Salt Works

My 6th-great-grandfather seems to have been another deeply pious ancestor, and again, his wife Phebe, my 6th-great-grandmother, was not mentioned at all in the sketch I found about him. Researching my family history keeps driving this point home to me, women were certainly taken for granted in years gone by. Ammiel & Phebe lie buried in Island Pond Cemetery in Harwich.

West Yarmouth Salt Works ~ image from New England Historical Society website

Apparently Ammiel ‘made salt from sea water’ in addition to supporting his family by farming.

Salt making was an important industry due to the close connection of salt with fishing. The first salt produced on Cape Cod was made by evaporating sea water placed in large boilers over fire. This was the process during the Revolutionary War, but the quantity obtained was not very large and used a great deal of wood for the constant fires. The salt works that were built after the war consisted of large wooden “vats” for solar evaporation of sea water. Each vat could be entirely covered by a movable hipped-roof as protection from dews and rains.
~ Bourne Historical Society website

Dea. Ammiel Weekes, son of George and Deborah (Wing) Weekes, was born 10 April 1720 in Harwich (Barnstable) Massachusetts, and died 12 February 1804. He married 2 March 1743 in Harwich, Phebe Small, who was born 12 October 1717 in Harwich, and died there 21 April 1793, daughter of Jonathan and Damaris (Winslow) Small.

The following is from Genealogy of the Family of George Weekes of Dorchester, Mass. 1635-1650, by Robert D. Weeks, published in 1885:

[Ammiel] was a farmer; also made salt from sea water. He was a deacon in the church, and an eminently conscientious man: at one time he resigned the office of constable, rather than collect taxes for the support of the gospel. He was strict in his regard for the Sabbath; and in order to commence its observance betimes on Saturday evening, (as is still nominally the custom in some parts of New England,) ‘every Saturday afternoon, while the sun was yet high, he would come in from his work, wash, shave, take his frugal supper of bread and milk, and sit down to the reading of his Bible.’

It is related of [his son Ebenezer],– as showing [Ebenezer’s] mechanical genius, and as illustrating the strictness of the views then prevalent in regard to the Sabbath,– that at a house where he, then a mere boy, stopped with his father to rest, on their seven miles walk to ‘meeting,’ on the ‘North side,’ [Ebenezer] so carefully examined a wooden spoon, that he was able, with his father’s tools, to produce a facsimile on Monday; and his father [Ammiel], while expressing admiration of his work, reproved him for breaking the Sabbath by his study of the model on the Lord’s day.

Ammiel & Phebe were the parents of six children:

1. Isaac Weekes (my 5th-great-grandfather), born 11 April 1747 in Harwich, died 12 July 1792. He married in Harwich, 25 December 1773, Thankful Nickerson, who was born there 17 November 1751, and died in 1838. Isaac & Thankful were the parents of four children.

2. Phebe Weekes, born 6 June 1749 in Harwich, died 3 February 1819.

3. Deborah Weekes, born 18 December 1751 in Harwich, died 23 October 1796. She married in Harwich, 16 March 1771, Seth Nickerson, who was born there 11 January 1751, and died there 3 April 1784. Deborah & Seth were the parents of five children.

4. Ammiel Weekes, born 11 January 1754 in Harwich, died there 7 October 1787. He married in Harwich, 22 July 1775, Mehitable Nickerson, who was born there 20 September 1757, and died 10 November 1822, daughter of Joshua and Thankful (Eldridge) Nickerson (my 6th-great-grandparents). Ammiel & Mehitable were the parents of four children.

5. Capt. Ebenezer Weekes, born 11 September 1755 in Harwich, died there 8 May 1815. He married (as his first wife) in Harwich, 8 November 1777, Dorothy Smith, who was born there 8 August 1759, and died 23 December 1778, daughter of John Smith. Ebenezer & Dorothy were the parents of a son.

Ebenezer married (as his second wife and as her second husband) in Harwich, 25 May 1781, Barbara (Godfrey) Small, who was born about 1747 and died 11 May 1798, widow of Capt. Elijah Small. Ebenezer & Barbara were the parents of three daughters. Barbara is buried with her first husband, Elijah, in the Weekes lot at Island Pond Cemetery in Harwich.

Ebenezer married (as his third wife) in August 1798, Hannah Fessenden, who was born about 1762 and died in Harwich, 7 April 1803, daughter of William and Mehitable (Freeman) Fessenden. Ebenezer & Hannah were the parents of three sons.

Ebenezer married (as his fourth wife and as her second husband) 25 December 1803, Mehitable (Robbins) Tripp, who was born 27 March 1767, and died 28 January 1844, widow of Reuben Tripp, and daughter of Nathaniel and Lydia (—) Robbins. Ebenezer & Mehitable were the parents of four children.

Ebenezer is buried near his third wife, Hannah in the First Congregational Church Cemetery in Harwich.

6. Mehitable Weekes, born 9 November 1758 in Harwich. She married in Harwich, 6 February 1779, David Clark, who was born about 1758 and died in Harwich, 14 January 1838. Mehitable & David were the parents of six children.

New Lights Preacher

johnpettiearoadsidesermon800
“A Roadside Sermon” by John Pettie

An inclination to change religions or to split from a denomination because of disagreements over doctrine seems to be a common thread in the lives of many of my ancestors, and many of Tim’s ancestors as well. One example would be my 6th-great-grandfather.

Rev. Joshua Nickerson, son of Samuel and Hannah (Hall) Nickerson, was born 16 June 1719 in Harwich (Barnstable) Massachusetts, and died in August 1791 in Tamworth (Carroll) New Hampshire. He married 30 July 1745 at Harwich, Thankful Eldridge, who was born 29 March 1728 in Harwich and died October 1813 in Ossipee (Carroll) New Hampshire, daughter of William and Thankful (Crowell) Eldridge.

On 23 May 1750, Joshua, age 30 and already the father of three children, was ordained as a preacher to the “New Lights.” In the 1740s a religious movement among Protestants, the Great Awakening, spread to New England, where Congregationalists became divided between the “New Lights,” who supported the evangelical revival and the “Old Lights,” who opposed what they viewed as excessive emotionalism in the preaching. These preachers traveled from one congregation to another and criticized the local clergy. Perhaps we can imagine Joshua imitating the style of the English open air preacher, George Whitefield, who was known for gesturing dramatically, “sometimes weeping openly or thundering out threats of hellfire-and-brimstone,” and for turning a “sermon into a gripping theatrical performance.”

Joshua & Thankful were the parents of fourteen children, remarkably, all of them survived into adulthood:

1. Rebecca Nickerson, born 3 June 1746 in Harwich, died 10 November 1842 in Searsport (Waldo) Maine. She married in 1766 at Exeter (Rockingham) New Hampshire, Maj. Winthrop Smart, who was born 22 October 1742 in Epping (Rockingham) New Hampshire and died in 1814 in Prospect (Waldo) Maine, son of Joseph and Mary (—) Smart.

2. Elisabeth Nickerson, born 22 July 1747 in Harwich, died 21 August 1828. She married 31 October 1765 in Harwich, Lt. Thomas Burgess, who was born in 1748 and died 11 February 1816, son of Thomas and Mary (Covell) Burgess.

3. Reuben Nickerson, born 24 January 1749 in Harwich, died 1828 in Ohio. He married 31 December 1767 in Harwich, Anna Eldridge, who was born 3 March 1747 in Harwich and died 18 July 1860 in Swanville (Waldo) Maine, daughter of Reuben and Jerusha (O’Kelley) Eldridge.

4. Thankful Nickerson (my 5th-great-grandmother), born 17 November 1751 in Harwich, died in 1838. She married 25 December 1773 in Harwich, Isaac Weekes, who was born there 11 April 1747 and died 12 July 1792 in New Hampshire, son of Ammiel and Phebe (Small) Weekes. Thankful & Isaac were the parents of four children.

5. Jemima Nickerson, born 11 September 1753 in Harwich, died there in 1780. She married 29 January 1773 in Harwich, Jonathan Burgess, who was born 15 February 1748 in Harwich, and died there 25 October 1826, son of Thomas and Mary (Covell) Burgess.

6. Joshua Nickerson, born 15 November 1755 in Harwich, died 25 December 1842 in Washington (Allen) Indiana.

7. Mehitable Nickerson, born 20 September 1757 in Harwich, died 10 November 1822. She married 22 July 1775 in Chatham (Barnstable) Massachusetts, Ammiel Weekes, who was born 11 January 1754 in Harwich and died there 7 October 1787, son of Ammiel and Phebe (Small) Weekes.

8. Sheber Nickerson, born about 1759, died about 1873 in Maine. He married 27 February 1783 in Harwich, Esther Ellis, who was born 21 December 1763 in Harwich.

9. Miriam Nickerson, born 15 February 1764 in Harwich, died 19 August 1812 in Swanville. She married (as her first husband) 16 June 1782 in New Hampshire, Josiah Parsons, who was born 15 June 1769 in Northampton (Hampshire) Massachusetts. Miriam married (as her second husband and as his second wife) 23 February 1802 in New Hampshire, Jacob Eames, who was born 10 March 1754 in Wilmington (Middlesex) Massachusetts and died 7 November 1851 in Swanville.

10. Drusilla Nickerson, born about 1765 in Harwich, died 28 March 1857 in Albany (Carroll) New Hampshire. She married Dea. Daniel Head, who was born 11 August 1762 in Canterbury (Merrimack) New Hampshire and died 20 July 1836 in Tamworth.

11. Hannah Nickerson, born about 1765 in Harwich. She married 9 October 1788 in Tamworth, Enoch Ellis, who was born 29 April 1766 in Harwich.

12. Aaron Nickerson, born about 1766, died 27 December 1818 in Maine. He married Mehitable Nickerson, who was born about 1770.

13. Deborah Nickerson, born about 1766. She married Jeremiah Eldridge, who was born about 1760, son of Reuben and Jerusha (O’Kelley) Eldridge.

14. Jonathan Nickerson, born 31 December 1771 in Harwich, died 2 June 1858 in Tamworth. He married 10 January 1793 in Tamworth, Judith Blaisdell, who was born 15 August 1765 in Salisbury (Merrimack) New Hampshire and died 28 October 1857 in Albany.

George Weekes & Deborah Wing

10.12.15.1149
10.12.15 ~ Island Pond Cemetery, Harwich, Massachusetts

GEORGE WEEKES.
Born in Dorchester Mass.
A.D. 1683.
Came to Harwich, Married
Deborah Wing: Oct. 13, 1714.
Preached to the Indians.
Perished in a snow storm,
when an old man in the
hollow 100 rods south of
this spot. He was grand-
son of George Weekes, a Hu-
guenot, who fled to England
and came to America in
1630.

My 7th great-grandfather, George Weekes, son of Ammiel and Abigail (Trescott) Weekes, was probably born on 20 March 1689 in Dorchester-Boston (Suffolk) Massachusetts, according to town records, although his gravestone says he was born in 1683, and died in April 1772. He married on 13 October 1714, Deborah Wing, who was born 2 May 1687 in Harwich (Barnstable) Massachusetts, and died there 9 February 1726, daughter of Ananias and Hannah (Tilton) Wing.

It seems that George was a widower for 46 years. Deborah died soon after the birth and death of her seventh child. It’s fascinating that George was most noted for preaching to the Indians. And of course, for the tragic way he died. Researching my family’s history I have discovered that many of my ancestors were deeply involved in various kinds of religious fomentation. According to this gravestone George’s grandfather was a Huguenot, a French Protestant inspired by the writings of John Calvin.

The following is from Wing Family Annals, Vol. 52, No. 1, edited by Grace Wing Barnes (Clinton, Iowa, Wing Family of America, Inc., 1952) pg. 13,14

George Weekes had lived in Boston, but in 1714 removed to Harwich. He was dismissed from the Old South Church in Boston March 27, 1720, and joined the church at Harwich (north side) under the care of Rev. Nathaniel Stone. He afterwards removed to the south part of the town, where many of his descendants now live, and where he carried on a farm.

George Weekes was not “liberally” educated, but was well versed in the theological books of the day, and was familiar with the scriptures. In 1730, though not ordained by human hands, he commenced preaching to the Indians, who were located toward the south and far removed from the the meeting house, which was on the north side of the parish of 23 square miles. Mr. Weekes built a house of worship for the Indians at his own expense. Notwithstanding these facts, the pastor, Mr. Stone, objected, but does not appear to have insisted on a discontiniuance. Learning, however, that Mr. Weekes on one or more occasions preached to some of his white neighbors, who, no doubt, were glad to assemble occasionally on a week day or stormy Sunday for religious instruction and conference, being as they were so far removed from their regular place of worship, Mr. Stone vigorously protested and complained to the church in regard to the matter. His grounds of complaint were that Mr. Weekes had “no more if so much as an early common education,” that he “had thrust himself into the meeting,” that he “had preached to a people of whol I have the pastoral charge, without my leave and against my declared mind.” There does not appear to have been any charge of want of orthodoxy. Some years later, Mr. Weekes seems to have taken pity upon an unfortunate woman and taken her with her child into his house. Some took offense at this and would not come to the Lord’s table with him, in view of which state of feeling he absented himself from communion. On being called to account for his absence, he made explanations which were accepted by the church as in a measure satisfactory, but at the same time he was advised to dismiss the woman from his house and to avoid “her conversations as much as convenient.” There seems to have been no charge against him of impropriety. In the later years of his life, his mind was clouded, which led to aimless wanderings about the country. He died from exposure to the cold in the low ground south of Harwich Academy, known from the circumstance as “Weekes’ Hollow” to the present day — being more than 80 years old.

A sermon preached by Mr. Weekes in 1726, on occasion of the remarkable preservation of Ebenezer Taylor, who was buried for ten hours in a deep well, has been recently reprinted, with an essay entitled, “A Parent’s Advice to his children, in which he declaims and argues very earnestly against the great sin of wearing periwigs and of extravagance of dress.

Deborah & George were the parents of seven children, all born in Harwich:

i. Abigail Weekes, born 29 August 1715.

ii. Mehitable Weekes, born 21 April 1717, died 24 June 1750 in Harwich. She married there, 28 October 1736, Eleazer Robbins, who was born about 1715 and died 15 July 1785. Mehitable & Eleazer were the parents of five children.

iii. Deborah Weekes, born 26 July 1718, died 22 May 1761 in (Dutchess) New York. She married (as his second wife) 6 February 1739 in Harwich, William Penney, who was born 27 May 1716 in Harwich, and died 21 February 1786 in Fredericksburgh (Putnam) New York. Deborah & William were the parents of two sons.

iv. Dea. Ammiel Weekes (my 6th-great-grandfather), born 10 April 1720, died 12 February 1804. He married 12 February 1742 in Harwich, Phebe Small, who was born there 12 October 1717, and died there 21 April 1793, daughter of Jonathan and Damaris (Winslow) Small. Ammiel & Phebe were the parents of six children.

v. Hannah Weekes, born 21 September 1721. She married (as his first wife) 2 March 1742 in Harwich, Jonathan Small, who was born there 26 May 1721, and died about 1810, son of Jonathan and Damaris (Winslow) Small. Hannah & Jonathan were the parents of five children.

vi. Elizabeth Weekes, born 16 September 1724.

vii. an unnamed son, born 24 January 1726, died soon after.

George Weekes (1689-1772)
Dea. Ammiel Weekes (1720-1804)
Isaac Weekes (1747-1792)
Isaac Weekes (1780-1841)
Elisabeth Weekes (1822-1908)
Elisabeth Emma Freeman (1851-1876)
Capt. Martin Freeman Thompson (1875-1965)
Emma Freeman Thompson (my grandmother)

Last Revised: 9 March 2021