03 June 2015

Battle of Great Falls or Massacre at Peskeompskut

Death came in the early morning hours on May 19, 1676. Hundreds of Native families were gathered under the Falls on the for the annual fish run. In May and June of each year, salmon, shad, eel, lamprey and herring made their journey upstream to spawn. The Connecticut River was thick with fish, making it an ideal time to gather food for the entire year. Annual corn fields were also growing nearby- come autumn, it would be picked and stored for the winter. And on this occasion, hungry Native refugees from war-torn Southern New England had also made their way to the Falls.
Looking north along the Connecticut River at Turners Falls

Both Native leaders and the the English authorities were at rest from the conflicts of the King Philip's War. Talks of peace had been ongoing for several months. The weary Nipmuc, Narragansett, and Pocumtuc warriors that had accompanied the families to the Falls gathered in nearby, separate camps.

Meanwhile, soldiers, residents and even the clergy occupying nearby Hadley, Massachusetts grew increasingly frustrated with the recent peace talks. Many were displaced from battles with Philip's men in Greenfield and Deerfield and wished to retaliate. After Native warriors raided nearby Hatfield and carried off cattle, Captain William Turner, commander of the Hadley garrison, decided to take action despite the instructions from his superiors.

Turner led more than 150 men on the 25 mile ride from Hadley to (what is now the town of) Gill. They gathered on the hill above the camp containing the families there to gather fish. The soldiers rushed down the hill and slaughtered the elders, women and children still sleeping in the early morning light. The noise of the assault woke the Native warriors camped nearby. The warriors gave chase to the English soldiers fleeing downriver but killed relatively few. Captain Turner was among those that perished and as a reward for his role in the deaths of those families, the area is now known as Turners Falls.

This one act was a turning point in King Philips War. By August of 1676, Metacomet (King Philip) was dead. Fighting continued in Northern New England until 1678 but Metacomet's death effectively ended the war in southern New England. Native survivors who participated in the fighting were either executed or sold into slavery. Native families dispersed, some going north to shelter with tribes up there. Others returned to their homelands where their descendants still remain.
The view across the Connecticut River. This is the likely area of the fishing camp.

I realize that this rendition of "The Battle of Great Falls" is a bit biased. But it is how I view the destruction of not only lives but an entire lifestyle. A way of life that had lasted for thousands of years before the coming of the English.

Until next time.

01 June 2015

Not Just YOUR Ancestor - Joseph Pegan, Revolutionary War Veteran

I heard some folks talking during a recent event about their ancestor, Joseph Pegan, and his Revolutionary War service. They sounded a little proprietary to me, as if he belonged only to their family. Which seemed strange because he is a claimed ancestor to hundreds of Nipmucs including those belonging to these families - Henries, Sprague, Nichols, White, Wilson, and mine!

Dudley, Massachusetts vital records state that Joseph Peagan (sic) died in Dudley on 11 December 1818. The U.S.Pension Roll of 1835 gives the same date of death along with the age of the veteran, 62 years. That places Joseph's birth around 1756.

Joseph Pegan was the son of Joseph Pegan (1718-1761) and Martha Bowman, the daughter of Samuel Bowman of Natick. He married Mary Sampson on 9 April 1787 and perhaps had two children, Edward Pegan and Betsey Pegan.
The marriage notation for Joseph Pegan and Mary Sampson can be found on the bottom of the left hand page.
A closer look at the marriage record.
By many accounts, Betsey Pegan was actually Betsey Caesar, the granddaughter of Samuel Pegan - a Dudley Indian and Patience David - a Hassanamisco Indian. Betsey married Henry White and their daughter, Angenette is my 4th great-grandmother. (I wrote about the Angenettes in my family here.)

The marriage record of Henry White and Betsey Caesar, 20 August 1827. It's the last entry on the page.
Edward Pegan is often associated with this Joseph Pegan. They are the right ages to be father and son and both lived in Dudley/Webster area. Both were Nipmuc Indians. Edward's death record names his parents as Joseph and Salome Pegan not Joseph and Mary. Also, Joseph's probate record did not name any children even though both Edward and Betsey were alive in 1818 when Joseph passed.

Edward Pegan's death record, 25 June 1868.

Of course this is not proof that Edward and Joseph are not father and son. But perhaps some of the family lines listed above should rethink who they actually descend from.

Below are a few more records for Joseph Pegan and his military service.

Joseph Pegan's enrollment and discharge dates - May 26, 1777 and May 26, 1780. 

Pay roll voucher for Joseph Pegan.

April 1778 payroll for Captain Child's company

Until next time -

22 May 2015


This is the first in a series of blog posts dedicated to my female ancestors and their maiden names.

Mary Ann Curless Vickers was my 4th great-grandmother. She lived to be more than 100 years old. Born in Smithfield, Rhode Island on 16 August 1797, she also resided in nearby Thompson, CT and Oxford, MA. Her parents were Nancy (Annie) Pollock and Christopher Curless. Christopher is sometimes mistakenly called Samuel in later records.

Mary had ten children - James, Sarah Ann, Chandler, Mary Ann, Rufus, Christopher, Monroe, Betsey, Almon and Cordelia. She raised her granddaughter, Esther Jane, and often Esther is listed as one of Mary's children. Another common error when listing the children of Mary is the inclusion of Erastus Vickers. Erastus is the son of one of the many Samuel Vickers living during that era.

Mary Curless Vickers
15 August 1797- 15 January 1898

Mary was a Nipmuc Indian through her mother, Annie Pollock the daughter of Molly Pegan. She was also Narragansett through her father, Christopher Curless. Many of Mary's ancestors are part of the Nipmuc Nation through the Hassanamisco Band of Nipmuc Indians. Two of the sachems (Chiefs) of the Hassanamisco Nipmucs descend from Mary.

Featured in Newspapers

Mary was the subject of two articles in local newspapers. In 1895, a local editor of the Oxford, Massachusetts Mid-Weekly featured an interview with Mary called "Almost 100 - Interesting Life of Mrs. Mary Vickers". In the article Mary tells of her early life in Thompson, CT. Mary's mother, Annie Pollock Curless, died when Mary was five years old in about 1802. After Annie's death, Mary was placed with the Brown family in Thompson where she worked and helped take care of younger children. She told the reporter that her father, Christopher, worked very hard, had remarried and that she rarely saw him. But when Mary was about 11 years old, a neighbor notified her father of the harsh conditions Mary lived in. After learning this, Christopher wasted no time in terminating Mary's employment with the Brown family. Mary went home to her father and his new family. 

The second news report featuring Mary was her obituary in 1898. The longer than usual obituary relates many aspects of Mary's personal life including her 1814 marriage to Samuel (sic) Vickers (again, Mary married Christopher Vickers).

Other items

Three of her sons fought in the Civil War but only one returned. Both Rufus and Christopher Vickers died in prisoner-of-war camps.

In 1898, she was a devout Methodist but had married in 1814 in a Baptist church at age 17.

Mary had one sibling - her brother Chandler. Chandler went to Salem and was never heard from again. Whether Chandler left as a child or as an adult is not known.

Mary's father, Christopher Curliss lived to be 101 years old.

At the time of her death, Mary had 150 grandchildren, 175 great-grandchildren, and 50 great-great grandchildren (so stated in her obituary.)

That's all for now.



14 May 2015

The Women Before Me

I thank Heather Rojo from Nutfield Genealogy for her post on how she organizes her Surname Saturday posts. I'm going to work on the maiden names of women in my ancestry beginning with my maternal line. Those names include:
Ransom, Slocum, Dailey, Curless, Vickers, Williams, Scott, Harry, Foster, Money, Henry, Quow, Jackson, Willett, Romsor, Pegan, Pollock, Brown, Toney, and Hazzard.

And, yes, I know these names all lead to males (fathers) in my line. But I'd still like to honor the women in my ancestry. And some of the names wont go any further than describing the ancestress bearing that last name.

The maiden names in my paternal line include:
Kent, White, Pierce, Brown, Steemer, Sprague, Ayres, Vickers, Wheeler, Dorus, Mason,                   Pegan, Gibson, Nedson, Hazard, Coffee, Sampson, Storms, Sawyer, Cormier, Arkless,                         Anderson, Henries, and Morse.

Looks like I have my work cut out for me.
Patricia Toney Hazzard 1918-1969


21 April 2015

NERGC 2015

This was my 5th NERGC (New England Regional Genealogical Conference) conference and I think it was the best one yet! It was held at the Rhode Island Conference Center which was a beautiful spot. My hotel was a block away (the Courtyard Marriott) and my room was fabulous.

The conference was special for me because it was my first time presenting at NERGC. I made two presentations, one planned, the other a "fill-in" for someone who didn't make it.I was nervous as always and I had tech problems!!!! But it was still pretty great. Here are the front slides for the two presentations-

NERGC is loaded with presentations for all levels of genealogists. Not much is offered for people of color though but through all the years I've been coming that seems to be improving. For the first time, the Massachusetts chapter of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society (AAHGS) had a booth and great offerings. I was definitely happy to see them!

There are plenty of social events as well during NERGC - lunches, banquets, Social Hours, and many more.

The next NERGC is in Springfield, MA in April of 2017. Hope to see you there.



25 February 2015

The Family Scott

The above picture is a plaque that now hangs in the second floor of City Hall in Worcester, Massachusetts. The ceremony yesterday was charming and long overdue. As it states on the plaque, Charles E. Scott served as a City Councilor from 1918 to his death on 11 October 1938. Elected not by the tiny people of color population but instead by white, mostly European immigrants, Councilman Scott was truly ahead of his time.

Charles E. Scott was born to Edward W. Scott and Catherine Annie Jackson in 1869 Sterling, Massachusetts. His parents came up from Virginia to Massachusetts with Methodist missionaries shortly after the Civil War. At age 19, he married Agnes Gimby (1869 - 1953) of Worcester. Charles and Agnes had several children including Marion, Laura, Nelson, Winfred, Charles Edward and Lyman.

Catherine Annie Jackson was born about 1842 in Warrenton, VA to Beverly Jackson and Mary Johnson. She died in childbirth on 14 November 1876 in Worcester, MA. Sadly, two other Scott children died that same year - William M. (1861 - 23 April 1876) and Arthur H. (11 May 1875 - 10 June 1876). 

Edward W. Scott was born about 1841 also in Warrenton, VA. His parents were Walter and Mary Jane. The Scott children included William (above), Mary Jane (b. 13 November 1862), Sarah A. (b. 7 October 1864), Hannah E. (b. 1 February 1867), Charles E. (above), Walter (b. 1871), Clara (b. 1873) and Arthur (above). Edward married his second wife, Harriet Jackson Edmundson on 26 December 1889. Hattie, as she was called, was born about 1854 in Amherst, MA to William and Mary Jackson.

On April 16, 1913, The Worcester Daily Telegram ran an article about the 78th birthday of Edward Scott. 

Edward Scott Says He Is 78 or Perhaps only 76 Years

Edward Scott, recently a shoe repairer and later a restaurant owner at 194 Chandler St., observed the 78th anniversary of his birth at his home, 126 Belmont Street yesterday. Though he says he is 78 years old, he is not quite sure of it and thinks that there is a possibility that he is but 76. However, he is just as happy. Mr. Scott is in good health. He was a slave in his young days and was freed by Lincoln's emancipation proclamation. He was born in Virginia, near Winchester and came to Worcester in 1876. He lived in Oakdale at one time and while there learned to be a shoe maker. Mr.Scott has been married twice, the last time 11 years ago. By his first marriage he had eight children, four of whom are alive."

This is one of my favorite family stories. My great-great grandmother was Edward and Catherine's daughter, Hannah. Hannah died at age 29 of pneumonia leaving four young children including my Grama Nellie.

My 3rd great grandfather, Edward W. Scott, - born into slavery - became a business owner and lived to see his son Charles elected to the Worcester City Council. He passed away in 1919 leaving a wonderful legacy and many proud descendants.

Until next time,


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.