04 December 2017

Mary Jane (Scott) Smith and James Martin Smith

Mary Jane (Scott) Smith and her son, James Martin Smith.
 William Bullard, Mary Jane and James Martin Smith, about 1900, courtesy of Frank Morrill and Clark University.

Mary Jane Scott was born on 13 Nov 1862 in West Boylston to Edward W. Scott and Catherine Annie Jackson. Edward and Catherine were former slaves who traveled from their birthplace in Warrenton, VA to Massachusetts with Methodist missionaries. You can read a bit more about the Scott family here.

Mary Jane married James D. Smith in Worcester, MA on 20 Dec 1888. Their son, James Martin Smith was born in Worcester on 13 Jan 1890. Husband James disappears from Worcester records by 1900. The 1900 census lists Mary Jane, her son, (James) Martin, and a cousin, William Jackson all living at 70 John St. By this time, Mary Jane was working as a laundress. By 1910, her younger brother Walter Scott and sister-in-law, Gertrude Smith had joined the Smith household above the Kennedy family at 17 Orchard St.

James Martin Smith married Fannie Virginia Harris on 22 Dec 1914 in Worcester and died nearly four years later on 4 Oct 1918. Their son, Thomas Smith, born 12 Aug 1918, married Bernice Dorothy Wilson, the daughter of Leslie Wilson and Lena Jackson. Thomas and Bernice's daughter, Rheta Virginia Smith, was born 15 Aug 1938. In 1940, family resided with the Jacksons at 67 Mason St.

05 June 2016

A Virtual High-Five

I recently received an email from a Courtney Phillips who mentors a group of youngsters in her area. She said that they had visited my PastTense Genealogy website, checked out the resources, and wanted to give me a "High Five" for the resources I included on the site.

She then suggested I add this site to my list of resources - "History at Home - A Guide to Genealogy.

So thanks for the suggestion Courtney and class!! And a "High Five" right back to you for working on your own family history!


31 March 2016

The #mycolorfulancestry Craze

It seems like every genealogist on Facebook posted their version of the colorful Excel chart developed by Geneaspy blogger, J Paul Hawthorne. So without further ado, here's my 5-generation Excel chart showing the birthplaces of myself and my ancestors. As you can see, I am a New Englander.

And here's a 6-generation chart which shows a little bit of variation.


28 November 2015

The Storms of Vermont, Part 2 - Susannah Storm's Probate Record

Susannah Storms was the eldest child of Primus and Parmelia. She was born in 1788 in Fishkill, NY to a slave mother and free father. The family traveled to Basin Harbor, Vermont with Platt Rogers, mother Parmelia's owner.

The Storms became one of the many free, land-owning Black families in Vermont. When Susannah died unmarried on 16 September 1845, she left her 54 acre "Home Farm" to her family. Her father, Primus and her brother Joseph had already passed on so Susannah's estate was divided eight ways. Her mother and six living sibling each received 1/8 share of the land. The five children of her brother Joseph each received 1/5 of the last eighth of land. Below is the surveyor's rendering of the division.

Susannah never married but she did leave records of her life. She lived for many years with a Quaker family in Ferrisburgh - siblings Joseph and Mary Rogers. Mary kept a diary and wrote often about Susannah according to Rokeby Musuem's Jane Williamson. Jane authored the article "African-Americans in Addison County, Charlotte, and Hinesburg, VT 1790-1860."

According to that article and church records, Susannah was a member of the local Baptist church in Panton and had at one point leased land for the Stone School in Panton. Her probate records reference the Stone School as a boundary point but does not show any of her heirs receiving it. Perhaps she had sold or given the land to the town prior to her death. Or the town may have held on to the parcel since the town's school was built upon it.

Susannah was buried next to her father in the Basin Harbor cemetery. Today her stone is broken and placed upside down in the ground - which I intend to repair the next time I visit.

I hope to visit Rokeby Museum and read Mary Rogers' diaries myself to see her thoughts about my 5th great aunt. I'll let you know what I find out!


01 August 2015

Hassanamisco Indian Fair

A friend and I - Photo by Stacey Tufts
We celebrated our 92nd Annual powwow this past Sunday. The Creator gave us glorious weather and a great crowd. Here are a few photos from the event. All the below photos were taken by Dave TallPine.

The Elders

22 July 2015

Caesar Toney Again

As a followup to yesterday's post - 

What is the relationship between John Hazeltine, Esquire and Caesar Toney?

The deed states that Hazeltine is selling and gifting this land to Caesar " in Consideration of the Love and good Will I do bear to Cesar Tony"

Why would a white male in 1754 hold love and good will for a black male not apparently related? Was Caesar a former slave of Hazeltine's? Or perhaps a child of Hazeltine? 

The deed goes on to state that of the twenty acres deeded to Caesar Toney, 14 of those acres were paid for and the remaining six were a gift from Hazeltine to Toney.

 "Containing Twenty acres fourteen acres of which I the said John Hazeltine sell to the said Cesar Tony for the sum of money above mentioned and the other six acres I the said  John Hazeltine do freely give and quitclaim to him the said Cesar Tony as aforesaid to Encourage him to be a good Husbandman"

Again, why is John Hazeltine gifting land to Caesar Toney?

The answer is perhaps in the town records of Upton, MA or Sutton, MA where Hazeltine resided in 1754. A little more than 50 years later, Toney's sons (Abraham and Caesar Jr.) sell the Upton land and buy land in Royalston, MA where two of John Hazeltine's sons reside.


Until next time,


21 July 2015

Caesar Toney

Caesar Toney is my 5th great-grandfather. He married Margaret (Peggy) Romsor of Worcester on 7 September 1756 in Upton, MA. Peggy and Caesar had two sons Caesar Jr. and Abraham. Caesar Jr. and Abraham married two Narragansett sisters, Susannah and Mary Harry.

Caesar and Peggy and their family lived on their own farm in Upton, MA - a bit unusual for people of African descent in 1700s New England.  John Hazelton (who founded a few Massachusetts towns before moving to Vermont) both sold and gifted land to Caesar in 1754. The deed and it's transcription are below.

Transcription of  Quitclaim Deed
Hazeltine to Toney Worcester County, Massachusetts Bay Colony Drawn 10 December 1753, Recorded 12 April 1754 Worcester County, MA Registry of Deeds Book 35, Page 20
[Marginal Notation]
Hazeltine to
Cesar Tony
“To all People To whom these Presents shall come Greeting Know ye that I John Hazeltine of Sutton in the County of Worcester & Province of the Massachusetts Bay in new England Esq For and in Consideration  of the Love and good Will I do bear to Cesar Tony hereafter more fully  mentioned and discribed [sic] as also for and in consideration of the Sum of Twenty Two Pounds Eight Shillings Lawfull money of this Province  to me in hand well and truly paid by the said Cesar Tony of Upton  in the County of Worcester and Province aforesaid Negroman Laborer  the Receipt where of I do have by acknowledge and my self therewith fully  Satisfied and contented and thereof and of every part and parcel thereof  do Exonerate acquit and discharge him the said Cesar Tony his heirs  Executors and admd forever by these Presents have given Released  Quitclaimed granted bargained aliened conveyed & confirmed  and by these Presents do give Release and and quit claim and freely fully  and absolutely give grant bargain aliene convey and confirm unto him the said Cesar Tony and his heir forever a Certain Tract  of Land Scituate [sic]in Upton aforesaid near the Dwelling [“now” inserted above Dwelling] House of John Clemons Containing Twenty acres fourteen acres of which  I the said John Clemons Hazeltine sell to the said Cesar Tony for the sum of money above mentioned and the other six acres I the said  John Hazeltine do freely give and quitclaim to him the said Cesar  Tony as aforesaid to Encourage him to be a good Husbandman  and I bound and discribe the whole twenty acres to him the said Cesar  Tonny [sic]as follows [illegible] beginning at a heap of stones northwesterly  Corner of the land of John Clemons aforesaid and from thence  it runs Westerly Twenty Six Rod to a heap of stones and thence  it runs Southerly to a heap of stones and so continuing near  or the same Course in all tell one- hundred and Twenty Six Rod is near out to Henry Walkers Land then it [inkblot] Turns and Runs Easterly  on said Walkers Land Twenty Six Rod to John Clemons Land aforesd and thence northerly and by said Clemons Land one hundred and  Twenty Six Rod to the Bounds first mentioned To have and to  Hold the said given and quitclaimed granted & Bargained Premises  with all the appurtenances Priviledges [sic] and Comodities [sic] to the same  belonging or in any wise appertaining to him the said Cesar Tony
and his Heirs forever to his and their own proper use benefit & behoof forever and I the said John Hazeltine for my self my heirs Executors and Adms do Covenant promise and grant to and with  him the said Cesar Tony and his Heirs that before the Ensealing  hereof I am the True sole and Lawfull owner of the above quitclaimed  and bargained premises and am lawfully Seized and Possessed  of the same in my own proper Right as a good and perfect Estate  of Inheritance in fee simple and have in my self good Right  full Power and Lawfull authority to grant bargain sell convey  and confirm said bargained and quit claimed Premises in manner  as aforesaid and that the said Cesar Tony and his heirs shall and  may from Time To Time and at all Times forever hereafter by force &  Virtue of these presents Lawfully peaceably and quietly have hold  use occupy possess and enjoy the quitclaimed [crossed out-illegible] demised &  Bargained premises with the appurtenances free & clear & freely &  clearly acquitted Exonerated and discharged of from all and all manner  of former and other gifts grants bargains Sales Leases Mortgages 

Page 2
Wills entails Jointures Doweries Judgements Executions or Incumbrances of what Name or  Nature that might obstruct or make void this present Deed
Furthermore I the said John Hazeltine for my self my Heirs exet and adms do covenant and engage the above quitclaimed & demised to him the said Cesar Tony &  his heirs against the Lawfull Claims or Demands of any Person or Persons forever to – Warrant Secure and defered by these Presents. In Witness to all above written I have hereunto  set my hand and seal this tenth day of December one thousand seven hundred and  fifty three and in the Twenty Seventh year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord George  the Second of great Brittain France and Ireland King [illegible]  John Hazeltine (seal) Signed Sealed & Delivd in presence of Alexander Clayton  J[illegible] Aldrich  Worcester Ss February 7th 1754 the within named John Hazeltine acknowledged  the within written Instrument to be his free Voluntary act & deed
      Before me Charles Brigham Justice of the Peace April 12th 1754 Recd & accordingly entered & Examd J Chandler Reg”

Until next time,