Dennis’ 400 sea captains earned their living upon the waves of the world. Their journeys took them to faraway lands inhabited by exotic peoples. Years, sometimes a good part of a decade would go by before they returned home to see family and friends. Yet this is the life they chose. Perhaps the spray and smell and salt of the ocean was in their blood, calling them from the rooted land to journey upon the rising and falling waves of the sea. ~ Jack Sheedy (Dennis Journal)
My grandmother loved telling me stories about her own grandfather and often reminded me that the sea was in my blood. I’m pretty sure it was this sea captain who took his second wife with him on a few of his voyages and bought her a “monkey” in some foreign land. Apparently the creature was a “holy terror” on the ship but she adored him.
My 2nd-great-grandfather, Capt. Martin Edward Thompson, son of Martin and Ann Isabella (Hughs) Thompson, was born 4 August 1850 in Dennis (Barnstable) Massachusetts, and died there 8 April 1928. He married (as his first wife) 5 July 1874 in Harwich (Barnstable) Massachusetts, Elisabeth Emma “Lizzie” Freeman, who was born 4 September 1851 in Harwich, and died there 4 October 1876, daughter of Warren and Elisabeth (Weekes) Freeman.
Martin was named after his father, a Norwegian immigrant, and followed in his footsteps, becoming a Master Mariner and captain of the schooner Nellie Lamphear. He also served on coasting vessels, tug boats, and was licensed to enter any port in the world. In 1910 he was elected port warden of Boston by the Boston Marine Society, the oldest association of sea captains in the world.
Elisabeth was a homemaker and died of a “stoppage” when she was only 25 years old. Her baby son Martin Freeman was only 18 months old. She lies buried in the older Thompson plot with her in-laws in Swan Lake Cemetery in Dennis Port. Her gravestone is inscribed:
Fled O forever from our view A dear daughter, wife and mother, too: She was a treasure lent, not given: To be called away from Earth to Heaven. Life to her looked bright and joyous And her home was very dear: To the summons of her Savior, She gently yielded without fear.
The 1880 census indicates that, now a widower, Martin was living with his parents and his young son. Five years after Lizzie’s death, Martin married (as his second wife) her younger sister, Rosilla Ida “Rosie” Freeman, 23 February 1882 in Dennis. Rosie was born 6 March 1856 in Harwich, and died 18 March 1923, daughter of Warren and Elisabeth (Weekes) Freeman. Martin & Rosie had no children. In 1900, Martin and Rosilla were living as lodgers in the house of Nancy H. Merrill in Lynn, Massachusetts.
Martin owned a beloved horse named Nellie (named after his schooner or vice versa?) who lived in the barn at 114 Depot St. in Dennis. He gave his granddaughter, my grandmother, her first three cars. According to my grandfather, Martin and his granddaughter Thommie worshiped each other. The first car was a Model T that had to have the carbon scraped every week. The next was a 2-door sedan Model T. Martin lies buried with his second wife, Rosilla, in the newer Thompson plot in Swan Lake Cemetery in Dennis Port.
Elisabeth & Martin Edward were the parents of one son:
i. Capt. Martin Freeman Thompson (my great-grandfather), born 29 March 1875 in Harwich, died 13 July 1965 in Dennis. He married 1 February 1900 in Dennis, Amanda Eliza Hamblin, who was born there 2 August 1879 and died 6 July 1966 in Taunton (Bristol) Massachusetts, daughter of Capt. William Nelson and Anna Eliza (Baker) Hamblin. Martin & Amanda were the parents of one daughter.
In 1964 my grandparents inherited and moved into Martin’s house at 114 Depot Street in Dennis Port, along with my great-grandparents, who they were caring for. Some of our happiest family memories were made there. My dear cousin Matthew bought the house in 2001 after our grandfather died. He renovated the place, keeping its historical integrity and was awarded a certificate of appreciation from the Dennis Historical Commission in 2005. Sadly, the house had to be sold in 2009.
My great-grandfather, Capt. Martin Freeman Thompson, son and only child of Martin Edward and Elizabeth Emma (Freeman) Thompson, was born 29 March 1875 in Harwich (Barnstable) Massachusetts, and died 13 July 1965 in Dennis (Barnstable) Massachusetts. He married in 1894, his fifth cousin, once removed, Amanda Eliza Hamblin, who was born 2 August 1879 in Dennis, and died 6 July 1966 in Taunton (Bristol) Massachusetts, the daughter of William Nelson and Anna Eliza (Baker) Hamblin.
Martin was for a time the captain of the King Philip, a fishing boat out of Boston. He was a pilot and a sea-captain. In 1906 the couple resided at 69A Whiting Street, in Lynn, Massachusetts and later lived at 13 Wilson Drive in Abington. Probably sometime after his father’s death in 1928 they moved to the family home at 114 Depot Street, in Dennis Port, and were certainly there before 1957. For a time Martin & Amanda resided at 10 School Street in Woods Hole with their daughter and son-in-law, who were caring for his aunt and uncle, Edward and Susan Flora (Freeman) Swift.
Amanda had a very close relationship with Martin’s cousin, Annie (Thompson) Kelley. She cherished unrealized dreams of becoming an actress, but was well-known for the beautiful doilies she crocheted. Many of the doilies were given to her great-granddaughter, my sister Beverly, who seems to have inherited the crocheting genes. Beverly reproduced some of Amanda’s designs and has mounted some of the originals for safekeeping.
Amanda suffered from dementia in her final years, and for the year after her husband died, could only accept that he was at sea, and would only be made to rest easier when she was told that he was coming home soon. Amanda was called “Mum” and Martin was called “Pop” by their daughter and grandchildren. Both Mum & Pop died of pneumonia, a year apart, and lie buried together in Swan Lake Cemetery in Dennis Port. Martin’s Namesakes: his father Capt. Martin Edward Thompson and his mother Elisabeth Emma Freeman. Amanda’s Namesakes: both of her grandmothers, Amanda Bearse and Eliza R. Eldridge.
Amanda & Martin were the parents of one daughter:
1. Emma Freeman Thompson (my grandmother), born 8 June 1906 in Lynn (Essex) Massachusetts, died 3 September 1996 in Dennis (Barnstable) Massachusetts. She married 30 November 1929 in Harwich, John Everett White, who was born 8 June 1905 in Rockland (Plymouth) Massachusetts, and died 4 April 2001 in Dennis, son of Samuel Minor and Emma Flora (Atwood) White. Emma & John were the parents of two children.
My 2nd-great-grandfather, Capt. William Nelson Hamblin, son of William and Amanda (Bearse) Hamblin, was born about 1844 in West Dennis (Barnstable) Massachusetts, and died there 19 May 1883. He married 16 January 1868 in Dennis, Annie Eliza Baker, who was born 2 October 1845 in Dennis, and died 2 December 1927, daughter of Benjamin and Eliza R. (Eldridge) Baker.
William was a sea captain and Annie was a homemaker. On the 1880 census we find the young family living in Dennis, William & Annie with children Benny, age 6, and Amanda, 9 months old.
William died of heart disease when he was only 39 years old, six weeks before the birth of his last son, who was named after him. Annie was a widow for 44 years. In the 1900 census we find her living with her mother Eliza and her son William in Dennis in Eliza’s house. In the 1910 census Annie is head of the household in Dennis, living with her son William, her daughter Amanda, and her granddaughter Emma, age 3, Amanda’s daughter. (Amanda’s husband was a sea captain and presumably out at sea.) By the time of the 1920 census Annie was living with her son William, daughter-in-law Sadie, and grandson Gordon on Main St. in Yarmouth.
William & Annie lie buried next to each other in West Dennis Cemetery, not far from their home on Fisk Street.
~ HUSBAND ~ WILLIAM N. HAMBLIN Died May 19, 1883 Aged 39 Years. We hope to meet thee in Heaven.
~ WIFE ~ ANNIE E. HAMBLIN Died Dec. 2. 1927. Aged 82 Years Gone but not forgotten.
Annie & William were the parents of four children:
i. an unnamed son, born 23 June 1869 in West Dennis and died there 4 July 1869.
ii. Benjamin Francis “Benny” Hamblin, born 23 November 1873 in West Dennis, died 26 October 1955. He married 30 November 1899 in West Bridgewater (Plymouth) Massachusetts, Lillian Wright Pratt, who was born 16 September 1872 and died 20 May 1946 in Abington (Plymouth) Massachusetts, daughter of Ira A. and Lucy Ann (Hathaway) Pratt. Benjamin & Lillian were the parents of a daughter, Ruth Vivian Hamblin, who married Arthur John Coburn. Ruth was an only child, just like my grandmother, her cousin. Grandmother told me that she and Ruth considered themselves sisters more than cousins and were very close. Ruth’s husband, Arthur, made the cherry magazine rack that my grandparents, John & Emma White, gave Tim & me for a wedding present.
iii. Amanda Eliza Hamblin (my great-grandmother), born 2 August 1879 in Dennis, died 6 July 1966 in Taunton (Bristol) Massachusetts. She married 1 February 1900 in Dennis, Capt. Martin Freeman Thompson, who was born 29 March 1875 in South Harwich (Barnstable) Massachusetts and died 13 July 1965 in Dennis, son of Martin Edward and Elisabeth Emma (Freeman) Thompson. Amanda & Martin were the parents of Emma Freeman Thompson, my grandmother and Ruth’s cousin.
iv. William Nelson Hamblin, born 1 July 1883 in Dennis, two months after the death of his father, died 31 December 1958. He married Sadie Louise Crowell, who was born 11 September 1884 in Dennis, and died 23 March 1972 in Yarmouth (Barnstable) Massachusetts. Apparently the younger William did not follow his father to a life at sea. William & Sadie were the parents of two sons: Gordon and Francis Hamblin were the much-talked-about cousins of my grandmother.
The following is from the Sunday Cape Cod Times, June 22, 1980 article by Craig Little, pg 13, South Yarmouth:
Hamblin’s Garage in Bass River is a living museum of roadside retailing, a dusty monument to the time when gas stations were stucco and red tile, not shiny plastic and chrome floating on a sea of jet black seal-coated asphalt.
Like an archeological dig, the inside of the gas station has strata of artifacts. Peel back a tire sealant ad from the ’50s and you find a tobacco ad from the ’40s. Peel that back, and underneath is a flyer from the ’30s. Time stands still here.
But after 66 years of pumping gas and changing flats here, the Hamblins are selling out. “Don’t wanna die here,” says Francis, the talkative Hamblin who acts as the front man, pumping gas, taking care of the candy store and making small talk with the customers.
His brother, Gordon, takes care of the mechanical work (“We don’t do any big jobs like transmission work or rebuilding engines. We do mufflers, brakes, tune-ups, exhausts. Yep, we do all that”). He’s been there since 1934, when he was right out of high school. Francis didn’t arrive until after World War II, when the brothers took over the business from their father, W. H. Hamblin.
Their father began selling Mobil gasoline from 55-gallon oil drums mounted in his Main Street front yard in 1914, when Main Street was still Route 28. Ten years later, when it was clear that cars were here to stay, he had the garage built a few dozen yards from his house. Even in 1935, when Route 28 was rerouted to the north and Main Street was relegated to a scenic bypass, there was enough business to keep the station going.
Even in 1967, when a shiny new Mobil station was built down by the Bass River Bridge, the Hamblins managed to survive, by switching to Arco. “That’s comin’ too close,” philosophizes Francis.
W.H. Hamblin bought the little candy store and moved it to the property in 1928 so his wife could sell ice cream. Now window boxes with geraniums decorate the outside, hanging below the old wood-framed glass display cases.
The more you look around, the more you wonder why antique dealers didn’t clean out the Hamblins years ago. “Oh, I got some baseball cards of Babe Ruth and them at home. Must be worth $40 or $50 apiece,” says Francis, who knows by now that an old thing gets more valuable as it gets older.
Probably the newest thing in the garage… a rototiller destined to carve out a garden for Francis in New Hampshire. “Just bought a place there last year,” he says. “Hope to have a good-sized garden.”
After Francis leaves, Gordon will stay on in the house behind the shop. He’ll keep on driving school buses for the town, something he’s done for years. For years he’s also serviced the South Yarmouth’s post office’s fleet of mail vans, working on them on an outdoor hydraulic lift installed in 1930. “Oh, I dunno, I guess they got about 18, 19, or 20 of ’em,” he says from under his cap, worn at an angle, Rootie Kazootie style. “I work on all of ’em — they usually get ’em down here about 5 in the evenin’. They need ’em in the day.”
The Hamblins charge between $5 and $6 an hour for labor. It doesn’t seem to bother them that other garages get three times that for the same work. “Because of the war, our father started closing Sundays,” says Francis. “He liked it so well he never got back to the seven-day week. We stay pretty busy, ‘specially at inspection time. Most of ’em is repeats.”
“Yep, been an inspection station since I was a kid,” adds Gordon, twisting a final spark plug into place on Silva’s Mustang. “As far as I know, since the early ’20s.” Behind the car, in a corner next to a pile of old boxes capped with a dusty pith helmet, is a sagging easy chair where Gordon can sneak a break during his long days.
“A lot of people come in to have work done on their old cars,” Francis says, nodding toward the 1936 Packard that someone dropped off in the back lot. “They hate to see us go. Oh, we’ve just gotten up in age and want to take it a little easier. Anyway, fella that wants to buy the place says he’s gonna try to keep it as a landmark… won’t do much modernizing. Geez, hope they pass those papers.”
My 4th-great-grandfather, Isaac Weekes, son of Isaac and Thankful (Nickerson) Weekes, was born on 19 May 1780, “The Dark Day,” in Harwich (Barnstable) Massachusetts, and died on 22 October 1841. He married 9 March 1803, Elisabeth Allen, who was born 24 January 1784 in Harwich and died 11 July 1868, daughter of Seth and Anna (Gage) Allen.
The Dark Day is now known to have been caused by massive forest fires burning in the western states. A smoky cloud cast itself over the New England states making it so dark that the people had to light their candles and lamps at noontime. Many thought the end of the world was at hand.
The following is from Genealogy of the Family of George Weekes of Dorchester, Mass. 1635-1650:
He [Isaac] was a ‘well-to-do’ farmer; owned a large farm. He had his peculiarities: one of which was a fondness for puzzling his listeners by ambiguous language, which he would explain after enjoying their perplexity. He took delight in coupling apparent selfishness with generosity; as for example: the minister passing his orchard took an apple from an over-hanging limb; Mr. W. sent him a letter threatening prosecution for the trespass; on the minister’s prompt apology, and asking how much would satisfy him, he replied that he would be content with five dollars; the minister handed him the amount, which he took, and immediately returned with another bill of like amount.
My mother, Elisabeth White, was named after her 3rd-great-grandmother, Elisabeth Allen, and her 2nd-great-grandmother, Elisabeth Weekes, and her great-grandmother, Elisabeth Freeman. The maternal line was interrupted by the birth of her grandfather, Martin Freeman Thompson.
Elisabeth & Isaac were the parents of twelve children:
1. Jemima Weekes, born 28 November 1803 in Barnstable (Barnstable) Massachusetts, died there 19 August 1873. She married 23 November 1825 in Orleans (Barnstable) Massachusetts, David Eldridge.
2. Isaac Weekes, born 27 September 1805 in Harwich, died at sea 11 September 1825, age 19.
3. Sally Weekes, born 3 September 1807, died 28 December 1853 in Central Falls (Providence) Rhode Island. She married Capt. Charles Coffin Baker.
4. Reuben Weekes, born 21 December 1809 in Harwich, died there 23 March 1865. He married 17 January 1832, Mary Hopkins.
5. Ebenezer Weekes, born 27 November 1811 in Harwich, died there 10 May 1897. He married (as his first wife) 18 July 1834, Elizabeth “Betsey” Burgess, who died 21 September 1845. Ebenezer married (as his second wife) 12 March 1846 in Harwich, Malinda (Rogers) Allen, daughter of Adnah Rogers.
6. Joseph Weekes, born 4 September 1814 in Harwich, died 6 January 1854 in Port au Prince, West Indies [now Haiti]. He married 1 December 1836, Sally Ward, who was born 7 July 1817 in Wellfleet (Barnstable) Massachusetts and died 5 November 1879 in Orleans.
7. Thankful Weekes, born 19 August 1816 in Harwich, died 29 December 1886. She married in Harwich, 11 November 1837, Capt. Truman Doane, who was born 28 December 1812 in Orleans and died 31 December 1881.
8. Capt. Alfred Weekes, born 8 April 1819 in Harwich, died at sea, 5 June 1854. He married Mary Ellis.
9. Elisabeth Weekes (my 3rd-great-grandmother), born 6 November 1822 in Harwich, died there 18 September 1908. She married (as his second wife) 12 June 1848 in Harwich, Warren Freeman.
10. Betsey Clark Weekes, born 5 July 1826 in Harwich. She married there, 30 November 1848, David K. Maker, who was born 30 August 1823 in Brewster (Barnstable) Massachusetts, and died 19 June 1866in Harwich.
11. Melinda Weekes, born 16 August 1828 in Harwich, died 16 March 1831, age 2.
12. Isaac Weekes, born 16 September 1831 in Harwich, died there 8 July 1893. Isaac was named after his father and his older brother, who died at sea.
Cousins marrying cousins, close or distant, was very common on Cape Cod and throughout New England, which makes figuring out relationships tricky but utterly fascinating. I’ve tried my best to figure out the tangled roots and shoots from my 3rd-great-grandparents!
Warren Freeman, a watchmaker, son of Thomas and Roxanna (Cash) Freeman, was born 25 July 1814 in Harwich (Barnstable) Massachusetts, and died there 16 September 1894. He married (as his second wife) 12 June 1848 in Harwich, his double fourth cousin, Elisabeth Weekes, who was born 6 November 1822 in Harwich, and died there 18 September 1908, daughter of Isaac and Elisabeth (Allen) Weekes.
Warren married (as his first wife) in December 1836, his double fourth cousin, Priscilla E. Long, who was born 22 October 1817 and died 7 December 1846 in Harwich, daughter of Isaac and Esther (Ellis) Long. Warren & Priscilla shared two sets of 3rd-great-grandparents, Joshua and Mary (Cole) Hopkins and Edward and Mary (Woodman) Small.
A year and a half after Priscilla died, Warren married Elisabeth, Priscilla’s half third cousin. Elisabeth’s and Priscilla’s great-grandmothers, Hannah (Paine) Allen and Jane (Small) Long, were half sisters, both daughters of Hannah (Hopkins) (Paine) Smalley by two different fathers.
Warren & Elisabeth were also double fourth cousins, sharing the same two sets of 3rd-great-grandparents, Joshua and Mary (Cole) Hopkins and Edward and Mary (Woodman) Small.
On the 1870 Federal Census, Warren was recorded as living in Dennis Port, age 55, a “huckster”, with real estate valued at $5000 and a personal state of $3000. Warren is buried with both his wives and two of his children in the First Congregational Church Cemetery in Harwich.
Priscilla & Warren were the parents of two children:
1. Thomas Freeman, a blacksmith who was born 15 August 1837 in Harwich. He married Rosilla F. Allen.
2. Clemantina Freeman, born 26 March 1842 in Harwich, died 24 May 1858, age 16. Clemantina was buried next to her mother, Priscilla E. (Long) Freeman, in the First Congregational Church Cemetery.
Elisabeth & Warren were the parents of five children (all born in Harwich), but they only had one grandchild together, and only one great-grandchild:
1. Elisabeth Emma “Lizzie” Freeman (my 2nd-great-grandmother), born 4 September 1851, died 4 October 1876 in Harwich, age 25. She married 5 July 1874 in Harwich, Capt. Martin Edward Thompson, who was born 4 August 1850 in Dennis and died in 1928, son of Martin and Ann Isabella (Hughs) Thompson. When Elisabeth died her 18-month-old son was left without his mother. She lies buried in Swan Lake Cemetery in Dennis.
2. Warren Wallace Freeman, born 3 July 1853, died 27 August 1868, age 15. Warren lies buried with his parents in the First Congregational Church Cemetery.
3. Rosilla Ida “Rosie” Freeman, born 6 March 1856, died 18 March 1923, age 67. She married 23 February 1882 in Dennis (Barnstable) Massachusetts, Capt. Martin Edward Thompson, who was born 4 August 1850 in Dennis and died in 1928, widower of her sister, Elisabeth, and son of Martin and Ann Isabella (Hughs) Thompson. Rosie raised her nephew but never had children of her own. She also lies buried in Swan Lake Cemetery.
4. Ambrose Eldridge Freeman, born 21 April 1858, died 1944 in Boston, age 83. Ambrose was a confirmed bachelor with a fondness for alcohol. His little child’s rocking chair was given to Jonathan Freeman Rodgers by his great-grandmother, Emma Freeman (Thompson) White, who was Ambrose’s grandniece. The gift was made following a little episode in Jonathan’s young toddler life. One day his mother, absent mindedly kept giving him sips of a “Cape Codder” cocktail she was enjoying with her grandparents. His great-grandmother was the first to notice that Jon was getting a little tipsy, and made the observation that he was the spit and image of Uncle Ambrose! Ambrose lies buried with his parents in the First Congregational Church Cemetery.
5. Susan Flora “Susie” Freeman, born 22 March 1864, died 7 May 1963 at Woods Hole, age 99. She married 19 February 1891, Edward Ellsworth “Eddie” Swift, who was born 25 August 1861 in Falmouth (Barnstable) Massachusetts, and died in May 1964, age 102, son of Ezekiel Eldridge and Lucy G. (Thompson) Swift.
Susie & Eddie lived at 10 School St., Woods Hole, Cape Cod, Massachusetts. They had no children so my grandparents (along with my great-grandparents) moved into their house and cared for them there in their old age. My grandmother was Susie’s (Flora’s) grandniece. I well remember playing as a very small child in the yard there while visiting my grandparents and great-grandparents and 2nd great-granduncle and aunt! The lawn stretched down a hill to a harbor (perhaps a marina?), and the barns were full of sea crafts. Uncle Ed lived to be 102, and died when I was 7 years old.
In the picture above, I am being held by my 2nd great-granduncle Ed! By the time I was 2, Uncle Ed was bedridden and my grandmother would put me on his bed for a visit. Uncle Ed would ask, “And how old are you, Barbara?” I would bravely hold up two fingers while staring at his long white beard.
The following is from the Cape Cod Standard Times:
Falmouth Pair Married 70 Years [PHOTO] Caption: Mr. and Mrs. Edward E. Swift of Woods Hole show their marriage certificate dated Feb. 19, 1891. The Swifts are looking forward to their 70th anniversary celebration, to be shared with family and friends.
Swifts to Observe 70th Anniversary by Robert G. Elphick, Cape Cod Standard Times Staff Writer
WOODS HOLE, Feb. 3–A candy sailing ship shall cruise across a pastry map of Cape Cod, atop a cake to be baked in affectionate observance of a very rare occasion. The 70th wedding anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Ellsworth Swift of School Street. Mrs. Carlyle R. Hayes of Middle Street, locally noted cake baker and old friend of the Swifts, will have the masterpiece ready for the anniversary observance on Feb. 19.
Mr. Swift will be 100 years old on Aug. 25. Mrs. Swift will be 97 next month. Though confined to their antique-and-memory filled home overlooking Eel Pond, they remain articulate, cheerful and endowed with quick humor and ready memory.
“I used to sail a lot,” Mr. Swift recalled, citing trophies in Class B, for skill and speed with the 13-foot spritsail boats. While on the subject of boats and ships, he said his great uncle Elijah Swift ran the British blockade during the War of 1812, and in more peaceful times planted the elms that today tower above Falmouth’s Village Green.
Were Shipbuilders “Both my grandfathers were ship builders,” Mr. Swift added. Ezekiel Swift, he said, built whaling ships in Woods Hole, and Marshall Grew built other wooden ships for iron men in New Bedford.
Mrs. Swift is the former Flora Susan Freeman of Harwich. The Swift’s wedding certificate, larger and more elaborate than those issued today, states that the pair were married by the Rev. R. M. Wilkins, pastor of the Methodist Episcopal Church on Feb. 19, 1891, in South Harwich. The 70th anniversary observance will be at the Swift’s home, and will be limited to family and close friends.
Family includes the Swift’s grandniece, Mrs. John E. White, who came from West Harwich last September to care for the Swifts and her parents, Captain and Mrs. Martin Thompson. The Thompsons came to live with the Swifts five years ago.
Captain Thompson is a nephew of Mr. Swift. Until recently he has helped to run the hardware and ship’s chandler’s shop at the rear of the Swift’s home. The antique wooden sign over the shop entrance reads “Edward E. Swift, Dealer in Hardware, Cordage, Paints, Oil, Glass, and Galvanized Nails and Specialty.” The shop is rarely opened any more. Like the Swifts themselves, it is a survivor from another age.
Mrs. White said she is happy to be able to live with the Swifts and her parents and take care of them. “My parents observed their 61st wedding anniversary Wednesday,” Mrs. White commented. “My son is in the service and my daughter is at the University of Connecticut, so I have no one else to care for now, except my husband, of course. He’s a land surveyor and commutes daily to his office in West Harwich.”
Presented Symbol In 1956 Falmouth selectmen presented Mr. Swift with the cane marking him as the town’s oldest native resident. It was reported at the time that this was “a distinction that greatly pleased him.” The canes were made available to all Massachusetts towns many years ago by a Boston newspaper, to be handed down from one senior citizen to another.
“I enjoy books very much these days,” Mr. Swift commented. Each night Mr. and Mrs. White take turns reading aloud to the Swifts. “We are on Washington Irving now,” Mrs. White interjected. “Next we will do Dickens.”
Mr. Swift recalled that his middle name of Ellsworth was in honor of a relative who was serving at the time in the Civil War. He also remembered that he was born in Shiverick House when it was located in the parking lot that adjoins his present home–a short move to make in a century. He was graduated from Lawrence Academy, now the Falmouth USO and Legion Hall. In 1880, he then joined his father as E. Swift and Son, contractors, and in 1882 built the former Fay residence, now owned by the Oceanographic Institution. He also built the Congregational Church in Woods Hole during the 1880s, as well as many other structures long since passed into oblivion.
Open Shop The elder Swift died in 1909. The business was continued by his son until a shortage of labor and materials in World War I ended building operations. Mr. Swift remembers that we then opened his ship chandler’s shop at the rear of his home and has operated it until recent years, most recently with the assistance of Captain Thompson.
Mr. Swift was for many years clerk of the Church of the Messiah in Woods Hole, and remains today as clerk emeritus. A frequent visitor is the rector, the Rev. Mason Wilson. Additional friends will certainly be on hand Feb. 19 to mark a very special occasion and incidentally share in the enjoyment of a very special cake.
The following is from the WHOI [Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute] Historic Structures Survey, Swift House, 10 School St, constructed 1834, acquired by WHOI 1965:
Ezekiel Swift built the house and its two barns around 1834. The house was handed down through the years from his son, to his grandson, Eddie Swift, who was a well known character in Woods Hole. Eddie and his father formalized the family carpentry trade into a business known as E. E. Swift and Son in the late 1800s. The family building business survived until Eddie decided to open a hardware store in the barn behind the house. Eddie, who lived to be 103, and the hardware store survived into the 1960s. WHOI purchased the property on New Year’s Eve of 1964 and has used both the house and the barns since then. The house has served as offices for the Applied Oceanography group, now Ocean Engineering, and as home for other elements of departments.
The following is from a sign by a Woods Hole Spritsail Boat made by Edward Swift, donated to Mystic Seaport, Mystic, Connecticut, by Mr. & Mrs. John E. White:
Never launched or given her final coats of paint, this craft was built about 1910, and between that time and 1968 when it was given to this museum, the boat and the shop in which she was built were left essentially undisturbed, thus her pristine condition. Additional information is contained in the adjoining article excerpted from Skipper magazine. Length 13’4”, Beam 6′. Those Handy Little BCats by H.V.R. Palmer, Jr.
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).
My 2nd-great-grandfather, Reuel Gardner Atwood, son of Reuel and Abigail Savery (Tillson) Atwood, was born 5 February 1833 in Middleborough (Plymouth) Massachusetts, and died 19 August 1908 in Henniker (Merrimack) New Hampshire. He married 26 November 1860 at Middleborough, Louisa Jane Atwood, who was born 6 April 1840 in Carver (Plymouth) Massachusetts, and died 12 January 1928 in Abington (Plymouth) Massachusetts, daughter of Ebenezer and Waitstill (Lucas) Atwood.
During the American Civil War, Reuel, age 29, fisherman, enlisted for a one year term of general service in the Navy on 17 September 1862 in New London, Connecticut, on board the frigate USS Sabine, one of the first ships to see action during the war. He was 5’9 1/2″ tall, with blue eyes and dark brown hair.
Reuel worked as a box maker and a fisherman. Louisa was a homemaker. On 11 March 1888, Reuel & Louisa survived The Great Blizzard of 1888 that killed more than 400 people along the eastern seaboard.
After Reuel’s death Louisa was a widow for tewenty years. When the 1910 census was taken she was living in Henniker, New Hampshire with her son, Frederick, and his family. 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:
i. Elsie Fremont Atwood, born 9 August 1862 in Middleborough, died there 25 October 1863, age 1.
ii. Elbridge Lincoln Atwood, born 10 August 1865 in Abington, died 20 December 1878 in Boston (Suffolk) Massachusetts, age 13.
iii. Frederick Reuel Atwood, born 28 December 1867 in Abington, died 4 February 1963 in Hillsborough (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.
iv. Eustace Lorenzo Atwood, born 2 November 1870 in Abington, died there 22 November 1880, age 10.
v. 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.
vi. Amy Grace Atwood, born 17 April 1875 in Abington, died there 23 August 1877, age 2.
vii. Samuel Ebenezer Atwood, born 10 March 1877 in Abington, died there 5 December 1880, age 3.
viii. 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 honor of his uncle.
Engraved on the back of the Atwood stone are the names of their daughter and her husband. My great-grandfather, Samuel Minor White, son of William Martin and Ellen C. (Hill) White, was born 7 July 1873 in Stonington (New London) Connecticut, very close to where I live now, and died 2 July 1949 in Abington (Plymouth) Massachusetts. He married 21 November 1902 at Rockland (Plymouth) Massachusetts, Emma Flora Atwood, who was born 5 January 1873 in Abington, and died 2 February 1955 in Foxborough (Norfolk) Massachusetts, 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 Emma 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 (1808–1894).
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.
In the summer of 1911, Flora & Samuel survived a deadly heatwave that killed more than 2,000 people in the northeastern states.
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.
Flora & Samuel were the parents of three sons:
i. Earl Martin “Bob” White, born 5 December 1902 in Rockland, 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 (Bristol) Massachusetts, and died 7 July 1991 in Bourne (Barnstable) Massachusetts. Bob & Ruth were the parents of two daughters.
ii. John Everett White (my grandfather), born 8 June 1905 in Rockland, died 4 April 2001 in Dennis Port (Barnstable) 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.
iii. Lincoln White, born 11 February 1909 in Abington, died 31 August 1993 in Monson (Hampden) Massachussets, age 84. He married Marjorie Elizabeth Cary, daughter of Herbert Francis and Elizabeth (Blagborough) Cary. Lincoln & Marjorie were the parents of two sons.
Tim and I revisited this cemetery on March 5, 2016. 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.
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)
Yesterday my heart and mind were out on Cape Cod, watching and waiting to see what Hurricane Earl would do as it passed by. It was also the day my grandmother died, fourteen years ago, at the age of 90. It was a good day for lingering over pleasant memories.
Grandmother was a typical Cape Codder. As far as I know, all of her ancestors lived out their lives on Cape Cod, or were lost at sea, all of them descending from passengers on the Mayflower and other early English settlers on the Cape. Except for her great-grandfather, who came from Norway, and his wife, her great-grandmother, who came from Ireland. Both of her grandfathers and her father were sea captains, like their fathers before them. Grandmother told me all the time that the sea was in my blood.
Thankfully New England was spared Earl’s fury as the storm kept veering off to the east and weakening. We were very happy to make do without any more excitement! We went down to the beach during a break in the rain and there was some minor flooding from a little storm surge. Normally there is about twenty feet between the life guard chair and the water’s edge, but now the breaking waves came right up to the chair. (See photo above.) We were wondering about the line of birds hunkered down on the rocks in the distance. Couldn’t make out what they were. The breakwaters were almost covered with water.
But all in all, Hurricane Earl was a non-event.
I love this picture of my grandmother’s father, Capt. Martin F. Thompson (Pop), and her granduncle, Edward E. Swift (Uncle Ed), who lived to the age of 102. It was taken in Woods Hole in front of the hardware and ship’s chandler’s shop they used to run behind the Swifts’ house.
The sign used to read: “Edward E. Swift, Dealer in Hardware, Cordage, Paints, Oil, Glass, and Galvanized Nails and Specialty.”
Uncle Ed used to build and race 13-foot spritsail boats. After Uncle Ed died in 1964, my grandmother donated one of the spritsails he built to Mystic Seaport, a living history museum here in Connecticut, where it is still exhibited.
After spending many years caring for her children and then her parents and Uncle Ed & Aunt Flora, Grandmother spent the rest of her life pursuing her interests in nature photography and entomology. The little picture of me on the beach (in the sidebar on this blog) was taken by my grandmother. My grandparents were founding members of the Cape Cod Viewfinders Camera Club. The subjects of most of Grandmother’s photos were, of course, bugs…
While she was an artist and I have several of her watercolors hanging on my walls, more than anything she loved capturing perfectly composed photographs of butterfly eggs, caterpillars, chrysalises, and emerging adults. Grandfather was a land surveyor and Grandmother would go out with him on surveys and find the butterfly and moth eggs of various species and bring them home on their leaves and then put them in outdoor aquariums in her back yard. She made sure each one had the right leaves for its diet, and they were free to fly away after they emerged. Each time I visited I got a grand tour of her latest collection.
Often she would warn us as we sat down to dinner that someone was due to emerge from its cocoon or chrysalis at any moment and that we would have to excuse her if she had to dash away from the table to photograph the event. She was very proper, but also very mischievous. Once when my father was teasing her at the breakfast table, she got him back by impishly buttering the back of his hand. She never lost her sense of wonder and curiosity and I loved her so much for bringing lots of magic into my childhood.
It was so much fun having my grandmother as my first and best pen pal. Even though we made the trip to Cape Cod to see my grandparents about once a month, we’d exchange letters once or twice a week. We both loved reading and writing… I still have her newsy letters, and later was delighted to discover that she had kept all of mine.
The picture to the right is of my great-grandmother, Amanda Eliza Hamblin (Mum) and my grandmother, Emma Freeman “Thommie” Thompson. Amanda’s father was a sea captain, too. Thompson was the surname chosen by my ancestor, Martin Thompson, who was born in Brevik, Norway in 1818. At birth his name was Ingebrigt Martinus Hansen, and he was the son of Hans Tønnesen. He Americanized Tønnesen to Thompson when he arrived in America, a month before his 19th birthday.
My sister illustrated (with little sailboats and seagulls) a poem I wrote at a very early age, which we gave as a gift to our grandmother, who framed it and kept it hanging in her breakfast nook. It went something like this:
I love Cape Cod
Oh yes I do.
The sea, the sand,
I love the Cape
So much, don’t you?