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:

Saturday, July 22, 2017

My 8th Great Grandfather: "Slayne by ye Indians"

In Abraham Perkins of Hampton, New Hampshire, I introduced you to Abraham and Mary's large family. One of his sons was Abraham, Jr., who was born in 1639 in Hampton. 

This Abraham married Elizabeth Sleeper in 1668. They had three daughters, and then the unthinkable happened: Abraham was killed by Indians. 

King Philip's War had been underway since 1675. Here is a brief explanation of what was happening: 

King Philip’s War of 1675-1676 (also known as Metacom’s Rebellion) marked the last major effort by the Indians of southern New England to drive out the English settlers. Led by Metacom, the Pokunoket chief called ‘King Philip’ by the English, the bands known today as Wampanoag Indians joined with the Nipmucks, Pocumtucks, and Narragansetts in a bloody uprising. It lasted fourteen months and destroyed twelve frontier towns. (1)

In southern New Hampshire, there had been attacks on settlers in Oyster River, Exeter, and Greenland. Then, in 1677 in Hampton (2):

Abraham: Death Record (6)

This was a tragedy for everyone involved on both sides of the conflict, leading both to greater enmity and expanded warfare. 

For Abraham's widow, Elizabeth, it had to have been a terrible loss. It must have been emotionally crushing and economically devastating as well. Elizabeth was 31, and her daughters Mercy, Mary, and Elizabeth were five, three, and one. The town was on edge, every household was to have loaded arms at the ready, men were standing guard against further attacks, there was an evacuation plan in place, and the local militia was training and marching.(2) 

Elizabeth had a farm to run and small children to raise. 

I am reminded of how carefully Abraham, Senior had provided for his wife, Mary Wise Perkins, in his will--making sure that she had a place to live, food to eat, firewood to keep her warm, and a means of income. It is doubtful if the younger Abraham, only 37, would have made a will. 

Apparently, the fathers of both Abraham, Jr. and Elizabeth stepped in to take guardianship of the little family. In this document, they set out a plan for the education and future of the children. (3) 

You will note that both Elizabeth and an Alexander Denham (or Dennum, spelling varies) make their mark on this document. After Abraham died in June, later that same year, on December 24, 1677,  Elizabeth Sleeper Perkins married Alexander Denham. At 57, he was much older than she. They had two daughters, Sarah and Abial.

Elizabeth Sleeper Perkins, now Denham, was widowed yet again and married for a third time. This time it was to Richard Smith. in 1685. Some family trees on show that Elizabeth lived until 1713, but I have yet to find any  documentation for a death date. I hope that her later years, at least, were peaceful ones. 


1. King Philip's War. The History Channel:

2. History of the Town of Hampton, New Hampshire, from its settlement in 1638 to the autumn of 1892, by Joseph Dow. Salem Press, 1893. Page 221:

3. Abraham Perkins, Jr.; Inventory of Estate, June 1677. New Hampshire Probate Files.

4. New Hampshire Marriage Records Index, 1637-1947.

5. Descendants of Isaac Perkins, Generation

6. New Hampshire, Death and Disinterment Records, 1754-1947.

How I am related to Abraham Perkins, Jr.:

Friday, July 21, 2017

Abraham Perkins' Will: "Ye Apples in ye Orchard"

Previous post: Abraham Perkins of Hampton, New Hampshire  

I find it touching that Abraham Perkins (1613-1683) thought so carefully about his wife's well-being after his death. Through his will, he provided a place for her to live, an income from "two cows & their increase," firewood after "making it fit for her use," feed for the animals, food for herself, four sheep, and a third of "ye apples in ye orchard" which would provide both sustenance and income.

He also remembered each family member in some way, including his grandchildren, in the pages (not shown here) of the will that follow the passages below.

The will was dated August 22, 1683. Abraham died August 31, 1683. His wife Mary Wise Perkins lived until 1706, hopefully in the good care of her sons.

This is the part of the will where he provides for his wife:


1. New Hampshire Wills and Probate Records, 1643-1982, All Counties, Volume 31, pages 263-265.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Abraham Perkins of Hampton, New Hampshire

I was surprised and pleased to find that my great great great grandmother, Joanna Perkins Rankins (who we previously met in From Rome to Cherokee, Part 2 when she trundled off in a covered wagon for hundreds and hundreds of miles at age 70) was descended from the one of the early settlers of Hampton, New Hampshire.

After all, my own immediate family had lived in New Hampshire for over twenty years, and I had always felt very much at home there even though I didn't know about my connection.

Layout of Founders Park in Hampton, New Hampshire
showing the placement of memorial stones.
Several of the names here (Perkins, Sleeper, Dow, Fogg, Moulton, and Sanborn, so far)
are in my family tree. From the Founders Park website 

Abraham Perkins, born in 1613 in Hilmorton, Warwickshire, England, was my 9th great-grandfather. Or perhaps he was born in 1603, or 1605, or 1608--accounts vary. His parents were Isaac Perkins and Alice [Unknown]; or they might have been John Perkins and Judith Gater. It's so hard to tell at this distance.

He came to America with his wife Mary Wise (or Wyeth) around 1639. Abraham was 26 (or not, depending on which birth date you choose), and Mary was 21. They stayed for a short while in Plymouth Colony before moving to Hampton, New Hampshire.

From The Find a Grave memorial for Abraham Perkins: Abraham Perkins was among the first settlers [in Hampton]. He is described as being superior in point of education to the most of his contemporaries, writing a beautiful hand, and was often employed as an appraiser of estates, etc.  He was town marshal in 1654, and selectman between 1650 and 1683.

In addition to his duties with the town and the development of his homestead and land, Abraham was a good family man. His children numbered thirteen, and they were named Abraham, Mary, Luke, Humphrey I (died young), James I (died young), Timothy I (died young), James II, Jonathan, David, Abigail, Timothy II, Sarah, and Humphrey II. All were born in New Hampshire. 

How do I know that he was a good family man? I believe that it shines through in his will, which I will share with you in the next post. 


1. U.S. Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications, 1889/1970.

2. U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900.

3. Millennium File,

5. U.S. and Canada Passenger and Immigration Lists, 1500s to 1900s.

6. U.S., New England Marriages Prior to 1700.

My relationship to Abraham Perkins:

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Postscript: Frank and Bert

Previous posts about this family: Addie and the Traveling Salesman, and Will De Garmo Skips Town.

The two sons of Will De Garmo and Addie Ellis appeared to have lived good lives, far from any shadow cast by their father.

Franklin Ellis (Frank) married an English girl, Mary Agnes, and they raised a large family. While they lived in Massachusetts, their sons Leroy, Earl, Harold, and Franklin were born. They moved to Connecticut and continued their family with the births of Norman, Russell, Doris, Melford, and Donald.

Franklin was first a house painter, like his grandfather Edward Ellis. By 1940, he was a painter for a hotel.

Bertie Ellis married Gertrude, and they had two daughters named Doris and Hazel. When Gertrude died, the girls were young teens. Bertie married Betty in 1927 and they all lived together in Detroit, where he was a foreman in the Lincoln Auto Factory.

Bertie died at age 44 in 1933. It appeared that he had been suffering from poor health for some time. His older brother Frank lived six months past his 100th birthday and died in 1985.

I think that Addie hadn't told them much about their time in Iowa and Nebraska before she died in 1903. They were teenagers when she died--Bert was 14 and Frank was 17. Once the family had moved to Massachusetts, the name De Garmo only appeared on Addie's death certificate and was in no other Ellis-related document that I found. It had apparently faded from the memory of the younger generation, if indeed any of them had known it at all.

When Betty gave the information for Bertie's death certificate, she was under the impression that his father's last name was Ellis, and she didn't know the first name, or that Will had been born in New York. As for Bertie's mother, Betty said simply that her maiden name and birthplace were both unknown.

But we know the real story.

Part of Bertie's death certificate


1. U.S. Federal Census: 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940.

2. U.S. Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014.

3. Ohio County Marriages, 1774-1993.

4. Michigan Death Records, 1867-1950.

5. Massachusetts Death Records, 1841-1915.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Will De Garmo Skips Town

In the previous post, we met my tragic cousin Addie and were left wondering about her husband, William De Garmo. Was he dead, since the 1900 U.S. Census showed Addie as a widow? Addie's death records indicated that she was the "divorced wife of William De Garmo." Which version was true? Why did Addie and her two boys call themselves Ellis, her maiden name, rather than De Garmo after they moved to Worcester, Massachusetts?

These newspaper articles might shed some light. The first was published in The Weekly Cherokean on Jan. 4, 1887--Addie and William (oh, let's just call him "Will" like the tongue-in-cheek news writer does) had been married for just two and a half years and had a toddler, Franklin. 

The next article is from The Cherokee Times, dated two days later, Jan. 6, 1887. "Forty-rod" is apparently whiskey, especially when cheap and strong. 

Not long after, The Weekly Cherokean on Feb. 1, 1887 gleefully reported the missing Will's whereabouts, no doubt for the benefit of his many creditors, who had been wondering. 

In one of those Time Capsule columns that newspaper editors love, The Cherokee Daily Times of Jan. 17, 1987 reports:

I was sorry to see that my great-great Uncle Edward Ellis (Addie's father) was somehow involved with the rascally Will, being an "associate of De Garmo in violation of the law forbidding saloon men from allowing boys in their places." However, I was glad that Uncle Ed paid up and didn't have to go to jail. I think his association with Will might have cured him of the saloon business, as he reported his occupation as house painter from then on.

I had wondered if Will had forgotten to take Addie and Franklin along when he left with the billiard tables in the night, but they must have accompanied him, as Addie gave birth to their second son, Bertie, in Nebraska in 1888. Two years later she had moved with her boys and her parents away from the bad memories of Iowa and Nebraska all the way to Massachusetts.

Will wasn't dead in 1903 when Addie died. He had married Alta Katherine Hart in 1895 in Lincoln, Nebraska. then moved back to Iowa (but not to Cherokee, where he was "famous") sometime between 1895 and 1900. Over the years, he reported his occupation as "commercial traveler" or "laborer on the steam railroad." He died in Dunlap, Iowa, in 1937 at the age of 64, and is buried in the Pleasant Hill Cemetery there. 

Pleasant Hill Cemetery, Dunlap, Harrison County, Iowa


1. U.S. Federal Census: 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940

2. Massachusetts Death Records, 1841-1915

3. Digital Archives of the Cherokee Public Library (for newspaper articles):

4. Iowa Marriage Records, 1880-1937

5. Merriam Webster Dictionary for definition of "forty-rod:"

6. Nebraska Marriage Records, 1855-1908

Monday, July 17, 2017

Addie and the Traveling Salesman

When you engage in family history research, people come and go quickly. You "meet" a relative in some official document, perhaps a census form. From there, you discover their parents and siblings, then go on to find them a spouse (yes, you start to feel somehow in charge of their life), discover the births of their children and grandchildren, and then, sadly, find their death date and burial information.

You find yourself rooting for them in the good times and encouraging them through the bad times. Very occasionally, you discover that you want to shout out a warning like "nooooo, don't marry him, he's trouble!" And that's what happened to me with Addie, my first cousin twice removed.

Here is the very bare outline of Addie's life, as summarized by, given all my data inputs:

When Ada M "Addie" Ellis was born in 1864 in Maine, her father, Edward, was 23, and her mother, Profenda, was 21. She married William De Garmo on June 18, 1884, in Aurelia, Iowa. They had two children during their marriage. She died on March 12, 1903, in Worcester, Massachusetts, at the age of 39, and was buried in North Smithfield, Rhode Island.
Addie and her parents joined many of their relatives around Cherokee, Iowa sometime between 1880, when they were in Rhode Island, and 1884, when Addie married William De Garmo (whose occupation was listed in the Iowa State Census as "commercial traveler") in Iowa.

From Iowa Marriage Records, 1880-1937

By 1900, Edward and Fenda Ellis, together with daughter Addie Ellis (not De Garmo) and her two boys were all back east again, this time living in Worcester, Massachusetts, where many of the Ellis family had settled.

Tragically, in 1903, at age 39, Addie died what had to have been an excruciatingly painful death due to "inanition gastritis with probable stricturing of oesophagus."

Massachusetts death records list Addie as the "divorced wife of William De Garmo," although the 1900 Federal Census had listed her as a widow. Which was true?

Oddly enough, her sons were called Franklin Winslow Ellis, age 18; and Bertie Ellis, age 15--they did not go by their father's name, De Garmo.

Whatever happened to her husband, William De Garmo? Why did they all use Addie's maiden name instead of De Garmo? Stay tuned...


1. U.S. Federal Census: 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910

2. Iowa Marriage Records 1880-1937

3. Massachusetts Death Records, 1841-1915


How Addie and I are connected: