Rogers home, Huntsville, TX

The home of Col. George Washington Rogers and his wife, Lucinda Benson Gibbs - built abt. 1845 in Huntsville, TX. View shows north portico. He was my grandfather's grandfather.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Autumnal Equinox

As we sit in perfect balance between 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night...
I'm going to take today off from blogging!
Happy Equinox everyone~!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Living under the oak trees

These wonderful trees are in the midst of dropping their bombs right now.
When the acorns hit a garage roof, or the roof of a car, there's a much louder boom than when they hit the cement, which is still louder than when they hit grass and dirt.

Photo by William Snape

So outside my windows there's a constant barrage of artillery landing all over the place.  Noisy bunch of acorns.  Haven't seen the squirrels.  But then I'm looking at the computer, and just hearing the ratta tat tat outside the open windows.

When I'm at the tailgate market in Black Mountain, guess what kind of tree is dropping those huge acorns on our heads!

What trees do you live beneath?

Friday, September 19, 2014


Sons Tai and Russ race each other along beach probably in 1990
From 1971 to 1984 I drove this van, often sleeping in it while traveling over 150 thousand miles.

But after 84, I returned to tent camping with my younger 2 sons for vacation fun.

Sea Oat hold windswept dunes along Cumberland Island
One of my favorite places was Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia.

Of course you have to take a ferry to get to it, since it's an island.  Not many vehicles except those of the Park service and a few people who own homes there.  So there are many miles of tree shaded areas, which is good because the woods are still and very hot in the summer..
Son Tai and myself on the ferry ride.

And a ruin of a Carnegie mansion, destroyed by fire in 1959.

Tai standing in front of Carnegie Mansion ruins, Cumberland Island, GA

I remember that you call on January 1 to make a reservation for the ferry, so that you can get on island and off again.  I once camped on the island in group camping, which is fun, but the last time I went we camped in St. Marys, GA both before and after our day in the sun.  It was still exhausting.

Russ standing with dunes of Cumberland Island

There's the family tent, and that year we tried taking cots rather than just air mattresses.  Not so great.

I'm sharing this post with Sepia Saturday this week...HERE

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Elizabeth Dunster Bowers

Her husband, "Benanuel Bowers was a militant Quaker sympathizer and suffered much for his religion by fine, whip and prison. Some letters and doggerel lines of his are yet preserved in the Middlesex County Court, one addressed to Thomas Danforth the magistrate, date March 3, 1677. (not yet transcribed)

"The following excerpts from "The Letters of Mrs. Robert Clay" are not completely accurate.

"My Grandfather, Benanuel Bowers was born in England of honest Parents, but his father, being a man of stern temper, and a rigid Oliverian, obliged my Grandfather (who out of a pious zeal, turned to the religion of the Quakers) to flee for succour into New England." The Letters of Mrs. Robert Clay.(Ann Curtis Clay Bolton)

"He purchased a farm near Boston and then married. Both were Quakers. The Zealots of the (Presbyterian party) sic. ousted them. They escaped with their lives, though not without whippings, and imprisonments, and the loss of a great part of their worldly substance.

"History of Cambridge, MA 1630-1877, preface, p 37. Baxter, Joseph, H. C. 1693, witness to will of Benanuel Bowers.

The above quote is an attachment to Benanuell Bowers on Ancestry DOT com. I have no way to verify it.  But I know that Cambridge and Harvard in the 1600's were not ruled by Presbyterians, but by Puritans.

Benanuel married Elizabeth Dunster on Dec 9, 1653.

He had been born in  1627 in Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts.  His father George Bowers had been born in 1590 in Manly, Lincolnshire, England.  Ancestry hasn't bothered to check that this place even exists, or ever did.  But some place like Manby, Manley, or some other such spelling must have at one time.

Elizabeth Dunster was born however, on 15 Jul 1632 in Bury, Lancashire, England, which isn't near Lincolnshire.  So it was a good thing that she immigrated to America also.

Elizabeth Dunster had a much older brother, Henry Dunster, born 16 Nov, 1609.  He not only studied at Cambridge, England, but when he immigrated to Charlestown, MA, he became the first President of the newly formed Harvard College.

Dunster, Henry 1609-1659 First Harvard U. Pres.

Dunster House, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

 The Harvard Charter which he developed, says:

Transcription of text in document

WHEREAS, through the good hand of God, many well devoted persons have been, and daily are moved, and stirred up, to give and bestow, sundry gifts, legacies, lands, and revenues for the advancement of all good literature, arts, and sciences in Harvard College, in Cambridge in the County of Middlesex, and to the maintenance of the President and Fellows, and for all accommodations of buildings, and all other necessary provisions, that may conduce to the education of the English and Indian youth of this country, in knowledge and godliness: It is therefore ordered, and enacted by this Court, and the authority thereof, that for the furthering of so good a work and for the purposes aforesaid, from henceforth that the said College, in Cambridge in Middlesex, in New England, shall be a Corporation, consisting of seven persons, to wit, a President, five Fellows, and a Treasurer or Bursar: and that Henry Dunster shall be the first President, Samuel Mather, Samuel Danforth, Masters of Arts, Jonathan Mitchell, Comfort Starr, and Samuel Eaton, Bachelors of Arts, shall be the five Fellows, and Thomas Danforth to be present Treasurer, all of them being inhabitants in the Bay, and shall be the first seven persons of which the said Corporation shall consist: and that the said seven persons, or the greater number of them, procuring the presence of the Overseers of the College, and by their counsel and consent, shall have power, and are hereby authorized, at any time or times, to elect a new President, Fellows, or Treasurer, so oft, and from time to time, as any of the said person or persons shall die, or be removed, which said President and Fellows, for the time being, shall for ever hereafter, in name and fact, be one body politic and corporate in law, to all intents and purposes; and shall have perpetual succession; and shall be called by the name of President and Fellows of Harvard College, and shall, from time to time, be eligible as aforesaid. And by that name they, and their successors, shall and may purchase and acquire t...

Henry Dunster, Harvard

The above quote doesn't have a source, but Ancestry does give a photo of this book on Henry Dunster..

Henry Dunster's gravesite
 This is Henry Dunster's gravesite in the Old Burying Yard ("God's Acre") just a stone's throw from Harvard Yard. After his voluntary exile in Scituate, Plymouth Colony, it was Dunster's express wish in his will that he be buried close to the College he loved after his death.

So Harvard changed the original covenant which Henry Dunster began, and he had some difficulties with other members of the administration.

But I am glad great Uncle Henry (time many greats) had a younger sister who is my direct ancestress.
Henry Dunster 1609-1659 marker bench

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Bowers further back

Looking into those wonderful female ancestors is often so frustrating.

But today I give you a link that has maybe a bit of weaving that may just unravel the frustration.

The births of the Benanuel Bowers' children of Charlestown, MA were recorded (all eight of them) in detail, by a clerk.  On that page he gives credit that the usual person who kept these records had died.

The clerk who was gracious enough to record these names made one very big mistake.

At least that's the best I can figure out at this time.  I'll gladly write different results if and when I find them.

Benanuell and Marie Bowers are given as the parents.
But Benanuell was married to Elizabeth Dunster.  Records attest to that fact.  They married Dec. 9, 1653. 

So who's this Marie?  I think clerk Edward Burtt made up a name.

From 1653-1673 there are 8 children listed, and at the bottom of the handwritten sheet (all the same handwriting) it says

"Record of all births, deaths, and marriages, that have been in Charlestown since the death of Mr. Thomas Harre (first letter is unclear) who departed this life the twentisixth day of the eighth month, 1658.  Per mee: Edward Burtt, Clerk

So apparently since 1658, good records hadn't been kept...and since the last entry is 1673, it's likely that records were not kept for those 15 years, and were being attempted to be reconstructed.  Remember there are not complete records, but just a few scraps available.

What difference does it make whether Benanuell's wife was named Marie or Elizabeth Dunster?

A big difference to her.  And probably to my descendents.

I'll tell you more about who she was, in relation to a rather important person, tomorrow.  For now I've added a middle name of "Marie" to Elizabeth Dunster Bowers.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Neighborhood relations

I'm still interested in my Swasey and Bowers roots.  So 1790 census of Somerset, MA shows the following record...

1151 persons, 141 dwelling totaled at bottom of sheet.

Starting in left column the interesting households are:
Line number 6: Joseph Swasey, Jr. with 2 males over 16 and 4 females (no age given) He is probably a brother to Jermethuel Bowers Swasey, since the other Joseph Swasey is closer on the list to Jermethuel, (see below). And Junior usually meant the son of a father by the same name.
number 22 is Jermethuel Bowers, 3 males over 16, 4 females. He is uncle to Jermethuel Bowers Swasey, his mother Mary Bowers Swasey's brother.
number 23 is David Bower (or Bowen? or Bowers? I am assuming those that are clear enough to read as Bower would be related to Bowers, and those that are clearly Bowen are not Bower.)  There was a brother of Mary Bowers Swasey named David, who apparently died in 1786, so perhaps the widow was still keeping this household, or it wasn't a Bowers at all.
then 25 is David Bowers Jr.  I don't have any information on children of Uncle David Bowers.

Then more Bowers households follow:
Lloyd Bowen(Bower?) comes along
William Bower
Mary Bower
Bfs  (Benjamin?) Bower
Clark Bowers
Anna Bowers
Only Bfs Bower might be a sibling of Mary Bowers Swasey, according to those listed as of this date at Ancestry.

Going to the right hand column of names on the same sheet for Somerset, MA we find:
Joseph Swasey, one male over 16, one female, and one "free other person"  (This is either father to Jermethuel Bowers Swasey, or a brother, but it's not definite, so see the Joseph Swasey Jr. above)
Then Samuel Swasey, one male over 16, one male under 16, two females. Probably Jerathmel's brother.
Then Jermethuel Swasey, (my ancestor) one male over 16, four males under 16, three females (see below for more on his house)

later down the row, Primus Bower, with 7 "free other persons."
Then York Bower with 6 "free other persons."
I think the 2 last households would have been servants, perhaps free Blacks, since they weren't indicated in any other way.

Who were my definite ancestors in the 1790 census?
Jermethuel Swasey and his wife Sarah Hellon Swasey

 My next generation ancestor is Alexander G. Swasy, who was to have his 7th birthday in 1790.  So he was one of the 4 males under 16.  As of this writing I only have details of one brother and one sister, but apparently there were 4 other siblings.  As the Somerset census continues to have a lot of Bowers, and a few Swaseys, it's not surprising.

By 1800 census the following information is given for Jerathmel Bowers Swasey:
Here's the original:

Jerathmul Bowers Swasey is the last listing, which is interesting considering the name is at the top left hand column.  There are only 10 sheets of this census on microfilm.  Perhaps the addendum noted under his name at top left had something to do with that...but it's besides the point.

Details of Jerathmul Swasey's 1800 household are
Free White Persons - Males - Under 10: 1
Free White Persons - Males -10 thru 15: 3
Free White Persons - Males - 45 and over: 1
Free White Persons - Females - Under 10: 1
Free White Persons - Females - 10 thru 15: 2
Free White Persons - Females - 45 and over: 1
Number of Household Members Under 16: 7
Number of Household Members Over 25: 2
Number of Household Members:9

How old were Jermethel and his wife Sarah? In 1790 he would have had his 38th birthday, and she her 33rd.  So it would have been a bit of a stretch in 1800 for her to have been considered over 45 (being only 43).

The second census doesn't have any Bowers on the same sheet, so I will just focus upon who in my ancestors would have been living at the Swasey home in 1800.

Alexander G. Swasey would have his 17th birthday that year, but is probably listed as one of the males 10-15.  There are still 4 boys and 3 girls indicated as children, most of which I don't have records for.

Soon, some interesting links to other folks in New England, going back through mothers lines.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Ancestors on the move

Movers and shakers...very interesting to think about.

Many farmers and wives and children get up every morning, and feed the animals and go about their chores.  Daily work is determined by season often.  For the children there is school during the months their families don't need their hands helping with crops.
Yes, I'm again talking about my ancestors.

Consider how many people depended upon the land for their livelihood for so many years.  These were the people who settled, built buildings, tilled land, planted, tended, harvested, and put up the results of their labors for winter food.  They would feed animals daily, milk cows or goats, make sure there was pasture for them, and work from sunup to sundown...then eat good home prepared, and home raised foods.

These people kept doing that year after year, all their lives.

Why would they leave and take off with a wagon load of goods to make a new place into home?

Several thoughts come to mind.  Politics.  Markets.  There may have been increasing prices of taxation, or the area where they lived no longer was affordable for some reason or another.  Maybe the price of a cash crop suddenly plummeted.  Was there a war?  A depression because of a war?

Drought, or floods.  The area might have had several years of poor crops, in which people might have hoped somewhere else had better land.  Did they know about rotating crops or just use up the land with what was most easily grown and sold?  Just because they were my ancestors doesn't mean they had educations as good as I did.

Disease, persecution (religious tolerance not always being practiced), and lack of opportunity could have also played a part in the decisions to "go west." Or south in the case of many of my family members.

From New England, ships went to Florida and then New Orleans and Texas.  From Virginia and North Carolina, wagons took pioneering families to Alabama, Louisiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri and Texas.

And when I say opportunities, I am reminded that when families had 12 children, many of them would grow up and marry, but all the land had already been claimed, all the businesses that could support that community had already been established, so young people obviously felt drawn to a new frontier.

Then there were the soldiers who had fought for their country, only to be paid in land in areas that had not been settled yet, so they took their families there in order to prosper.

Did my ancestors know a trade or have a skill which would have been welcome in a new community?

Today, we don't have those opportunities, so we seldom think about how the people must have thought before leaving behind all they knew.  But we do know how a mobile society means we no longer live where we grew up, by the time most of us retire.

So families are scattered to the four winds.  And with the internet, I can again feel somewhat close to my family members...indeed, become friends with people all around the globe.