pedigree collapse

When the principles of breeding and of inheritance are better understood, we shall not hear ignorant members of our legislature rejecting with scorn a plan for ascertaining by an easy method whether or not consanguineous marriages are injurious to man.
~ Charles Darwin
(The Descent of Man: And Selection in Relation to Sex)

“Seven-Year-Old Charles Darwin in 1816” by Ellen Sharples ~ Charles married his first cousin, Emma Wedgwood and they were the parents of ten children.

Two parents… four grandparents… eight great-grandparents…

If the number of ancestors is doubled in each generation as we go back in time, logic suggests there will be about a thousand ancestors per person in ten generations, and about a million of them in twenty generations. But as we go back in time fewer people were on earth than there are now.

However, one does not usually have to go too far back in his or her family history to find cousins marrying cousins of one degree or another. This actually collapses the pedigree, because when cousins have children together, some of the children’s ancestors are repeated in another line. This can make for a non-branching family tree with very tangled roots! The more cousins having children together on one’s pedigree, the more lines of ancestors will be repeated, and the actual number of one’s ancestors will eventually be fewer and fewer…

Following are the cousin marriages I have found so far on our trees. I will continue to update this page when I discover new connections.

Tim & I are 10th cousins, twice removed. Tim’s 11th-great-grandparents and my 9th-great-grandparents were [7968] Nathaniel Bacon and [7969] Hannah Mayo.

Tim’s great-grandfather, [16] George Lincoln Rodgers married his first cousin, [17] Mary Jane Rodgers, Tim’s great-grandmother. George & Mary’s fathers were brothers, and their grandparents in common were [64] Jacob Rogers and [65] Mahala Bedford.

My 2nd-great-grandfather, [56] William Martin White married his first cousin, [57] Ellen C. Hill, my 2nd-great-grandmother. William’s father and Ellen’s mother were siblings, and their grandparents in common were [224] Oliver White and [225] Lydia (—).

My 2nd-great-grandfather, [58] Reuel Gardner Atwood married his half second cousin, once removed, [59] Louisa Jane Atwood, my 2nd-great-grandmother. Reuel & Louisa’s common ancestor was [472] Lt. Nathaniel Atwood.

My 3rd-great-grandfather, [116] Reuel Atwood married his sixth cousin, [117] Abigail Savery Tillson, my 3rd-great-grandmother. Reuel & Abigail’s common 5th-great-grandparents were [7602] John Howland and [7603] Elizabeth Tilley.

My 3rd-great-grandfather, [118] Ebenezer Atwood married his second cousin, twice removed, [119] Waitstill Lucas, my 3rd-great-grandmother. Ebenezer & Waitstill’s common ancestors were [944] Dea. Nathaniel Atwood and [945] Mary (—).

My 3rd-great-grandfather, [122] Warren Freeman married his double fourth cousin, [123] Elisabeth Weekes, my 3rd-great-grandmother. Warren & Elisabeth’s common 3rd-great-grandparents were [3912] Joshua Hopkins and [3913] Mary Cole; and also [3932] Edward Small and [3933] Mary Woodman.

My 4th-great-grandfather, [232] Nathaniel Atwood married his first cousin, [233] Zilpha Shurtleff, my 4th-great-grandmother. Nathaniel & Zilpha’s mothers were sisters, and their grandparents in common were [930] Nathaniel Shaw and [931] Hannah Perkins.

Tim’s 5th-great-grandfather, [376] Asher Huntley married his first cousin, [377] Betsey Wilder Tiffany, Tim’s 5th-great-grandmother. Asher’s mother & Betsey’s father were siblings, and their grandparents in common were [1506] Consider Tiffany and [1507] Naomi Comstock.

My 5th-great-grandfather, [464] Ichabod Atwood married his first cousin, once removed, [465] Hannah Shaw, my 5th great-grandmother. Ichabod & Hannah’s common ancestors were [944] Dea. Nathaniel Atwood and [945] Mary (—).

My 5th-great-grandfather, [478] William Shurtleff married his first cousin, once removed, [479] Ruth Shaw, my 5th-great-grandmother. William & Ruth’s common ancestors were [1912] Abiel Shurtleff and [1913] Lydia Barnes.

My 5th-great-grandfather, [488] John Freeman married his second cousin, [489] Abigail Hopkins, my 5th-great-grandmother. John & Abigail’s common great-grandparents were [3906] Richard Sparrow and [3907] Mercy Cobb.

My 7th-great-grandfather, [1952] Edmund Freeman married his second cousin, [1953] Sarah Sparrow, my 7th-great-grandmother. Edmund & Sarah’s common great-grandparents were [15618] Thomas Prence and [15619] Patience Brewster.

Last Revised:  15 November 2017

Ancestor Table

Elm Grove Cemetery

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William Martin White

Located just a few miles from where we live, Elm Grove Cemetery (197 Greenmanville Ave, Mystic, Connecticut) is where at least eight of my ancestors lie buried. The most recent gravestone belongs to my 2nd-great-grandfather, William Martin White, and his second wife, Martha Bennett. I didn’t grow up in this area and it’s a bit of synchronicity that without knowing it, not long after I married, we moved to the area where so many of my ancestors lived and died.

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William Martin White, son of Austin and Lucy Ann (Thompson) White, was born 15 November 1836 in Stonington (New London) Connecticut, and died 18 November 1925 in Fairhaven (Bristol) Massachusetts. He married (as his first wife) 30 October 1860 in Methodist Episcopal Church, Mystic (New London) Connecticut, his first cousin, Ellen C. Hill, who was probably born about 1844 in Stonington, daughter of Rufus and Lydia (White) Hill. William and Ellen were divorced on 26 September 1876.

William worked both as a sailor and a farmer. For most of his life he lived at what is now 347 New London Turnpike in Old Mystic. It used to be called Old Turnpike Rd. William married his cousin, Ellen, who had also been living in the same household with her parents, his aunt and uncle, in 1860. Ellen was living with her parents by 1860, when she was about 16 years old. However, she was not living with her parents in 1850, according to the census, when she was 6 years old.

The marriage was apparently troubled. In August 1865 the following item appeared in The Stonington Chronology 1649-1949:

A scandalous month-while Wm M White of Wolf Neck, Stonington, was on a fishing voyage, his wife eloped with a gay deceiver named Pendleton who is also a deserter from the regular army. She left 2 children, one 6 mos. old, and took with her $500.

It seems that the couple reconciled for a while, and had three more sons together, but finally were divorced after almost 16 years of marriage. William had custody of the boys and the youngest, Samuel, was told that his mother had died. However, on the 1880 census, Ellen, age 38, was residing in the Poor House of Stonington, identified as a “widow,” and had with her two young illegitimate children, born after she was divorced from William. Their birth records contain statements from William denying paternity.

Sadly, I have no idea what became of my 2nd-great-grandmother Ellen.

After the divorce, William married (as his second wife) Martha Bennett, born 27 July 1849 and died 16 April 1921, daughter of Henry and Caroline (—) Bennett. William’s last residence was 67 Pleasant St. in Fairhaven (Bristol) Massachusetts, and he died there of arteriosclerosis with senility. Perhaps he was living with a son.

In the summer of 1999, my grandfather, John White, and I visited the house of his grandfather, William White, at 347 New London Turnpike in Stonington, then owned by Millicent House Goodman, who very kindly showed us around. Grandfather had only seen it one time when he was a boy. He remembered coming to Mystic by train with his father and two brothers, and then taking the trolley to Old Mystic and then walking “a great stretch” to the house. He slept in the attic with his brothers and saw a sextant there. The next day they went clam digging. They were instructed to call Martha, “Aunt Martha.”

A history of the house William & Martha lived in is recorded in the book, A History of Old Mystic:

In 1717 Samuel Turner purchased land from Ephraim Fellows. He probably had this house built around 1725 when he was courting Rebecca Davison. This house is located on Rt. 184 about ½ mile east of Rt. 201. They were married on March 4, 1727/28. They raised 5 children here and it stayed in their family until 1765. In the Historic Resources Inventory done in 1981 by Blanche Higgins Schroer, she describes the interior as ‘having a large fireplace (brick with granite sides, wooden mantle) East parlor with deep sills and delicate Federal corner cupboard.’ In 1788 it was purchased by Joshua Brown and his wife Joanna Rogers Brown. This couple raised 10 children here and it stayed in the family for 100 years. In 1802 according to an old newspaper “to settle protracted dispute over highway from the Borough to Old Mystic, the country court appointed Benjamin Coit, John Hillhouse and Joshua Huntington to determine its course (the present route) but Joshua Brown’s claim for re-assessment of his land delayed construction and there was much opposition from the people in the northern part of the township since the route by-passed the Road District which was still the center of town.” In 1818 when the Post Road was established with the toll houses, the road went right past their front door. This home has had many owners and in 1981 it was purchased by Mrs. Millicent House. Soon after the ell on the back burned along with part of the house. Mrs. House rebuilt the ell enlarging it yet maintaining its colonial character, at this time she also added height to the upstairs rooms.

Ellen & William were the parents of five sons, all born in Stonington:

1. William Henry White, born 8 February 1862, married Mary Ellen Toomey. William & Mary were the parents of four children.

cemjameswhite062. James Courtland White, born 15 May 1864, died in June 1879, about age 16. In the U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules, 1850-1885, states James’ cause of death was a gunshot wound. He lies buried near his father in Elm Grove Cemetery.

3. Walter Price White, born about 1866.

4. Rufus Burton White, born about 1870.

5. Samuel Minor White (my great-grandfather), born 7 July 1873 and died 2 July 1949 in Abington, Massachusetts. He married Emma Flora Atwood, daughter of Reuel Gardner and Louisa Jane (Atwood) Atwood. Samuel & Emma Flora were the parents of three sons.

Ellen was also the mother of two more children:

1. Lydia F. White, born about 1876.

2. John F. White, born about September 1879.

William’s parents, my 3rd-great-grandparents, Austin White (1806-1882) & Lucy Ann (Thompson) White (1808-1852) lie buried together in this plot, too.

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Austin White, son of Oliver and Lydia (—) White, was born 20 August 1806 in Stonington (New London) Connecticut, and died 29 June 1882 in Preston (New London) Connecticut. He married (as his first wife), 19 September 1830 in Groton (New London) Connecticut, Lucy Ann Thompson, who was born 20 August 1808 in North Stonington (New London) Connecticut, and died 29 December 1852 in Stonington, daughter of Elias and Elizabeth “Betsey” (Davis) Thompson.

Austin was a farmer. His marriage to Lucy Ann was performed by Ralph Hurlbutt, Justice-of-the-Peace. Austin married (as his second wife), 31 March 1854 in Stonington, Melissa S. Cole. He married (as his third wife), sometime before the 1880 census, Lydia (—).

Austin & Lucy Ann were the parents of three children:

1. Lydia A. White, born 1833, died 1843.

2. William Martin White (my 2nd-great-grandfather – see above), born 15 November 1836, died 18 November 1925.

3. Rufus C. White, born 6 June 1839, died 16 May 1864, age 24, at Drewry’s Bluff, Virginia. Rufus served as a private in the Union Army, Company E, 21st Infantry Regiment, Connecticut and was killed at the Battle of Drewry’s Bluff. In the 1860 census, Rufus was recorded as a farmer with a personal estate of $100.

Tim & I visited the battle site in May 2000, after reading about the battle, and as a stop on a trip to Florida. The following is from “Stonington’s Forgotten Heroes of 1861-65” by James Boylan:

The second large Stonington unit was Company E of the 21st Infantry Regiment, which was recruited in the summer of 1862 from eastern Connecticut. About seventy Stonington men served in Company E, under Captain Charles T. Stanton, Jr., of Stonington. Like Company G of the Eighth, this company became involved in the fogbound battle of Drewry’s Bluff, in which Stanton was severely wounded, and the siege of Petersburg, where Captain Henry R. Jennings of Stonington was wounded. Partly because its term of service was shorter, it suffered fewer casualties.

My 4th-great-grandparents, Oliver & Lydia (—) White are also buried here.

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Oliver White (c. 1764 -1822)
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Lydia (—) White (c. 1772-1833)

Oliver White, was born about 1764, and died 22 September 1822. He married, Lydia, who was born about 1772, and died 9 February 1833 in Stonington (New London) Connecticut.

It is possible that Oliver was the one born in Salisbury (Litchfield) Connecticut, 25 July 1765, and was perhaps the son of Lawrence and Elizabeth (Vallens) White, but further research is needed to establish a link, if there is one. An Oliver White served in the Revolutionary War, was listed in Zebulon Butler’s 4th Regt. Continental Lines, but there is no probate record for him in Sharon or deeds found in Salisbury.

Lydia & Oliver were the parents of five children:

1. Lydia White (my 3rd-great-grandmother – see below), born about 1798 in Stonington, died there 3 July 1877. She married Rufus Hill, son of Robinson and Lydia (Briggs) Hill, on 24 December 1826. Lydia & Rufus were the parents of at least two children.

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Abby (White) Bennett (1800-1873)

2. Abby White, born 1800, died 27 April 1873. She married Ephraim T. Bennett, who was born 1797 and died 6 March 1876, son of Elisha and Esther (Davis) Bennett. Abby & Ephraim lied buried in the White plot at Elm Grove Cemetery, along with her parents and a brother and sister.

3. Oliver White, born about 1802 in Quenebaugh (Windham) Connecticut. He married 3 January 1830, Eliza Miner, who was born 25 October 1806 in Stonington, daughter of Jesse and Sarah (Hilliard) Miner.

4. Austin White (my 3rd-great-grandfather – see above), born 20 August 1806 in Stonington, and died 29 June 1882. He married Lucy Ann Thompson, daughter of Elias and Elizabeth “Betsey” (Davis) Thompson, on 19 September 1830. Austin & Lucy were the parents of three children.

5. Samuel Minor White, born 12 May 1808, died 11 August 1894 in Sandusky (Erie) Ohio. He married 10 June 1832 in Sandusky, Damaris Pendleton, who was born 5 March 1800 near Westerly (Washington) Rhode Island, and died 6 October 1872 in Sandusky, daughter of Abel Pendleton.

Oliver & Lydia were the parents of another of my 3rd-great-grandparents, Lydia (White) Hill (1798-1877), who is buried here. I don’t know where her husband Rufus (my 3rd great-grandfather) is buried, however, though his wife and parents are all buried here.

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LYDIA,
Wife of
Rufus Hill,
Died July 3, 1877.
Aged 79 Years 2 Mo.
& 11 Ds.
———-
The memory of the just is blessed.
Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do,
do it with thy might for there is no work,
no device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom,
in the grave whither thou goest.

Rufus Hill, son of Robinson and Lydia (Briggs) Hill, was born about 1799 in Connecticut, and died 10 March 1881 in Stonington (New London) Connecticut. He married 24 December 1826 in Stonington, Lydia White, who was born abut 1798 in Stonington, and died there 3 July 1877, daughter of Oliver and Lydia (—) White.

Lydia & Rufus were the parents of two children:

1. Rufus Hill, born about 1839.

2. Ellen C. Hill (my 2nd-great-grandmother), born about 1844.

And lastly, the graves of another set of my 4th-great-grandparents, Robinson Hill & Lydia Briggs. For the longest time I felt frustrated that Lydia was identified only as a “relict” of Robinson Hill. But finally I think I can place her in the Briggs family of Block Island, off the coast of Rhode Island, and so have another place to go looking for gravestones.

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ROBINSON HILL died Feb. 14, 1817. Aged 52 years.
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LYDIA, Relict of Robinson Hill, died Sept. 20, 1848. Aged 81 years.

Robinson Hill, was born about 1765 in Block Island, New Shoreham (Washington) Rhode Island, and died 14 February 1817 in Mystic Bridge (New London) Connecticut. He married in New Shoreham, Lydia Briggs, who was born 21 February 1767 in New Shoreham, and died 20 September 1848 in Mystic Bridge, daughter of Joseph and Marjorie (Dodge) Briggs.

Lydia & Robinson were the parents of:

1. Rufus Hill (my 3rd-great-grandfather), born about 1799 and died 10 March 1881. He married Lydia White, daughter of Oliver and Lydia (—) White. Rufus & Lydia were the parents of two children.

 

Last Revised:  11 January 2019

Mount Vernon Cemetery

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Reuel & Louisa Atwood

Mount Vernon Cemetery in Abington, Massachusetts, is where my great-grandparents, Samuel Minor & Emma Flora (Atwood) White, and my 2nd-great-grandparents, Reuel Gardner & Louisa Jane (Atwood) Atwood, lie buried. I have many Atwoods on my family tree, with a lot of cousin marriages crossing the branches. Reuel & Louisa were half second cousins, once removed, both descendants of Nathaniel Atwood (1693-1767).

Reuel Gardner Atwood, firstborn son of Reuel and Abigail Savery (Tillson) Atwood, was born 5 February 1833 in Middleborough, Massachusetts, and died 19 August 1908 in Henniker, New Hampshire. He married 26 November 1860 at Middleborough, Louisa Jane Atwood, who was born 6 April 1840 in Carver, Massachusetts, and died in 1928 in Abington, Massachusetts, fifth daughter of Ebenezer and Waitstill (Lucas) Atwood.

Reuel worked as a box maker and a fisherman. After Reuel’s death Louisa was living in Henniker, New Hampshire with her son, Frederick, and his family in 1910. By 1920 she was living with her daughter, Emma Flora, and her family at 170 Linwood St. in Abington. Her grandson, John Everett White (my grandfather), fondly remembered the wonderful mittens she knitted for her three grandsons. They had a new pair every winter. Louisa died of tuberculosis at the age of 88.

Louisa & Reuel were the parents of eight children, but only three survived to adulthood and the others are buried here with their parents.

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1. Elsie Fremont Atwood, born 9 August 1862 in Middleborough, died there 25 October 1863, age 1.

2. Elbridge Lincoln Atwood, born 10 August 1865 in Abington, died 20 December 1878 in Boston, Massachusetts, age 13.

3. Frederick Reuel Atwood, born 28 December 1867 in Abington, died 4 February 1963 in Hillsborough, New Hampshire, age 96. He married Janie Mary Patterson, daughter of Thomas S. and Anna M. (Greives) Patterson. Frederick & Janie were the parents of four children.

4. Eustace Lorenzo Atwood, born 2 November 1870 in Abington, died there 22 November 1880, age 10.

5. Emma Flora Atwood (my great-grandmother), born 5 January 1873 in Abington, and died 2 February 1955 in Foxborough, Massachusetts, age 82. She married Samuel Minor White, son of William Martin and Ellen C. (Hill) White. Flora & Samuel were the parents of three sons.

6. Amy Grace Atwood, born 17 April 1875 in Abington, died there 23 August 1877, age 2.

7. Samuel Ebenezer Atwood, born 10 March 1877 in Abington, died there 5 December 1880, age 3.

8. Everett Mason Atwood, born 26 November 1880 in Abington, died there 26 October 1971, age 90. He married Alice Matula Merrill and they were the parents of five children. Everett’s nephew was my grandfather, John Everett White, who was named in his honor.

samuelwhite
Samuel White

Engraved on the back of the Atwood stone are the names of their daughter and her husband. Samuel Minor White, fifth son of William Martin and Ellen C. (Hill) White, was born 7 July 1873 in Stonington, Connecticut, very close to where I live now, and died 2 July 1949 in Abington, Massachusetts. He married 21 November 1902 at Rockland, Massachusetts, Emma Flora Atwood, who was born 5 January 1873 in Abington, and died 2 February 1955 in Foxborough, Massachusetts, second daughter of Reuel Gardner and Louisa Jane (Atwood) Atwood.

When Samuel was about 12, he ran away from home because he did not get along with his stepmother. He would not discuss with anyone his whereabouts between leaving home and marrying Flora, although his sons speculated that he probably went to sea. He had been told that his mother was dead, but I discovered that his parents were actually divorced and that his mother was living in the poor house of Stonington with two illegitimate children who were born after the divorce. Samuel was named after his grand-uncle, Samuel Minor White.

emmafloraatwood
Flora Atwood

In 1901 Flora was working as a bookkeeper. She was working in Whitman, Massachusetts, where her cousin lived when she met Samuel. Samuel & Flora were married by Fred Hovey Allen, Clergyman. Samuel was a hard-working laborer and in 1905 was working in a box mill. Flora inherited the house at 170 Linwood St. in Abington, where the couple raised their three sons. She had a baby grand piano she loved to play.

My grandfather, their son, remembered that the house had a huge elm tree with an oriole nest and a lawn swing. Flora treasured her bed of dark red peonies. The family always had one horse, one cow (sometimes up to three), sometimes pigs, chickens, ducks and rabbits. Samuel worked at a slaughtering house and at times slaughtered his own pigs. Each morning he left a list on the kitchen table of chores to be done by his sons, which weren’t always completed.

During the boys’ college vacations, a man came to cut firewood into stove lengths and all helped to stack the wood in the basement. Samuel also worked for a Mr. Dudley peddling ice. The ice was harvested from Mill Pond and the wagon served the city of Brockton. Sometimes the ice was harvested with horses. The horses pulled chisels which cut the ice, which then floated down the pond where machines pulled it up to the ice house. Sometimes a team of horses would slip into the water. Ladies would have to order the ice desired, and a meat cart came once every two weeks. My grandfather and his brothers would wait for the cart and a slice of bologna was often tossed out to them.

Flora & Samuel were known as Grammy & Grampy to their grandchildren. My mother spoke fondly of them, which is why I wanted to be called Grammy by my grandchildren. Tim didn’t want to be called Grampy, though, so he goes by Grandpa. Samuel died of colon cancer five days before his 76th birthday. Flora died of an ear infection and mastoiditis at the age of 82.

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Flora & Samuel were the parents of three sons:

1. Earl Martin “Bob” White, born 5 December 1902 in Rockland, Massachusetts, died 9 October 1965, age 62. He married Ruth Lois Tilden, daughter of Henry Edward and Ruth Ann (Crocker) Tilden, who was born 20 October 1905 in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, and died 7 July 1991 in Bourne, Massachusetts. Bob & Ruth were the parents of two daughters.

2. John Everett White (my grandfather), born 8 June 1905 in Rockland, died 4 April 2001 in Dennis Port, Massachusetts, age 95. He married Emma Freeman Thompson, daughter of Martin Freeman and Amanda Eliza (Hamblin) Thompson. John & Emma were the parents of two children.

3. Lincoln White, born 11 February 1909 in Abington, died 31 August 1993 in Monson, Massachussets, age 84. He married Marjorie Elizabeth Cary, daughter of Herbert Francis and Elizabeth (Blagborough) Cary. Lincoln & Marjorie were the parents of two sons.

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Emma Flora (Atwood) White (1873-1955)

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Samuel Minor White (1873-1949)

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This marker on Reuel’s grave probably indicates that he served in the Civil War. He was 28 years old when it began.

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This tree’s branches reach over the Atwood plot.

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View of the Atwood plot. Reuel & Louisa and their children lie buried behind the large stone, with flat stones marking the individual graves. Other Atwoods, children mostly, lie buried in front of it with various kinds of stones. I’m not sure how these Atwoods are connected to Louisa & Reuel.

Tim and I revisited this cemetery on March 5. Our first visit was so many years ago, but now that I have a better camera I want to return and photograph as many family plots as I can, retracing our steps.

Grandfather

Grandfather & Barbara ~ Dennisport, Massachusetts
photo of Grandfather & me, taken by Larisa

When we went down to visit Larisa & Dima last month, I was pleasantly surprised to find this picture of my grandfather and me pinned to their wall. Larisa must have taken it on one of our many trips to Cape Cod to see him, sometime between 1996 and 2001, I suspect closer to 1996. In either case, Grandfather was in his 90s when this was taken.

John E. White, my grandfather
John E. White

But I want to tell a story about a very special time Grandfather & I had together, after my grandmother died and he came to visit me.

Grandfather had a mystery in his family history, a well-guarded secret that I discovered while doing some research. His father, Samuel, who married and settled in Abington, Massachusetts, would not answer any questions his sons asked him about where he was born or who his parents were. But, one day, he relented a little and decided to take his sons to meet their grandfather, William White, who lived in Old Mystic, Connecticut.

sextant
sextant

Grandfather remembered coming to Mystic by train, as a small boy, with his father and his two brothers. From Mystic they took the trolley to Old Mystic and then walked “a great stretch” to his grandfather’s house. The boys slept in the attic and they saw a sextant stored there. The next day they went clam digging. Their grandfather, William, had a wife who was not their grandmother, and they were instructed to call her, “Aunt Martha.” It was the only time they ever went to visit their grandfather.

When Samuel was a child, he was told his mother had died. He did not get along with his stepmother (Martha), so he ran away as a  teenager. But doing some research I discovered the following about his mother, Ellen, in The Stonington Chronology 1649-1949, August 1865:

A scandalous month-while Wm M White of Wolf Neck, Stonington, was on a fishing voyage, his wife eloped with a gay deceiver named Pendleton who is also a deserter from the regular army. She left 2 children, one 6 mos. old, and took with her $500.

Samuel M. White, my great-grandfather
Samuel M. White

This was at the end of the Civil War. It seems William & Ellen reconciled for a while after this incident, and had three more sons, but were finally divorced on 26 September 1876, when Samuel, the youngest was three years old.

I also found Ellen four years later, on the 1880 census, age 38, living in the Poor House of Stonington, claiming to be “a widow,” and living there with her were two young illegitimate children, born after she was divorced from William. Their birth records contain statements from William denying paternity.

I often wonder what my 2nd-great-grandparents were like. I don’t feel I can judge Ellen – perhaps William was cold or abusive and she felt driven to find love and comfort elsewhere. Or perhaps she was the irresponsible one, or most likely, they were poorly matched. It’s all very sad and Grandfather was not too pleased to hear about it.

1958 ~ Barbara & Grandfather
Barbara & Grandfather

William White’s house is just a few miles from where I live now. When Grandfather was visiting me in the summer of 1999, I asked him if he would like to see the house and he was thrilled with my proposal. After we drove down the driveway I decided to knock on the door and ask if the owner would mind if we took some pictures of the house, hoping they might offer to show us the inside, too. No one answered the door but I could hear two women’s voices in a nearby swimming pool. I tentatively found my way over to the pool and did my best not to startle them with my presence.

At first they were puzzled but when I finally managed to explain why we were there they were very excited to come meet my grandfather, who was waiting patiently in the car. They graciously invited us inside and showed us around and explained what changes and additions had been made in recent years. I could tell Grandfather was taking it all in and was deeply moved.

A few days after I drove him home I received a wonderful thank you letter from him. He said his whole being was bubbling with gratitude for the gift I had given him that day. It seemed like a dream to him and he couldn’t believe he had actually been there.

I still miss my grandfather terribly – losing him was one of the hardest things I ever went through. He was the adult who understood me the most, who supported me when I was a passionate, naive and impulsive teenager, and who would listen to my spiritual longings and doubts without judgment. He was a man of quiet strength and wisdom, a gentle spirit.

Happy Birthday, Grandfather!