Monday, November 10, 2014

Photos of West Brookfield World War I Veterans Found- Update

I have done further research and confirmed that the men below were indeed soldiers from West Brookfield.  I will be posting more information about each in the future.

Thanks to Donna Seger's blog post "Some Came Back" on her blog streetsofsalemI was introduced to a potentially valuable resource.

State Library of Massachusetts has a collection of  World War I soldiers' photographs searchable by name. I found a few photos of interest, though I cannot positively identify them as West Brookfield soldiers.  These photos are of men with names the same as known soldiers from town.  I would appreciate feedback from anyone who knows if these photos are indeed of West Brookfield men.
Clifford L. Pratt
Alfred R. Allen
W. E. Gilinsky

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

52 Ancestors #29: Robert A. Edson - Federal Prohibition Agent

    Robert Adams Edson, was born in West Brookfield, on January 21, 1894.  His parents were Charles O'Meara Edson and Cora Richards.  Robert was a chemist by trade, and at the time of the 1920 census, was living in Hackensack, New Jersey. has a  record collection entitled, U. S., Identification Card Files of Prohibition Agents, 1920-1925.    I entered the search term, "West Brookfield, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA," in the locations box, and found a copy of the Photo ID for Robert A. Edson.   The ID dated Mar. 9 '21 bears the number 7799 in red, and says, "The United States Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service.  This Certifies that Robert A. Edson of W. Brookfield, Mass. is a duly employed as a Federal Prohibition Agent and is hereby authorized to execute and perform all the duties delegated to such officers by law."  It is signed by John F. Kramer Federal Prohibition Commissioner and Wm. M. Williams, Commissioner of Internal Revenue.
    Prohibition Agents were responsible for eliminating the sale and consumption of alcohol by closing speakeasies, destroying stills, and apprehending bootleggers and gangsters.  Jeffrey H. Fiske, mentions two prohibition raids in town, on page 151 of A History of West Brookfield: 1675-1990. The "Uwanta Lunch" was raided by unnamed prohibition officers in October of 1923.  Twelve bottles of whiskey and brandy were seized. The "Happy Rest Eat Shoppe" owned by Sheick Masoonaian was fined $150 for selling liquor in September of 1927.  The location of both establishments was on Route 9; and in fact, may have been identical
   I do not know how long Robert worked as a prohibition agent.  He was living in the Brighton section of Boston by 1930, and working as a chemist in a glue factory.  He married Elizabeth Gunther sometime between 1930 and 1940.  The couple lived together in Boston until June of 1954 when Robert jumped from the Harvard Bridge into the Charles River and drowned.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

52 Ancestors #28: Hannah Joice - Four sons survived her

   Hanora Callahan was born probably about 1811 in Ireland, daughter of David and Hannah Callahan.  She married John Joyce and gave birth to sons Michael and William early in the 1830's.  The family arrived in the United States sometime in the late 1830's or early 1840's, and sons George and Thomas were born somewhere in Massachusetts.  Census records show that the family was living in West Brookfield by September of 1850.  John Joyce died in July of 1860 in West Brookfield, and Hannah died there the following year.  
   Hannah's will, transcribed below, is dated just eight days before her death. Documents found in her probate file indicate that all four sons were living in town at the time of her death.  Son William married and raised his family in town.  George may have stayed in town for a time, as well.  What became of Michael and Thomas?  Further research is needed.
   Will of Hannah Joice

                        Be it remembered that I, Hannah Joice of West Brookfield, in the  county of Worcester, and the state of Massachusetts, Widow, being of sound and disposing mind do make and publish and declare this my last will and testament.
First                  I give and bequeath to my son Michael Joise, one dollar to be paid out of my estate within one year of after my decease.
Secondly           I give and bequeath to my son Wm Joise, one dollar to be paid out of my estate within one year after my decease
Thirdly              I give and bequeath to my two minor sons Thomas Joise, and George Joise, all my real estate, and all my personal property, after paying the above bequests, and all my honest debts.
Finally               I hereby appoint William Joise to be the sole executor of this my last will and testament, hereby revokeing[sic], all other and former wills by me made and declaring this and this only to be my last will and testament.
                         In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this fifth day of January in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty one

                                                            Hannah Joice [her mark]

                         Signed published and declared by the said Hannah Joise, her last will and testament in the presence of us, who in her presence and in the presents[sic] of each other, have hereunto set our hands as witnesses.

                                                            Joseph A. Sprague

                                                            John Ducy

                                                            Phillip Harrington

Monday, August 18, 2014

52 Ancestors #27: John Clayton - Born John Crouch

While browsing through images of Worcester County Probate Files on, I came across a file for John Clayton of West Brookfield.  I decided to view the contents of the file and immediately noticed that John's heirs included some of his brothers.  What interested me, was that his brothers had the last name, Crouch, and not Clayton.  I did some further research, and found that John Crouch had changed his name to John Clayton on April 16, 1836.  I found an online tree which included the Crouch family and it gave me some insight as to the reason for the name change, (see notes in online tree), and while I have not been able to verify the information, I believe it to be true, at least in part.  Below, I have transcribed the Will of John Clayton from the online images.

Know all Men by these Presents,

That I, John Clayton of West Brookfield in the County of Worcester and Commonwealth of Massachusetts, being if sound mind and memory, but, knowing the uncertainty of this life, do, this thirtieth day of October in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and seventy two make and publish this, my last Will and Testament, in manner and form following, that is to say:-

First      I give bequeath and devise to my beloved wife Emma A Clayton and her heirs my household furniture wearing apparel and family stores which may be on hand at my decease - Also my Homestead situated in West Brookfield aforesaid and consisting of about one half acre of land with a dwelling House Barn and other buildings thereon, being the same now occupied by me

Second   I give and bequeath to my brother William Crouch and his heirs and assigns the sum of Five hundred dollars

Third      I give and bequeath to my sister Eudocia Small and her heirs the sum of Five hundred dollars

Fourth    I give and bequeath to my sister Mercy Bacon and her heirs the sum of Five Hundred dollars

Fifth       I give and bequeath to my sister Emily White and her heirs the sum of Five Hundred dollars

Sixth      I give and bequeath to my brother Levi S. Crouch and his heirs the sum of Five Hundred Dollars

Seventh I give and bequeath to my sister Mary Dunham and her heirs the sum of Three Hundred Dollars

Eighth    I give and bequeath to the Congregational Society of West Brookfield the sum of One Hundred dollars to be expended by said society in the purchase of books for their Sabbath school Library.

Ninth     I hereby order and direct my executor herein after named to cause to come to be erected in the burial ground at Brimfield Massachusetts three grave stones of suitable size and quality to wit: one to the memory of my brother Benjamin Crouch and his wife - one to the memory of my fathers second wife and one to the memory of my brother Ruel Crouch

Tenth     I hereby autherize and direct my Executer[sic] herein after named to sell and dispose of , pass deeds and convey, at such time and in such manner as he shall deem best for the interest of my estate, any and all of my real and personal estate wherever situated -(Excepting such part thereof as is herein before bequeathed and devised to my wife Emma A Clayton)

Eleventh After the payment of my just debts and funeral charges, the erection of  suitable grave stone to my memory (which I direct to be done) the bequests and orders herein before expressed and the necessary expenses of administration of my estate - I hereby give and bequeath the remainder of all my estate both real and personal (That is the proceeds of the sale thereof) of what value and nature soever to my aforesaid wife Emma A Clayton and her heirs

                                                                              And I do hereby appoint Joseph F Hitchcock of Warren in said county of Worcester sole executer[sic] of this my last Will and testament hereby revoking annulling and declaring void all former wills by me at any time heretofore made

                         John Clayton [signature]

                         Witnessed by A. G. Blodgett

                                              Augustus W. Gilbert

                                              Alfred A Gilbert

1. Foskett family tree including descendants of Ephraim Crouch research by Marilyn Labbe, copyright Sandra Smith
2. Massachusetts Name Changes, 1780-1892, List of Persons Whose Names Have Been Changed in This Commonwealth,page 7980, Operations Inc, Provo, Utah, 1998
3. Massachusetts, Vital Records, Brimfield, Brookfield, and West Brookfield
4. Massachusetts, Worcester County, Probate Files, 1731-1925, images, FamilySearch (,1055515901 : accessed 18 Aug 2014), Worcester > Case no 12335-12432, Clark, William-Cleveland, Ellen M, 1731-1881 > image 208 of 1175; citing Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Boston, Massachusetts.

52 Ancestors #26: Valentine G. Hewett - Will Transcription

Will of Valentine G. Hewett - Allowed June 20, 1876

Worcester County, Massachusetts Probate Case No. 29239
Vol. 455, Page 509
Be it remembered that I Valentine G. Hewett of West Brookfield, in the County of Worcester, and Commonwealth of Massachusetts, being of sound and disposing mind and memory, do make and declare this my last Will and testament and dispose of my estate in the following manner.

First         I direct that so much of my real estate shall be sold as may be necessary for the payment of my just debts and Funeral charges.

Second    After the payment of said debts and charges, I give and bequeath to my wife Caroline A. Hewett the use and income of all the remainder of my estate real or personal during her lifetime.

Third        After the decease of my wife Caroline A Hewett I give and bequeath to my son Edward G Hewett, one hundred dollars, to be kept in the house of his brother George H. Hewett, and paid to him or his family in such sums and such time as they may need for their benefit and comfort.

Fourth      I hereby direct that the remainder of my estate real or personal to be equally divided between my sons George H. Hewett, Charles F. Hewett, and my daughters Elvira Barnes, Mary A. Batcheller, and Adie A. Aldrich, or their heirs or assigns.

Fifth         I hereby appoint my son George H. Hewett the executor of this last will and testament.


                In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal, in the presence of these Witness named below, this twelfth day of April in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and seventy six

                                                                                     Valentine G. Hewett

Signed. sealed and declared by the above named Valentine G. Hewett, to be his last Will and testament, in our presence who in his presence and at his request, and in the presence of each other we have signed our names as witnesses.

                                                                                    Horace G. Rawson

                                                                                    John R. Tomblen

                                                                                    Elizabeth C. Rawson

   Northbridge, Massachusetts vital records include the birth of Valentine G. Hewet, son of Eli and Betsey, born June 16, 1816.  [Other records show birth place as Douglas or East Douglas, MA].  His marriage to Caroline A. Morey of Grafton on July, 1836 was recorded in Sutton, MA.  Six known children were born to Valentine and Caroline, and all are mentioned in his Will.
  Valentine and Caroline came to West Brookfield from Sutton, probably in 1869, when Valentine purchased three acres of land with buildings in the village of West Brookfield, from Onslow P. Maynard. [Worcester County Deed Book 803, pages 361 and 362.]
   Valentine, died of Consumption on May 15, 1876, at his home in West Brookfield.

Massachusetts, Worcester County, Probate Files, 1731-1925, images, FamilySearch (,1292497701 : accessed 13 Aug 2014), Worcester > Case no 29178-29256, Hearsey, Ellen A-Hicks, David, 1731-1881 > image 1061 of 1234; citing Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Boston, Massachusetts.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

52 Ancestors #25: Philip Harrington- A quitclaim lists heirs

   Philip Harrington was born in Ireland about 1813, son of Daniel Harrington and Hannah Scanlon.  He married Julia Shea.  The couple lived and farmed in West Brookfield, Massachusetts by 1850, and fourteen children were born to them there.  Philip died Feb. 7, 1889 in West Brookfield, and is buried in Sacred Heart Cemetery.
   This quitclaim found at is important because it lists Philip's living heirs, their spouses, and their places of residence.  I had lost track of son Timothy, and was able to find him using information in the document.

Margaret Shea to Julia Harrington - Quitclaim property on Milk Street, West Brookfield, MA, Worcester County Deed Book 1313, Pages 472 - 474
   Know all men by these presents that we, Margaret Shea, and Timothy Harrington of Springfield, and Kate Gallivan, Hannah Harrington, Julia Shea, Eliza Donovan, Nellie Morgan and Philip Harrington, of West Brookfield, and all in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, in consideration of One dollar, and other valuable consideration to us paid by Julia Harrinton of West Brookfield in the County of Worcester and Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged, do hereby remise, release and forever quitclaim unto the said Julia Harrington her heirs and assigns, a certain tract of land with the buildings thereon standing, situated on the Westerly side of Milk street and near the Boston and Albany Railroad crossing in West Brookfield aforesaid, bounded and described as follows, to wit: on the East by Milk street aforesaid, on the South by Quaboag River, on the West by land formerly owned by Edmond O'Day and on the North by land of the Boston and Albany Railroad Company, and land of Joseph E. Waite, and being the same premises described in a certain deed given by William Cady to Philip Harrington, dated September Fourteenth A. D. 1882, and recorded with Worcester District Deeds, Libro 1126, folio 455 to which deed and the record therof references is hereby made for a more full description of the premises hereby conveyed. Also all our right, title, and interest in and to any and all of the personal property belonging to the estate of Philip Harrington, late of said West Brookfield deceased. [ blank space ] To have and to hold the granted premises, with all the privileges and appurtenances thereto belonging to the said Julia Harrington and her heirs and assigns to their own use and behoof forever. And we do hereby, for ourselves, and out heirs, executors and administrators, covenant with the said grantee and her heirs and assigns that the granted premises are free from all encumbrances made or suffered by us and that we will and our heirs, executors and administrators shall warrant and defend the same to the said grantee and her heirs and assigns forever against the lawful claims and demands of all persons claiming by, through or under us but against none other. And for the consideration aforesaid, we, John Shea, husband of Margaret Shea, John T. Gallivan, husband of Kate Gallivan, Michael Shea, husband of Julia Shea, John Morgan, husband of Nellie Morgan, and J. S. Donovan, husband of Eliza Donovan, do hereby release unto the said grantee and her heirs and assigns all right of or to both dower[?] and homestead or right by curtsy in the granted premise.
  The document was signed and witnessed by some family members on September 10, 1889.  It appears that others may have signed later.

Worcester County Deed Book 1313, Page 473

Worcester County Deed Book 1313, Page 174

  I have transcribed most of the document using a free program called Transcript, available from 
What a great timesaver!

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