Sunday, October 29, 2017

My Mother Knew All Along

I have uploaded the raw data from my DNA test to, which lets me find matches with others who have taken DNA tests from a variety of companies. It also gives me tools for genealogy and DNA analysis. 

To get the following numbers, I used one of those tools--an admixture (heritage or ethnicity) utility using the project Eurogenes-13. This is my approximate heritage, as my DNA test revealed. I do like that touch of Siberian!

For a good description and explanation of different Gedmatch admixture utilities, see Finally! A Gedmatch Admixture Guide on the Genealogical Musings blog. 

Eurogenes K13 Admixture Proportions

Eurogenes K13 4-Ancestors Oracle

Looking at the results, I think it's a wonder I don't have a Scottish accent. It pleased me to watch the BBC Scotland crime drama Shetland last night, as the Shetlands are the group of islands just 158 miles from the Orkneys. However, despite my DNA, I still had to turn on the captions to understand the old timers of Shetland.

The map shows how possible historical migrations might have affected the mixture: The Orkney Islands of Scotland ("Orcadian" on my list) lie between Norway and Scotland, so that could be where the Scandinavian part comes in, as ancient populations moved down into Scotland.  By the way, the modern map I've shown implies that one may drive between the islands. I am assuming the mileage-counters are depending on the local ferries.

If you need further proof of my Scottish heritage check out my outfit in the class photo below. It was designed and sewn by my teacher mom, who always remembered picture day and apparently knew all about my ancient ancestral past well before most folks knew much about DNA.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

DNA Testing: What To Do With the Results

Chromosome Painting: Silk panel studio installation by Geraldine Ondrizek 
at the University of Washington, 2012

I ordered and received my DNA test, spit into the tube, followed the directions to seal it up, mailed it back and have received the results. I was so excited to finally be able to view my DNA matches--in Safari, not in Chrome, as I discovered. For some reason using Chrome as a browser on a Mac for Ancestry DNA results results in a lot of blank screens.

Now what? At first I thought I wasn't seeing any great surprises, but that is because I didn't really understand what I was seeing. For me, DNA might just stand for Don't kNow Anything. I needed some basic genealogical genetics education.

First thing: I watched some instructional videos on YouTube. Just search there for "DNA for genealogists" and you'll find plenty to learn about. has lots of information on its own YouTube channel, with an introduction here:

Next: I joined several groups on Facebook:
Genetic Genealogy Tips and Techniques 
DNA Newbie User Group

Because I'm so new to this, I often have no idea what they are talking about, but every once in awhile there is a glimmer of understanding and a good hint that I can apply, even at this early stage.

I plan to go through the Beginner's Guide at the Family Tree DNA Learning Center; and How to Interpret Your Ancestry DNA Test Results at The Genealogy Guide.

I just saw this list of useful DNA tools this morning from Tim Janzen on Facebook. It's part of the syllabus for his upcoming 2018 RootsTech presentation on autosomal DNA tools. I am putting it here on this blog so that I can work my way through the list.

3. ADSA program by Don Worth at and other tools at DNAGEDCOM such as Gworks. 
4. Andreas West is developing a website at 
5. Louis Kessler’s program Double Match Triangulator at 
6. David Pike’s website at 
7. Genomemate Pro 
8. The DNA Genealogy Experiment at 
10. Felix Chandrakumar’s tools
11. Jeff Snavely’s AncestryDNA tool called AncestryDNA Helper. 
Chromosome mapping:
          12. Jonny Perl’s chromosome mapping tool at
13. Kitty Cooper’s chromosome mapping tool at
Visual phasing: 
14. Steven Fox’s visual phasing tool downloadable as an Excel file from…/visualphasing/345860632514023.

I only knew about GEDmatch, the first item on the list. Here is a description from Your DNA Guide:
Gedmatch can be a great place to collaborate with others who have been tested at other companies and gain access to more genetic tools to try to figure out how you are related to others. 
It is a FREE (yes, FREE!) service provided by very intelligent and motivated genetic genealogists. Anyone with genetic genealogy test results from 23andMe, (the Family Finder test), and [can compare results]. 
One last thing: You can read an interview with Tim Janzen (who wrote the above list) here:

I have so much to learn!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Remembering Claude Bartley

I never met Claude Bartley in person, only through correspondence, but his kindness and humor shone through his words. His family lived next to my grandparent's (the Crabtrees) family in Beaconsfield, New Brunswick during the 1920s and 1930s. Claude shared his memories with me three years ago for the following posts on this blog: Claude Bartley Remembers, Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Claude died in July, at the age of 91. Here is his obituary.

Claude Bartley

Claude "Papa" L. Bartley, 91
PORTLAND - Claude Luke Bartley, 91, of Portland entered into his heavenly rest on Sunday, July 30, 2017, at his home surrounded by his loving family.He was born in Easton, Maine, on Dec. 9, 1925; the son of the late Wellington and Alice Bartley and was raised in Beaconsfield, New Brunswick, Canada. 

He met his future bride, Jeanne Longstaff, before being sent overseas during World War II as a member of the Canadian Army. Upon his return, they married August 6, 1947. In 1951, they moved to Maine where he became a builder. As a well known contractor in Portland, he worked with his brother, Martin Bartley, to develop Bartley Gardens in North Deering, Portland. One client often said of Claude, "If Claude can't fix it, no one can!"

Among his many hobbies, he enjoyed most learning to fly and teaching himself to paint, sketch, and play various guitars. At the age of 80, Claude taught himself to use the computer.

Claude and Jeanne lived in Portland for many years where they raised their four children. In 1992, they began wintering in Lakeland, Fla. where they still own a home.

Papa loved life and will be remembered for his infectious smile, his good-natured ways and his wonderful sense of humor. 
Claude was preceded in death by eight siblings; and grandson, Shawn Googins. He is survived by his loving wife of 70 years, Jeanne; son C. Murray (Janet), daughter Myrna Googins (Howard), daughter Gloria Bartley; Greg (Dorcas); and sister Grace Lee of St. John, New Brunswick, Canada. Claude is also survived by seven grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren, all of whom inherited his wit and striking good looks!

Friends and relatives are invited to a time of visitation from 10-11 a.m. on Thursday, August 3, 2017, at Jones Rich & Barnes Funeral Home, 199 Woodford St. Portland, where a Celebration of Life service will follow at 11 am. Interment will be private. 

Please visit for additional information and to sign Claude's online guest book.

Donations can be made 
in Claude's memory to:
Emmanuel Assembly
1575 Washington Ave.
Portland, ME 04103

Funeral Home
Jones, Rich & Barnes Funeral Home
199 Woodford Street Portland, ME 04103 
(207) 775-3763
Published in Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram on Aug. 1, 2017

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Silas and Cora Bell

Silas Filetas Wedlock

Silas Wedlock was born in 1860 in Pennsylvania, son of James Wedlock and Anna Purse. His ancestors had come to New York from Scotland, and then to Millville, Pennsylvania. Millville was a Quaker town, but at some point before the family's arrival in Iowa, the Wedlocks became Mormons. Parts of the family were drawn to Missouri, where there was a large offshoot within the Latter Day Saints movement.(1, 2)

Silas and Cora Bell Ellis married in Pilot Township, Cherokee County, Iowa in 1879. They had three children: Leroy, born 1880; Anna, born 1885, and who died before the age of six of "quick consumption"); and Harold, born 1900.

From the memorial for little Anna:

Anna Josephine, daughter of Bro. Silas & Sr. Cora Wedlock; born at Cherokee, Iowa, August 29th, 1885; age 5 years 7 months and 17 days, of quick consumption. The remains were brought to Deloit, Iowa, and buried beside its [step]grandmother, Sr. Helen Wedlock, April 17th. Funeral services at Saints' church, sermon by Bro. W. W. Whiting, assisted by Bro. J. T. Turner. The large and sympathizing body of friends that followed the little one to its last resting place showed the respect in which Bro. and Sr. Wedlock were held, in this their former home.

"We are weeping, darling Anna,
In our cottage home today,
For oh! we are so lonely
Since the hour you went away.
And we wonder if you're singing
As you sang for us while here
In our hearts we hear your music
See your face -- forever dear."

The memorial implies that both the Wedlocks were by this time members of the Latter Day Saints. Cora Bell's mother, Eleanor, had been baptized a member of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on 22 September 1877 at Galland's Grove, in Shelby, Iowa. Perhaps all the members of the Ellis family joined at that time, but Eleanor is specifically mentioned in the records. (4)

By 1920, Cora Bell, Silas, and their 20 year old son, Harold, were all living in White Cloud, Missouri, presumably having joined other members of the Wedlock extended families. Leroy had earlier married and moved with his family to Minnesota, but now also moved to Missouri, perhaps around the same time.

Cora lived to the age of 76, dying in 1939. She and Silas had been married for sixty years. 

Silas lived on to be quite a feisty old man, if the stories are true. He met and married Hattie Burnett at the age of 79. Several years later they divorced. Silas then lived with his son, Harold, until he moved to a nursing home in Clearmont, Missouri. Apparently, he used to run off from there to visit his granddaughter in Fort Dodge, Iowa. (2)

I like to think of the span of their pioneering lives. Cora started out on a farm in Maine and traveled by covered wagon to Iowa, where her parents broke the sod and proved up on their prairie homestead. Silas was born in Pennsylvania, lived and farmed in Iowa, and moved with Cora Bell to Missouri. Silas came from a Quaker town, and later both Silas and Cora Bell and their families took part in the early days of the reform movement of the Latter Day Saints. 

Over the sixty years of their marriage, they had traveled plenty by horse and wagon, but by the time their son, LeRoy, was old enough to work, both he and Silas worked together on the railroad. They all lived through so many changes.

Silas died in 1955. From his death certificate (5):

Silas Wedlock was buried next to his Cora Bell, in Independence, Missouri. There are plenty of Wedlocks still living in Missouri today.

Sources and Notes

1. Community of Christ: Wikipedia,
2. John Wedlock Born 1812, undated narrative by K. Callaway posted on
3. Find a Grave memorial for Anna Josephine Wedlock
4. Early Members of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
5. Missouri, Death Certificates, 1910-1962.

Silas was the husband of my great-great Aunt Cora Bell. Here is how Cora Bell and I are related:

Cora Bell Ellis (1862 - 1939)
2nd great-aunt

Robert Winslow Ellis (1821 - 1876)
father of Cora Bell Ellis

Oscar J. Ellis (1852 - 1907)
son of Robert Winslow Ellis

Eva Josephine Ellis (1888 - 1943)
daughter of Oscar J. Ellis

Daniel Lawrence Harris (1907 - 1972)
son of Eva Josephine Ellis

Clair Marie Harris (me)
I am the daughter of Daniel Lawrence Harris

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Cora Bell: My Ancestral Doppelgänger

Doppelgänger: an apparition or double of a living person.

Cora Bell Ellis 
Image from

When I first "met" my great great Aunt Cora Bell Ellis, she was living on a farm in Willow Township,  Cherokee, Iowa, being counted in the 1870 U.S. Federal Census. She was there with her father Robert; mother  Eleanor; older sister Helen; older brother Henry; and her two little brothers, Elsworth and Robert. (1,2)

When I had done a lot more research, I learned that Cora had been born in Maine, and that some time after her baby brother Robert was born the Ellises moved with their extended family members to Cherokee, probably by covered wagon. The same page of the 1870 census shows that their neighbors next door were the ones who had also come with them from Maine: Two Rankins families, and a Rankins daughter, Lydia, married to Obed Wells. Everyone was related, as Cora Bell's mother Eleanor was also a Rankin, daughter of Joseph and Joanna.

Cora's mother, Eleanor Rankins Ellis, with Eleanor's three sisters: 
Cora's Aunt Lydia, Aunt Mary, and Aunt Adah.
They all had moved to Cherokee, Iowa from Maine.
Image from

The more I looked at Cora's blurry old photo, the more I recognized someone. It was me! Neither of us is a great beauty, but we share the same facial structure, the same weak eye muscles (mine corrected in early childhood by a stern ophthalmologist threatening surgery if I didn't do my eye exercises), and--now that I've been thinking about Cora so much--the same hairstyle, more or less. Cora just looks a little more stern than I do, but her life was much harder than mine, of course. 

There are more things that we have in common. Cora was born in Rome, Maine in 1862. Just 90 miles away and 82 years later, I was born in Biddeford, Maine in 1944--five years after Cora died.

When Cora was around seven years old, she was walking beside a covered wagon, heading west to Iowa. When I was a seven year-old living in San Francisco, I was playing covered wagon, my favorite "let's pretend" game. It's true!

I've thought about Cora a lot since I am reminded of her every time I look in a mirror. I wonder what she was like, and wish that I could find someone's personal memories of her. In the meantime, the documents available to a family history researcher do tell the outline of Cora's story. 

Next time: Silas enters the picture...

Sources and Notes

1. 1870 U.S. Federal Census. Census Place: Willow, Cherokee, Iowa; Roll: M593_381; Page: 478B; Image: 182; Family History Library Film: 545880

2. How I am related to Cora Bell:

Cora Bell Ellis (1862 - 1939)
2nd great-aunt

Robert Winslow Ellis (1821 - 1876)
father of Cora Bell Ellis

Oscar J. Ellis (1852 - 1907)
son of Robert Winslow Ellis

Eva Josephine Ellis (1888 - 1943)
daughter of Oscar J. Ellis

Daniel Lawrence Harris (1907 - 1972)
son of Eva Josephine Ellis

Clair Marie Harris
I am the daughter of Daniel Lawrence Harris

Monday, August 7, 2017

Last Will and Testament of Sarah Ensing of Hartford

We know her as Sarah Elson (or Nelson) Ensign, wife of James, and I'm proud to call her my 8th great grandmother. 

Sarah was born in England in 1612, and made the journey by sea to Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1634. By 1639 the family was living in Hartford, where they were among the founders of the town. 

Hartford historical marker (Google Images)

Founders Monument, Hartford, Connecticut
(Google Images)

Monument detail, showing James Ensign's name
Image from

Sarah and James had five children:
Sarah 1630-1659
Mary 1639-1723
Hannah 1644-1711
David  1644-1727 (my ancestor)
Lydia 1649-1649

We find our way into the lives of our ancestors through documents and records. I have always thought that the inventories of household goods tell us the most about everyday life long ago.

In Sarah's words (1):

Sources and Notes

1. Record of the descendants of James Ensign and his wife Sarah Nelson, 1634-1939-1960 [database on-line]. Provo, UT: Operations Inc, 2005.
Original data: Nelson, Martha Eunice Ensign.. Record of the descendants of James Ensign and his wife Sarah Nelson, 1634-1939-1960. United States: M.E.E. Nelson, 1960.

How I am related to Sarah Elson:

Sarah Elson (1612 - 1676)
8th great-grandmother (or my great great great great great great great great grandmother)

David Ensign Sr. (1644 - 1727)
son of Sarah Elson

David Ensign (1688 - 1759)
son of David Ensign Sr.

Abigail Ensign (1710 - 1796)
daughter of David Ensign

Eunice Gillett (1741 - )
daughter of Abigail Ensign

Merab Ives (1776 - 1843)
daughter of Eunice Gillett

John Shepherd Kinney (1802 - 1872)
son of Merab Ives

Sarah Ann "Anna" Kinney (1842 - 1935)
daughter of John Shepherd Kinney

David Jewett Crabtree Sr. (1875 - 1954)
son of Sarah Ann "Anna" Kinney; my grandfather

Elva Myrtle Crabtree (1914 - 1998)
daughter of David Jewett Crabtree Sr.

Clair Marie Harris
I am the daughter of Elva Myrtle Crabtree

Thursday, August 3, 2017

An Ancestral Connection Between My Mother's Family and My Father's Family

This is what I used to think a family tree would look like, and it does in some cases. But research into my family history certainly makes it clear that our family isn't this simple. 

This is still a great chart to share with your child. If I had had something like this when I started looking into my own family, I might have saved some time. Years of research, maybe. Even now, I still don't have some of these basic blanks filled in for my father's father's part of the family.

In the last post, The Tale of Sarah Dawes, we met Sarah, her lover Daniel Mechrist, and their son Benoni Macrease, my 8th great grandfather on my father's side of the family.

As we saw, Sarah ended up married to John Cragin; he raised her children as his own and they had 8 more children together (and in wedlock).

And then: I saw a mention somewhere that a Sarah Cragin married a Francis Nurse. 

Now, my first reaction was that wasn't possible or accurate. Francis Nurse, over in my mother's family tree, was married to Rebecca Towne Nurse, who we met two posts ago in The Persecution of the Towne Family. Francis and Rebecca had a long marriage that ended only when Rebecca was accused of being a witch and executed. Francis was an elderly man of 74 at that time.

Ah, I wasn't thinking of the seemingly limited number of Biblical names, or the naming traditions in early New England. Every generation had a Sarah or two, and fathers like Francis Nurse named their sons after themselves, and their sons did the same. So there were a lot of Francis Nurses and a lot of Sarahs.

After a morning of poking around with documents and records, and with the two family trees open simultaneously on my laptop, here is what I found.

1. Francis Nurse I (1618-1695) and Rebecca Towne Nurse (1621-1692) had a son named Francis Nurse II (1660-1716).

2. John Cragin (About 1634-1708) and Sarah Dawes Cragin (1639-1725) had a daughter named Sarah Cragin (1664-1707).

3. The younger Francis, an ancestor from my mother's side of the family, and the younger Sarah, an ancestor from my father's side of the family, were married in 1685.

4. Francis II and his Sarah had 10 children. I'll bet they had another Sarah or a Francis among them.

5. If you are worried about genetic issues due to this connection of my parents' ancestors, don't be. It was all hundreds of years ago and anyway, John Cragin and Francis Nurse were both in-laws of my relatives, so I am not directly connected to either one by blood. I admire them greatly, though.

5. Don't you think it's funny that I randomly posted about these two families within two days before I realized how they were connected and how they complicated my family's trees?

Sources and Notes

I didn't mean to imply that it isn't a useful chart. It's perfect for a beginning record. 

2. Further sources: See notes for the two posts mentioned above. 

3. Many thanks to for making so many documents and records available online. 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Tale of Sarah Dawes

Oliver Cromwell,
the villain of this tale (10)

Sarah's story took place centuries ago, and not everyone agrees on all the details. This is my version.

In 1650 the Scots sided with the monarchy in the English Civil War, and fought against the Puritans...  Thousands [of Scots] were captured as prisoners of war, and forced to march to London.  Oliver Cromwell sent these undesirables to the New World to be sold into forced servitude.  They died at a rate of about 30 a day until the ships left London, when the first ship “Unity” left with 150 prisoners.  The second ship was the “John and Sara” and it carried 272 men to Boston. (1)

One of the men on board the "John and Sara" was John Cragin (also spelled Craigon, Craggen, etc.). The story goes that although only men's names were on the passenger list, there were women on board as well. When smallpox broke out on the ship, John Cragin was taken ill--so ill that he was about to be thrown overboard with the dead when a young Englishwoman, Sarah Dawes, begged to save him, promising to nurse him back to health.

Some say that Sarah was not on the ship and this part of the story is pure romantic fabrication. At this distance, who really knows?

When the ship arrived in Boston, John and Sarah were sent on their separate ways: John to be an indentured servant for the usual period of six to eight years, and Sarah to be a servant in the household of John Wyman of Woburn, Massachusetts. (2)

Also working in the Wyman household was another servant, Daniel Mechrist. He and Sarah became close, had a child together, and Sarah was sentenced in 1657 to be whipped (12 stripes) for the sin of fornication. Someone paid her fine and she was let off. Then she became pregnant again, and both she and Daniel were sentenced to be whipped in public--this time twenty stripes apiece. (6)

They had told the court that they were, indeed, guilty, but couldn't marry because Daniel had a wife and children back in Scotland. I wonder if he had been transported against his will, just like John Cragin.

Then the story takes another romantic turn. John Cragin, having worked off his indenture, stepped in and married Sarah, saving her from further judgement. (7)

The names that Sarah's first two children went by were Benoni Macrease (1657-1690) and Mary Mechrist or Micrist (1659- ).

One of the descendants of her eight children with John Cragin was a patriot in Temple, New Hampshire, having signed the Association Test of 1776. (8)

Of interest to my own immediate family is the fact that another descendant of Sarah and John, Daniel Cragin, began Frye's Measure Mill in 1858 in Wilton, New Hampshire. It was one of our favorite places to visit when we lived in the area, although we didn't know about the connection to our family at the time. (11)

Let's go back to Sarah's first child, Benoni. The old Biblical name means "son of my sorrow," or "son of my pain" (9). Given the circumstances of his birth and the inability of his parents to marry, his mother chose his name well.

However, Benoni went on to marry well (I may be prejudiced here). He and his wife Lydia Fifield were my 8th great grandparents. Benoni and Lydia's daughter married into the Perkins family of Hampton, New Hampshire, good folks we've met elsewhere on this blog in:
Abraham Perkins of Hampton, New Hampshire,(3) 
Abraham Perkins' Will (4), and
My 8th Great Grandfather, "Slain By ye Indians." (5)

Sources and Notes

1. Passengers of the Ship “John and Sara”: Scots Prisoners of War, 1651:

2. John Cragin, Scots Prisoner of War 1651 in Woburn, Massachusetts. Nutfield Genealogy:

7. Massachusetts, Compiled Marriages, 1633-1850.

8. New Hampshire Revolutionary War Association Test, Town of Temple

10. Painting of Oliver Cromwell by Peter Lely, circa 1660. National Museum of Wales.

11. Frye's Measure Mill, Wilton, New Hampshire:

How I am related to my Grandfather Benoni:

Benoni Macrease (1657 - 1690)
8th great-grandfather

Lydia Macrease (1688 - )
daughter of Benoni Macrease

Joseph Perkins (1712 - 1761)
son of Lydia Macrease

Benjamin Perkins (1746 - 1834)
son of Joseph Perkins

Joseph Perkins (1776 - 1853)
son of Benjamin Perkins

Joanna Perkins (1799 - 1880)
daughter of Joseph Perkins

Eleanor Ruth Rankins (1822 - 1914)
daughter of Joanna Perkins

Oscar J. Ellis (1852 - 1907)
son of Eleanor Ruth Rankins

Eva Josephine Ellis (1888 - 1943)
daughter of Oscar J. Ellis

Daniel Lawrence Harris (1907 - 1972)
son of Eva Josephine Ellis

Clair Marie Harris
I am the daughter of Daniel Lawrence Harris

Monday, July 31, 2017

Persecution of the Towne Family

Let's set the stage with a little foreshadowing:
"In 1670, [Joanna Blessing Towne], who was by then a defenseless widow, was suddenly accused of witchcraft, although she was never tried for the crime..." (1)

Statue in Salem, Massachusetts of The Towne Sisters 
(from Google Images)

Sarah Towne (1639-1703), daughter of Joanna Blessing and William Towne, married Edmund Bridges in 1659 when she was 19. I like to think that they had a nice marriage--they had nine children and all was well until Edmund died in 1682, when Sarah was 42.

The next year, Sarah married my 9th great grandfather, Peter Clayes (or Clay, or Cloyes). (2) They also had a pleasant life, I'm sure. They had three more children, even though Sarah was well into her 40s!

However, in the crazed year of 1692 when Sarah was 53, she was accused of witchcraft and imprisoned. She was not executed--she was either released or escaped from jail. Peter, Sarah, and some members of their immediate and extended families and others who had been persecuted in Salem "moved west" to Framingham, where some of my modern-day relatives live (although the modern relatives are from my father's side of the family).

Peter and Sarah changed their last name from Cloyes (or Cloys) to Clayes in Framingham. There are five houses built by the Salem refugees still standing in Framingham today. (3)

Peter and Sarah Clayes house, Framingham, Massachusetts (6)
Efforts by the Sarah Clayes Museum Project are now underway to save the house.(7, 8)

Sarah's two sisters were also accused: Mary Towne Easty (or Estey), and Rebecca Towne Nurse (or Nourse).  Unlike Sarah, they were executed. Their stories are harrowing, but so well documented that I am going to leave it to others to tell the details. I hope that you will take the time to read about them, if only to honor their innocence.

Mary Easty; The Witch's Daughter (1)

The Trial of Rebecca Nurse (4)


Sources and Notes

1. History of Massachusetts Blog: Mary Easty, the Witch's Daughter.

2. Peter Clayes (1640 - 1708) is my 9th great-grandfather (or my great great great great great great great great great grandfather).

I am descended from Peter Clayes and his first wife, Hannah Littlefield (who died in 1680) through their daughter Sarah Clayes Cunnabell.

Peter's 2nd wife, Sarah Towne Clayes (the one accused of witchcraft), is related to me through marriage but not related by blood. (Don't worry if you're not following--I can only make these statements with the aid of a computer, family tree software, lots of scratch paper, and a genealogical dictionary).

This is how I am related to Grandpa Peter:

Sarah Clayes (1666 - 1700)
daughter of Peter Clayes

Samuel Cunnabell (1689 - 1746)
son of Sarah Clayes

Preserved (Persund) Cunnabell (1727 - 1793)
son of Samuel Cunnabell

Esther "Hester" Campbell (1751 - 1819)
daughter of Preserved (Persund) Cunnabell

Edward Campbell (1795 - 1851)
son of Esther "Hester" Campbell

Tamberlane Campbell (1813 - 1892)
son of Edward Campbell

Elizabeth Campbell (1837 - )
daughter of Tamberlane Campbell

William Giberson (1856 - )
son of Elizabeth Campbell

Edith Rae Giberson (1880 - 1946)
daughter of William Giberson

Elva Myrtle Crabtree (1914 - 1998)
daughter of Edith Rae Giberson

Clair Marie Harris
I am the daughter of Elva Myrtle Crabtree

4. History of Massachusetts Blog: The Trial of Rebecca Nurse

5. The Lord Knows I Haven't Hurt Them, illustration by Howard Pyle, for Dulcibel : A tale of old Salem, by Henry Peterson, Philadelphia : John C. Winston, 1907.

6. Clayes House photo from

8. The Sarah and Peter Clayes House: . July 11, 2017 update: Framingham Historic District Commission Approves Plan:

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Sarah Hood Bassett: Accused of Being a Witch

Accused of Witchcraft (3)

My 7th great aunt (4, 6), Sarah Hood, was accused of being a witch and jailed for months. There are several versions of her story. Here are two.


From the Salem Witch Museum:

"Sarah Hood Bassett was born in August of 1657 in Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts to Richard Hood and Mary Newhall. In her eighteenth year, on October 25, 1675 she married William Bassett, Jr., who was the brother of Elizabeth Bassett Proctor, wife of John Proctor.

Both John and Elizabeth Proctor were accused and tried for witchcraft; John was hanged on August 19th, 1692, whereas Elizabeth escaped persecution due to her pregnancy. Their daughter, Sarah Proctor, was also accused of witchcraft at age 16 on the same day as her aunt Sarah Bassett.

[A hired girl] claimed Elizabeth Proctor administered an ointment to her which she received from “Mrs. Bassits of Linn.” Only two days after the Putnam’s complaint against Sarah Bassett she was brought to jail in Boston on May 23, 1692, where she remained until her release on December 3, 1692.

Not long after the ordeal was over, Sarah gave birth to a daughter whom she named Deliverance as an ode to her freedom.  Sarah Bassett died at age 64 in 1721." (2)

The idea of a pregnant mother being jailed for months along with her toddler is chilling. And poor Elizabeth and John Proctor--he was hung and she was left a pregnant widow with her reputation in ruins. 

Witchcraft was thought to run in families, so there are many connections among those accused. Sarah Hood Bassett's sister, Mary Hood Deriche (or Derich, or Rich) was also accused and jailed. (5) 

Mary was also my 7th great aunt.

Next: More relatives accused, and more family connections

Sources and Notes

1. John Hood of Lynn, Massachusetts and Some of His Descendants, by Mary Jane Hood Bosson. Salem, Massachusetts, Essex Institute, 1909.

2. Sarah Hood Bassett (1657-1721), by Peter Murphy. Salem Witch Museum:

3. Accused of Witchcraft, By Douglas Volk. Corcoran Gallery, Washington, DC, Public Domain,

4. 7th great aunt: Short for great great great great great great great aunt.

5. An American Family History: Joanna Dwinnell Hood, by Roberta Tuller. 2017. 

6. How I am related to Sara Hood (1657 - 1721)

7th great-aunt

Richard Hood (1625 - 1695)
father of Sara Hood

Nathaniel Hood (1669 - 1748)
son of Richard Hood

Nathaniel Hood Jr. (1713 - 1755)
son of Nathaniel Hood

Susannah Hood (1745 - 1812)
daughter of Nathaniel Hood Jr.

Stephen Kinney (1771 - 1837)
son of Susannah Hood

John Shepherd Kinney (1802 - 1872)
son of Stephen Kinney

Sarah Ann "Anna" Kinney (1842 - 1935)
daughter of John Shepherd Kinney

David Jewett Crabtree Sr. (1875 - 1954)
son of Sarah Ann "Anna" Kinney

Elva Myrtle Crabtree (1914 - 1998)
daughter of David Jewett Crabtree Sr.

Clair Marie Harris
I am the daughter of Elva Myrtle Crabtree

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Relative Math: How Many Descendants?

Arresting a Witch
Illustration by Howard Pyle (7) 
...there is an ancient Bedouin Arab saying, “I against my brother, my brothers and me against my cousins, then my cousins and I against strangers," which nicely illustrates the philosophy of caring most for those who are genetically closest to us. (6)

When I first found that some of my ancestors had been accused of being witches, I was surprised at how hard it hit me. It's one thing to read historical accounts of the witch craze that hit New England in 1692, but it's a deeply emotional experience to realize that those were my relatives in the history books.

Of course, that's one of the big lessons learned from family history research--the history books are filled with our own relatives. After a couple of days of thinking about these Massachusetts ancestors, I began to wonder just how many other people might be descended from accused "witches." Is my family unusual, or are there a lot of us?

That brought me to something else (somewhat related) that I've always wondered: Just how many pilgrims were on board the Mayflower if so many people claim to be descendants? Was the little ship bigger than we thought? Let's take a little detour and look at the Mayflower issue first.

Here is what I found: "Of the 102 passengers of the Mayflower, 24 males produced children to carry on their surnames. And although approximately half of the Mayflower passengers died at the plantation during the harsh winter of 1620-21 (one passenger had died at sea while another was born before landing), today a staggering 35 million people claim an ancestral lineage that runs all the way back - sometimes through fifteen generations - to the original 24 males. That number represents 12 percent of the American population." (1)

If you'd like to figure out if you are one of the 35 million Mayflower descendants, you might start here. (2)

Now, back to the witches. Of the three accused witches I have found so far in my mother's family tree, two are 7th great aunts (that's just a short way to say my great, great, great, great, great, great, great aunts), and one is related by marriage, being the second wife of my 9th great grandfather. Since I believe that figuring out how many 7th great aunts I might have would be impossible because each family has a different number of children, it might be easier to take a look at that 9th great grandfather to get an idea how many others share a relationship with him.

According to a chart I found, I should have a total of 2,048 9th great grandparents, and so do you. Sounds like a lot, right? Considering we each have four grandparents, 8 great grandparents, 16 great great grandparents, you can count up by generation and see just how it happens. (3)

I'm pretty sure that means that my 9th great grandfather and his wife are related to a whole lot of other people and their families.

Looking at another chart that shows potential descendants (allowing all hypothetical families just three children), if I'm interpreting correctly my 9th great grandfather would have something like 236,196 living descendants. So I'm guessing that, just like in the Mayflower example above, it's not that unusual for modern-day Americans to find that they are descended from either accusers or accused at the witch trials. (4)

If you'd like to find out if you are related to any of the "witches," this site gives a list of those arrested for witchcraft, those found guilty and executed, the one who refused to enter a plea and was tortured to death, those who were pardoned, those who escaped from prison, and a great deal more. (5)

If you'd like to dig a little deeper into family tree math and even find out about "relatedness coefficients" you're going to love this article by Jeffrey Rosenthal. The Bedouin quote at the beginning of this post came from that article. I think it perfectly explains why I cried and had nightmares when I found out about my relatives being accused of witchcraft. (6)

Next: Two Sarahs and Mary, Accused as Witches


1. How Many People Are Descended From the Mayflower Passengers? History News Network, 

2. Are You One of 35 Million Mayflower Descendants? Here's How to Find Out. Family History Daily,

3. Number of Persons in Your Ancestry. The Genealogy, History, and Culture.

4. How Big is Your Family Tree? Mon Valley History, by Mike Donaldson. Hosted by Rootsweb.

5. The Salem Witch Trials Victims: Who Were They? By Rebecca Beatrice Brooks, History of Massachusetts Blog.

6. The Mathematics of Your Next Family Reunion, by Jeffrey Rosenthal. +Plus Magazine; Living Mathematics.

7. Arresting a Witch, illustration by Howard Pyle to accompany "The Second Generation of Englishmen in America," by T. W. Higginson, Harper's New Monthly Magazine, Vol. 67, (June - November), 1883: 221. From Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Joanna Sleeper and Goody Cole

A belated memorial
From The Witch of Hampton (4)

Eunice (or Unise) Cole lived in Hampton, New Hampshire from before 1640 until her death in 1680. She was charged with being a witch on and off throughout her life. "Goody" Cole, as she was known, was accused, possibly indicted, whipped, imprisoned, and generally made miserable by her neighbors.

From The Witch of Hampton: "During the quarter century from her first witchcraft trial in 1656 until her death in 1680, Unise spent more than half the time in prison. In all, she was whipped at least two, perhaps three, times, was hauled before the court on at least eight occasions, fined twice, admonished once, twice put under a bond, set in the stocks, searched for witch-marks, watched for diabolical imps, and, near the end of her life, was locked in leg irons and imprisoned one final time." (4)

From Wikipedia "Goody Cole was almost certainly unpleasant in the extreme - Hampton historian Joseph Dow referred to her as "ill-natured and ugly, artful and aggravating, malicious and revengeful" - but certainly not a witch. Such behaviour is unsurprising given the accusations leveled against her and her treatment by those in her community." (2)

When she died, she was buried in an unmarked grave. Local legends abound regarding her life and her death, but in 1937 the townspeople formed a Goody Cole Society, more formally known as  "The Society in Hampton Beach for the Apprehension of Those Falsely Accusing Eunice (Goody) Cole of Having Familiarity With the Devil." Their intent, although much belated, was to clear her name. (2)

I am sorry to tell you that my 9th great grandmother, Joanna Lee Sleeper, was one of the townsfolk who gave sworn testimony about Goody Cole. 

Joanna Sleeper on a cat that afflicted Goodman Wedgewood
Joanna Sleeper aged 33 years or thereabouts testifieth that last winter was a twelve month this deponent went into Goodman Wedgewood's to see him he being sick when I came in he was very cheer[i]ly over what he had been, and when I arose up to go away yet standing by his bedside I saw a cat come down from the plancher [Planking or platform.](of a gray color) over his bed to my best thinking and she came upon his breast: and he cried out Lord have mercy upon me the cat hath killed me, and broken my heart, and his wife asked me if that were the cat (which she showed me), and I thought the cat which I saw as aforesaid was bigger than the cat she showed me although she was like that cat for color, and it was the same evening the which Goodwife Cole was there about noon before, and farther saith not.
Sworn in court September 4, 1656 Edward Rawson Secretary.
Source: Suffolk County Court Files, 2:256a (MA) (1)

For other testimony against Goody Cole, see Vehement Suspicion (3).

This is a sad chapter in my ancestors' history. It was bad enough that Joanna was giving testimony as a witness in a witch's trial. For others in our family, the witch trials were a great deal more personal and tragic. Next time...


1. Witch-Hunting in Seventeenth Century New England; A Documentary History, 1638-1693, edited by David D. Hall. Duke University Press, 2005. 
2. Wikipedia: Eunice Cole.
3. Vehement Suspicion: Eunice Cole of Hampton (1656-1680).
4. The Witch of Hampton, the Woman and Her Legend, by Cheryl Lassiter. 2015.
5. Joanna Lee Sleeper 1623-1703) was the wife of Thomas Sleeper and the mother of Elizabeth Sleeper Perkins who I wrote about in My 8th Great Grandfather: Slayne by ye Indians.

Here is how we are related: