Pedigree Collapse, or Why My Brain Hurts: Pt. 2

Once again, my desk is awash in sticky notes.

I’m working on the BREED sub-folder today, one I had put off, as I knew it was likely to be a brain-buster. And, it is.

I found this little tidbit on a scanned document from a family history given to me by my Aunt Gwen.

There are quite a few typos in this note, but I think you can get the gist of it.

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If you remember from my last post, I mentioned that Sarah (Hood) Bassett was my 6x great-grandmother.

What I didn’t realize until reading this note is that her younger sister, Anna (Hood) Breed is my 5x great-grandmother!

And, it’s even more convoluted than that… Hang on; it’s gonna get bumpy.

Sarah and Anna Hood were the daughters of Richard Hood and Mary Newhall Hood. Sarah married into the Bassett family, while her sister Anna married into the Breeds.

Easy so far, right?


Now, Sarah and William, and Anna and Samuel, begin to have children, as married folks in New England did.


And, Ruth Bassett and Benjamin Breed grew up and got married, too, as people do…


Oh, dear; what have we here? Both Ruth and Benjamin married into the Allen family.

And, not different branches of that family. Oh, no; that would be too simple.


Ruth Allen, wife of Benjamin Breed, was the daughter of Ruth and Abraham Allen, Benjamin’s first cousin and her husband. So, it turns out, Ruth Allen and Benjamin Breed are first cousins, once removed.

Benjamin’s grandparents and Ruth great-grandparents are the same people: Richard Hood and Mary Newhall.

And, that’s why the Hood sisters aren’t both either 6x or 5x great-grandmothers, but one generation different from each other in relationship to me.

Now, let’s see where we go from here, shall we?


Ruth and Benjamin get to work and begin having children, including a son, Abraham. Abraham grows up and marries Sarah Bassett.

Bassett. There’s that name again. And, yes, it’s our Bassetts.


Sarah Hood and William Bassett had a son named also William, sister to Ruth Bassett. William married Rebecca Berry. They had a son named Joseph, who married Eunice Hacker.

Joseph and Eunice had a daughter named Sarah Bassett.

Yes, the same Sarah Bassett who married Abraham Breed. Sarah and Abraham were second cousins, having the same great-grandparents, Sarah and William Bassett.


Well, now. That’s a nice, tidy family tree, isn’t it???

Endogomy for the win!

I’m sure that there are more tangled branches on this tree, but I will tackle them another day.

‘Til next time.


Pedigree Collapse, or Why My Brain Hurts

I’m still diligently working through my digital files, and I’ve cleaned up my husband’s side of our family tree, filing, renaming, and organizing.

I have rearranged my folders to make it easier to find who or what I’m looking for. I originally had just two main folders, one each for my family (KEENE) and my husband’s family (GARRETT), with all our ancestors last names each in their own subfolder.

However, I have now divided it further and made a folder for each of our grandparents’ names. So, my side of the family has two main folders, KEENE and WELLS, and my husband’s side has GARRETT and GIER, each folder then having subfolders for only that line, rather than both lines mixed.

I hope I haven’t lost you, but trust me, this has made it so much easier.

I have finished both the GARRETT and the GIER folders on my husband’s side. I’m now working in my KEENE branch. And, I haven’t gotten very far, as it’s a tangled shrub of New England ancestors, rather than a nice tidy tree.

I was trying to properly file documents in my BASSETT folder, having made further subfolders for each married couple.

And, this is where things began to go off the rails. I was finding that I had saved documents which, at first glance, didn’t seem to fit.

The Bassetts had great affinity for the name William. And those Williams seemed to have a liking for girls named Sarah. Over and over…

And, I couldn’t figure out, i.e. see, how the pieces fit.

It got so confusing that I pulled out a pad of sticky notes and began writing names down and making a very visual, physical tree on my desk.


Now, see that William Bassett over on the left? Next to Rebecca Berry? Turns out, he is William Bassett III, son of William Jr., son of William Sr., who you will find over on the right.

Ah-ha! One mystery solved.

Now, see William Jr. and Sarah Hood Bassett over on the right? Now just follow down the tree. Their daughter, Ruth, married Abraham Allen, whose daughter Ruth married Benjamin Breed, whose son Abraham married Sarah Bassett. OK, clear enough.

Except, we now know that William III is also a child of William Jr. and Sarah Hood. His sister was Ruth Bassett Allen. William III married Rebecca Berry, their son Joseph married Eunice Hacker, and their daughter Sarah married Abraham.

So, Sarah Bassett Breed and Abraham Breed have the same great-grandparents, making them second cousins.

Oh, my. It’s not unusual at all for cousins to marry, especially in small populations like New England or French Canada. (Another reason I’m holding off on organizing those Bergerons…)

And, that is where pedigree collapse comes in. Instead of the family tree expanding backwards in time, growing ever larger, in actuality, it weaves in and out, tangling itself over and over.

And, now all my files and documents make so much more sense.

Now, look again at those sticky notes and find Sarah Hood Bassett and her daughter, Ruth. Sarah was accused of witchcraft in 1692, and both she and Ruth were imprisoned when Ruth was about 2 years old and Sarah was pregnant.

Her husband’s sister, Elizabeth Bassett, had married John Proctor. And, if you are at all familiar with the trials, you will sense just how close to the center of the madness Sarah and Ruth were. They shared a jail cell with Elizabeth and John.

Elizabeth and Sarah were spared the gallows because they were pregnant, but John was executed.

Sarah was my 7x great-grandmother through two of her children, William III and Ruth. William and his sister Ruth are both 6x great-grandparents.

‘Til next time.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks | Week 34: Non-Population


I love them.

I have too many.

I’m especially partial to Born flats, Land’s End boots, and Soft Walk work shoes. But, I also have Clark’s sandals, Land’s End wedges, and Keds tennies. I would have more if my wallet and conscience would let me.

I think it’s my ancestors who are to blame, though. My dad’s side of the family all came from Massachusetts, particularly Lynn, whose main industry for years once was the manufacture of shoes and boots.

From Wikipedia:

Colonial Lynn was an early center of tannery and shoe-making, which began in 1635. The boots worn by Continental Army soldiers during the Revolutionary War were made in Lynn, and the shoe-making industry drove the city’s growth into the early nineteenth century. This legacy is reflected in the city’s seal, which features a colonial boot.


Most of my ancestors worked in one way or the other in the shoe manufacturing industry in Lynn: Generations of Keenes, Breeds, Newhalls, Allens, and Thompsons worked side by side in factories or workrooms across Lynn.

The manufacturing non-population schedules of the US census for Lynn are full of familiar names.

But, first, what exactly is a non-population schedule?

Briefly, it is a census of a particular section of society. There are non-population schedules for agriculture, manufacturing, people with disabilities, and war veterans and their widows. These schedules give additional, and very different, information that a regular census doesn’t.

So, let’s look at a few examples, shall we?

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Amos Breed, 1870 Manufacturing Schedule

The above entry is for Amos Breed, Jr., a shirt-tail relative, from the 1870 manufacturing census for Lynn. The columns across, from right to left, detail:

  • Name of company or corporation doing business in excess of $550 per year
  • Name of the business, manufacture, or product
  • The capital, real and personal, invested in the business
  • Kind of power, steam, water, hand
  • If steam- or water-powered, what is the horsepower
  • Name or description of machines
  • Number of machines
  • How many male employees above 16 years
  • How many female employees above 15 years
  • How many employed children and youth
  • Total amount paid in wages during the year
  • Number of months in active operation
  • Kinds of materials
  • Quantities of materials
  • Value of those materials
  • Kinds of production
  • Quantities of production
  • And, finally, value of production

Wow! That’s a lot of information.

For Amos Breed in the above example, he was manufacturing shoes, had a capital investment of $40,000, ran his factory on 40 steam-powered machines with 50 HP, had 50 male workers over 16, 25 female workers over 15, no youth or children workers, worked with leathers and trimmings that had a value of $125,000, and the entire business was valued at $225,000.

It would appear that Amos was rather well-off.

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Nathan Breed, 1870 Manufacturing Schedule

This entry is for the same year, 1870, for Nathan Breed, a distant cousin. Again, he manufactured shoes, but wasn’t nearly as well off as Amos. His business was valued at $70,000. But, frankly, in 1870, that’s still doing quite well. I found the advertisement below in a box of family memorabilia from my Uncle George.

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Nathan Breed
Keene Brothers, 1870 Manufacturing Schedule

Then, we come to the Keene brothers, again in 1870. As far as I know, these two are not my Keene ancestors. (I’ve done some research, and it appears that one brother’s initials were W. G. S. Keene. Not my great-grandfather nor his brother; again some shirt-tail relative.) But, they were quite the prosperous duo, judging by a total valuation of their company of $403,322.

So, you can see that shoes were big in Lynn.

On our trip to Massachusetts last year, my husband and I visited the Lynn Historical Society. And, of course, there were many references to the shoe manufacturing history of the town.

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These stained glass motifs are above the main entrance; outside is a “10-footer,” a small workroom common in the 1800s.
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A photo from 1880 showing the inside of a well-used 10-footer.
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A cobbler’s bench.
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A display of shoes made in Lynn.
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The city of Lynn dominated the shoe industry in Essex County. With the sheer numbers of workers, it’s not surprising that so many of my ancestors were cobblers, cutters, and cordwainers.
A brief history of shoemaking in Lynn; the photo is of Ebenezer Breed, brother of my 3x great-grandfather, Abraham Breed.

The non-population schedules give a little glimpse into the industry and wealth that shoes provided my family for decades. For my part, I will continue to love them for entirely different reasons.

“Til next time.


A while back, I told you about visiting Massachusetts and finding out that I have more ancestors than I could have imagined from the coast of Massachusetts, from Marblehead to Boston.

While in Marblehead, we visited the little Marblehead Museum. The museum is housed in what might have been a private home in an earlier life, not too far from the town center. In the large open front room, we were able to see quite a few art works depicting the early seafaring life of the town, even though they were in the midst of changing the exhibit. The upstairs main gallery was not open for the summer season yet, so we missed that.

We had stopped by the museum hoping to find a listing of historical houses. As we walked through the town, we noticed house after house had plaques by the front door, with names and dates. We soon learned that Marblehead has over 200 homes dating from the Revolutionary War era, with some even from the mid-1600s. Most of these have been beautifully restored and cared for, and the historic district is on the National Register of Historic Places. It truly is charmingly lovely.

With so many ancestors from Marblehead, I had hoped that perhaps I could find a house or two that had once belonged to my family. So, at the museum, I talked with the archivist, Lauren McCormack. She kindly looked up the information she had on the houses, which wasn’t a complete listing.

Turns out, there isn’t one.

(Insert startled expression here.)

Which I still can’t quite believe. If I lived closer, I’d be walking up and down the streets of Marblehead, camera in hand, marking a map with names and dates that future genealogists would celebrate me for. But, I digress….

Unfortunately, we didn’t find houses in the museum’s records that belonged to my family. Ms. McCormack, however, said that she would look in the archives and get back to me if she found any more information.

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This is a typical house in the historic district of Marblehead. On the right-hand side of the house, above the window, you can see the small white plaque with the name of the original owner/builder and date it was built: William Sandin, Fisherman, 1714.

And, she did! She emailed me page after page relating to my Ashton, Diamond, Doliber, and Thompson ancestors: Transcripts of deeds and wills, handwritten family genealogies, and scans of centuries-old bills of sale, etc. It was a treasure trove!


I will leave you today with this one image:

ashton-samuel-samuel jr-witnesses-indenture of paul cooper to joseph breed-marblehead

This is an indenture for Paul Cooper of Bermuda to Joseph Breed, mariner, of Marblehead (who may be yet another ancestor).  The indenture was for a period of eight years and five months to learn the “Art, Trade or Mastery” of seamanship.

Mr. Cooper agreed to “not absent himself day or night from his Master’s service without his leave… shall not contract matrimony… behave himself a faithful apprentice…” etc.

Master Breed agreed to the “utmost of his endeavors to teach or cause to be taught and instructed said apprentice in the trade… to provide for him… meat, drink, washing, teach him to read, write, and cypher…” etc.

This document is signed by Samuel Ashton and Samuel Ashton, Jr., my 5x and 4x great-grandfathers. The date is March 15, 1781.

Like I said, I have deep roots in Marblehead…



Just When I was Thinking that My Genealogy was Getting a Little Ho-Hum…

…what do I discover?

That my 7th great-grandmother, Sarah Hood Bassett, was accused, convicted, imprisoned, and eventually released in the hysteria that was the Salem witch trials.

I had seen her name in some family papers several times, but because of how the information about was worded, I made the (faulty) assumption that she was an in-law, cousin, or another very distant relative.

But, no. Direct ancestor. When the penny finally dropped, I was stunned, to the say the least. The witch trials had been an interesting, if sad, bit of ancient history to me. But, now… this was my family.

This is what genealogy does: makes distant history suddenly very real and very personal.

Photo Credit:Sanford History Education Group

Here are the generations between Sarah and me:

Sarah Hood Bassett, born 1657, died 1721

Her daughter, Ruth Bassett Allen, born 1690, died 1756

Her daughter, Ruth Allen Breed, born 1724, died 1811

Her son, Abraham Breed, born 1752, died 1831

His daughter, Eunice Breed Thompson, born 1788, died 1869

Her son, William Dimond Thompson, Jr., born 1823, died 1911

His daughter, Lydia Ann Thompson Keene, born 1850, died 1938

Her son, Charles Lawrence Keene, Sr., (the mariner) born 1883, died 1959

His son, Charles Lawrence Keene, Jr., born 1919, died 1996

…and then me.

When Sarah was 35, and the mother of six children, she was brought from Lynn for trial in Salem May 23, 1692. A servant girl in her brother-in-law’s household had accused her of giving her an “ointment.” She was immediately convicted and sent to the Boston jail, taking with her her little 2-year old, Ruth.

She was jailed with her brother-in-law, Richard Proctor, and his wife, Elizabeth, who were both sentenced to hang. Both Elizabeth and Sarah were pregnant. Richard was sent to his death in August, but Elizabeth’s sentence was postponed until after her baby was born.

However, during Sarah’s 7-month imprisonment, the hysteria calmed down and cooler heads began to prevail. Sarah was released December 3, 1692, and her son, Joseph, was born two weeks later. She had a daughter in August 1695 and named her Deliverance. Appropriate, I think.

Sarah was later paid £9 in recompense.


Salem Village Witchcraft Victim’s Memorial, Danvers, Mass, 2013. Photo Credit: Rebecca Brooks