Monday, March 30, 2015

An Interesting bit of family serendipity about Cobbett’s Pond, Windham, New Hampshire

Cobbett's Pond, Windham, New Hampshire

The other night I watched WMUR TV’s Chronicle.  My favorite part of this show is when Fritz Wetherbee gives a few minutes of fun trivia about New Hampshire history.  Are you surprised?

Fritz was standing in the frozen parking lot of the community beach at Cobbett’s Pond, next to a mound of snow.  I recognized this spot from the Mystery Tour I had taken with the Windham Historical Society two years ago.  He mentioned that the pond was named for Reverend Thomas Cobbett (1608 – 1685) of Ipswich, Massachusetts.  I also remembered that bit of trivia from the Mystery Tour.  Click HERE to see my blog post about this. 

Then he mentioned a few other things about Reverend Cobbett that sent me running to my family tree data base.  Yes, it was true.  Reverend Thomas Cobbett was in my family tree.  Not as a family member really, but by marriage.  Reverend Cobbett’s daughter, Mary, had married my 8th great uncle, Reverend Samuel Belcher (1639 – 1713/4).  

The life of  Thomas Cobbett in a timeline:

1608 born in Newbury, Berkshire, England

12 Oct 1627 matriculated at Trinity College at Oxford University, didn’t graduate because of the plague so he went home to Newbury to be taught by a Dr. Twiss

26 June 1637 arrived in Massachusetts

1637 – 1655 Religious Teacher at Lynn, MA with Rev. Samuel Whiting (who had replaced Rev. Stephen Bachiler (1561 - 1656, my 11th great grandfather in another lineage)

1653 author of The Civil Magistrates Power in matters of Religious Modesty Debated, and other books.  He was a prolific author. 

1655 – 1685 Minister at Ipswich, MA, replaced Rev. Nathaniel Rogers

1662 Given the grant of land now Windham, and where Cobbett’s pond now lies. 
Died 5 Nov 1685 in Ipswich, MA and Rev. Cotton Mather wrote his epitaph.  At his funeral “there were consumed one barrel of wine and two barrels of cider; and as it was cold, there were ‘some spice and ginger for the cider.’ “  

Six Children?  (I haven’t been able to verify some of these):
1.  Deacon Samuel Cobbett, b. 1645. m. Sarah Unknown
2.  Mary Cobbett m. about 1668 to Rev. Samuel Belcher
3.  John
4.  Thomas, captured by Indians and ransomed for a coat
5. Elizabeth, d. 23 August 1661, Ipswich
6. Eliezer, d. 27 Nov 1657, Ipswich

And what was that epitaph that was written by Rev. Cotton Mather?  I finally found it by Googling in the History of Essex County, Massachusetts: With Biographical Sketches, Volume 1, page 582
“Stay, passenger, for here lies a treasure,
Thomas Cobbett, of whose availing prayer and most approved manners,
You, if an inhabitant of New England, need not be told.
If you cultivate piety, admire him;
If you wish for happiness, follow him.”

Rev. Cobbett's gravestone does not appear to have survived the ages. It is not listed in any cemetery listing in Ipswich, Massachusetts.

Felt’s History of Ipswich “The land allowed to Mr. Cobbett was laid out at Methuen, [Massachusetts], and was included by New Hampshire in 1741, when his grandchildren, Nathaniel and Ann Cobbet, petitioned the General Court for an equivalent.  They were allowed 1,500 acres near Charlemont.  This farm was in Windham, and upon the south line from a swamp that joyns upon Haverhill bounds, so ranging by west and by north joint until you come to a great rock upon the north side of a long pond.”   This pond is now known as Cobbett’s Pond, Windham, New Hampshire.

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Copyright © 2015, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Surname Saturday ~ MEARS of Essex, Massachusetts


Alexander Mears, my 5th great grandfather, was born about 1750 in England and it seems that he came to Massachusetts as a very young man.  His arrival coincides with the beginning rumbles of the Revolutionary War.  He married Martha Poland in 1773 in Wenham, Massachusetts and settled in what is now the town of Essex, but at that time was the Chebacco Parish of Ipswich.

In the autobiography of David Otis Mears it states “The tradition is that he was the son of a wealthy London merchant.  His mother died when he was young and he left home and came to this country; he found his way to Essex, then Ipswich, where he married and settled down.  He had been well educated, but little more is known of him.  On the death of his father, he was notified to return to London for his share of his father's estate but, his wife objecting, he never returned.  His son, David Mears, was born in Essex, in 1808, and in 1840 married Abigail Burnham.  Of this union, David Otis Mears, born in 1842, was eldest son."

It is interesting to note that Alexander Mears, born in London, joined the patriots in the Revolutionary War.  He was a private in Captain William Pearson’s Company between 1 June 1776 and 31 August 1776, stationed for 25 days in Gloucester to defend the seacoast, and again from 1 September 1776 and 18 November 1776 in Gloucester.

Three of Alexander Mears’s sons (William, Daniel and Henry) married three of the daughters of Ralph Butler and Esther Burnham (Lucy, Hepsibeth and Abigail).  I descend from Samuel (1798 – 1879), my 4th great grandfather, who married Lydia Burnham in 1823. Samuel was a cordwainer (shoe maker).

My 3rd great grandfather, Samuel Mears (1823 – 1904) was also a cordwainer.  He enlisted in the Civil War at age 42 as a private in Company A, of the 39th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.  He was discharged for disabilities (dysentery) to the Veteran Reserve Corps.  Samuel Mears was a member of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Lodge in Beverly, Massachusetts  - the John H. Chipman Post #89.  His son Henry Mears (1845 – 1866) was also a private in the 2nd Regiment of the Massachusetts Heavy Artillery.  His adopted son, John Harrison Knowlton (1848 – 1896) served as a private in the Civil War and his enlistment lists him as age 18, but he was closer to 16 years old.  Samuel Mears’s obituary in the Essex Echo newspaper, 22 January 1904:

Mr. Samuel Mears, a native and until recently with a few years a life long resident of Essex Falls and a veteran of the war of the rebellion, died at the home of his son, Henry C. at 8 Boyce Court, Lynn, Wednesday, Jan. 13th after a long illness, at the age of 80 years and 15 days.  He leaves an aged widow, three sons, Henry C of Lynn, Israel G. of Wenham, S. Alonzo who lives at the homestead, and two daughters, Mrs. J. G. Allen and Mrs. Charles Kinsman, two sisters, Mrs. Martha Hovell and Mrs. George H. Story, about 20 grandchildren and a large circle of other relatives.  Funeral services were held at the Congregational Church of this town Saturday afternoon.  A delegation of the J. H. Chipman, Jr. post, GAR of Beverly, of which the deceased was a member was present and performed their burial service.  A large number of friends and relatives was in attendence.

For further information on the MEARS family:

David Otis Mears, D. D.: An Autobiography, 1842 – 1898, by David Otis Mears, Hannah Amelia Noyes Davidson, Boston: The Pilgrim Press, 1920 (available to read online at Google Book Search)

My MEARS genealogy:

Generation 1:  Alexander Mears, born about 1750 probably in London, England, died 3 April 1824 in Essex, Massachusetts; married on 22 April 1773 in Wenham to Martha Poland, daughter of Daniel Poland and Sarah Bishop.  She was born 4 August 1754 in Ipswich, and died 17 February 1843 in Essex.  Twelve children.

Generation 2: Samuel Mears, born about 1798 in Essex, died 28 August 1879; married on 29 March 1823 in Essex to Lydia W. Burnham, daughter of Asa Burnham and Polly Bray.  She was born on 19 September 1802 in Essex, and died 5 September 1864 in Essex.  Nine children.

Generation 3:  Samuel Mears, born 29 December 1823 in Essex, died 13 January 1904 in Lynn, Massachusetts; married first on 20 April 1844 in Essex to Sarah Ann Burnham, daughter of Henry Burnham and Sally Poland.  She was born on 23 October 1821 and died 23 January 1848 in Hamilton, Massachusetts. Five children.  Samuel Mears married second on 26 December 1848 in Wenham to Lydia Gray, widow of Joseph Augustus Burnham, daughter of Israel Gray and Lydia G. Lacy.  She was born February 1823 in Andover, Massachusetts and died 21 December 1914 in Lynn.  Four children.

Generation 4: Sarah Burnham Mears, daughter of Samuel Mears and Sarah Ann Burnham, was born on 30 November 1844 in Essex, died 4 March 1913 in Essex; married on 23 May 1863 in Essex to Joseph Gilman Allen, the son of Joseph Allen and Orpha Andrews.  He was born on 22 May 1830 in Essex and died 9 April 1908 in Essex.  Ten children.

Generation 5: Joseph Elmer Allen married Carrie Maude Batchelder
Generation 6: Stanley Elmer Allen married Gertrude Matilda Allen (my grandparents)

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Copyright © 2015, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Friday, March 27, 2015

Photo Friday ~ Twins from Beverly, Massachusetts

My Uncle Richard Wilkinson gave me a scan of this photo, front and back.  Four generations of our family lived in the same house in Beverly, Massachusetts, at 7 Dearborn Avenue, from my great grandparents when they immigrated from Yorkshire, England in 1915, until almost 1970 when I was little (yes, I grew up in that house, too!) and we removed to Holden, Massachusetts.

This photo is of all the twins who lived on the street when my Dad and his brothers were living there in the 30s, 40s and 50s.  We think it might have been a photo for the newspaper, but no one quite remembers.  The nice thing is that the names and the date were written on the back.

Isn't this a great reminder of the baby boom!

Back row left to right - Wilfred 
and Lawrence, Jo-Ann & Ellen Sheehy
Front row left to right - Peter & Paul 
Sullivan, Joyce and Linda Si Stefano

July 1951

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Copyright (c) 2015, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Robert Frost’s Birthday ~ 16 March 1874

The Frost Farm, Derry, New Hampshire

Although we all think of him as a New England poet, did you know that Robert Frost was born in San Francisco, California on 26 March 1874?  His father was a Southern sympathizer during the Civil War, and so he was named after Confederate General Robert E. Lee.  Frost’s roots run deep in the Granite State. He is a descendant of Nicholas Frost who arrived in New Hampshire in 1634.  You can read more about his ancestry at my previous blog post HERE.

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

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Copyright © 2015, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Weathervane Wednesday ~ A collection of Weathervanes from a famous Amusement Park

Weathervane Wednesday is an on-going series of photographs I post weekly.  I started by publishing weather vanes from the Londonderry area, but now I've been finding interesting weather vanes all across New England.  Sometimes my weather vanes are whimsical, or historical, but all are interesting. Often, my readers tip me off to some very unique and unusual weather vanes, too! If you know an interesting or historical weathervane, please let me know.

Today's collection of weather vanes is from a famous California amusement park.

Do you know the location of weather vane collection #201?  Scroll down to see the answer!

The ship weather vane is atop the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland, Anaheim, California.
It is slightly different from the ship weather vane atop the Haunted Mansion in 
DisneyWorld's Magic Kingdom theme park.

This Mississippi paddleboat was seen atop a snack bar near 
Disneyland's Splash Mountain ride. 

If you hadn't guessed this one already, it is a cute Mr. Toad weather vane
from atop the towers of the Mr. Toad's Wild Ride attraction in Disney land.  

This is the pirate ship weather vane from atop the clock tower
on the Peter Pan ride in Disneyland

This cute heart weather vane is on top of Minnie Mouse's house in 
the Toon Town section of Disneyland, over looking a fountain
of Minnie's sweetheart, Mickey Mouse!

I wasn't sure about this Disney character until I Googled the name.  The chipmunk figure on the weathervane
is Gadget Hackwrench, a female character from the Rescue Ranger's cartoon series 
that starred Chip N' Dale.
The name of the ride is "Gadget's Go Coaster", a kiddie roller coaster in Toon Town, Disneyland. 

This pretty gilded horse weathervane can be seen atop an information booth 
on Disneyland's Main Street.

This weather cock is above a new section of Fantasyland in Disneyland.
It was currently under construction when we were there, but is near two new
rides being built- "Ariel's Undersea Adventure" starring the Little Mermaid and 
"The Seven Dwarf's Mine Train" roller coaster. 

Click here to see the entire series of Weathervane Wednesday posts!

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Copyright (c) 2015, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Tombstone Tuesday ~ A Crosby child on Cape Cod, died 1840

dau. of
Hatsel and J. H.
died Oct. 18, 1840
AEt. 3ys.  8 ms.

I saw this little tombstone when I was looking for CROSBY ancestors at the Ancient Burying Ground in Brewster, Massachusetts.  This one intrigued me with the name “Hatsel”.  Who was Hatsel Crosby?  I couldn’t wait to get home to find out!

A google search led me to the Google Book search and the book History of Barnstable County, Massachusetts: 1620 – 1890, edited by Simeon L. Deyo.  On Pages 491 and 492 was this paragraph:

Hatsel Crosby, born in 1807, is the only surviving child of Abijah and Desire Crosby, and grandson of Elisha Crosby.  He was a shoemaker in Brewster for fifteen years, prior to 1848, when he came to South Yarmouth, where he was engaged in salt making until 1883.  He was married in 1836 to Jerusha S. Homer, who died in 1854, leaving five children: Susie, Abbie, Hattie E., Herbert F., and Nellie P., who died November 2, 1864.  Mr. Crosby was married in 1856 to Elizabeth S. Bangs who died the same year.  He was married in 1858 to Hannah, daughter of Jabez Nye.  They have two sons: Benjamin B. and Chester L..

From this little family sketch I was able to figure out how Hatsel Crosby and his little daughter Ellen fit into my Crosby family tree. 

History of Barnstable County, Massachusetts: 1620 - 1896, edited by Simeon L. Dayo, New York: Blake, 1890, preprinted by Higginson Company, Salem, Massachusetts,  available to read online at and through the Google Book search. 

Our kinship:

                                           Simon Crosby (1609 - 1639) m. Ann Brigham (1606 - 1675)

                                                  Thomas Crosby m. Sarah Unknown

                                                     John Crosby m. Hannah Bangs
Thomas Crosby m. Mary Crosby                                 John Crosby m.  Hannah Bangs
                        I                                                                                 I
Elisha Crosby m. Pheobe Hopkins                                Jonathan Crosby m. Hannah Hamblin
                         I                                                                                I
Abijah Crosby m. Desire Crosby                                   Ebenezer Crosby m. Elizabeth Robinson
                        I                                                                                 I
Hatsel Crosby m. Jerusha S. Homer                               Rebecca Crosby m. Comfort Haley    
                        I                                                                                 I
          Ellen P. Crosby                                                    Joseph Edwin Healy m. Matilda Weston
                                                                                        Mary Etta Healey m. Peter Hoogerzeil
                                                                                        Florence Etta Hoogerzeil m. Arthur Hitchings
                                                                                        Gertrude M. Hitchings m. Stanley E. Allen
                                                                                        (my grandparents)

P.S.  Mary Crosby and Desire Crosby above, both wives of men named Crosby, are also descendants of Thomas Crosby (1656 - 1702), the ancestor born in Holme-on-Spaulding-Moor, Yorkshire, England who removed to Boston when he was 8 weeks old with his parents, and is buried in the Granary Burying Ground. 

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Copyright (c) 2015, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Woeful Life of a Colonial Woman

My 5th great grandmother, Mary (also known as Lucy) Mixer was born 21 November 1727 in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.   Her parents, Joseph Mixer and Mary Ball, were from Watertown (near Boston), married there, and had eight children in Shrewsbury, thirty miles inland.

At age 22 Mary married Daniel Simonds  “of Westborough” on 13 November 1749 in Shrewsbury, and removed to Lexington where her five children were born.  Her marriage was recorded in Shrewsbury, Westborough and Lexington, Massachusetts.  She lost her husband on 9 February 1761, at age 41 years.  Mary gave birth to a daughter, Lucy, posthumously on 18 August 1761. 

Two years later she married Andrew Munroe, my 5th great grandfather on 25 May 1763 in Lexington.  She had Andrew, Jr. in 1764 (my 4th great grandfather), and then her husband died on 16 September 1766.  He was only 48 years old, and Mary gave birth to her second posthumous child, Ishmael, on 9 October 1766.  She was destitute this time, a second time widow with seven children.   She administered Andrew’s estate with her brother in law, Jonas Parker (who was later killed in the Battle of Lexington Green on 19 April 1775).  Mary had to ask the town for a pauper’s allowance for lying in with a posthumous child and for care of two minor children by Andrew. 

Mary married her third husband, Caleb Simonds, on 6 December 1774 in Lexington, just two short years before the start of the war, and the big Battles of Lexington and Concord.  During the battle on Lexington Green, Jonas Parker was killed, and so was Andrew's brother Robert Munroe.

Caleb Simonds, Mary's third husband, was a cousin of her first husband, Daniel Simonds.  He also served in the Revolutionary War.  After such a hard life, Mary seemed to have found a good husband, who only served in the war for six months and came home safely to their house in Woburn, Massachusetts.   The Revolutionary War, that affected so many lives in Lexington, ended in 1783. 

But on 3 September 1783, according to family tradition, Mary went for a pail of water at the well and was kicked by a horse.  She fell and struck her head on the door stone, and was instantly killed.  She was 55 years old.  This family story is verified by the town records written by Reverend Mr. Marrett of Woburn, Massachusetts “She was instantly killed by a runaway horse while standing at her own door”, and in the Lexington Vital Records where next to her death date it read “Killed by a horse running over her killing her instantly”.

Mary’s child, Andrew Munroe, Jr (1764 – 1836) married a girl named Ruth Simonds.  Ruth’s parents were Caleb Simonds and Susanna Converse.   Caleb was Mary Mixer’s third husband, and so my 4th great grandparents were two step siblings who married each other. 

Although Mary had a tragic life, she must have eventually made a happy home for her seven children and her eight step children from her three marriages.  It is nice to think that something good came from her woeful story.   Andrew, Jr. and Ruth  removed to Danvers, Massachusetts and had eleven children who all married and had children of their own.  During the Revolutionary War, Andrew Jr. rose to the rank of Colonel and was granted land in New Grafton, New Hampshire.   They were able to pass on quite a legacy from Mary. 

The photograph is from Vincent Rojo, taken at Plimoth Plantation 2008. 

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Copyright (c) 2015, Heather Wilkinson Rojo 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Surname Saturday ~ RANDALL of Saco, Maine

1872 Map of Cape Porpoise, Maine


My 8th great grandfather, Richard Randall (about 1633 – 1713) is a mystery to me.  There are no new articles about him listed in Martin Hollick’s New Englanders in the 1600s, nor are there any Randall family articles in the journals in the NEHGS database collections.   He arrived too late to have a sketch in The Great Migration series.  He has brief mentions in local histories of Saco and York County, Maine.   There are brief mentions in books like The Genealogical Dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire (page 576).

I’ve had to piece together the life of Richard Randall from vital records, court records and the local histories.  My line daughters out right away, since I descend from his daughter Priscilla, but it was a struggle to learn anything about the Randall family.

Richard Randall settled in Cape Porpoise by 1658.  He was in the town records for serving as constable in 1688 and selectman in 1688 – 1689.  He married Elizabeth Irons and had three children.  His daughter Sarah was married with children when she was captured by Indians and taken to Montreal. She became a Catholic, and her daughters took the names Madeleine and Therese and married two French Catholics and stayed in Montreal.  Sarah returned, and remarried.  Later, when Sarah was widowed, she lived with her widowed sister Priscilla, my 7th great grandmother, in Beverly, Massachusetts.  

In 1727 these two widowed sisters went to court as the only heirs of Richard Randall.  The record states they were “…the Children & only Heirs of Mr. Richard Rundal late of Cape Porpus Mariner…”.   [From York Deeds, by the Maine Genealogical Society, Book 12, Part 1, page 177.   They inherited his land.  This is interesting, because it also means that their brother was dead and left no heirs.

Priscilla Randall (about 1661 – 1752) married William Preston of Beverly and had nine children.  I descend from two sons, Nehemiah and Randall Preston. 

My RANDALL genealogy:

Generation 1: Richard Randall, born about 1633 probably in England, died after 1713 in Saco, Maine; married to Elizabeth Irons, daughter of Matthew Irons and Anna Brown.  She was born 15 April 1641 in Boston, Massachusetts, and died about 1701 in Saco, Maine.  Three children.

Generation 2:  Priscilla Randall, born about 1661 in Saco, Maine, died 23 April 1752 in Beverly, Massachusetts;  married to William Preston/Presson/Presbury, son of John Presbury and Dorcas Besse.  He was born about 1664 and died about 1718 in Beverly, Massachusetts.  Nine children.

Lineage A:

Generation 3:  Nehemiah Preston married Abigail Allen
Generation 4:  Hannah Preston married Robert Woodbury
Generation 5:  Molly Woodbury married Westley Burnham        

Lineage A1:

Generation 6:  Asa Burnham married Polly Bray
Generation 7:  Lydia W. Burnham married Samuel Mears
Generation 8:  Samuel Mears married Sarah Ann Burnham
Generation 9:  Sarah Burnham Mears married Joseph Gilman Allen
Generation 10: Joseph Elmer Allen married Carrie Maude Batchelder
Generation 11: Stanley Elmer Allen married Gertrude Matilda Hitchings (my grandmother)

Lineage A2:

Generation 6: Henry Burnham married Sally Poland
Generation 7:  Sarah Ann Burnham married Samuel Mears (see above)

Lineage B:

Generation 3: Randall Preston married Susanna Stone
Generation 4:  William Presson married Abigail Sargent
Generation 5:  Lucy Presson married James Andrews
Generation 6:   Orpha Andrews married Joseph Allen
Generation 7: Joseph Gilman Allen married Sarah Burnham Mears (see above)

The 1872 map of Cape Porpoise, Maine is from the website   

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Copyright © 2015, Heather Wilkinson Rojo