Wednesday, August 31, 2016

On the "Probable" Origins of Robert Bartlett

At this time, what we think we know of the origins of Robert Bartlett who sailed on the ship “Anne” in 1623 and settled in Plymouth, Massachusetts is found in guesses based on coincidences in name and an estimated age. Many people still cite – and some accept as fact – research on a particular Bartlett family published in 1979 and prior, without fully reading the research or the caveats included by the authors upon the presentation of their findings. This information has been perpetuated in such a way, that it appears many family historians take it as fact, rather than mere possibility.

Since I am the editor of the newsletter for the Society of Descendants of Robert Bartlett (and about to step into the role of webmaster), I believe as a society honoring a particular ancestor and his history, we must hold ourselves to a higher standard. Therefore, I would like to address the life of Robert Bartlett of the “Anne” as we know it and then discuss what we do not know of it.

First and foremost, Robert Bartlett’s life in Plymouth is well-documented in two places. The most recent publication which offers a glimpse into the life of this man is Robert Bartlett of the “Anne” and his Descendants of Four Generations compiled by Robert S. Wakefield, FASG (General Society of Mayflower Descendants, 2000). Of course, the GSMD’s “Silver Book” volumes on Richard Warren also treat this family in the same manner.

The second place in which Robert’s life is well-detailed is the “Mayflower Descendant” 3:105-117. These pages lay out a timeline of Robert’s life from the 1627 division of cattle, until October 29, 1676, when his will was probated.

The first record of Robert Bartlett in Plymouth, Massachusetts is in the 1623 Division of Land, in which he received one acre. Robert was party to many deeds, land and court transactions, and civil responsibilities onward from that date, until his death sometime between 19 September 1676 – the date of his will – and 29 October 1676 – the date his will was proven.

The first indication of Robert Bartlett’s marriage to Mary Warren in Plymouth Colony records comes on 1 July 1633, when it was recorded that “Mrs. Warren and Robt. Bartlet were to mow where they did last year.” Robert Bartlett is next referred to as the son-in-law of Mrs. Warren in a court order dated 7 or 17 March 1636/7.

The record that cements a year of marriage is that of Robert and Mary (Warren) Bartlett’s son, Benjamin Bartlett, who was a Freeman as of 6 June 1654. In order to be a Freeman, one had to be an adult, probably about 21 years old. Thus, Benjamin would have to have been born by or before 6 June 1633.

Knowing for certain that the life of Robert Bartlett of Plymouth, Massachusetts spanned a range of time from 1623 (named in Division of Land) until between 19 September 1676 and 29 October of 1676 (date of will and probate of will), as well as knowing he had to have been married by or before 1633 (when his first son would have to be born if he was made a Freeman by 1654; also treated as Mrs. Warren’s son-in-law from 1633 onward, implied by the shared mowing responsibility), can also help us determine his age.

Question 1: When was Robert Bartlett born?

In trying to determine when Robert Bartlett was born, we need to estimate his age based upon the known facts. If he received land in the 1623 Division of Land after his arrival in Plymouth Colony, then he was at least considered an adult by that time.

The only actual indicator of age is the List of Men Able to Bear Arms (men between 16 and 60), and that gives us an incredibly wide age range to work with! Robert Bartlett was named on that list in August 1643. We know he certainly was older than 16, since he received land in 1623. It’s reasonable to assume he was at least 20 or 21 when he received that land in 1623 – certainly not any younger – so he was at least 39 or 40 on the 1643 list.

The first indication of him as a cooper comes in 1654 in a deed from Samuel Hicks. However, long before that, on 1 or 11 December 1635, Richard Stinnings bound himself to Robert Bartlett as an apprentice for 9 years. If Robert took an apprentice in 1635, then how long had he been practicing his craft as a cooper?

Other questions to ask include how did he learn his craft? Probably by apprenticeship as well, as that was how young men learned a trade. Was he a cooper when he joined the voyage on the “Anne” in 1623? Was he the ship’s cooper? Most children apprenticed as adolescents, around the age of 14. If Robert was actually born in 1603 and apprenticed by the age of 14, in 1617, the term of his apprenticeship would have lasted roughly 5 to 7 years. That helps us make a reasonable guess that he was around 20 or so when he sailed to Plymouth. That idea that Robert was born in or about 1603 certainly makes sense.

However, because the passenger manifest has not survived, we simply do not know his age. We know the “Anne’s” master was William Peirce, so it would be a matter of finding proof that Robert Bartlett signed on to the voyage, not just as a passenger, but possibly as a worker as well. If this were the case, Robert’s estimated age of at least 20 might even seem a little young at first glance. We also do not know how old his apprentice, Richard Stinnings was, in 1635. Sadly, we may never know, as Richard was one of three men hanged in 1638 for participating in the murder of a man of the Nipmuc tribe. Odds are Richard was an adolescent – quite young and impulsive, given his rash actions. The man who encouraged his behavior, Arthur Peach, was described by William Bradford as “a young, lusty and desperate man.”

Suffice it to say, Robert Bartlett had certainly practiced his craft for a substantial amount of time by 1635, if he was able to take on an apprentice.

Finally, some websites or family trees indicate that Robert Bartlett “died at the age of 73” when he died in 1676. This information is not factual, nor is it stated anywhere at any time by Robert Bartlett or his contemporaries that he was 73-years-old at the time of his death. Even in his own will, Robert does not give his age. He merely states that he is “very weake in body but of sound memory and understanding” when he dictates his will (“Did by word of Mout Declare this to be his last will and Testament”) in the presence of John Cotton and Mordicay (Mordecai) Ellis on 19 September 1676.

So the question of his age remains unanswered, but a reasonable guess is that he was about 20 or 21-years-old when he sailed to Plymouth; perhaps even a little younger or older. A safe date range in which to place his birth may be roughly 1599 to 1605, which means he could have been somewhere between 18 and 25 when he sailed. However, closer to 1600-1605 seems reasonable, since he did not marry until at least 1632. It’s possible he was even younger and sailing on the ship as a servant to another family, as is mentioned in the timeline at the end of this article.

Question 2: What makes the Puddletown, Dorset Bartletts the “probable” ancestry of Robert Bartlett?


And this is the problem, as probability is a very different state than possibility. Probability means how likely something is to be, whereas possibility is a matter of either yes or no. Is it possible that the Puddletown Bartletts are Robert’s family? Yes. Is it probable? Not at this time. Why not?

The assertion that Robert Bartlett and Alice Barker of Puddletown, Dorset, England are the parents of Robert Bartlett of Plymouth, Massachusetts (not to mention the additional assertion that they are also the parents of Richard Bartlett of Newbury, Massachusetts!) is merely based upon coincidences of name and potential year of birth.

Robert Bartlett and Alice Barker of Puddletown did, indeed, marry in St. Mary’s Church, Puddletown, Dorset, England on 16 October 1589 and have at least seven children, all baptized at St. Mary’s:

Liddia, baptized 2 August 1590, died 8 November 1612, buried at St. Mary’s Church
Ruth, baptized 22 February 1591
Mary, baptized 4 February 1592/93
Edith, baptized 23 January 1596/97
Martha, baptized 5 November 1598
Richard, baptized 7 February 1600/01
Robert, baptized 27 March 1603

The June 2002 issue of The Bartlett Line states that Alice Barker died shortly after the birth of her daughter, Elizabeth (1607/8), and that Robert Bartlett remarried and had three more children – Izobell in 1608, Benjamin in 1611 and Robert in 1614.

This is absolutely incorrect. We know Alice (Barker) Bartlett was still living, because her father Richard Barker’s will, proved 6 November 1621, names her as executrix. Also, it seems unlikely that Izobell, Benjamin and Robert are theirs, as they are not named in the Will of Richard Barker. The baptisms, however, of Elizabeth Bartlett in 1607/08 and John Bartlett in 1609 specified that they were the children of Robert and Alice Bartlett, and are set apart from the baptisms of Izobell, Benjamin and Robert. The further baptisms of Izobell, Benjamin and Robert were probably of another couple in Puddletown – a Robert Bartlett and Agnes Gould, who were married at Fordington on 6 October 1605. Unfortunately, any arguments regarding naming conventions – that Robert Bartlett of Plymouth had a half-brother named Benjamin and thus named his first son after him – simply holds no water.

In addition to the baptismal records of St. Mary’s, the children of Robert Bartlett and Alice Barker are further named in the will of Richard Barker. The only three not named are Liddia, Elizabeth and John, all three of whom probably died before their grandfather. Each of Alice (Barker) Bartlett’s living children – some already married per the language of Richard’s will – was left money, a silver spoon and various other legacies.

So where does the assertion that Robert Bartlett of Plymouth, Massachusetts is the son of Robert and Alice (Barker) Bartlett of Puddletown originate? For this, we go back to an article by Paul W. Prindle, F.A.S.G. entitled “The Probable Ancestry of Robert Bartlett of Plymouth,” published in The American Genealogist, volume 55, page 164 in 1979.

Prindle expands on a previous article published by John G. Hunt, entitled “Possible Origin of Robert Bartlett of Plymouth,” published in The American Genealogist, volume 35, page 214 in 1959. However, all Prindle does is add new facts and research regarding the Puddletown Bartletts to that which was found by Hunt. He does not provide proof of a connection to Robert of Plymouth.

Both these works tell us of the Puddletown Bartletts and draw conclusions based upon possibilities – specifically that Robert and Alice Bartlett had a son named Robert baptized in 1603 – but these coincidences do not support any probable conclusions. In fact, Prindle himself states, “What records I found do not give additional proof of the identification (of Robert Bartlett of Plymouth).”

Unfortunately, Prindle’s title for his article is misleading, as he did not assert anything that justified a conclusion of “probability” in the ancestry of Robert Bartlett.

Question 3: How many Robert Bartletts were baptized in England between 1599 and 1605?

Say, given the arrival of Robert Bartlett in Plymouth and the land distributed to him in 1623, he was at least 20-years-old upon his arrival. Perhaps even 19 or 21. This does, indeed, give him a possible birth year of 1603. Let’s expand that range, to be safe, and go as far as 1599-1605. How many baptisms can we find for a person by the name of Robert Bartlett in England in that time frame?

First, we must understand that not every parish’s records are digitized, transcribed or extracted into a text/digital format readily and easily available online. Second, we must see that those we can locate are just the tip of the iceberg.

If I look at for baptisms of a Robert Bartlett born in 1600 +/- 5 years, I get four baptisms for a Robert Bartlett. If I run the same search at, I get eight results within that date range.

As you can see, there is a rather wide range of baptisms for males by the name of Robert Bartlett between 1599 and 1605. Even if we narrow our range to just 1602 and 1603, we still find two baptisms online, and neither of these databases includes the St. Mary’s/Puddletown Bartletts baptisms. How many more baptismal records are out there for an infant or toddler by the name of Robert Bartlett during that time range? Remember, this does not account for every single digitized source available – just two of the most popular ones. It certainly doesn’t give us those sources which have not been scanned or transcribed, and made available online.

So why have we explored only the Puddletown Bartletts? What leads us to this conclusion? Have these other Bartletts been eliminated? Have these other families been further researched in the first place?

At this point, any attempt to match Robert Bartlett of Plymouth up with a Robert Bartlett baptized in England somewhere between 1599 and 1605 will be as inconclusive as the Puddletown “evidence” without something much more substantial.

Question 4: Can DNA help us here?

DNA can absolutely help us with this matter.

First, Y-DNA has disproven one very erroneous theory, and that is a paternal sibling relationship between Robert Bartlett of Plymouth, Massachusetts and Richard Bartlett of Newbury, Massachusetts.

They were never thought to originate from the same family anyway. Even if we look back at genealogical books published 100 years ago, they indicate that Richard Bartlett of Newbury came from “Ernly, Sussex, England” (Earnley, West Sussex, England). The origins of Richard Bartlett of Newbury remain as unproven as those of Robert Bartlett of Plymouth, Massachusetts, but certainly do not include Robert.

Y-DNA has disproven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the words of Rev.  R. Grosvenor Bartelot of the Vale House, Timsbury, Bath, England, who published Our Family Surname in 1944. Rev. Bartelot states:

It is virtually certain that Richard Bartlett, who with his wife Joane and their family migrated to Newbury in New England in the year 1634, was of the same line. He was shoemaker, and his family Bible proves he must have been the man of that name baptized as son of Robert Bartlett of Fordington, Dorset, on May 17, 1592, and whose son Richard, who according to the family Bible, was born on October 31, 1621, must be identified with the child of that name baptized at Tincleton adjoining Fordington on January 4, 1622.

He further asserts:

Robert Bartlett who emigrated to Massachusetts in 1623, a cooper by trade, was baptized at Puddleton, Dorset, on May 1603, a son of Robert, the lessee of Fordington Prebendal manor, whose pedigree goes back to John Bartlett alias Hancock, who bought Muston manor in Puddleton in 1542.

It is most definitely NOT “virtually certain” that these two men are related OR connected with Robert Bartlett who emigrated to Plymouth, MA and Richard Bartlett who emigrated to Newbury, MA. 

First of all, Richard Bartlett, son of Robert and Alice of Puddletown, was baptized on 7 February 1600/01, not in 1592. 

Second, Y-DNA disproves any paternal relationship between the men. A group of 9 men who descend from Robert Bartlett were tested. Their results are vastly different than those of the 5 men who descend from Richard Bartlett. Both groups also fall into different haplogroups, Robert’s into haplgroup R-M269, which is predominantly western Europe, and Richard’s into I-M253, which is the Scandinavian area.

This leaves only a maternal relationship as a possibility, but this seems unlikely, unless the possible mother of the two Bartletts was having an extramarital affair or brought a child from a previous marriage into her marriage to a Bartlett, who then adopted the older son (Richard) as his own. If the family of Robert Bartlett and Alice Barker at Puddletown were the parents of both Richard of Newbury and Robert of Plymouth, that means Alice was engaging in extramarital relations. Considering that Alice had five daughters before she had her sons, it is highly doubtful she was the mother of Robert of Plymouth and Richard of Newbury, unless she was suffering one heck of a seven year itch.


As Wakefield states in his MFIP book:

*TAG 55:164-8 suggests Robert may be the Robert Bartlett bp. 27 May 1603 at Puddletown, Co. Dorset, England. However, note the comments in NEHGR 153:407-12.

While those publications referenced in this article and dated 1944, 1959 and 1979 put forth a guess, recent publications from the Mayflower Society remind us that at this time, this guess it not a certainty, let alone probable. It is, as Wakefield appropriately presents it, merely a suggestion.

In conclusion, we must cast a wider net, as well as endeavor to add Puddletown and other Dorset Bartletts to the existing DNA surname project before we can settle on just one family as the "probable" family of Robert Bartlett of Plymouth.

We must stop treating the possibility that Robert Bartlett of Plymouth, Massachusetts is the Robert Bartlett baptized at St. Mary’s Church, Puddletown, Dorset, England in 1603 as fact. It’s not that the Puddletown Robert is the wrong Robert Bartlett. It’s simply that we just do not know if he is the right one.

Timeline of Known Facts

I am only listing the dates included in this article. A complete timeline of Robert’s life in Plymouth and all transactions to which he was a party can be found in the “Mayflower Descendant,” vol. 3, pages 105-117. This timeline is meant to provide a more visual overview of Robert’s life as we know it.

1623 – Robert Bartlett arrives at Plymouth, Massachusetts on the ship “Anne”

1623 – Robert Bartlett receives 1 acre in the 1623 Division of Land

1626 – Robert is not listed in the 1626 Purchasers List (obviously compiled sometime in or after 1630, as Elizabeth Warren is listed instead of her husband, Richard, who died in 1628, and John Billington was hanged in 1630 and thus only his surname is listed). Eugene Aubrey Stratton writes in Plymouth Colony: Its History & People, 1620-1621 (1986), “The fact that he was not one of the 1626 Purchasers might indicate that he arrived as a servant and was still in the status in 1626.”

1627 – Robert Bartlett receives 1 yearling heifer and 2 she goats in the 1627 Division of Cattle as part of Francis Eaton’s company. As in the 1623 Division of Land, Robert Bartlett also is grouped with Stephen Tracy. Coincidence?

1633 – Mrs. Warren and Robert Bartlett “were to mow where they did last year”

7 or 17 March 1636/7 – Mrs. Warren refers to Robert Bartlett as her son-in-law in a court order

19 September 1676 – Robert Bartlett writes his will

29 October 1676 – Robert Bartlett’s will is proved/probated

Copyright (c) 2016 Wendy L. Callahan

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Census Sunday - Missing Families

When people ask me how to get started in genealogy, I often recommend using the census to build family groups. Of course, there are many caveats that go with that, including the fact that you might not necessarily find your family.

I don't simply mean spelling differences or unexpected moves. I mean not finding your family at all in any given census.

This is one of the challenges I faced with John Goodwin Hawksley. He and his family appear in the 1851 census in New Brunswick, and the 1860 and 1870 censuses in Alva and Mars Hill, Aroostook County, Maine. His wife, Lucy, died 5 December 1880 and John died 21 September 1893, so it stands to reason they would appear in the 1880 census, still living in Mars Hill, where they died.


In fact, his adult, married male children don't appear in the census either. Two of his daughters appear with their husbands, but one was living in Massachusetts. The other was living in Mars Hill at the time, as was the rest of the Hawksley family, yet the third married adult female child does not show up in the census there with her husband.

It's as if the entire Hawksley family simply disappeared in 1880. I tried scrolling through the census for Mars Hill page by page, and found nothing. I tried surrounding towns and, again, didn't find them. So why weren't John Goodwin Hawksley and his nine living (out of thirteen born) children enumerated?

Another mystery around this particular census is Emma Anna Murphy. Of course, she's been a mystery all around. I only have one possible lead on her life before she married my great-great grandfather in Middleborough, Massachusetts in 1888. Other than that? Nothing except a possible connection to an Emma Murphy in Manchester, Guysborough County in the 1871 census in Nova Scotia, a discovery shared with me by Barbara Poole a few years ago.

In trying to connect the dots of Emma's life before she married my great-great grandfather and gave birth to my great-grandfather, the next sensible step back from 1888 was to the 1880 census. But searches for Emma as Emma Murphy, Emma Reagan (supposedly her first married name), Annie Murphy, and Annie Reagan have all yielded nothing.

I kept that search to Massachusetts and Maine, where vital records and previous censuses sometimes state she was born. Yet other records and censuses state she was born in Nova Scotia, so of course I've conducted the same searches in Canada's 1881 census. Again, to no avail.

Did Emma come to the United States before the 1881 census was taken, but after the 1880 census? It seems possible that she traveled during that window, and that may account for the reason I cannot locate her in either enumeration.

Frustrating, to be sure! This is one of the reasons other records - letters, diaries, town directories, land records, etc. are important. They can help us fill in the blanks when a person or an entire family disappears between censuses.

Copyright (c) 2016 Wendy L. Callahan

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Survey of Genealogy Activities

It's that time of the week again - Saturday Night Genealogy Fun! Randy Seaver at GeneaMusings challenges us to something new and interesting tonight.

1)  Answer these questions in my survey about your genealogy resources and usage:

a)  Which genealogy software programs for your computer do you use (e.g., Family Tree Maker, Reunion, GRAMPS, etc.)?

I use Legacy and I have for years after switching away from two other programs. I love it!

b)  Which online family trees have information submitted by you - in either a separate online tree (e.g., Ancestry Member Tree) or a universal (collaborative) online tree (e.g., WikiTree)?

Alas, I no longer maintain an online family tree, but I freely respond to questions and assist people who reach out to me about shared ancestry.

c)  For which subscription genealogy record providers (e.g., Ancestry) do you have a subscription?

Only the New England Historic Genealogical Society. I am considering Find My Past and/or Fold3, but I generally prefer and promote free resources, unless I really, really trust the subscription provider.

d)  Which FREE genealogy record providers (e.g., FamilySearch) do you use regularly?

FamilySearch, Nova Scotia Genealogy and the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick are indispensable. See my genealogy resources page for more!

e)  How much time do you spend each week doing actual genealogy research online?  [Note:  not reading, or social networking, but actual searching in a record provider].  Estimate an average number of hours per week.

Perhaps ten or so. I truly wish I had time for more like eight hours a day, and not just my own family. If this was my day job, I would be ecstatic. This is my dream job!

f)  How much time do you spend each week doing actual genealogy research in a repository (e.g., library, archive, courthouse, etc.)?  Estimate an average number of hours per month over, say, a one year period.

Gosh... None? All the repositories that hold the information I need are back home on the east coast. The nearest LDS Family History Center is only open during hours that I simply cannot accommodate with my work schedule without specifically taking time off from work. While I love taking time off from work, it's just not practical for me to do it on the days the FHC is open.

g)  How much time do you spend each week adding information to your genealogy software program (either on your computer or online)?  Estimate an average number of hours per week over, say, a one month period.

Probably an hour or two. At this point, nearly all my lines are researched back to the 1600s or earlier, so finding information to add is tricky. And the rest are brick walls, so those have their own challenges. 

h)  How much time do you spend each month at a genealogical society meeting, program or event (not a seminar or conference)?  Estimate an average number of hours per month over, say, a one year period.

None, but I would love to get out there! 

i)  How much time do you spend each month on genealogy education (e.g., reading books and periodicals, attending seminars, conferences, workshops, webinars, etc.)?   Estimate an average number of hours per month over, say, a one year period.

Probably at least an hour a week, mostly devoted to reading books or periodicals, but I'd love to do some webinars, workshops and conferences.

I plan to attend the Nebraska State Genealogical Society spring conference in April. Since I don't have Midwestern roots or ancestors, and no one in my family migrated this way, I'm hoping to find some general interest panels there to attend. Even if there aren't, I'm just excited about being among "my kind" for a day!

j)  How much time do you spend each week reading, writing and commenting on genealogy blogs, websites, and social media?   Estimate an average number of hours per week over, say, a one month period.

Maybe two hours a week. I'd like to comment more often on fellow genealogists' blogs. In general, I'd like to slow my life down quite a bit to really enjoy reading and interacting online and in person.

2)    Answer the questions in a blog post of your own and share your answers or link to them in a comment to the original post, or in a Google+ or Facebook post

Copyright (c) 2016 Wendy L. Callahan

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Making the Most of DNA Testing

Lately, I've been focused on really delving into my DNA results. Perhaps it started with Randy Seaver's "Saturday Night Genealogy Fun" post on Genea-Musings about autosomal DNA matches.

When I composed my post that day, I realized I wasn't maximizing my opportunities to use Family Tree DNA to my advantage. First task? Fill out my family tree.

I know when I look at potential matches, the first thing I check for (besides their name and the proximity of the match) is whether or not they have a family tree. If they do, I click it and see if there are any names I recognize. This is such a great tool we can use as a jumping-off point to learn more about how we might connect with our matches, so I filled mine out to make it easier for others to do the same.

Since my DNA tests are both the mtDNA and autosomal, it's the autosomal matches that will probably give me the most bang for my buck.

I also confirmed people I know who are absolutely my relatives, which is a grand total of one. One of my maternal uncles had his DNA tested with Family Tree DNA and, of course, our mtDNA results are the exact same since his mother is my mother's mother.

Initially with my Family Finder (autosomal) DNA test, I was going through and pinpointing those matches who mentioned the name "Murphy" or "Nova Scotia," and contacting them since Emma Anna Murphy remains my biggest mystery ancestor.

However, I've decided this is the wrong way to go about contacting matches. I should be contacting ALL of them, one at a time, to initiate a conversation and see if we can find a common ancestor, so I can confirm the relationship. My strategy there is to start with the "closest" Family Finder matches and work my way down. Of course, not everyone responds to an email from a stranger regarding genealogy.

I will use the ability to make notes next to a match to keep track of people I've contacted and see if I hear from anyone. It should be interesting!

Copyright (c) 2016 Wendy L. Callahan

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Black Sheep Sunday: Edward Callahan of Galena, IL

The first time we meet Edward Callahan in America is when he purchases land in Galena, Jo Daviess County, Illinois in September of 1845. The following year, he weds Mary Riley in Galena on 23 May 1846.

Edward, four of his brothers, and his sister all came to Illinois. The brothers lived out their lives in Illinois, the sister spent the rest of her life in Nebraska, but it was Edward - my husband's third great-grandfather - who had the most tumultuous life.

The Callaghan or Callahan family of County Fermanagh was part of the mass emigration away from Ireland when the potato famine hit. Six of the children of Thomas Callaghan of Annagulgan came to the U.S. Five settled in well. Edward seemed to also have everything going for himself - property, a wife and children - until 1859.

On August 31, 1859, Edward's wife Mary died at the age of 35 in her home. What happened?

It wasn't the usual culprit - disease or difficulty in childbirth. The report was that her husband had possibly beaten her while he was drunk, even perhaps struck her over the head with a leaf from a black walnut table. Mary remained "insensible" throughout the night, and died early the next morning.

Although the newspaper reports throughout early September 1859 show that Edward was arrested, jailed, and then released when the sheriff could not find evidence of violence against Mary, Edward decided not to stay in Galena. In November of 1860, he went to the courthouse with two of his brothers, whom he appointed his power of attorney.

The next record of Edward is in 1863, when the The Galena Gazette reports that Edward returned from Pikes Peak and got into a scuffle in town. He was injured by a gunshot from the sheriff and arrested with two of his brothers. The three brothers went to court the following month and paid fines for the disturbance. It's possible Edward was chasing the gold rush in Colorado - we don't really know.

After 1863, however, he left Galena again for good.

What became of Edward Callahan of Annagulgan, Roslea, County Fermanagh and Galena, Illinois? We don't know.

My husband's 1st cousin, once removed, has researched the family extensively and was kind enough to share many family documents with me beyond what can be found online. It's possible Edward simply disappeared and we just don't know what became of him. Another possibility is he returned to Ireland, as there is a record of an Edward Callahan who married back in "our" Edward's hometown to Catherine McCaffrey in 1867. That Edward went on to Australia and had two daughters, both of whom ended up in Massachusetts.

How can we connect our Edward with the one who emigrated to Australia? Because of an 1899 of Edward's brother, James, which lists his siblings, nieces and nephews. The will lists not just the five children Edward and Mary had in Galena, but two additional daughters of the same name as the Edward who married in Roselea in 1867.

The first is Susan Callahan, whose marriage in Hanover, Plymouth County, Massachusetts to Bernard Degan lists her as a daughter of Edward Callahan and Catherine McCaffrey. It verifies she was born in Australia. They lived in Weymouth, Massachusetts.

The second is Catherine Callahan, sometimes Kathleen, Callahan, who did not marry, but did have a child named Grace Theresa Callahan, who married Oscar Tipping.

Finally, there is an Edward Callahan who died in 1895 in Errasallagh, in County Fermanagh near Roslea.

The return to Ireland is still conjecture and we may never know what became of Edward, but it's interesting and a little sad to look back at his life. Edward's five children, two of them very young (one a newborn!), lost their mother and then their father left them not long after that. It's a good thing Edward had a "village" to raise his children, thanks to his brothers.

That Irish temper really got the best of Edward, it seems!

Copyright (c) 2016 Wendy L. Callahan

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Sunday's Obituary: James Cassidy

I don't think I've posted much about my Cassidy ancestry, so here we go!

My great-great grandparents, Hiram Frederick Haley (1870-1952) and Rosanna Cassidy (1870-1940) helped raise my grandfather/their grandson, Hebert Benjamin Haley, Jr. (1926-2014).

Grandpa Haley had many good things to say about his grandma "Rose" and I became very intrigued by the Cassidy family's origins. Rosanna was born 3 June 1870 in Brockton, Plymouth County, Massachusetts to James Cassidy and Mary Ann Livingston.

I don't know much about James and Mary Ann, even after twenty years of research. Mary Ann was born about 1844 in Ireland. According to her death certificate, her father's name was George Livingston. Her mother's name could be Nancy or Mary, and the maiden name could be Bell or Cassidy.

Mary Ann married James Cassidy on 4 May 1869 in North Bridgewater (now Brockton), Plymouth County, Massachusetts.

I know slightly more about James and have been able to put together a leafier family tree on him.

James was born about 1839 in Ireland to John Cassidy and Rose Brady. I've identified at least 2 of his siblings, both of whom also came to Brockton, married, and had children. James and Mary Ann had 4 children of whom I am aware.

Mary Ann (Livingston) Cassidy died in Brockton on 11 June 1886 and is buried in St. Patrick's Cemetery there.

James lived another 15 years before he died at the age of about 62. The obituary itself is a very short blurb about the funeral and his pallbearers - Patrick Riley, James Brady, Patrick Brady, and James McEntee - and the interment at St. Patrick's Cemetery.

But prior to that there were two articles in the Brockton Daily Enterprise and The Brockton Times on Tuesday, July 23, 1901.

Please note, The Brockton Times article is slightly graphic as to the injuries suffered by my great-great-great grandfather:

James Cassidy's obituary: "Stepped to Death" in Brockton, Massachusetts

I'll never forget when I read these articles on microfilm at the Brockton Public Library several years ago. At the time, I was simply following up on the death certificate I had, which gave the cause of death as "Compound fracture of the skull."

This is probably one of my most surprising finds on my family to date.

Copyright (c) 2016 Wendy L. Callahan

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: How Many Autosomal DNA Matches Do You Have?

Once again, Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings brings us Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: How Many Autosomal DNA Matches Do You Have? Visit his blog for the original post.

1) Have you had your autosomal DNA tested by a genetics company? Which companies?

2) How many autosomal DNA matches do you have at each company, by approximate relationship?

3) Tell us about them in your own blog post, in a comment to the original post, or on Facebook or Google+.

So, my answers are:

1) I've had an autosomal DNA test done through Family Tree DNA.

2) My matches break down as follows:

20 2nd to 4th cousins
104 3rd to 5th cousins
188 4th to Remote cousins

I've never really gotten anywhere with my Family Finder test, which disappoints me. One match was of major interest to me, because her ancestral surnames mention Nova Scotia, so I hoped maybe, just maybe, I'd found a cousin through my elusive great-great grandma Emma Murphy. Furthermore, we have an X-match, which I don't quite understand.

It would be so neat if I could connect with one of my Family Finder matches and work together to find the common link!

Copyright (c) 2016 Wendy L. Callahan

Surname Saturday: WOOD of Beverly, MA & Blue Hill, ME

Growing up, I often heard from my dad that our family had "founded" Blue Hill, Maine. I really didn't know what he meant, but I grew up with the knowledge that Wood was pretty much from Blue Hill. When I researched my ancestry, however, I learned much more about the origins of the family in America and how they ended up in Blue Hill, Maine.

Israel Wood is my 7th great-grandfather. If I were a male, instead of female, I would have Wood Y-DNA.

Born perhaps December 1677 in Beverly, Essex County, Massachusetts, Israel married Edith Dodge on 9 March 1708/9 in Beverly. It is possible Israel is the son of Anthony Wood and Mary Grover, who were married 11 June 1666 in Ipswich, Essex County, Massachusetts. However, I have yet to find proof of Israel's parentage.

Israel died 18 October 1743 in Beverly and is buried in the Ancient Burying Ground there.

Of his many children, it was Joseph Wood, born 15 February 1719/20 in Beverly who settled Blue Hill. After marrying Ruth Haskell on 11 January 1740/41 in Beverly, Joseph Wood and another man - John Roundy of Andover, Massachusetts - went to Blue Hill, Hancock County, Maine.

The area was actually first known as North Andover, then as New Port. It was 1789 that the town charter established its name as Blue Hill.

Joseph Wood died 20 June 1813. A tablet commemorating him and his wife says:

Here lie Joseph Wood and his wife Ruth Haskell.
He landed near tide mill island April 7, 1762 and
was one of the two men who founded the town of
Blue Hill, Born Feb. 26, 1720, Died June 20,1813.
This tablet was placed here by Mr. Wood's great great
grand daughter Effie Ober Kline.

My Wood ancestry goes:

Generation 1: Israel Wood, born December 1677, died 18 October 1743, both in Beverly, Essex County, Massachusetts. Married Edith Dodge on 9 March 1708/9.

Generation 2: Joseph Wood, born 15 February 1719/20 and married Ruth Haskell on 11 January 1740/41, both in Beverly. Died 20 June 1813 in Blue Hill, Hancock County, Maine.

Generation 3: Joseph Wood, born 27 December 1750 in Beverly. Married Eleanor Carter on 11 September 1776 in Blue Hill, Maine. Died 18 Dec 1811 in Blue Hill, Maine.

Generation 4: Andrew Wood, born 20 February 1786, married Hannah Ober 4 June 1805, and died 15 November 1850, all in Blue Hill, Maine.

Generation 5: Benjamin Stone (or Stover) Wood, born 24 Jan 1826 in Blue Hill. He married Susanna Whitmore about 1845 in Oceanville or Deer Island, Hancock County, Maine. He died 30 April 1881 in Sedgwick, Hancock County, Maine.

Lemuel Augustus Wood of Blue Hill, Maine
Lemuel Augustus Wood, 1845-1925
Generation 6: Lemuel Augustus Wood, born 1 November 1845 in Blue Hill. He married Georgianna Winsor (of the Duxbury, Massachusetts Winsor families) on 2 September 1884 in Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts. He died 20 June 1925 in Plympton, Plymouth County, Massachusetts.

Generation 7: Lewis Preston Wood, born 15 February 1892 in Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts. He was the only child of the marriage. He married Ruth Evelyn Wood (not of any relation; her father was from Manchester, England) on 6 June 1917 in Providence, Providence County, Rhode Island. Great-grandpa died 17 March 1981 in Brockton, Plymouth County, Massachusetts.

Generation 8: My grandfather

Generation 9: My dad

Generation 10: Me - one of two daughters or, as some of our friends from school still know us, "the Wood sisters."

Copyright (c) 2016 Wendy L. Callahan

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Possible vs. Probable

When it comes to genealogical research, we sometimes see tension between two types of people: those who want something to be true and those who want to prove something is true. I think some confusion comes in when people throw around words like "probable" in magazine articles or research. Possibility and probability mean very different things.

Possibility is simply a matter of "yes" or "no." Take for example Miles Standish, whose origins before he journeyed to Plymouth on the Mayflower are obscured, perhaps intentionally, as some researchers have suggested.

Is it possible that Miles Standish is the son of Standish family #1 in England? Yes. Is it possible that said Miles Standish is the son of Standish family #2 in England? Again, yes. At this time, until proven, Miles Standish could possibly be the son of any Standish man old enough to have had sons about the time Miles was born.

It's the possibilities that researchers want to narrow down into probabilities, or the likelihood that Miles Standish is descended from a specific family. If we can say an event is possible, our next step is to look into whether or not it is probable or likely, given the circumstances of the situation.

For example, did Standish family patriarch #1 leave a detailed will laying out recipients of the father's estate? If so, is Miles one of those who inherited? If not, then we need to keep family #1 a possibility, rather than a probability. Does Standish family #2 indicate that a child of theirs left for America or is no longer residing in England? Yes? In that case, there's a lead that should be pursued, as it may indicate - but not prove! - the likelihood that Miles belongs to that family.

Keep in mind this is just an example. Thus far, researchers still lack proof of the parentage or origins of Miles Standish, which is why I chose him as an example, because while there is a great deal of speculation and possibility, all of it remains inconclusive at this time.

I believe that, in particular, surname societies need to hold themselves to a much higher standard. We should not be perpetuating information that is possible as fact, let alone even probable. If anything, a surname society should put out information that is trustworthy and shows them as an authority on the ancestor whom their society honors. It's also not fair to genealogists who rely on the information found on surname society websites and it certainly reflects poorly on the society itself when the Genealogical Proof Standard is ignored.

The term Genealogical Proof Standard comes from the Board for Certification of Genealogists, which lays it out thus:
  • reasonably exhaustive research;
  • complete, accurate citations to the source or sources of each information item;
  • tests—through processes of analysis and correlation—of all sources, information items, and evidence;
  • resolution of conflicts among evidence items; and
  • a soundly reasoned, coherently written conclusion. 
The purpose of this is, of course, to ensure your family tree is as accurate as possible. It's a pretty straightforward standard, and while it may sound as daunting as writing a research paper, I believe all of us - individual researchers, surname societies, etc. - should strive to meet it.

The Genealogical Proof Standard reminds us that possibility is not proof. It is not enough to simply say that an immigrant ancestor's name and estimated year of birth matches the name and year of birth of a person in his or her country of origin, and thus the two must be one and the same. All other evidence must be taken into account.

If we read an article and get excited to see that we might finally have a connection for someone such as Mile Standish, we also need to remember not to ignore writers if they specifically state that the research shared within the article remains inconclusive. Even if they appear to put together a good argument for a particular lineage, if they include a caveat that they have proven nothing, then please heed it and accept the lineage as another possibility vs. a probability!

Copyright (c) 2016 Wendy L. Callahan

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun -- Male Ancestors' Age At Death

Today Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun has to do with determining the age at death for five generations (or more) of male ancestors. Let the fun begin.

First, there's my dad, born in 1953 and still around!


Vincent Allen Wood (1921-1995) - 73 years
Herbert Benjamin Haley, Jr. (1926-2014) - 87 years


Lewis Preston Wood (1892-1981) - 89 years
Harrison Clifford Shaw (1899-1970) - 70 years
Herbert Benjamin Haley (1896-1963) - 66 years
Basil Wade Bartlett (1901-1976) - 75 years


Lemuel Augustus Wood (1845-1925) - 79 years
John William Wood (1874-1928) - 54 years
Erastus Bartlett Shaw (1854-1933) - 78 years
Edward Henry Blake (1856-1927) - 71 years
Hiram Frederick Haley (1870-1952) - 82 years
George P. Burrell (1861-1942) - 81 years
Basil Clyde Bartlett (1881-1931) - 50 years
Bartolomeo Giovanni Michele Galfre (1869-1952) - 83 years


Benjamin Stone Wood (1826-1881) - 55 years
William W. Winsor (1811-???) - William Winsor went west and I know nothing more of him
Thomas Wood (1845-1923) - 78 years
William C. Lyman (1840-1920) - 79 years
Harrison Shaw (1814-1861) - 46 years
John Patrick Murphy (???-???) - the Murphy family remains a mystery
Jeremiah Darling Blake (1820-1900) - 80 years
Horace Gay (1820-1896) - 76 years
Benjamin F. Haley (abt 1852-1939) - 87 years
James Cassidy (abt 1839-1901) - 62 years
George W. Burrell (1826-1890) - 63 years
George W. Jones (1841-1891) - 49 years
Charles Otis Bartlett (1852-1900) - 48 years
Henry William Wade (1838-1920) - 81 years
Michele Galfre (1836-???) -
Giuseppe Bergamasco (???-???) - supposedly lived to be 104

The men in my family don't seem really long-lived, though the women sure do. My great-grandpa Wood lived the longest, 89 years, while my 3rd great-grandfather, Harrison Shaw, passed away at only 46.

They tend to be in that average 70-something age range when it comes to their lifespans. Those who died rather young, died due to health problems beyond their control, such as my grandpa Vincent Wood or my great-great grandpa John William Wood. Then there's grandpa Cassidy, who was hit by a train in Brockton, Massachusetts.

Looking at this, now I am very curious about Harrison Shaw's cause of death at a mere 46-years-old!

ETA: Totally forgot my mom's side. Oops. Sorry, mom! ;)

Copyright (c) 2016 Wendy L. Callahan

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Building a Brick Wall "Case File"

Back in 2010, I shared the file I assembled pertaining to a brick wall ancestor. I've elaborated on that post over at The Rogue Genealogist today!

A case file is a great way to put all of your information about your ancestor together in one place, so you can easily see which holes in your knowledge you need to fill.

Copyright (c) 2016 Wendy L. Callahan