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!

Paine and Bass: Braintree Beginnings

In my last post we looked at the lines of Stephen and Hannah (Bass) Paine. In this post, I’d like to take a look at both sets of parents. In both cases, I’m not sure of their towns of origin in England (though there is some sketchy information on some online trees).

Moses and Elizabeth Paine had three children that I know of:

  • Moses, born 1622/23; married Elizabeth ____; died December 15, 1690 in Boston.
  • Elizabeth, born circa 1625, married Henry Adams of Medfield on November 17, 1643; both Elizabeth and Henry were shot in their own home by natives during King Philip’s War on February 21, 1676. Henry died immediately and Elizabeth died one week later (perhaps this event provided motivation for Stephen to serve his second stint during the war).
  • Stephen, whose information can be found here.

The Paine family immigrated from England and were living in Braintree by 1632. Over time, Moses also acquired land in Mendon, Cambridge, Concord and Piscataqua. In 1641 he became a freeman.

I’m not sure of the date that Elizabeth passed away, but in 1642, Moses had re-married widow Judith (Pares) Quincy. On June 17, 1643, Moses made out his will, leaving Judith with a mere 20 shillings. The authors of the books I’ve read about this fact wonder why this could be. My guesses are perhaps Judith was already well off from her previous marriage, or perhaps Moses’ children had something to say about her inheritance. Regardless of the reason, Moses was close to death at the time of his will, for his date of burial was only four days later on June 21.

Moses and Ann Bass (both born circa 1600) arrived in America about 1632, but first settled in Roxbury. They acclimated quickly, becoming members of the First Church of Roxbury under Rev. John Eliot, who would go on to become “the Apostle to the Indians”. They seemed to have the first two children – Samuel and Mary – in England. Their remaining children (John, Hannah, Ruth, Thomas, Sarah and Joseph) were likely born in Roxbury. (Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of information on most of them.) On May 14, 1634, Samuel became a freeman.

In 1640 the family moved to Braintree and became involved at the First Church there. In July, Samuel was “received into communion” and soon became the church’s first deacon, a position he maintained until his death. In 1653 he became the ruling elder of the church. Before his death in 1694, he, William Veasey, John Ruggle and David Walesby gave a gift of an inscribed silver communion cup to the church, which remains in its possession. (I would LOVE to see a picture of it!)

First Congregational Church of Braintree as it appears today.  Courtesy Google Earth.

First Congregational Church of Braintree as it appears today. Courtesy Google Earth.

Samuel’s position was prominent in civic matters as well. Between 1641 and 1664 he sat in twelve General Courts. He was also appointed for various causes, such as improving the town marsh, settling small legal matters, and looking into the building of a cart-bridge over the Neponset River. I even found that he and Moses Paine were among those who signed an acknowledgement of the sale of a schoolhouse by a Mr. Flint in 1648, so they certainly were acquainted with each other.

Ann Bass died on September 5, 1693 and Samuel on December 30, 1964. His will indicates that he thoughtfully provided for each of his surviving children. Both Samuel and Ann are buried in Hancock Cemetery in Quincy, MA and their headstones remain there today.

The Redman Legacy

This post has been updated to correct some errors.  To find out more about the Redmans, click here.

I last touched on the Redman name in this post about Seth Billings and Jerusha Redman. Since then, I’ve learned a bit more about Jerusha’s heritage. I’m going to start from the earliest known Redman, because it’s going to get really confusing!

The first Redman I know of was named Robert (he will be Robert 1), who in 1662 laid out 200 acres of land in newly-formed Milton for the ministry of the church. Robert 1 died in 1678.

Robert 1’s youngest some was named Charles. Charles  lived in Milton and on February 10, 1688, married Martha Hill of Dorchester. Just two years later, Charles  was among many soldiers from the Dorchester area that served under Captain John Withington in an ill-fated expedition to Canada (likely as part of the many French and India skirmishes). At least forty-six of his regiment, including Withington, were lost at sea. Fortunately Charles  himself survived the entire experience.

Charles  and Martha had at least six children by 1700, listed in Huntoon’s History of the Town of Canton…: Robert (he’ll be Robert 2) (born March 30, 1694), John (born May 8, 1696), Mary, Martha, Mercy (born July 8, 1698) and Thankful.

March 1, 1704/05 was a significant date in Redman family history: Charles  began a lease of land from the Native Americans, who had been granted an area of land called Ponkapoag (also spelled Punkipog and other various spellings, as you can imagine) in what is now Canton, MA. (There was a five-year period from 1715 when Charles  did not lease this land, but it was back in his hands in 1720.) Apparently Charles  cultivated some apple trees here.

Robert 2 grew up and took on the responsibilities of a man of his time: he married his wife, Mary Kennee (or Keeney) on August 1, 1722 in Boston by Samuel Checkley, Esq. By March 22, 1725, Charles  had passed away, as referenced in a deed of Ponkapoag land from the natives to Robert 2 and the other heirs of Charles. Exactly how much land went to the others, I am not sure, but Robert 2 was appointed the administrator of Charles’s estate on June 14 of that year, so he probably was the one to make that decision.

Robert 2 continued to improve his land by building a sawmill along Ponkapoag Brook, one of the first mills in that area. In 1726, he opened his home for use as the community’s first school. I have to wonder who taught at the school–was it Robert himself, or maybe someone in the church?

Redman Farm was not the only land that Robert owned. In 1737 he received a grant of land in the “Dorchester Canada” settlement, which is now Ashburnham, Worcester County, MA. This grant was among many that were given to the descendants of Withington’s 1690 Canada expedition. It seems that Robert 2 must have sold this grant, since it is not mentioned in his December 18, 1657 will.

Robert 2 passed away on November 8, 1760 and his will (which is meticulously written) was proved on December 19, 1760. Half of his land passed to his living son Robert, and the other half to his wife Mary, to be divided later among their remaining children. (Mary seems to have died sometime between 1768 and 1780.) All their children were:

  • Robert; died in childhood, October 6, 1731.
  • Sarah; died in childhood, March 19, 1725.
  • John, born September 20, 1730, died unmarried June 6, 1761. Robert 2’s will implies that he must have had issues with this son: firstly, he left him just five shillings, then stated that, out of is wife’s Mary’s half of the estate, John could have “two fifths of [the] remainder if he behaves well and dutifully to his mother during her life”, otherwise she could distribute it as she saw fit. These statements and seeing how soon John died after his father’s death makes me wonder about John’s lifestyle. However, John did make a will that left everything to his mother, so I suppose that in the end, he was “dutiful”.
  • Robert, married Mary Dunbar on April 23, 1767; died 1778 with no children.
  • Sarah, born August 10, 1732; married Jonathan Kinney; died before December 1757. She had two children.
  • Martha, married Nehemiah Liscom on October 9, 1761; died before September 1763 with no children.
  • Jerusha, born January 31, 1735; married Seth Billings (probably in early 1750), then Nathaniel Pitty on March 15, 1789. She had four children. I had wondered how she had carried on after Seth’s death in 1766; now I know that her inheritance must have helped.
  • Mary, married Thomas Spurr, Jr. on August 15, 1744; died early 1780. She had ten children.

As a final note, the location of the lands of Redman Farm is at the Ponkapoag Golf Course in Canton, MA and includes part of the Ponkapoag Trail, which is open for public hiking. In fact, the left portion of the trail is called “Redman Farm Path”. I would love to walk on this trail some day and think about my ancestors who may have walked here as well!

The grounds of Redman Farm today. Courtesy Google Earth.

The grounds of Redman Farm today. Courtesy Google Earth.

Eighth Great-Grandparents: Stephen and Elizabeth Billings

Stepping back in my Billings family line, we come to Seth’s parents, Stephen Billings and Elizabeth Fenno.

Stephen was the son of Roger Billings and Sarah Paine. He was born on August 27, 1691 in Dorchester, Suffolk County, MA.

Elizabeth was the daughter of John Fenno and Rachel Newcomb. She was born on May 7, 1707 in Dorchester.

Stephen and Elizabeth were married on June 9, 1724 (I assume in Dorchester). From what I see on some sources on the internet, they had twelve children! The oldest was named after his father, and I seemed to confuse them in finding the name “Stephen Billings” in NEHGS’s colonial military records. I believe it was the younger Stephen who served in 1748-1749 on Castle William in Boston Harbor. (For all I know, however, both could have served.) At the time, young Stephen served under Captain Spencer Phips, who also was Massachusetts’ lieutenant governor at the time. Today, Castle Island is no longer an island, and the the fort Castle William eventually was replaced by Fort Independence, which is now a state park and on the National Register of Historic Places.

Castle William, as Stephen Billings, Jr. would have known it.  Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Castle William, as Stephen Billings, Jr. would have known it. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Stephen the elder died on June 10, 1767 and Elizabeth on October 17, 1783 in Stoughton, Suffolk County, MA.

Third Great Uncle John Christopher Lipsett

John Christopher Lipsett was the fourth child of Robert Bruce Lipsett and Christina McMaster. He was born March 11, 1864 or 1865 in Clam Harbour, Guysborough County, Nova Scotia and lived the rest of his life as a farmer in Manchester. During the early part of his life, his religion seemed to be Church of England but by 1921, he was a Methodist.

John married Mary E. Callahan on November 8, 1893 in Manchester by the Reverend NH Hamilton. Witnesses to the marriage were Rosina Hamilton and Edith Cameron.

Their children, who all seem to have been born in Manchester, were:

  • Everett H. Clair, born July 10, 1895. Married Lola Gertrude Morris in 1929. He died in 1957 in Manchester. Apparently, this is one branch of the Lipsett family that my father knew well. On a trip to Nova Scotia in 1988, he visited with Lola and her son Everett Morris Clair (nicknamed “Clair”).

    Dad, Lola + Clair in Manchester. Author's collection.

    Dad, Lola + Clair in Manchester. Author’s collection.

  • Robert Wilbur, born June 22, 1897. Married Mary Madelina Robicheau. He died 1984 in Boston.
  • Lydia Evelyn, born December 27, 1898. Never married. Died 1952 (I assume in Manchester).
  • Alexander Wyman, born May 11, 1901. Never married. Died 1926 in Manchester of tuberculosis.
  • John Christopher, Jr., born June 29, 1906. No evidence that he was married. Died 1975 in Manchester.
  • Mary Christina, born May 8, 1912. Married Arthur Chiasson. Died 2004 in Boylston, Guysborough County, Nova Scotia.

John died on August 24, 1921 of pneumonia in Manchester. His wife Mary died June 11, 1949 and both are buried in Manchester Cemetery.

Third Great Aunt Mary Magdelina (Lipsett) Barnd

Mary Magdelina Lipsett was born on July 7, 1862 in Guysborough County, Nova Scotia. She was the third child of Robert Bruce Lipsett and Christina McMaster. Like the rest of her family, she grew up in Manchester.

Mary was a young unmarried woman when her first son, Charles N., was born in Manchester sometime between 1882 and 1884. Whatever the year, it seems that his date of birth was August 15.

For some reason, Mary immigrated to US in 1894, leaving her son Charles with her parents. Perhaps she was looking for better opportunities for herself and Charles. However, she soon became pregnant again and had another son: Wilfred J. Barnd (born July 12, 1895) in Gloucester, Essex County, MA. About a month later, she married Wilfred’s father, George Barnd, in Boston, Suffolk County, MA on August 13, 1895. A widower, George had two other children: Gorde and Anna.

Son Albert Theodore joined the family on October 7, 1899. His time was short, though, as he died December 14, 1899 of pneumonia.

By the 1900 Census, the entire Barnd family lived on Rowe Street in Gloucester. This is the last record I can find of George. In 1901 Mary (as “Mrs. Geo Barnd”) and Wilfred, listed as residents of Boston, were on a ship heading back to Boston. I suspect that George may have died between 1900 and 1901. So far, the last record I have of Mary is living with Wilfred in the 1920 Census, as listed as widowed.

I don’t know when Mary died, nor do I know where she or George are buried.

Charles immigrated to the United States in 1901 and ended up marrying his cousin, Ethel Morton Hiltz, as stated here. He lived until 1950 and is buried in Beech Brook Cemetery (Gloucester). Wilfred married a woman named Clara and died in 1958. He is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery (Gloucester).

Military Appreciation: Great-Uncle Thomas Francis Atwell II

My paternal grandmother’s brother, Thomas Francis Atwell II, was only fifteen years old and living in Lynn, MA when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Like many Americans, he must have been shocked and outraged at this occurrence. Having a father in the Navy in nearby Boston Harbor, I am sure he heard of the goings-on in the shipyard as the country prepared for war. From what I’ve read, one could enlist in the Navy at age sixteen if he had his parent’s consent. Young Thomas must have received their consent the following year, for on September 21, 1942 he enlisted in the Navy in Boston.

USS Cony. Courtesy U.S. Navy Naval History and Heritage Command

USS Cony. Courtesy U.S. Navy Naval History and Heritage Command

Training must have been quick and efficient. Thomas was assigned to the USS Cony, a Fletcher-class destroyer, upon its commissioning on October 30, 1942 in Boston. He was a Seaman, First Class, among many young sailors under the command of Lieutenant Commander Harry D. Johnson. I have to wonder what my great-grandfather must have thought, seeing his son following in his footsteps.

The USS Cony left the East Coast and headed for the Pacific. It took part in troop escort and patrolling duties and saw plenty of action, including the March 6, 1943 bombardment of Vila-Stanmore on Kolombangara Island and support for the landings on Vella Lavella that August. It continued with transport and battle support, particularly on October 27 during the Battle of Treasury Islands. The Cony shot down twelve enemy planes, but not without receiving two hits on her main deck, killing eight and injuring ten. The ship had to be hauled for emergency repairs and underwent an overhaul back in the states.

USS Wren. Courtesy U.S. Navy Naval History and Heritage Command

USS Wren. Courtesy U.S. Navy Naval History and Heritage Command

Thomas was listed on the Cony’s muster rolls until January 15, 1944 at the latest. He even may have been still on the Cony after its relaunch in late March 1944, patrolling for Japanese barges and submarines. In any case, on May 20, 1944, he was aboard another destroyer for its commissioning in Seattle, WA: the USS Wren, commanded by Commander Edwin A. McDonald. The ship was involved in training exercises in San Diego, and then it was off to the northern Pacific for patrolling and providing escort work. As the Allies chipped away at the Japanese territory in the Pacific, they were inching toward Japan itself. The Wren was involved in several bombardments in the Kuril Islands, just south of the Soviet Union’s Eastern shore, between November 1944 and March 1945. By March 31, Thomas reached the rank of 3rd class Petty Officer as a Ship’s Serviceman (Laundryman). (Ship’s servicemen manage and operate these kinds of service activities aboard the ship.)

The Wren made its way to the southern Pacific, moving from Hawaii, to the Caroline Islands. Finally, in mid-May 1945 the Wren joined the action in the battle of Okinawa, performing submarine patrols and antiaircraft watch. Although under attack, the Wren came out the victor against at least four Japanese attacks. (Side note: although the Wren is not mentioned, I highly recommend Jeff Shaara’s historical novel, The Final Storm, about the battle of Okinawa.) After success in this battle, the Wren headed toward the Philippines and joined other ships in supporting aerial attacks on Japan. The end was near.

Finally, the Allies entered into Japanese waters. The Wren was among those who entered Tokyo Bay on August 26, just twenty days after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. The Allies began their occupation, and on September 2, Japan formally surrendered in a ceremony on the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay; the Wren was present for this historic occasion, but left later that day. It would later visit Iwo Jima and Eniewtok.

USS Tucson. Courtesy U.S. Navy Naval History and Heritage Command

USS Tucson. Courtesy U.S. Navy Naval History and Heritage Command

Although the war was over, Thomas’ time in the Navy was not. By September 14, 1945, he rose to the rank of 2nd Class Petty Officer (still a Ship’s Serviceman) and was transferred to the USS Tucson, an Atlantic-class light cruiser. At the time, the Tucson was in the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Washington State in the midst of a three-month overhaul. I’m not sure what Thomas did there (clean uniforms? train his replacement?), or how long he was there exactly. The last muster roll he was on was dated November 1, but showed some sort of activity in San Francisco on October 5. (By this time, the rolls were typed up with all sorts of codes that I haven’t been able to decipher yet.)

The closest thing to a personal story I have on Thomas’ time in the Navy is being told that he did suffer an injury during the war, which involved shrapnel in his back and contributed to him being in a wheelchair much later in life. Perhaps he incurred this injury on the Cony during the Battle of the Treasury Islands.

Military Appreciation: Great Grandfather Thomas Francis Atwell I

From my great-grandfather’s obituary, I know that Thomas Francis Atwell I enlisted in the Navy in 1909 at age 18. Born and raised in Providence, RI, It seems that he went straight to the US Naval Training Station in nearby Newport. He is listed there in the 1910 census as an apprentice.

Thomas F. Atwell prior to 1917.  Source:  unknown Providence, RI newspaper.

Thomas F. Atwell prior to 1917. Source: unknown Providence, RI newspaper.

By the time the United States entered World War I in April 1917, Thomas was a Boatswain’s Mate, First Class. From what I can gather, boatswain’s mates were in charge of the external parts of the ships: the deck, the rigging, boats, external equipment and organizing the other members of the crew in using these items. (To me, it seems that one must have a lot of attention to detail and organization skills in this job.)

In May of 1917, Thomas was part of gun crew/armed guard (commanded by Chief Turret Captain William J. Clark) on the SS Silver Shell, a commercial steamship owned by Shell Oil Company. The ship departed New York and was headed to Marseilles, France. According the the Official U.S. Bulletin, In the early afternoon of May 30 in the Mediterranean Sea, a German “submarine was first seen at about 7,000 yards. She had a 6-inch gun forward and another aft. She flew no flag. Upon sight of the submarine the steamer hoisted the American flag and waited about 10 minutes. As the submarine approached the steamer fired. The submarine responded. The steamer kept a speed that would permit the submarine to come within range. Then followed a fight lasting for an hour and a half. the submarine came to a distance of about 2,300 yards. By that time the submarine had fired 35 shots and the steamer 25. The last shot of the steamer apparently struck the submarine, which raised clear out of the water and stood stern end up for a few seconds. Then she disappeared.” The Silver Shell was able to complete her journey to Marseilles.

Being the first American crew to sink a German U-boat, this story made newspapers all over the country. The incident lead to the U.S. policy of arming merchant vessels to protect themselves as they carried cargo to the Allies.

SS Silver Shell in 1915.  Courtesy:  Dept. of the Navy, Naval Historical Center.

SS Silver Shell in 1915. Courtesy: Dept. of the Navy, Naval Historical Center.

I don’t know how the rest of my great-grandfather’s time went during the war, but by 1920 Thomas achieved the rank of Chief Boatswain’s Mate, the highest rank he could attain as an enlisted man. He retained this title for the rest of his naval career. The census of January 20, 1920 found him on the USS Utah at sea. He was not on the Utah for long, because in June he married my great-grandmother, Eva Christina Lipsett in Salem, MA.

The 1920s knit the Atwells together. Their two children were born at this time (Eugenie in 1924 and Thomas II in 1926). Perhaps that led to Thomas obtaining a commission closer to home. On the April 7, 1930 Census, he was stationed in Boston harbor on the USS Southery. By the late 1930s, he no longer seemed to be navy, but worked as a superintendent in an office building.

Like many Americans, Thomas must have seen the writing on the wall as World War II progressed in Europe and Asia. It was inevitable that the United States would eventually join the war, so Thomas re-entered the Navy in October 1941, working as a Chief Boatswain’s Mate at the Boston Navy Yard, where he would remain for the rest of the war. With so many ships coming and going, I am certain his many years of experience helped the operations run smoothly.

Finally in 1947, Thomas retired from the Navy. He moved permanently into civilian life, working for many years and having plenty of time for retirement. He passed away on January 16, 1988 and received a military funeral. Like his wife Eva, he was buried at Pine Grove Cemetery.

Military Appreciation: Grandfather George Edmund Pleau

For Military Appreciation Month, I thought I would highlight a few of my military ancestors and relatives. The first is my paternal grandfather, George Edmund Pleau. Yes, the son of George Edmund Pleau (of Rochester) and Bertha Colomy (of Lynn), who I’ve written about before.

By the time Word War II rolled around, not only were my grandfather’s parents dead, but my grandfather was married to Eugenie Beryl Atwell and had a baby son (my father). It seems that George’s young family was living with his in-laws, Thomas Francis Atwell I, Eva Christina (Lipsett) Atwell, and his younger brother-in-law, Thomas Francis Atwell II. A veteran of The Great War, the elder Thomas went back into active duty in the Navy at nearby Boston Harbor (more on that in a future post). Not long after turning eighteen in 1942, the younger Thomas followed his father’s footsteps into the Navy (more on him in the future as well).

For some reason, George did not go into the military right away. Was it because he was newly married? Was there an immediate need for him at home at the beginning of the war? Whatever the reason, he did eventually join the Navy before October 20, 1944 (the date of a picture of him in uniform). (I’m sure being in a family of Navy men and the proximity to Boston Harbor were factors.) While I have not yet found any records prior to his muster rolls on active duty, George must have gone to naval basic training, which I assume was in nearby Newport, Rhode Island. On Friday, March 2, 1945, George boarded the Evarts class destroyer escort, USS Dobler (Hull No. DE-48) in Boston Harbor. The weather was overcast and cold, but warming as the day went on, in spite of a brief snow squall. Perhaps his father-in-law was able to see him off or shake his hand; at the very least, I’m sure Thomas Atwell knew his son-in-law would be boarding the ship that would protect Allied submarines and other ships in the Atlantic.

George Edmund Pleau, October 20, 1944.  Author's collection.

George Edmund Pleau, October 20, 1944. Author’s collection.

I have found exactly three muster rolls for George’s time in the Navy: March 18, March 31, and June 30. During that time, his rank was Seaman, First Class (Gunner’s Mate), and also during that time, the war in Europe ended! (V-E Day being May 8.) I’m not sure exactly when his time on the Dobler concluded. According to Wikipedia, the Dobler went to New London, CT for training duty on July 18 and was finally decommissioned in New York City on September 11, 1945. I assume that one of these two dates was when George disembarked and went home, as the remainder of the war had already come to an end in August. I imagine that George probably saw minimal battle action, if any, considering the point of the war at which he was at sea.

Battle or no, my grandfather received the military honors due him at his death. I remember the American flag draped over his coffin, then carefully folded into a triangle and gently laid in my grandmother’s arms. A special military marker denotes his place of burial at Pine Grove Cemetery in Plot T, Section 3.

George Edmund Pleau Sr.  WWII plaque at Pine Grove Cemetery.  Author's collection.

George Edmund Pleau Sr. WWII plaque at Pine Grove Cemetery. Author’s collection.

Third Great-Uncle Milton K. White, aka James M. White

According to his naturalization papers, Milton K. White was born on March 30, 1849 in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. This is a very crucial fact, as we shall see later. Milton was the fourth son and fifth child of Job R. and Elizabeth Phoebe White.

As far as I can tell, Milton immigrated to the United States with his parents on 1869. Like his father, He worked as a carpenter for many years. By 1876, Milton decided to become a US citizen. He is the only member of his family for whom I’ve found any naturalization paperwork. It was from this paperwork that I learned his birthday. At this time he was living in Chelsea, Massachusetts, not too far from his family in Lynn.

Two years later on August 28, Milton married Amelia Martin by Methodist minister George Sutherland. The Chelsea marriage register notes that this was Amelia’s second marriage, but I cannot tell whether Martin was her maiden or married name. As far as I can tell, Milton and Amelia did not have any children.

City directories show Milton living in Boston and working as a screenmaker then an upholsterer until 1892. For a long time, I thought Milton just dropped off the face of the planet.

Meanwhile, I found an entry in a Boston death register for a married son of Job and Elizabeth White named James M. (or N.) White. This James was a phrenologist living on Boston who died of cardiac and renal disease on January 9, 1900. I had assumed that James was just another son of Job and Elizabeth until I tried matching up tick marks with people under Job White in the 1861 Nova Scotia Census. There seemed to be one too many sons! I assumed that perhaps James may have been John David White, but I didn’t know for sure. I tried doing more research on James, then I carefully examined what I knew about each of Job’s sons.

Extract of James White entry in 1900 Boston Death Register from familysearch.org

Extract of James White entry in 1900 Boston Death Register from familysearch.org

When I looked over the death register once more, I noticed it gave James’ exact age to the day: 50 years, 9 months and 10 days. Calculating backwards, this made James’ birthday March 30, 1849, the same birthday Milton gave on his naturalization paperwork! James was Milton and Milton was James! There was no “extra son”.

I figure that Milton must have changed his name sometime after 1892. It’s a mystery to me why he would do this, and why in the world a former carpenter/upholsterer would become a phrenologist. According to Wikipedia, phrenology is “a process that involves observing and/or feeling the skull to determine an individual’s psychological attributes”. Was this a field that Milton/James was always fascinated with?

Milton/James was laid to rest somewhere in nearby Malden, Massachusetts. So far, I have been unable to find his wife Amelia on the 1900 US Census or in a potential remarriage. Perhaps new records in the future will help me figure out the mystery of Milton.