Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Weathervane Wednesday ~ Above a Congregational Church

I post another in a series of weather vane photographs every Wednesday.  This started with images of weathervanes from the Londonderry, New Hampshire area, but now I've found interesting weather vanes all across New England and across the globe.  Sometimes my weather vanes are whimsical, or historical, but all are interesting.  Often my readers tip me off to some very unique or unusual weathervanes, too!  If you know a great weather vane near you, let me know if you'd like to have it featured on this blog.

Today's weather vane was photographed in Vermont.

Do you know the location of weathervane post #351?  Scroll down to find the answer.

This arrow weathervane can be seen atop the steeple of the Congregational Church on the village green in Norwich, Vermont.  This congregation was first gathered in 1770.  A building was built in this location in 1852.  The bell in the steeple is an original Paul Revere bell, purchased in 1817. Last year, 2017, marked the 200th anniversary of this historic bell.

This quintessential New England church in Norwich
was immortalized by painter Maxfield Parrish
"Peaceful Night, Church at Norwich Vermont"

The Norwich Congregational Church website:

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


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Weathervane Wednesday ~ Above a Congregational Church", Nutfield Genealogy, posted February 21, 2018, ( accessed [access date]). 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Charles Eugene Almy, 1830 one month old

This tombstone was photographed at the Forest Hill Cemetery in East Derry, New Hampshire.

Son of
Capt. John C. &
Mrs. Ruth Almy
died March 9, 1830
AEt. 1 month

On earth thou wert all but divine
As thy soul shall immortally be
and our sorrow may cease to repine,
For we know that thy God is with thee.

Little baby Charles Eugene, born 15 November 1830 in Exeter, New Hampshire, was the son of John Coggeshall Almy and Ruth Bailey, who were married on 30 September 1822 in Dartmouth, Massachusetts.  The Almys had nine children: Mariana born 1 December 1823 in New Bedford, Massachusetts; John Coggeshall, Jr., born 8 December 1825 in Exeter, New Hampshire; George B. born about 27 March 1827 in Exeter;  Charles Eugene (above); Charles Eugene b. 15 November 1830 in Exeter and died 1864;  Jane K. born about 1833 in Exeter, Sarah Catherine born 8 May 1838 in Dartmouth, Massachusetts; Ellen Emma born 29 April 1844 in Dartmouth; and Ellen Coggeshall born 9 June 1847 1847 in Dartmouth. 

Capt. John Coggeshall Almy's death record in Dartmouth, Massachusetts on 2 February 1872 lists him as a master mariner, the son of John Almy and Sarah Dunham of Newport, Rhode Island.  His wife Ruth Baily was the daughter of Joseph A. and Ruth Bailey.

Why was the baby, the son of a sea captain, buried in landlocked Derry, New Hampshire?  At the time, Exeter had access to the sea, and Dartmouth, Massachusetts was a busy seaport.  This is a very impressive tombstone for an infant.  The fan designs in the corners remind me of seashells.

The baby's epitaph comes from a poem by Lord Byron:


Bright be the place of thy soul!
No lovelier spirit than thine
E'er burst from its mortal control
In the orbs of the blessed to shine.

On earth thou wert all but divine,
As thy sould shall immortally be;
And our sorrow may cease to repine,
When we know that thy God is with thee.

Light be the turf of thy tomb!
May its verdure like emeralds be;
There should not be the shadow of gloom
In aught that reminds us of thee.

Young flowers and an evergreen tree
May spring from the spot of thy rest;
But nor cypress nor yew let us see;
For why should we mourn for the blest?

1808  George Gordon Byron, Lord Byron

See this book William Almy and his Descendants in America, by Merwin F. Almy and Thomas A. Almy, 2001 online at this link: 


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Tombstone Tuesday ~ Charles Eugene Almy, 1830 one month old", Nutfield Genealogy, posted February 20, 2018, ( accessed [access date]).

Monday, February 19, 2018

The 300th Anniversary of the Scots Irish Diaspora

The next two years are going to be a very interesting time here in New England as we commemorate the Scots Irish diaspora.  Although a few Scots Irish migrated to Massachusetts, like my minister ancestors Rev. William Holmes and Rev. Thomas Craighead, who arrived in Boston in 1714 from Londonderry, Northern Ireland.  The organized mass migration began in 1718 when Rev. William Boyd obtained permission for a grant of land from Governor Shute of Massachusetts. That same year Rev. James McGregor brought a large portion of his flock from Aghadowey, to Boston.  These Ulster Presbyterian families spent a cold winter in Maine, where some remained, and some went on with McGregor to found the Nutfield settlement in New Hampshire in the spring of 1719, and others spread out in Massachusetts.

The 300th anniversary of these events begins this year, and the kickoff event will be The Scots Irish Reunion at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine 14 – 16 August 2018.  It will be hosted by the St. Andrews Society of Maine and the Maine Ulster Scots Project.   This reunion will include:

-  Identifying the people who left Northern Ireland, their home villages, and their settlements in New England

-  Exploring the uniqueness of the diaspora and the folkways brought to America

-  Academic lectures, articles, conferences, archaeological reports, genealogy, and publications

-  Tours of points of interest: First Parish Church, cemeteries, archaeological sites

Next year celebrations will be held in Nutfield (Londonderry, Derry, Windham and Derryfield (part of Manchester), New Hampshire) with a kickoff  for the300th anniversary of the 1719 sermon by Rev. McGregor on the shore of Beaver Lake in present day East Derry.  A heritage day will be held on 13 April at the Meetinghouse with historical presentations, artistans, and a musical performance.  There will be a special church service that weekend to conclude the weekend.

There will be also be commemorations in 2019 during Wndham’s June Strawberry Festival, Derry’s Fourth of July, and Londonderry’s August Old Home Day. 

Nutfield Genealogy will be celebrating, too!  I plan on switching my “Surname Saturdays” to cover the Scots Irish families who settled in Nutfield/Londonderry.  The first posts will be the first 16 families who arrived with Rev. James MacGregor in 1719, and then I will feature some of the other Scots Irish families.  Stay tuned to see if your ancestors are included, and stay tuned to learn more about the Nutfield commemorative events next year.

For more information:

Maine Ulster Scots Project:


St. Andrews Society of Maine


The 1718 Migration

The 1718 Society at Facebook

Nutfield History   

The following links will be updated soon:

Londonderry’s Old Home Day 

Windham’s Strawberry Festival


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "The 300th Anniversary of the Scots Irish Diaspora", Nutfield Genealogy, posted February 19, 2018, ( accessed [access date]). 

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Surname Saturday ~ JOHNSON of Topsfield, Massachusetts

Help me smash this brick wall!

Stephen Johnson, my 7th great grandfather, is another brick wall ancestor.  I don’t know his birthdate, birth place or parents.  On 29 August 1734 he married Rebecca Towne, the niece one generation removed from three Towne sisters who were accused of witchcraft in 1692.  Two of those sisters were hanged: Rebecca (Towne) Nurse and Mary (Towne) Eastey.  Rebecca Towne (b. 1699/1700 in Topsfield) is the granddaughter of their brother, Edmund Towne (1628 – 1675).

This tie to the witch trials of 1692 might be a big clue.  The children and grandchildren of the witch trial victims tended to marry descendants of other victims. I have many examples of this in my family tree, which is why I am descended from so many of those families.  Why did they marry each other?  Were they ostracized from marrying other potential spouses?  Did they find common ground? I have no idea why this happened.

During the 1692 hysteria, there was a young boy, only 14 years old, who was also named Stephen Johnson. He was accused of being a witch, and arrested, along with many members of his extended family.  He was a nephew of Abigail (Dane) Faulkner (1652 – 1730), my 9th great aunt.  Because I had the Dane and Faulkner families in my family tree, I found Abigail’s sister had married a man named Stephen Johnson (father of the accused 14-year-old Stephen Johnson).  There were many Stephens in this Johnson family that lived in Andover, Massachusetts (one town away from Topsfield).  I have traced out most of them.  Did I miss a connection to the husband of Rebecca Towne?  

Their daughter, Ruth Johnson (1731 – 1800) married Richard Cree in 1756 in Topsfield.  They had a son named Stephen Cree (another STEPHEN!) who is my 5th great grandfather.  The name Johnson daughters out here. 

Is there a JOHNSON family researcher out there who knows the answer to this mystery?  Am I chasing a red herring trying to tie the two Johnson families together?

My JOHNSON genealogy:

Generation 1:  Stephen Johnson, born about 1700, died 29 August 1734 in Topsfield; married on 2 December 1730 in Topsfield to Rebecca Towne, daughter of Samuel Towne and Elizabeth Knight.  She was born 8 February 1699/1700 in Topsfield.  Two children born in Topsfield.  Rebecca remarried to her second cousin, Joshua Towne, son of Jacob Towne and Phebe Smith. 

Generation 2:  Ruth Johnson, born 30 August 1731 in Topsfield, died 29 June 1800 in Topsfield; married on 5 February 1756 in Topsfield to Richard Cree, son of Nicholas Cree and Keziah Dwinnell.  He was born 13 August 1727 in Topsfield, and died 15 April 1769 in Topsfield.  Five children born in Topsfield.

Generation 3: Stephen Cree m. Hannah Smith
Generation 4: Sarah Cree m. James Phillips
Generation 5: Hannah Phillips m. Capt. Thomas Russell Lewis
Generation 6:  Hannah Eliza Lewis m. Abijah Franklin Hitchings
Generation 7:  Arthur Treadwell Hitchings m. Florence Etta Hoogerzeil
Generation 8:  Gertrude Matilda Hitchings m. Stanley Elmer Allen (my grandparents)


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, “Surname Saturday ~ JOHNSON of Topsfield, Massachusetts”, Nutfield Genealogy, posted February 17, 2018, ( accessed [access date]). 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A Valentine from my Dad, through my Mom

Although my Dad passed away in 2002, a few years ago my mother gave my sister and I a lovely gift that used to belong to him.

My Dad's wedding ring was very wide, with unusual carved edges. My mother had a jeweler take my Dad's wedding ring and cut it in half lengthwise, and he shaped it into two hearts for her daughters to wear on chains.  It was a very precious gift from my Mom, and from my Dad.  I recognized it as being from Dad's ring as soon as I saw it.

I wear this around my neck often, and especially for every Valentine's Day, and it always makes me think of my Dad.

Do you have any vintage jewelry from family or ancestors that you have "re-purposed" or "updated" for modern wear?  Leave a comment below!

My parents wedding in 1958.  Can you see the ring?


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "A Valentine from my Dad, through my Mom", Nutfield Genealogy, posted February 14, 2018, ( accessed [access date]).

Weathervane Wednesday ~ A very short term weathervane

This week's weathervane is one that only appears for a few monthss in the winter in New Hampshire.  No, it's not a haunted house, nor is it an apparition from Brigadoon.  You can visit this weathervane, but do it soon before it disappears until next winter!  The photos this week were taken by a fellow New Hampshire blogger who lives nearby this mysterious weathervane.

I post another in a series of weather vane photographs every Wednesday.  This started with images of weathervanes from the Londonderry, New Hampshire area, but now I've found interesting weather vanes all across New England and across the globe.  Sometimes my weather vanes are whimsical, or historical, but all are interesting.  Often my readers tip me off to some very unique or unusual weathervanes, too!  If you know a great weather vane near you, let me know if you'd like to have it featured on this blog.

Today's weather vane was photographed somewhere in New Hampshire.

Do you know the location of weathervane post #350?  Scroll down to find the answer.

photo by Scott Powell

photo by Scott Powell

Although this is a simple gilded, arrow weathervane, it is it's location that makes this a fun find.  Scott Powell, a blogger and former Londonderry resident, but now living near Meredith Bay on Lake Winnipesaukee, took this photo during the annual ice fishing derby last week.  I recognize this ice shack, "The Lodge", from previous years, when it didn't have a weathervane.  Some of these shacks have been around for a long, long time.

Here are some photos from a previous year's ice fishing derby in Meredith Bay.  You can see that this particular ice shack is known as "The Lodge" and it didn't have a weathervane the last time we were up there for the fishing derby.  That's probably why it looks so shiny!  You have until April 1st to go up to the lake to see this weathervane, that is the date all bob houses must be removed, or before the lake thaws. 

"The Lodge" in 2010

In the photo below, the weathervane is just out of camera range.
This photo was posted online February 7, 2018 at 
Image from Bea Lewis "Thousands angling for good catches - and prizes
in Lakes Region fishing derby" , February 7, 2018

Scott Powell's blog is called the "Lake Wicwas Nature Journal".  He recently posted two stories about activities on the ice of Meredith Bay on Lake Winnipesaukee.  Scott has a lot of great photos on these blog posts. Please check it out!

"February 11, 2018 - Fishing Derby"

"February 4, 2018 - Pond Hockey" 


Heather Wilkinson Rojo and Scott Powell, "Weathervane Wednesday ~ A very short term weathervane",  Nutfield Genealogy, posted February 14, 2018,  ( accessed [access date]).

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Capt. Samuel and Mary Patten, Derry, New Hampshire

This tombstone was photographed at the Forest Hill Cemetery in East Derry, New Hampshire.

Who died
May 17, 1843
Who died
May 19, 1852
AEt 79

Brown and Eastman

Captain Samuel Patten, son of John Patten, the immigrant, and Jane Cochran, was born in Londonderry, New Hampshire in 1767 and died 17 May 1843 in Derry (formerly Londonderry), New Hampshire. (The father, John Patten, came from Northern Ireland around 1749/50)  Samuel Patten probably never moved his residence, the town of Londonderry split into two towns (Londonderry to the west, Derry to the east) during his lifetime.  He married Mary Bell and had six children.  Samuel and Mary’s gravestone was carved by Brown and Eastman, local stone carvers.

1. Moses, born 1796, married Emma Colvard
2. James, born 1797, married Mary Letitia Cochran
3. John, born 1798, married Lucy Nesmith
4. Eliza, born 1802, married John Crombie
5. Rebecca, born 1801, married Ninian Clark Crombie
6. Samuel, born 1809, married Julia A. Newton


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Tombstone Tuesday ~ Capt. Samuel and Mary Patten, Derry, New Hampshire", Nutfield Genealogy, posted February 13, 2018, ( accessed [access date]). 

Monday, February 12, 2018

An Update on The Meetinghouse at First Parish in Derry

This new 60 foot post was inserted
into the top of the First Parish church
tower by crane and lots of skill!
Lowering the post into position,
very carefully!
A skilled craftsman guiding
the new post into position

Exciting things have happened recently at the renovations of the Meetinghouse at First Parish in East Derry, New Hampshire.  Nearly 300 years ago Rev. James MacGregor brought his flock of Ulster Presbyterians from Northern Ireland to New England. After a cold welcome in Boston, and a rough winter in Maine, they found a home in Nutfield (now the towns of Londonderry, Derry and Windham) when they were granted land for settlement from Governor Shute of Massachusetts.  In April 1719 the first sixteen families arrived here, and on 11 April 1719 Rev. MacGregor gave his first sermon on the shore of Beaver Lake. 

This small congregation eventually built a small meetinghouse, and then second meetinghouse in 1769, which is the building still standing in East Derry. In 1822 this small meeting house was cut into two halves, and enlarged by adding a 24 foot section to the middle. A tower or steeple was added sometime later.  In 1845 a second floor was added, moving the church sanctuary upstairs, and town offices were placed downstairs.  In 1876 a bell and clock were added to the tower.  In 1884 stained glass windows were installed.

In recent years, the tower was repaired in the 1990s on the 275th anniversary of the parish.  These renovations proved to be damaging to the structure, and in 2013 -2014 a structural analysis fund that the tower needed stabilization, the roof slate needed to be removed and replaced, and other safety repairs were needed for the whole structure.  It was decided that a major renovation was needed.  In 2016 the entire building was lifted and the steeple top removed. The building sills were repaired, and a new foundation was poured.  Last year the tower base was reinforced with new beams.  In 2018 it is hoped that the tower will be finished and the steeple top returned to it’s place above the tower.

Last week, Paul Lindemann, the media contact for the Friends of The Meetinghouse at First Parish, gave me a tour of the building.  Work was going on while we there, to finish repairs on the tower base and first floor of the meetinghouse. Paul is an expert on the history of the building, and has been following the project for many years. The first three photos above, of the 60 foot new beam going into the tower, are from Paul's collection of photos of the renovation process. 

Inside the tower base, where the long
60 foot beams were lowered from the top
At some point in the past, the original
entrance to the meetinghouse was blocked by
a staircase to the tower.  This door will be
re-opened as part of the renovations, and
the staircase moved to a new location.
The tower base will become a new entry.

It was originally hoped that the entire project would be finished for the 300th anniversary of Nutfield in the year 2019.  However, many more renovation projects were discovered during the current rehabilitation of the building, which has caused a need for more fundraising for the project.   There is asbestos that needs to be removed or re-mediated.  Cracks to the plaster caused by lifting the building need repair.  The ceiling of the sanctuary needs renovation since it cracked and peeled while being unheated during the winter it was lifted.  The roof project has not been started yet.  Interior finishes such as new hallways, stairs, and an elevator to meet ADA codes have yet to be installed. All of this will take more time and money than originally planned. 

Rev. Dr. Deborah Root holds a timber peg that will be used to hold together the post and beam construction
of the First Church renovations.  For a donation, you can sign this peg and your name will become
part of the permanent structure of the First Parish Meetinghouse!  See below for details. 

Hopefully the local community, Nutfield descendants, and history buffs will support the Friends of the Meetinghouse at First Parish in their project to complete their renovations in a timely manner for the 300th anniversary in 2020.  It is expected that the project will move along enough for the bell to be rung on the anniversary of the first sermon on 11 April, and perhaps tours for the 300th anniversary celebrations even if the sanctuary interior renovations are not complete.

The MacGregor stained glass window
commemorates the first minister
of the First Parish church in 1719

The sanctuary of the First Parish awaits necessary renovations
before it can be used for worship services

When the first floor was built in 1769
pew boxes were installed in the hardwood floor.
You can see where those pew boxes used to exist.
The first floor will be renovated for community
use, which harkens back to the days when it
was used as the town hall or meetinghouse. 

Paul Lindemann, my tour guide, shows the rail from the rotting steeple,
and a piece of wainscotting from the first floor meeting room.
The window behind him used to serve as the East Derry post office.

Paul explained to me how this first floor area used to be the town hall,
and will become community space again after the renovations.

Important links:

Friends of the Meetinghouse at First Parish 501(c ) (3) : 

              Timber Peg Donations:   

Paul Lindemann’s blog  “Nutfield History”  

                Paul’s recent detailed blog post on the tower rehab project:

My previous blog posts about the renovation process at First Parish:
Sept. 17, 2015

Thank you to Paul Lindemann for the excellent tour of the meetinghouse, and for the first three photos at the top of this blog post (of the new beam being installed into the meetinghouse tower).


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, “An Update on The Meetinghouse at First Parish in Derry”, Nutfield Genealogy, posted February 12, 2018, ( accessed [access date]).