Saturday, May 23, 2020

Society Saturday - Colonial Regulators

I'm a week late posting this, but there's a brand new lineage Society - the Descendants of Colonial Regulators.  This Society started as a way to honor those ancestors involved in the pre-Revolutionary Regulator movement in North and South Carolina.  It has grown to honor ancestors involved in similar protests against taxation that laid the basis for the American Revolution.


The Regulator Movement in North Carolina started in 1764.  Initially there were protests against the corrupt government, with many people signing petitions as such.  It was based in the Orange, Anson and Granville county area but also spread to surrounding counties.

There was an armed uprising in Hillsborough in 1768 which resulted in vandalism and bodily attacks. The conflict culminated in the Battle of Alamance on 16 May 1771 where about 1000 of Governor Tryon's men faced a larger number of Regulators.  There were deaths on both sides. 

Although the Regulators did not directly accomplish their goal of removing the corrupt government officials, their actions helped lead to the American Revolution.

I am proud of my ancestor William Wiley who signed one of the petitions attempting to change the corrupt govenment of Governor Tryon.  William was probably born in Pennsylvania but settled in Orange County NC in the 1750's.  He was active in his community, at one point serving as overseer of the road, and kept a Tavern at his home.  He responded to the injustices by petitioning.  Later, he continued his support of the colonists by supplying beef to the Revolutionary Army.  He died in 1783 in Guilford County NC. 

The Society officially launched last week on May 16 - the anniversary of the Battle of Alamance.

If you would like to learn more about this new Society, their website is:

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Black Sheep Sunday - Grandma the Witch

I was asked to write a brief bio of my 9th great-grandmother who was accused of witchcraft in 17th century Massachusetts.  I realized that, although I briefly referred to her on this blog, I never dedicated a post to her.  Odd, because she is definitely one of my favorites to talk about.

So, here follows the story of my "witch" Mary Bliss Parsons.

      Mary Bliss was born in England about 1626, the daughter of Thomas Bliss and Margaret Hulins. They were a Puritan family and emigrated to New England in 1639. She married Cornet Joseph Parsons on 26 November 1646 in Hartford, CT.  He was a merchant and political figure and they first settled in Springfield, MA. By 1654, they had moved upriver to Northampton. It was there, in September 1656 that Mary and Joseph brought defamation charges against their neighbor Sarah Bridgman. Sarah blamed Mary for the death of her infant son and accused her of witchcraft.
            Mary Bliss Parsons was described as a proud and nervous woman, haughty in demeanor. She belonged to the aristocracy and considered herself a dame of considerable importance. She was a woman of forcible speech and domineering ways and felt that her neighbors should have the benefit of her opinions. She was not well liked in Springfield and this dislike followed her to Northampton.
            The problem started when Goody Branch came from Springfield to visit Goody Hannum and several women gathered to visit. The conversation began with the usual gossip, then turned to a discussion of personalities and then to witchcraft. The insinuation that Mary Parsons was a witch was amplified and enlarged upon until all present believed that it simply must be true. It was then repeated and embellished upon to other neighbors who added their own “evidence”. When Joseph Parsons heard the accusations, he enlisted the aid of the law to clear his wife’s name.
            After hearing all of the testimony, the decision of the court was that “the defendant hath without just ground raised a great scandal and reproach upon the plaintiffs wife” and “the defendant shall make acknowledgment before the inhabitants of the places where the said parties dwell ... Northampton and also Springfield ... at some public meeting.” The Bridgmans were ordered to pay damages of 10 pounds and court costs of 7 pounds, 1 shilling and 8 pence.
            But the story does not end there. Eighteen years later, in September 1674, charges of witchcraft were formally brought against Mary, again by the Bridgmans and their son-in-law Samuel Bartlett. They blamed Mary for the death of their daughter Mary Bartlett.
            Because witchcraft was a capital crime, it could not be tried in the county courts. That lower level court simply determined if enough evidence existed to warrant the attention of a higher court. This was apparently the case because it was forwarded to the Court of Assistants in Boston. Mary’s husband Joseph posted bond of 50 pounds. Mary was indicted by a grand jury in March 1675 based on evidence sent from the County Court. She was tried for “not having the fear of God before her eyes and ... at one or other of times ... entered into familiarity with the devil and committed several acts of witchcraft”. She pled not guilty. They jury found her not guilty of witchcraft and she was discharged in May 1675.
            Mary and Joseph spent their later years in Springfield.  They had a total of 12 children, four of whom reached adulthood.  Joseph died on 9 October 1683 in Springfield at the age of 63.  Mary outlived him, dying on 29 Jan 1712 in Springfield.

This story will appear, along with other biographies of accused witches on the website of the Associated Daughters of Early American Witches at 

Monday, April 20, 2020

Military Monday - Remembering my Minutemen

This past weekend marked the 245th anniversary of the Lexington Alarm.  This was the "Shot Heard Round the World" during the battles of Lexington and Concord and the first military engagements of the Revolutionary War.

File:Lexington Concord-5c.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
I am proud to claim three ancestors who responded to Paul Revere's call that "The British Are Coming" and marched to fight.

Ithamar Clark served as a Private in Captain Jonathan Allen's Company, General Pomeroy's Regiment during the Lexington alarm and served for about a month.  Two years later he served in Captain Jonathan Stearn's company of Colonel Dickinson's Regiment during the alarm at Ticonderoga.

Ithamar was born in 1716 in Northampton, MA, the son of John and Elizabeth (Cook) Clark.  He was married four times - First to Martha Alexander in 1738.  Second to Elizabeth Alvord in 1744. Third to Sarah Jones (widow of Moses Parsons) in 1753 and finally in 1775 to Mary, widow of John Brown.  Altogether he had 9 children with his first 3 wives, although many did not survive childhood.  He died on 7 Jan 1802 in Easthampton, MA.

One of the children of Ithamar and Sarah was my 5th great-grandfather Oliver Clark who also served in the Revolutionary War during 1777-78.

My second MinuteMan was Noah Parsons.  He served in the same company as Ithamar Clark during both the Lexington alarm and the Ticonderoga alarm. 

Noah was born 6 February 1731 in Northampton, MA and married Phebe Bartlett on 9 Jan 1755 in Northampton.  He died in Northampton on 11 January 1814. Noah and Phebe had twelve children including my 5th great-grandmother Phebe Parsons who married Oliver Clark.

My third MinuteMan was Abraham Day, Jr., another 5th great-grandfather.  He served under Colonel Ruggles in response to the Lexington Alarm, and also joined Col. Dickinson as a Sergeant later in the war.

Abraham was born on 20 September 1747 in Colchester, CT. On 16 October 1769 he married Irene Jackson.  They had 11 children including my ancestor Rachel Day.  He died on 9 Sept. 1797 in Chester, MA.

Thanks to these three men, along with many others for helping to establish our country.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Military Monday - Garrett Miller

One of the ancestors I've been working on recently is my 6th great-grandfather Garret Miller.

Prison Ship Martyrs Monument (wikimedia commons)

Garrett Miller was supposedly born in 1737 in Connecticut (per DAR records).
He married a woman named Patience (some say Griswold but I have not confirmed this).

On 4 January 1765, Garrett, Patience and 5 of their children were christened at the First Presbyterian Church in Morristown, NJ.  Children christened that day were: Mary Elizabeth, Sarah, Garrett, Absolom and Phebe.  This is from the church records (found on familysearch).  Another place in the church records states that Garrett, Patience, and their family were christened that day with the exception of the oldest child.  Son Samuel was christened a few months later, on 12 May 1765.
The family was formally admitted to membership on 6 January 1765, and the records note that they "moved away".

Sometime before 1775, the family moved to Cornwall, Orange County, NY.  This is about 50 miles north of Morristown on the west bank of the Hudson River. According to the "Outline History of Orange County, NY", in 1775 he signed the Association of Cornwall, embracing Cornwall, Bloominggrove and Monroe.  He also signed a pledge to support "rights and liberties of America" in Cornwall Precinct, 1775.

Garrett became a Captain in Upper Clove Company of Col. Woodhull's Regiment from Cornwall, NY in 1775.  He was captured and taken to a Provost (ie military) Prison, possibly one of the prison ships in New York.

According to a journal published in the book "American Prisoners of War in the Revolution" by Dandridge -
"[October] 5. Garret Miller, of Smith's Clove, signed his will in prison, in presence of Benjamin Goldsmith, Abr. Skinner, and myself. C. G. Miller died of small-pox —P. M. Buried."
"Feb. 4, 1778. I delivered to Mr. Pintard the wills of Garret Miller and Benjamin Goldsmith, to be for- warded to their respective families. Present E. Boudinot."  (note that Smith's Clove was part of BloomingGrove in Orange County, about 12 miles southwest of Cornwall)

That will was proven June 13, 1778:  Garrett Miller of Smiths Clove, Cornwall Pct., Orange Co., NY.  Names children: Joshua, Mary, Elizabeth, Garret, Nathan, Sarah, Samuel, Ann, Hampton and Jeremiah.  Wife is executrix.  Makes provisions if his widow remarried before the youngest child turns 21. Witnesses are Benjamin Goldsmith, Abram Skinner and John Fell.

On 25 Sept. 1786, administration is granted to Patience Fowler, formerly Patience Miller.

Patience Miller Fowler died in Monroe, Orange Co NY on 13 August 1808 and is buried in Monroe Cemetery.

The children of Garrett and Patience Miller were:
1. Mary Elizabeth Miller, born 20 December 1762.  On 5 Feb. 1785 she married her first cousin Peter Miller and died 31 December 1845 in Marion Co VA.
2. Elizabeth Miller, born ca 1754 and married Phillip Roblin.. One source says that they were loyalists who fled to Canada.
3. Garrett Miller born in 1758, married Mary Smith, and died in 1824.
4. Ann Miller, born in 1769 and married a Mr. Carpenter.
Joshua, Nathan, Sarah, Samuel, Hampton, Jeremiah, Absalom and Phoebe were additional children but I have no further information on them.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Society Saturday - In the footsteps of Alice Paul

Because this is the 100th Anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment giving women the right to vote, the National Society Daughters of Founders and Patriots is focusing on Women's Suffrage this term.

The National President's project is to support the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial which is being built on the site of the Occoquan workhouse in Fairfax County, Virginia.

Along with that theme, I was in south New Jersey recently and the New Jersey DFPA chapter president and I toured several sites that were significant to Suffragist Alice Paul.

Alice Paul was born in 1885 at Paulsdale, the family home in Mt. Laurel, NJ.  She grew up there prior to attending college at Swarthmore, University of Pennsylvania and England.

Paulsdale (from
Because she grew up in a Quaker home, she believed in equality of the sexes.  While in England, she learned the more militant "Deeds Not Words" tactics of the British Suffragists.  Returning home, she
organized a national suffrage parade on March 3, 1913 – the day before Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration.    Wilson was on record as stating that women were unfit to vote because they had no understanding of politics and would let emotion rather than reason rule them. The parade was made up of over 8000 people who faced spectators who were grabbing them, throwing things, and yelling obscenities, thus ending with a mob action.

On January 11, 1917 she started the silent sentinel program with women picketing outside the White House every day for a year, rain or shine, except on Sunday.  This was the first organized protest outside the White House which prompted many of the arrests of the suffragists.

After the passage of nineteenth amendment, she continued to work for the National Women's Party and authored the original Equal Rights Amendment in 1923.  

While touring Paulsdale (now the Alice Paul Institute) we toasted Alice for all of her efforts in obtaining the women's vote.

NSDFPA National President Kimberly Nagy and NJ Chapter President Judy Dugan "toasting" Alice Paul

When she was in New Jersey, she worshiped at the Moorestown Friends Meeting.  We were welcomed there by a wonderful young woman who showed us around the meeting house which had been built in 1802.

We also saw the building that had been the nursing home where Alice spent her final years.  And of course, we paid respects at her grave at the Westfield Friends Cemetery in Cinnaminson, NJ.

Thank you Alice for all of your hard work for Women's Equality.

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

#52Ancestors - Strong Women

This week's post is about my great-grandmother Nancy Jane Wiley Hill Hacker Hill.  She has always been an inspiration to me because she didn't take any "crap" from anyone.

"Jane" was born in Casey, Clark, Illinois on 8 August 1875.  She was the sixth of ten children of George Wiley and Susan Mumford. 

Jane married Charles Taylor "C.T." Hill on 21 July 1895 in Clark Co, IL.  They lived in Casey where their 3 children were born. 

I grew up hearing family stories about their disagreements, especially political.  One was democrat, the other republican, and in the days before air conditioning their heated discussions could be heard through their open windows.

C.T. had quite the adventurous streak and he headed to Alaska in 1898 to seek his fortune mining for gold.  That didn't work out but in 1913 he moved to Arkansas to work in the Zinc mines.

Jane tired of raising her children by herself so she sued him for divorce because of desertion.

A few years later, she married William P. "Stanley" Hacker but that marriage lasted only a few years.

Since Jane was essentially a single mother, she worked as a laundress and a cook.  After her children were grown, she moved to St. Louis and worked as a cook at the Jefferson Barracks.  Later she moved to Toledo, Ohio where she ran a boarding house.  She died in Toledo on 31 October 1960.

A few of my favorite tidbits about my great-grandmother are:

She was one of the first in line at her precinct to vote in the 1920 Presidential election - remember, she had strong political opinions!

To help make ends meet during prohibition, she made her own bathtub gin which she sold from her back porch.  Allegedly one of her frequent customers was the local police chief!

And, finally, just a photo that I think demonstrates her independence - that's my great-grandmother in the middle with 2 of her friends.

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Tuesday's Tip - Expand your dates

When we are looking for records pertaining to an ancestor, we are tempted to start with his/her birthdate and end our search when he/she died.  If you stop there, you may be missing important clues.

As an example, I will use a land record filed in Fairfield County, Ohio in 1887 -

Fairfield County Ohio Deed book 60 p440-1 (from FamilySearch)

The story is this (all the below details can be found in this single land record) -

Esau Johnston (my 4th great-grandfather) purchased a tract of land from a John Davis on 1 May 1813.  This was a portion of land that had been patented to Mr. Davis in 1810 and was intended to be 80 acres of the Northwest 1/2 of the Southwest 1/4 of Section 2 Township 16 Range 17.  Instead it was misrecorded as the Southeast 1/2 of the southwest 1/4 of above section.

Esau and his family continued to live on this land until his death on 17 December 1852 when the land passed to his wife and surviving children in his will.

Those children are named as: John, William, Frederick, David, Edward, Samuel, George W., Hannah, Nancy married to Jesse Katon, Ann M. married to John Paden and Mary married to William T. Neely.

The son George W. Johnston died in Fairfield County on 24 March 1860 leaving his widowed mother Katy and brothers and sisters as his only heirs.

Katy died on 8 July 1861 in Fairfield County.

By 1862 the remaining children - Nancy Katon, Ann M. Paden, Mary Neely, David, Samuel, John, William, Frederick and Hannah Johnston all conveyed their interest in the land to their brother Edward Johnston.  

Each time the land was transferred the same erroneous description was entered.

The remaining landowner, Edward Johnston died in Fairfield County on 19 March 1886 leaving widow Matilda and children Henry E., Joseph J. and Sarah C.

The 1887 land record is essentially a quit claim from David Y. Davis (heir of John Davis) to Edward's widow Matilda Johnston and their children Henry (with wife Nancy), Joseph (with wife Margaret) and Sarah (wife of Charles Splice) to correct the erroneous entry made in 1813.

This record, made 35 years after my ancestor's death, contains a wealth of information about his children and some grandchildren including names of spouses and a few death dates.  If I had stopped my search in 1852, I may not have found these details.