Life and Times of Edward Boling and Mary Wharton


Background

Recently, I updated a surname report to cover all 12, 495 persons in my ancestral tree, which has grown from 10,772 since I produced my first post on surnames in 2014. Based upon my analysis of surnames, it turns out that my father’s family was much larger than my mother’s.  And, the gender ratio among all surnames is 1.05 males for every female–very similar to the gender ratios that I found in the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook.

Top 50 Ancestral Surnames

My word cloud to the right represents today’s top 50 family surnames in my tree. The larger the word appears, the more people within my tree who had/have that surname.

And, the larger appearing names affirm why many of my blog posts to date have focused on my paternal Bolling, Chambers, and maternal Lathrop families.

Introducing Mary Wharton

In this post we will take a first look at the Wharton family branch that begins with my paternal great grandmother Mary Florence “Flossie” Wharton Bowling (1878-1928). Mary Wharton was born and lived her life in the now infamous area known as “The Wilderness,” in Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania County, Virginia.  Mary died at the age of 50 on January 1, 1929.  My father, her grandson, Frank Burton Boling was born just one month earlier on December 7, 1928.  The loss of the family’s mother possibly explains why we know only what I have been able to piece together through my personal research.  You see, typically the women in the family hand down the family stories through the generations.  In this instance, neither my dad’s paternal grandmother or his natural mother were a part of his life.

The facts I  assembled show that Mary Wharton was 20 years old when she married Edward “Bud” Vincent Bowling (May 9, 1898), in Spotsylvania County, Virginia.   It could be that Edward and Mary married in Eley’s Ford Baptist Church on Eley’s Ford Road in Fredericksburg, near the Chancellorsville Battlefield, where they and their families had lived and attended church there for generations.

Eley's Ford Baptist ChurchWe first visited Eley’s Ford Baptist Church in the Fall of 1981. Many of the graves in this churchyard have Bowling,  Bolling, or Boling surnames on their headstones  (including my great grandparents). Many other headstones, as we later learned have different surnames but are relatives through neighbors marrying neighbors.  What’s interesting about Mary Florence’s (or “Flossie,” as her husband called her) is that her surname is spelled “Boling,” instead of “Bowling” as her surname was spelled on most records about her.  This tells me that one of her seven living children at the time who spelled their surnames as “Boling,” filled out the request for the headstone.  Further, the year of her death was inscribed as “1928,” instead of “1929” as appears on her death certificate–this could have been the stone writer’s error because she died on the first day of the new year.

Mary and her husband Edward had eight children (5 boys and 3 girls) during their 30 years of marriage.  Their eldest child was Evelyn Barber Bowling (1899-1919).  She married Varian Mansfield Chewning when she was just 16.  Two years later in Chancellorsville, Evelyn gave birth to their son, Leslie Varian Chewning, who remained in Fredericksburg throughout his 83 years on this earth.  Evelyn was just 20, when she took sick with the flu.  It developed into pneumonia and she passed in the cold of winter on January 26, 1919.

003My paternal grandfather, Jesse Burton Boling, was Mary and Edward’s second child and firstborn son.  At age 26, sometime in the year 1928, Jesse moved away from Virginia and married Helen Louise Chambers.   They moved to the District of Columbia and a few years later crossed the District Line and moved into Maryland.   Jesse’s mom, Mary, was 50 years old when she passed away on January 1, 1929 in Chancellorsville.  Just as her daughter had done in January ten years earlier, Mary developed a flu that turned into pneumonia and she succumbed to it.

Jesse was a farm hand as a boy, and thus had only a second grade education.  He probably learned carpentry and cabinet making from his father, Edward.  Yet, we don’t know anything about their relationship or Edward’s relationship with his other children. Death records show that widower great grandfather Edward died of heart disease and congestive heart failure at age 74 on July 11, 1946–18-1/2 years after his wife Mary had passed.  His death fell just one day shy of a week after my parents Frank Boling and Norma Ford eloped to Ellicott City, Maryland, to marry.  Edward Vincent Bud BolingEdward’s headstone is next to Mary’s and one of 131 other interments in Eley’s Ford Baptist Churchyard Cemetery.  Most of them probably relatives.

I asked my dad today if he had ever heard or known any stories or facts about his grandparents. He said his dad, Jesse, never talked about either Edward or Mary.  I asked if he had ever visited them in Fredericksburg where his dad grew up. He said he remembers only one visit.  Dad and grandfather Jesse took a train from Union Station in the District of Columbia to Fredericksburg to visit his father Edward.  At the time, my dad said this visit must have taken place when he was a young teen because it occurred before my dad met my mother at age 15, which would have made it somewhere around 1942 or 1943, I’m guessing.  The only memory that sticks out in dad’s mind about this visit is that his grandfather was chewing tobacco.  He made only a couple of other visits there during the 1950’s and 1960’s to attend family funerals (probably his uncles). And, this is when I first learned what little I know about Fredericksburg and Eley’s Ford Road.

With so very little to go on regarding Mary Wharton’s Family, I  have started digging deeper.  From The Doomsday Book of 1086, The Wharton family’s earliest origins were found in towns and civil parishes named after them (located in Westmorland, Cheshire, and Lincolnshire, Counties, England). And this is where I will pick up in my next post.

Just maybe, over time and among my blog readers, a Wharton relative may pop up and give me some more detailed stories about Bud and Mary’s children and their lives together.

 

 

 

It’s Graduation Season – Whatever Happened To The Class of ’65?


Paying Homage to a Graduate for a Job Well Done! 

This Sunday, we went with our daughter and two of our teenaged grandchildren to a high school graduation party to honor an outstanding senior from our church family whose parents have every right to be very proud of her scholastic accomplishments, God-given talents and exemplary citizenship skills like: honesty, compassion, respect, responsibility, and courage.  She is entitled to hold her head high because she worked hard and has earned this privilege.  She is one of a select few young people these days who has survived and even thrived despite our badly broken world and need for positive and productive role models.  She aspires to be a civil engineer and leaves home to go out into the world on her own for college in just a short two months.  We wish her much continued success.

Reflecting Back to my Graduating Class of 1965 

Yes, this graduation party for this young prospering person drove me to reflect backwards 52 years to 1965–to my high school days, my friends, our talents and skills, and to our world and aspirations for life when we were 17 and 18 and graduating from high school.

Looking at the changes in our culture, I can readily see

Where our world and society during the last 35 years of the 20th century was definitely experiencing growing pains.  There was:

  • Widespread civil unrest
  • Women were leaving their homes and children to become part of the professional workforce
  • People were unhappy about “an unnecessary war that we didn’t belong in.”
  • There were equal rights movements;
  • More sexual freedom and sexually transmitted diseases
  • Draft card and flag burning demonstrations;
  • Socially acceptable drug use was on the rise;
  • There was rioting in the streets, sit-ins to fight racism and other inequalities;
  • College kids shooting other college kids on campuses.
  • And, yes, the Selective Service Act of May 18, 1917, was active.  Kids straight out of high school were drafted and within a few short weeks after graduation sent to Asia as soldiers to fight a war that many Americans didn’t understand.

Today’s youth are in the midst of a culture that includes:

  • Different family structures; many are broken or more dysfunctional;
  • Increased lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender freedoms have some youth confused
  • Sedentary, isolated youth have become obese because of their fast-paced, fast foods lifestyles and addictions to today’s electronic devices;
  • A society that promotes materialism where youth are taught by example to measure their successes and happiness in life by how much stuff they have;
  • Alcohol and drug abuse are at crisis levels;
  • Youth having to deal with adult issues far too early in their lives;
  • Bullying, shootings, stabbings, fighting, suicides, and gangs–all begin as early as elementary school;
  • Today’s kids stress over schedules where their time is over-committed–they are involved in competing activities, while feeling the need to succeed in all areas of their lives;
  • Differentiation between “good” and “bad” or “real” and “fake”news is difficult to discern with all the media spins and political mudslinging in today’s world?
  • And, quite frankly, too many Americans are simply overworked, underpaid, and isolated from the rest of the world and from each other, chasing pipe dreams that may never come true, while ignoring other priorities in their lives.

So you decide.  Were our twentieth century times safer, easier, or better than those of teenagers graduating today, or were they just different or equally challenging?

In many respects, all people’s lives are more chaotic, stressful, and plainly more difficult than in the 1960’s just because of readily available media and technology; and more global awareness of, and differences in and interactions between economies, social, and governing cultures.

Yet, still preying heavy on my heart and mind are my family, friends, and fellow classmates who went straight from graduating high school into a war torn country over 8,000 miles away–many of whom had never been away from home before.  And many who didn’t understand and didn’t volunteer to serve, but rather, they were drafted.  And, too many who gave their all only to never return home again.  And all who gave some, including those who suffered physical wounds, loss of sight or limbs, and even their minds and/or peace of minds from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  As Civil War Union General William Tecumseh Sherman, first said “War is hell.”

Findings About PTSD From the 2015 National Vietnam Veterans Longitudinal Study

Approximately 271,000 Vietnam theater veterans have current full PTSD plus subthreshold war-zone PTSD, one-third of whom have current major depressive disorder, 42 or more years after the war. These findings underscore the need for mental health services for many decades for veterans with PTSD symptoms.

The following video was made from the song titled “19,” and published in 1985 (20 years after the fighting began in what is now known as the Vietnam War).  It was written by: Paul Hardcastle, William D. Couturie, Michael Gordon Oldfield, and Jonas Mccord.

 The lyrics follow and perfectly depict those times and sentiments: 

In 1965, Vietnam seemed like just another foreign war but it wasn’t . . .
It was different in many ways, as so were those that did the fighting
In World War II the average age of the combat soldier was 26
In Vietnam he was 19
In-in-in Vietnam he was 19
The shooting and fighting of the past two weeks continued today
25 miles west of Saigon
I really wasn’t sure what was going on
Ni-ni-ni 19, 19, ni-19 19In Vietnam the combat soldier typically served
A twelve month tour of duty
But was exposed to hostile fire almost everyday
Ni-ni-ni 19, Ni-ni-ni 19
Hundreds of thousands of men who saw heavy combat
In Vietnam were arrested since discharge
Their arrest rate is almost twice that of non-veterans of the same age
There are no accurate figures of how many of these men
Have been incarcerated
But a Veterans Administration study
Concludes that the greater of vets
Exposure to combat the more likely it could affect his chances
Of being arrested or convictedThis is one legacy of the Vietnam WarAll those who remember the war
They won’t forget what they’ve seen
Destruction of men in their prime
Whose average was 19De-de-destruction
De-de-destruction
War, warDe-de-destruction, wa, wa, war, wa, war, war
De-de-destruction
War, warAfter World War II the men came home together on troop ships
But the Vietnam vet often arrived home within 48 hours of jungle combat
Perhaps the most dramatic difference between
World War II and Vietnam was coming home
None of them received a hero’s welcomeNone of them received a heroes welcome, none of them, none of them
Ne-ne-ne, ne-ne-ne, none of them, none of them, none of them
None of them received a hero’s welcome
None of them received a hero’s welcome

According to a Veteran’s Administration study
Half of the Vietnam combat veterans suffered from what
Psychiatrists call
Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder

Many vets complain of alienation, rage or guilt
Some succumb to suicidal thoughts
Eight to ten years after coming home
Almost eight hundred thousand men are still fighting the Vietnam War

De-de-destruction
Ni-ni-ni 19, 19, ni19 19
Ni-ni-ni 19, 19, ni-19 19

When we came back it was different, everybody wants to know
“How’d it happened to those guys over there?
There’s gotta be something wrong somewhere
We did what we had to do

There’s gotta be something wrong somewhere
People wanted us to be ashamed of what it made us
Dad had no idea what he went to fight and he is now
All we want to do is come home

All we want to do is come home
What did we do it for?
All we want to do is come home
Was it worth it

America’s Wars: U.S. Casualties and Veterans

The table below has information about the total number of service members, battle deaths, and non-mortal woundings in wars from 1775 to 2012; such as the American Revolution, the Civil War, World War I and II, Vietnam, and more.

American Revolution (1775-1783)
Total servicemembers 217,000
Battle deaths 4,435
Nonmortal woundings 6,188
War of 1812 (1812-1815)
Total servicemembers 286,730
Battle deaths 2,260
Nonmortal woundings 4,505
Indian Wars (approx. 1817-1898)
Total servicemembers 106,0001
Battle deaths 1,0001
Mexican War (1846-1848)
Total servicemembers 78,718
Battle deaths 1,733
Other deaths in service (nontheater) 11,550
Nonmortal woundings 4,152
Civil War (1861-1865)
Total servicemembers (Union) 2,213,363
Battle deaths (Union) 140,414
Other deaths in service (nontheater) (Union) 224,097
Nonmortal woundings (Union) 281,881
Total servicemembers (Conf.) 1,050,000
Battle deaths (Conf.) 74,524
Other deaths in service (nontheater) (Conf.) 59,2972
Nonmortal woundings (Conf.) unknown
Spanish-American War (1898-1902)
Total servicemembers 306,760
Battle deaths 385
Other deaths in service (nontheater) 2,061
Nonmortal woundings 1,662
World War I (1917-1918)3
Total servicemembers 4,734,991
Battle deaths 53,402
Other deaths in service (nontheater) 63,114
Nonmortal woundings 204,002
Living veterans 0
World War II (1940-1945)3
Total servicemembers 16,112,566
Battle deaths 291,557
Other deaths in service (nontheater) 113,842
Nonmortal woundings 671,846
Living veterans 1,711,0001
Korean War (1950-1953)
Total servicemembers 5,720,000
Serving in-theater 1,789,000
Battle deaths 33,739
Other deaths in service (theater) 2,835
Other deaths in service (nontheater) 17,672
Nonmortal woundings 103,284
Living veterans 2,275,000
Vietnam War (1964-1975)
Total servicemembers 8,744,000
Serving in-theater 3,403,000
Battle deaths 47,434
Other deaths in service (theater) 10,786
Other deaths in service (nontheater) 32,000
Nonmortal woundings 153,303
Living veterans 7,391,0001,6
Gulf War (1990-1991)
Total servicemembers 2,322,000
Serving in-theater 694,550
Battle deaths 148
Other deaths in service (theater) 235
Other deaths in service (nontheater) 1,565
Nonmortal woundings 467
Living veterans 2,244,5831,6
America’s Wars Total (1775–1991)
Military service during war 41,892,128
Battle deaths 651,031
Other deaths in service (theater) 308,800
Other deaths in service (nontheater) 230,254
Nonmortal woundings 1,430,290
Living war veterans 16,962,0004
Living veterans 23,234,000
Global War on Terror 5
Total Servicemembers (Worldwide) (as of Sept. 2011) 1,468,364
Deployed to Iraq (Operation New Dawn) (as of Dec. 31, 2011) 0
Deployed to Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom) (as of June 2011) 45,000
Battle Deaths 5,078
Other Deaths (In Theater) 1,378
Non-mortal Woundings 48,104
1. Estimate based upon new population projection methodology.
2. Estimated figure. Does not include 26,000-31,000 who died in Union prisons.
3. Years of U.S. involvement in war.
4. Total will be more than sum of conflicts due to no “end date” established for Persian Gulf War.
5. October 7, 2001 through May 29, 2012 (unless otherwise indicated). Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation New Dawn.
6. Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) estimate, as of 4/09, does not include those still on active duty and may include veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Source: Department of Defense and Veterans Administration.

See also Post-Vietnam Combat Casualties.

 

 

“Operation Rolling Thunder”


Skip Jack Chapter - 05-28-2017 Pentagon Parking Lot

North Pentagon Parking Lot,  5/28/2017

For many Vietnam War veterans, the hostile reception they received when they returned home from this war remains vivid in their hearts and minds. This past weekend, my husband Bob, now a spry 73, and a former Marine from the Vietnam War Era  (February 28, 1961 to May 7, 1975), was just one of about 900,000 motorcycle riders (statistic from: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/gallery/2017/may/29/30th-rolling-thunder-ride-in-pictures), who paraded in the “Ride for Freedom,” through the streets of Washington, DC. on Sunday, May 28, 2017 as part of the annual Rolling Thunder Demonstration Ride.

“Operation Rolling Thunder” was the title of a gradual and sustained aerial bombardment campaign conducted by U.S. and the Republic of Vietnam Militaries  against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) during the Vietnam War (from March 2, 1965 until November 2 1968). Who knows, this might have been the origin for this now 30 year old gradual but sustained demonstration held annually in Washington, DC on the Sunday before Memorial Day each year.

Bob2Motorcycle06-04-2017I usually don’t write about Bob in my posts, but I thought I would say a little something about this 30-year-old commemorative ride because it is so near and dear to his heart. In fact, at least one of his motorcycle riding buddies (from the Skipjack Chapter of the Nam Knights of America Benevolent Organization), has ridden in this parade every year since 1988–the first year of the “Rolling Thunder” demonstration ride. Further, the Nam Knights Motorcycle Club formed in New Jersey in 1989 just shortly after  New Jerseyan and 1968 Bronze Star Medal recipient Ray Manzo (a combat engineer from Company B, 7th Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division), first visited Washington, DC to see the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.   There, Ray experienced an all-consuming drive to right an unfathomable wrong–Our country had reneged on its sacred vow to its warriors “to leave no man behind”.

 The Rolling Thunder Concept: 1987

Ray Manzo_edited

Ray Manzo

In September 1987, Manzo heard about a Vietnam Veterans Motorcycle Club prisoners of war, “POW Vigil,” being held in Asbury Park, N.J.  And, there, in Manzo’s mind, he crystallized a concept for a massive demonstration by thousands of bikers to stir the country to not forget about POWs and MIAs left behind in Vietnam.  Ray went home and wrote hundreds of letters to military and veterans organizations, congressmen, senators, newspapers and magazines, and a handful of biker magazines.  Then, on Memorial Day in 1988, Manzo’s dream of  thousands of bikers assembling in the Pentagon Parking Lot, crossing the Arlington Cemetery Memorial Bridge to the Lincoln Memorial, riding past the White House and Capitol and then back to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall became a reality.  On that Sunday before Memorial Day in 1988, there were an estimated 2,500 bikers who had been inspired by Manzo’s call.  By 1992 there were over 40,000 bikers and now 30 years later–there were one million bikers and spectators!

2002

Staff Sgt Tim Chambers 2016

Staff Sgt Tim Chambers 2016

In 2002, Tim Chambers, Marine Corps Staff Sgt. (retired), first wore his dress blues to the Rolling Thunder demonstration. “I was going to go around, shake some hands, tell these veterans ‘Thank you,’ he told Vietnam Magazine. “Then I saw all these vets zooming by on motorcycles. I popped out and started saluting.” He’s been the “Saluting Marine” at Rolling Thunder, and other events, ever since, holding his salute for the approximate four hours as bikers roll by.  And, in 2016’s event, he married his bride right where he has stood and honored fellow veterans for the past 15 years, and together they stood there until the last biker had passed them.

Now Rolling Thunder has evolved into an emotional display of patriotism and respect for all who defend our country.

Another MIA Just Returned . . .

william-ryan

1st Lt. Willam (Billy Ryan)

On May 10, 2017, just days before this now infamous motorcycle riders’ demonstration to keep the memories of our Vietnam warriors ever present, my husband Bob and nearly 100 fellow bikers proudly escorted the remains of Marine Corps Reserve 1st Lt. William (Billy) Ryan, of Bogota, N.J.,  from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware where he arrived back in America to Arlington National Cemetery.  

The Defense Department’s POW/MIA Accounting Agency had conducted DNA tests to confirm his identity.  On May 11, 1969, the day Ryan’s plane crashed while he was on board during a combat mission in southern Laos near the Vietnam border, Ryan was just 25 years old.  This day was also just one day after his baby son Michael had celebrated his first birthday, 48 years ago. Lt. Ryan’s aircraft was pulling out of a bombing run when it was hit by enemy fire. The pilot bailed out and was rescued. According to military investigators who went to the Laos crash site in 1990, they found and identified Ryan’s plane seat. Investigators went back to the site six more times from May 2012 to January 2016 continuing their search for Ryan’s remains.  And in April 2017, they identified Ryan’s remains through DNA tests and notified his son Michael immediately. Unfortunately, the next day Ryan’s widow, Judith, was diagnosed with stage-4 stomach cancer.  But, finally on May 10th, 2017, on the eve of the 48th anniversary of his plane’s crash, Billy Ryan was returned back to his country’s land and was finally laid to rest–one soldier less who had been left behind!

After 30 years, progress has been made but the mission endures for Rolling Thunder . . .

Soldiers of Wars Still Unaccounted for:  82,545

Soldiers of War Unaccount For 05-23-2017

Source: http://www.dpaa.mil/Our-Missing/Past-Conflicts (5/23/17)

WWII: 73,057
Korea: 7,747
Vietnam: 1,610
Cold War: 126 
Gulf Wars: 5
El Dorado Canyon: 1

Names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, DC: 58,318
(As of Memorial Day 2017)

–Source: http://www.vvmf.org/FAQs

“Jury Finds Mary Bliss Parsons Not Guilty of Witchcraft”


Mass Moments is a project of Mass Humanities, whose mission is to support programs that use history, literature, philosophy, and the other humanities disciplines to enhance and improve civic life throughout the Commonwealth. Mass Humanities receives support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Massachusetts Cultural Council as well as private sources. This project is funded in part by a grant from the “We the People” Initiative at NEH. Mass Moments project launched its electronic almanac of Massachusetts history—on January 1, 2005.  I subscribe to their  posts because many of my ancestors emigrated to Plymouth aboard the Mayflower ship and contributed to the development of New England.  In this historic instance, however, my ninth great maternal aunt, Mary Bliss Parsons, finds herself, not once, but twice, accused of being a witch!  Today’s Mass Moments article (below) expands on some of my earlier posts.

On This Day . . .

 May 13, 1675, a Boston jury reached a verdict in the case of Mary Bliss Parsons of Northampton: they found her not guilty of witchcraft. In seventeenth-century New England, virtually everyone believed in witches. Hundreds of individuals faced charges of practicing witchcraft. They were women, or sometimes men, who had “signed the Devil’s Book” and were working on his behalf. Their wickedness was blamed for calamities ranging from ailing animals to the death of infant children. While most of the accused never went to trial or were, like Mary Parsons, acquitted, not everyone was so lucky. Six Massachusetts women were hanged as witches in the years before the infamous Salem witch trials, which claimed 24 innocent lives.

Background . . .

Colonial Massachusetts has a well-deserved reputation as a litigious culture; fortunately it was also a record-keeping one. County courthouses are full of 300 year-old documents — depositions, trial transcripts, judges’ orders — that allow historians to reconstruct the stories of the people accused of witchcraft. One of the best documented, and most unusual, is the case of Mary Bliss Parsons of Northampton.

Mary Bliss and Joseph Parsons married in Hartford in 1646. After several years in Springfield, the Parsons family, which now included three children, moved to Northampton, a brand new settlement some 20 miles up the Connecticut River.

Joseph Parsons soon became one of Northampton’s leading citizens. A successful merchant, he served as a selectman and on the committee to build the first meetinghouse. Since the Parsons also owned the first tavern in town, they were right in the thick of things.

Another couple, Sarah and James Bridgman, followed a similar route but had a very different experience than the Parsons. They also wed in Hartford, moved to Springfield, and then onto Northampton, where a feud developed between the two families.

Soon after arriving in Northampton, Mary Parsons gave birth to a son, the first English child born in the town. That same month, Sarah Bridgman had a baby boy. When he died two weeks later, she claimed it was the result of Mary’s witchcraft. Rumors began to swirl about the town. Joseph Parsons decided to go on the offensive. He charged James Bridgman with slander for spreading rumors about Mary Parsons’s alleged witchcraft.

Even though juries usually sided with the plaintiff in such cases, Joseph Parsons was taking a risk by bringing rumors to the attention of officials. Authorities might decide there was merit to the accusations, and the plaintiff could suddenly find herself the defendant.

The case was heard at the Magistrates’ Court in Cambridge in October 1656; 33 depositions were given. Almost half of Northampton’s 32 households sent a witness; a few others came from Springfield.

Sarah Bridgman related her tale of how in May 1654 she heard a “great blow on the door” and immediately sensed a change in her newborn. Then she saw “two women pass by the door with white clothes on their heads.” The women disappeared, and Bridgman concluded her son would die because “there [was] wickedness in the place.”

Such testimony was the norm in witch trials. An argument took place, and when something went awry later, people attributed the problem to witchcraft. One Northampton woman testified that the yarn she had spun for Mary Parsons ended up full of knots. Since the yarn the woman spun for others had no knots, she concluded that Mary’s witchcraft was the cause. Another woman blamed Mary Parson when her daughter fell ill shortly after she had refused to let the girl work for Parsons. One man stated that the day after “some discontent[ed] words passed” between himself and Mary Parsons, he found his cow in the yard “ready to die,” which it did two weeks later.

A number of people testified in Mary Parsons’s defense. Three women described Sarah Bridgman’s baby as “sick as soon as it was born.” A neighbor stated that the cow in question had died of “water in the belly.” The court ruled in favor of the Parsons. The Bridgmans were given the choice of paying a fine or making a public apology. They paid the fine.

The feud and Mary Parsons’s ordeal resumed 18 years later, in 1674, when the Bridgmans’ son-in-law filed a new complaint. He “strongly suspect[ed] that [his wife] died by some unusuall meanes, viz, by means of some evell Instrument.” The instrument he had in mind was Mary Bliss Parsons.

On January 5, 1675, the county magistrates summoned Mary to appear before them. Women searched her body for “witch’s teats,” unexplained (to seventeenth-century eyes) protrusions where “imps” were said to suck. The record is silent as to what they did or did not find, but in March the Court of Assistants in Boston sent Mary Parsons to prison to await trial. The records from this trial do not survive, but we know that on May 13, 1675, a jury found her not guilty.

The Parsons returned to Northampton, but in 1679 or 1680, they moved back to Springfield, perhaps to escape the rumors that continued to dog them. Mary Bliss Parsons was in her mid-80s when she died in 1712.

Although Mary Parsons occupied a far more secure social position than almost all of the other women charged with witchcraft in early New England — after all, she was the wife of one of the richest, most respected men in western Massachusetts — her experience fit the norm in other ways. Middle-aged women were the most likely to be accused of witchcraft. The issues of jealousy, personal animosity, and family feuds that were so evident in her case would fuel the Salem witch hysteria of 1692 as well.

The horror that began in Salem Village (present day Danvers) and spread to almost every town in Essex county saw women, children, and men, including the former minister of Salem Village, hauled before magistrates. At one point some 170 accused witches were being held in jails in Ipswich, Salem, Boston, and Cambridge. Between June and September of 1692, authorities hanged 19 people and pressed one to death; four more died in prison, awaiting trial. In 1693 the madness ended. There would be no more convictions and executions for witchcraft in New England, although it would be another century before the belief in witches lost its hold on the people of the region.

Sources

A Delusion of Satan, by Frances Hill (Da Capo Press, 1997).

Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England, by John Putman Demos (Oxford University Press, 1982).

“The Goody Parsons Witchcraft Case: A Journey to Seventeenth-Century Northampton.” Available online.

A House, A Mouse, And Antics of a Grandchild


This video of a cute little live “Ratatouille” rat.  It brings back memories of what was supposed to be a funny joke and a memorable family story. Well, it was memorable, but not because it was funny.

There we were, a close knit family–the patriarch, the matriarch, their three children, and all nine of their grandchildren.  It was a typical Sunday, which in the 1980’s meant the parents hosted family time and dinner for the children and their grandchildren.  Our son, Jeff, was about 12 or so. Jeff  as usual had found an animal.  This time, it was a field mouse and he brought it into Mammaw’s house to share his find with the rest of the family.

As a joke, Jeff placed the mouse on the end table next to the chair where she always sat. And, when she sat down, Jeff said something like “Hey, mammaw, don’t be a-f-r-a-i-d–and don’t look to your r-i-g-h-t, but there’s a m-o-u-s-e–.” Mammaw instantaneously reacted with fear and panic as soon as she saw Jeff muttering the word “afraid,”  which triggered a seizure and in no time she was laid out on the floor, passed out, and recovering while her body was still tremoring.  And, it wasn’t until then, that the family advised Jeff that mammaw was deathly afraid of mice and that any startling situation might lead to a seizure.

Despite all the things that mammaw can no longer remember, I think she still remembers this incident.  And, in fact, she has never forgiven Jeff for one of her most embarrassing moments in her life.  She still believes his actions were mean and intentional vs. just another funny antic from her preteen grandson.

If only Jeff had placed this poor defenseless mouse near someone else’s seat.  Then, we probably would have partaken of a scene similar to the one in the video, above.

“Is Genesis History?”


It’s Friday night and many from our church met in the auditorium for yet another FREE MOVIE NIGHT!  Tonight we going to get to see the much awaited viewing of the new compelling and perhaps controversial documentary movie Is Genesis History?.

The film’s title is  a double entendre, or play on words.  In my initial reading of the title, I inferred that the subject matter would question the significance and foundation of Christianity in today’s world.  When I viewed a few trailers from the film, I decided it was more about the relevance and credibility of the history as presented in the bible’s Book of Genesis.  It is both . . .

Dr. Del Tackett

Dr. Del Tackett

In a series of interviews with over a dozen scientists and scholars (archaeologist, astronomer, atmospheric physicist, biologist, geologist, herbraist, microbiologist, marine biologist, computer scientist, mechanical engineer, paleontologist, pastor, philosopher of science, taphonomist, and theologian), Dr. Del Tackett, creator of “The Truth Project, serves as a guide to help viewers understand how the world intersects with the bible’s Book of Genesis by exploring two competing views about how earth and its inhabitants came into being.

The interviews probe over 30 fairly complex topics to help us better understand each of them.  Among the topics:  the big bang, evolution, fossil records, paradigms, scientific dating methods, and major biblical historical events.

About the Bible’s Book of Genesis

The Book of Genesis answers the question, “Where did all this come from?” It is the first book of the bible and the first of Moses’ five books that make up his Pentateuch. Genesis is the story of how Israel began as a nation, described through a series of beginnings—starting with the creation of the universe and following a series of genealogies within of one family.

Some Background

The film explores two basic views about the history of the earth, with the fundamental difference being about the explanations of historical time vs. conventional time through scientific dating methods.

  1. In the historical book of Genesis, we are taught that the earth and universe are less than 10,000 years old and events recorded occurred in a literal way.
  2. In the conventional teachings about the earth and its times, we have been taught that the earth is about 4.5 billion years old and the universe 13.7 billion years.

My Conclusions

This film’s coverage on the subject was very comprehensive and extremely well organized.  It helped me better grasp both complex biblical and scientific topics. 

I very much favor the film’s website and its accompanying resources (that include a church and group/family discussion guide) for those who want to delve deeper into the topics and/or just reflect back on them.

In fact, our area’s churches are organizing discussion groups for those who want to learn more or just express their views about the film and its content, giving us yet another opportunity to get to know others within biblical community settings.

Thank you Jeremy Robinson for coordinating this event and  Chesapeake Church for giving us the privilege to learn more about these competing perspectives of who we are and how we got here. Genesis encourages me to continue trusting my faith in God and religion over the scientific world’s perspective that excludes God from its thinking. It reinforced for me the importance of reading, knowing, and better understanding those historical biblical writings.  The big flood or some other literally earth-shattering event may likely come again during my lifetime.  Until then, I will strive to understand the natural world as the bible teaches about it as best I can.

Ancestry.com’s Newest Mobile App Identifies Iconic Ancestors and Relatives


An End to Years of Tedious Research?

Over the course of my 35+ often tedious years of researching and documenting family histories, obviously I have discovered many ancestors and even living relatives who I wasn’t aware were connected to our family.  Nevertheless, during their lives for whatever reason(s), they left indelible marks on our world’s history and in some instances our “pop” culture.

If we look back at my blog over the past 5+ years, we can see that many of my 325+ posts have focused on the more famous characters–those who made an impact on me or society because they attained great knowledge or fame through their leadership, their bravery, their innovation and perseverance through difficult times, their specific skills and contributions to a particular field or study, or their God-given callings and talents that helped make them extraordinary persons in the eyes of their peers.

We’re Related App

To both my joy and sorrow, Ancestry recently released a new FREE mobile app, “We’re Related.” The ease of this app quickly puts new and interesting relationship details in your hands that once took decades to uncover.   It finds discoveries that you never would have expected; i.e., you are related to famous people, or you’re related to friends within your social media circles.

I allowed the app to access to my already public ancestry tree that goes back generations.  Almost instantly it started notifying me of new finds about possible relatives through shared common ancestors.  While I haven’t yet shared any new relationship discoveries on Facebook, Snapchat or other social media, the capabilities and options to do so are there.

The app’s look and feel and overall navigation options are outstanding –  easy, simple, intuitive, with options for feedback.  It is loads of fun and may be “for entertainment only,” but for a serious genealogist it can be a tool for research, too.

This is a screenshot of one of my suggested relatives, former Sex Symbol of the 1950s and 1960s: “Marilyn Monroe.”  While not shown here, there are icons below the narrative, to allow you to check the branching of relatives from you back to a relative in common with the notable person; a button that links me back into my tree for further exploration; a share button to allow you to share via the usual social media sources, an emoji heart-shape to recommend the app to others; and, opportunities to select and/or invite friends to join in on the fun or to see if you are related to the friend.  There’s also a statistical chart that breaks down all suggested relatives by their occupations; e.g., I have 14 identified relatives.  The breakdown is as follows:

  1. All – gives you the total count of relatives suggested, in my example – 14
  2. Favorites – indicates those that you marked as “favorite” upon reviewing them
  3. Facebook – tells you how many of your relatives are from Facebook – 1
  4. Nearby – How many relatives live nearby- 0
  5. Actors & Actresses  – In my example, I have 5
  6. Authors & Writers – In my example, 2
  7. Business Magnates – 1
  8. Musicians and Composers – 2
  9. Politicians – 3
  10. US Presidents & First Ladies – 1
  11. Arts and Architects – 0
  12. Crime Fighters and Lawyers – 0
  13. Criminals, Eccentrics, and Oddities – 0
  14. Educators – 0
  15. Entertainers and Magicians – 0
  16. Historical Figures –  (this should be 2, but it says 0) what would you call Ben Franklin and Winston Churchill?
  17. Journalists – 0 (Ben Franklin was also a journalist)
  18. Medal of Honor Recipients -0
  19. Military Figures – 0
  20. Philanthropists – 0 (this should say 1) Bill Gates
  21. Religious Figures – 0
  22. Royalty – 0
  23. Scientists and Inventors – 0 (again, Ben Franklin)
  24. Social Reformers – 0
  25. Sports Figures – 0
  26. U.S. Supreme Court Justices – 0
  27. Victim – 0

The following link takes you to the list I created by extracting an individual relative’s information from the app.  I hope you enjoy and will send me your thoughts and feedback.

Famous Relatives Identified by Ancestry.com’s -Possible Relatives- App – Sheet1

Back From the Future – Part 3 (With John Rolfe and Pocahontas)


I wish to thank my dear friend, retired College Lecturer, and fellow Pocahontas research enthusiast, Christine Dean, for her ongoing updates about happenings in and around her hometown of  Heacham, Norfolk, England.  From her undaunting energy and perseverance while delving into local legends about Pocahontas and John Rolfe, I am able to bring you new posts that allow us to travel back from the future and into the past based on new details and discoveries provided to me with the help of Christine in our present day.

So let’s begin Part 3 of this journey back from the future in the year 1597.  Here, we find John Rolfe, age 12, living at Heacham Hall with his mother Dorothea Mason Rolfe Redmayne, (who had been widowed in 1594 at the death of John’s father (Sir Johannes Eustacius “John” Rolfe), and with his stepfather,  Dr. Robert Redmayne (since his mother’s marriage to him in 1595).  Robert Redmayne had been Chancellor at Norwich Cathedral since 1588.  His chancellorship went on to span 37 years and five bishops including a family relative, Bishop William Redman (1595-1602), who chose to spell his name as it sounded. It would be only 12 years later when the U.S. and Canada, Passenger and Immigration records would show that John Rolfe arrived in Jamestown, Virginia.  In fact, pages 15-21 of this reference include the persons aboard the Sea Venture, which left Britain in 1609 for Jamestown but was wrecked off Bermuda. And, specific names appear on pages 16 and 17, with genealogies of some of the passengers on succeeding pages.

Six years later in 1615, biographical histories have documented a visit to Heacham Hall in Norfolk County, England, by John Rolfe, his wife Pocahontas, and their infant son Thomas Rolfe.  This visit lasted nearly two years–from early June 1615 until March 1617.  Unfortunately Pocahontas died in January 1617, leaving her husband, John, a widow with their two-year-old son, Thomas.  Shortly after Pocahontas’ death, John Rolfe departed England to return to Jamestown, Virginia.  John left his son, two-year-old Thomas, in London, in the care of Sir Lewis Stukley.  Upon Sir Lew Stukley’s death in 1620, Thomas’ guardianship was transferred to John  Rolfe’s, two-years’ his junior, younger brother, Henry Rolfe, until Thomas was 21.  And in 1635, passenger and immigration records show that Thomas Powhatan Rolfe arrived in Virginia.

But Wait, Our Story in England Isn’t Yet Finished–We’re Gonna Be Talk’n ‘Trees’

The mulberry tree in the grounds of Heacham Manor (far right of building) Picture: Chris Bishop

The mulberry tree in the grounds of Heacham Manor. Picture: Chris Bishop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heacham Manor Hotel 3

Today’s luxurious Heacham Manor Hotel

A four hundred year old legend exists.  It tells of the Rolfe’s now infamous visit to Heacham Village and adds trees into the mix of our family’s history–and not branches of our ancestry tree. But, literally a living mulberry tree and its branches.  A tree that Pocahontas is said to have planted at Heacham Hall during her stay there.  And today, 400 years later, the manor and villagers say this same mulberry tree  remains and is thriving beside the Heacham Manor Hotel main entrance.  

But wait–what if this mulberry tree could talk–what might it tell us?

Palace of WhitehallPrincess Pocahontas is said to have visited Queen Anne and King James I on Twelfth Night 6th January 1617 at their Palace of Whitehall in London.  They had a garden that had nine mulberry trees and they were giving away 1000+ mulberry seeds to all their noble friends, who they encouraged to plant them to grow trees for medicine, healthy food, drink, and wine and to cultivate silkworms for spinning silk from which new shirts could be made.  So, the question remains “could the Heacham mulberry tree seeds have come from King James I’s and Queen Anne’s Buckingham Palace Gardens?”

Syon House and ParkSyon Park also in London has about 200 acres (Thames-side near Isleworth), and includes the Syon House. This estate has been owned by Ralph Percy, the 12th Duke of Northumberland,  and his ancestors for about 400 years. Syon House was the  home of the 9th Duke of Northumberland’s family and Earl George Percy  was a President /Governor at Jamestown in 1609-1610 and his brother ‘Wizard Earl’ alchemist expert Henry Percy.  Henry Percy remounted  Pocahontas pearl wedding earrings with  silver clasps when she visited him at the Tower of London in 1616. Syon House  has the oldest surviving mulberry tree in England dating back to 1548 and growing in the meadow where Pocahontas stayed in their two cottages close by at Brentford after she became ill in London.  Could this tree be the parent tree to the one in Heacham?

Mulberry Tree Red Lodge Country HouseAnother old mulberry tree grows on the estate of Narford Hall that is situated in the Breckland District of Norfolk County, in the garden at the  Red lodge Country House behind the wooden seat–this was the home of John Rolfe’s  stepfather’s family, the Redmayne’s.  It possibly dates back to a 1643 gift from King Charles 1.  Further, Uncle Edmund Rolfe also lived at Narford Hall with his son Henry and grandson Francis.  Princess Pocahontas’ might had picked up seeds or truncheon twigs from this tree to plant at Heacham Hall.  Princess Pocahontas probably commuted between Heacham and other England vicinities by carriages, possibly changing horses at relatives’ stables in Narford Hall.

The map of England’s Norfolk County from 1658, below, is the best I could find to try to show where the Rolfe and Redmayne farming families would have traded in their ships, horses and carriages along the yellow River Nar that flows from Kings Lynn to several major ports at Waterbeach Cambridge, Huntingdon, Peterborough, Isle of Ely, and the Royal Boston port.  The tidal water is highlighted in  grey.

Norfolk England Map 1658

Cottrell Joan

Dr. Joan Cottrell

Dr Kevn Burgess Columbus St Univ GA

Dr. Kevin Burgess

In just a few weeks, (sometime in May 2017), when the fresh mulberry leaves at the luxury country house Heacham Manor Hotel (formerly Heacham Hall) are mature enough, Dr. Joan Cottrell of the Forest Research, Northern Research Station, Roslin, Midlothian, UK, and Dr. Kevin Burgess of Columbus State University, Georgia, USA will take a six-inch branch from this tree to conduct DNA testing of it and compare it to branches from three other very old mulberry trees.  It is hoped this will lead to finding a DNA connection between the Heacham Manor Hotel’s tree and three other very old mulberry trees identified in the UK – at Buckingham Palace, Syon House in West London and Narford Hall, Swaffham, Norfolk, where it is thought Pocahontas might have visited and collected seeds from one of them.  This research could establish whether any of these three other trees are forebears of the Heacham tree–which today is still producing delectable fruit that is served on the menu at Heacham Manor.

As I understand it (in very lay persons terms), one chromosome passes from a mother tree to a child tree.  By analyzing clippings, scientists can sometimes detect a matching digital DNA barcode.  Ultimately, this process might identify and connect a species of seeds to this mulberry tree to help corroborate the story of Pocahontas’ mulberry tree planting in Heacham Village!

Acknowledging Ancestry.com’s Assembled Content and Delivery Systems


I am quite impressed with some major and recent improvements in Ancestry.com’s products and services marketing.  Yes, that’s right, I said “the ugly word–marketing, ” as inferred by those who haven’t been involved in it or have been the victims of marketing done poorly.  Yet, I’m here to give credit to Ancestry where credit is due because they are effectively using tools and techniques to reach me with the kinds of information and articles that I’m interested in while not being intrusive about it. I see it as a “take it or leave it opportunity” for me to learn more about a topic in which I am interested.

For example, one of the probably lesser known features on Ancestry’s site, is its blog page that I have occasionally visited, enjoyed, and all too often have forgotten about in the midst of all life’s goings on. Yet, I happened upon an ad about this blog today under CNN.com’s “Paid Content” when I opened their breaking news page. The image and headline that drew me in are on the left, here.

Now, I’m already a long time subscriber to Ancestry.com’s suite of online genealogical tools and features, so it costs me nothing more to follow down their marketing path and enjoy the extra wares provided.  And, when I find something that I like, I immediately think about others like me who also might be interested.  Needless to say, I share my finds regularly either in my blogs or on Facebook, or the like, as I am today. While I am not trying to be necessarily an unpaid/unsolicited advertisement for Ancestry.com, I believe in the power of word-of-mouth coming from peers who like me like what they see or read and are all into sharing.  Similarly, I appreciate others reaching out to me with items that they think I’ll like just because they know a bit about me and my likes.  Bottom line, if you are already an Ancestry.com subscriber these blogs and their interactive information are free.  If not, multiple times within the article appear clickable online banner ads like the one on the left of this text which takes you to Ancestry.com’s subscription page where you can see all your subscription options.  Now, let’s look more closely at the interactive and customized information that you can glean (if you choose) from today’s blog:

Do You Come From Royal Blood? Your Last Name May Tell You. – Ancestry Blog

 

Researchers at the University of California, Davis, and the London School of Economics conducted the study, which they published in the journal “Human Nature.” . . .

Using Surnames to Follow the Wealthy

The researchers based their study on families with unique last names. Those unique last names made it possible to trace the families through genealogical and other public records. In England, those aristocratic names included Atthill, Bunduck, Balfour, Bramston, Cheslyn, and Conyngham.


Enter your last name to learn its meaning and origin.

Enter your last name to learn its meaning and origin.

The social scientists looked for those and other unique, upper-class surnames among students who attended Oxford and Cambridge universities between 1170 and 2012, rich property owners between 1236 and 1299, as well as probate records since 1858 — which are available on Ancestry.com.

So I entered my maiden name “Bolling,” using the older European version of it with the double “ll’s” instead of a single “l,” as we spell it today.  Voila!  Here’s what I got:

I was amazed at all the readily available and thoroughly interactive information at my fingertips.  Above, in the upper left top section, you can navigate an interactive geographic timeline distribution of people with the surname “Bolling” who lived in England, Wales, and the United States from 1840 to 1920.  In the upper right of this section, you can browse all the census and voter lists for Bollings.  It gives you the option to filter results and views by record or collection by years and/or collections by Country, or individual records.

In the lower section of the page, below, you have access to five drop down windows with even more detailed information about origin, immigration, life expectancies, occupations, and Civil War Service Records–all from various collections available through your Ancestry.com subscription.

And, more . . .

At the end of this very information-packed and fully interactive blog appeared the following series of images and headlines under the heading “More On Ancestry:” Similarly, they are packed with more fully interactive information from various Ancestry.com collections.

While I have chosen to focus this blog on Ancestry.coms paid content that I happened upon when browsing CNN.com’s site, I would suggest that all Ancestry.com subscribers visit/revisit Ancestry’s page to view firsthand the wealth of information and resources that can help make your family history journey more interesting, enjoyable, and rewarding.  And, remember, to check out Ancestry’s products and services in the right-hand column of your home page.  For example, video tutorials and short courses at Ancestry Academy, or learn more about AncestryDNA, their newest data collections, etc.

And a Big “Also Note”.

In the upper right hand corner of the “More From Ancestry” image, above, you see “by Taboola.”  Are you wondering what this is or means?  Well, here lies the secret to how Ancestry and other businesses are improving their content distribution and driving targeted traffic from their sites to us.   Taboola is one of the world’s leading content distribution companies that drives information to sites that we visit because they thought we would like it based on our interests and/or visits to previous websites (remember all those warnings about ‘cookies’). The delivered content is paid for by the company whose ad we clicked on–in this instance, Ancestry.com. ​ So, all these years of people talking about those horrid cookie files that invade our computer experiences–finally, I got a cookie that I enjoyed!

 

 

 

Alarming Witch Hunt – Another Ancestor Accused –


Thirty-seven or so years into researching my family’s history, I still remain committed to it.  Some days my findings seem to be the same old stuff and on others, I am literally knocked out of my seat by them–like today!  I am reviewing hints about family members that I haven’t spent much time with and I stumble right into another witch hunt. This time, 17 years have passed since my ninth maternal great aunt, Mary Bliss Parsons was accused and tried of being a witch and “questionably” acquitted (it is told her acquittal was due to her husband Joseph’s ability to purchase her freedom).

Characteristics of 17th Century Persons Accused Witches

Now, let’s understand just how (in the 17th Century), you might find yourself accused as a witch.  Here’s a list of nine characteristics according to the 17th century British sources used by Massachusetts courts — Richard Bernard’s Guide to Grand Jury Men…in Cases of Witchcraft, William Perkins’s Discourse of the Damned Art of Witchcraft, and John Gaule’s Select Cases of Conscience Touching Witches and Witchcrafts — and more recent studies such as John Demos’s 20th century work Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England (Oxford):

  1. You are female.
    All through western history more women than men have been accused of witchcraft. It took less for a woman to be considered out of line.
  2. You are middle aged.
    Although suspects in 1692 ranged from Mary Bradbury in her 80s to the approximately five-year old Dorothy Good, most supposed “witches” were in their late 40s and 50s. Maybe other adults were resentful of a bossy mother-figure, or maybe not.
  3. You are related to or otherwise associated with a known suspect.
    As William Perkins pointed out “witchcraft is an art that may be learned,” so even if you weren’t a middle-aged woman you might be accused if you were friends with a suspected “witch” or if the neighbors had had their doubts about your mother, especially in 1692.
  4. You are of an English Puritan background.
    For the most part, the accused came from the same majority ethnic group as the accusers.
  5. You are married but have few or no children.
    Neighbors suffering misfortune might think you were attacking their larger families from jealousy especially if you lacked kin to speak up for you. Unprotected widows were at even more of a risk.
  6. You are contentious and stubborn with a turbulent reputation.
    Where a man might be considered forceful, a woman might have been labeled as contentious. The situation would be worse if you were also at odds with your own family. After all, the Devil encourages discord.
  7. You have been accused of other crimes before such as theft or slander.
    As John Gaule put it a “lewd and naughty kind of life” was just the sort of thing that attracted devils.
  8. You are of a relatively low social position.
    Status and rank was stronger in the 17th century. Being too often dependent on the neighbors’ help could cause them to resent you.
  9.  A confessed “witch” accuses you of being a fellow witch.
    This was a big problem in 1692 when so many suspects “confessed” from fear, confusion, or an attempt to curry the court’s favor. These confessing accusers generally named people already under suspicion.

And, our lesson learned from all this?

Anyone might be accused of witchcraft. But if you were a widowed middle-aged English Puritan woman with few if any living children and had slim financial resources, were known for having a temper and were suspected of petty crimes (whether justified or not), and might have been related to or were friends with someone else who was suspected of witchcraft — watch out for your neighbors.

In our hunt, however, the accused is not a female, but rather, my 61 year old 9th paternal great grandfather, Robert Williams, a Puritan, emigrant from Norwich County, Norfolk, England, and a cordwainer (leather worker or shoemaker) by profession for a short time (Literally, a “cordwainer” is someone who works in “cordwain,” an archaic word for cordovan leather), who emigrated to Massachusetts aboard the John & Dorothy of Ipswich at age 29 in April 1637.

In 1644 Robert became a member of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company (the oldest chartered military organization in the western hemisphere).

Twenty-five years later in 1669, we find Robert Williams listed among the accused as a witch in Hadley, Massachusetts. A complaint is filed accusing him of being a witch. He appears before the courts–an indictment preliminary to trial occurs–then he is tried and acquitted of his charges at this trial.

In Law and Liberty in Early New England: Criminal Justice and Due Process, 1620-1692, By Edgar J. McManus (1993), Appendix D., Page 211, cites Robert Williams as being accused of witchcraft and then shows the verdict as acquitted, but adds that he was whipped and fined for lying.

Now, here’s a real lesson for all you budding family historians and researchers 

Please sit up and pay attention here.  How closely did you look at the List of Accused Witches, above?  Did you take a good look at the entry for accused Robert Williams, or did you like me, just drop your jaw, and move forward?  In my case, my “moving forward,” meant looking for more specifics about Robert’s accusal/accuser.

After querying and browsing a few hours searching on Google, I happened upon an Ancestry.com message board entry from “Lois in Michigan” that dated back to 2012. Lois queried:

…I have looked in many, many places, checked out recommended reference books, and looked in the Suffolk Co. court transcripts, but have either missed it or looked in the wrong places. I believe he was associated, at various times, with Roxbury, Hadley, and Stonington [Massachusetts]. Any help would be much appreciated.

(So, I, unknowingly, had followed in Lois’ steps.)  Six hours after Lois’ query came this response from “LSLangille:

Search GOOGLE BOOKS with his name in quotes as such: “Robert Williams” witchcraft Massachusetts.
There’s about 5 or 6 hits.  Search for his name in here too:
http://books.google.com/books?id=CkNMR7L68I0C&dq=%22Robe…

And then, Lois’ final comment in this threaded discussions:

Thank you so much! Found him! To my disappointment, the Robert WILLIAMS accused of witchcraft was not the Robert WILLIAMS who was my ancestor….

Once again I followed Lois’ steps to prove for myself her findings.  And my 9th great grandfather Robert Williams was of “Roxbury,” and was a man of means.  Meanwhile, the listed Robert Williams was of “Hadley,” and a servant!

And, here’s the “icing on the cake.”  In the book Colonial Justice in Western Massachusetts (1639 – 1702) THE PYNCHON COURT RECORD,  I find my own proof that in fact there was a Robert Williams of Hadley as well as a Robert Williams of Roxbury:

An entry at the March 29, 1670 court held at Northampton notes that Robert Williams of Hadley, a former servant, was bound over to the court by John Pynchon in ten-pounds bond and, for want of sureties for his appearance, committed to prison. The ground for this action was the offender’s “notorious Lyinge,” but he was also suspected of witchcraft. The evidence of witchcraft was not of sufficient force to keep Williams in prison or to warrant sending him to superior authority. However, for his lying, Williams was adjudged to pay a five-pound fine to the county, to be whipped with fifteen stripes, to pay all charges of his imprisonment, and to stand committed until the court’s order was performed. This punishment, harsher than that appointed by law, was undoubtedly influenced by the suspicion of witchcraft.

And, here’s a map that shows the close geographic proximity of Hadley, Roxbury, and Northampton:

So, whatever happened to my 9th paternal great grandfather, Robert Cooke Williams–who was not an accused witch?

Fast forward to 1684. Robert Cooke Williams is now 76 years old.  He is still living in the midst of all this mass hysteria and scapegoating within these dark times in our American History known as The Salem Witch Trial Era.

Four of his five sons are still alive.  Their ages are 44 to 52.  He first wife, Elizabeth died 10 years prior; he has been married to his second wife, Margaret for nine years.  King Charles II has just revoked the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s royal charter, a legal document granting the colonists permission to colonize.   It is still a devout and strongly religious community, with people living in near isolation, and still fearing that the Devil was constantly trying to find ways to infiltrate and destroy their Christian communities. Conversely, King Charles believed the colonists had broken several of his charter’s rules; including basing new laws on their religious beliefs and discriminating against the English Church and Anglicans.

King Charles II died in 1685 and King James II replaced him.  In 1686, King James II merged the Massachusetts Bay Colonies (Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island) into one large colony known as the Dominion of New England. And, in 1688 he again expanded the dominion to include New York and New Jersey as well as instituting a royally-appointed government with many new and more strict laws.

Occurring next, The Glorious Revolution in England,  when Mary and William of Orange took over the throne from James II.  Upon learning of Mary and William’s take over in England, the colonists especially in the Massachusetts Bay executed a series of revolts against the government officials appointed by James II. And in 1689, these colonists overthrew the unpopular Dominion of New England.

And now, it’s 1692, Robert Williams’ age is 84 and unperceived to anyone, Robert is living the final year of his life still in the midst of The Salem Witch Trials which were in full stride. The trials began in February 1692.  Finally, the colonists began to doubt that so many people could actually be guilty of witchcraft. They feared many innocent people were being executed. Local clergymen began speaking out against the witch hunt and tried to persuade officials to stop the trials, but the executions continued through September 22 when the last eight people were hanged.  In October 1692, the 52 remaining people in jail were tried in a new court and pardoned or released from jail by May 1693.  In all, more than 200 people were accused of practicing witchcraft and 20 were killed.

Finally–I am without words!