14 November, 2016

Back to Salem and Marblehead

While researching my disputed Valpey line, which I first wrote about here, I came across an organization that I wasn't aware of. It is called the ADEAW, or Associated Daughters of Early American Witches. Since it is my belief that my
Marblehead, MA - Old Postcard
ancestor, Elizabeth Valpey (b abt 1761), was a direct descendant of Elizabeth Carrington Paine (b 1639), accused witch, I was immediately intrigued and wondered if I could come up with enough documentation to prove my lineage to her and join the association. What a cool association to belong to!

I've already struggled mightily with the Valpey/Valpy/Walpee connection, but figured I'd give it another go. I started with my assumption that Elizabeth Valpey, mother of Nancy Lilley (or Lillie), was the daughter of Abraham Valpey (b 1737) and Lydia Clough. However, going back over it, I cannot figure out how I settled on this, since I don't have any original records to indicate that the Valpey couple even had a daughter Elizabeth. The only daughter I can find records for is Lydia. (This is where it's a good thing to keep research notes!)

I concluded that I must have gotten the Elizabeth Valpey daughter based on three or four other trees on  ancestry who list this daughter. However, when I checked those trees, they had no documents to support a daughter Elizabeth. I took another look at the family of Abraham Valpey, supposed father of Elizabeth, and found that one of his brothers, Benjamin, DID have a daughter Elizabeth. At least ..... I think he did.

The records are not very complete from this time period, in that they don't tend to list parents' names on marriage records, which would be very helpful. I did find evidence for Benjamin as the brother of Abraham in their mother's will, which lists her four sons. There is a Benjamin Valpey of his age group who marries an Abigail Pittman in Marblehead (neighboring village to Salem), and they have three daughters, one of them Elizabeth. But the marriage record doesn't say if this Benjamin is the son of Abraham Valpey and Elizabeth or not! And then Elizabeth's marriage record doesn't say if SHE is the child of Benjamin and Abigail! Benjamin's death record does show that he died in Marblehead, an indication that he did marry Abigail of that town, but far from proof.

So I have two links that are missing here, and not at all sure if it is even possible to resolve them, as the information may not be on record at all. I am wondering if perhaps there were also marriage intention records made, which may have parents' names. In the absence of this, I may have to go to Marblehead/Salem and research property records to figure out who is who.
Marblehead Property Map

Apart from these two links, I have proof and documents to support the line on either side of the disputed generations. I have contacted a few sources to inquire as to how I might proceed, including seeking advice from a genealogist through NEHGS. 

One other side note that may represent a monkey wrench in this whole thing... many of the dna matches, which I mentioned in that previous post, are in Lydia Clough's line! The woman who presumably only had a daughter named Lydia! If I descend from her family and NOT the Valpeys, then my line to the witch is non-existant.

Not giving up! If the answers are out there at all, I will find them.

21 April, 2016

A Possible Surname Comes to Light!

Glasgow, Scotland
Well, my results from FTDNA came back much sooner than expected! I was so excited to get the email! However, the results have not been as conclusive as I'd hoped. I paid for testing out to 37 markers, which is the lowest you can choose. (they also do 67 and 111 markers) Apparently, at that level of comparison, there are matches on Dad's list that are close enough to register as a match, but are not, in fact, direct paternal relatives. There were many surnames on the matches list, which totaled 58 people at 37 markers matched.

However, I do have a good idea now of what the surname likely is. I will have to go further to confirm it, but out of 58 matches, 13 of them are named McLaughlin or a derivative thereof! So, the surname of John Reid's father was most likely McLaughlin. AND, most of those on the match list named McLaughlin trace their ancestry back to Ireland! So I may be more Irish than I thought.

I joined the McLaughlin dna group through FTDNA, but that group appears to have been abandoned by the group owner, since his email address bounces. I also joined Dougherty, since the second most frequent name on Dad's matches list is Dougherty, or some variation on it. The owner of that group sent me an email and suggested another test I can have done that checks SNPs, and will give us more info on how closely he matches each individual on his list. I don't know what SNPs are, but I am taking his expert advice and have ordered the test. It costs $99, but since I have a $30 credit on my account, it will only cost me $69.

I have done a census search for McLaughlin men in and around Paisley in 1871. I have a list of possible suspects! The best one, so far, is a man named Robert McLaughlin who was boarding with a family in Neilston and working as a worsted weaver, which could have been in the same factory that
Caroline worked in. In 1871 he was 43 years old, and his birthplace is listed as Tyrone, Ireland. He was apparently a single man, unless he had family back in Ireland.

There are several others who are possible suspects too, but I will wait for this new test to come back before spending a lot of time on McLaughlins, in case the results point in another direction. Fingers crossed that this test will be the charm!

29 February, 2016

Waiting on Y

Well, I haven't gotten terribly far in my search for my mystery gr-gr-grandfather, but I have made some marginal progress. Going through the dna matches for my Dad turns up a list of surnames that are NOT on my family tree, but DO occur with some frequency on his matches' trees. The names most commonly found include: Gemmell, Anderson, Johnson, Wilson, Robertson, Allison, Smith, Campbell, Kerr, Paterson, Walker and Marshall. There are another two dozen or so that are seen less frequently, but enough to be possibilities for the mystery man's surname.

I have also found two of my Dad's dna matches who live still in Scotland and in the same area where gr-grandad John Reid was born. One lives in Paisley and the other in Glasgow, which are only a few miles apart. I have also learned quite a bit about life in mid-19th century Paisley by reading through the city directories from that era, which can be found online

Within the pages of these books I have discovered occupations I never knew existed, businesses long obsolete, social and charity organizations, even a street index which has also been of help. One of the poor relief institutions I found is called "Female House of Refuge". 

I did some further reading on these and apparently they were homes instituted to get "fallen women" off the streets and into honest work. To that end, they usually ran a laundry out of these homes where the women were employed. I found this very interesting, as I had long wondered why, on Caroline Reid's death record. her occupation was listed as "pauper, formerly washerwoman". It got me to wondering if perhaps my Caroline had been desperate enough to ply her wares on the streets of Paisley as a means of earning money to feed herself and her one year old son. (Gramma, I'm sorry if this speculation is in error, no offense intended!)

Even if this was the case, that does not stop me from identifying the man who fathered her son John. 

When I first got Dad's dna done, I went for an autosomal test for a few reasons. First, it covers both paternal and maternal dna, and I wanted to find matches for both sides of Dad's family. Secondly, I wanted to be able to match his results with my tree, which I could only do on ancestry .com, and they only do autosomal tests.

However, autosomal is limited in its broad coverage too. So, on Saturday last I mailed in another dna test that my Dad took for me. This one is a Y-dna test, which will return results ONLY from Dad's direct paternal line! This means that, if I get some matches, I should be able to identify the probable surname of my mystery man! 

There may be some matches with a different surname due to what genealogists call NPEs, or non-paternal events. This would include testers who were adopted or, as in my case, who received the maternal surname somewhere along the line. But most of the matches would likely have the surname that my mystery gr-gr-grandfather carried.

Unfortunately, this test takes 12 weeks to complete! I figure I can expect to know by June. If I do not get enough matches to identify a surname, I can pay more to have more markers tested.

I had emailed my brother about how sad it was that we didn't have any photos of John Reid, our great-grandfather. Next
John Reid 1872-1904
thing I know he sent me a photo of him that I'd had no idea he even had! I was more than thrilled to see his face. Note the tartan tie! While this photo would have been taken a while after he arrived in New Jersey, he evidently didn't forget where he came from! A handsome man, in my opinion, and eerily comparable to my younger brother.

Twelve weeks and counting!

14 December, 2015

More Reid Revelations

I have a new 3rd cousin! This in itself is actually nothing remarkable, since I have been gaining cousins at a pretty good clip since having had my dna analysis done. However, this cousin (I'll call her Loren) is special, because she comes from an ancestor about whom I have had very little information... Caroline Reid! I wrote about Caroline here, and at that time I only presumed that a first son, William, existed. I had thought he must have died young, as I could not find any further mention of him in the records. Had William lived, he would have been the brother of my great-grandfather, John Reid.

As part of my quest to find the father of William and John, who would be my great-great-grandfather, I went back to Rootschat, where I'd found such wonderful help in identifying Caroline Reid in the first place and in tracing the life of her son John. My goal was to pinpoint her whereabouts in the year 1871, the year prior to John's birth, so that I could use that area as a starting point in my search for her child's father.

I asked for any information that others may have access to regarding Caroline Reid in or about 1871, thinking that perhaps someone else could locate her in the census of that year where I had come up empty handed. I did not find with certainty where she lived in that year, but I discovered so much more that I now know she did remain in the area where her children were born during that time frame.

Neilston, Renfrewshire, Scotland

I want to thank all who had a hand in assisting me in my research regarding Caroline. In particular, one terrific woman in Scotland by the name of Anne was tremendously kind and generous with her time. It was Anne who discovered for sure that William was indeed Caroline's first child, and that he grew to adulthood and had children! One of his sons, John, is the grandfather of my new 3rd cousin, Loren.

Apparently, William was born in June of 1870 in Neilston, Renfrewshire. The address Broadlea Bank Street was also on the birth record. William then turns up with his mother's admittance to the Paisley poorhouse in the fall of 1871. She was pregnant at that time, and gave birth to John in January of 1872 at the poorhouse.

William next appears at an "industrial school" in Paisley after his mother's death in 1881. We also uncovered records of his marriage to Elizabeth Alexander in 1901, and William's service in the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders in WWI, 1914.

He raised a large family, living first in Paisley and later moving to Glasgow. He died at the age of 67 in Glasgow of complications from diabetes.

Whether or not brothers William and John kept in touch will never be known, but William named a son John and John named a son William, so perhaps they were at least in one another's thoughts. As it happened, John's son William was my grandfather and William's son John was Loren's grandfather. 
John Reid, son of William Reid

As a post-script, on William's marriage record, he recorded William Reid and Elizabeth McVey as his birth parents. These were falsified names, proved by William's death record where his son confirmed that his birth mother was Caroline Reid. However, upon further research, there was a John McVey, two years younger than Caroline, living in Broadlea Bank Street, Neilston in 1871. His occupation is listed as bobbin turner. Caroline was listed as bleacher (probably bleaching the cotton thread or fabric that was produced in the factory where she worked). Did William know his father's surname and did he use it as his "mother's" name on his marriage record? We may never know.

At any rate, John could well have had a different father, so I'm not putting a lot of energy into tracking down McVeys, though it will remain a possibility throughout my quest. In the meantime, I have my new cousin (who lives now in England) who I never would have met, had it not been for the help of Anne and others in Scotland.

My father's dna test has come back, by the way, and it yields some interesting findings. In particular, there is one dna match who is estimated to be a 2nd to 3rd cousin, but this cousin's family tree dead-ends after a few generations and I haven't been able to find a likely connection as of yet. Onward and upward with my quest. I believe that Caroline is somehow aware of it, and that she will help steer me in the right direction in the end.

04 October, 2015

October, When the Witches Fly!

In a previous post, I wrote about my 9th great-grandmother, Elizabeth Carrington Paine, who was an accused witch in Salem, MA. That entry was mainly dealing with the question of who the woman was who married John Lilley, as she was potentially the great x3 granddaughter of Elizabeth and a great x4 grandmother of mine. Since that post I have found more dna matches that strongly suggest that my presumption that the wife of Lilley was Elizabeth Valpey and great x3 granddaughter of Elizabeth Carrington Paine, Salem witch.

So, a bit more about Salem and my supposed demonic great-grandmother Elizabeth! She was born in Charlestown, MA in 1639, and her parents were immigrants Edward Carrington and Elizabeth Preston of Cheshire, England who had settled in Charlestown, just north of Boston. A bit further north of Boston is the city of Malden, which had been part of Charlestown and was incorporated as its own city when Elizabeth was 10 years old. The Carrington family lived in Malden (coincidentally the city where I grew up!).

When Elizabeth was just 19 years old, she married 26 year old Stephen Paine, also an immigrant, who hailed from the Wapping section of London. Less than a year later they had their first of six children in just nine years, three boys and three girls, who would make up their family. (I descend from their second child, Mary Paine.) One can only imagine how busy Goody Paine must have been with six children under the age of ten!

But it wasn't until all her children were grown and out on their own that the 53 year old grandmother, Elizabeth Carrington Paine, became one of the accused in the dreadful year of 1692. Few people realize that, once the horror began in Salem, it spread rapidly throughout surrounding towns, and many of the accused were not from Salem at all but from more than twenty neighboring locales, including Andover, Haverhill, Reading and Malden.

According to Elizabeth's arrest warrant of 28 May 1692, she was accused of "sundry acts of witchcraft" against Mercy Lewis and Mary Warren of Salem. I have not discovered how Elizabeth's path crossed with these two young women of Salem, but I do know that Mercy Lewis was a maidservant in the home of Mr. Thomas Putnam, as she had been orphaned at age 14 in an Indian attack on her family's home in Maine. Her elder sister was married and living in Salem when she was placed, first in the household of Reverend George Burroughs, whom she would accuse, and later with the Putnams.

It is generally thought that Mercy's accusation of her former master, Burroughs, was based in a desire to retaliate against him for having reportedly sold shot and powder to the Indians who eventually massacred her family. Burroughs was tried and hanged for witchcraft, largely on Mercy's testimony that he came to her in a vision, imploring her "sign his book", presumably the devil's book. What prior offense could have inspired Mercy to exact revenge on Elizabeth Paine? The answer will never be known, but it could well have been that the accusation of Elizabeth amounted to the settling of a score. 

At the time of Elizabeth's accusation, Mercy was about 17 years of age and friendly with her masters' daughter, Ann Putnam, and her cousin Mary Walcott, who were among the first to become "afflicted" by unseen tormentors, leading to the initial accusations of witchcraft against their neighbors. After the trials, Mercy moved to a relative's home in Boston where she gave birth to a child out of wedlock. Eventually she married a Mr. Allen of Boston and nothing more is known of her.

Mary Warren, Elizabeth Paine's other accuser, was the 19
year old servant of the Proctors in Salem. She was one of the
young women who accused her neighbors of appearing to her and tormenting her. At one point, Mary seems to have suffered some feelings of guilt, as she apparently insinuated that the other girls were lying when they said they had seen the devil. Her friends turned against her, and she soon found herself in jail as one of the accused. Under questioning, however, she reverted to having fits and naming others as witches, perhaps to take the focus off of herself. Nothing is known of Mary's life after the trials.

While it is known that Elizabeth Paine was sent to jail following her arrest on 2 June 1692, there is no known record as to the disposal of her case. Whether she was pardoned, tried and found not guilty, or the charges were dropped, Elizabeth went on to live 19 more years after the trials of 1692. Her life must have been forever marred by the vicious accusation, her grief compounded by the loss of her husband a year later. One can imagine that her widowhood was a long and lonely one. We can hope that she was able to enjoy her many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, including one Elizabeth Fowle, born four years before her death, my great x6 grandmother.

02 October, 2015

The Quest

Okay, maybe I've gone over the deep end! This dna data is so cool, though! It's gotten me to thinking and I've begun a great quest... I'll admit, it could take me years to solve, or I may never be able to come to a resolution, but it's a challenge that I just cannot pass up. What is it?

In a few of my earlier entries I've mentioned that my paternal great-grandfather, John Reid, was born to an unwed mother in a poorhouse in Renfrewshire, Scotland. Her name was Caroline Reid, and she gave her child her own surname. I have the birth record, and no father is listed. SO... my quest is to use dna analysis to find out who the mystery man was! Impossible? Maybe. But not definitely! I have at least one good thing on my side.

Scotland did a good and thorough census in 1871, the year John Reid was conceived (he was born in January of 1872). So if my mystery man was living in Scotland during the census taking that year, he may well be on record. With the census record for that year, I may be able to place him in the vicinity of my Caroline Reid, that is, once I have narrowed my search down to some concrete possibilities.

Now, there are plenty of things working against me too. One of those is that I do not have a record for Caroline herself in that 1871 census. As of the 1861 census, she was living in Collier Street, Johnstone, Renfrewshire (a suburb of Paisley) as a boarder while she worked in the nearby mills. She was 13 at that time. The next record I have for her is the possible birth of her first son, William, in Neilston, not far from Johnstone, in 1870. That record may not be her, but I have a good feeling that it was. The next record is her giving birth to John in January of 1872 at Abbey poorhouse in Neilston, Renfrewshire, three miles down the road from her Collier Street address. After that, I have only her death record in February 1881 in a boarding house in Neilston (Andrews Land Boarding House).

Mystery Man
However, as I am daily discovering, dna is a powerful tool. I have about 4,000 matches on ancestry .com... that is, 4,000 people who share some of the same dna strands that I carry. For many of these I have already discovered the exact ancestors that I have in common with my matches and recorded that. Most have been on my maternal side, but I do have at least a few matches for each branch of my Dad's side, except, of course, for great-grandfather John Reid. So, at least I can confirm that my other great-grandparents are probably accurate as I have them recorded, including John's wife's family.

I have had my father's dna taken and it is currently in the lab being processed at ancestry. I eagerly await the results, as this should help to narrow down my avenues toward accomplishing my quest. One thing that I'm very curious about is his % of Scandinavian ethnicity. Mine says I am 17% Scandinavian and I know of no one in any of my lines from that part of the world. If he is at least that amount or more Scandinavian as well, then my guess would be that at least one of Mystery Man's parents were of that ethnicity.

Please follow me and find out how the Great Quest turns out! Who knows, it may be solved sooner than I think, if I'm very, very lucky. The next step is to examine my Dad's dna results, which should be done in just a few weeks time. Can't wait!

05 July, 2015

Two Tragic Aunts

This evening I would like to write about two great-aunts of mine and their sad stories. These aunts have no one to remember them, as they both passed away in their youth and never had children to pass on their stories. I will remember them here by relating as much as I know about them and their fates.

The first of these two lovely young ladies is my great-great aunt Lena Thacher. Lena was the daughter of my great-great grandfather George Engs Thacher and his wife Paulina Baxter Thacher. George and Paulina lived on Main Street in South Dennis (now part of Old Bass River Road) and raised seven children.

George Engs and Paulina Baxter Thacher & Family circa 1867
(Lena seated front)

They had a set of identical twins, delightfully named Amelia and Cecelia, born the same year as their marriage in 1851. Their sons George and Charles (my great-grandfather) followed in 1854 and 1856. Then was Lena in 1860, Peleg in 1861 and Willie, a "late" baby, in 1872 (not in photograph).

The father, George Engs Thacher, was a master mariner and he ran his schooner, the G.E. Thacher, to many ports, far and near.

The story of "Little Lena", as she was called due to her petite stature, goes that she fell in love with a young man at the age of 19. Who this person was has been lost to time, but apparently she was quite besotted and the couple wished to marry. For whatever reason, her father did not care for the young man and he forbade Lena to marry him.

According to family lore, Little Lena was so distraught that she began to make herself ill with her grief. Her mother was very concerned for her health. So, her father proposed that he take Lena along with him on his next voyage, which included a stop in Mobile, Alabama. Perhaps he thought that the warm climate would do her health good and that the trip would help her to get past her bitter disappointment.

Lighthouse Mobile Harbor
Sadly, Lena's health did not rally on the voyage. She sickened and died while in Mobile on 16 December 1879, and her body was brought back to her grief-stricken family to be buried in South Dennis. It was always said in the family that Little Lena Thacher died of a broken heart. I suppose her father felt some remorse and probably experienced some guilt about denying her the man she had wanted to wed. In truth, Lena's cause of death was listed as "consumption", the term used for tuberculosis, so her fate was no doubt sealed whether or not she had achieved her heart's desire.

The story of the second aunt is just as tragic. This was a great-aunt from the generation after Lena's. Her brother Charles Lincoln Thacher, my great-grandfather, also dwelt in South Dennis in the area that is now the intersection of High Bank Road and Rt. 134. He and his wife, Alice Sears Hall Thacher, raised their family of six children there.

Their first child, Charles Jr., died at just under a year old. But their second son, my grandfather, Freeman Gibbs Thacher, born in 1892, thrived, as did the second son William who came along two years later. Three girls followed; Edith in 1898, Alice in 1901 and Cynthia Hallett Thacher in 1905. 

Little Cynthia, the baby of the family, was a bright, happy child with "a laugh for everyone" as the papers would report. She was often mentioned in the paper as being on the honor roll at school and having perfect attendance. She was a child with a bright future.

Bass River
On 16 August 1916, Cynthia, aged 11 and sister Alice, 15, headed for Bass river for a picnic in the shade of the trees on the banks of the river on that hot summer day. They met their cousin, Malcolm Thacher, aged 13, there and proceeded to enjoy the humid afternoon.

At some point, Cynthia decided to wade in the cool river, then she began to swim. Bass river still has a good strong current through that area, and possibly it was stronger back in 1916. At any rate, Cynthia was caught in the force of the current and pulled away from her frightened sister and cousin on the shore. Despite her cries for help, neither Alice nor Malcolm could go to her aid, as neither of them knew how to swim! 

A call of alarm went out to nearby homes and people came scurrying down to the beach from all sides. Cynthia was pulled from the water and, though there were four doctors among those who responded, they were unable to revive the eleven year old girl.
Bass River Today

The entire Thacher family was, naturally, devastated by the loss. 

As a side note, when my mother was born (Cynthia's older brother Freeman's child), they had thought to name her Cynthia after the lost little sister. But, Cynthia's mother, the new baby's grandmother, thought it would be bad luck to name her after her drowned child. She spread the word as quickly as she could that the baby was named Nancy. When my grandmother realized that everyone already thought she was Nancy, she decided to abandon plans to name her Cynthia and my mother was named Nancy Thacher.

I have no photograph of Cynthia, but one may yet surface. If it does, I'll be sure to add it to her story.

To both of my lost aunts, may you know that you were terribly missed in this life and that you are not forgotten.