Saturday, February 17, 2018

Surname Saturday ~ JOHNSON of Topsfield, Massachusetts

Help me smash this brick wall!

Stephen Johnson, my 7th great grandfather, is another brick wall ancestor.  I don’t know his birthdate, birth place or parents.  On 29 August 1734 he married Rebecca Towne, the niece one generation removed from three Towne sisters who were accused of witchcraft in 1692.  Two of those sisters were hanged: Rebecca (Towne) Nurse and Mary (Towne) Eastey.  Rebecca Towne (b. 1699/1700 in Topsfield) is the granddaughter of their brother, Edmund Towne (1628 – 1675).

This tie to the witch trials of 1692 might be a big clue.  The children and grandchildren of the witch trial victims tended to marry descendants of other victims. I have many examples of this in my family tree, which is why I am descended from so many of those families.  Why did they marry each other?  Were they ostracized from marrying other potential spouses?  Did they find common ground? I have no idea why this happened.

During the 1692 hysteria, there was a young boy, only 14 years old, who was also named Stephen Johnson. He was accused of being a witch, and arrested, along with many members of his extended family.  He was a nephew of Abigail (Dane) Faulkner (1652 – 1730), my 9th great aunt.  Because I had the Dane and Faulkner families in my family tree, I found Abigail’s sister had married a man named Stephen Johnson (father of the accused 14-year-old Stephen Johnson).  There were many Stephens in this Johnson family that lived in Andover, Massachusetts (one town away from Topsfield).  I have traced out most of them.  Did I miss a connection to the husband of Rebecca Towne?  

Their daughter, Ruth Johnson (1731 – 1800) married Richard Cree in 1756 in Topsfield.  They had a son named Stephen Cree (another STEPHEN!) who is my 5th great grandfather.  The name Johnson daughters out here. 

Is there a JOHNSON family researcher out there who knows the answer to this mystery?  Am I chasing a red herring trying to tie the two Johnson families together?

My JOHNSON genealogy:

Generation 1:  Stephen Johnson, born about 1700, died 29 August 1734 in Topsfield; married on 2 December 1730 in Topsfield to Rebecca Towne, daughter of Samuel Towne and Elizabeth Knight.  She was born 8 February 1699/1700 in Topsfield.  Two children born in Topsfield.  Rebecca remarried to her second cousin, Joshua Towne, son of Jacob Towne and Phebe Smith. 

Generation 2:  Ruth Johnson, born 30 August 1731 in Topsfield, died 29 June 1800 in Topsfield; married on 5 February 1756 in Topsfield to Richard Cree, son of Nicholas Cree and Keziah Dwinnell.  He was born 13 August 1727 in Topsfield, and died 15 April 1769 in Topsfield.  Five children born in Topsfield.

Generation 3: Stephen Cree m. Hannah Smith
Generation 4: Sarah Cree m. James Phillips
Generation 5: Hannah Phillips m. Capt. Thomas Russell Lewis
Generation 6:  Hannah Eliza Lewis m. Abijah Franklin Hitchings
Generation 7:  Arthur Treadwell Hitchings m. Florence Etta Hoogerzeil
Generation 8:  Gertrude Matilda Hitchings m. Stanley Elmer Allen (my grandparents)


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, “Surname Saturday ~ JOHNSON of Topsfield, Massachusetts”, Nutfield Genealogy, posted February 17, 2018, ( accessed [access date]). 

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