Monday, July 14, 2014

52 Ancestors #24 - From the Probate File of Samuel Bliss of Brookfield

Terms of Samuel's Last Will and Testament dated March 28, 1842

1. To  wife Mary Bliss the use and improvement of one undivided third part of my home farm during her natural life
2. To son David Bliss I give and devise my home farm, my farming tools, my household furniture, and all my stock of cattle on the same, wood lot of ten acres in the South Parish of Brookfield purchased from Seth Watkins, after deducting what I have given my wife.  Also a note of hand held against Dea. Alfred White. This was given upon the condition that David give three hundred dollars to the children of Mary Rogers, Samuel's daughter, and that he provide his mother with whatever sum of money and support she might need in addition to her third of the farm. [Bliss Genealogy lists children of Mary and Samuel Rogers as Samuel, Charles, George, Eli, and Mary.]
3, To son Samuel Bliss - the farm on which he resides partly in Warren and partly in Brookfield - 75 acres more or less.  This was given on the condition that he give to the children of Samuel's late daughter Sarah Rogers, the late wife of Benjamin Rogers, the sum of four hundred dollars to be divided in equal shares and given to each of them at age 21. [Bliss Genealogy lists children of Sarah and Benjamin Rogers as Sarah, Harriet, William, and Benjamin.]  William was later known as William E. Gilbert, the subject of Last Weeks Post.
4. To son Levi Bliss the residue of the farm purchased from Seth Watkins in the South parish of Brookfield containing about 70 acres.
5. To daughter Mary Rogers - $25 to be paid by executor
Executors named were sons David and Samuel.

Appointment of Jesse Bliss, Esquire as guardian ad litum for the minor children of Benjamin Rogers - grandchildren of Samuel - May 10, 1842

Massachusetts, Worcester County, Probate Files, 1731-1881, images, FamilySearch (,1055534101 : accessed 14 Jul 2014), Worcester > Case no 5997-6066, Bliss, Issac-Blood, Eliza A, 1731-1881 > images 375 and 377 of 1259; citing Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Boston, Massachusetts.
Title: Genealogy of the Bliss family in America, from about the year 1550-1880
Publisher: Boston, Mass., Printed by the author
Contributor: Boston Public Library

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

52 Ancestors #23: William E. Gilbert - Born William Edwin Rogers

   Recently I came across the a 1911 death record recorded in Northampton, Hampshire County, Massachusetts for William E. Gilbert.  As I began  to cite the record in my database, I was surprised to find that the name of his father was written on this record as B. Franklin Rogers (sic) who had been born in Holden.  B. Franklin Rogers  ??? 
   My database showed that name as Benjamin Rogers Gilbert, and I had used the marriage record of William E. Gilbert and Henrietta Pepper as a source.  I immediately went back to the source as found on  Sure enough, I had made an error by making the assumption that the last name Gilbert had been left off the record.  Had I looked carefully at the other records on the page, I would have realized that the last names of all the fathers on that page were listed.
  Now I had some new questions.  Why and when did William's last name become Gilbert?  To date, I have been unable to answer either of those questions.  My theory is that William's parents died when William was a young boy and perhaps he was adopted by one of the Gilberts in town.
  Using pre 1850 vital records from Brookfield and Holden, and later records from West Brookfield, and Brimfield I have found the following:
   1. Benjamin Rogers and Sarah Bliss Marriage intentions in Brookfield on Mar. 28, 1830, and in Holden on March 31, 1830.  [A Bliss genealogy says they married in May 1830.]  Sarah Bliss was William E. Gilbert's mother's name according to his death record.
  2. Birth of William Edwin Rogers on July 5, 1836. [Death record of William E. Gilbert says born West Brookfield on July 5, 1833] West Brookfield was a part of Brookfield until 1848.  This is probably the birth record for the man known as William E. Gilbert.
  3. Death of Sarah Rogers, wife of Benjamin on March 3, 1842. [Brookfield VR]  Mother of William E. Gilbert
  4. I have not positively identified either William Rogers or William E. Gilbert in the 1850 U.S. or 1855 Massachusetts Census
  5. 1858 Marriage record of William E. Gilbert and Henrietta Pepper
   I have not found evidence that William ever lived with a Gilbert family,  and need to find probate court records, not yet online.
   I have discovered a number of new facts about William E. Gilbert in other records, including a record of William's 2nd marriage, the last will and testament of his grandfather, Samuel Bliss, which mentions the children of his late daughter Sarah, wife of Benjamin Rogers. has quitclaim deed where Benjamin F. Rogers of Paxton, relinquishes to William E. Gilbert, his claim on land previously owned by his uncle, David Bliss.  I also found information in two published family genealogies. One was a genealogy of his mother's Bliss family, and the other, a genealogy of the Gleason family  which he married into twice. 
  I know from Samuel Bliss' will, that Sarah Bliss Rogers had a sister who married the brother of Benjamin F. Rogers.  I also know that William Edwin Rogers had a brother named Benjamin F. Rogers.  I have yet to determine which one signed the quitclaim deed.
  I know that William's third wife, Desdemona Bump, was the niece of his second wife, Susan Gleason.  I have been unable to find an official record of the third marriage in MA.
  I am now left with a great deal more work to do on the Gleason and Bliss families, both of whom lived in Brookfield and West Brookfield for many generations, and I still have not found when or why William Edwin Rogers became William E. Gilbert.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

52 Ancestors #22: Rev. Samuel Dunham - 12th pastor of West Brookfield Congregational Church


From Google Books

 Samuel Dunham was born in Southington, Hartford, Connecticut on Feb. 8, 1835, son of Chauncey, and Sylvia (Langdon) Dunham.  He prepared for college at Lewis Academy in Southington, and graduated from Yale in the class of 1860.  After graduating from Yale, he attended Union Theological Seminary in New York for two years, and graduated from Andover, Massachusetts Theological Seminary in August 1863.  Samuel married Sarah Maria Clark in Harwinton, Litchfield, Connecticut on Oct. 6, 1863.
   Mr. Dunham began to preach in the West Brookfield Congregational Church (known previously as the First Church of Brookfield) in April 1863, a few months prior to his graduation from Andover Theological Seminary.  He was called to serve as the regular pastor in West Brookfield in March of 1864, and was ordained there on Oct. 4, 1864.  Rev. Dunham and his wife Sarah served the West Brookfield parish for more that seven years.  Their first two children were born in town.  Samuel Clark Dunham, born in 1866, and Clara Langdon Dunham, born 1869 and died 1870.   The church celebrated its150th anniversary with commemorative ceremonies, speeches and celebrations. On Oct. 12, 1870 Rev. Dunham was dismissed at his own request, citing "ill health," and moved to Norwalk, CT. 
  Rev. Dunham served for two years in Norwalk.  He and Sarah welcomed a son, Chauncey Wilson there in 1871.  The family moved to Binghamton, NY in 1873, when Samuel was appointed pastor of the West Presbyterian Church there. He served actively in that capacity until December 1901, when he retired and became the pastor emeritus.
During the years in Binghamton, sons Chauncey and Samuel had died, another son, Luther Langdon Dunham was born about 1875, and died in 1893, and sadly, Samuel's wife Sarah died in 1894.  Samuel married Robertha McLeod on Dec.. 10, 1901.  She was more that thirty years his junior.  Samuel died at home in Binghamton on Dec. 4, 1936, at the age of 101.  He was buried in Glenwood Cemetery.  Robertha died in 1944.

1. In loving memory of Mrs. Sarah M. (Clark) Dunham, wife of Rev. Samuel Dunham, pastor of the West Presbyterian Church, of Binghamton, N.Y., died April 9, 1894 (
2. Matrimony Notice for Mr. Samuel Dunham and Miss Sarah Maria Clark (
3. Retrospect of a Happy Ministry: The Life Story of Half a Century, Including Personal Reminiscences, and a Complete History from Its First Inception of the West Presbyterian Church, Binghamton, N.Y. (Google eBook)
4. Samuel Dunham Dies in New York, 101(
5. Vital Records of West Brookfield, MA 1841-1910 (


Saturday, June 14, 2014

52 Ancestors #21: Mary Abbott - Not the daughter of James Abbott and Azuba Ruggles

  Many online trees which include the West Brookfield, Massachusetts family of James Abbott and his wife Azuba (Ruggles) Abbott, have a supposed fourth child named Mary.  I, too, noticed Mary, aged five, living in the household at the time of the 1850 United States census, and found it curious that I had not found her birth record in Brookfield vital records, and that she had not been mentioned in the wills of James or Azuba.  Descendants of George Abbott, of Rowley, Mass ..., did not include Mary with the family, even though the information for that family was contributed by James and Azuba's daughter Eliza. I also calculated that Azuba Abbott would have been about 48 years of age at the time of Mary's birth. 
   I did find, upon further investigation, that Mary Abbott married Jason Stoddard in West Brookfield on Oct. 30, 1868 at the age of 22.  Her birth place was recorded in the marriage record, as Hartford, Ct, and her parents were named, as John and Frances Parks. At first, I interpreted this to mean John Abbott and Frances (Parks), but after comparing this record with the others on the page, I realized that the other records included only the first names of the parents.  There were no parentheses around the name Parks.  Did this mean the parents were John Parks, and his wife Frances?
   Mary A. Stoddard died in North Brookfield, MA, on Dec. 10, 1889, of consumption, at age 45years, 3 months, and 15 days.  According to her death record, she was born in Hartford, Ct., was adopted by Eliza Abbott, and her parents were unknown.
   Who were Mary Abbott's parents?  I am not certain.  I have not found a birth record, for Mary Parks or Mary Abbott, born about 1845 in Hartford, CT, nor have I identified the John and Frances Parks named in the marriage record of Mary Abbott and Jason Stoddard.
  Where then, does Mary belong in the family tree?  She was not named at all in the wills of James or Azubah, even though she was enumerated in their household in 1850 and 1860.  Eliza Abbott was seventeen at the time of the 1850 census, old enough to have given birth to a child, but probably not old enough to have adopted one. She would have been just 12 years old when Mary was born.  Eliza outlived Mary by fourteen years, so there would most likely be no mention of Mary in Eliza's will (assuming she left one.)  My question remains as I ponder how to proceed in my quest for the best answer.
   How would you handle this dilemma?

Sources available upon request.  They include MA Vital Records found on, census records found on, the wills of James Abbott and Azubah Abbott found at, Descendants of George Abbott, of Rowley, Mass ..., found on

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

52 Ancestors #20: George Rufus Abbott - Ship's Mate - What became of him?

   This week I have spent some time researching the family of James and Azubah (Ruggles) Abbott.  I had a tough time finding accurate information about their son, George.   While I do not have proof, I think I now have an indication of how he lived his life.  This information was first found without a source in an Ancestry Tree. I have likely located the tree owners' source by doing a Google search for "George Abbott died Peru 1872."
   George Rufus Abbot was born 19 Apr. 1834 or 1835 in Brookfield, Massachusetts.  His parents were James Abbott, a yeoman, and Azubah (Ruggles) Abbott.  George left home, and went to work as a ship's mate.  His whereabouts were unknown at the time of his father's death in 1864.  He was enumerated as being "at sea"  in the 1870 US Census taken in West Brookfield.  On the list of lawful heirs in the probate file of his mother Azubah, who died in 1871, his address was indicated as West Brookfield.
   What happened to George?  According to an entry in,  Descendants of George Abbott, of Rowley, Mass., Vol 2, pg. 583, George was thrown from a horse in Callao, Peru, and died on May 30, 1872.  The information was most likely contributed by his sister Eliza.  Also cited was Spooner/Ruggles family reg.

Sources: Vital Records of Brookfield, Masschusetts to the end of the year 1849. U.S. Federal Census, 1870, West Brookfield, MA., Worcester County, Massachusetts, Probate Records for James Abbot, and Azubah Abbott

Maj. Lemuel Abijah Abbott. Descendants of George Abbott, of Rowley, Mass., of his joint descendants with George Abbott, sr., of Andoer, Mass.; of the descendants of Daniel Abbott, of Providence, R. I.; of some of the descendants of Capt. Thomas Abbott, of Andover, Mass.; of George Abbott, of Norwalk Ct.; of Robert Abbott, of Branford Ct.; with brief notes of many others of the name, original settlers in the United States. By Major Lemuel Abijah Abbott .. (1906).

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

52 Ancestors # 19: Sullivan Converse

   Sullivan Converse was born in New Braintree, Massachusetts on Oct. 8, 1821, one of nine children of Col. Roswell and Theodoshia (Nichols) Converse.  Educated in Westfield,  he returned to the large family farm in New Braintree, and purchased it from his father in 1848.  There, on over 200 acres, he raised cattle, sheep, and swine, and grew rye, Indian corn, and oats. He was known for successfully breeding Ayrshire cattle. He sold the farm in 1880 and moved to West Brookfield, with his wife, the former Anjenette B. Fenton, whom he had married Feb. 27, 1850 in Palmer, MA.  Anjenette died in West Brookfield on July 28, 1895. 
   A short notice in the Springfield Daily News published August 7, 1896 announced the marriage of Converse Sullivan and Lilia E. Barnes at the home of the groom on Tueday evening with only immediate family members present.  Lillian was 45 years younger than her husband, and considered an estimable young woman in town.

Converse Sullivan died in Feb. 27, 1899, at home on Central St. after a long illness, and was buried in Pine Grove Cemetery.  Lillian married George Johnson in 1902.  She died in 1910.

Sources:  Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850 and    Massachusetts Vital Records 1841-1910  US Federal Census Agricultural Schedule 1850 and 1870 Death Notice of Mrs. Sullivan Converse; Worcester Daily Spy; July 30, 1895
"                                 Marriage Announcement for Sullivan Converse and Lilia E. Barnes, Springfield Daily News; Aug. 7, 1896
"                                 Obituary of Sullivan Converse, Springfield Daily Republican, Feb. 28, 1899

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

52 Ancestors #18: Deacon Baxter Ellis - Heirs and Legacies: Rich Genealogical Information in Will

     Baxter Ellis, was born Feb. 17, 1792, the first known child of Buckminster (Nathan B.) and Thankful (Barrett) Ellis.  His birth is recorded in Brookfield, and he was most likely born there in the First Parish.  He became a member of the First Church in 1818. Brookfield records show an intention of marriage between Baxter Ellis, and Lucy Upham on April 7 of  1819, and Dudley, MA records show that Baxter and Lucy were married on July 9th of that year.  Lucy was the daughter of Ephraim and Sarah (Foster) Upham of Dudley.
   Baxter is mentioned as a steward at the State Lunatic Hospital at Worcester, in an 1839 report and again in 1842. Lucy was employed as a matron there. They received board and annual salaries for their work.  I have not found any children born to Baxter and Lucy, and the heirs named in Baxter's will, were siblings, and nieces and nephews.
   Baxter and Lucy Ellis were living in West Brookfield at the time of the 1850 and 1860 United States Censuses.  Baxter farmed there, and was prominent in the Congregational Church, where he had been appointed a deacon in 1845.  Baxter died on Oct. 8, 1866 in West Brookfield.  He left behind Lucy and a lengthy list of heirs according to Worcester County Probate records Case Number 19003 found online at  The will and other documents in the file contain Ellis family information which otherwise might take many hours to compile.

   First - Wife Lucy and her heirs $3000, household furniture, wearing apparel, and     family stores    
   Second - Trustees of Phillips Academy of Andover, Massachusetts, $500 dollars for founding a scholarship for a Theological Seminary student in need.
   Third - American Board of Commissions for Foreign Missions, $500
   Fourth - Massachusetts Home Missionary Society. $500
   Fifth - American Peace Society - $100
   Sixth - American Bible Society - $100
   Seventh - American Tract Society instituted in the city of Boston - $100
   Eighth - My brother Gaius Ellis and his heirs - $500
   Ninth -  My nephew Calvin H. Hayward and his heirs - $200
   Tenth - Niece Susan E. Jones and her heirs - $50
The aforesaid Calvin H. Hayward and Susan E. Jones being children of my deceased sister Mary Hayward.
   Eleventh - My nephew R. Gordon Ellis and his heirs - $100, and my niece Julia Ellis and her heirs - $50 (children of my deceased brother Calvin Ellis)
   Twelfth - my sister Caroline Adams, wife of Sydney Adams, and her three children - the sum of $20 to be equally divided between them, viz: five dollars each
   Thirteenth - My sister Lucy B. Ellis, wife of Abijah Ellis, and her heirs - $200, and to each of her four daughters and their heirs, to wit, Susan Allen, Frances Ellis, Mary Ellis, and Caroline Ellis, and their heirs - $25 each
   Fourteenth - My sister Susan Fitts, the wife of Samuel Fitts, and her heirs - $200, and to her sons (by a former husband) Edwin Upham, and Lyman Baxter Upham, and their heirs - $200 each, and four daughters, Carolyn Hayward, Maria Upham, Elizabeth Upham, and Adeline Upham - $25 each
   Fifteenth - My nephew J. I. F. Ellis and my niece Mary Shumway and their heirs (children of my brother Gaius) - $100 each
   Sixteenth - Curtis Ellis, (son of my nephew Nathan B. Ellis deceased) and his heirs - $100
The will goes on to name his wife Lucy and his cousin Dwight Ellis to be executors.  (Lucy declined.)  It also provides for the improvement and sale of the property,  and also provides for the division of any assets after the death of his wife Lucy.

The probate file includes a list of heirs at law and their residences  Several of the heirs had left Massachusetts; and thus this list was an important find.

The will of Baxter Ellis gives the reader some insight into the values and traits of the man who wrote it.  The importance of his faith and his family are evident.