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

Robert A. Edson - Federal Prohibition Agent

Ellen Sophia Bills and Robert Edson - circa 1897
Used by permission of Chirstina Kraus


  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

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

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 of 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.

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

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 our 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

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

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

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 than 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

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

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.

1. Vital Records of Brookfield, Masschusetts to the end of the year 1849.
2. U.S. Federal Census, 1870, West Brookfield, MA.
3., Worcester County, Massachusetts, Probate Records for James Abbot, and Azubah Abbott
4. Maj. Lemuel Abijah Abbott. Descendants of George Abbott, of Rowley, Mass., of his joint descendants with George Abbott, sr., of Andover, 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

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

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.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Ebenezer Merriam - Printer

   Ebenezer Merriam was born Dec. 15, 1777 in Leicester (or possibly Paxton), Massachusetts, son of Ebenezer and Margaret (Jefferson). At the age of thirteen, he began a six year apprenticeship in Worcester, with Isaiah Thomas, the well known printer, and publisher of the "Worcester Spy."  Mr. Merriam spent a few months in Boston following his apprenticeship, and then, in 1798, established, with his brother Dan,  E. Merriam & Co., a printing and book binding business, located in the West Parish of Brookfield, (now West Brookfield.)  The company's first publishing venture was the a newspaper known as the "Political Repository or Farmers' Journal,"  which was sold at an annual subscription price of one dollar and seventy-five cents. Printed on a printing press which had formerly been used by Benjamin Franklin, its publication continued for a period of three years.  The number of subscribers and advertisers was insufficient to sustain the "Repository," even though the subscription price was lowered to a dollar and fifty cents fairly early in its publication; and thus, the brothers turned their attention to printing and binding law books, text books, dictionaries, and BiblesDan Merriam died in 1823, and Ebenezer continued in the business with Dan's son George, changing the name to E. & G. Merriam of West Brookfield.  The Merriam Printing Office building at the corner of West Main and Central Sts. was built between 1824 and 1829 (another source says 1810), and is still in use today.  George left the business in 1831, and formed the G. & C. Merriam Company in Springfield with his brother Charles.  Ebenezer continued in business in West Brookfield until his retirement in 1848. 

Merriam Printing Office Building as it appears today. ( From West Brookfield Reconnaissance Report 2008 for MA  Dept. of Conservation and Recreation)
   Ebenezer married Sally Hitchcock, the daughter of Moses and Hannah (Williston)Hitchcock, on Nov. 28, 1799 in Brookfield.  Three children were born to this couple.  They were Sarah Hitchcock Merriam born 1801, who married physician and surgeon, Phineas Royce and resided in Niagara Falls, New York; Caroline Maria Merriam, born 1802 and died 1819; and Ebenezer Parsons Merriam, born 1804, married Rachel Randall in 1831, and died in 1881.  Sadly, Ebenezer's wife Sarah died in January of 1805. 
   Ebenezer married second, in Brookfield in 1814,  Mary Cutler, daughter of Joseph and Martha (Brown) Cutler. He died of old age on Oct. 1, 1858, in West Brookfield. Mary died Nov. 4, 1861. They did not have children.

Update May 10, 2020
Recently a Bible which belonged to this family was purchased from an antique book dealer. It contained a family register, and I have obtained a digital copy of this register from the purchaser. 
See the related blog post A Glimpse Into the Merriam Family Bible

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

West Brookfield Asparagus & Flower Heritage Festival - West Brookfield Events Calendar - Social Web

West Brookfield's spring festival which began twelve years ago as the Asparagus Festival, is just a couple of weeks away.  Enjoy a day on the town common, and sample all manner of asparagus offerings.  Here's a link to follow for further information.

West Brookfield Asparagus & Flower Heritage Festival - West Brookfield Events Calendar - Social Web

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Jerusha (Wood(s)) Gilbert Barr - Marriage Contract found in Land Records

I have been updating this post to use in Dear Myrtle's Study Group
examining Elizabeth Shown Mills' Quick Lesson Number 5 from Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source . This lesson calls for considering the laws and customs of the area and time period in which a document was created, in order gain a better understanding of its meaning and significance.
Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 5: Analyzing Records,” Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage ( : accessed 10 April 2016.)
   While searching for land records at, I came across an interesting entry in the index.  The marriage contract of Jerusha Gilbert, located in Deed Book 429, Page 461 and 462, is a contract between Jerusha, widow of Harvey Gilbert, and James P. Barr, agreeing that Jerusha will maintain sole control over the property she inherited from her late husband and any profits derived from it. 

Online image, Massachusetts Land Records, Worcester County;  1840-1889, Grantor Index, entry for Harvey Gilbert to James P. Barr; ( 29 April 2014.)


   Here is a transcription of the contract dated 16 November 1847.
James P. Barr to Jerusha A. Gilbert
This intention of the parts made and entered into this sixteenth day of November in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty seven by and between James P. Barr of Brookfield in the county of Worcester of the first part, and Jerusha A. Gilbert of said Brookfield in the said county of Worcester of the other part Witnesseth that whereas the said Jerusha A. Gilbert seized to her + to her heirs of certain real estate and personal property situate and lying in said Brookfield a schedule whereof is hereunto annexed which schedule is hereunto signed by the said James P. Barr and the said Jerusha A. Gilbert upon the contract of which marriage the said James P. Barr hath agreed that if the same shall take effect then notwithstanding the said marriage he the said James P. Barr his executors, administrators or assigns shall not and will not intermeddle with, or have any right title or interest either in law or equity in or to any part of the rents issues + profits of the said real and personal estate of the said Jerusha A. Gilbert a schedule whereof is hereunto annexed but same shall remain contain and be the property of the said Jerusha A. Gilbert to her sole and separate use as she the said Jerusha a shall think fit + appoint free from the control and interference of the said James P. Barr.  And the said James P. Barr for the purpose of making this said agreement effectual in law doth for himself his heirs executors administrators and assigns covenant to and with the said Jerusha A. Gilbert by these presents and in the manner following, that is to say, that if the intended marriage shall take effect, he the said James P. Barr shall + will permit and suffer the said Jerusha A. Gilbert to give grant and dispose of her said separate estate as she shall think fit in her lifetime and to make such will or other writing as aforesaid and thereby to give order or devise limit + appoint her said separate estate to any person or persons for ant trust use interest or purpose whatsoever, and also it shall an may be lawful to + for the said Jerusha A. at any time from + after the said marriage shall take effect to commence any action or suit in law or equity in her own name against any person or persons for the recovery of any sum or fund of money now due or to grow due to her Jerusha A. on her said separate estate as aforesaid ______. In witness whereof we the said parties above named have hereunto set our hands and seals the day above written signed sealed in the presence of us.
James P. Barr (Seal)
Jerusha A. Gilbert (Seal)
Mary Ann Bliss
Jesse Bliss
[Following the agreement is a schedule of property, including a farm of about 110 acres, real estate being the same lately owned by Harvey Gilbert the late husband of said Jerusha A who is now deceased. Also listed were a few cows and some household furnishings with no value given, and a promissory note.]
   Evidence that a marriage between Jerusha Gilbert and James P. Burr, took place on Nov. 18, 1847 in Brattleboro, Vermont, just two days after the above contract was signed was found in the Family Search collection of "Vermont Vital Records, 1760-1954," which includes images of index cards and not an actual record.  I  also found Jerusha's 1869 petition for guardianship of two of her children with James Barr, which states that she is the widow of James P. Barr.

Vermont, Vital Records, 1760-1954, image index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 30 Apr 2014), 004542971 > image 2940 of 3920; citing State Capitol Building, Montpelier.

Massachusetts, Worcester County, Probate Files, 1731-1881, images, FamilySearch (,1055526701 : accessed 30 Apr 2014), Worcester > Case no 3696-3781, Barnes, Samuel-Barrett, Danforth K, 1731-1881 > image 647 of 1113; citing Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Boston, Massachusetts.
  The statute at that time said that either party in a marriage could retain individual rights for property owned before a marriage if a marriage contract was signed before the marriage. A description of a statute enacted in Massachusetts in 1845 and later codified as MGL c.209 §25. Antenuptial settlements; force and effect is explained on this web page Brief History of Enforcement of Prenuptial Agreements in Massachusetts
   Why was the document created? It was the available legal way for Jerusha to protect her interests and keep control of the real estate and personal property which she had inherited from her first husband, Harvey Gilbert. [See Worcester County Probate case 23649]
   Why was it of importance to her?  Some insight may be gained by looking at -
   1. The history of the property and in particular, the real estate which belonged to Jerusha.  Was this originally Wood property or Gilbert property?
    2. Jerusha had 4 children (Lyman, Susan, Amelia and Harvey) with Harvey Gilbert who were minors at the time of her marriage to James Barr. Perhaps she wanted to provide for them from the revenue of the farm or the proceeds of its sale.
   3. Other reasons not yet evident including possible character issues involving families involved. Was it just common sense and customary practice for a woman to protect her own interests in this way? (I have not seen any other marriage contracts, but perhaps I should look for others.)
   Action Items
   1. Trace this history of the property prior to Harvey Gilbert's Death. I know it bordered other Gilbert lands, and was originally sold to a member of the Gilbert family by a member of the Wood family. I need to look at the family relationships of the landholders for possible relevance.
   2. Reexamine probate records for Harvey Gilbert including Guardianship records for his children.  Also look for probate files for Jerusha's parents, Harvey, Srs. parents and siblings.
   3. I remember being disappointed to learn that Jerusha sold the property to her father-in-law, Aseph Barr, just 11 months after her marriage to his son.  I need to go back and determine if she sold all of the property in question, and to see if I can understand possible reasons for the sale. Were there financial or other discernible reasons for the sale?
  4. Look for instances from that time period where other woman with property married, to see if and how they maintained ownership of property brought to the marriage.
   5. Read newspapers from that time and place, and books about that era, to gain a better  insight into things that may have influenced the lives of Jerusha and her family.
New Information Since Writing This Post
Guardianship records for the four children of Harvey and Jerusha Gilbert show that Jerusha tried to have their guardian removed after he threatened to take them away from her and bind them out.  It appears that either she changed her mind, or that she was unsuccessful, as I did not find a document allowing or disallowing her request, and the children were not released by their guardian until years later. Susan Barr age 11 appears in Jerusha's household in the 1850 U.S. Census, but not the other Gilbert children. None of the children were found in her household in the Massachusetts State Census of 1855. Further examination of these and other records is needed.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Clifford J. Hyuck - Beloved Country Doctor

    Clifford John Huyck was born Dec. 25, 1873 in Exeter, New York to Robert L. and Margaret (Warner) Huyck.  He studied medicine at New York Homeopathic College and Flower Hospital,  New York City, and was an 1896 graduate of Cleveland University of Medicine and Surgery.   A handwritten letter found in  (Town Records of Hancock, New Hampshire),  shows that on July 3, 1897, Dr. Huyck was appointed a health officer for the town of Hancock, and took the oath of the office that day.  It was a three year appointment.  That same year, on November 10th, Clifford married Elnora Parintha Pangburn, in Palermo, New York.  The young couple lived in Acworth, Sullivan, New Hampshire in June of 1900, where, in August of that year, a daughter, Freeda Elnora, was born.
   The family left New Hampshire the following year, and Clifford went to work in Massachusetts, in the Westborough Insane Hospital, as an Assistant Physician. He made a five year study of Neuropsychiatry while there.  From Westborough he moved to Gilbertville, (a village in the town of Hardwick, MA), and then to West Brookfield in 1907.  Clifford and Elnora, welcomed a second daughter, Margaret Lovina into the family in 1912.
  On October 25, 1918, during World War I, Dr. Huyck accepted a commission as a Captain in the United States Army Medical Corp, and served at Fort Porter in Buffalo, New York.  He was honorably discharged on Feb. 28, 1919, and returned to West Brookfield to resume his practice, and once again participate in the affairs of local organizations.  He was a Mason, chairman of the town's Board of Health, and was instrumental in gaining the charter for the local American Legion Post, chartered August 1, 1920.  Dr. Huyck was also active in Civil Defense matters.
  Clifford Huyck died in Cushing VA Hospital in Framingham, MA on August 31, 1952, and was buried in Pine Grove Cemetery in West Brookfield.  He was remembered in a tribute in the Springfield Sunday Republican, published Sept. 7, 1952, as a "beloved country doctor.... a highly important factor in the community.....friend, counselor, and benefactor, as well as doctor."