Goodwins and Plaisteds: Colonial Maine Skirmishes

James Goodwin was lucky to be alive. He was fortunate to be born around 1711 in Berwick, Massachusetts Colony (now Maine), among the younger of Thomas Goodwin and Mehitable Plaisted’s children. He was blessed to find a wife in Margaret Wallingford, who was born circa 1716 in Dover, New Hampshire, to Thomas Wallingford and Margaret Clements. James and Margaret both lived good, long lives: James dying on May 10, 1800 and Margaret on February 20, 1803. Both lived to see the birth of their new country for which their son Jedidiah helped fight. What made James so lucky? It all began with the story of his parents, particularly his mother, Mehitable Plaisted.

Mehitable was born April 30, 1670 (old calendar) to Roger Plaisted and Olive Coleman. She was among the last of their many children. Roger and Olive, along with their firstborn, Roger, travelled from England around 1649, and settled in the Kittery area of the region of Maine (which eventually became Berwick). They soon became part of the growing colonial community. Where relations between the colonists and the local Waramaug natives started off on a friendly foot, things quickly deteriorated with misunderstandings and violence on both sides. Soon, what was known as “King Philip’s War” was underway, starting about June 1675 on many fronts throughout New England.

Mehitable was only five years old when her father and older brothers, Roger and Joseph, joined other area colonists in the military defense of their towns. Her father, Roger, was a lieutenant of the defense in the Kittery area. Early in the war, on October 16, 1675, Lieut. Plaisted and George Broughton sent a desperate plea to the surrounding communities for assistance as they saw their men being killed off by the natives. The Plaisted men became part of the casualties that very day.

from "King Philip's War" by George William Ellis & John Emery Morris; Grafton Press, New York; 1906; Google Books, 2007.

from “King Philip’s War” by George William Ellis & John Emery Morris; Grafton Press, New York; 1906; Google Books, 2007.

King Philip’s War lasted about three years until a peace treaty was signed. However the colonists were far from living peacefully with the natives. I’m sure the early communities in Maine were constantly vigilant against future troubles. In spite of that, life did go on. Olive Plaisted re-married to John Wincoll, who served as a stepfather to Roger’s children. Mehitable herself got married around 1685 to Thomas Goodwin, son of Daniel Goodwin and Margaret Spencer. They started their family with a baby boy.

When the baby was about five months old in the early winter months of 1690, the natives descended on the town; not to kill this time, but to capture. The entire family was taken, but Thomas was with a separate band of natives than his wife and child. Somehow, he was either released or managed to escape shortly thereafter. Mehitable and the baby were not as lucky. Their story is told dramatically in Cotton Mather’s Magnolia Christi Americana:

[The baby] which, through hunger and hardship, (she being unable to nourish it,) often made most grievous [cries]. Her Indian master told her, that if the child were not quiet he would soon dispose of it; which caused her to use all possible means that his Netop-ship might not be offended; and sometimes carry it from the fire out of his hearing, where she sat up to the waste [sic.] in snow and frost for several hours until it was lull’d asleep. She thus for several days preserved the life of her babe, until he saw cause to travel with his own cubs farther afield; and then, lest he should be retarded in his travel, he violently snatch’d the babe out of its mother’s arms, and before her face knock’d out its brains, and stript it of the few rags it had hitherto enjoy’d, and order’d her the task to go wash the bloody cloaths. Returning from this melancholy task, she found the infant hanging by the neck in a forked bough of a tree. Sho desired leave to lay it in the earth; but he said, “it was better as it was, for now the wild beasts would not come at it, … and she might have the comfort of seeing it again if ever they came that way. The journey now before then) was like to be very long, even as far as Canada, where his purpose was to make merchandise of his captive, and glad was the captive of such happy tidings. But the desperate length of the way, and want of food, and grief of mind wherewith she now encounter’d, caused her within a few days to faint under her difficulties. When at length she sat down for some repose, with many prayers and tears unto God for the salvation of her soul, she found herself unable to rise, until she espied her furious executioner coming towards her with fire in his eyes, the devil in his heart, and his hatchet in his hand, ready to bestow a mercy-stroak of death upon her. But then this miserable creature got on her knees, and with weeping, and wailing, and all expressions of agony and entreaty, prevailed on him to spare her life a little, and she did not question but God would enable her to “walk a little faster.” The merciless tyrant was prevail’d withal to spare her this time…

Mehitable and the other captives changed hands among several bands of natives along the journey and were ultimately sold to the French Canadians by about March 1690. (The histories I’ve read don’t say this, but yes, basically selling them as slaves.) Mehitable was put into service to a Mademoiselle de Nauguiere in Montreal. I suppose that escape wasn’t really an option; after all, she would need to go back through the native-filled country that she traversed to get to Montreal.

It seems that Mehitable must have made the best of her circumstances. On May 11, 1693, she was baptized into the Catholic Church with the name “Marie Esther”. More time passed, and it wasn’t until October 1695 when a Matthew Cary came to redeem Mehitable and a number of other captives in order to return them to their families. (I would love to know more about this man and the story behind his redeeming the captives!)

What I find incredible and wish I knew more about is Mehitable’s eventual return to her family. Where many captives assimilated to their new culture and some even refused to leave, Mehitable returned to the waiting Thomas and seemed to continue where they left off. The Goodwins re-built their family (which included my ancestor James), and had about nineteen more years together until Thomas’ death sometime after June 3, 1714.

Mehitable lived on much longer, passing away on June 2, 1740. In fact, her gravestone still stands in Old Fields Cemetery in South Berwick. She must have had amazing strength and resilience to have endured all that she did and to still have a normal and long life later on.

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Dissecting Ivory Goodwin’s Probate Record

I could have included Ivory Goodwin’s probate details in my post about him and Jerusha, but I thought it would be a good idea to go through the exercise of analyzing the probate file itself. The file is fourteen pages long, and a number of those pages are undated envelopes to hold the other documents in the file. The pages appear to be out of chronological order, so I will try to review them in order.

As we know, Ivory passed away on February 19, 1866 in Berwick, York County, Maine. His survivors included his wife Jerusha, and their children Ivory H., Lucy Colomy Foss, Ada Jane Goldsmith, Charles W., and John M. (and perhaps Mary F., if alive). All the children were adults except for John, who was about 13.

The first document, dated February 23, 1866, appears to be Jerusha’s petition to have Ivory H., who was living in Dover, Strafford County, New Hampshire, be administrator of his father’s estate. The reason was “there being no son or daughter of age nearby in this state”. This tells me that all the children (except John, of course) have moved away. Perhaps Ivory H. lived closest to Jerusha; after all, Strafford and York counties are only separated by Salmon Falls River. Jerusha signed this document with an “X” (“her mark”). This appointment was approved on May 1 by Judge E.E. Bourne in Saco, Maine.

Also dated May 1 is a bond, signed by Ichabod G. Jordon and George Moore of Berwick, pledging themselves as sureties for Ivory H. to perform his duties as administrator. It seems that the first duty was to inventory the estate within three months. The document is signed by both men and by Ivory. The sureties were bound $1600 to the court. We also learn that the judge’s full name is “Edward E. Bourne”.

Ivory H. makes a statement dated October 2, 1866 that his father died intestate (without a will), and that Ivory’s personal property was not sufficient to pay the court fees, so a sale of real estate would be necessary. The judge signed off on this document.

On October 2, 1866 – Ivory H., who now lives in Wolfeborough, Carroll County, NH, signs a new bond with sureties Ichabod G. Jordon, and Alonzo B. Wentworth. bound to Judge Bourne for $1600. Connected with Ivory being licensed to sell the real estate.

October 3, 1866 Administrator’s Sale – to sell Ivory’s real estate at public auction at the store of Walker & Farmington in Berwick on November 10. Includes description of his land: two acres and buildings bound Easterly by Sullivan Lane, Southerly by Ivory M. Nute’s land, Westerly & Northerly by Samuel W. Fox. Also part of the sale: the family pew at Cranberry Meadow Meeting House. (through a little internet research, I found that Cranberry Meadow Meeting House was the early incarnation of Berwick’s current Methodist Church, so now I know the family was Methodist.) Ivory H. signed two statements, which were sworn before Ichabod G. Jordon, Justice of the Peace (remember, he was one of the sureties). One statement was regarding posting notifications for the sale, and the other was regarding the payment of $200 for the debts and charges of the sale. This page with its statements was returned to Judge Bourne, who signed on January 1, 1867. This page gives some very specific information about where Ivory and Jerusha lived in Berwick. Although Sullivan Lane no longer exists, there is a Sullivan Street. More on the land later.

There is a small, undated handwritten document that states “Alexander Junkins appointed guardian ad litem”, initialed “EEB”. After some research, I found out a guardian ad litem is appointed by the court to look after the interests of any minor children (this case being John). Alex signed a brief statement stating “I have had notice of [this petition] and see no objection to the sale as negotiated. Alex Junkins”

November 6, 1866 – petition by Jerusha for an allowance from Ivory’s estate. She was granted ninety-seven dollars and seventy-eight cents.

January 1, 1867 – First account of Ivory’s estate. Basically, a balance sheet. Amount of personal estate plus sums received = $630.78 (outlined on Schedule A). Amount of sums paid on Schedule B, plus publication of notices = $694.41.

Schedule A: rent received from Real Estate from John S. Marsh & Abel Baxter; sale of church pew ($1), and sale of real estate to Henry Clements. Schedule B: various bills; some seem to be amounts owed to the sureties and others, some to family members: Jennie Goldsmith, Jerusha, Lucy A. Colomy AND Lucy A. Foss (did Lucy lend money to Ivory during her then two marriages?), taxes, and some money lent to Ivory by Ivory H. The name of the gentleman who bought the real estate was a big clue for me in locating whereabouts Ivory and Jerusha lived. On the website [Historic Map Works], I found an 1870 map of Berwick, and I followed Sullivan Lane. Then I found Henry Clements–this was where the Goodwins had lived! I compared that map to a modern map, and was able to ascertain approximately where the land is!  (It seems that this location is now on Knox Lane.)

Approximate location of Ivory Goodwin's land. Courtesy Google Earth.

Approximate location of Ivory Goodwin’s land. Courtesy Google Earth.

To conclude, the probate packet may not have answered all my questions about Ivory Goodwin, but it sure lent more information to color my picture of him.

Fourth Great-Uncle Ivory H. Goodwin

Ivory H. Goodwin was born November 26, 1825 in Berwick, York County, ME. He was the oldest child of Ivory Goodwin and Jerusha Taunt. I’m not sure what his middle initial stood for, but my guess is that it might be “Hamilton”, after Ivory Sr.’s mother’s maiden name.

As an adult, Ivory became a shoemaker and married Mary Elizabeth Amazeen on November 20, 1848 in New Castle, Rockingham County, NH. Their children were:

  • Penelope Virginia (sometimes called Nellie) born July 17, 1851 in New Castle
  • William E., born 1853 in New Castle
  • unnamed twin daughters who were stillborn on December 23, 1858 in Farmington, Strafford County, NH

Sometime between 1858 and 1860, the family moved to Dover, Strafford County, NH, where Ivory continued to work as a shoemaker. According to the 1860 Census, he did not own any land.

Ivory’s father Ivory had died on February 19, 1866, so on May 1, Ivory H. was appointed the administrator of his father’s estate. (Jerusha had waived her right as executrix, I assume because she may have been in poor health, to be discussed in a later post.) Since Ivory Sr. died without a will, it took some time (until early 1867) for the estate to be settled.

Ivory H. Goodwin's signature on his father's probate record.  Courtesy FamilySearch.

Ivory H. Goodwin’s signature on his father’s probate record. Courtesy FamilySearch.

It seems that barely any time had passed when Ivory himself died on June 8, 1868 at the age of 43 in Wolfborough, Carroll County, NH, where the family had moved in 1866. I have no idea how he died or where he was buried.

Mary went on to remarry Eli Sherman on June 30, 1877. They went on to live in Portsmouth, Rockingham County, NH and have children of their own. Eli died in 1900 and Mary followed much later in 1920.

Penelope ended up marrying twice. The first time was to George Hale on October 28, 1871 in Lynn, Essex County, MA (why was she in Lynn?), and he and Penelope were no longer together as of the 1880 Census (she is shown as still married but living with her mother as of 1880). She remarried to George M. Ayers on January 8, 1883 in Portsmouth. They were together but childless until George’s death prior to 1900. Nellie herself passed away at the Portsmouth home of her half-sister on June 21, 1931.

William’s story seems most tragic to me. He lived away from home by 1870 (at age 16), boarding with Ebenezer Wentworth’s family in Milton, Strafford County, NH (I wonder why?); then in 1880, he was boarding with the Henry Redlington family in Abington, Plymouth County, MA. On November 28, 1883, he and Henry’s daughter Nellie were wed in New Castle, NH. He died only three years later on November 23, 1886 in Abington of what looks like “alithisis”.

Fourth Great-Aunt Ada Jane (Goodwin) Goldsmith: More Questions than Answers

Ada Jane Goodwin (also referred to as Jennie) was born on July 28, 1837 in Berwick, York County, Maine, the sixth child of Ivory Goodwin & Jerusha Taunt. She married Thomas J. Goldsmith, a saloon keeper, on November 19, 1857 in Newmarket, Rockingham County, NH. By 1860 they moved to Dover, Strafford County, NH and there had a daughter, Nellie F., born on January 31, 1863.

First Parish Church in Dover, which was there when the Goldsmiths lived there.  Perhaps they attended?  Courtesy: Wikipedia.

First Parish Church in Dover, which was there when the Goldsmiths lived there. Perhaps they attended? Courtesy: Wikipedia.

In 1864, double tragedy struck: on August 8, Thomas died; and daughter Jennie also died in January, June or July 18, 1864 (the photo on FindaGrave is very hard to read).

Ada Jane eventually moved to Lynn, Essex County, MA. She died of peritonitis at 5 Howard Street on April 6, 1882. She is buried with Thomas, Jennie and her parents in Pine Hill Cemetery in Dover, NH.

Other than a couple of possible entries in the Lynn City Directory in the mid-1870’s, that is all I can find online for Ada Jane. There is so obviously a good story to be told (why would she marry a saloon keeper?) and too many unanswered questions (How did Nellie and Thomas die? Were their deaths somehow connected? Were Ada Jane and Lucy close, and is that why Ada Jane moved to Lynn?). This calls for offline research that may or may not turn up my desired answers.

Fourth Great-Uncle Charles W. Goodwin

Pondering who to write about next, I realized that I never completed the story of Lucy Goodwin’s family; I only wrote about Lucy herself and a little about her youngest brother John. Both Lucy and John led tumultuous lives, and I wondered if the rest of the family was similar, so I’ve decided to work my way up through Lucy’s siblings, starting with Charles.

Charles W. Goodwin was born around 1841 in Berwick, York County, Maine, the seventh of the eight children of Ivory Goodwin & Jerusha Taunt.

As an adult, Charles moved to Haverhill, Essex County, MA between 1860 and 1863 and ended up working as a shoemaker. Perhaps he heard from his shoe-making brother-in-law George Colomy that Haverhill would be a good place to settle. Sometime during this period, Charles married Sarah M. Page of either Great Falls (later known as Somersworth) or Milton, Strafford County, New Hampshire . I am not sure whether they married in New Hampshire or Massachusetts.

Charles and Sarah had two children, both born in Haverhill:

  • Ellsworth P., born May 31, 1863
  • Nellie F., born circa May 1866; died August 6, 1867 of cholera

The family of three moved to Lynn, Essex County, MA, another shoe-making city, between 1867 and 1870, perhaps again following Lucy. There, Charles continued to make a living for quite a few years, at the very least until 1880.

Sometime before 1891, Charles and Sarah seemed to have divorced. Charles is next found marrying younger woman Eliza L. Waite on June 9, 1891 in Manchester, Hillsborough County, NH. A cursory glance in the 1880 Census in Lynn does show twenty-five year old Eliza Waite working in the shoe industry in Lynn. Perhaps the two met at work?

Finally, Charles died on March 5, 1897 of acute meningitis in Manchester. His death record claims that he is buried in Dover, Strafford County, NH; perhaps, like his parents and brother John, he is buried at Pine Hill Cemetery.

As a postscript, Charles’ son Ellsworth went on to have two wives (divorcing the first), and two children with each wife. His descendants live to this day. I only have the very beginnings of Ellsworth’s story, but it appears that this apple did not fall far from the tree!

Introducing Great-Great Grandfather Frank L. Colomy (and a little about his uncle John)

I’ve already touched on Frank’s beginnings in my post about his mother Lucy.  To briefly recap, he was born either 1854 or 1856 in Maine (I lean toward 1854, based on his age of 5 in the 1860 Census).  His mother was Lucy Ann Goodwin and his father was (supposedly) George Washington Colomy, who were married in 1858 and then separated in 1861.

The Colomy family had moved from Dover to Haverhill in 1861.  As previously discussed, Frank did not show up on the 1865 Massachusetts Census with his mother and second husband, Benjamin Foss.  I supposed that he went to live with his grandparents, Ivory and Jerusha Goodwin, based on the fact that Jerusha was living with Lucy and her family in 1870 in Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts.  This is a point where I need to depart briefly from Frank to introduce his uncle, John M. Goodwin.

John Goodwin was Lucy’s much younger brother, born in 1853 presumably in Berwick, York County, Maine.  I imagine that, being so close in age, he and Frank became like brothers while Frank lived with him and his parents.  John was only thirteen when his and Lucy’s father Ivory passed away in 1866, and I believe that he, Frank and Jerusha went to live with Lucy and Benjamin.   On June 29, 1869, there is a record of John marrying Eliza O. Darling in Lynn, Massachusetts.  Although only sixteen, he had stated that his age was eighteen on the marriage record.  I don’t know the nature of their relationship, but the following year, the 1870 Census shows John living with his brother Charles in Lynn and Eliza back with her family and under her maiden name.  (Interestingly, John’s occupation in this Census was a barber.  I assume that Benjamin may have taught him this trade.)

Despite living apart, John and Frank continued to be close.  They were both romantically involved with two sisters:  John with Mary Roberts White and Frank with her younger widowed sister, Jennie (White) Williams.  On October 11, 1875, both couples got married in Lynn, though not in a double wedding.  The need to get married was urgent, for both Mary and Jennie were pregnant!  The following year, Bertha Elizabeth Colomy (my great-grandmother) was born on March 26 to Frank and Jennie; Augusta Goodwin was born on April 20 to John and Mary.  John and Mary had no more children, but Frank and Jennie had a son, Edwin Scott, on October 28, 1878.

For some unknown reason, Jennie alone is listed in the Lynn City Directory between 1878 and 1880.  In fact, the 1880 Census (dated June 1) shows Mary living with her Jennie and the kids on 29 Church Street in Lynn.  Probably because Mary was working in a shoe shop, Augusta was staying with her maternal grandparents, Job and Elizabeth White over on 5 Clinton Street.  Where were Frank and John?  To this day, I haven’t been able to find Frank in 1880.  John, however, was in the Essex County Jail in nearby Salem since April 27 for drunkenness.

It wasn’t long before Frank returned to the family.  On January 4, 1883, he and Jennie had a stillborn son who didn’t seem to be named.  But the family stayed together, moving to various locations around Lynn.  Frank worked as a shoemaker for the most part.  In April 1891, he was one of the corporators of the “American Endowment Company”, which was formed for the purpose of “uniting all persons socially acceptable in the bonds of fraternity and give material aid to its members.”

John, on the other hand, did not seem to settle back down.  I don’t know if he ever returned to Mary at any point.  He eventually moved to Boston, continuing to be a barber.  Old habits die hard and John’s drinking is what ended up killing him.  On July 30, 1887, he died in Suffolk County Jail in Boston of alcoholism.  His marital status was listed as “single”, so I’m not sure if he and Mary ended up divorcing, or if the city clerk simply did not have this information.  Although the death register lists him as being buried in Lynn, John was ultimately buried at Pine Hill Cemetery in Dover, New Hampshire, with his parents.  It appears that Mary and Augusta must have been living with her mother Elizabeth White, and the three remained together until Elizabeth’s death in 1901.

I’m sure that John’s death affected Frank, and his crumbled marriage affected Jennie.  How did these things affect Frank and Jennie’s marriage?  I can only guess, but Frank’s life has to pause here to begin his daughter Bertha’s incredible story.