Fourth Great-Grandmother Sarah (Scranton) McMasters: Born in the USA

Just three years after the end of the Revolutionary War, Sarah Scranton was born on August 11, 1786 in Durham, Middlesex County, Connecticut to David Scranton and his second wife Loraine Strong. Sarah was Loraine’s first child, but David’s second. His first was Phebe, who was born on May 11, 1782, to David’s first wife Phebe Curtis. The elder Phebe died less than three weeks after her daughter’s birth on May 30, 1782.

David was a mariner of his own sloop called Nancy that dealt in trading. His hometown of Durham was a landlocked rural town, at least twenty miles from the Connecticut shore and about ten miles west of the Connecticut River. Every time he was to make a trip on the Nancy, he would probably need extra days just to travel to and from wherever she was docked. (I have to admit that as I drove to Durham last summer, I was surprised just how far it was from the shore. “No wonder David didn’t stay here!” I said to myself.)

Durham, Middlesex County, CT. The southern border of Connecticut is its shoreline. Courtesy Wikipedia.

Durham, Middlesex County, CT. The southern border of Connecticut is its shoreline. Courtesy Wikipedia.

On one of David’s trips to Quebec, he had stopped in Chadebucto Bay in Nova Scotia, which runs along today’s Guysborough County’s southern shoreline. Apparently he was quite impressed with the area, for when the Hallowell Grant in Nova Scotia opened up for settlement, he took the opportunity to find a new home that was more convenient to his occupation. (A great description of the Hallowell Grant can be found here on the “From Maine to Kentucky” blog.)

In mid-1787, Sarah was only one year old when she made the voyage with her parents and fourteen-year-old cousin Henry Scranton (who was recovering from a “fever-sore in one limb”) to Nova Scotia; she likely never saw the country of her birth again. Other settlers came with them on the Nancy, some of whom had been Loyalists during the war. The Scranton family settled on a farm in the newly formed town of Boylston* on east side of Milford-Haven River, a tidal river that empties into the Chedabucto Bay. This seemed to be a perfect location for David, who could easily split his time between his travels and the family farm.

Left behind in Durham was Sarah’s five-year-old sister Phebe, who was being raised by Phebe’s maternal aunt (whose name I do not know). I have to wonder if this aunt may have stepped in to help raise the newborn Phebe after her mother’s untimely death. Perhaps the two formed a mother-daughter-like bond that David could not break up. In any case, I am sure Phebe and her father kept in touch; one of her children was named after him, after all.

Cousin Henry’s illness did not get any better with time. On December 21, 1787 (just a few months after his arrival), Henry passed away. I have to wonder if his was one of the first deaths in Boylston. So Sarah became the “oldest child” of the family, having nine younger siblings that were between one and a half and sixteen years younger than herself, all born in Manchester. (I will detail them in a later post.) As such, Sarah probably helped her mother run the household and take care of the children; perhaps she even helped out on the farm.

Meanwhile, in 1790, a Scotsman named John McMasters arrived in Manchester and was deeded 172 acres of land. The two books that mention him say that his parents were John McMasters and Ann Cummings. I assume that John must have been close to twenty years older than Sarah. John and Sarah were married on November 20, 1808 in Manchester. They had nine children, all born in Manchester:

  • George Henry, born October 10, 1810; died August 1812 of rheumatism
  • Lauraine, born November 16, 1811; died September 11, 1838
  • Ann Charlotte, born October 26, 1814; married Thomas McKeough December 19, 1848; died sometime after 1891
  • John, born December 9, 1816; married Catherine J. Cummings before 1855; died 1906
  • Catherine, born November 8, 1818; married A. Henry Partridge before 1843
  • David, born April 19, 1820; married Margery E. Fox 1855; died 1903
  • Samuel, born February 25, 1823; married Margaret Pyle October 2, 1873; died 1903
  • Christina, born May 26, 1826; married Robert Bruce Lipsett January 8, 1859; died June 15, 1891
  • Margaret, born June 23, 1829

John died somewhere between 1838 (where he appeared as a farmer on the census) and 1861 (where Sarah seemed to be living as a widow with her son David). Sarah died of old age on March 23, 1865 in Manchester. (Her son David was the informant of her death.) I assume both are buried in Manchester, but I don’t have any records of that yet.

* Harriet Cunningham Hart’s “History of the County of Guysborough” indicates that “Boylston did not thrive as a town” and became a part of Manchester township. Therefore, the Scrantons did not move, but their residence became known as Manchester. The town of Boylston was later re-established in 1874.

Behind the Brick Wall: Third Great-Grandmother Christina (McMaster) Lipsett

When I was fifteen, I was on my first quest to trace my family tree (just like Alex Haley!) and I was in name-collecting mode! My paternal grandmother Eugenie Beryl (Atwell) Pleau was a wealth of ancestral information. She had given me dozens of names and relationships of not only her family, but my grandfather’s as well. My recent forays into family research have (so far) proven all her memories correct.

When telling me about her mother’s people, my grandmother named Lipsetts, O’Briens and Bruces. She was able to get me back to Robert Bruce Lipsett and his wife, Christina McMaster. Later I was easily able to find more information on Robert, thanks to online records and yes, some online trees.

I did find a little information on Christina: born in 1826 (I later found out it was on May 26); married Robert Bruce Lipsett on January 8, 1859 in Manchester; died June 15, 1891 and was buried in Manchester Cemetery. Some alternate spellings of her name were: Christiana and Christeana. On the 1891 Census, her father’s place of birth was listed as Scotland and her mother as the United States. Being an unlikely (in my mind) match, I was sure the census taker did not make a mistake. But who were her parents? And if her mother was from the USA, where was she from and what could her maiden name possibly be? Even online trees had no clues for me. I could find other McMasters in Guysborough County who must have been related to Christina somehow, but I couldn’t make the connection.

In May of 2013, I turned my annual trip to my favorite genealogy society, the Essex County Society of Genealogists, into a genealogy pilgrimage. Arriving the night before, I visited Pine Grove Cemetery in Lynn, MA and stayed overnight in the affordable and historic Hawthorne Hotel in Salem. I took advantage of being in the area by visiting the genealogy room in the Lynnfield Public Library, which ESOG maintains. I was hoping to find all kinds of information on my New England ancestors! Little did I know that I would find a golden nugget for my Nova Scotian ancestors…

The genealogy room not only has a lot of information on Essex County, MA, but information on other New England States and some on Canada as well. One tiny little booklet caught my eye: “1838 Census of Nova Scotia Consolidated Index of Heads of Guysborough County Families” (Prepared by Mary Elizabeth Koen, Swampscott, Massachusetts, 1985). I took pictures of the pages with my surnames on them, and there on page 21 was “John McMasters, Farmer”. He was the only McMaster/McMasters in the book!

Snippet from Mary Elizabeth Koen's census compilation.

Snippet from Mary Elizabeth Koen’s census compilation.

At that point, I knew enough not to merely accept at face value that John was Christina’s father. Now that I knew a first name, I scanned online trees to see if they could lead me to further clues. Out of all the sites I knew to search, I only found one tree on myHeritage that connected John to Christina, and named a mother: Sarah Scranton (a new name!). I emailed the tree’s owner to find out where she got her information, but she never got back to me. So I hit Google with the search terms “John McMasters” AND “Sarah Scranton”.

Google Books came back with a hit: “A Genealogical Register of the Descendants of John Scranton of Guilford, Conn., Who Died in the Year 1671.” Yes, John McMasters was in there. He was a Scottish immigrant who was an early settler of Manchester. And Sarah Scranton was there, daughter of David Scranton and Loraine Strong of the United States. (So far, it’s lining up with that census information!) The book also listed their children, which included Christina, listed as Christiana.

But the awesomeness does not stop there. Although I could find nothing further on John McMasters, Sarah Scranton was quite a different story. Her roots go deep back into colonial Connecticut and beyond. There will be many more stories from her lines in the future!

So what is the moral of this story? Not everything is online, and although not everything online is true, it can help you get to the truth. The truth can put a crack in the brick wall, which can lead to an avalanche of information!

Lipsetts Beyond Robert Fenwick

Robert Fenwick Lipsett’s father was Robert Bruce Lipsett, born October 25, 1819. I have not been able to determine whether he was born in Ireland or Nova Scotia (censuses give conflicting information). He was definitely in Manchester, Guysborough County, Nova Scotia by 1838. He married Christina McMaster on January 8, 1859. They seem to have lived and farmed in Clam Harbour, Guysborough County, Nova Scotia (which is southeast of Manchester) between July 1859 to March 1864, but lived in Manchester for the remainder of their lives (although Robert’s probate package states he farmed in Clam Harbour, so perhaps he moved back there after his wife’s death). They had eight children, whom I’ve blogged about previously. Their religion was listed in censuses as Church of England. Christina died June 15, 1891 and Robert died February 26, 1894. Both are buried in Manchester Cemetery. (Much more on Christina in a later post!)

Robert Bruce Lipsett was the second child of eight and second son of Edward Lipsett and Mary Irving, my 4x great-grandparents. I believe they are from Kesh, County Fermanagh, Ireland (which is currently in Northern Ireland). Because of the conflicting information of their children’s birthplaces, I am not sure when exactly they immigrated to Nova Scotia, but they were definitely living in Manchester by 1838, as Edward is enumerated there on the census as a farmer at that time.

Kesh, County Fermangh, Ireland. Courtesy Wikipedia.

Kesh, County Fermangh, Ireland. Courtesy Wikipedia.

Edward and Mary’s eight children were:

  • John, born 1818; married Mary Ann Torrey, September 18, 1855
  • Robert Bruce, born 1819
  • Ann Jane, born 1821; married William Frederick Porper Scranton on June 23, 1870; died January 26, 1907
  • Edward, born 1822; married Mary Jane MacKay, April 6, 1859; died between 1881 and 1891
  • George Irving, born April 28, 1826; I’m not sure how long he lived, but I believe he may have been alive in 1838, as represented by one of the tick-marks of males 14 and over in his father’s home.
  • Margaret Elizabeth, born September 27, 1827; married James Richard Bruce, March 24, 1857; died October 22, 1917
  • William Daniel, born October 13, 1832; died April 15, 1837
  • Richard Christopher (who went by his middle name), born Feb 13, 1836; married Sarah Ann Campbell, October 10, 1872; died June 15, 1891 (it was his daughters Margery, Iola and Jennie with whom his niece Edith lived in Gloucester)

Edward died in Manchester on May 1, 1857. Mary died much later on March 10, 1868. I assume they are buried somewhere in the Manchester area, but I have no record of where.

As a side note, Edward had a brother Jared who also immigrated to Nova Scotia, though I don’t know when. He was not in Manchester as of 1838, but was definitely in Guysborough County by 1861 with his wife Ann and daughter Eliza. He passed away on May 24, 1885.

Third Great Aunt Edith B. (Lipsett) Grimes

Edith B. Lipsett was the eighth and last child of Robert Bruce Lipsett and Christina McMaster. She was born June 1879, most likely in Manchester, Guysborough County, Nova Scotia.

Once her mother died in 1891, Edith immigrated to the United States in 1892. The 1900 Census finds her living (listed as “Edette”) with her second cousins Margery, Iola and Jennie Lipsett at 12 Centennial Ave, Gloucester, Essex County, Massachusetts. She worked as a seamstress.

On September 15, 1902 she married William F. Grimes in Gloucester, where it appears they lived for the rest of their lives. Their only child George G. was born between 1903 and 1905. I believe George died on October 12, 1976 in Gloucester.

In the 1940 Census, William seemed to be unemployed, like so many during the Depression, so Edith took in laundry at home. Later city directories show William working as a gardener. From what I can tell, the last city directory Edith is in is 1957, where she is shown as a widow. I have not yet been able to locate either of their death or burial information.

Third Great Aunt Carrie Lipsett

Carrie Lipsett was born on June 2, 1877. She was the seventh child of Robert Bruce Lipsett and Christina McMaster. The only record I have of her existence is an old index of her birth on FamilySearch (and I can’t even locate it on FamilySearch now; fortunately, I recorded the microfilm number (Project 102871-8, Film 1318353)). She must have died sometime before 1881, as she was not on the census of that year. For all I know, she may even have been a stillbirth.

Third Great Uncle Samuel Alexander Lipsett

Samuel Alexander Lipsett was the sixth child of Robert Bruce Lipsett and Christina McMaster, born on October 15, 1871 in Manchester, Guysborough County, Nova Scotia.

While in Nova Scotia, Samuel was a farmer. Once he immigrated to Massachusetts (between 1891-1900), he became a carpenter. It seems that he boarded with his sister Sarah Ann Hiltz in Gloucester.

According to later records, Samuel was naturalized as a US citizen in 1901, but returned to Nova Scotia by the 1901 Census. Perhaps that was when he met and courted Eliza Blanche Cunningham. On November 19, 1902, they married on Stoney Island, Shelburne County, Nova Scotia.

In 1903, Samuel and Eliza moved to Gloucester. Between 1904-1908, they finally settled in Salem.

Their children:

  • Lester Leland, born September 12, 1903 in Gloucester. Died April 5, 1905 of spinal meningitis.
  • Wallace Wiley Cunningham, born November 1, 1904 in Gloucester. Married Mildred Andrews on January 6, 1938. Died 1957 in Newburyport.
  • Richard Christopher, born January 25, 1908 in Salem. Married Margaret Goldthwait Stevens Gilbert on June 10, 1930 in Portsmouth, NH. Died 1971 in Marblehead.
  • Grace C., born September 17, 1913 in Salem. Married Karl David Kuell on June 25, 1938 in Salem.

Samuel died April 1, 1938 in Salem Hospital, and on October 17, 1976 Eliza died at Mary Alley Hospital in Marblehead. Both are buried at Greenlawn Cemetery in Salem.

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.