Sunday, November 4, 2018

Remembering the Women Who Voted First (November 2, 1920)

Climbing My Family Tree: Sample Ballot for November 2, 1920 printed in the Youngstown  Ohio Vindicator on November 1, 1920
Sample Ballot for November 2, 1920
printed in the Youngstown  Ohio Vindicator on November 1, 1920
Click to make bigger

I knew that white women first got the right to vote, across the U.S.A., in 1920. But then, maybe because of the genealogy, I got to wondering what that meant in my family. Who were the first women in my family who could vote?

So I checked (click on their names to be taken to their life story posts).

In Lapeer and Sanilac counties, Michigan, Election Day 1920 dawned cold and clear, but with the threat of the first snowstorm of the year. According to local newspapers, in the morning hours to noon, women showed up to vote in double the numbers of the men.

On my Dad’s side, three generations of women were alive and eligible to vote for the first time.  I was astonished to realize that my grandma was one of them. The others died before I was born and I didn’t know them.

On Election Day, November 2, 1920, the first election in which women could legally vote nationwide:

My grandma, Anna Bennett Henn was 22 (1898-1977). She lived at home with her parents in Maple Valley, Michigan.

My great-grandma, Anna Gregor Bennett was 62 (1858-1928). She lived in Maple Valley, Michigan with her husband and four of their seven children: William (31), Anna (22), Margaret (20) and Thomas (14).

My great-grandma, Myrtie Wilcox Henn was 40 (1879-1953). She had eight children and lived in Burnside, Michigan with her husband.

My 2nd-great-grandma, Mary Jane Currier Wilcox was 77 (1843-1937). She lived in Brown City, Michigan, with her husband and her 17-year-old grandson.

My 2nd-great-grandma, Elizabeth O’Brien Henn was 67 (1853-1927). She was a widow and lived in Burnside, Michigan, with her son Floyd's family. 

Climbing My Family Tree: Stamp Commemorating the 19th Amendment
Stamp Commemorating the 19th Amendment

In Hancock County, Ohio, Election Day 1920 was cold and very rainy. Despite this, women were lined up outside the polls in many cities in Ohio at the start of the day for the opportunity to vote for the first time. According to Ohio newspaper accounts, women were asked to vote between 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM in many localities (some limited them to 9:00 AM to noon) so as to not tie up the polls when the men were getting off work and coming to vote. In Ohio, the total number of women voters outnumbered the total of men voters in many precincts on that day.

On my Mom’s side, only two generations of women were alive to witness the first time women were allowed to vote.

On Election Day, November 2, 1920:

My great-grandma, Fanny Hartman Hart Erwin was 48 (1872-1954). She was working as a live-in housekeeper for a man and his father in Pleasant, Ohio. Her two youngest daughters, one of whom was my grandmother, lived in the household with her and were listed as boarders on the census.  My grandmother, Mabel Erwin Snyder, was 10 on Election Day, which was too young to vote but she witnessed history being made. 

My great-grandma, Pearl Pauline Bailey Snyder was 29 (1891-1978). She lived with her husband and five children in Findlay, Ohio.

Warren Harding (Pres.) and Calvin Coolidge (VP) won that presidential election.

It’s hard to believe that I knew two women who saw that day. I have honored the memory of those women who fought for my right to vote by voting in every election since I first became eligible to vote.

This Tuesday, November 6, 2018, go 

Monday, October 15, 2018

Mary Towne Easty (1634-1692) – Hanged at Salem in the Witch Hysteria

Climbing My Family Tree: Salem Witch Hanging
Salem Witch Hanging Engraving
Click to make bigger

When I was researching for the post on Joshua Currey, I came across a mention in a biographical article on one of his sons' wife’s brothers that said that one of the reasons that there were so many lawyers in the Estey family was because of the injustice done to his great-grandmother at Salem. …I did a double take, “Wait! Salem?!” So, of course, I had to do more research to see if that implied connection was accurate. It is! I’ve found the first ancestor I have actually read about in a history book prior to finding out I was related to her!

Mary Towne Easty (a/k/a Eastey/Esty/Estey/Eastick/Estie – consistent spelling was not important in earlier centuries) is one of my eighth great-grandmothers on my father‘s side. Hers is a tragic story, but very interesting.

She was born in Yarmouth, Norfolk, England to William Towne and Joanna Blessing Towne and was baptized on August 24, 1634. William Towne and Joanna Blessing were married on March 25, 1620, at the church of St. Nicholas in Yarmouth, England; Mary was the sixth of eight children and the last one born in England. William and Joanna’s children were Rebecca (1621-1692; m. Francis Nurse), John (1625-bef.1672, Susannah (1625 – bef. 1672), Edmund (1628-?; m. Mary Browning), Jacob (1632- ?), Mary (1634-1692; m. Isaac Easty), Sarah (abt. 1638 – abt. 1704; m1. Edmund Bridges, m2. Peter Cloyce) and Joseph (1639 - ?; m. Phoebe Perkins).

William and Joanna Towne came to the Massachusetts Bay Colony, with their children, sometime between the years 1634, when Mary was baptized in England, and 1638 when their youngest daughter was born in Massachusetts. In 1640, William is on record in the town book of Salem as being granted "a little neck of Land right over against his house on the other side of the river." They first lived in Salem Village, and then in 1651, they moved to Topsfield, where William purchased land. Mary was 17 years old. They were considered a respectable family, with Goodman William Towne described as “a man of character, substance and social position.”

In 1656, Mary Towne (22) married Isaac Easty (29), a farmer and cooper (barrel maker) from Salem Village. He was born on 17 November 1627, in Freston, Suffolk, England and had come to Salem in 1636 with his parents when he was nine years old.  Isaac and Mary had nine children: Isaac (1656-1714, m. Abigail Kimball, my seventh great-grandparents), Joseph (1657-?), Sarah (1660-?, m. Moses Gill), John (1662-?), Hannah (1667-1741; m. George Abbott), Benjamin (1669-?), Samuel 1672-?), Jacob 1674-?), Joshua (1678-bef. 1718; m. Abigail ?).

Isaac and Mary moved to Topsfield somewhere around 1660, and in 1661, he was one of the commoners appointed to share in the Topsfield common lands on the south side of the Ipswich River. Isaac was one of the selectmen of the town in 1680, 1682, 1686 and 1688. He was also selected to serve on juries in 1681, 1684 and 1685. The local church register for 1684 shows that Isaac Estey, wife, and family, were members in full communion.

In 1670, Mary Easty’s mother, Joanna Towne, was suddenly accused of witchcraft by the Gould family after she angered them when she twice testified on behalf of a Topsfield minister, Rev. Thomas Gilbert, who had been brought to court after accusations by Gould family on a charge of intemperance. She was never tried in court, but the family spread rumors that she was a witch. According to Rebecca Brooks, writing for the History of Massachusetts blog in the entry “Mary Easty: the Witch’s Daughter”, the Gould family were close friends with the Putnam family of Salem Village, who later became the most active accusers in the Salem witch trials, and the main accusers against Mary Easty and her sisters.

Climbing My Family Tree: Salem Village Map, 1692
Salem Village Map, 1692
Click to make bigger

There were several years worth of ongoing land disputes between the Putnams and the town of Topsfield, between 1636 and into the 1680s. In 1680, the town of Topsfield appointed a committee to sue for bounds (boundaries) in the Putnams' countersuit. The general court heard the claims of the two parties and decided in favor of Topsfield. Throughout this suit and others that followed, the names of How, Towne, Estey, Baker, and Wildes appear frequently, either as a committee representing Topsfield, or as witnesses before the court, while on the other side the Putnam name appeared. In 1686, Isaac Easty, his son Isaac, and John and Joseph Towne testified in court that they had seen Capt. John Putnam and his sons harvesting trees within the Topsfield boundary and on Topsfield’s men’s properties. The court decided in favor of the Topsfield men which only made the Putnams more bitter. The Putnams were described as "strong-willed men, of high temper and seemingly eager for controversy and even personal conflict", in the article Topsfield in the Witchcraft Delusion (The Historical Collections of the Topsfield Historical Society, 1908, p. 23, 25), and they resented the Townes and Eastys.

In early 1692 the witch hysteria broke out in the fits and accusations of young girls in the community, including Ann Putnam, perhaps caused by boredom, perhaps by illness, perhaps by anxiety, or perhaps something they ate (one theory is that rye grown in Salem may have been contaminated with a type of fungus found in LSD). As noted in Hunting for Witches by Francis Hill, only three of the girls lived with both natural parents, the others were orphaned or semi-orphaned. The girls, like everyone else in the Puritan community, lived in fear of sudden attack from the Indians, of disease, of harsh punishment for minor transgressions, of God’s wrath and eternal damnation. It is not surprising that the girls might be influenced by the resentments, fears, and hatred of their elders, and named as witches those whom their parents and guardians saw as enemies. Given the ongoing land disputes involving the Townes, it is unsurprising now that among the first people accused, in March 1692, were Mary’s sisters, Rebecca Nurse* and Sarah Cloyce; they were jailed within a month of being accused. During the witch hunt at least one Putnam family member signed 15 of the 21 recorded complaints that survive. Approximately 150 people were accused of witchcraft in all.

Throughout April 1692, 21 people were charged with witchcraft, and every complaint was signed by a Putnam, either Thomas or John. One of those so accused, Mary Towne Easty, was my eighth great-grandmother, who had been known as a pious and respectable woman. Mary Easty was likely also a victim of the resentment carried by the Putnams as a result of the boundary disputes in which a number of her Towne and Easty family members were involved. There may also have been resentment against the family because her husband was a large landowner and farmer, and was town selectmen for at least four years. It also did not help that she was known to be related to too many accused witches, between her mother and her sisters, for there not to be suspicion cast on her.

Mary Easty was arrested on April 21, 1692, and examined by magistrates John Hawthorne and Jonathan Corwin on the next day.

Climbing My Family Tree: Notes of Examination of Mary Towne Easty, 1692
Notes of Examination of Mary Towne Easty, 1692
Click to make bigger

Transcription of the examination notes, in the picture above. Portions in brackets are my additions, for clarity:

The Examination of Mary Eastie.

At a Court held at Salem village 22. Apr. 1692

By the Wop. [Worshipful] John Hathorne & Jonathan Corwin.

At the bringing in of the accused severall fell into fits.

[Magistrate to girls] Doth this woman hurt you?

Many mouths were stopt, & several other fits seized them

Abig [Abigail] Williams said it was Goody Eastie, & she had hurt her, the
like said Mary Walcot, & Ann Putman, John Indian said her saw her
with Goody Hobbs.

[Magistrate to Mary Easty] What do you say, are you guilty?

[Mary Easty] I can say before Christ Jesus, I am free.

[Magistrate] You see these accuse you.

There is a God --

[Magistrate to girls] Hath she brought the book to you?

Their mouths were stopt.

[Magistrate to Mary Easty]: What have you done to these children?

[Mary Easty]: I know nothing.

[Magistrate] How can you say you know nothing, when you see these tormented, & accuse you that you know nothing?

[Mary Easty] Would you have me accuse my self?

[Magistrate] Yes if you be guilty. How far have you complyed w'th Satan whereby he takes this
advantage ag't you?

[Mary Easty] Sir, I never complyed but prayed against him all my dayes, I have no complyance with Satan, in this. What would you have me do?

[Magistrate] Confess if you be guilty.

[Mary Easty] I will say it, if it was my last time, I am clear of this sin.

[Magistrate] Of what sin?

[Mary Easty] Of witchcraft.

[Magistrate to girls] Are you certain this is the woman?

They made signes but could not speak, By and by Ann Putman said that was the woman, it was like her and she told me her name.

[Magistrate to Mary Easty] It is marvailous to me that you should sometimes think  they are bewitcht, & sometimes not, when severall confess that they have been guilty of bewitching them.

[Mary Easty] Well Sir would you have me confess that that I never knew?

Her {Mary’s] hands were clincht together, & then the hands of Mercy Lewis was clincht

Look now your hands are open, her hands are open.

[Magistrate to girls] Is this the woman?

They made signes but could not speak, but Ann Putman. Afterwards Betty Hubbard cryed out Oh. Goody Easty, Goody Easty you are the woman, you are the woman. Put up her head, for while her head is bowed the necks of these are broken.

[Magistrate to Mary Easty] What do you say to this?

[Mary Easty] Why God will know.

[Magistrate to Mary Easty] Nay God knows now.

[Mary Easty] I know He dos.

[Magistrate to Mary Easty] What did you think of the actions of others before your sisters came out, did you think it was Witchcraft?

[Mary Easty] I cannot tell.

[Magistrate] Why do you not think it is Witchcraft?

[Mary Easty] It is an evil spirit, but wither it be witchcraft I do not know.

Severall said she brought them the Book & then they fell into fits.

After examination, Mary was taken back to the Salem jail. It was very overcrowded in the jail and the conditions were terrible enough that four persons held in the jail, on witchcraft charges, died there. On May 18, Mary was released for reasons not recorded in the surviving records. However, one of her accusers, Mercy Lewis, continued to accuse Mary of sending her specter to torment her, and experienced extreme fits for a full day, claiming that Mary’s specter was threatening to kill her by midnight for her testimony.  As a result, Mary was arrested again only 48 hours after she had been released based on a complaint made against her on May 20 by John Putnam, Jr. and Benjamin Hutchinson, on behalf of Mercy Lewis, Abigail Williams, and Mary Walcott. However, Mercy Lewis continued to have fits and severe convulsions all night, until the Salem magistrates were informed of the situation, and put Mary in irons, at which point the girl’s fits subsided.  There is no remaining record of the examination pursuant to this arrest, but Mary Easty was indicted on two charges of witchcraft and first taken to the jail in Ipswich, then later moved to the jail in Boston.

The newly appointed Governor Phipps acted to try to control the hysteria by creating the Court of Oyer and Terminar (hear and determine) solely to hear witchcraft cases and appointing nine judges under a chief judge, the lieutenant governor. The Court of Oyer and Terminar allowed some weird evidence which we would never consider probative evidence today to be considered: the “touching test” (when the accused witches touched a girl during one of her fits and if the girl’s convulsions or fits stopped, then the accused was ruled guilty of witchcraft}; spectral evidence (testimony that a specter of the accused witches physically or mentally tormented the girls who were afflicted) and if one of the girls stated that the accused’s spirit was tormenting them, the court ruled the accused witch guilty of witchcraft; witch marks (the people of Salem believed the devil would find a teat, or mole, upon the accused body, and would suck the teat and leave blue and red marks on their body). Additionally, gossip, stories, and hearsay were treated as persuasive evidence. There was no presumption of innocence.

Climbing My Family Tree: The Wonders of the Invisible World by Cotton Mather, 1693
The Wonders of the Invisible World by Cotton Mather, 1693
Click to make bigger

The jury in Mary’s sister Rebecca Nurse* case initially found her not guilty at trial, but when the girls heard the verdict they went into such fits, the jury was sent back to reconsider their decision, and then they convicted her. Rebecca was hanged in July 1692, along with four others similarly convicted.

Mary and Sarah were still being held in jail when their sister Rebecca was executed. Their families visited them regularly, even though the trip from Salem to Boston took more than half a day on horseback, and provided much support, but it had to be a terrifying time for the women, and for the families who had to know that the association with the women might also place them under suspicion. Prior to her trial, Mary Easty and  her sister Sarah Cloyce jointly filed a petition, because they were “neither able to plead our owne cause, nor is councell allowed.” In the petition, they asked the magistrates to act as their legal counsel; requested that certain witnesses who had known them longest and best be called to speak on their behalf; and asked that spectral evidence not be allowed in the trials as it was not legal evidence, saying “…that the Testimony of witches, or such as are afflicted, as is supposed, by witches may not be improved to condemn us, without other Legal evidence concurring, we hope the Honoured Court & Jury will be soe tender of the lives of such, as we are who have for many years Lived under the unblemished reputation of Christianity, as not to condemne them without a fayre and equall hearing of what may be sayd for us, as well as against us.” The petition did not help much. Mary Eastey was tried on September 9, 1692. It is not known why Sarah was not scheduled for trial at that time.

The testimony against Mary was mostly stories from the girls about being afflicted by her specter and testimony from the girls’ relatives, such as Edward Putnam, describing how the girls appeared to be afflicted. Other people testified as well about interactions with Mary that they attributed to witchcraft, as is shown by this deposition of Samuel Smith below.

Climbing My Family Tree: Trial Deposition of Samuel Smith, Trial of Mary Easty, 1692
Trial Deposition of Samuel Smith,
Trial of Mary Easty, 1692
Click to make bigger.

Transcription of deposition of Samuel Smith, who testified at Mary Easty’s trial to this incident:

The deposistion of Samuell Smith of Boxford about 25 yers who testifieth and saith that about five years sence I was one night att the house of Isaac Estick sen'r. of Topsfeild and I was as farr as I know to Rude in discorse and the above said Esticks wife said to me I would not have you be so rude in discorse for I might Rue it hereafter and as I was agoeing whom that night about a quarter of a mille from the said Esticks house by a stone wall I Received a little blow on my shoulder with I know not what and the stone wall rattleed very much which affrighted me my horse also was affrighted very much but I cannot give the reson of it.

Before her trial, Mary Easty was subject to another humiliation, in that a delegation of men and women from the town searched her nude body for a “witch mark” or “devil’s teat”, and purported to find one. Several people also had the courage to speak up on her behalf, such as John and Mary Arnold, and Thomas and Elizabeth Fosse, who submitted depositions and testified to how well behaved Mary Easty was when in jail. At the end of her trial, she was condemned to death by hanging.

Before her execution, Mary Easty wrote another petition, which has been described: as ”one of the most moving historical documents to survive from the witch-hunt” by Francis Hill in Hunting for Witches; and in the book Puritans in America by  Andrew Delbanco, it states Hers is an expression of submission without servility. It is a statement of one person’s faith that New England can still be saved from itself.

Climbing My Family Tree: Mary Easty's Post-conviction Petition, 1692,  front
Mary Easty's Post-conviction Petition, 1692,  front
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Climbing My Family Tree: Mary Easty's Post-conviction Petition, 1692,  back
Mary Easty's Post-conviction Petition, 1692,  back
Click to make bigger

Transcription of Mary's post-conviction petition, pictured above:

“The humbl petition of mary Eastick unto his Excellency's S'r W'm Phipps to the honour'd Judge and Bench now Sitting in Judicature in Salem and the Reverend ministers humbly sheweth

That whereas your poor and humble petitioner being condemned to die Doe humbly begg of you to take it into your Judicious and pious considerations that your Poor and humble petitioner knowing my own Innocencye Blised be the Lord for it and seeing plainly the wiles and subtility of my accusers by my Selfe can not but Judge charitably of others that are going the same way of my selfe if the Lord stepps not mightily in. i was confined a whole month upon the same account that I am condemned now for and then cleared by the afflicted persons as some of your honours know and in two dayes time I was cryed out upon by them and have been confined and now am condemned to die the Lord above knows my Innocence then and Likewise does now as att the great day will be know to men and Angells -- I Petition to your honours not for my own life for I know I must die and my appointed time is sett but the Lord he knowes it is that if it be possible no more Innocent blood may be shed which undoubtidly cannot be Avoyded In the way and course you goe in. I question not but your honours does to the uttmost of your Powers in the discovery and detecting of witchcraft and witches and would not be gulty of Innocent blood for the world but by my own Innocency I know you are in this great work if it be his blessed you that no more Innocent blood be shed  I would humbly begg of you that your honors would be plesed to examine theis Afflicted Persons strictly and keep them apart some time and Likewise to try some of these confesing wichis I being confident there is severall of them has belyed themselves and others as will appeare if not in this wor[l]d I am sure in the world to come whither I am now agoing and I Question not but youle see and alteration of thes things they my selfe and others having made a League with the Divel we cannot confesse I know and the Lord knowes as will shortly appeare they belye me and so I Question not but they doe others the Lord above who is the Searcher of all hearts knows that as I shall answer att the Tribunall seat that I know not the least thinge of witchcraft therfore I cannot I dare not belye my own soule I beg your honers not to deny this my humble petition from a poor dying Innocent person and I Question not but the Lord will give a blesing to yor endevers.”

On September 22, 1692, Mary Easty and five others were hanged, one at a time, on a small hill near Calais Hill. Robert Calef, the author of More Wonders of the Invisible World, described her last moments: “Mary Easty, sister also to Rebecca Nurse, when she took her last farewell of her husband, children and friends, was, as is reported by them present, as serious, religious, distinct and affectionate as could well be exprest, drawing tears from the eyes of almost all present.”

Climbing My Family Tree: More Wonders of the Invisible World, by Robert Calef, 1823
More Wonders of the Invisible World, by Robert Calef,  1823
Click to make bigger

It is not known where she is buried, although some believe that she was buried in an unmarked grave somewhere at the execution site.

It is possible that Mary’s petition had some effect on the minds of the leaders of the state as these were the last hangings of the witch trials. The last of the witch trials was on December 6, 1692, and by that time spectral evidence was no longer allowed. Only three people were convicted, and the governor granted reprieves so they were not hanged.  Mary’s younger sister, Sarah Cloyce, was set free in January 1693 after her jail and court expenses were paid, when the grand jury in her case returned a verdict of “ignoramus,” or “I don’t know,” on each charge. The family quickly paid the bills and Sarah’s husband moved their family to Boston, away from her accusers.

After January 1693, no more accused witches were found guilty at trial.  In May 1893 Gov. Phipps ordered all still held (150 people) released.  On January 14, 1697, the General Court ordered a day of fasting and soul-searching for the tragedy of Salem. In 1702, the court declared the trials unlawful.

Mary’s husband, Isaac Easty, continued to fight for the restoration of Mary’s good name throughout the rest of his life. It took almost twenty years and several petitions to the legislature.  In 1710, a committee was designated and met at Salem to consider the requests.  Six Women of Salem, by Marilynne K. Roach,  explained (and quoted from), that the committee reviewed a petition by Isaac Esty, age “about 82 years” who wrote of caring for his jailed wife Mary, saying that before her execution “my wife was near upon 5 months imprisoned all which time I provided maintenance for her at my own cost & charge, went constantly twice a week to provide for her what she needed.” Three of those weeks she was imprisoned in Boston “& I was constrained to be at the charge of transporting her to & fro.” He estimated his expenses “in time & money” worth 20 pounds sterling “besides my trouble & sorrow of heart in being deprived of her after such a manner which this world can never make me any compensation for.”

On Oct 17, 1711, the colony passed a bill restoring the rights and good names of some of those accused, stating that, “the several convictions, judgments, and attainders be, and hereby are, reversed, and declared to be null and void,” listing 22 people to whom it applied, including Mary Esty.  Further, on Dec 17, 1711, Governor Dudley issued a warrant awarding Isaac 20 pounds sterling in compensation for the injustice of the 1692 verdict against Mary (equivalent to rent for a farm for a year in 1710 Massachusetts).

Isaac died about six months later on 11 June 1712, in Topsfield, Massachusetts.

It was not until 1957—more than 250 years later—that Massachusetts formally apologized for the events of 1692.

Our line of descent is as follows:

Isaac Estey, sr – Mary Towne
Isaac Estey, jr -  Abigail Kimball
Richard Estey - Ruth Fisk
Zebulon Estey – Mary (Molly) Brown
David Currey, Sr – Dorothy Estey
George Currier – Eunice Phoebe Curry
George Butler Wilcox – Mary Jane Currier
Owen James Henn – Myrtle Wilcox
Owen Carl Henn – Anna Bennett
My parents
Me & my siblings

*Although I’m not going into detail as regards to the charges against, examination, and trial of Rebecca Nurse, or her execution, I note that Rebecca Nurse is the most famous of the three sisters and there are many books and articles written on her ordeal, including the play The Crucible by Arthur Miller. Additionally, her home survives as a Museum in Danvers, Massachusetts.

“England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," database, FamilySearch; Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of Boston and Eastern Massachusetts, edited by William Richard Cutter, Vol 1 (1907),  Vol. 2 (1908) and Vol. 3 (1908); A Brief and True Narrative of Some Remarkable Passages Relating to Sundry Persons Afflicted by Witchcraft, at Salem Village: Which happened from the Nineteenth of March, to the Fifth of April, 1692 by Deodat Lawson; (1692);  “Mary Easty: the Witch’s daughter” by Rebecca Brooks, the History of Massachusetts’ blog, ; An American Family History blog, New England Families section, multiple pages, ; ; Currents of Malice: Mary Towne Eastey and Her Family in Salem Witchcraft by Persis MacMillen (P.E. Randall 1990); The Historical Collections of the Topsfield Historical Society, Vol. 14, Topsfield Historical Society, 1895 & Vol. 5 1899 & Vol 13 (1908); The Salem Witchcraft Papers, Verbatim Transcriptions of the Court Records In three volumes. Edited by Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum (Da Capo Press: New York, 1977.) Digital Edition, partially revised, corrected, and augmented by Benjamin C. Ray and Tara S. Wood, 2011,, Mary Towne Esty Executed, September 22, 1692, ; Hunting for Witches, by Frances Hill (Commonwealth Editions, an imprint of Applewood Books Inc., Carlisle Massachusetts, 2002); Six Women of Salem, by Marilynne K. Roach  (MJF Books, New York. 2013.) The Wicked Court of Oyer and Terminar, ; More Wonder of the Invisible World by Robert Calef, (printed in London 1700; reprinted in Salem by Cushing and Appleton 1823); The Puritans in America: a Narrative Anthology, by Andrew Delbanco (Harvard University Press. 2009);

Monday, October 1, 2018

New Henn Family Photos!

Climbing My Family Tree: Erwin, age 7; Hazel, age 5; Lowell, age 3, and Carl, age 1 (The Henn Family)
Erwin, age 7; Hazel, age 5; Lowell, age 3, and Carl, age 1 (The Henn Family)

My new found cousin, SGT, 3rd cousin 1x removed, found the above picture when she was going through her grandmother's photograph album.  It was a postcard sent to Mr, & Mrs. Frank Henn, Mallory NY, on December 23, 1908. "Mr, & Mrs. Frank Henn, Mallory NY" is the whole address on the card! (Since it was in her grandmother's photograph album it must have made it.) The postcard gives the names and ages of the children pictured, and was signed by Owen J. Henn.

This is the back of the postcard:

Climbing My Family Tree: Henn Family Postcard back
Henn Family Postcard back

Owen J, Henn was my great-grandfather and 1-year-old Carl was my grandfather.

SGT also sent me a photograph of  Frank (1875 - 1945) and Olive (1884-1938) the youngest two of my great-grandfather's siblings.

Climbing My Family Tree: Ollie and Frank Henn
Ollie and Frank Henn

Climbing My Family Tree: Ollie & Frank Henn, back of photo
Ollie & Frank Henn, back of photo

There was another photo enclosed, but I'm going to save that for a later posting after I'm more certain of which generation of my family he belongs to.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Odds and Ends

Snails - from

I know I promised another ancestor profile post in September. However, I've been away from home for the last three weekends, and haven't had time to finish writing it up yet (thus, the snails). That post will go up in October.

I've been contacted by three potential distant relatives for Dad's side and one for Mom's side in September, and one very nice person who just wants to help me. Two would like to jointly explore how we are related, (they seem to be one on Dad's side and one on Mom's of my family). One had been conducting research pursuant to a DNA project he was working on, including some families that he was unable to conclusively connect to his family of primary interest, and in the course of that research, he tells me that he uncovered some interesting information on one of my direct family lines (Dad's side) and wants to offer it to me rather than just deleting it because he couldn't prove a match to his people - oh boy! And the fourth, my 3rd cousin 1x removed, on Dad's side found my blog after Googling names found on the back of photos in her grandmother's photograph album, and sent me both digital copies of the photos and the originals! So my next post tonight will the photos she shared with me of my grandfather Henn at one year old (very cute) and of his siblings.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Joshua Currey (1741-1802), U. E. Loyalist

Climbing My Family Tre: United Empire Loyalist  Flag
United Empire Loyalist  Flag, Public Domain

It is, perhaps, a good thing that much of my early research on my paternal side of the family had to do with Canadian history (since many of the Scotts-rooted and Irish-rooted branches of the family tree emigrated through Canada and the pre-Canadian British colonies in the north). Because I've read so many blogs written by Canadian genea-bloggers, and histories written by Canadian authors, I know how special it is, from the Canadian perspective, to have a U. E. Loyalist in the family. As an American, I knew it would probably not politic to post this on July 4, because to have a U. E. Loyalist in the family means that they fought on the "other side” of the Revolutionary war and that would disappoint some of my family.

Joshua Currey, my fifth great-grandfather, on my Dad’s side, was born in about December 1741 to Richard Currey, Jr (4 Nov 1709- 20 Mar 1806) and Elizabeth Jones (about Dec 1711-14 Feb 1778) in Cortlandtown, Westchester County New York.

In about 1730,  Richard Currey, Jr., after marrying Elizabeth Jones, mounted both of them on a single horse, and with all their effects, rode northward into the deep forests of northern Westchester County, which was still occupied by the Algonquins, and bought land in the Peekskill Creek Valley in the Cortlandt Manor (Westchester County, NY, which was then divided into huge tracts of land called Manors [with one owner] and Patents [owned by multiple people]), a few miles back from the Hudson River. At that point, he carved out a home and farm, eventually becoming a large landowner, and raised his family there.  Richard and Elizabeth, my sixth great-grandparents, had at least ten children. I’ve seen some people’s trees with more children listed for them but I’m going with the ones listed in his will as I haven’t been able to confirm any others at this point: Sarah Currey (1736-1770, m. John Jones), my fifth great-grandfather Joshua Currey, Stephen Currey (1742-1830, m. Frances Moore), Jemima Currey (1744-1825, m. Elisha Horton, Sr), Richard Currey (1750-1835, m. Sarah Ferris), Phoebe Currey (??-??, m. John Sherwood), Elizabeth Currey (??-??, m. Robert Wright), Mary Currey (??- 1806, m. John Smith), Martha Currey (??-??, m. ­? Sherwood) and Rachel Currey (? -  before 1806, m. William Lane).

Climbing My Family Tree: New York State with Westchester County in red
New York State (now rather than then, unfortunately) with Westchester County in red
By User:Rcsprinter123 [CC BY-SA 3.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

In a short biographical article on one of his descendants, amongst the section that talks about his family history it reports that ”when Joshua grew two years of understanding, he married”. I don’t know what that means in terms of how old he was, but he married Eunice Travis, born in about 1750, daughter of Justus Meade Travis (abt 1728-abt 1793); I’ve been unable to find out who her mother is. Joshua owned 144 acres and farmed near his father’s lands in the Manor of Cordtland. He and Eunice had a beautiful house on that land and had six children born there: Richard Currey (1765-1857, m. Rebecca Dykeman), my 4th great-grandfather David Currey, Sr (1767-1827, m. Dorothy Estey, Gilbert Currey (1771-1857, m. Sarah Oakley), and Eunice Phoebe Currey (1780-1845, m. Moses Dykeman).

In the years after 1771, the local political climate had become tense. There were more Loyalists New York than in any other colony. It broke down to about 50 percent Patriots and 50 percent Loyalists, although historians agree that both sides were more American than British. It’s just that the Patriots did not see a way of reconciling with Great Britain and stood for independence as a separate country, and Loyalists stood for the recognition of law as against rebellion in any form, for the unity of the Empire as opposed to a separate independent existence of the colonies, and for monarchy instead of Republicanism. The Loyalists wanted the freedoms colonists had grown to enjoy across the ocean from Great Britain and reform of the oppressive taxation without representation system currently in place, but they were conservatives in their approach as to how to achieve this. History is written from the point of view of the victor: because the Patriots won the war fought against the British from 1775 to 1783, it is known as the Revolutionary War, the American War for Independence, or Our Rebellion. Had the British won, the war would likely have become known as the North American continent’s first Civil War.

In August 1775, New York Patriots determined that as the Loyalists were so numerous, regulations must be adopted to control them or the whole cause was in jeopardy and made a resolution that anyone found guilty of furnishing supplies to the British Army and Navy was to be disarmed and to forfeit to New York double the value of the articles they supplied and were to be imprisoned for three months after the forfeiture was paid. A second offense would be followed by banishment from the colony for seven years. By 1776, Loyalists were being arrested for arming to support the British or aiding the enemy in any way; harboring or associating with Tories (another name for Loyalists); recruiting soldiers; refusing to muster with local Patriot forces; corresponding with Loyalists or with the British; refusing to sign a document saying that they were Patriots; denouncing or refusing to obey congresses and committees; writing or speaking against the American cause; rejecting continental money; refusing to give up arms; drinking the king’s health; inciting or taking part in Tory plots and riots; being royal officers; and for trying to remain neutral. Mere suspicion was sufficient cause for seizure and imprisonment. All the property of those who adhered to the King or helped him in his war against the states was made liable to seizure.

Unlike his father and brothers, who supported the colonists, Joshua Currey sided with the British. This put his life in danger. At one time he had to hide under the floor of his house to escape the anger of the revolutionists, and his son David was nearly killed by them by being buried in a sandpit. He was also fined a number of times for failing to attend musters of the local Patriot militia. He was driven from his home and family, and forced to live in the woods, “skulking about, watching to see when it might be safe to return home.”

In Westchester County, the farms, stock, crops, and furniture of Loyalists were seized and sold before December 6, 1776. By March 1777, Joshua had joined the British Army, he and his family leaving home in the dead of night and traveling 300 miles to the nearest British camp, where they found protection from Sir William Howe, Commander-in-Chief of the British forces in North America. Joshua first served with Major-General Tryon, commander of British Forces on Long Island, NY, and subsequently served with a section of the Loyal American Regiment (or LAR, which was primarily made up of Loyalists from Westchester County and lower Dutchess County) known as the Guides and Pioneers, under Colonel Beverly Robinson which put him at the forefront of any action against Patriot forces. In the Guides and Pioneers, Joshua was promoted to lieutenant.

Climbing My Family Tree: First Page of Memorial Of Joshua Currey, claim for reparations
First Page of Memorial Of Joshua Currey, claim for reparations
Photo taken by H.C.,  used with permission
Click to make bigger

His family had presumed him dead as they had not seen him until the end of the war. After his service with the LAR, he worked as a refugee farmer behind the British lines, in Morrisania, in what is now the Bronx. The war officially ended with the treaty of peace and separation in 1783. The English government tried to provide for their Loyalist subjects in America through the terms of the Treaty. The fourth article of the Treaty stated that creditors on each side should "meet with no lawful impediment” to recover all their debts in sterling money. The fifth article held that the Congress of the United States should recommend to the states the restoration of the rights and possessions of ”real British subjects” and of Loyalists who had not born arms against their countrymen. All other Loyalists were given the liberty to go into any state within 12 months to adjust their affairs and to recover their confiscated property upon paying the purchasers the sale price. The sixth article stated that no future confiscation should be made, that imprisoned Loyalists should be released, and no further persecutions should be permitted. The Congress sent the “recommendations” to the states but stated that they had no power to enforce them. The state of New York felt no obligation to restore Tory lands and to allow the returning Loyalists to be treated as fellow citizens. The provisions of the Treaty were rejected and the New York legislature declared that the forfeited and taken property should not be returned since England had offered no compensation for property which had been destroyed. Loyalists who returned under the treaty of peace were insulted, tarred and feathered, beaten, whipped and otherwise assaulted. The New York legislature also revoked the voting rights of any who had served under the British finding them guilty of treason. Therefore, most New York Loyalists chose to become exiles.

Climbing My Family Tree: The British Fleet Ready to Leave New York, 1783
In the public domain. Click to make bigger

The British Army could see the way things were going, and the officers petitioned the Crown to allow for ships and supplies to resettle their loyal subjects, now refugees, in other British colonies. Over the next six months, 30,000 Loyalist refugees would take ship to Nova Scotia, with almost half going to the St. John River Valley area. Because of the huge influx of citizens, the new province of New Brunswick was separated from Nova Scotia in 1784.  (For the most part civilian refugees were sent to Nova Scotia and former military refugees were sent to what became New Brunswick, along the strategically valuable Bay of Fundy.)  Each family received two tents, and one and a half blankets per person; each man received 4 yards of woolen cloth, 7 yards of linen cloth, two pairs of shoes, two pairs of stockings, one pair of mittens; each woman received 3 yards of woolen cloth, six charts of linen, one pair of shoes, one pair of stockings, and one pair of mittens; each child over the age of 10, received 3 yards of woolen cloth, 6 yards of linen, one pair of stockings, and one pair of mittens; each child under 10, received 1 ½ yards of wool and 3 yards of linen. They were also given provisions for the trip to Nova Scotia and were to be given one year‘s provisions thereafter. The weekly ration consisted of 1 pound of flour per person, half a pound of meat (either beef or pork), a tiny amount of butter, a half a pound of oatmeal a week and a half of pound of pease per week and a little rice. Some areas had molasses and vinegar but they were rare. The settlers could supplement the provisions with hunting and fishing.

Climbing My Family Tree: Map of New Brunswick Canada
Map of New Brunswick

Climbing My Family Tree: The Arrival of the Loyalists
The Arrival of the Loyalists
in the public domain
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In the fall of 1783, Joshua and his family evacuated with the British forces to the St. John River Valley and received a land grant upriver around Gagetown, New Brunswick. My 4th great-grandfather David Currey, Sr., was 16 at the time the family arrived at St. John’s (then Nova Scotia).

Joshua later presented a claim to the commission for inquiring into the Losses, Services, and Claims, of the American Loyalists. He was one of only 500 New Brunswick Loyalists to do so. Joshua stated that he had lost 103 acres in the Manor of Cortlandt for which he paid 400 pounds was worth 500 pounds now, 36 acres of woodland also in Cortlandt Manor which he had cleared and values now at 5 pounds per acre, and 5 acres adjacent which he was once offered 10 pounds per acre for. He also had the following confiscated and sold by the NY government: two oxen (40 pounds), six cows (60),  an ox, (10) young  six young cattle (10), 55 sheep (27), 18 hogs (10), eight horses (00), 30 acres of wheat (40 pounds per acre… 60), 10 acres of rye (at 20… 10; farming utensils and household (100 pounds); furniture (450 pounds); losses sustained for being out of possession of said estate for nine years (1610.10 pounds). No one received all that they requested on their claims; the average payout was one-third to one-half of value asked. I don’t know what Joshua received.

Climbing My Family Tree: Second and Third Pages of Memorial Of Joshua Currey, claim for reparations
Second and Third Pages of Memorial Of Joshua Currey, claim for reparations
Photo taken by H.C.,  used with permission
Click to make bigger

They spent this first year in or near St. John as they had arrived just before winter. The late fall was wet and cold, and the first snow fell on November 2nd – 6 inches! Those who had arrived earlier had started building log cabins and wood sheds for shelter for the winter, but many of those who arrived in late fall had to spend the winter in pitched tents covered in spruce branches for insulation. It snowed a lot that winter, which turned out to be a benefit as the six feet of snow around the tents helped keep out the bitter cold. Many families slept in shifts throughout the night to keep a fire going to keep the family from freezing (and not burn down the tent). Many women and children died that winter. Men hunted bear and moose to feed their families as the delivery of the promised provisions was erratic, at best. As spring came on, and the two-foot thick ice on the river and bay thawed, they also fished, and trapped pigeons, and ate fiddlehead ferns and the leaves of the trees. One account said the people cheered when the first schooner arrived carrying cornmeal and rye.

For Joshua and his family, as for many, their new life was a hard life, and a step backward from the comfort of their New York estate to the hard work of prior generations. In the spring they moved upriver to lands near Gagetown. He and his sons had to clear the land they bought in the parishes of Gagetown & Canning as it was a dense forest, chopping down trees and lopping off limbs to make the long trunks easier to transport; and the stumps had to be burned or dug out before the family could plow and plant crops. All this was done by people working together by hand because no one had been able to bring teams of oxen or horses on the ships. Potatoes and beans were planted amongst the burned stumps the first year and did well.

Climbing My Family Tree: A Loyalist Family Starts Anew
A Loyalist Family Starts Anew
In the public domain.
Click to make bigger.

The British government eventually sent seeds “for garden and farm”. By July 1784, the British government distributed an ax, a hoe, a spade, and a plow to every two families; a whipsaw and a crosscut saw to every fourth family; and a set of carpenter’s tools to every five families. Later, a cow was given to every two families, and one bull per neighborhood.

The first homes the new settlers built were simple log cabins consisting of round logs, from 5 to 20 feet in length, laid horizontally over each other, and bound at the corners, with the seams packed with moss and clay. Chimneys were built of stacked stone set in clay. A few rafters would be put up to hold a roof which was made of bark tied to thin poles laid across and tied to the roof frame. It might have had a framed floor or it might have been dirt initially. If they put in windows, they were small. Later, in 1789, Joshua built his family a large frame and brick home.

After life settled down, Joshua and Eunice had two more children in St. John County: Daniel Travis Curry (1785-22 June 1867; m. Elizabeth “Betsy” Scribner) and Joshua Curry, Jr (?? – aft 1802).  As the initial hardships disappeared, the people became comfortable and prosperous, for the land was fertile, and the early sacrifices made for loyalty to King and Empire became more of something to brag about than to complain about.

In November 1789, Lord Dorchester requested the council at Quebec “to put a mark of honor upon the families who adhered to the unity of the empire and joined the Royal Standard in America before the Treaty of Separation in the year 1783”. The council concurred. Accordingly, all Loyalists who fit that description “were to be distinguished by the letters U.E. [United Empire] affixed to their names, alluding to their great principle, the unity of the Empire.”   A Registry of these U.E. Loyalists was ordered to be kept and for twenty years names were added to this list. Joshua Currey is on the list.

Joshua Currey died at age 60 on 20 September 1802. He must have realized he was dying because that is also the day he drafted his will. He was survived by his wife and all of his children. In his will, he said, in pertinent part (with legalese translated into English, in brackets, where unnecessarily convoluted),

“I give and bequeath to Eunus, my dearly beloved wife the whole of my property both real and personal during such time as shall be and continue my widow and no Longer [if she remarried, the property was to be distributed as if she were dead].

“I also give and bequeath to my son Richard Currey the sum of 5 pounds and to my son David the sum of 2 pounds ten shillings and to my son Gilbert the sum of 1 pound 5 shillings and to my son Joshua the sum of 25 pounds to be in the care of Richard and David Currey. And five shillings I gave to my daughter Phebe Dickman and all that remain of my estate to my son Daniel Currey. [He named his] dearly beloved sons Richard Currey and David Currey to be my … executors [and states they are to be paid from the estate in the amount the law directs].“ 
[Note: One pound sterling in 1802 is equivalent to $98.76 in  U.S. dollars in 2018.]

He was buried in Chase Cemetery, Gagetown, New Brunswick, Canada.

Tombstone of Joshua Currey
Photo taken by H.C.,  used with permission.
Click to make bigger


Sorry about the weird spacing folks. I tried to fix it several times but it won't get better, and twice it got worse,  I've given up. 

The wills of Richard Currey, and Joshua Currey (Found at; Old Sands Street Methodist Episcopal Church, of Brooklyn NY, an illustrated Centennial record, historical and biographical, by the Rev. Edwin Warriner, corresponding secretary of the New York conference historical Society (New York: Phillips & Hunt, 805 Broadway. 1885), p. 441;   Joshua Currey’s Claim for Reparations, The National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; American Loyalist Claims, Series I; Class: AO 13; Piece: 098; The Journal of the Rev. Silas Constant, Pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Yorktown NY, With Some of the records of the Church and a List of His marriages, 1784-1825, Together with notes on the Nelsons, Van Cortlandt, Warren, and some other families Mentioned in the Journal by Silas Constant, Emily Warren Roebling, (Printed for Private Circulation by J.B. Lippincott Co., Philadelphia, 1903), p. 116 ( ; ; ; The King’s Men: Loyalist military units in the American Revolution, Hudson Valley and New York City Loyalists: /;; United Empire Loyalists, Second Report of the Bureau of Archives for the Province of Ontario, part 1 by Alexander Fraser, Provincial Archivist, 1904; ; ; ; History of New Brunswick, by Peter Fish (as originally published in 1825, with a few additional explanatory note, reprinted jointly by The Government of New Brunswick & William Shives Fisher, grandson of the author, under the auspices of the New Brunswick Historical Society, St. John, N.B. 1921); “Evacuation Day”, 1783 Its Many Stirring Events: With Recollections of Capt. John Van Arsdale, by James Riker (New York 1883); The Loyalists of New Brunswick, by Esther Clark Wright (Lancelot Press, Windsor N.S. 1955; A Biographical Sketch of  Lemuel Allen Currey and Biographical Sketch of John Zebulon Currie, Cyclopedia of Canadian biography, being chiefly men of the time. A collection of persons distinguished in professional and political life; leaders in the commerce and industry of Canada, and successful pioneers, by George MacLean Rose, (Toronto: Rose Publishing Company. 1888.); Biographical Sketch of Frank A. Curry. Biographical history of Westchester County New York, illustrated. Volume II (The Lewis Publishing Company. Chicago: 1889, pp. 974-977.); New Brunswick Loyalists of the War of the American Revolution, New York Genealogical and Biographical Society Record, Vol 35-36 1904-1905, Oct., p.277-281; Planters, Paupers, and Pioneers, English Settlers in Atlantic Canada, by Lucille H. Campey (The Dundurn Group, Toronto CA, 2010); Tories: Fighting for the King in America’s First Civil War by Thomas B. Allen (Harper Collins E-books, 2010; Loyalism in New York during the American Revolution by Alexander Clarence Flick, Ph.D (New York, Columbia University Press, 1901); Loyalist Regiments of the American Revolutionary War 1775-1783, by Stuart Salmon, Ph.D. Dissertation, 2009; and