Abraham Pridmore, Blacksmith

I cannot recall how or when we first made contact with Tim’s English cousins, and we have long since lost touch with them, but I owe them a debt of gratitude for all the family history material they mailed over the ocean to us. Perhaps one or both of them will see this post somehow and contact us again!

Tim’s 4th-great-grandfather, Abraham Pridmore, son of Thomas and Elizabeth (Shepard) Pridmore, was born in 1790 in Brigstock (Northamptonshire) England, and died 20 March 1867 in Syston (Leicestershire) England. He married 9 June 1811 in St. Peter’s Church, Lowick (Northamptonshire) England, Elizabeth Bramston, who was born in 1791 in Lowick, and died 5 January 1866 in Syston, daughter of William and Alice (—) Bramston.

Abraham was baptized 27 July 1790 in St. Andrew’s Church, Brigstock. He worked as a blacksmith, and later as a machinist and a machine supplement maker. Abraham & Elizabeth were members of the Church of England. The following is from the notes Gillian and Gabrielle Rohowsky sent to us:

When they married Abraham was already resident in Thorpe Satchville, the age he was would probably mean that he had recently finished his [blacksmith] apprenticeship, usually marriage was not permitted during an apprenticeship, and of course Elizabeth was pregnant. The marriage was witnessed by Robert Pridmore, brother of the groom, and by John Brown who we think was a parish clerk.

The parish records for Syston parish church have suffered some damage, with sections totally unreadable. Syston is larger than Thorpe Satchville, we can only guess why the family moved there, maybe it was due to expanding trade and close proximity to the main city with better business opportunities, also Syston had a major rail link which would of been a benefit for the distribution of goods. Or maybe the move was purely prompted by family attachment, Christiana, George and Sarah were all resident in Syston. Abraham and Elizabeth probably moved there around the mid 1850’s.

The death date on the certificate states 5 January 1866, whereas the headstone states the 6 January 1866. The age on the certificate states 74, the headstone states 76. These discrepancies could arise from the informant Elizabeth Marchant being illiterate. Elizabeth Marchant was a widow whose husband died in an accident while working on the railways, she lived close to Abraham & Elizabeth and possibly worked as a housekeeper for them.

Elizabeth died of “paralysis justified” and Abraham died of pneumonia and they lie buried together in St. Peter & Paul’s Churchyard. Their headstone is inscribed:

Sacred
to the memory of
Abraham Pridmore
Who died Mar 20: 1867
Aged 77 years
Also Elizabeth his wife
Who died Jan 6: 1866
Aged 76 years
And of Sarah Randall
Granddaughter of the above
Who died Nov 15: 1863

Abraham & Elizabeth were the parents of fourteen children. Four of the sons (Thomas, William, Abraham, and Edward) made their way to America:

1. Thomas Pridmore, born 9 September 1811 in Brigstock, died 23 July 1890 in North Bergen (Genesee) New York. He married (as his first wife) 31 October 1842 in Canterbury (Windham) Connecticut, Jerusha Smith, who was born 20 March 1814 in Canterbury, and died 12 October 1851 in Clarendon (Orleans) New York, daughter of Ichabod and Actisah (Allen) Smith. Thomas married (as his second wife) 24 November 1852 in North Bergen, Mary Ann Grieve, who was born 25 October in England, and died 14 August 1885 in North Bergen, daughter of Stephen and Ann (Baker) Grieve.

An obituary for Thomas appeared in The Batavian in 1890:

Thomas Pridmore, Sr., died Last Wednesday (ed. July 23, 1890) about 4 p.m. For several years he has been in delicate health. He came to this country from Northamptonshire, England, when 22 years of age. He was twice married and was the survivor of both of his wives. Five children survive him: Chauncey, of Holley; Charles of Colorado; Frank of North Byron; and Thomas and Luella of North Bergen. He was in his 79th year. The funeral was held at the church last Saturday at 1 p.m. The interment was at the Root schoolhouse cemetery.

2. Mary Pridmore, born 1812 in Thorpe Satchville (Leicestershire) England, died 3 August 1858 in Freeby (Leicestershire) England. She married 26 December 1831 in St. Michael’s Church in Thorpe Satchville, Joseph Morris, an agricultural laborer who was born 1810 in Freeby, and died there 9 September 1887.

3. Christina Pridmore, born 1814 in Thorpe Satchville, died 3 December 1855 in Syston. She was a servant and married 24 January 1845 in St. Michael’s Church in Thorpe Satchville, George Randall, a publican, inn keeper, and licensed victualler, who was born in 1811 in Milby (Norfolk) England, and died in Syston 18 February 1878, son of James Randall.

4. William Pridmore (Tim’s 3rd-great-grandfather), born before 23 April 1815 in Thorpe Satchville (Leicestershire) England. He was baptized in Thorpe Satchville in St. Michael’s Church on 23 April 1815. He married (as his first wife) 13 October 1835 in St. Luke’s Church, Gaddesby, Mary Anne Smith, who was born in Gaddesby, and probably died there before William married again. William & Mary were the parents of a son. William married (as his second wife) 16 August 1838 in St. Luke’s Church, Gaddesby (Leicestershire) England, Ann Sturgess (Tim’s 3rd-great-grandmother), who was born in 1814 in Gaddesby, daughter of William Sturgess. William & Ann were the parents of six children. All of William’s children were born in England, and he worked both in England and America as a blacksmith. At the time of her marriage, Ann was employed as a servant. The time and place of Ann’s death are unknown. It seems possible that she may have died in England before William came to America in 1857(?) with their children, or perhaps she may have died at sea, because no mention is made of her or the youngest son, Thomas, in family accounts here. There is some mystery surrounding William – a family story says that he went to Chicago on a business trip and was never heard from again, and there is some evidence that he went to South Bend, Indiana with son George in 1875.

5. George Pridmore, born 1816 in Thorpe Satchville, died 16 April 1870 in Syston. He was a blacksmith, machinist, and mechanic and married 4 November 1855 in St. Peter & Paul’s Church in Syston, Mary Jane Dyball, a shopkeeper and dressmaker who was born 1828 in Hanford (Northamptonshire) England, and died 4 April 1888 in Syston.

6. Reuben Pridmore, born 1818 in Thorpe Satchville, died there 7 January 1842, age 24. He was a soldier and married 20 February 1840 in St. Pancras Church, London, England, Caroline Ward.

7. Sarah Pridmore, born 1819 in Thorpe Satchville. She married (as her first husband) 14 September 1846 in St. Peter & Paul’s Church in Syston, Robert Pickard, a husbandman and agricultural laborer, who was born 1816 in Syston and died there 19 December 1853, age 37. Sarah married (as her second husband) 14 October 1856 in The Parish Church, Great Yarmouth (Norfolk) England, George Randall, widower of her sister, Christiana (Pridmore) Randall.

According to Gillian and Gabrielle Rohowsky:

Sarah’s second marriage to George Randall was illegal because he was her brother-in-law, (previously married to her late sister Christiana). Because an act of parliament between 1835-1907 made such unions illegal and incestuous, attempts to change the law started in 1842 with the ‘Wife’s Sisters Bill’ which was put before parliament annually for 65 years until it was finally passed. Maybe this accounts for the fact that they married outside the district in Norfolk, but they later returned to Syston. Obviously Abraham did not object to the union, considering the contents of his will, he certainly held George Randall in high regard.

8. Abraham Pridmore, born 1821 in Thorpe Satchville, died 21 April 1878 in South Bend (St. Joseph) Indiana. He was a blacksmith and married Anna Sheehan/Scheehan, who was born 18 April 1834 in (Cork) Ireland, and died 28 April 1913 in South Bend.

Indiana Naturalization Records, Abraham Pridmore, Tippecanoe County, IN, Circuit Court, Volume 21, Page 536, Years 60:

To the Judge of the Tippecanoe Circuit in the State of Indiana, Abraham Pridmore, being an alien and a free white person, makes the following report of himself: upon his solemn oath declares that he is aged 31 years; that he was born in England that he emigrated from Liverpool in the year 1851 that he arrived in the United States at the City of New York on 17 July 1851 that he owes allegiance to Queen Victoria and that it is bona fide his intention to become a citizen of the United States and to renounce forever allegiance and fidelity any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty whatsoever. 6 November 1860.

9. Elizabeth Pridmore, born 1822 in Thorpe Satchville. She married 12 May 1851 in St. Michael’s Church in Thorpe Satchville, her first cousin, William March, a carpenter who was born 1828 in Brigstock, son of Daniel Blott and Esther (Pridmore) March.

10. Priscilla Pridmore, born 1825 in Thorpe Satchville, died there 1 July 1838, age 13.

11. John Pridmore, born 1826 in Thorpe Satchville.

12. Charlotte Pridmore, born 1828 in Thorpe Satchville, died 9 November 1896 in The Union Workhouse, Lincoln, England. She was a servant and married (as her first husband) 26 November 1849 in St. Michael’s Church, Thorpe Satchville, William Atkinson, who was born 1828 in Belgrade (Leicestershire) England. Charlotte had a relationship with George Hind, a groom who was born 1811 in Warsop (Nottinghamshire) England, and died 29 May 1897 in Lincoln. Charlotte married (as her second husband) 11 August 1880 in The Register Office, Lincoln, John Thompson, an engine fitter who was born 1820 and died November 1893 in Knight’s Place, Lincoln.

According to Gillian and Gabrielle Rohowsky:

Between the 1851 and 1861 census returns we have no information of Charlotte’s whereabouts. On the 1861 census she was in Lincoln under the name of Charlotte Hind, living with George Hind and their baby son Charles. On the 1871 census she was still in Lincoln, called Charlotte Hind, living with George and their 5 children. We are doubtful that Charlotte and George ever married, we have found no evidence but often people altered the facts to suit circumstances, possibly George was already married because he was 17 years older that Charlotte. If they had married Charlotte would have been a bigamist because George did not die until 1897. [after she married John Thompson]

It was always said within the family that Charlotte was a black sheep, who was disowned by her family, lack of communication between family could account for the fact that she classed Abraham as a blacksmith [on her 1880 marriage record], whereas he had long since been referred to as a machinist/machine maker, or maybe this was purely because of Charlotte’s lack of education, this could be said for her stating that her father was deceased, maybe she just presumed this because he would have been over 90 years old.

13. Eliza Pridmore, born 1829 in Thorpe Satchville, died there 27 July 1841, age 12.

14. Edward Pridmore, born 29 June 1831 in Thorpe Satchville, died 4 March 1910 in Batavia (Genesee) New York. He was a blacksmith and married (as his first wife) 28 November 1850 in St. Michael’s Church, Thorpe Satchville, Jane Marshall, a servant who was born in 1828 in Ashwell (Rutland) England, daughter of Thomas and Mary (Hinman) Marshall. After their marriage Jane & Edward left for America from Liverpool on the Cumberland, arriving in New York on 18 June 1852. Edward married (as his second wife) 11 January 1887 in Batavia, Eliza B. Ware, daughter of T. B. Ware.

An obituary for Edward, in possession of Delorma (Rodgers) Morton, reads:

Inventor of Harvesting Machinery Dead at His Home in Batavia

After an illness of several years with heart disease and complications Edward Pridmore, one of Batavia’s well-known citizens, died at his home at No. 532 East Main street at 2:20 o’clock this morning. Mr Pridmore had not been confined to the house all of the time of his illness, but had not been in good health.

Mr Pridmore was born at Thorp, Satchville, Eng, on June 29, 1831. He spent his boyhood working in his father’s machine shop, where he developed that taste for mechanics and that inventive genius which were so prominent in his after life. At the age of 21 Mr Pridmore came to America and soon afterward entered the employment at Brockport of Ganson & Co, a firm which later became the Johnston Harvester Company of Brockport and now of Batavia. He remained in the employ of the company until the time of his death, a period of over half a century. He was a skilled mechanic and invented a number of improvements and appliances which were afterward used by the harvester company. His inventive work aided largely in perfecting the harvesting machines and he received individual diplomas of honorable mention from the Chicago world’s fair and the St Louis exposition.

Mr Pridmore was twice married. His first wife was Jane Marshall of England, whom he wedded in 1850. By her he had three children, Elizabeth, widow of Homer M Johnston; John W Pridmore and the late Henry E Pridmore, all of Chicago. In 1887 he married Miss Eliza Ware of Batavia, who with two daughters, Fannie and Esther, survives him. He also leaves eleven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, all of whom live in Chicago.

In politics Mr Pridmore was always a Republican. For many years he had been a Baptist and was a member of the First Baptist church of Batavia at the time of his death. Mr Pridmore’s life illustrated the good old English virtues of honesty, thrift and generosity. Although he always lived without ostentation many friends and neighbors recall his kindly words of advice and of material help in their times of need. His integrity of character was above question and his business judgment sound. His death is a great loss to the business interests to which he gave so many years of faithful service and he will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

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

West Dennis Cemetery

West Dennis Cemetery at 55 Fisk Street in West Dennis Village, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is where my 2nd-great-grandparents, Capt. William Nelson & Anna Eliza (Baker) Hamblin and my 3rd-great-grandparents, Benjamin & Eliza R. (Eldridge) Baker, lie buried. I don’t know much about the latter — yet. This cemetery was once known as the Crowell Family Burying Ground. I do have Crowells on my family tree — in fact, Benjamin’s mother was a Crowell — so I imagine returning here for more ancestor hunting in the future.

10.17.17 ~ West Dennis Cemetery

Benjamin Baker, son of Aaron and Achsah (Crowell) Baker, was born 31 May 1821 in Yarmouth, Massachusetts, and died there 31 July 1893. He married 28 December 1843 at Harwich, Massachusetts, Eliza R. Eldridge, who was born 3 September 1823 in Harwich, and died 3 June 1901 in Dennis, Massachusetts, daughter of Leonard and Nancy (—) Eldridge.

I have only been able to find two daughters for this couple:

1. Anna Eliza “Annie” Baker (my 2nd-great-grandmother), born 2 October 1845 in Dennis, died 2 December 1927 in Yarmouth. She married 16 January 1868 in Dennis, Capt. William Nelson Hamblin, who was born about 1844 and died 19 May 1883 in West Dennis, son of Capt. William and Amanda (Bearse) Hamblin. Annie & William were the parents of three children.

2. Susan Maria Baker, born 20 July 1849 in Dennis, died there 26 September 1933. She married  31 January 1869 in Dennis, Ebenezer Ellis, who was born there  17 July 1846 and died about 1930, son of Ross Gifford and Thankful (Joy) Ellis. Susan & Ebenezer were the parents of a son.

Many sea captains from Dennis rest here. I was moved by the epitaph of Zenas C. Kelley (1812-1853, not a relative as far as I know):

For him break not the green turf
Nor turn the dewy sod
His dust shall rest beneath the surf
His spirit with its God

10.17.17 ~ West Dennis Cemetery

Information on Annie (Baker) & William Hamblin, my 2nd-great-grandparents, and their children can be found on this previous post: A Sea Captain.

10.17.17 ~ West Dennis Cemetery

10.17.17 ~ West Dennis Cemetery

This couple’s gravestone was located in the same plot. I found a connection through their Baker lines, which would make Seth Baker and Benjamin Baker fifth cousins. I suspect they are more closely related through another line. Jerusha’s maiden name is Wixon. When I was researching the land records at the Barnstable County Couthouse I found a pair of Wixon sisters sold land to my 2nd-great-grandfather, Martin Edward Thompson in the 1800s. More clues!

Saddle & Pillion Burial Ground

10.10.17 ~ Sandwich, Massachusetts ~ trailhead

When I was a small child developing a curiosity about family history, my grandmother told me about her 8th-great-grandfather, Edmund Freeman, who was buried with his second wife Elizabeth, in the Saddle & Pillion graves in Sandwich. Over the years I have occasionally tried to locate these graves but couldn’t make sense of any description of where in Sandwich they were located. But at long last, I stumbled across a blog, Historical Tid-Bits of Cape Cod’s Oldest Town, which had a link to a map! Maps (pictures) I can understand! And so last week, while visiting Cape Cod, my sister and I drove right up to the beginning of a short trail that led us to the site in the woods.

10.10.17 ~ Sandwich, Massachusetts ~ Saddle & Pillion Cemetery

Freeman settled on his homestead about a mile and a quarter east of the present Town Hall on the sloping land leading from what is now Tupper Road down to the Cape Cod Canal. (Most of the former Freeman land is now occupied by the NRG power plant.) They lived out their lives here and when Elizabeth passed away on February 14, 1676, Edmond buried her on a hill on their farm. He marked her grave with a large stone likening to a pillion (a British term for the seat behind the saddle on a horse). With foresight, Edmond also positioned a large stone that resembled a saddle to be used as a monument for his own grave. Family tradition tells us that the headstones reminded Edmund of the early years in Sandwich when he and Elizabeth traveled by horseback over the fields of their farm. Edmund Freeman died in 1682 and was buried beside Elizabeth, the longer stone, “the saddle,” was placed over his grave.

The burial place became known as the Saddle and Pillion Cemetery and is the oldest burying ground in Sandwich. Bronze plaques were added to these stones in 1910 by their descendants.
~ Sandwich Historical Commission website

My 10th-great-grandfather, Edmund Freeman, was baptized 25 July 1596 at Pulborough, Sussex, England, and died before 2 November 1682 in Sandwich (Barnstable) Massachusetts. He married (as his first wife) 16 June 1617 in Cowford, Sussex, England, Bennett Hodsoll, who was buried at Pulborough 12 April 1630.

By 1635, Edmund married (as his second wife) Elizabeth (—), who was born about 1600, and died 14 February 1676 in Sandwich.

Edmund, his second wife Elizabeth, and Alice, Edmund, Elizabeth and John, his surviving children from his first marriage, arrived in America in 1635 on the ship Abigail. At first they lived in Saugus (now Lynn) and soon moved to Sandwich in 1637. Edmund was a farmer and was one of the ten original settlers of Sandwich, presumably not including in the count their wives and children.

Edmund & Bennett were the parents of six children:

1. Alice Freeman, baptized 4 April 1619 at Pulborough, died 24 April 1651 in Plymouth (Plymouth) Massachusetts. She married (as his first wife) 24 November 1639, in Sandwich, Dea. William Paddy, who was born about 1600 and died 24 August 1658 in Boston (Suffolk) Massachusetts. Alice & William were the parents of six children.

2. Edmund Freeman, baptized 26 November 1620 at Billingshurst, Sussex, England, died 29 March 1673. He married (as his first wife) 22 April 1646, Rebecca Prence, who was born before 22 May 1627 and died before 23 March 1648, daughter of Gov. Thomas and Patience (Brewster) Prence. Edmund & Rebecca were the parents of two daughters. Edmund married (as his second wife) 18 July 1651 in Sandwich, Margaret Perry, who was born about 1624 and died 5 November 1688 in Sandwich, daughter of Edmund and Sarah (Crowell) Perry. Edmund & Margaret were the parents of six children.

3. Bennett Freeman, baptized 20 January 1621 at Billingshurst, died before 13 January 1634, age 12.

4. Elizabeth Freeman, baptized 11 April 1624 at Billingshurst, died 24 June 1692 in Rochester (Plymouth) Massachusetts. She married by 1644, Lt. John Ellis, who was born 14 September 1623 in England and died about 1676 in Sandwich. John was censured to be whipped at a public post for committing uncleanness with Elizabeth before their marriage. Elizabeth had to stand by and observe the whipping. Elizabeth & John were the parents of seven children.

5. Maj. John Freeman (my 9th-great-grandfather), baptized 28 January 1627 in Billingshurst, died 28 October 1719 in Eastham (Barnstable) Massachusetts. He married 13 February 1650 in Eastham, Mercy Prence, who was born about 1631 and died 28 September 1711 in Eastham, daughter of Gov. Thomas and Patience (Brewster) Prence. John & Mercy were the parents of twelve children.

6. Nathaniel Freeman, baptized 2 September 1629 in Billingshurst, buried 12 September 1629 in Pulborough, only a few days old.

Edmund & Elizabeth were the parents of a daughter:

1. Mary Freeman, born about 1636, died 5 November 1688 in Sandwich. She married about 1653, Edward Perry, who was born about 1630 and died 16 February 1695 in Sandwich. Mary & Edward were the parents of nine children.

Upon the Waves of the World

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, firstborn son of Martin and Ann Isabella (Hughs) Thompson, was born 4 August 1850 in Dennis (Barnstable) Massachusetts, and died in 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 died of a “stoppage” when she was 25 years old and her baby son was only 18 months old. 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.

1880 Captain Martin E. Thompson House, Dennis Port

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, without children. In 1900, Martin and Rosilla were living as lodgers in the house of Nancy H. Merrill in Lynn, Massachusetts.

Beverly, Barbara and our cousin Matthew with Nellie’s carriage

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 Swan Lake Cemetery in Dennis, and Emma, his first wife, is buried in the same cemetery but in another lot with his parents and other members of his family.

Elisabeth & Martin were the parents of one son:

1. 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, 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.

Josiah Sweet & Eunice Day

Josiah Sweet (1796-1880) & Eunice Day (1800-1871) ~ photograph contributed anonymously to Ancestry.com in 2010.

Tim’s 4th-great-grandfather, Josiah Sweet, son of Joshua and Eliza Mary (Hurd) Sweet, was born 20 February 1796 in Roxbury (Litchfield) Connecticut, and died 28 January 1880 in Big Spring [now New Haven] (Adams) Wisconsin. He married 20 November 1819 in (St. Lawrence) New York, Eunice Day, who was born 8 June 1800 in (Washington) New York, and died 1 September 1871 in Big Spring, daughter of Lemuel and Lydia (—) Day.

Tim’s 4th-great-grandmother, Eunice (Day) Sweet, also happens to be my 6th cousin, four times removed. Our ancestors in common are Nathaniel Bacon (1613-1692) & Hannah (Mayo) Bacon (1622-1691). From this couple Tim & I are 10th cousins, twice removed.

Eunice & Josiah were the parents of fifteen children, all born in Depeyster (St. Lawrence) New York:

1. Clarinda Sweet (Tim’s 3rd-great-grandmother), born 22 September 1820, died 9 February 1875 in Macomb (St. Lawrence) New York. She married 8 July 1840, Henry Charles Raven, who was born 11 December 1820 in Merrickville, Upper Canada [now Ontario] and died 5 January 1892 in Natural Dam-Gouverneur (St. Lawrence) New York, son of Peter George and Sabrina (Cummins) Raven. Clarinda & Henry were the parents of twelve children.

2. Orilla Sweet, born 3 October 1821, died 28 April 1823 in Depeyster, age 1.

3. Eliza A. Sweet, born 1 January 1823, died 26 April 1891 in Macomb. She married about 1842 in (St. Lawrence), James Truax, who was born 23 May 1820 in New York, and died 5 May 1884 in Macomb.

4. Julia Sweet, born 2 July 1824. She married 5 July 1849 in Macomb, James H. Reed, who was born about 1826, son of Henry and Betsey (Reynolds) Reed.

5. Josiah Sweet, born 2 July 1826, died 8 May 1891 in Hale (Trempealeau) Wisconsin. He married Amelia (—).

6. Hiram Sweet, born about 1828.

7. Eunice Sweet, born 14 May 1829.

8. David Sweet, born 2 February 1831.

9. Stephen Foster Sweet, born 26 December 1832, died 27 January 1906 in (Adams) Wisconsin. He married about 1860, Elizabeth (—), and also married Mercy (—).

10. Olivia Sweet, born 28 September 1834.

11. Celia Sweet, born 9 February 1837, died 29 June 1905 in (Columbia) Wisconsin. She married Amos Landt.

12. Cora Maria Sweet, born 8 April 1839.

13. Edwin Dodge Sweet, born 8 April 1842, died 16 August 1864, age 22.

14. William Dallas Sweet, born 22 June 1844, died 24 May 1907.

15. John Wright Sweet, born 2 July 1846, died 30 July 1913 in Montana. He married Sarah Jane Town.

Cape Cod Seafaring

The decade of the 1850s was truly an incredible period in seafaring history. Clipper ships sailed the world’s oceans, bringing back fortunes and treasures from faraway lands to Cape Cod, and the town of Dennis. And some of the ships playing a part in this history were built right down the road at Sesuit Harbor. These vessels, built by East Dennis hands, outraced pirates, battled typhoons, and carried their cargoes to their Dennis homes. And some just seemed to fall off the edge of the world, their crews never to be heard from again.
~ Jack Sheedy
(Dennis Journal)

My 3rd-great-grandfather, Capt. Martin Thompson, son of Hans Mathias Tønnesen and Dorothea Larsdatter Strømtan, was born 23 July 1818 in Brevik (Telemark) Norway as Ingebrigt Martinus Hansen, and died 22 October 1896 in Dennis (Barnstable) Massachusetts. He married (as his first wife) after 2 July 1849 in Harwich (Barnstable) Massachusetts, Ann Isabella Hughes, who was born 6 January 1830 in Ireland, and died 16 May 1885.

Ingebrigt was vaccinated on 18 September 1832 in Brevik by Dr. Schmidt. [In 1995, my brother-in-law John located the birth record for Ingebrigt Martinus in the regional archives in Kongsberg, Norway.] According to naturalization papers, Ingebrigt arrived in America in the port of Philadelphia on 10 June 1837, and filed a Declaration of Intention in New York City 6 April 1848. The naturalization was processed by the Boston Municipal Court and he became an American citizen 17 April 1854. According to his great-granddaughter, my grandmother, Martin came to America to help test steamships which were just becoming commercially useful.

By 1850 the newly married couple was living in Dennis and Martin worked as a mariner, master mariner and sea-captain and had accumulated some wealth by 1870, claiming real estate valued at $4000 and a personal estate of $8000. On 2 March 1866, while Martin was captain of the Schooner Niger, two Swiss sailors with the same name attempted to land in a boat from the schooner but capsized and drowned. On May 13 the body of John P. Erixson was picked up on the shore of Harwich Port and on May 14 the body of John Erixson came on shore close to the same spot. John had sailed with Capt. Thompson for about 4 years and boarded with him and Mrs. Nehemiah Wixon. The sailors were buried together in Swan Lake Cemetery.

I have not been able to identify Ann’s Irish parents. She died of a tumor when she was 55 years old. The following is from Saints’ Herald Obituaries, 1885, p. 426:

Ann L. (Thompson) was baptized and confirmed a member of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on 30 September 1874 at Dennisport, Barnstable, Massachusetts, by C. N. Brown.

Birth Date: About 1830
Death Date: May 1885
Death Place: Dennisport, Barnstable, Massachusetts
Spouse: Captain Thompson

Martin married (as his second wife and as her second husband) 1 February 1887 Frances Jemima (Turner) Turner, his housekeeper, who was born about 1848 in England, daughter of James Turner and Jemima Frances (Best) (Turner) Tyrode, and widow of John Turner. After Martin & Frances married Frances was able to bring her 18-year-old daughter over from England. Her daughter by her first husband was Eugenie Helene Maud Turner (1869-1939). By this time Martin had settled down as a merchant, and at the time he died he owned a spice store, his occupation being noted as trader. Apparently he left most of his estate to Frances and her daughter.

Martin died of bronchitis, at the age of 78. His will was written 24 March 1890 and proved 8 December 1896. Martin & Ann are buried together in Swan Lake Cemetery in Dennis. The inscriptions on their tombstones are identical:

Rest till the morn
Of the resurrection,
When we hope to Meet thee.

Ann & Martin were the parents of three children:

1. Capt. Martin Edward Thompson (my 2nd-great-grandfather), born 4 August 1850 in Dennis, died 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 & Elisabeth were the parents of one son.

Martin married (as his second wife) 23 February 1882 in Dennis, Elizabeth’s younger sister, Rosilla Ida “Rosie” Freeman, who was born 6 March 1856 in Harwich, and died 18 March 1923, daughter of Warren and Elisabeth (Weekes) Freeman. Martin & Rosilla did not have any children.

2. John “Hanse Ingebrath” Thompson, born 19 June 1853 in Dennis, died 1917. John was also a mariner and was named after his grandfather, Hans Tønnesen and his 2nd great-grandfather, Engelbret Olsen Baar. He married (as his first wife) Thankful M. (—). John married (as his second wife) 13 February 1881 in Harwich, Etta Lee Kelley, who was born 1858 in Dennis and died 1929, daughter of Joseph and Barbara A. (—) Kelley. According to my grandmother, Uncle John had quite the temper, and made a big impression on her when he threw a frying pan out of the window, shouting out after it emphatically: “I said that there will be no onions fried in this house!!!!” John, Etta and their daughter Annie are buried with John’s parents in Swan Lake Cemetery.

3. Anna Thompson, born about 1863 and probably died young. She was in her parents household and attending school in 1870, when she was 7 years old.

Mum & Pop

1957 ~ My great-grandparents, Capt. Martin Freeman Thompson & Amanda Eliza Hamblin, welcoming me to the family.

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 Thompson and Edward Swift

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 Hamblin (1879-1966)

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.

Farewell, Auntie Lil

Lillian Elizabeth (Chomiak) Rioux (1915-2016)

Last autumn we lost our aunt, who lived to be 101 years old. The various stories behind the above drawing presented a puzzle for us but after comparing memories we finally decided that the sketch was probably drawn on one of Auntie’s cruises. She kept it hanging above her bed for as long as I can remember, flanked on either side with the senior high school pictures of my sister and me.

Following is the obituary I wrote for the newspapers:

Lillian Elizabeth (Chomiak) Rioux, 101, of Storrs, Connecticut, died on October 27, 2016, at Mansfield Center for Nursing & Rehabilitation, after a short illness.

Lillian was born on January 30, 1915 in New York City, the daughter of the late William & Katherine (Fusiak) Chomiak, both immigrants from Ukraine. She married Leo Oscar Rioux on November 30, 1934 at Montville, Connecticut. Her husband died on June 5, 1957, leaving her a widow for 59 years. Lillian was predeceased by their two sons, Leo Adrian Rioux (1936-1984) and Lance William Rioux (1950-1979).

Lillian was also predeceased by six siblings, Mary Riback, Jon Stephen Chomiak, Augustine Chomiak, Augusta Jean Hereth, Olga Chomiak, and Theodore William Chomiak. She is survived by her sister, Ludmila Sabatiuk of West Virginia, her grandchildren, Leo Rioux, Jr. of Montville and Sarah James of Tennessee, seven nieces and nephews, four great-grandchildren, and a great-great-grandson.

Lil was a graduate of Norwich Free Academy and was a seamstress employed at Hendel Manufacturing Company in New London for many years. She was a long time resident of Montville and later moved to Juniper Hill Village in Storrs to live closer to her brother. An avid traveler, beach bum and shell collector, she loved to sew, cook, grow orchids, do jigsaw puzzles and work with her hands.

A memorial gathering will be planned for next spring. Memorial donations can be made to Mansfield Town Senior Center, 303 Maple Rd, Storrs, CT 06268.

We had our memorial gathering for her on May 6, spreading her ashes on the graves of her parents and her husband and two sons, as she had directed. My Aunt Em read to us her memories of Aunt Lil’s earlier years.

Grave of Aunt Lil’s parents, William Chomiak (1882-1965) & Katherine Fusiak (1887-1943), Comstock Cemetery, Montville, Connecticut

Every year on Memorial Day, my father would drive Aunt Lil to these two adjacent cemeteries, so she could plant geraniums in front of the headstones, each one a different shade of red or pink. When my father could no longer drive, my sister and brother-in-law stepped in to take her. As he has been doing for years now, John once again planted the geraniums that meant so much to her, this time with family spreading ashes and telling stories.

Grave of Aunt Lil’s older son, Leo Adrian Rioux (1936-1984), St. Patrick Cemetery, Montville, Connecticut.

The story Auntie told me was that it was not permitted for her to be buried in the Catholic cemetery with her husband and sons because she never converted to Catholicism. But she married a Catholic and had her sons baptized in the church. It was her wish to join them in the cemetery by spreading her ashes on their graves.

Grave of Aunt Lil’s husband, Leo Oscar Rioux (1913-1957), and their younger son, Lance William Rioux (1950-1979), St. Patrick Cemetery, Montville, Connecticut.

At the last grave Tim read a poem my sister Beverly wrote in memory of Auntie for the occasion.

They were worker’s hands, never soft, never still.
It took me fifty years to catch them, hold them, keep them safe and warm.
A thousand times I watched them go:
knit and purl
peel and chop
turn the pages
stir the pot.

If hands could talk what would they say?
It took me fifty years to hear them, know them, find out how they spoke.
A thousand times I felt their love:
show and tell
hug and pat
acts of kindness
pet the cat.

I’d come to love her knobby hands
that always showed me what to do.
How those hands have touched my life!
They’ve one more job before they’re through:
stitch and mend
my broken heart.

~ Beverly Chomiak
(Her Hands)

Then we all went to eat at one of her favorite restaurants, Old Tymes in Norwich, finishing the meal with dishes of Auntie’s favorite black raspberry ice cream. ❤