Marblehead

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!

Wow!

I will leave you today with this one image:

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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, lodging..to 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.

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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.

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