06 February 2015

Venture Smith - From African Prince to Connecticut Freeman

From the connecticuthistory.org website
Although I didn't know it at the time, my best friend from grammar school is a descendant of Venture Smith. She and other family members recently journeyed to Africa to witness the beginnings of their ancestor's incredible life. You can read about the trip in the New York Times Travel Section by following this link.

Venture Smith was born about 1730 in a place he called Dukandarra in West Africa. At about the age of ten, he was kidnapped and taken to Anomabo, a fortress in what is now Ghana. From there he was sold to slavers and taken to America.

Venture's journey across the Atlantic ended in Newport, Rhode Island where he was purchased by George Mumford. Venture grew tall (6'2"), married and had children. He was not a shy man. By all accounts, he made his wishes known and even pressed charges against his owners.He was sold to various men but managed to save enough money to free not only himself but his wife and children as well.

He wrote his memoir titled "A Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Venture, a Native of Africa: But Resident above Sixty Years in the United States of America. Related by Himself." His book was published in New London, Connecticut in 1798.

I am excited that my childhood friend has such an abundance of knowledge about her African ancestors. So few of us do! 

Until next time.


25 September 2014

Nipmuc Angenettes

Angenette is a popular name in my family; I have a sister Angenette and another sister whose middle name is Angenette (don't ask!).

The first Angenette in my family was born Angenette Briggs White in 1829 Webster, MA. She was a member of the Pegan Band of Nipmuc Indians and the daughter of Henry White and Betsey Pegan Caesar. She married twice - to Esbon B. Dorous on 13 March 1844 in Sturbridge, MA and to Samuel Hazard on 19 November 1867 in Woodstock, CT.

Esbon Dorous - sometimes called Solomon- was born about 1811 and the son of John Nedson and Polly Pegan. He and Angenette separated sometime after 1865. The censuses for 1870 and 1880 show his children and grandchildren living with him, but no new wife. He died sometime before 1897.

Samuel Hazard was born about 1815 and the son of Sampson Hazard and Hannah Coffee. Census records give his occupation as "physician" and "shoemaker". The History of Woodstock, CT describes Samuel as the "Indian Doctor Hazard". Samuel died on 3 August 1883 in Woodstock, CT. His children with Angenette include Jack A. Hazzard and Joseph T. Hazzard.

Esbon and Angenette's daughter, Elizabeth (Betsey) Dorous, married Henry Albert Arkless on 7 September 1870 in Worcester, MA. Henry was born in June of 1850 in Uxbridge, MA to Isaac/Israel P. Arkless and Polly Vickers. Polly Vickers was born about 1827 in Hampton, CT and the daughter of Samuel Vickers and Eliza Hazard.

One of Henry and Betsey's daughters was named Angenette. Angenette B. Arkless was born on 5 August 1873 in Webster, MA. She married first Luke Goins/Noyes around 1897. Lemuel Winifred Henries married Angenette Goins about 1901. They had several children including my great-grandmother, Elizabeth Rogers Henries. My great-great grandmother Angenette married once again in 1913 - this time to Lewis Jackson.

Lemuel Winifred Henries was born in April of 1869 to Lemuel Henry and Lydia A. Sprague. Before marrying Angenette, he had married Ida L. Lewis on 25 November 1891 in Webster, MA. Known as Winifred, he died on 19 May 1912 in Webster, MA.

Elizabeth Rogers Henries was born on 4 May 1902 in Woodstock, CT. She married Charles Emerson Morse on 3 October 1918 in Wayland, MA. They had several children among whom was my grandmother, Angenette Irene Morse.

My Nipmuc Angenettes are:

Angenette Briggs White (1829 - 11 January 1897)
Angenette B. Arkless (5 August 1872 - 28 October 1942)
Angenette Irene Morse (7 February 1924 - 25 May 2005)

Plus my two sisters....

Until next time...


16 June 2014

Happy Father's Day

When I think about my dad, it's not my biological father that comes to mind. The man I call 'Daddy', Alfred Bruce Shepard, was my step-father. He raised me and loved me as if I were his biological child and I am forever grateful for it. When I discovered I was pregnant with my first child, I called him first - weeks before I told the rest of my family. He did not live to see Erica, his first granddaughter, though. He died of cancer two short months before her birth at the young age of 48.
Muriel Hazard Shepard, Alfred Bruce Shepard, and my mom sometime in the 1970s.
Shep, as he was called, was born on 6 August 1939. (Fifty years later, my second daughter, Morgan, was born on that same date.) He was born in Worcester, MA to Muriel Rebecca Hazard and Peter Shepard. He lived in Worcester for most of his life. He served in the Air Force and the Air Force Reserves and spoke fluent Greek. He learned that language while serving in Greece although I only heard him speak it while ordering in the local Worcester pizza shops.

He loved to fish - I used to help clean the mackeral before he fried it up in the pan. He liked to cook and did it often. He worked in construction when we were young but eventually went to work as a guard at the local jail. We took long drives in the country nearly every Sunday and visited relatives every weekend. His favorite deep sea fishing spot was up in New Hampshire near Seabrook. And that's where my siblings and I sprinkled his ashes after he passed on 23 January 1988.
All of us in 1973.
Peter Shepard was born on 14 August 1910 in Coffeeville, Kansas to Anna Bell and Peter L. Shepard. He left Kansas as a young man and made his way to Chicago. At 19 years of age in 1930, he was working as a pin setter in a Chicago bowling alley. He enlisted in the US Army on 9 September 1942 and was discharged honorably on 8 February 1946. He settled back in Worcester with his wife and son and lived there until his death on 16 February 1967.
Peter Shepard
Muriel Rebecca Hazard was born in Worcester on 28 March 1919 to Ruth Ellen Dominis and Charles Sumner Hazard. She taught me how to crochet, how to cross-stitch and embroider, and how to make cookies. Knowing how to cross-stitch kept me sane through many trying years. From those tiny stitches grew my love for beading, quilting and nearly every piece of art I've ever created. She outlived both her husband and her only child - passing on 7 February 1995. I still have her cookbook with her hand-written recipes inside the covers. I still remember all those embroidered pillowcases and handkerchiefs.
Muriel Hazard Shepard
So Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there and to all the moms who do double duty as dads. If you still have your dad with you, give him a kiss for me.


02 June 2014

Suicide by Drowning in the Charles River

While collecting vital records on my Storms ancestors, I came across

The above is from the Massachusetts death records. The date of death was February 18, 1884. The town of Boston records included his burial site which was Mt. Hope Cemetery in Boston. There was no indication of who his parents were or where he was born in either record. I also couldn't find any newspaper articles referencing the drowning. The records state that he was married but no mention of his wife's name.

According to my family genealogy database, Charles is one of my Storms relations. But is this Charles Storms the son of Philip Storms and Rebecca Williston of Vergennes, VT?

Charles H. Storms enlisted in Company K, 55 Reg't Mass. Inf. (Col'd) on 10 December 1863. He was 29 years old and born in Vergennes, VT according to his military records. This would put his date of birth around 1834. By December 31st, he was assigned to Colonel Hartwell as the colonel's private cook. At the time of his enlistment, he had already married Jane Jackson, also of Vermont. "Mrs. Charles H. Storms No 2 Sands' Yard in rear of 880 Washington St Boston Mass." is listed on Charles' military service record as Jane's then current address. I've not located a marriage record for Charles and Jane - not in Vermont or Massachusetts. The 55th regiment mustered out in August of 1865 and Charles along with it.

Charles, Jane and their daughter, Emma J., were living in Boston in 1865 according to the Massachusetts State Census of that year. His occupation was still cook. It looks like the census was taken in January of 1865 when Charles was supposedly still in the service. Charles and Jane and their children continue to be counted in the 1870 and 1880 censuses in Boston.

I was unable to find a death record for Jane Jackson Storms, or a marriage record after Charles' death. Charles and Jane had two other children - George Henry, born in 1865 Boston and May R. born in 1869, again in Boston. I have no further information on Emma Storms or May Storms but son George married twice in his life. His first marriage was to Mina Cota on 8 July 1890 in Haverhill, MA. They had one son, Daniel. George's second marriage was to Fall River Wampanoag Rachel E. Crank, the daughter of Thomas Crank and Julia Simmons. There were no children from this marriage. George Storms died on 9 February 1926 in Providence RI. His parents were listed as Charles Storms and Jane Jackson.

Philip and Rebecca had several children and there is a Charles among them. Philip Storms was born in 1795 in Vermont (most likely Ferrisburg) and died on 25 February 1854. He and his family are included in the federal censuses for Vergennes, VT in 1830, 1840, and 1850. Rebecca Williston Storms and three of her children can be found on the 1860 federal census living in different households in Vergennes and Panton, VT. Charles was not found in Vergennes, Ferrisburg, or Panton, VT. All of these towns had several of the extended Storms family living there. Rebecca Storms died on 15 March 1865 in Panton, VT.

The 1840 census does note a male child that could be Charles. But Philip Storms' probate record does not mention Charles nor do any of Philip's land transactions. There are many other avenues to research however. I have been able to uncover quite a bit about George Storms, Charles and Jane's son. My next steps will be to further investigate Charles and Jane's other children, Philip and Rebecca's other children, Philip's siblings and their children and expand the search beyond Boston and Addison County, Vermont.


25 May 2014

Hattie McKinley Anderson and family

Some photographic images recently surfaced of African-Americans living in Worcester, MA in 1900. Two of those photos are labelled 'Kenneth Anderson' and 'Mrs. Anderson and baby'. Kenneth was my great-grandmother Hattie's younger brother and Mrs. Anderson was Hattie's mom.

Here's a quick genealogical sketch of my great-grandmother, Harriet McKinley Anderson Bostic.

Hattie Bostic with a neighbor child and two grandsons.
Hattie McKinley Anderson was born at Worcester, Massachusetts on 4 November 1896. Her parents were Joseph Edward Anderson (also known as J. Edward Anderson) and Bettie A. Sawyer. She married Walter Andrew Louis Bostic on 25 December 1918 at Worcester. Walter was the son of Walter St. Clair Bostic and Hattie E. Storms and was born on 30 October 1891 in Worcester, Massachusetts. Walter died on 27 October 1957 in Worcester. Hattie passed away on 19 February 1966. The couple had three children including my grandfather, Walter Andrew Bostic.

Hattie's brother, Kenneth Augustus Anderson, was born on 2 March 1899 in Worcester. He married Mary F. Schuyler in Worcester, MA in 1919. Mary and Kenneth had at least 3 children and lived until at least 1940 with Mary's father, Richard Schuyler.

Bettie Sawyer was born about 1872, most likely in Beaufort, North Carolina to Isaac and Tamer (Bell) Sawyer. She married J. Edward Anderson on 30 April 1891 in Worcester. Tamer was also born in North Carolina about 1844 to Charles Bell and Maria Howard. I have little information on Isaac Sawyer. He was born about 1843 in North Carolina and was deceased by 1900 when his wife, Tamer, was living in the Anderson household.

Joseph Edward Anderson was born in June of 1871 in Worcester. His parents were Joseph A. Anderson and Margaret Gibson. Joseph A. Anderson was born about 1844 in Virginia to William and Julia. He married Maggie (Margaret Gibson) on 29 October 1868 in Worcester. Maggie was born about 1847 in Scotland to John and Sarah Gibson.

I haven't done much research on my Anderson line - it is on my 'To-Do' list though!


22 April 2014

Unraveling Six Generations of Nipmuc Sarahs

Because land passed through the females of our matriarchal tribe, 

Sarah Robins (abt. 1689 – bef. 1750), 

Sarah Muckamaug (1718 – 1751), 
Sarah Burnee (1744 – 1812), and 
Sarah Boston (abt. 1787 – 1837)

all occupied the “Muckamaug Allotment” in what is now Hassanamesit Woods in Grafton, MA. The total allotment was approximately 197 acres including the 106 acre plot shown below.

Sarah Mary Boston (21 February 1819 - 10 February 1879) was born and raised on the Muckamaug parcel but married and moved to Worcester, Massachusetts as an adult.
Sarah Ellen Walker (abt, 1845 - 15 October 1892) is the daughter of Sarah Mary Boston and her husband, Gilbert Walker, and lived in Worcester her entire life. 

Sarah Robins is believed to be the daughter of Robin Petavit, the Nipmuc sachem who led the Hassanamesit Nipmuc community in the latter half of the 17th century. She married Peter Muckamaug and lived in Providence, Rhode Island until 1729 when she returned to Hassanamesit and settled on her land. Sarah participated in a 1744 petition to the MA Bay legislature to remove and replace the Hassanamisco guardians. The Nipmucs felt that the guardians were corrupt and stealing their trust funds. They also asked for the guardians live closer to Hassanamesit so that the Nipmucs did not have to travel so far to receive their monies. 

Peter Muckamaug died around 1744 and two years later Sarah remarried. She and her husband, Thomas English remained on the Muckamaug parcel until Sarah's death around 1749.

Sarah Muckamaug was the daughter of Sarah Robins and Peter Muckamaug. She lived in Providence, Rhode Island where she was indentured to the Brown family. After her father's death in 1744, she returned to Hassanamesit and settled on her mother's land. While living in Providence, she married Aaron Whipple and had 4 children - Rhonda, Abigail, Abraham, and Joseph. When she returned to Hassanamesit, she left Whipple (who was reportedly abusive to her) and her three eldest children in Providence. After her mother's death in 1749, Sarah took over the homestead and married African-American Fortune Burnee. One of the first things the young couple did was to sell off land to build an English-style house. It seems from the records that still exist, that the Burnee house was the first English-style house to be built by Nipmucs living on Hassanamesit. 

Sarah Muckamaug did not live in her new home for long. She became ill and was forced by the guardians to live with and be cared for by Hezekiah Ward. After her death, Hezekiah demanded payment for his services which necessitated the sale of some of the Muckamaug land.

Sarah Burnee was the daughter of Sarah Muckamaug and Fortune Burnee. She was only seven years old at the time of her mother's death. In 1768, her older brother, Joseph Aaron challenged Sarah for the right to the Muckamaug land. A long court battle ensued with Joseph winning half of the homestead. Joseph and his wife were childless so when Joseph died in 1808, he left his half of the land to Silas Fay, an English farmer.

Sarah Burnee married twice - to Prince Dam sometime before 1768 and to Boston Phillips in 1786. She had no known children with Dam but did have a boy and a girl with Boston Phillips - Ben and Sarah. Boston died in 1798 after a long illness that is much discussed in the existing guardian accounts. By order of the town selectman, Boston was removed from his home and cared for by English neighbors. After his death, Sarah was forced to sell 20 acres to pay for the debt incurred by his illness. Sarah Burnee herself died around 1812.

Sarah Phillips, or more often, Sarah Boston was now the matriarch of the Muckamaug parcel. She was quite famous and stories about her are still told. She had two children - Joseph who was born in 1813 and Sarah Mary who was born in 1818. She died in 1837, the last Nipmuc Sarah to live on that homestead. At the time of her death, the Muckamaug parcel had dwindled to less than 20 acres.

Sketch of Sarah Boston's home

In 1854, Sarah Mary Boston petitioned the Massachusetts legislature for permission to sell the remaining acreage. Sarah Mary had married prominent African-American barber Gilbert Walker and lived in Worcester. The land was sold and turned into an apple orchard. Sarah and Gilbert had one daughter, Sarah Ellen Walker. There is not nearly as much in the records about the two Worcester Sarahs as there is on the Hassanamesit Sarahs. It appears that Sarah Ellen never married and died in 1892 from epilepsy.

A team from the University of Massachusetts has for several years been excavating the Muckamaug parcel now known as Hassanamesit Woods. They have uncovered material culture that further illuminates the lives of these Nipmuc women. I look forward to learning more about these generations of Nipmuc Sarahs.



10 April 2014

Nipmucs in the Civil War

I have several direct and collateral ancestors that served in the Civil War. One of those relations was Christopher Vickers (sometime spelled Vicars). There are several Christopher Vickers that were born and died in the same parts of New England and around the same time periods. I'd like to tell you a little about the Christopher Vickers that was born in Thompson, CT on the 19th of June 1831.

His parents were Christopher Vickers and Mary Curliss. He married Celinda Dailey on January 30, 1852 in Killingly, CT and Diannah  Hazard Smith/Thomas on December 1, 1863 in Oxford, MA. Diannah was the mother of Christopher's sister-in-law, Fannie Thomas Vickers, and nearly ten years older than Christopher. Christopher had three known children, William Christopher (21 Feb 1855 - 9 Mar 1878), Henry A. (Jan 1858 - 19 June 1859), and Albert R. Vickers (4 June 1862 - aft. 1919).

Christopher volunteered for Company G, 2nd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery on December 4, 1863. He was captured in Plymouth, North Carolina in April of 1864 and died while a prisoner of war. His military records each carry a variety of dates for his death- August 30, 1864 at Andersonville, Georgia, September 15, 1864 at Andersonville, and October 1864 in Charleston, South Carolina.

 His widow's pension application (and after her death, his son Albert's pension record) discuss the various dates and settle Christopher's date of death on August 30, 1864 from chronic diarrhea.

Diannah Vickers died on October 11, 1877. Her son, William, passed on March 9, 1878. Son, Albert Vickers successfully applied for the pension in his own right.

Christopher Vickers was not the only Nipmuc casualty of the Civil War. His older brother, Rufus Vickers (3 July 1824 - 6 November 1864), also perished at Andersonville. Others who did not return include Daniel Gigger, William H. Cady, and Hezekiah Dorous.

More the next time we meet...