Monday, March 19, 2018


Besides being one of the first shipwrights in the colonies, my ancestor William Barstow also was one of the first settlers of Hanover, Ma., and built a bridge over the North River. In 1910  Hanover published a town history written by Jedediah Dwelley and John F.Simmons. In it I found this about the bridge:

"Very early in the history of the colony the necessity of a bridge at this point became imperative, and, in 1656, "before William Bradford, Governor, and Thomas Prince, William Collier, Timothy Hatherly, John Alden, and James Cudworth, Counsellors," William Barstow agreed "for the sum of 12 pounds to make a good and suitable bridge over the North river at Stony Reach, being the place where now passengers go frequently over—the said bridge to be made sufficient for horse and foot, and to clear and mark a way to Hughes' Cross and beyond toward the Bay." This bridge was completed before October, 1657, as on that date the Court appointed a committee to see "that the horse bridge over the North River and the way unto it be sufficiently done, and to judge what William Barstow is worthy to have for his work and pains thereabout."'

During the next ten years there were several orders of the Court relative to this bridge. One was in 1663, when "the Major and the Treasurer were appointed a committee to agree with William Barstow to repair the bridge at North River, the charges thereof to be levied by rate on the said townships of this government."

The next year William Barstow gave bonds to the Court, "in consideration of the payment to him of twenty pounds, to forthwith repair the bridge and keep it in repair sufficient for the transportation of passengers, horses and cattle for the full term of twenty years." Mr. Barstow died in 1668, and others took up the work of repairs

There was also information about William running an "ordinary " near the bridge:

We will not further follow the orders relative to the first bridge (which was always called Barstow's bridge) but will say a word about William Barstow, the builder, as we have glimpses of the strength and weakness of his character. He was one of four brothers who came to New England about 1635. Barry says that William was "the first settler of whom we have any record on the present boundary of Hanover.'' He was a large land-owner and was often engaged in the business of the Colony. He was highway surveyor for the town of Scituate, this being then the most important town office. He was one of the jurors in a murdei case, and on a committee for laying out lands. Soon after the construction of the bridge, (in June, 165?) he was authorized by the Court "to draw and sell wine, beer, and strong waters for passengers that come and go over the bridge he hath lately made or others that should have occasion, unless any just "exceptions" came in against." These "exceptions" came evidently, as in 1666 the Court passed an order censuring him for "not keeping an ordinary fit for the entertainment of strangers." "This ordinary was kept by his son Joseph after the death of his father, and in 1684 he was discharged from "keeping an ordinary at the North River" and Joseph Sylvester, the ancestor of the Sylvesters who now live near the bridge, was licensed to keep it.

An interesting episode in the life of William Barstow was his apology before the Court for slandering the Rev. Charles Chauncy, pastor of the Church in Scituate, who afterwards became president of Harvard College. Mr. Barstow had stated publicly that Mr. Chauncy's utterances were the cause of the death of his brother George. He closes the apology by saying "and I desire that this sad experience of my aptness to offend God and his people may be a motive unto me to set a better watch over my tongue in the future."

History of the Town of Hanover, Massachusetts, with Family Genealogies  published by the Town of Hanover, Hanover, Ma. 1910

I need to see if I can find the location of that bridge once the weather turns warmer!

Saturday, March 17, 2018


Moses Simmons Jr.'s wife was Patience Barstow, daughter of my 8x great grandfather William Barstow. He was  the first settler of Hanover,Ma. as well as one of the first shipwrights in Massachusetts. Here's Richard William Cutter's biographical sketch of Barstow and his family:

William Barstow, immigrant ancestor, was one of four brothers of that name who settled in Massachusetts. He came over with his brother when he was twenty-three years of age, sailing in the “Trnelove." September 20, 1635. He was in Dedham in 1636, and signed the petition for the incorporation of that town under the name of Contentment. On February 16, 1642, he and his brother George received grants of “upland ground fit for improvement with the plough." In 1649 he was a freeman at Scituate, and he was the first settler of whom there is record at Hanover, Massachusetts. He was a prominent man and well to do, owning a large amount of real estate. He died in Scituate in 1668, aged fifty-six years. His widow was administratrix on his estate. ,He left no will, but in the will of his brother Michael, mention is made of his eight children, though the names of only five have been found. He married, probably in New England, Anne —. Children: Joseph, mentioned below; Patience, born in Dedham, December 3, 1643; Deborah, in Scituate, August, I650; William, in Scituate, September, I652; Martha, in Scituate, 1655. p1329

Genealogical and Family History of Western New York: A Record of the Achievements of Her People in the Making of a Commonwealth and the Building of a Nation, Volume 3  Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1912 NY,NY

William Barstow was more than just a wealthy landowner, He owned an inn, built a bridge across
the North River, and owned a shipyard on that river that was a family business for several generations. I'll have more to say about these interests in the next post.


((In honor of St Patrick's Day and my Mom's Irish family, I'm reprinting this transcription of
the  newspaper account of the death of Frank McFarland, who I believe to be my great
granduncle. Like many Irish immigrants to Boston in the 1800's, he worked at construction jobs ))

Here is my transcription of the story in the Boston Daily Globe on Saturday, August 14th,1886
with the details of the terrible accident that took my great granduncle Frank McFarland's life
on the day before which, I just now realized, was Friday the 13th!  One of his two brothers mentioned
in the report was probably my great grandfather John McFarland . For some reason, the reporter
spells the family name as McFarlane:   

"Dead Under Tons of Land
Frank McFarlane's Living Burial
The Caving Ditch at Brighton And The Struggle for Life
The Successful Search For The Body
Cunningham's Escape"

The body of Frank McFarlane, who yesterday morning at 10.30 was buried by
the accidental caving in of the sides of a ditch in which he was working, was
discovered last evening at 5.26. He was sent about nine days ago to brace the
sewer ditch on Waverley street, Brighton. On account of the treacherous
character of the soil, which is of a sandy, gravelly nature, a skilful man was
required. Yesterday morning Mr. Grace, who is superintending the construction
of the sewer, spoke to McFarlane about polling braces at the bottom of the
ditch, which was about fifteen feet deep. At first McFarlane thought such
precaution  unnecessary, but finally decided to act upon the suggestion,
and, taking Thomas Cunningham, had begun strengthening the bottom of
the ditch when one of the men above cried:

"Come out, both of you, as quick as you can; the ditch is caving!"

Cunningham immediately ran towards the nearest exit, which was at the
westerly end, and McFarlane, after a moment, started for the opening in the
opposite direction. Cunningham succeeded in making his escape while, as
the result showed, McFarlane was overtaken about half way between the
point from which he started and the exit, and was buried alive beneath
tons of sand and gravel.

All the afternoon a gang of about sixty men, many of them without dinner,
labored hard and earnestly with the faint hope that the braces might have fallen
from both sides and prevented him from being crushed. As the afternoon
wore on and the loose soil continued caving and preventing rapid headway
this hope began to vanish, and at about 5.26, when John Coughlin cried,
"Here he is!" scarcely one of the immense crowd that had gathered expected
to see anything but a lifeless corpse.

At the moment the body was found two men rushed in from the crowd which
had been roped off by the officers, and, in spite of the detaining cries of those
in charge, made straight for the edge of the ditch, crying: "Is his name Mcfarlane?
Is he dead?" They were the two brothers of the victim, and had spent the
afternoon in a wild search among the hospitals and police stations of the city
for their brother, whom they had heard was killed.The grief of these two
strong men, both of whom sat around on the ground and wept like children,
was heartrending.

It was almost an hour after the body was discovered that it could be extricated
from the earth and timbers. When this was at length accomplished, and the
body of the unfortunate man was borne in the rough and brawny arms of his
comrades carefully and gently to the ambulance which was in waiting, sobs
and exclamations of pity arose from all sides. The hands were found to be
open with the fingers close together, like those of a man swimming, while
upon the face was a calm look, as if the victim, after a brief struggle with his
hands, had desisted and become resigned to his fate.

The body was conveyed to Station 14, whence it will be removed to 13 Coventry
street, where the unfortunate man lived, Although McFarlane was unmarried
and had no family of his own, he leaves an aged father and mother, to whose
support he was the principal contributor. "

My great grandfather John McFarland  had already lost two infant children and now with
the death of his brother must have decided to purchase a family plot at St. Benedict's Cemetery.
The burial didn't take place until a week later after the children were exhumed and all three were
buried on the same day,

Of the twelve McFarland family members on the list, only the last four are on the headstone:
my great grandparents John and Ann, my grandaunt Winifred, and my grandmother Agnes.

Friday, March 16, 2018


In honor of St.Patrick's Day the Findmypast Friday releases this week have nearly 150 thousand brand new records from Ireland:

Irish Tontines Annuitants 1766-1789

OVER 153,000 RECORDS  Explore annuity statements, accounts of deaths, death certificates, and marriage certificates relating to the subscribers and nominees of the Irish Tontine. A tontine was an investment plan where subscribers paid an agreed sum into the fund and thereafter receive an annuity. Upon a member’s death, their shares devolve to the other participants, whose annuities would then rise in value.

Ireland, American Fenian Brotherhood 1864-1897

OVER 125,000 RECORDS Search for your ancestor’s name in correspondence between members of the British Foreign Office regarding the activities of the American Fenian Brotherhood during the years from 1864 to 1897. Records include newspaper cuttings, letters, telegrams, lists of prisoners, and a number of photographs.

Ireland, American Fenian Brotherhood 1864-1897 Browse

OVER 15,000 VOLUMES Browse through these British Foreign Office papers on the activity of members of the Fenian Brotherhood in the United States and Canada.

Church of Ireland Histories & Reference Guides

OVER 800 RECORDS Learn about the history of the Church of Ireland from pre-Christian times up to the 20th century by searching new records from two publications: ‘The National Churches: The Church of Ireland (1892)’ and ‘Some Worthies of the Irish Church (1900)’.

Armagh Records & Registers

OVER 600 PAGES Browse through the pages of the ‘Historical Memoirs of the City of Armagh for a Period of 1,375 years’. First published in 1819, the memoirs contain biographical accounts of both Protestant and Roman Catholic archbishops, a narrative of important events, an account of the establishment of the Presbyterian congregations, and the history of various customs and manners.

Antrim Histories & Reference Guides

OVER 600 RECORDS Search these records taken from George Benn’s ‘A History of the Town of Belfast from the Earlier Times to the Close of the Eighteenth Century’. First published in 1877, the title is an authoritative work on the history of city and contains historic maps and illustrations.


Dublin Registers & Records

New records: 2,726
Total records: 6,317
Covering: 22 titles from the 1600s up to 1800
Discover: Printed histories and Church of Ireland records

Ireland, Royal Irish Constabulary History & Directories

New records: 311
Total records: 46,852
Covering: Lists and directories of members
Discover: Details of your ancestor’s career and the history of the organisation

Thursday, March 15, 2018


8x great grandfather Moses Simonson was also known as Moses Simmons or Moses Symons in the records of Plymouth Colony. He arrived in Plymouth in 1521 on the ship Fortune from Leiden Holland. He may have been a Dutch native. By 1639 he was listed as a freeman in Duxbury which was still part of Plymouth at that time. He also owned land in the towns of Bridgewater and Scituate.

Moses married his wife Sarah sometime before 1635. There are some who believe her to be Sarah Chandler, a descendant of Mayflower passenger Roger Chilton.  Their children were:

Rebecca, b. 1635 (?), married George Soule.
Moses, b. 1639 (?), married Patience Barstow
Mary, b. 1641 (?), married Joseph Alden
John,  b. 1644(?), married Elizabeth Pabodie
Sarah, b. 1649(?), married James Nash
Elizabeth, b.1651(?), married Richard Dwelly
Aaron, b. 1653 (?), married Mary Woodworth

Moses Simonson died sometime between 1689 when hemade his will and 1691 when his estate was inventoried. I'm descended from his son Moses Jr. and Patience Barstow.

Friday, March 09, 2018


There are over 5.3 million new records in this week's Findmypast Friday releases:


Ireland Civil Birth Registers Index

OVER 2.7 MILLION RECORDS  Search for your ancestor in this index of civil birth registers from Ireland. Discover when and where your ancestor was born, the names of their parents and links to images of their original register entry. Transcripts were created by Findmypast from images held by Today’s release marks phase one of a collection that will continue to grow throughout the year.

Ireland Civil Marriage Registers Index

OVER 2.6 MILLION RECORDS Learn when and where your ancestors were married, when and where they were born, their residence and parents’ names with transcripts of images held by Each record includes a link to an image of the original register entry and new additions will be added to the collection later in the year.


Wales, Monmouthshire Electoral Registers 1832-1889

New records: 43,230
Total records: 54,032
Covering: Handwritten Gwent registers spanning 1832 to 1849
Discover: Name, abode, property type, property location, property name, year, constituency and district

Monday, March 05, 2018


There were over 4.1 million brand new Catholic records from New York, Chicago and Baltimore released as part of the Findmypast Fiday releases for 2March 2018:


New York Roman Catholic Parish Baptisms

OVER 1 MILLION RECORDS  These sacramental registers have been released in partnership with the Archdiocese of New York. The collection consists of transcripts for discovering when your Catholic ancestor was baptised, where they were baptised and the names of their parents.

New York Roman Catholic Parish Marriages

OVER 500,000 RECORDS Discover your Catholic ancestor in New York Roman Catholic parish marriage registers. See when and where your ancestors were married, their occupations, birth years, residence, language and the names of their parents.

Chicago Roman Catholic Parish Baptisms

OVER 411,000 RECORDS Were your Catholic ancestors baptised in the Archdiocese of Chicago, Illinois? Search Sacramental registers dating from the mid-1800s up to 1925. Each result provides a transcript and image of the original baptism register.

Chicago Roman Catholic Parish Marriages

OVER 153,000 RECORDS Explore parish marriage records covering the Catholic population of Cook and Lake Counties in north-eastern Illinois. The collection covers all six vicariates and 31 deaneries across the Archdiocese.

Chicago Roman Catholic Parish Burials

OVER 37,000 RECORDS Search burials spanning from the late 1800s up to 1925 to discover when and where your Catholic ancestors were laid to rest. Images may reveal additional details such as cause of death, residence, place of birth, father’s name, mother’s name, and the name of the priest who conducted the service.

Chicago Roman Catholic Cemetery Records, 1864-1989

OVER 1.9 million RECORDS Explore burial index cards, burial registers, daily burial logs, and registers of cemetery lot owners. The records cover the years 1864 to 1989 to uncover the date and location of your Chicago ancestor’s burial.

Baltimore Roman Catholic Parish Registers Browse

OVER 500,000 IMAGES In this browse search, you can look through individual baptism, marriage, burial, communion, and confirmation registers from the Archdiocese of Baltimore in their entirety. The registers span the years from 1782 to 1918 and can provide a variety of important biographical details about your ancestor.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018


It's Rootstech time and as in past years there's big news in the genealogy industry. I received
an email this morning with the following announcement:

                                      FINDMYPAST ACQUIRES GENEALOGY STARTUP TWILE -
                                       WINNER OF TWO ROOTSTECH INNOVATION AWARDS

Leading British family history website, Findmypast, has announced their acquisition of genealogy startup Twile, creators of the visual family history timeline and winner of two RootsTech innovation awards.

The acquisition reflects Findmypast’s drive to innovate and enhance customers’ family history experience by providing them with new ways to share their family stories.

Twile enables family historians to create interactive timelines with their family memories and set them against the context of world history. Twile provides new and engaging ways of telling your family’s story via beautiful infographics  and other visualizations.

Twile and Findmypast have been strategic partners since 2016 and have a shared mission of making family history more engaging for the entire family.

In the future, Twile’s storytelling features will be available on Findmypast, enabling users to automatically display their family history research in a media-rich timeline. Combined with Findmypast’s unrivalled collection of British and Irish records, these new features will enable users to share their discoveries in new and exciting ways.

The Twile team will continue to develop and maintain Twile and there are no plans to change the features and services Twile users currently enjoy. Twile co-founder, Paul Brooks, will be overseeing all future integration work and regular updates will be shared with Twile subscribers.

Paul Brooks, co-founder of Twile said: “This is a really exciting development for Twile. We’ve worked closely with Findmypast over the last two years in our mission to help families share their history. I’m looking forward to working even more closely as we develop Twile into the future.”

Tamsin Todd, CEO of Findmypast said: “We’re excited to bring the innovative experiences that Twile has created to even more customers, making it easier and more engaging to create and share your family history.”