Long Line: The Old Connecticut Path

I decided to do a slightly different take for this week’s #52Ancestors theme “Long Line” — I decided on a literal line! Well, kind of a meandering line: The Old Connecticut Path.

Milestone marker in Wayland, MA along the Old Connecticut Path. Courtesy Library of Congress.

As I studied my ancestors who passed through Windsor, Hartford County, CT, I wondered how they arrived there. These ancestors were:

  • Robert Bartlett
  • Thomas Ford
  • William Holton
  • Ephraim Huit
  • Eltweed Pomeroy
  • John Strong

At some point, the Old Connecticut Path came up in my research. Apparently it originally was a route that the natives traveled between the Boston area and what is now the Hartford area along the Connecticut River. Massachusetts colonists in the early-mid 1630s (such as Roger Ludlow, John Oldham and Rev. Thomas Hooker) soon began trekking along the path and founded the settlements of Windsor (first known as Dorchester), Wethersfield (first known as Watertown) and Hartford (first known as Newtown).

I could try to re-hash the history and route of the Old Connecticut Path, but Jason Newton as already done comprehensive work on his dedicated website, YouTube channel and Facebook page. I have only just begun to explore those resources myself! So click on these links and start exploring the Old Connecticut Path to see what your ancestors ma have seen and learn about their experiences!

Favorite Photo: Mistaken Identity

Week 2 of #52Ancestors focuses on “Favorite Photo”. My first problem is I don’t have a lot of family photos, and my second is that some may not be shareable for privacy reasons. Plus, how can I pick a favorite? What I can do is pick a photo with a little story behind it.

There is one photo I’ve shared on this blog before but have not given much of an explanation of:

Previously thought to be a picture of Bertha, the identified time points to it being Jennie. Courtesy Deb Thompson Colomy.

My third cousin sent me this picture not long after I began my genealogical journey. Among his mother’s genealogical things, he identified this as being a picture of Bertha Elizabeth Colomy. At the time, I though I could see a little of my grandfather (her son) in the eyebrows. Also, one of Edwin’s youngest grandsons had identified the picture as Bertha. The only mystery at the time was: when was the picture taken?

Eventually I heard of Maureen Taylor, aka The Photo Detective, who was an expert at determining when photos were taken based on hairstyle, clothing, etc. She was going to be at the first Genealogy Event in New York City in October 2012–here was my big chance to find out the date of the picture!

So I made my appointment and got my answer pretty quickly: Maureen said that the picture was taken around 1885. The only problem was: Bertha was only nine years old then; this could not have been her! I wondered if, maybe, this could be Bertha’s mother Jennie, born in 1856. Maureen thought that it was a possibility.

So that’s been my conclusion about this photo. After all, it’s possible that Bertha looked very much like her mother, and I saw that the grand-nephew that had identified her was born after Bertha had died; he would not have known what she looked like firsthand.

Fresh Start: Colonial Ancestors

This year, to make myself a bit more active on this blog, I plan to take part in Amy Johnson Crow’s #52Ancestors.  I don’t plan on holding myself to it strictly, since other things may come up, but I thought it might freshen my perspective somewhat.

So the first week’s prompt is “Fresh Start”, which stumped me at first.  After all, there are all sorts of ways to have a fresh start.  But during the past few months of my research, I’ve been drawn to my 1600s ancestors here in America, and I figured they are the epitome of the story of a fresh start.

With some of my ancestors, it’s easy to tell how and why they got a fresh start.  Nicholas Wallington was just a boy servant along for the ride when his master Stephen Kent immigrated to Massachusetts; his start was automatic.  Roger Williams, however, was a classic example of immigration for religious freedom, even though life in Boston and Salem weren’t free enough for him.  He made a great fresh start with the founding of Rhode Island.

With my other ancestors, however, their reasons to immigrate here are either lost to time or (hopefully) hidden away in some archive.  But history has taught us some of the common reasons to start over: economic opportunity, plenty of land available (let’s hear it for all those old Massachusetts land records!), as well as following their religious and personal convictions.  Not only did my ancestors find all this, but they began new towns, new churches and new families.  Some, like John Scranton, discovered new ways to clear land and farm.  Most probably discovered new foods to try and new ways to prepare the food.  Sadly, my ancestors living around in 1675 found a new enemy in the natives during King Philip’s War and following.

Though life in America provided my 1600s ancestors with a fresh start in their lives, that start laid the foundation for the generations that were to follow.  I am proud to count that as part of my heritage!

Puritans. Courtesy of US Library of Congress.

Here is a list of many of my other “Fresh Start” ancestors not mentioned above, with links for those I’ve written about:

Tenth Great-Grandparents: Job and Margaret (Dummer) Clement

In this post, I’ll climb up one more run of the Clement/Clements ladder to the first Job
Clement. Again, the following is to the best of my knowledge and what I could definitely
ascribe to him rather than his son.

Job was born 1616 in Leicester, England to Robert Clement and ___. He and his father
settled in Haverill, Massachusetts. He was a tanner and his tannery, as of February 27,
1644, was located at the mouth of Mill Brook. I don’t see this brook in Haverhill
anymore, but there is a Mill Brook Park and a Mill Street, so perhaps the tannery was
somewhere on that street.

On December 25, 1645, he and Margaret Dummer had the honor of being the first marriage in
Haverhill. Although we celebrate that day as Christmas today, Job and Margaret and their
community probably did not. Their son Job was born on April 17, 1648; there are online
trees that show two other children, but I have yet to research them.

Job Sr. soon became involved in town life. On January 30, 1647, he became Haverhill’s
first constable, and in 1651, he was appointed to “end small causes”.

Only eight years into their marriage, Margaret passed away in Haverhill in 1653. Perhaps
this may have sparked Job into moving to Dover, Norfolk County, Massachusetts (now
Strafford County, New Hampshire) by 1655. There he must have met his second wife Lydia,
who he married in 1657. I assume he was married to Lydia the longest, as I found that he
married one last time on July 16, 1673 to Joanna (Silsby) Leighton.

Finally, Job passed away on September 4, 1682 in Dover. Right now, I’m unaware of where
he or any of his wives are buried.

Ninth Great-Grandparents: Job and Abigail (Heard) Clement(s)

As we go back in Margaret Clements‘ line, we see the surname being spelled as Clement. I suppose that back then, surnames were easily adjusted and/or interchangeable (much like Wallington/Wallingford). What’s more confusing is that her father and grandfather had the same first name: Job. I could find a lot of mentions of “Job Clement” in Haverhill, MA and Dover, NH, but because each of their adult lives overlapped for a number of years, it made it difficult to tell which Job was being talked about! So what I’m about to write is what I could tell about Margaret’s father.

Job was born on April 17, 1648 in Haverhill, Essex County, MA to Job Clement and Margaret Dummer. It looks as though the Clement family moved to Dover in what was Norfolk County, MA, but later became Strafford County, NH, between 1652 and 1655. He married Abigail Heard, daughter of James Heard and Shuah _____ on February 26, 1688 in Dover. They lived in the Dover Neck area of town. Job held a few offices in his lifetime: as a representative for the 1692-1693 session and again for the 1693-1694 session (though there is a note that he “refused to take the oaths”. In 1696, Job was moderator at Dover town meetings.

Dover Neck, Dover, NH. Courtesy Google Earth.

Job died on October 3, 1716 in Dover, and his will was proved on October 8, with his wife Abigail and oldest son Job as administrators of his estate.

Abigail lived at least until March 12, 1733, when she quitclaimed some Berwick land to Samuel Lord. I can’t tell when her exact death date was, nor do I know where she or Job are buried.

Eleventh Great-Grandparents: Henry and Bridget (Fitts?) Travers

My last post was about Nicholas Wallington, whose life ended mysteriously at sea in the early 1680s. He had left behind many children and his wife, Sarah Travers. But this wasn’t Sarah’s first mysterious loss in her family, as we shall see.

Sarah’s parents were Henry Travers and Bridget _____ (believed – but unproven – to be Fitts). Henry was born in England sometime before 1610. After March 24, 1634, he traveled aboard the Mary and John and ended up in Agawam (now Ipswich), Massachusetts. By 1635 Henry was living in Newbury, where I assume he married Bridget*. They ended up having two children:

  • Sarah, born 1636; married Nicholas Wallington on August 30, 1654 in Newbury.
  • James, born April 28, 1645; married Mercy Pearce on April 8, 1667 in Gloucester, Essex County, Massachusetts; died before 1717. (At some point, James started using the surname “Travis”.)

There seemed to be some trouble in Henry and Bridget’s marriage: on September 29, 1646, John Emery (another collateral relative of mine) was fined or “to be whipped” for “his miscarriage with the wife of Henry Traverse”, and he was “bound to good behavior and not to frequent the company of the wife of Henry Traverse. Brigett Traverse fined 10s for her misdemeanors”. What?! How long was that going on, I wonder! And I have to note that John was married as well.

Not two years later, on July 26, 1658, Henry drew up his will. He ominously stated that he was going “to sea and know not whether I shall live to Com againe”. He and Bridget must have kept up some sort of correspondence, for she later stated that she last heard from Henry in 1650. At that point, daughter Sarah was only fourteen and son James was five.

Snippet of the beginning of Henry Travers’ 1648 will. Don’t you just love the handwriting? Courtesy AmericanAncestors.org.

This is where Bridget’s story ramps up. In 1655 (a year after Sarah got married), she petitioned the court in Ipswich to allow her to live in her present house until James turned twenty-one. She apparently had been working hard, as she went into debt in keeping up her buildings and breaking up the land. Perhaps things got easier once she married Richard Window in Gloucester on March 30, 1659.

Life was probably stable for Bridget until Richard died on April 27, 1665. Again, Bridget headed to court on May 23 and June 26, 1666 regarding her inheritance from Richard’s will. She stated that she only received “30s. per year, she being now aged and not able to work for her maintenance, and James Stephens, the overseer, not providing her even with bread or beer.” The court ended up granter her petition of May 23 (for how much, I don’t know), and for June 26th’s petition, she received a cow. I suppose that Bridget was satisfied with this arrangement, because I don’t see any further petitions. I have to give her credit for doing what she could to make sure that she and her family were provided for!

At last, Bridget passed away in Bradford, Essex County, MA on October 9, 1673, with her will being proved on November 25 of that year. For some reason, it was another two years (November 26, 1675) before administration of her estate was granted to her son James and son-in-law Nicholas. I don’t know how much she had to leave to her family, but it’s nice to know that in the end, she had something!

* Some sources believe that Bridget was previously married to a Richard Goodwin, but Robert Charles Anderson (author of NEHGS’ Great Migration series) discounts this marriage.

Tenth Great-Grandparents Nicholas and Sarah (Travers) Wallington

Going so far back in time, there are a few theories out there as to when Nicholas Wallington was born and who his parents were, but I don’t have a very high confidence in them at this point. Also, I realize that there are some records and indications of Nicholas’ various dealings in his life that I have yet to research. The following is what I know so far.

It looks like as a boy, Nicholas arrived in Boston, Suffolk County, MA from Southampton, England on April 24, 1638 aboard the Confidence. He was likely a servant to Stephen Kent, who eventually settled in Newbury, Essex County, MA. Nicholas eventually was no longer a servant and married Sarah Travers, daughter of Henry and Bridget Travers, on August 30, 1654 in Newbury.

1663 finds Nicholas and family living in Rowley, Essex County, MA. In 1670, he became a freeman (not a “free man” from being a servant, but a citizen in good standing and able to vote). On November 26, 1675, he became co-administrator of his mother-in-law’s will. I suppose this demonstrates the level of trust that his extended family had in him.

From what I can gather, Nicholas and Sarah had a great number of children:

  • John, born September 16, 1655; died January 6, 1656
  • Nicholas, born January 2, 1657; married Elizabeth Palmer, December 4, 1678; died May 10, 1682
  • John, born April 7, 1659 in Newbury, Essex County, MA; married Mary Tuttle on December 6, 1687 in Dover, Rockingham County, NH; died 1709
  • Sarah, born May 20, 1661; married Caleb Hopkinson, November 25, 1679
  • Mary, born August 20, 1663
  • James, born October 6, 1665; married Deborah _____
  • Hannah, born November 1667
  • William, born February 7, 1670
  • Joseph, born April 20, 1672
  • Elizabeth, born June 23, 1674
  • Esther, born June 8, 1676
  • Benjamin, born June 27, 1678
  • Abigail, born June 24, 1680

The most interesting thing I find about Nicholas is his mysterious death. Every source tells me that he was taken captive and died at sea. I don’t know what prompted him to travel or how anyone found out he was taken captive. In any event, his probate was opened on March 28, 1682 and was not closed until 1703 I suppose that the circumstances of his death and his large number of children contributed to this long period.

Meanwhile, Nicholas’ wife Sarah moved on in her life. On May 18, 1691, she married Onesiphorus Marsh as his third wife. Onesiphorus, according to his gravestone, died on May 15, 1713 and is buried in Pentucket Cemetery in Haverhill, Essex County, MA. I don’t know where Sarah is buried.

We’ll take one more step back through Sarah’s line just to find another mystery!