cornwallis to Thomas Ratchford Lyons, son of David Lyons and Elizabeth Ratchford.  He was born 3 March 1780 in Cornwallis, and died 3 September 1859 in New Brunswick.  Six children.

Generation 10: Isabella Lyons, born 28 January 1806 in Cornwallis, died April 1872 in Carleton, New Brunswick; married on 20 April 1826 in Annapolis County to the Reverend Ingraham Ebenezer Bill as his first wife.  He was the son of Asahel Bill and Mary Rand,  born 19 February 1805 in Billtown, Cornwallis, and died 4 August 1891 in St. Martin’s, New Brunswick.  Five children.

Generation 11: Caleb Rand Bill, born 30 May 1833 in Nictaux, Cornwallis, died 30 December 1902 in Salem, Massachusetts; married 7 June 1858 in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia to Ann Margaret Bollman, daughter of Bremner  Frederick Bollman and Sarah Elizabeth Lennox.  She was born 11 September 1835 in Lunenburg, and died 1923 in Salem.  Nine children.

Generation 12:  Isabella Lyons Bill, born January 1863 in Machias  Maine, died on 19 January 1935 in Beverly, Massachusetts; married on 18 October Salem, Massachusetts to Albert Munroe Wilkinson, son of Robert Wilson Wilkinson and Phebe Cross Munroe.  He was born 7 November 1860 in Danvers, Massachusetts and died 12 May 1908 at the Corey Hill Hospital, Brookline, Massachusetts.  Two children.

Generation 13: Donald Munroe Wilkinson, born 23 October 1895 in Salem, died 24 July 1977 in Long Beach, California; married on 26 November 1926 in Beverly to Bertha Louise Roberts, daughter of John Peter Bawden Roberts and Emma Frances Warren.  She was born 30 September 1897 in Leeds, Yorkshire, England and died 17 March 1990 in Long Beach.  Three sons. (my grandparents)

I have posted another Mayflower lineage, the ALLERTON family:


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, “Surname Saturday ~ HOWLAND, A Mayflower Passenger”, Nutfield Genealogy, posted August 19, 2017, (https://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2017/08/surname-saturday-howland-mayflower.html: accessed [access date]). 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Vintage Photos of Disneyland in the 1960s

My grandfather took these photographs on slide film in the 1960s at Disneyland in Anaheim, California.  Some of these rides are no longer in existence. Do you remember the "20 Thousand Leagues Under the Sea" submarine ride? Or the gondola ride up above all the other rides and through the Matterhorn mountain?

My first cousin discovered a large box of my grandparents' slides and sent them to me.  A second cousin offered to digitize the slides for me.  I've been featuring them on my blog once or twice a month. Some show relatives I don't know, or landscapes I don't recognize, but I think everyone recognizes Disneyland!

The Storybook Canal Boats still exist at Disneyland.  That finger on the lens is
something everyone sees in their family photo collection!

The Matterhorn is still at Disneyland, but the gondolas are gone
and the submarines are now a "Finding Nemo" attraction.

This is one of the scenes you could glimpse out the windows of the Disneyland Railroad

Main Street USA and the train station haven't changed much, have they?

Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Vintage Photos of Disneyland in the 1960s", Nutfield Genealogy, posted August 18, 2017, ( https://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2017/08/vintage-photos-of-disneyland-in-1960s.html: accessed [access date]).

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Weathervane Wednesday ~ a Mini Golfer

I post another in a series of weather vane photographs every Wednesday.  This started with images of weathervanes from the Londonderry, New Hampshire area, but now I've found interesting weather vanes all across New England and across the globe.  Sometimes my weather vanes are whimsical, or historical, but all are interesting.  Often my readers tip me off to some very unique or unusual weathervanes, too!  If you know a great weather vane near you, let me know if you'd like to have it featured on this blog.

Today's weather vane was photographed in Connecticut.

Do you know the location of weathervane post #324?  Scroll down to find the answer.

Today's weathervane was photographed at a private residence in East Woodstock, Connecticut by Georgia genealogist and photographer Linda Woodward Geiger.  She said there was no story behind this weathervane "except the owner is an avid golfer".

I love the details on this weathervane.  The golf bag is full of little golf clubs.  The golfer is wearing old fashioned knickers and a little cap.  It almost tells a story by itself, even if the owner won't.


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Weathervane Wednesday ~ a Mini Golfer", Nutfield Genealogy, posted August 16, 2017, (https://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2017/08/weathervane-wednesday-mini-golfer.html: accessed [access date]).

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Elizabeth Carter, buried 1691 in Woburn, Massachusetts

This tombstone was photographed in Woburn, Massachusetts at the Old Burial Ground.

6 OF MAY 1691

Elizabeth, my 8th great grandmother, was born about 1613 in England, died 6 May 1691 in Woburn, and married John Carter about 1642 in Woburn, Massachusetts.  Many sources, including Torrey's New England Marriages to 1700, give her surname as KENDALL, but actually no one knows her maiden name.  She doesn't have a marriage or death record.  This tombstone is the only record of her name "Elizabeth".

I descend from two of her daughters.  Abigail Carter, my ancestress, was born 21 April 1648 in Woburn, and married James Fowle in 1666.  I descend from their son, James Fowle, Jr. born 1667.

I also descend from Abigail's sister, Hannah Carter, my 7th great grandmother, born in 1651.  She married James Converse on 1 Jan 1669 in Woburn.  I descend from their son, Robert Converse, born in 1677.

A blog post about the tombstone of Elizabeth's husband, John Carter:

A "Surname Saturday" blog post about the CARTER family:


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Tombstone Tuesday ~ Elizabeth Carter, buried 1691 in Woburn, Massachusetts", Nutfield Genealogy, posted August 15, 2017, (https://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2017/08/tombstone-tuesday-elizabeth-carter.html: accessed [access date]).

Monday, August 14, 2017

Asahel Bill, Death Notice 1847

This death notice appeared in the Baptist newsletter Christian Messenger, from Nova Scotia, Canada on 30 July1847, page 243.  It is for my 2nd great grand uncle, Asahel Bill, who died young at the age of 21.


We have just received the following notice from our
esteemed friend, W. H. Troop, Esq. dated
                                                     Nictaux, July 22nd 1847
"Died, at Nictaux, on Tuesday, the 20th instant, after a pro-
tracted illness, which he bore with pious resignation to his
Heavenly Father's will, Asahel Bill, eldest son of the Rev.
Ingram E. Bill. Truly it may be said of him, he was lovely and
pleasant in his life and happy in his death"
                                                     Yours faithfully.
We deeply regret the melancholy duty of recording the
decease of this promising young man, whose completion
of his course of studies as a graduate of Acadia College
we announced about a year since.  It is one of those
events directed by inscrutable wisdom which our weak
and limited minds are wholly unable to scan.  We had an
opportunity of a brief but pleasing interview with the
deceased on our return from the Association - his health
was then rapidly declining.  He had made profession of
religion some time since, and appeared well prepared for
the momentous change.  His hopes were resting on the
sufficiency of the the Great Atonement, and he anticipated a
speedy and joyful release from the trials and sorrows of
earth to enter on a heavenly inheritance.  We truly
sympathise with his bereaved parents under their heavy
loss. They have, however, a consolation above all other---
they do not sorrow as those without hope.


Asahel Bill, son of the Reverend Ingraham Ebenezer Bill (1805 - 1891) and Isabella Lyons, was born 14 May 1847 in Billtown (Nictaux), Nova Scotia and died 20 July 1848.  He was the eldest of five children, and brother to my 2nd great grandfather Caleb Rand Bill (1833 - 1902).   His death record states that he died of "lung disease", which was probably tuberculosis.  

Asahel had just graduated from Acadia College, and was studying to be a Baptist minister, like his father.  His youngest brother, Ingraham Ebenezer Bill, Jr. (1836 - 1907) went on to become a Baptist preacher.  He graduated Horton Academy and the Baptist Seminary in Fredericton, and went to England for theological training in the Baptist faith.  He served as a missionary in New Zealand, and as a minister in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Maine, Ohio, and Ontario.

Thanks to Ric Noble of the "Nova Scotia Roots" Facebook group for the copy of this death notice from the Christian Messenger newspaper from Nova Scotia. 


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Asahel Bill, Death Notice 1847", Nutfield Genealogy, posted August 14, 2017, (https://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2017/08/asahel-bill-death-notice-1847.html: accessed [access date]). 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Surname Saturday ~ HOVEY Another brickwall ancestor


My 5th great grandmother, Mary Hovey, was born about 1751 and died 15 January 1832 in Ipswich, Massachusetts.  On 17 July 1786 she married Nathaniel Treadwell in Ipswich, Massachusetts, where they lived all their married lives, and where Mary died a widow.  She had five known children with Nathaniel, all listed in the Ipswich Vital Records.  He was a “yeoman” (farmer) who served in the Revolutionary War.   As far as I know, Mary did not apply for a widow’s pension, yet I did find Nathaniel’s pension application papers at Fold3.com.  If I had found Mary’s application, it might have yielded some genealogical information about her family.

Both Mary and Nathaniel are buried in the Old Burying Ground in Ipswich, Massachusetts. Their gravestones survive and are remarkably legible.

I have no idea who may be Mary’s parents, nor do I know anything about her origins.  This is especially weird and unusual to me not only because I’ve been working on her story for more than 20 years, but also because I applied to the Mayflower Society using Nathaniel’s lineage back to Mayflower passenger Isaac Allerton.  The General Society of Mayflower Descendants did not question the fact that I did not have her birth record at all.  I guess they found her a conundrum, too!

There are many HOVEYs to be found in the Ipswich vital records and town records, but no trace of this Mary Hovey who married Nathaniel Treadwell.  I cannot assume she belonged to any of these families without more clues.

My lineage from MARY HOVEY:

Generation 1:  Mary Hovey, born about 1751, died 15 January 1832 in Ipswich, Massachusetts; married on 17 July 1786 in Ipswich to Nathaniel Treadwell, son of Jabez Treadwell and Lucy Haskell.  He was baptized 28 October 1753 in Ipswich, and died 2 January 1822 in Ipswich.  Five children born in Ipswich.

Generation 2:  Jabez Treadwell, born on 17 October 1788 in Ipswich, died on 4 November 1840 in Salem; married on 17 October 1811 in Marblehead, Massachusetts to Betsey Jillings Homan, daughter of Thomas Homan and Tabitha Glover, baptized on 14 October 1792 at the Unitarian Church in Marblehead, died on 6 April 1874. Seven children born in Salem.

Generation 3. Eliza Ann Treadwell, born 27 August 1812 in Salem, died 31 January 1896 in Salem; married on 4 December 1836 in Salem to Abijah Hitchings, son of Abijah Hitchings and Mary Cloutman, born on 18 January 1809 in Salem, died 18 January 1864 in Salem.  Four children born in Salem.

Generation 4.  Abijah Franklin Hitchings married Hannah Eliza Lewis
Generation 5. Arthur Treadwell Hitchings married Florence Etta Hoogerzeil
Generation 6. Gertrude Matilda Hitchings married Stanley Elmer Allen (my grandparents)

I have two TREADWELL lineages, both from the immigrant Thomas Treadwell and his wife Mary Taylor, and both also from their son Nathaniel Treadwell and wife Abigail Wells.   I descend from two of Nathaniel’s children: Mary Treadwell (1665 – 1722) who married Samuel Stone, and her brother, Nathaniel (1677 – 1723) who married Hannah Unknown:


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, “Surname Saturday ~  HOVEY Another brickwall ancestor”, Nutfield Genealogy, posted August 12, 2017, (https://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2017/08/surname-saturday-hovey-another.html: accessed [access date]). 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Family Tree Scrabble Board

I saw this idea on Pinterest, and modified it for our own family.  Then I created this as a Christmas gift for my Mom.  It was fun and mostly easy, except for the part where I had to make sure all the names fit on the Scrabble board!

I started with an old Scrabble game I found in the basement.  You might have an old game in your attic, or you can find them at Goodwill or in a yard sale.  Even if pieces are missing, this gives you lots of Scrabble tiles to start with, and a board for the background.

Next you will need to find a square frame big enough for the board.  The scrabble board is not exactly square, so look for one that is slightly smaller.  Measure it and look in frame stores, craft shops and online. I was able to find this very inexpensive wooden frame online.  Don't cut the game board until you have the frame in front of you to judge the fit!

Next, look at the board that fits inside the frame to judge the area you will have to play with for fitting in all the names.  This is important.  Count the letter blocks across and down.

For the next step I went online to find a "Word Find" website for teachers. These websites help you to design a word find game using the words of your choice.  They all let you decide how big the game will be (how many letters across, and how many letters down) - which is why it is important you know how many letters up and down you can work with.  Of course, you could use graph paper and try to make the names fit all by your self... but this is easier!

Some of the websites I found were (there are many online):




After you design your "crossword" of names, it is just a matter of gluing the square letter tiles to the board.  Avoid putting the tiles near the edge where the frame is located.  I had to cut down a few tiles with an exacto-knife to make them fit inside the frame.

I needed to order extra letter tiles from Amazon.  You'll find that there just aren't enough vowels in a regular game set for this project.  There were plenty of vendors selling tiles in bags for crafts, like this one. Make sure the size is the same!

This is an activity that you can do as a whole family as a gift for grandparents.  The kids could help with the sorting and gluing.

Have fun!

Mom's Christmas gift!


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Family Tree Scrabble Board", Nutfield Genealogy, posted August 11, 2017, (https://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2017/08/family-tree-scrabble-board.html: accessed [access date]).

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Wilkinson Surname Project in Northern New England

Albert Munroe Wilkinson (1860 - 1908)
My great grandfather

Wilkinson Surname Project in Northern New England

No book or genealogical article for a journal has ever been written about the WILKINSON families of New Hampshire and Maine. It seems that everyone is familiar with the Wilkinsons of Rhode Island and the book “Memoirs of the Wilkinson Family in America” written in 1869 by the Reverend Israel Wilkinson. It outlines the descendants of Lawrence Wilkinson, one of the original settlers at Providence, and it also includes several other Wilkinson lines in Massachusetts. These northern New England Wilkinsons appear to be completely unrelated to the Rhode Island family.  

The first identified Wilkinson in my lineage was Thomas Wilkinson, born about 1690, and his marriage to Elizabeth Caverly in August 1715 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire lists him as “from London.” He appears in the New Hampshire Provincial Papers as a proprietor of Barrington, and as a workman at Fort William and Mary. He was taxed in Portsmouth in 1727 and 1732, when he seems to have disappeared from the records. His son is listed as “William Wilkinson, son of Elizabeth, Oct. 17, 1736” in the records of the South Church of Portsmouth (no mention of Thomas). Later his wife remarried to Phillip Jewel on 27 November 1739.

Through his son James Wilkinson, born about 1730 and married to Hannah Mead sometime before 1753, I have a long family tree that grows all along the Piscataqua Region of Maine and New Hampshire, with the descendants moving to the Berwicks, Sanford, Rochester and as far north as Conway, and as far west as around Lake Winnipesaukee. My own branch came to Massachusetts in the 1820’s when Aaron Wilkinson of South Berwick married Mercy F. Wilson on 23 June 1829 in Danvers, Massachusetts.

However, living in the same region of New Hampshire was a man named Samuel Wilkinson, who was born about 1722, and died in 1795 in Deerfield or Epping. He had at least three children, who were all mentioned in deed signed in 1796: Benning Wilkinson of Allenstown, John Wilkinson or Deerfield, and a daughter, Sarah Wallis of Epping. Samuel served in the revolution at age 58 years under Brigadier General John Glover. Was Samuel another son of Thomas? A brother? A cousin? He must have been some sort of relation due to the time and proximity to where Thomas’s family lived.

Through Benning Wilkinson there is another large family tree of descendants that lived near Lake Winnipesaukee. Benning died in Center Harbor in 1851, and his twelve children died in Laconia, Gilford, Campton, etc. One of Benning’s descendants married one of Thomas’s descendants- was this a cousin marriage?

As my list of Wilkinson births, marriages, deaths, deeds and news clippings from New Hampshire and Maine grows and grows, slowly I am able to place nearly all the Wilkinsons into either Thomas’s tree or Benning’s tree. What would really be great would be to find the one clue that ties Thomas to Samuel and Benning Wilkinson.

Wilkinson Line A

Samuel Wilkinson was born about 1722, and died about 1795 in Deerfield or Epping, New Hampshire.  His wife is unknown. His three known children:

1. Benning Wilkinson born about 1764, Epping and died on 20 October 1851 in Center Harbor. Married to Deborah Langley on 4 Dec 1786 in Northwood, New Hampshire. She was born on 17 Jul 1765 in Nottingham and died 20 August 1845 in Center Harbor.

  • 1. Hannah m. Benjamin Perkins 26 November 1809 in New Hampton
    2. Jonathan m. Melinda George 1 January 1828 in Gilford
    3. Rhoda born 1787 married Benjamin Libby about 1805
    4. Susan born 1789 married Charles Huckins about 1815
    5. Bradbury born 1793 married Hannah Huckins 23 January 1820
    6. Charlotte born 1794 married Samuel Fogg 21 March 1816
    7. Benning, Jr. born 1797 married Clarissa Johnson 3 Augusut 1823
    8. Samuel B., born about 1800 married Eliza Harper Smith 28 Dec 1824
    9. John A., married Miram Clough 29 Dec 1803
    10. Jacob R, born 1 Jan 1805 on Stonedam Island, married Leah A. Rundlett on 25 June 1825
    11. Leah, born about 1808 married Jonathan Johnson Lovejoy in 1827
    12. Rachel, born 1810 married Richard Hadley 4 August 1833

2. John

3. Sarah, married to an Unknown Wallis. Previously it was believed that she had married Spencer Wallis, born about 3 June 1734 in Portsmouth, son of William Wallis and Comfort Cotton, but there is proof that this is another Sarah!

Wilkinson Line B
Thomas Wilkinson, my 6th great grandfather, was born about 1690 in England and died before 1739.  H was married to Elizabeth Caverly in August 1715 in Portsmouth. She was the daughter of William Caverly and Mary Abbott, born about 1696 in Portsmouth. Two known children:

1. William born 17 Oct 1736 in Portsmouth

2. James born about 1730 and died between 1796 and 1805 in Berwick, Maine. He was married 1. to Hannah Mead before 1753, daughter of Thomas Mead and Hannah Stilson, born on 9 August 1730 in Wakefield, New Hampshire. He married 2. Mary Unknown.

Children of James Wilkinson:

  • 1. James G., born 31 December 1753 in Newington and died 4 March 1827 in Alton, married 1. Mary Unknown before 1775 (eight children), married 2. Rebecca Whitehouse 2 Feb 1798 in Wolfborough (two children), married 3. Lydia Rand on 2 August 1812 in Alton.
    2. Anna, born 16 June 1754 in Newington, died before 1840, married 1. Samuel Hearle on 4 Mar 1779 in Berwick, Maine (five children), married 2. James Urban on 6 May 1796 in Waterborough, Maine.
    3. Joseph, born before 8 May 1757 in Berwick, Maine, died 26 August 1842 in Sanford, Maine, married Dorcas Nason on 23 Nov 1782 in Berwick. She was the daughter of William Nason and Abigail Wadleigh, born about 1761 and died 22 January 1849 in Sanford.
    4. George, born about 1761 and died 1846, married Mehitable Whitehouse on 12 January 1785 in South Berwick. At least two children.
    5. Samuel, born 1761, married Hannah Turner on 27 November 1785 in South Berwick.
    6. Daniel, born 1764 and died between 1850 and 1860, married to Hannah Weymouth on 27 August 1792 in South Berwick. She was born about 1772 in South Berwick, and died on 18 December 1845 in Effingham, New Hampshire. Six children.
    7. William married Mercy Nason on 7 February 1788 in South Berwick. She was born about 1764 in Kittery, daughter of Richard Nason and Mary Thompson. They had at least three sons, possibly more unrecorded children. 

William Wilkinson and Mercy Nason were the parents of Aaron Wilkinson, my 3rd great grandfather, born on 22 February 1802 in South Berwick. He died in Peabody, Massachusetts in 25 November 1879, and was married to Mercy F. Wilson on 23 June 1829 and producing eleven children.

Some other Wilkinson blog posts:

Descendants of Thomas Wilkinson:

Descendants of Samuel Wilkinson:

My Wilkinson lineage:


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Wilkinson Surname Project in Northern New England", Nutfield Genealogy, posted August 10, 2017, (https://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2017/08/wilkinson-surname-project-in-northern.html: accessed [access date]). 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Weathervane Wednesday ~ At a historic vacation destination

I post another in a series of weather vane photographs every Wednesday.  This started with images of weathervanes from the Londonderry, New Hampshire area, but now I've found interesting weather vanes all across New England and across the globe.  Sometimes my weather vanes are whimsical, or historical, but all are interesting.  Often my readers tip me off to some very unique or unusual weathervanes, too!  If you know a great weather vane near you, let me know if you'd like to have it featured on this blog.

Today's weather vane was photographed by a reader in New Hampshire.

Do you know the location of weathervane post #323?  Scroll down to find the answer.

Scott Powell, a friend and fellow New Hampshire blogger, sent in this photo of of the eagle weather vane on top of the New Hampshire Veterans Association building in Weirs Beach, New Hampshire.  This is an appropriate place for an eagle!  Military veterans have been vacationing here for over 130 years.

This weather vane is a large, three dimensional eagle.  It can be seen in old photos from the 1800s, so it must be original to the time this historic building headquarters was constructed in 1880 as part of a larger campground area with other dormitories (barracks), camping, cottages, picnic groves, and mustering fields close to the edge of Lake Winnepesaukee in Weirs Beach. Some of these buildings were destroyed by fires over the years, but many still remain standing.  This headquarters building is visible from the landing where you board the SS Mount Washington to tour the lake.

This historic building still houses veterans and their vacationing families of veterans in the "barracks", cottages and camping area next to the headquarters building.

Thanks, Scott!

For the truly curious:

The NH Veteran's Association:

A nice history of the NH Veteran's Association from the Weir's Beach website:

Scott Powell's blog "Lake Wicwas Nature Journal":


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Weathervane Wednesday ~ At a vacation destination", Nutfield Genealogy, posted August 8, 2017, (http://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2017/08/weathervane-wednesday-at-historic.html: accessed [access date]).

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Tombstone Tuesday ~ The Rev. Nahum Brooks family plot, Manchester, New Hampshire

This tombstone was photographed at the Valley Cemetery in Manchester, New Hampshire.

REV. N & MRS R. L.
DIED OCT. 10, 1866
AE. 20 YRS 13 DAYS

BORN SEPT. 17, 1817
DIED JUNE 20, 1897

JUNE 16, 1811
MARCH 16, 1883
AE. 71 YRS 9 MOS

The Revered Nahum Brooks was born 11 June 1811 in Wakefield, New Hampshire, the son of John Brooks and Phebe Chick.  He went to school at the Parsonsfield Academy in Maine. He organized his first Baptist church in Laconia in March 1838 and was ordained in Sanbornton in May 1838. He was a Baptist minister in Centre Sandwich, Great Falls, Bath, and the Pine Street Baptist Church in Manchester.

He married first on 14 February 1836 to Emmeline M. Watson, the daughter of Elijah Watson and Miriam Sawyer.  She was born 3 Jan 1815 in Springfield, New Hampshire, and died in Concord, New on 7 September 1836, almost 7 months after their wedding.

He married second on 19 September 1838 to Rebecca L. Harmon. She was the daughter of Henry Harmon and Catherine Franklin, born on 17 September 1817, and died 20 June 1897.  Rebecca gave him two daughters:  Emmeline R. (1842 – 1901), wife of Charles Edward Balch, and Mary Ellen (1844 – 1866), who died unmarried and is buried next to her parents.

Click on this link for the blog post featuring Emmeline R. Brooks and Charles Edward Balch:  https://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2017/08/tombstone-tuesday-colonel-charles-e.html  

The Native Ministry of New Hampshire, by Nathan Franklin Carter,  1906 (see a sketch of Nahum Brooks on page 769).

Heather Wilkinson Rojo, “Tombstone Tuesday ~ The Rev. Nahum Brooks family plot, Manchester, New Hampshire", Nutfield Genealogy, posted August 8, 2017, (https://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2017/08/tombstone-tuesday-rev-nahum-brooks.html: accessed [access date]). 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Crowd Sourcing Nana’s 1920 Diary

Gertrude Matilda Hitchings (1905 - 2001)

Last year my Auntie Diane gave me my grandmother’s diary, written in 1920.  It was a tiny three inch book, with every day filled in with tiny script.  I was very touched that my Aunt thought of me to be the guardian of this little treasure.  I recognized Nana’s handwriting right away, and missed her immediately as I read through the journal. Even though the little entries were short and sweet, they reflected her personality and her interests that she had as the elderly woman I knew.  Nana, Gertrude Matilda Hitchings (1905 – 2001), was only fourteen years old when she started this diary. She was living in Beverly, Massachusetts, where I grew up, too.

I started to transcribe the diary last year, but I ran into a lot of puzzles and problems reading names, places and long gone traditions.  I decided to post a few pages every Monday on my blog for “Amanuensis Monday” and use the public to help me discover the life of a young teenage girl in 1920 Beverly.  I’m a member of several genealogy groups on social media, as well as several local history Facebook groups such as “The Beverly Heritage Project” and “Historic Beverly”.   Many people followed the diary for months, and made comments, sent email, and left messages on Facebook pages that helped me to transcribe Nana’s journal.

I posted the first few pages from the diary on 5 December, 2016.  This fragile little journal had lost the first few leaves of paper, so Nana’s diary starts of 7 January 1920.  In the first entry I transcribed she wrote about going to school, “Skating down to Crosby’s meadow at half past four”. She also wrote about “After supper went down to the shoe” which could be a mystery for anyone who had never lived in Beverly.  I knew what “the shoe” meant – it was the local slang for the United Shoe Machinery Corporation, where Nana’s father worked (my great grandfather Arthur Treadwell Hitchings).  I once lived a few blocks from “The Shoe”, where my other grandfather, and other great grandfather once worked. My own father once worked there as a security guard during college.  My other grandmother worked there during World War II as a “Rosy the Riveter” when the shoe making machinery was switched over to munitions and war supply materials. My family is very familiar with “The Shoe”!

The second blog post was published on 12 December 2016, and the diary entries were from 16 January 1920 to Saturday 24 January 1920.  Gertrude mentioned lots of fun things of interest to a teenage girl – school, a sleigh ride, playing baseball, her little sister having the mumps, sledding down Prospect Hill (where I went to elementary school!), and a mysterious fire at the “Swiche’s” farm [sic].  I knew that I had misread this name because I couldn’t find this family in any Beverly directory or census. 

After publishing this bit of the diary with my questions about the family name at the burned farm, I received a flood of messages.  Lots of people from the town of Beverly wrote in.  Genealogists jumped online and started to research the date of the fire, the history of the fire department in Beverly, and other resources.  Within two hours of posting this blog entry a reader found that the family was named ZWICKER, and the farm was located just over the Beverly line in the town of Danvers.  From there I was able to update the blog post with news stories and insurance information on the loss of buildings and animals in the fire. I was amazed that so many people were reading Nana’s diary.

Gertrude and her best friend, Bea Wilkins,
who is mentioned in the diary many times.

I continued to publish a few pages of Nana’s diary every Monday during early 2017 and the last entry appeared on my blog 12 June 2017.   There were many missing pages from the month of December 1920, and the remaining pages were very tattered, but I was able to figure out most of it with the help of Beverly resident Laurie Stevens (who was also very helpful with place names during the whole project).  By the time I published the last pages I had hundreds of new followers reading the blog, and many of my cousins were reading along, too.

I decided to thank my Aunt Diane with a book containing all the blog posts.  Each post had the scanned images of the diary pages, my transcriptions of these pages, photographs of Gertrude (my grandmother) and her family, relatives, and Beverly from the 1920s.  The book was published by the online site Blog2Print and I made a copy for my own mother and myself.  My mother had followed the project online, too, and was extremely interested in the diary, and very helpful with additional stories about the Hitchings family and the places Nana mentioned.

The book of all 27 blog posts about Nana's 1920 Diary

Thank you Auntie Diane, Mom, and most of all to Nana Gertrude for this project.  And I cannot say “Thank You” enough to all the genealogists, blog readers, The Beverly Historical Society, Beverly residents and ex-Beverly residents who helped with comments, messages, research and even anonymous comments.  I couldn’t have finished this project without each of you.  I think Nana is smiling somewhere right now-  knowing that so many people enjoyed reading her little journal.

You can still read Nana’s diary online!

The first diary entry is at this link:

You can find all the diary entries at this link (out of order):

There were 27 blog posts each posted on a Monday from 5 December 2016 until 12 June 2017.  


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, “Crowd Sourcing Nana’s Diary”, Nutfield Genealogy, posted August 7, 2017 (https://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2017/08/crowd-sourcing-nanas-1920-diary.html: accessed [access date]).