Three Girls Named Philip

One of my favorite things happened recently, – I made contact with a new cousin and genealogist. After I’d sent along my line of descent (the way cousins introduce themselves), I received this gentle correction,

BTW, your 8th-g-grandmother was Phillipa CHASE, daughter of Benjamin and Phillipe (Sherman) CHASE.

To start off, I wholeheartedly thank every thoughtful and generous person who has spotted my errors and got me back on track. (Please do keep it up.) Now, this is a rare thing, but I don’t always agree with suggested corrections, and this is one of those times.

You’ll work out from that note, the presumed mistake was that I gave the above Chase and Sherman females the masculine moniker, “Philip.” However, it wasn’t a goof; I did it deliberately. Despite our society’s sensibility that a girl must have a girl’s name, – I believe this line has three females named Philip and they embody a tradition that can be traced in records from 1652 through 1795.

Who would give a girl a boy’s name?

Perhaps it’s no surprise, this story begins with a man, Philip Sherman / Shearman (1610-1687). Born in England, he came to Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1633, married Sarah Odding there the year after, had a few kids, then had a disagreement with church elders. That precipitated the family’s move to Rhode Island, an early bastion of religious tolerance. By 1638, Philip was making himself useful to the new settlement at Portsmouth, and 10 years later (1648), Philip Sherman was appointed General Recorder (secretary) of Rhode Island. He was described as

An excellent penman (his records remain in Portsmouth), educated and wealthy for the times. [1]

Philip spent years growing Portsmouth, growing a personal estate, and growing his family. In addition to three girls, he and Sarah had seven (or eight) boys, and none was named Philip in 1651, when Sarah told him for the eleventh (or twelfth) time, she was pregnant. Both were Into their forties, financially secure, and doubtless feeling pride in worldly accomplishments and public honors, It’s likely, in the interest of preserving health and happiness, the Shermans agreed this child would be their last.

God had been good to Philip thus far; He clearly approved of his conduct and his plans, Having deferred the honor so many times, surely God would send him a Philip Sherman junior. When Sarah’s time came, Philip would have been humbly grateful to the almighty for preserving the lives of his beloved helpmeet and the newborn. No doubt the daughter was a surprise, but that was the divine will, and Philip named the baby just as he’d planned.

Miss-Spelling and Miss-Interpretation

Oh yes, misspellings and other errors crop up in official records, and all too often. (I expect you have some frustrating, and / or funny examples of your own.) But, before you relegate my female Philips to the category of mistakes, gentle reader, I offer two points for your consideration:

(1) Philip Sherman / Shearman, General Recorder of Rhode Island, as noted above, has been recognized for his excellent handwriting. This ability and attention to detail were key qualifiers for creating official documents for the colony. It’s reasonable to expect that what Philip wrote, he meant to write. For example, on 15 Apr 1678, Philip Sherman deeded some land to…

Benjamin Chase my son-in-law and my daughter Philip his wife.

Three years later, he made his will (dated on 31 Jul 1681)…

Philip Shearman, yeoman, aged seventy-one years, of the Town of Portsmouth… to my daughter Philip ten ewe sheep.

The man, Philip, the colony’s recording secretary, in two documents, spelled his daughter’s name exactly the way he spelled his own. He meant to do that. To avoid confusion, he specified “daughter.”

 (2) There is consistency in records that give the name Philip to females through time. Examples from Freetown, Masachusetts records and compiled indexes include marriage listings:

CHASE, Benjamin (1639-1731) & Phillip / Phillopa [SHERMAN] (1652-); ca 1672?; Portsmouth, RI / Freetown

HATHAWAY, Jacob & Phillippa / Philip? CHASE; 28 Jan 1696/7, 1696; Taunton

We see the compiler’s instinct to femininize the form for the bride, but that eloquent “?” tells us the record said Philip. Here’s a birth

Born in freetown Philip Chase the daftor [daughter] of Benjamin Chase born 5 day of July 1679 ———

Image excerpt from Freetown, MA town register showing

Click to enlarge the image.

The Jacob and Phillip (Chase) Hathaway who married in 1696, decided to name a son Philip, so our female Philip skipped generation. However, Jacob and Philip’s daughter Hannah Hathaway, married Lot Strange and named her first daughter, born in 1722, Philip Strange, and we hit the jackpot with marriage records for this lady:

Philip Strange to John Payne (Paine) Jr. 10 Apr 1738

Philip Pain to Seth Chace (Chase) 7 Nov 1751

John Crandon of Dartmouth & ye widow Philip Chase of Freetown were married December ye 14th – –  – 1768.

Over three decades, with different town clerks, we see the same, masculine name, attached to women. That’s consistency. Finally, nearly 30 years after the 1768 marriage, among the town’s compiled death records (1686-1844), is a 1795 listing for Freeborn Paine (Payne) which gives the wrong father, but note the detail on the mother:

Freeborn Payne, son of Eben.r & wife Philip (m.n. Strange) died Sept. 11, 1795.

I believe, the sources out there giving Philippe, Philopa, Phillipa, etc. as given names for these Sherman, Chase and Strange girls were just reacting to cultural conditioning, making the Philip of the records into an appropriately feminine form. Is that correction really necessary? How many researchers would conclude that Philip & Benjamin, Philip & Jacob, Philip & John or Seth were married male couples in colonial Massachusetts? Not likely.

I think we should relax, be accurate, and accept – like that founding father of Portsmouth, that Philip is a fine, worthy and noble name for a child of any gender. But I have a final surprise for the finish, – the original Philip Sherman was not himself named for his father, but for his mother, Philippa (Ward) Sherman (1577-1610). Betcha didn’t see that coming.

Notes & Sources:

Philip (name meaning), Greek for a lover of horses. Wikipedia; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_%28name%29

Unisex names; Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unisex_name

[1] New England Families Genealogical and MemorialAmerican Historical Society, editor,1916; reprint, LaVergne, TN: BIBLIOLIFE, LLC, 12 May 2012), Page 363.

AmericanAncestors.org (New England Historical Genealogical Society); RICR  1:209, 217, 230, 236. | Great Migration Study, Philip Sherman profile.

FamilySearch.org; Family History Library, Salt Lake City, UT, Film # 1993524.

Ancestry.com: Torry, Clarence A. New England Marriages Prior to 1700; Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988; Freetown, MA.

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Grappling with Slavery – When Ancestors aren’t a Source of Pride

Ben Affleck’s initial concealment of a slaveholding ancestor for his episode of Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. makes it time for me to come clean. I too, have slaveholders in the family, and these ancestors shame me more than the murderers and other miscreants I’ve been featuring on this blog.

I’ve had a document with this post’s title filed away for years. Sure, it was a rambling, bumbling, stumbling mess, not ready for primetime, but I kept ignoring it. Any subject would do if I could push off a confrontation with my sense of guilt over slavery.

Slavery in New York and Massachusetts

When I was a greener researcher, with roots in New Amsterdam / New York and New England, the northern states, I believed my family was in the clear on slavery. In retrospect, my ignorance on slavery in the north was stunning. My personal wakeup call came in the will of my 8th great-grandmother, the Amsterdam-born pioneer settler of New York, Sarah (Roelfse) (Kierstede) (Van Borsum) Stoothoff (1626-1693).

“…to my daughter Blandina, of this city, a negro boy, Hans. To my son Luycas Kierstede, my Indian named Ande. To my daughter Catharine Kierstede, a negress, named Susannah. To my son-in.law, Johannes Kip, husband of my said daughter Catharine, my negro, Sarah… To my son Jochem Kierstede, a little negro, called Maria, during his life, and then to Sarah, the eldest daughter of my son Roeloff Kierstede…” (1)

And there it was, the gut-punch, proof positive that my accomplished ancestress (2), kept in bondage a Native American, and black women, and children. Lines in my beloved native state, Massachusetts, were no more civilized. My 8th great-grandfather, Jonathan Rayment (1666-1745) of Beverly, was a deacon of the church for 23 years. In 1705, when he was 39 years old, he made the following purchase:

Capt. Joseph Flint, Mariner, of Salem, sells to Jonathan Rayment, of Bevery, “my Spanish Indian boy named Pito about 10 years old, for a slave.” (3)

As I traced the deacon Rayment to the end of his life in 1745, I hoped after 40 years of piety and wisdom, his humanity would have evolved, but the inventory of his estate lists after items including an iron kettle, frying pan and a silver tankard… “Slaves” beneath that, “1 Negro man… 1 Negro woman…”

A clipped portion

Deacon Rayment’s slaves: Cafar (Kafir) valued at 45 pounds, and Sarah, 37 pounds 10 shillings. (Click for larger view.)

It’s sobering to learn your people committed crimes against humanity, while regarding themselves as good Christians and respectable members of society.

The Awful Truth – Celebrity Edition

Several celebrity descendants of slaveholders have been featured on Finding Your Roots and Who Do You Think You Are,  including Anderson Cooper, Ken Burns, and Bill Paxton. They did the right thing right off by facing the findings on camera. They shared their disappointment and righteous anger. They acknowledged we all must accept the bad guys along with the good guys in our trees. And so it should be with our great, multiethnic, multiracial, American family.

Many folks argue that United States “fixed” slavery 150 years ago; that civil rights laws in the 1960s “fixed” segregation and discrimination; that white and black Americans have an equal shot at life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Yet, if that was true, if that was the present reality,  – nice, white Americans, like Ben Affleck, wouldn’t be so troubled over errant great-greats.

The terrible disparity in income, health and life spans between whites and minorities is evidence that our nation hasn’t yet established a culture that supports the American ideal of equality.

We can’t change the past, we can, and should, look it straight in the eye. Instead of dithering over guilt, we can join with nice Americans of all races to build toward a society that truly guarantees an opportunity for a decent life to all. It won’t be easy, but working to “form a more perfect union”(4) is as good an idea today as it was in 1787.

 

Notes, Sources & Resources:

(1) Abstract of wills on file in the Surrogates Office, City of New York  (Volume I. 1665-1707) by New York (County) Surrogate’s Court Abstracts of Wills –Liber 5-6 pgs. 225, 226, 227.

(2)  Sarah learned native languages and assisted Peter Stuyvesant in negotiating treaties with local tribes. In 1682, she was confirmed as owner of a patent originally granted to her second husband, Cornelis Van Borsum (1630-1682) for a lot on Manhattan Island, for her service. She also raised 11 children and outlived 3 husbands.

(3) Essex Registry of Deeds, Book 16, Folio 204, March 12, 1705.

(4) From the Preamble to the United States Constitution, “We the people We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

***
How Ben Affleck reacted after he discovered his slave-owning ancestors

Slavery in the North Website by historian, author, journalist and lecturer, Douglas Harper.

History of Slavery in Massachusetts  Wikipedia article covers freedom suits brought in 1781 that claimed slavery was contrary to the Bible and the new (1780) Massachusetts Constitution, but slavery remained legal in Massachusetts until the 13th Amendment was passed in 1865.

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Filed under African American history, American history, Colonial History, Family History, Keirstead / Kierstead, Massachusetts History, New York History, social history

An Aged Lovers Triangle

The Boston Herald – Monday August 1, 1892

HUSBAND ALMOST KILLED

Had a Bloody Fight with His Wife’s Aged Lover

[Special Dispatch to the Boston Herald]

Fall River, July 31, 1892. Alexander Pittsley and Charles Hersom and his wife,  Jane Elizabeth, each more than 70 years of age, who live at Slab bridge, Freetown, were yesterday locked up in the central police station.

Pittsley has, up to within six months, lived a sort of hermit’s life. He resided in small hut and earned his living by doing odd jobs.

About six months ago, Hersom and his wife came here from Norton , and established themselves at Slab bridge.

The wife pitied Pittsley so much that she urged her husband to let the old hermit become a member of the family circle. This was done and all went swimmingly for a while, until it became apparent to Hersom that his wife and Pittsley had fallen in love.

A row ensued and Hersom was fined for assault and battery on his wife. This was about a month ago.

Just after the trial, Pittsley, who still remained at the house and Mrs. Hersom eloped, taking the husband’s horse and wagon and a load of his household goods. They established themselves in Norton.

Hersom was evidently content to get rid of his erring spouse, for he made no attempt to follow them.

Friday night, however, Pittsley and Mrs. Hersom came back to the Slab Bridge home for another load of furniture. The wagon was piled high with goods and the rig hidden away  in the woods. Then Pittsley and Mrs. Hersom paid a visit to the Pittsley hut. They found Hersom there.

The two old men began a bloody fight and Hersom was badly battered about the face and had an arm injured. He was almost killed. Pittsley and his companion became alarmed at the condition of the deserted husband, and started off on the road to Taunton, while Hersom sought Officer Marble.

The officer captured the couple after a lively chase of three miles.They had become weary and were resting at the roadside when they were placed under arrest.

The quartet came to this city yesterday, Pittsley and Mrs. Hersom being handcuffed.

Hersom’s arm was in a sling and his face was decorated with cuts and sticking plaster.

Pittsley is well known to the police here having been arrested for minor offences. The exact nature of the charge to be preferred against him is unknown.

While the 1892 press hyped this incident and played it for laughs, I was moved that a man and woman in their seventh decade of life, were alive to love, and new possibilities. (I will concede that taking off with the horse, wagon, and household goods was not the most honorable exit strategy.) I wanted to know what happened to Charles H. Hersom, Jane Elizabeth Hersom, and Alexander Pittsley.

That Pittsley “almost killed” Hersom is hyperbolic. The article portrays him as ambulatory, with an arm in a sling and minor facial wounds. And Hersom was a soldier in the Union Army, with the Massachusetts 4th Regiment of Infantry; he must have gotten a few licks in on Alexander. Furthermore, we are told the month before, Charles Hersom was fined for beating up his wife. And yet, the Second District court sentenced the abused wife, Jane Elizabeth Hersom, to two months, while Alexander Pittsley was sent away for four months to the House of Correction for assault.

After that, Jane Elizabeth Hersom disappears from record.

Charles H. Hersom, stays around for a long time.

About four years after the incident, in 1897, Charles H. Hersom married wife number three, Margaret (Cunningham) Lester. He was 75 and she was 37.  Margaret bore him four daughters, in addition to three children he had with wife number one, an Irish lass named Mary. He married her in 1864 and the family were living in Canton, Massachusetts for the 1870 census. Charles liked lived in Freetown with his new young wife and kids until 1913, when after a six-day bout with bronchitis, he died, at 93 years of age.

Pension Index card for Charles H. Hersom.

Index card shows Charles H. Hersom got an Invalid pension in 1877; his minor daughter got a benefit in 1915 and wife Margaret collected a widow’s pension in 1917.

For Alexander Pittsley, who served the harsher sentence, life was rarely kind. That he lived in a hut “like a hermit” and had been “arrested for minor offences” are clues that he suffered some form mental illness that kept him on the margins of society. On November 4, 1898, at 74 years and 10 months, Alexander starved to death “off Summer Street” in the town of Foxboro.

I want to think that Alexander and Jane Elizabeth, who discovered love in winter, were able, at least for a moment, to find joy in each other.

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Filed under American history, Hersom family history, local history, Pittsley family history

Homicide By a Woman

Good people who lived good lives are bad subjects for a family historian trying to create vivid profiles that snap, crackle and pop with individuality. Most of our families come from hardworking, warmhearted and respectable people who kept their names out of the newspapers. So our good folks are boring, unless, maybe, they were good and rich.  I’m among those fortunate to have long-ago cousins who did some bad, bad things.

Homicide By a Woman—A woman named Adaline Clark, residing in Freetown, Mass. has been arrested for killing David S. Hathaway, on the night of the 22nd inst., in that town.  The Taunton Gazette says the parties resided together, and had a drunken quarrel.  Hathaway was armed with an axe, and it appears that the woman, under apprehension of an attack from him with such a weapon, discharged a pistol, shooting him through the head and, killing him instantly…  

This was news from Southeastern Massachusetts to Boston, to New York City where the Tribune ran the story above on September 30, 1856. From that single paragraph, unravels a convoluted and frankly sordid story. For starters, the murdered man, David Simmons Hathaway, and the murdering woman, Adaline (Hathaway) Clark, were cousins, the grandchildren of Dudley and Margaret (Briggs) Hathaway. Both families had deep roots in Freetown, Massachusetts.

 

The Murdered

Twenty six years before his awful end, 18-year-old David Simmons Hathaway, Jr. was so deeply in love with Olive Barrows, that he marched himself into the town hall to register his intention to marry her. When you look at the Freetown records for 1830, below the marriage intention, you can see the town clerk added,

“Forbidden by David S. Hathaway,  father.”  

If David senior objected to the union for a reason other than his son’s youth, it’s been lost to time. But I’ll bet David and Olive surprised the community by waiting three, long years.  When David reached his majority (21) in 1833, no one could keep  him from making Olive his own.  The year after, a daughter, Sarah Briggs Hathaway, was born. She was to be the couple’s only child.

After the 1840 US census, Olive Hathaway disappears from record. David Hathaway became a man adrift who relied on alcohol to forget his sorrows and assuage his pain. If he was addicted to drink, it’s not hard to understand how  David’s character may have taken a dark turn. He may not have been a very good father.

In 1848, at 14 1/2 years, Sarah married John Peirce, a man 8 years older than herself. Two years later for the 1850 US census, Sarah and John were living with a Barrows family (probably relatives of her mother). I haven’t yet discovered where David was staying and what he was doing that year. His name resurfaces for the 1855 census in Freetown, and there he spent his last 14 months on Earth.

 

The Murderer

In March 1834, David’s cousin and neighbor, Adeline Hathaway, married another neighbor, Seth Clark.  Over the next 12 years, the Clarks produced four sons. The 1850 census shows Seth working as an unskilled  laborer,  and the family did not own their home. It must have been a struggle to feed and clothe their growing boys. Still, when the census enumerator stopped by in September, the Clarks appear to be an average family:

Seth Clark – Age 38 – Laborer
Adeline Clark – Age 36

Albert Clark – Age 15 – Attended school

Bradford Clark – Age 12 – Attended school
Rhodolphus Clark – Age 10
Phillip H -Clark – Age 4.

Not quite five years later, when the Massachusetts state census was taken July 17, 1855, the Clark household had changed significantly:

Seth Clark – Age 43 – Stone cutter
Adeline Clark – Age 40

Bradford Clark – Age 17 – Laborer

Phillip H -Clark – Age 9

David S. Hathaway – Age 43 – Farmer.

Seth has advanced from a laborer to a stone cutter, a skilled trade, which means he’s at last making a better wage. Two sons, Albert (20) and Rhodolphus (15), are missing from the home, and Bradford (17) is out of school and at work himself.

The final name in the household is David S. Hathaway. Perhaps, Adaline convinced Seth that her troubled cousin really needed a place to stay. There is no way for us today to know exactly when David came to live with the Clarks. We do know that they weren’t all living in harmony. The following bit among short items from Freetown, MA, appeared in March 1856:

David S. Hathaway was knocked down by Mrs. Seth Clark with a billet of wood for licking her son.

Adaline had a grievance, and few  parents wouldn’t seek to punish an adult who assaulted their child. However, to pick up a piece of lumber and beat a perpetrator to the ground, suggests a helluva temper. For the incident to make the papers as far away as Macon, Georgia, Adaline must have given David a spectacular thrashing.

 

The Murder

The opening newspaper quote makes the incident seem a clear case of self-defense: David Hathaway came home drunk out of his mind, and an argument ensued that escalated into an axe attack. Adeline Clark saved herself from a grisly fate by making a single, perfect, kill shot.  Self-defense was what Adaline told her neighbors that night.  Self-defense was what she told the authorities.

On examination, Adaline explained she’d gone to bed and was roused sometime later by the noise made by the falling-down-drunk David Hathaway who was attempting to get inside the locked back door. Adeline took an oil lamp to guide her way to the kitchen and let David inside. He took the lamp from her and shoved her outside into the rain. While she pounded and pleaded to be let back in, David guarded the door, axe in hand, and vowed he’d use it if Adaline reentered the house.

After an hour and a half outside in her rain-soaked clothes, Adaline said she heard a chair tip over, then a thud which she assumed was David having fallen down. At this point, Adaline went into the house and retrieved the pistol she had bought a week or so before and kept ready. By the lamp light in the front room, she saw David on the floor with the axe beside him. She claimed he reiterated his threat to kill her and “two or more of her children.” However, David was too incapacitated to stand up. That was the moment Adaline chose to fire a bullet into his brain.

Somewhere, in the interest of full disclosure, she added that she had been David Hathaway’s mistress.

Having given testimony that she believed completely justified her act, Adaline must have been knocked for a loop when the coroner’s jury rendered its verdict of willful and malicious murder.

 

The Trial

Adaline failed to realize that her own account of the shooting and the advance planning that went into it, were cold and calculating moves. Why didn’t she go to her neighbor’s house when David locked her out in the rain, before she killed him, instead of afterward as she did? In spite of the wilful and malicious murder finding, Adaline was tried at Taunton for the lesser crime of manslaughter.

It was a tough trial and jury deliberations did not go smoothly. Adaline was convicted in May 1858, but not sentenced right away. In hope of being granted leniency, Adaline appealed to the court of public opinion by publishing a “lengthy statement in the Fall River News detailing the nature of the troubles between herself and Hathaway…”

In October 1858, Adaline Hathaway Clark was sentenced to five years at hard labor in the New Bedford House of Correction.  At 45 years of age, Adeline was enumerated there among the other inmates for the 1860 US census. Having paid her debt to society, she was released in June 1863.

 

The Surprise Ending

Several newspaper stories about Adaline including the line,  She has a husband living in Rhode Island.  That’s right, we can’t forget about Seth Clark, head of household, husband and father until his world imploded. When Seth left Freetown we can’t say exactly;  why he left is an easy guess in light of Adaline’s publicly confessed adultery. It’s most likely that Adaline and Seth never laid eyes on each other again after 1856.

In the 1865 state census, ex-con, Adaline Clark lived again in Freetown with her 26-year-old son, Bradford. She claimed that year she was a widow, but she wasn’t.  In 1880 Adeline said she was divorced, but that was not true either. During that same enumeration, Seth Clark, alive and well in Providence, RI, said he was a widower. And so the estranged spouses alternated between wishing their legal bonds dissolved, and wishing the other dead – for the rest of their long lives. Seth died in 1892 at nearly 82 years, and Adaline went in 1896 at 82 and some months more.

It’s touching irony that Seth and Adaline Clark were laid to rest forever together in Assonet Burying Ground.

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=82168445http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=82168471

We who know the worst about them should resist the urge to smirk, and consider this. The Clark children suffered instability, a broken home, and social stigma that must have hurt them in countless ways, –  and yet they understood that in the end, love is all that matters.

The surviving Clark children forgave and honored their parents so that Clark descendants strolling the peaceful yard today might think of Seth and Adaline as just another boring, long-married couple.

 

 

 

 Sources:

Macon Weekly Telegraph (Macon, GA); Volume: XXX   Issue: 32; Tuesday, March 4, 1856; Page 3. Homicide by a Woman

The Boston Herald (Boston, MA); Saturday, September 27, 1856; Page 2. The Tragedy at Freetown

The New York Tribune (New York, NY); Volume: XVI   Issue: 4820; Tuesday, September 30, 1856; Page 3. Homicide by a Woman

The Boston Herald (Boston, MA); Volume: VI   Issue: 127; Thursday, April 2, 1857; Page 4. Miss Adeline Clark

The Boston Traveler (Boston, MA); Saturday, May 8, 1858; Page 2. Murderers on their Defence

The Boston Herald (Boston, MA); Friday, August 14, 1863; Page 2. The Shooting Case…

National Archives (NARA); US Population Schedules.

Massachusetts. 1855–1865 Massachusetts State Census [microform]. New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts.

Ancestry.com, Massachusetts Town and Vital Records database.

Find A Grave <www.findagrave.com> photos courtesy of jtb, 2012; Seth Clark Memorial#82168445; Adaline Clark Memorial #82168471

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Filed under American history, Family History, social history

Hard Hearted Hannah Hathaway:”I do not give or bequeath anything…”

When most people get down to making a will, they do it to protect and provide for dear ones, and to acknowledge family members, friends, and others who gave special meaning to life. Most wills affirm bonds of love and provide comfort to the living. Some make a point of doing the opposite, like the one made by this 67-year-old Massachusetts woman  in November 1823:

I Hannah Hathaway singlewoman of Berkley… do not give or bequeath anything to my sister Welthea Ruggles. I also do not give nor bequeath anything to my three brothers viz: Gilbert Hathaway, Calvin Hathaway and Luther Hathaway. I do not give nor bequeath anything to the children of my two brothers viz: Ebenezer Hathaway and Shadrach Hathaway…

 I do not give nor bequeath to the following children of my sister Tryphena Crane viz: Weltha Nichols, Tryphena Hathaway, Nathaniel Crane, Henry Crane, Phebe Babbitt, Abi Babbitt, Hannah Crane, Lydia Babbitt, Rebekah Nichols. and James Crane.

Yikes. It wasn’t enough to name beneficiaries and leave the rest to speculation; Hannah Hathaway wanted her survivors to know she had disinherited them deliberately. And considering this was, literally, a deathbed testament, it’s difficult to not to conclude… the woman was a bitch on wheels.

To play devil’s advocate, in an attempt to soften the impression, we must consider Hannah’s religious training. It would have been more along the lines of God is angry with you,  than God loves you. It’s just possible that Hannah saw the public disgrace of her family members as her Christian duty. Okay, I don’t buy it, either.

So back to the big question: What offense could be so terrible to Hannah that it pushed every sibling, and virtually every one of their children beyond forgiveness?

If the Hathaways had been heretics or murderers or thieves… except they weren’t. The Hathaways were an ancient clan and respected members of their communities. So we come down to the ways intimate family relationships go sideways.

Hannah and her sisters (and brothers) were of the revolutionary generation. They lived the shattering transition from governance by royal decree to national independence.  Born in July 1756 at Freetown, Massachusetts to Ebenezer and Wealtha (Gilbert) Hathaway, she was the baby among the couple’s eight children. Her father, Ebenezer, inherited vast tracts of  land [1] , he farmed and was invested in local businesses. Though cash flow would have been unreliable as the vicissitudes of life affected everyone, the Hathaways were comfortable.[2]

–>The eldest was Gilbert Hathaway, born in 1745/6. He married three times and produced 14 children. The census for 1790 and 1800 show him next door to his parents’ home. The year after that, however, Gilbert sold his land in Freetown in preparation for relocation. The 1810 census shows him in Livermore, Maine. where he died in 1829.

–>Gilbert’s twin sister, Tryphena Hathaway, married Benjamin Crane of Berkley in 1763. He appears to have been a ship captain, and the couple had 13 little Cranes. Benjamin died in 1810 and Tryphena followed in 1812.

–>Ebenezer Hathaway, Jr. came along in 1748 and married a distant cousin, Mary Hathaway, with whom he had 7 children. The first three children were born in Freetown, and the younger ones in Burton, New Brunswick, where Ebenezer died in 1811.

–>Hannah’s other sister, Welthy [3] Hathaway was born in 1750, married Richard Ruggles with whom she had 8 children, the first in Freetown, the others in Nova Scotia. Welthy was living in Annapolis, Nova Scotia when Hannah made her will, and died the year after her in 1824.

–>Shadrach Hathaway was born in 1752 and married Hannah Chase of Berkley. This pair only had time for 4 children, because Shadrach died in a British camp on Long Island, NY in 1780.

–>Calvin and Luther Hathaway, another set of twins, were born before Hannah, in 1754. Their history has been difficult to track. Calvin may have died in 1823 and Luther in 1833 at Cornwallis in Annapolis County, Nova Scotia.

This family profile provides a few plausible reasons for Hannah’s bitterness. One obvious contrast is that all her siblings married and had children.

Then, with the exception of the deceased Shadrach and Tryphena, all had moved from Freetown, and not just across the town line (as Hanna had done), but into the wilds of Maine, and across the national border into Canada.

Perhaps, less obvious is that the burden of caring for aging and infirm parents fell to unmarried daughters, a duty, all caregivers know, can be isolating and onerous. While Ebenezer Hathaway, the father, died in 1791, when Hannah was just 35.  However, Wealtha, the mother, appears to have (briefly) outlived Hannah.

Did Hannah envy married life and parenthood? Had she, perhaps, lost her own life’s love? 

Did Hannah resent that her siblings moved away, leaving her alone with her mother?

Was Hannah a great patriot who branded her Loyalist leaning siblings traitors?

Was Hannah simply a crank who fashioned her last official act into an epic pay-back?

The answer is certainly some combination of all the above,  – with a generous dollop of unknowns lost to time. Yet we must factor in the favored ones, for Hannah Hathaway deemed two people on Earth worthy of her treasure:

 I do give and bequeath to Celia French, wife of Capt. Samuel French, Jr, my bed and bed furniture… Lastly I give and bequeath all the rest residue and remainder of my personal estate…to Adoniram Crane, Esq. 

Despite the unfamiliar surname, Celia French was Hannah’s niece, – the only good one among 50 of her siblings’ progeny! Celia was the daughter of Benjamin and Tryphena (Hathaway) Crane. Born in 1781, Celia married Samuel French in 1800, and had nine children of her own. She must have been very special to stay in the good graces of her prickly Aunt Hannah.

It turns out that Adoniram Crane (1780-1854) was related, also, Hannah’s great-nephew. A colonel of the local militia, public servant, politician [3], and church-going, family man, Adoniram Crane was a paragon in the eyes of Victorian era chroniclers. He was a respected public school teacher for three decades, and an “eminent singer.” Crane founded the Beethoven Society whose singers performed widely, and was in demand across three counties, as a voice coach. Enoch Sanford in his History of the the town of Berkley, Massachusetts (1872) describes him like this,

He was a man of dignified and commanding personal appearance, an excellent town officer, and as a singer he was well known in this and the neighboring towns as well for the great compass of his voice, his fine musical taste, and the correctness of his ear.

While the man was justly admired for his talent and accomplishments, this other sentence from Sanford’s  history, somehow, brought  Hannah to mind…

Col. Adoniram Crane was an eminent teacher, who, however, used great severity in discipline, and which tended rather to harden than soften the rough spirits he had to deal with.

Apparently, over 30 years, Adoniram Crane’s punishments had so deeply scarred so many students, that 20 years after he died, that line survived the book’s final edit.

And that got me to thinking that Hannah Hathaway chose to endow Adoniram Crane because he was a man after her own heart.

 

Notes:

[1] The Hathaway clan [also spelled Hathway and Hatheway] was among the area’s first white settlers.

[2] In 1790, Ebenezer Hathaway, Hannah’s father, provided his unmarried daughter with an income of her own, gifting her with his half of a gristmill operation.

[3] Welthy was named for her mother, “Wealtha” and this surprisingly popular name is found spelled many ways (Welthea, Welthe, etc.).

[4] Clear evidence for Calvin and Luther Hathaway has been devilishly difficult to find, but clues indicate that both brothers did marry and at least one of them had children.

[5] Adoniram’s political career took off after Hannah’s death. It appears he was not a drinker, for he was known as a “temperance man,” that movement which would eventually lead to national liquor Prohibition (1919-1933).

Sources:

Ancestry.com Collections: Massachusetts Town and Vital Records; Abstracts from Bristol County Probate Records; United States Census

GenealogyBank.com Newspapers: New-Bedford Mercury, New Bedford, MA (1838, 1841); The Boston Traveler, Boston, MA; Norfolk Advertiser, Dedham, MA (1835)

Archive.org Texts: History of the town of Berkley, Mass: including sketches of the lives of the two first ministers, Rev. Samuel Tobey, and Rev. Thomas Andros, whose united ministry continued ninety-one years; Sanford, Enoch (1872)

National Humanities Center: http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/pds/livingrev/religion/religion.htm

Religious Revivals and Revivalism in 1830s New England; http://www.teachushistory.org/second-great-awakening-age-reform/articles/religious-revivals-revivalism-1830s-new-england

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Ken Burns – Please, Love Thy Loyalist Ancestor, Too

I never thought I’d say this, but Ken Burns disappointed me. Of course, the documentary films he’s given us are priceless –  The Civil War – Baseball – Jazz, and recently, The Roosevelts. But this same Ken Burns, when he learned one of his ancestors was a Loyalist (or Tory) during the American Revolution, reacted as though told Darth Vader was his father. Considering that Burns also has a Virginia ancestor who owned slaves, – this stung and stunned me.

It happened that I was watching the October 2014 Season 2 episode of the wonderful PBS series, Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. that featured Ken Burns, Anderson Cooper, and Anna Deavere Smith. I gave myself several months , to make sure I wasn’t overreacting,  and here I am. I’ll give you two reasons why, the first, as you may have guessed, is that I have Loyalists in my tree; second, Burns, steeped in history, should know that in any war, people caught up in power struggles – are not simply good guys or bad guys. Ken Burns, of all people, should realize that it wasn’t the Civil War, but the American Revolution that first pitted brother against brother.

Most Americans were farmers, many with deep roots in the land, some with Mayflower ancestors. Through generations of tilling, toiling, and building, families developed farms and expanded homes that they were proud to pass on to their children. They obeyed the laws and paid their taxes; they prayed for peace, so they could get on with their lives. But sometimes their neighbors wouldn’t let them. From U.S. History.org:

Patriots subjected Loyalists to public humiliation and violence. Many Loyalists found their property vandalized, looted, and burned. The patriots controlled public discourse. Woe to the citizen who publicly proclaimed sympathy to Britain.”

D. Hamilton Hurd’s History of Bristol County, Massachusetts (1883) mentions my own revolutionary era ancestors among the Chase, Hathaway, Briggs and Paine families below:

   “At a legal town-meeting held at ye public meeting-house house in Freetown on ye 31st day of May 1777, ye following Tories were voted for trial, viz.: George Brightman, William Winslow, Luther Winslow, John Winslow, Jael Hathaway, Solomon Terry, Abiel Terry, Abiel Terry, Jr., William Hathaway, Silas Hathaway (2nd), Silas Terry, Ebenezer Terry, Benjamin Tompkins, Ralph Paine, Job Paine, Job Paine (2nd), George Chase, George Chase, Jr., Bradford Gilbert, Ephraim Winslow, Ammi Chase, Horah Durfee, Jonathan Dodson, Job Terry, Silas Sherman, Benjamin Cleaveland, Abraham Ashley, John Briggs. – Then Maj. Joshua Hathaway was chosen agent in behalf of ye said town.”

Another book, Divided Hearts – Massachusetts Loyalists 1765 – 1790 by David E. Maas (1980), lists some of the names above: [Note: inimical means hostile or malevolent]

Ammi Chase – Freetown; shipwright RM & L 1777 Family L guilty inimical trial 1777

Eber Chace, Jr. – Bristol County RM inimical trial 1778

Ezra Chace, Jr. – Bristol County RM inimical trial 1777

George Chace, Jr. – Freetown; husbandman RM F; guilty inimical trial 1777; J 1777

Silas Hathway – Freetown; boatman RM inimical trial 1777

Illustration for the American Revolution

It wasn’t only neighbors who turned against one another, families were wrenched apart too, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters, brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles. My 5th great-grandfather, James P. Chase (1745-1816), born in Freetown, was chased away from there, lived in New York for a time, then fled with the 80,000 or so other American loyalists to New Brunswick, Canada. James, however, may be seen as a bad guy, because he actually profited from the war, and I wouldn’t argue. But he paid an awful cost.

Nearly all of James Chase’s 17 brothers and sisters remained near their Massachusetts birthplace, even his brother, George (1755-1787), the Loyalist sympathizer mentioned above. His brothers, Edward Chase (1742-1815) who served 4 days in the Third Company of Freetown Militia in August 1780 and Greenfield Chase (1854-1810) who served in the First Company for 6 days – are Patriots to their proud descendants.

I hope Ken Burns will eventually find a way to embrace his Loyalist ancestor. Those times were difficult for all Americans; terrifying for those tortured by mobs; deadly for those who fell defending their homes and families from the British – or from former friends and neighbors. I believe, people of character acted with honorable intent, whether they chose to stand for tradition  – or to blaze new trails in the history of the world, both Patriot and Loyalist ancestors are worthy of respect.

For those interested, there is even a membership organization called Loyalists & Patriots.

Sources & Resources:

Wikipedia – Loyalist (American Revolution); http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loyalist_(American_Revolution)

AmericanRevolution.org; The Loyalist Pages; http://www.americanrevolution.org/loyalist.php

Divided hearts, Massachusetts loyalists, 1765-1790 : a biographical directory / compiled and edited Maas, David E. [S.l.] : Society of Colonial Wars in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts ; [Boston] : New England Historic Genealogical Society, c1980.

U.S. History: The American Revolution; 11b. Loyalists, Fence-sitters, and Patriots; http://www.ushistory.org/us/11b.asp

History of Bristol County, Massachusetts with Biographical Sketches; D. Hamilton Hurd, (1883; reprint, Philadelphia, PA: J.W. Lewis & Co., 1883), 285-308. Cit. Date: 12 Jul 2014.

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Filed under American history, Colonial History, Massachusetts History

The Evolution of Ichabod Crane

The pleasures of the ancestor quest  for me include discovery, puzzle-solving, and people’s names. Because I have mostly Irish Catholic roots – and those names are limited to church-approved saints, –  I treasure the novelty of my  Protestant ancestors. With their affection for the Old Testament (and their ability to read it), my folks named sons Obadiah, Ebenezer and Zephaniah, and their daughters Keziah, Hephzibah  and Phoebe.*

With Halloween at the end of this week, I was particularly delighted to add a ancestor name that evokes both Protestant tradition and a slice of classic American horror, – Ichabod Pain.

A clip from an image of an original document; Ichabod Pain is enumerated in the 1800 US census in Freetown, Massachusetts.

Ichabod Pain enumerated in the 1800 US census of Freetown, Massachusetts.

Oh, I know you were expecting Ichabod Crane, but with my family, Ichabod Pain (1766-1819) was as close as I could get. I do, however, have plenty of kinship ties to old New York where the writer, Washington Irving (1783-1859) set his 1820 short story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. (Thus, I rationalize this bit of digression.)

When we carve jack-o-lanterns, disguise the kids to fool the neighbors (trick-or-treat), or see a movie that scares us silly, we’re paying tribute to the ancient past.  Many cultures incorporated the belief that ghosts and other supernatural entities, get a visitors’ pass to the mortal world on Halloween night.

Washington Irving’s time and place had its own practices. He also wrote a history of New York.  As an educated man, Irving’s sensibilities were aligned with Enlightenment values of science and reason. For his entertaining fiction, he drew on regional folk tales, superstitions, and universal human foibles to poke a little fun at unreason.

The original Ichabod Crane was a stern, psalm-singing school teacher. Irving gave him a homely face and awkward physique.  When Ichabod sets his sights on marrying the beautiful Katrina Van Tassel,  – though his affection may be genuine, he is also fully aware that the inheritance due Katrina from her wealthy father would greatly improve his circumstances.

As the story goes, Crane loses the girl to his rival, Brom Bones, – who is not necessarily a better man. Brom is a bully, but not a dummy. His epic prank,  – the ride of the headless horseman, exposes Ichabod’s credulous and cowardly nature. So, as first conceived, Ichabod Crane was a dork and a loser.

Ichabod Crane, Respectfully Dedicated to Washington Irving. William J. Wilgus (1819–53), artist Chromolithograph, c. 1856

Ichabod Crane, Respectfully Dedicated to Washington Irving. William J. Wilgus (1819–53), artist, c. 1856

Irving would have loved Jeff Goldblum‘s Ichabod Crane in the 1980 NBC television version of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Before, on the cusp of  the 20th and 21st centuries, the classic tale vanished.

In Tim Burton’s 1999 movie, Sleepy Hollow, Crane was reimagined as his opposite,  a man of science, brave enough to overcome his fears, – and solve crime!  Within 20 years, pop culture transformed Ichabod Crane from zero to hero. While the gifted Johnny Depp imbued his character with a bit of authentic dorkiness,  – his movie idol, swoon-inducing looks obliterated the literary image of Ichabod Crane.

Johnny Depp & Christina Ricci in Sleepy Hollow.

Johnny Depp & Christina Ricci in Sleepy Hollow.

In 2013, we got a Fox TV series that is a sort of Sleepy Hollow / Rip Van Winkle mash-up. The latest Ichabod Crane is a refugee from the 18th century trapped in our time.  He’s educated and intelligent, has courtly manners, a scrupulous sense of honor, and a wicked sense of humor. On top of that is layered so much courage, that Crane’s job is keeping the world from going to the devil – literally. Not a hero, a superhero.

As played by the mesmerizing Tom Mison, – however preposterous the story line, a lot of educated and rational people are willing to suspend disbelief long enough to watch this incarnation of Ichabod Crane.

Tim Mison as Ichabod Crane - www.fox.com

Tim Mison as Ichabod Crane courtesy of http://www.fox.com

But before we part, a quick jump back to Washington Irving, the creator. He is thought to have named his  Ichabod Crane character for Colonel Ichabod Bennett Crane (1787-1857), a man Irving met in 1814. Colonel Crane went on to serve the nation an astonishing 48 years, – so he wasn’t a model for the protagonist’s flaws, – rather, Irving just really liked that name, Ichabod Crane.  — Happy Halloween!

1848 daguerrotype of Col. Ichabod Crane

Col. Ichabod B. Crane

* Protestant naming practices are also especially valued, because married women don’t always lose their birth names – as happens in Catholic families from the nineteenth century and earlier.

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Filed under American history, New York History