Third Great-Grandparents Richard and Margaret (Patterson) Atwell

Richard Atwell was born on February 9, 1833, the oldest child of William Atwell and Ann Armstrong. He was most likely born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, although some later censuses say “English Canada” (implying Ontario). He was definitely christened in Montreal that February 17th at the Cathedrale Anglicane, with Robert and Martha Graham as his godparents.

Although Richard isn’t named in records until his marriage, he grew up with at least a younger brother (William) and sister (Ann Jane). He may have helped his father with his grocery business on the corner of Bleury and Dorchester streets.

Margaret Patterson was born around 1831 in Ireland. Much of my information about her comes from her daughter Victoria Eugenie’s (“Aunt Genie”) 1932 letter to my great-grandfather. Margaret’s parents were named Thomas and Margaret, and the family immigrated to Canada in 1841 on the Marchioness of Abercorn. They lived in Matilda, Ontario, Canada (which is now known as South Dundas).

I don’t have any idea how Richard and Margaret might have met. I believe that Margaret herself may have moved to Montreal (perhaps for work?), based on the fact that they were married at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church there on April 27, 1852. I assume that Margaret was the Presbyterian, since Richard had been christened in the Anglican church.

St. Andrews Church, circa 1852, in the left center.  Courtesy Wikipedia.

St. Andrews Church, circa 1852, in the left center. Courtesy Wikipedia.

The earliest record of the Atwells living in the United States was the 1860 Census. Aunt Genie’s letter also states that they moved to the U.S. just that year. They were living in Lowell, Middlesex County, MA. There, Richard worked as a machinist and Margaret took care of baby William Armstrong, born on June 11 that year. To me, the eight years between their marriage and the birth of William seems like a really long time for a nineteenth-century couple to go childless. However, I cannot find any records of any previously-born children (yet).

On September 3, 1864, daughter Caroline L. was born. Some records refer to her as “Carrie”. According to Aunt Genie’s letter, Richard was naturalized as a U.S. citizen in 1867, so Margaret, by virtue of being married to him would have become a citizen as well.

The following year, the Atwell family moved to Ballard Vale, Essex County, MA (which is part of Andover today). This is where Aunt Genie, the youngest, was born that same year. If it weren’t for her letter, I never would have known that the family spent time in Essex County.

Aunt Genie related how the family moved in 1873 to Charleston, Suffolk County, MA, somewhere near the Bunker Hill Monument. They did not remain there long and moved to the Union Market area of Watertown, Middlesex County, MA. The Atwells moved again in 1874 to Taunton, Bristol County, MA. They stayed there for a while as Richard worked as a clerk in a foundry and machine company.

Finally the family moved to Providence, Providence County, RI in 1881, where William would meet his future wife, Altie May Williams. Although the family lived in various homes in Providence, Richard’s job situation was stable, as he worked as a shipping clerk for Brown & Sharpe for the rest of his life.

Brown & Sharp factory, circa 1896.  Courtesy Wikipedia.

Brown & Sharp factory, circa 1896. Courtesy Wikipedia.

Margaret passed away on October 26, 1898, and Richard followed on June 27, 1902. Both are buried in Oakland Cemetery, Cranston, Providence County, RI.

Caroline and Genie never married, but supported each other throughout their lives. Carrie was a home-based dressmaker and Genie, who started as a clerk, became a stenographer. Carrie died in 1927, but Genie lived much longer until January 9, 1940. Both are buried in the same plot as their parents on Oakland Cemetery.

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Great-Great Grandfather William Armstrong Atwell

This may seem like skipping around a little bit, but I feel the need to write about my great-grandfather’s father before I move on to his siblings. After all, William is what these diverse siblings have in common!

William Armstrong Atwell was the firstborn child and only son of Richard Atwell and Margaret Patterson. He was born at George Street in Lowell, Middlesex County, MA on June 11, 1860. The family moved to various places in Eastern Massachusetts (more on that when I write about his father at a later time), settling for a period in Taunton, Bristol County, MA. There in 1880, twenty-year-old William was working as a machinist at a foundry and machine company. One of the few things I remember my great-grandfather telling me was that his father had three fingers (on which hand, I’m not sure). I have to wonder if that condition may have been a result of this work.

In 1881, the Atwell family moved to Providence, Providence County, RI. Here, William met his future wife, Altie May Williams, daughter of John Williams and Mary Elizabeth Randall. Altie worked as a box-maker, so I’m not sure how the two would have met. Perhaps William was beginning his second career as a musician (specifically, a cornet player) and perhaps Altie saw him perform. In any case, the two were married in Providence on August 24, 1882.

William seemed to retain his job as a machinist in Providence at lease for a short while. In the 1885 Rhode Island census, he listed his occupation as both “machinist & musician”. According to the Providence City Directories that I could find, William was listed as a printer from at least 1895 to 1898 (what kind of printer, I wonder?). After this, he is listed as a musician in all the records I could find.

The city directories and some newspaper articles have given me the most clues about William’s musical career. He play cornet either on his own or with Atwells Orchestra at various local organizations, such as the Central Falls Fire Department and the National Association of Stationary Engineers. From 1907 to the end of his life, William set up the Atwell Entertainment Bureau, which also housed the “Atwell Society Orchestra” and “Atwell Studios” that featured teaching music. In fact, his daughter Winifred was listed as music teacher here from 1908 – 1909.

"Larboard Watch", a song William performed as part of a duet in 1898.  Courtesy Library of Congress.

“Larboard Watch”, a song William performed as part of a duet in 1898. Courtesy Library of Congress.

As I stated in my last post, William and Altie divorced sometime between 1900 (when they are together on the census) and 1905 (when William re-married). I’m not sure of the reason; perhaps William’s career ramping up was a contributing factor. I did find that Altie’s divorced (though listed as widowed) mother Mary had lived with the family throughout the 1890s. Perhaps her moving out was evidence of strain in the household? Their five living children remained in William’s custody and I have no written record of Altie after this time (more on her and her incredible ancestral line in future posts).

Ethel Emma Fane was born around 1879 in England. Her family immigrated to the USA in 1892 and lived in Providence on Pearl Street by 1900. She was the daughter of John and Alice Fane and had a sister Mary, who was only a year younger than Ethel. While Ethel was employed as a “pearl worker”, her sister was a music teacher. I’m sure that although Mary worked at a different location than William, their paths must have crossed in the course of business. Somehow William met Ethel and they were married on June 1, 1905.

Ethel apparently built a relationship with her stepchildren (or at the very least, my great-grandfather Thomas) and became a mother herself on May 14, 1906, when son Wallace John was born. Happiness in the Atwell household did not last a very long time, however. Eventually William’s health deteriorated to a point where he no longer played cornet. Finally, after a week-long illness, William died at home at 197 Longfellow Street on January 24, 1913. He was buried at Oakland Cemetery in nearby Cranston. Ethel made sure his gravestone was inscribed: “In Loving Memory of My Husband, William A. Atwell, 1860 – 1913”.

William and Altie’s children were all grown up and living on their own once William died, so Ethel and Wallace moved back to her parents’ home. Ethel lived with her son at least until he was married to Mildred G. Stubbs in the 1930s, then she appears as a housekeeper and companion to interior designer Ellen Dwinell in 1940. I don’t have any record of Ethel after this point; I’m not even sure where she is buried. In fact, there seems to be so much more to find out about William and his family that once again warrants a research trip to Rhode Island.

Tenth Great-Grandparents: Stephen and Hannah (Bass) Paine

Continuing along the various maternal lines in my ancestry, we come to Sarah (Paine) Billings‘ parents, Stephen Paine and Hannah Bass.

Stephen Paine was the youngest child and second son of Moses Paine (sometimes spelled Payne) and Elizabeth Sheafe. He was born in England sometime between 1626 and 1628, and the family had immigrated to Braintree, Massachusetts by 1632. In 1649, he became part of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company, as his older brother Moses had done.

Hannah Bass was the second daughter and fourth child of Samuel Bass and Ann (whose maiden name is commonly thought to be Saville). She was born circa 1633; since it is believed that her family immigrated from England to Roxbury, Massachusetts about 1632, she was probably born in Roxbury. The family then moved to Braintree in 1640.

I suspect that Stephen and Hannah must have met at church, or maybe they were neighbors. In any case, they were married on November 15, 1651. Two years later, Stephen became a freeman. And as couples do, Stephen and Hannah proceeded to have a family. All their children, listed below, were born in Braintree:

  • Stephen, born March 8, 1652; married Ellen Veasey on February 20, 1682; died May 24, 1690 of smallpox.
  • Samuel, born June 10, 1654; married Mary Penniman on April 4, 2678; died December 10, 1739.
  • Hannah, born October 28, 1656; married late January 1673 to Theophilus Curtis; died April 1742.
  • Sarah, born January or September 1, 1657; married Roger Billings, Jr. on January 22, 1697; died September 19, 1742 in Dorchester.
  • Moses, born March 26, 1660; married Mary _____, circa 1688; died 1746.
  • John, born August or September 21, 1666; married Deborah Neale on January 20, 1689; died 1706.
  • Lydia, born 1670; married Benjamin Neale (Deborah’s brother) on either January or June 20, 1689 (might it have been a double wedding?).

Like many others, Stephen served in King Philip’s War. I find him listed twice: once in 1675 under Captain Thomas Prentice and Lieutenant Edward Oakes, and again in August 1676 under Captain Jonathan Poole. I can’t ascertain the exact actions Stephen may have been involved with under Poole (though it seems that Poole was often assigned to Western Massachusetts). But it is clear that he was part of the Mount Hope campaign under Prentice and Oakes. According to King Philip’s War, by George W. Ellis and John E. Morris, the campaign was as follows:

On the evening of [June] 29th which was spent skirmishing with the Indians, came Major Thomas Savage, accompanied by Captain Paige and sixty horse and as many foot, to take over the command of the Massachusetts forces. The force assembled at Swansea now numbered over five hundred men, and, at noon on the following day, leaving a small guard in the garrison, the little army, with Major Cudworth in command, crossed over the bridge, and, throwing out horsemen on the flanks to prevent an ambuscade, pushed on toward Mount Hope.

Here and there, within the boundaries of the Indian country, they saw groups of empty wigwams and fields of corn, the smoking ruins of what had once been the homes of the settlers, and “Bibles torn in pieces in defiance of our holy religion,” while ghastly heads and hands stuck upon stakes bore witness to the fate of the occupants. But, while Philip’s wigwam was discovered and the trail of his warriors followed to the shore, not an Indian was to be seen.

Throughout the day the rain had fallen steadily, soaking the troops to the skin, and as evening drew on the Plymouth men, passing over the strait, found shelter on the island of Rhode Island, but Major Savage, with the Massachusetts division, bivouaced in the open fields amid the storm.

With the dawn came rumors that the Indians were in force near Swansea, and Savage, after laying waste the fields of growing corn, hastened back over the route of the day before, but though the force met many Indian dogs deserted by their masters, and saw at times burning dwellings, they came upon no Indians, and the infantry, tired and discouraged, made halt at Swansea. The cavalry, however, under Prentice, proceeded to scour the country towards Seekonk and Rehoboth, but discovering no trace of the enemy finally encamped for the night.

The next morning Prentice, having placed a portion of his command under Lieutenant Oakes with orders to march parallel with the main force along another road in order to cover a wider extent of territory, set out on his return to Swansea. They had advanced only a short distance when they came in sight of a party of Indians burning a house. Prentice was unable to reach them on account of several intervening fences, but Oakes, continuing along the road, charged upon and put them to flight, killing several, among them Phoebe, one of their leaders, and losing one of his own men, John Druce.

Information in the meantime had reached Swansea that Philip had been discovered at Pocasset, but Savage, instead of marching directly toward this point with his whole force, divided his command, sending Henchman and Prentice to scour the woods and swamps along the mainland, while he himself with the commands of Captains Paige and Moseley, marched down to Mount Hope. No signs of Indians were discovered at Mount Hope, and leaving a party to build a fort, despite the earnest entreaty of Church that the whole force should go over to Pocasset and drive Philip from cover, Savage again returned to Swansea.

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.

Stephen went on to see all his children grow up and most get married. He finally died on July 29, 1691. Hannah re-married Shadrach Wilbur of Taunton in 1692. She predeceased him by two years in 1696.

Ninth Great-Grandfather William Seward

William Seward is an ancestor of whom I know very little, but thanks to Google Books, I’ve found that he certainly set a great example for his descendants to follow. He was born circa 1627 in England, and immigrated from Bristol, England to Taunton, Massachusetts in 1643. He later settled in New Haven, which was still part of New Haven Colony which would later be part of Connecticut.

William married Grace Norton of Guilford (daughter of Thomas Norton and possibly Grace Wells) in New Haven to April 2, 1651. It seems that he moved to Guilford sometime after 1652 and took the oath of fidelity there on May 4, 1654.

By trade, William was a tanner who did well for himself. He owned plenty of property and enjoyed good standing in town. William’s name comes up often as a leader in the early history of the town. On June 1, 1665, he was appointed captain of the guard in Guilford. He served as a deputy between 1674 and 1685 and as representative to the General Assembly in Connecticut between 1683 to 1686.

William and Grace’s children were:

  • Mary, born Feb 28, 1652 in New Haven; married John Scranton, Jr. on March 12, 1673; died 1688
  • John, born February 14, 1653/54; married Abigail Bushnell* on June 25, 1679; died December 6, 1748
  • Joseph, born 1655; married Judith Bushnell* on February 7, 1681/82; died February 14, 1731/32
  • Samuel, born August 20, 1659; died before 1666
  • Caleb (who I spoke of in this post), born March 14, 1662/63; married Lydia Bushnell* on July 14, 1686; died August 2, 1728
  • Stephen, born August 6, 1664; never married
  • Samuel, born February 8, 1666/67; died April 8, 1689; never married
  • Hannah, born February 8, 1669/70; married Joseph Hand; also married John Tustin
  • Ebenezer, born December 13, 1672; died October 19, 1701

*Abigail, Judith and Lydia Bushnell were sisters.

William died on March 29, 1689 (age 62) (some sources say March 2). Grace died March 5, 1704. Sadly, I don’t know where either of them are buried, although I am sure it is somewhere in Guilford.

Eighth Great-Grandfather John Strong: His Children

The following is a “bare bones” account of the children of Elder John Strong. There are numerous resources on and off the internet about each one and their own lives.

As stated in my previous post, John’s first wife was Margery Deane and their son was also named John, born sometime between 1625 and 1633 in England. He married Mary Clark on November 26, 1656 in Windsor, Connecticut. After her death on April 26, 1663, he subsequently married Elizabeth Warriner in 1664. He died on February 20, 1697/8 in Windsor.

The children of John Strong and Abigail Ford were:

  • Thomas, born in the mid- to late-1630s, probably in Hingham, Massachusetts Bay Colony; married Mary Hewett on December 5, 1660 (who died February 20, 1770/71); married Rachel Holton on October 10, 1671 in Northampton, Massachusetts Bay Colony; died October 3, 1689 in Northampton.
  • Jedidiah, born May 7, 1637 in Hingham; married Freedom Woodward on December 18, 1662 (some records say November 18, 1662) (who died May 17, 1681); married Abigail (Bartlett) Stebbins on December 28, 1681 (who died on July 15, 1689); then married Mary (Hart) Lee on January 5, 1691 (who also predeceased him on October 10, 1710); died May 22, 1733 in Coventry, (probably Hartford County), Connecticut.
  • Return, born circa 1641 in Taunton; married Sarah Wareham on May 11, 1664; then married Margaret Newberry on May 23, 1689; died April 9, 1726 in Windsor, Hartford County, CT; buried in Palisado Cemetery in Windsor.
  • Ebenezer, born 1643 in Taunton; married Hannah Clap on October 14, 1668 in Northampton; died February 11, 1729 in Northampton; buried at Bridge Street Cemetery in Northampton.
  • Abigail, born 1645 in Taunton; married Nathaniel Chauncey on November 12, 1673 in Northampton; then married Medad Pomeroy on September , 1686 in Northampton; died 1704.
  • Elizabeth, born February 24, 1647 in Windsor, Connecticut; married Joseph Parsons March 17, 1668/69 in Northampton; died May 12, 1736 in Northampton; buried at Bridge Street Cemetery in Northampton.
  • Experience, born August 4, 1650 in Windsor; married Zerubbabel Filer on May 27, 1669 in Windsor; died 1714.
  • Samuel (twin to Joseph), born August 5, 1652 in Windsor; married Esther Clap on June 19, 1684 in Northampton, then married Ruth (Sheldon) Wright on October 28, 1698 in Northampton; died October 29, 1732.
  • Joseph (twin to Samuel), born August 5, 1652 in Windsor; died young.
  • Mary, born October 26, 1654 in Windsor; married John Clark on March 20, 1678/9 in Northampton; died December 8, 1738 in Northampton; buried at Bridge Street Cemetery in Northampton.
  • Sarah, born 1656 in Windsor; married Joseph Barnard on January 13, 1675 in Northampton, then married Jonathan Wells on September 23, 1698; died February 10, 1733 in Deerfield, Hampshire County, Massachusetts; buried at Old Deerfield Burying Ground in Deerfield.
  • Hannah, born May 30, 1659 in Windsor; married William Clark (brother of John Clark who married Mary Strong) on July 15, 1680 in Northampton; died January 31, 1683/84 in Lebanon, New London County, Connecticut; buried at Old Cemetery in Lebanon.
  • Hester, born June 7, 1661 in Northampton, Massachusetts Bay Colony; married Thomas Bissell on October 15, 1678 in Northampton; died March 4, 1726 in Windsor, Connecticut.
  • Thankful, born July 25, 1663 in Northampton, Hampshire County, Massachusetts Bay Colony; married Jonathan Baldwin by 1695; died March 5, 1726 in Milford, New Haven County, Connecticut; buried in Milford Cemetery in Milford.
  • Jerijah, born December 12, 1665 in Northampton; married Thankful Stebbins (daughter of Abigail, Jerijah’s sister-in-law) on July 18, 1700 in Northampton; died April 24, 1754 in Northampton.

If you are descended from any one of these families, then I say: Hello, Cousin!

Eighth Great-Grandfather John Strong: A Great Migration Ancestor

There is a lot of varying information about Elder John Strong. One commonly used source is “The History of the Descendants of Elder John Strong of Northampton, Mass” by Benjamin Woodbridge Dwight; however, recent scholarship by Robert Charles Anderson through the New England Historic Genealogical Society challenges some of those assertions. What I’ll write about here will primarily reflect Anderson’s findings.

John was born circa 1605 in Chard, Somerset, England. He was first married to Margery Deane (daughter of William Deane) in England. They had a son named John who was born sometime between 1626 and 1633 (Anderson says circa 1631). Dwight states that another unnamed child was born to them in the New World, but I have no other information on this child.

John and his family are believed to have come over on the Hopewell from Weymouth, England to Massachusetts in May 1635. They settled in Hingham, Massachusetts Bay Colony. Here and throughout his life, he worked as a tanner.

Margery died sometime after their immigration, and John then married Abigail Ford (daughter of Thomas Ford and Elizabeth Chard), in Hingham. They went on to have 15 children, who I’ll write about in the next post.

From this point onward, John Strong played an active role in the building of each community he lived in. After he had moved to Taunton, Plymouth Colony, in 1638, he was active in the courts, serving on the jury and as a deputy. In 1647, he moved to Dorchester, Connecticut Colony (which was subsequently renamed Windsor) along with his father-in-law Thomas Ford. Here he was part of the petit jury and a constable. In addition to being a tanner, he also had quite a few acres on the east side of the Connecticut River; I’m sure it was necessary for his large family to maintain a farm.

Eventually, John made his final move to Northampton, Massachusetts Bay Colony around 1659, where he purchased quite a bit of farmland and set up his tannery. In June of 1663 he earned the title Elder in the First Church of Christ in Northampton and eventually became the ruling elder in 1672. Everywhere John seemed to live, he was a significant part of the community, but never so influential in the life of the town as he was in Northampton. He helped establish schools and was a leader in the work of the church. The “History of Northampton Massachusetts from Its Settlement in 1654” by James Russell Trumbull states: “To him more than any other layman is the church indebted for its foundation and early growth. Among all the earnest, thoughtful men who planted the settlement at Northampton, not one was more influential, more painstaking, or more respected than Elder John Strong.”

Abigail died on July 6, 1688 and John followed on April 14, 1699. Both are buried in Bridge Street Cemetery, where a memorial is erected by their descendants in their honor. Even greater than this stone marker is their imprint on American life through their children and their many descendants. Benjamin Dwight only touches on some of these descendants; there are so many more! There is even a Strong Family Association that links still more family.

Seventh Greath-Grandfather Thomas Strong: Simply His Life

As I climb further and further back into my family history, I find that there are less primary sources and more derivative and authored sources. I know that this can be “dangerous” in that what I try to determine what to write about. So I preface this and other stories set in colonial and early American times with that phrase I love on my tax return: this is all “to the best of my knowledge”. I am completely open to learning new and better information!

The following is Thomas’ story, leaving out the details of his many children (which I will cover in the next post):

Thomas Strong was born in the mid- to late-1630s, probably in Hingham, Massachusetts Bay Colony, the oldest child of John Strong and Abigail Ford. He was the first child in this line born in the New World.

Thomas seems to have spent much of his childhood in Taunton, Plymouth Colony, then the family moved to Windsor, Connecticut Colony. It was in Windsor where Thomas became a man and served as a trooper in 1658 under Major Mason. Thomas also had to have met his future wife, Mary Hewett (daughter of Reverend Ephraim Hewett or Huit and Isabel Overton) in Windsor. (As a side note, Reverend Huit’s gravestone is known to be the oldest legible gravestone in Connecticut.)

In 1659 Thomas (going along with most of his family) moved from Windsor to Northampton, Massachusetts Bay Colony. He must have returned to Windsor at the very least to wed Mary Hewett on December 5, 1660.

In Northampton, Thomas (like his father) became a part of community life. He was a member of the Church of Christ in Northampton. In July of 1666 he helped with the building of a mill in Northampton.

On February 20, 1770/71 Thomas’ wife Mary died, leaving him with their five children under the age of ten. I’m sure that his extended family in Northampton came alongside Thomas to help with the children, but they didn’t have to do so for long. On October 10, 1671 he married Rachel Holton (daughter of William Holton and Mary Winche). Thomas and Rachel went on to have at least ten more children of their own.

As a farmer, Thomas donated bushels of wheat to Harvard College between 1672 and 1673. On February 11, 1679/80 he, along with others, was sworn into office as a “tithing man”, a church official who was in charge of the morals of the community.

On October 3, 1689, Thomas died in Northampton. I imagine that, like his parents, he is buried at Bridge Street Cemetery in Northampton, although I have nothing that proves that.

After Thomas’ death, Rachel married Nathan Bradley of East Guilford (now Madison), New Haven County, CT in May 1698, and moved there with her younger children.