Lt. Francis Shurtleff & Mary Shaw

Sometimes when doing research in a family history book we might find a biographical sketch about an ancestor. I was delighted to learn so much about my 5th-great-grandfather but also a little sad that Mary, his wife, my 5th-great-grandmother, was barely mentioned.

Lt. Francis Shurtleff, son of Barnabas and Jemima (Adams) Shurtleff, was born 8 April 1738 in Plympton (Plymouth) Massachusetts, and died 14 August 1794 in Carver (Plymouth) Massachusetts. He married (as her first husband) on 7 August 1760 in Plympton, Mary Shaw, who was born 4 March 1742, and died 1 March 1816 in Carver, daughter of Nathaniel and Hannah (Perkins) Shaw.

Mary married (as her second husband and as his fourth wife) on 9 March 1797 in Carver, Dea. Thomas Savery, who was born 1 July 1736 in Plymouth (Plymouth) Massachusetts, and died 13 March 1822 in Carver, son of Thomas and Priscilla (Paddock) Savery, and widower of Zilpha Barrows, Hannah Bennett, and Mary Crocker.

Mary & Francis lie buried in Lakenham Cemetery in Carver, Massachusetts.

The following is from Descendants of William Shurtleff of Plymouth and Marshfield, Massachusetts, Vol I:

He was an ensign in Capt. Nathaniel Shaw’s second Plympton company, Col. George Watson’s first Plymouth Co. regiment; commissioned 1762, and Aug., 1771; also second lieutenant, Capt. Nathaniel Shaw’s company, Col. James Warren’s regiment, which marched on the alarm of Apr. 19, 1775, from Plympton to Marshfield; service, 2 days; also first lieutenant, Capt. Nathaniel Shaw’s seventh Plymouth company, Col. Gamaliel Bradford, Jr.’s, first Plymouth Co. regiment; commissioned June 6, 1776; also lieutenant, Col. Thomas Lothrop’s regiment; marched Dec. 11, 1776, on an alarm to Bristol, R. I.; service, 14 days; also first lieutenant, Capt. Nathaniel Shaw’s seventh company, Col. Theophilus Cotton’s first Plymouth Co. regiment; commissioned Oct. 28, 1778. On July 1, 1781, he was commissioned captain of the North Company of the local militia in Carver. He was one of the delegates sent from Plympton to the state convention to act on the constitution of the United states and voted against it, and was representative from Plympton to the first session of the General Court, May 26, 1784.

The following reminiscences of Mr. Shurtleff were written by his great-granddaughter, Olivia Holmes.

[Since most people are not so familiar with the lives of their great-grandparents, I imagine Olivia taking these notes (as I have often done) as she listened to her elders reminiscing about her great-grandfather. I was amused that Francis was “in the habit of pulling teeth and usually carried instruments for that purpose in his pocket.”]

When the first town meeting was held at Carver on July 5, 1790, Mr. Shurtleff was chosen as moderator. He was also the first town treasurer of Carver and their first representative to General Court. He was clerk of the Popes Point Furnace Company, but today we would probably call him an agent. This furnace ran only in the winter and then night and day; and during that season Mr. Shurtleff and wife lived in a house nearby, so they could board the men who were employed there. He was a justice of the peace (appointed Apr 16, 1790), a deacon of the church, and a dentist; at least, he was in the habit of pulling teeth and usually carried instruments for that purpose in his pocket. Afflicted people sometimes met him at the meeting house, sat down upon the steps and had the decayed member removed right there. It was an act of mercy, and quite proper for the Sabbath. When the Squire went to Boston to attend the General Court he rode horseback, and carried his linen in one end of his saddlebag and some provender to bait his horse on the way in the other end. Arrived at the city he put his horse out to pasture until such time as he might need him again. Once when he went to seek the animal, he was not to be found; thorough search did not discover him; so the Squire took his luggage over his shoulder and walked home to Carver. By aid of a connection who was supposed to deal with rogues, he recovered the horse, but the animal had been used rather hard. Mr. Shurtleff had several children and sometimes more than one wanted to ride at a time; then they used a pillion and rode double-jaded. In this manner he sometimes took his wife or daughters to Plymouth, shopping. He was indulgent to his children, and when one day his daughter (Olivia) expressed a liking for a certain piece of goods which she thought too dear for her to purchase, he bought her a dress from it, although it was English calico and one dollar a yard. His wife’s maiden name was Shaw and among her descendants are some tiny teaspoons marked M. S. in her honor; the younger members of this family ask whether the letters stand for Mary Shaw, Shurtleff or Savery. Mr. Shurtleff was interested in educational work and the school of his district was sometimes kept in his house in a bedroom. He named one of his children for the beautiful daughter of the ‘Vicar of Wakefield.’ His pastor, the Rev. Calvin Howland, suggested this to him and named one of his own children Sophia for the other one, but the Esquire had the first choice and called his Olivia.

Francis & Mary were the parents of eleven children, but only five of them survived to adulthood:

1. Zilpha Shurtleff, born 22 October 1761 in Plympton, died in infancy there on 7 March 1762.

2. Caleb Shurtleff, born 27 February 1763 in Plympton, died in infancy there in 1763.

3. Francis Shurtleff, born 3 August 1765 in Plympton, died 3 December 1852 in Middleborough (Plymouth) Massachusetts. He married 22 December 1785 in Middleborough, his second cousin, once removed, Elisabeth Shaw, who was born there in 1762 and died 6 August 1819 in Carver, daughter of Elkanah and Elisabeth (Atwood) Shaw, my 6th-great-grandparents.

4. Caleb Shurtleff, born and died in 1767 in Plympton.

5. Olivia Shurtleff, born 8 November 1769 in Plympton, and died 14 November 1848 in Carver. She married 19 March 1801 in Carver, James Savery, who was born 29 August 1777 in Plymouth (Plymouth) Massachusetts, and died 11 January 1860 in Carver, son of James and Mercy (Burbank) Savery. Olivia & James were the parents of seven children.

6. Lothrop Shurtleff, born 10 March 1772 in Plympton, died in 1832 in Middleborough. He married 22 September 1796 in Carver, Betsey White, who was born 4 January 1777 in Plympton and died 30 June 1815 in Carver, daughter of Benjamin White. Lothrop & Betsey were the parents of three daughters.

7. William Shurtleff, born 14 February 1775 in Plympton, died there 12 November 1778, age 3.

8. Nathaniel Shurtleff, born 16 September 1776 in Plympton, died there 18 November 1778, age 2.

9. Mary “Polly” Shurtleff, born 25 December 1779 in Plympton, died 25 January 1859 in Middleborough. She married 30 July 1797 in Carver, her fourth cousin, Silas Thomas, who was born 1766 in Middleborough, and died there 26 January 1858, son of Jeremiah and Susanna (Thomas) Thomas. Mary & Silas were the parents of two daughters.

10. Zilpha Shurtleff (my 4th-great-grandmother), born 21 July 1782 in Plympton, died 28 August 1838 in Middleborough. She married 1 February 1806 in Carver, Nathaniel Atwood, who was born 28 April 1782 in Middleborough and died there 26 January 1858, son of Ichabod and Hannah (Shaw) Atwood. Zilpha & Nathaniel were the parents of five children.

11. Susanna Shurtleff, born 26 April 1785 in Plympton, died 5 September 1791 in Carver, age 6.

Last Revised: 8 November 2021

the dark day

On May 19, 1780, my 5th-great-grandmother, Thankful (Nickerson) Weekes, was in Harwich, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod, giving birth to my 4th-great-grandfather, her last child, Isaac Weekes. An anonymous recorder of our family history noted that this particular day was “The Dark Day.” My curiosity aroused, I was off to do some research.

What I found is that it is now known that there were massive forest fires burning in the western territories, which caused a smoky cloud to cast itself over the New England states. It was so dark that day that New Englanders had to light their candles and lamps at noontime. Of course then they had no way of knowing the reason for this ominous darkness during the day.

On Wednesday as I listened to Gov. Malloy’s inaugural speech, I was pleased that he went into our state’s contributions to history and that he mentioned some of our well-known historical and literary figures: Harriett Beecher Stowe, Mark Twain, Eli Whitney, and Prudence Crandall. And then I really perked up when he mentioned The Dark Day! This is what he said:

Abraham Davenport (1715–1789)

Perhaps nowhere was our character better defined than by Abraham Davenport of my hometown of Stamford when he spoke about The Dark Day in 1780. He was a public servant in Hartford when a mysterious episode brought darkness to the daytime skies throughout New England. There was a prevailing belief that Judgment Day was upon the land, threatening a shutdown of the Legislature, when Davenport stood and said:

“I am against an adjournment. The Day of Judgment is either approaching, or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause for an adjournment; if it is, I choose to be found doing my duty. I wish therefore that candles may be brought.”

Today, we could use a few candles. Because as most people in Connecticut know, ours is not a pretty picture.

Another history buff! 🙂

intuition

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, Image: Wikimedia Commons

Yesterday I made sure I was on hand to watch (on TV) the inauguration of Connecticut’s 88th governor, Dannel Malloy. Back in October Tim & I had the surprise and pleasure of meeting him when he approached our table as we were eating lunch out in Pomfret. The brief meeting made a favorable impression on me, not so much because of what he said, which I honestly don’t remember, but because of his down-to-earth demeanor, his energy, and that he was out on his own without reporters or TV cameras following and chronicling his every move. (Meeting a Politician)  I rely a lot on gut feelings, intuition.

So… Part of the ceremony yesterday was a reciting of a poem entitled Intuition, written and read by Connecticut State Poet Laureate Dick Allen. As an introduction Allen said:

A new governor, as he takes on his new tasks, will use reason and careful planning. But he will also use daring and instinct. And sometimes, he will need to call upon intuition to govern his people well. This is a small poem called just that, Intuition, an adaptation.

I found a copy of the original poem and tried to adjust the words to the adaptation by listening to a recording of the poet’s reading. Not sure where some of the new lines begin and end, but hopefully the gist of it is here:

Intuition
(An adaptation dedicated to Governor Malloy)

It’s not in your face. It says in quiet tones,
“I will help you.”
It drives an ordinary car on ordinary roads
into the flames

no one else will see for many years. It listens
like a young man in love,
so far down inside a happiness
it moves pebbles and stones.

One evening it read Wallace Stevens and gazed
on Hartford in a purple light,
then talked with the thin men of Haddam,
of the blackbird walking around them.

It wears its sleeves turned up above the elbows,
blinks in spotlights,
jogs for miles on Connecticut shorelines,
delivers messages that glow

faintly as a low-turned halogen
lamp in the corner of a poet’s bedroom. It
considers deeply as a governor
but without anxiety. It has

surveyed what it needs to know of farms and stars
and dismissed the rest. “I will help you,”
it whispers in the hallways of power,
“I will help you, I will lift you up.”

~ Dick Allen

It was as I was hearing this read it confirmed what my intuition has told me the past couple of months, that our new governor is intuitively aware, humble, and for that I am grateful and full of hope.

a sigh of relief, holding my breath

Richard Blumenthal
West Hartford Library
Image: Sage Ross

Congratulations to Senator-Elect Richard Blumenthal!!! So there are enough people in Connecticut who were not swayed by Linda McMahon’s $50 million campaign of corporate arrogance… What a relief!! 🙂 For most of my adult life (20 years or so, I think) I’ve watched Blumenthal in the news on a regular basis as he did a fantastic job as Connecticut’s Attorney General, standing up to powerful corporations and defending the interests of the citizens of this state. Somehow it seems fitting that we had a chance to return the favor and help him fight off an opponent who was willing to spend so much money tearing him down.

And Joe Courtney trounced Janet Peckinpaugh for US Representative, so I’m very happy with who we’re sending to Washington.

But who will be our future governor? Dan Malloy is slightly ahead (by 631 votes) but it is too close to call. They ran out of ballots in Bridgeport yesterday — unbelievable. Last I knew they were counting makeshift ballots by hand. The suspense is frustrating…

Beverly had a unique way of dealing with the stress. At 10:30 or so last night I found her outside in the cold planting some bulbs for me! Woke up early this morning, still no call. Well, we’ll just have to wait. Breathe……..

meeting a politician

Mashamoquet Brook State Park ~ 10.23.10 ~ Pomfret, Connecticut
Mashamoquet Brook State Park
10.23.10 ~ Pomfret, Connecticut

Saturday afternoon Tim and I drove north up Connecticut State Route 169, a National Scenic Byway, to do some more leaf peeping in the “Quiet Corner” of Connecticut, and have a late lunch at the Vanilla Bean Café in Pomfret.

10.23.10 ~ Pomfret, Connecticut
10.23.10 ~ Pomfret, Connecticut

It’s been a nasty political season in this state, with tight races for governor and US senator. Sick and tired of it, I can’t wait for election day to put us out of our misery one way or the other. It didn’t help to see huge Linda McMahon signs lining up one after another all along the roadside – I’ll stick my neck out and say I hope she will NOT be Connecticut’s new senator!!! I was hoping the ride would get my mind off such horrifying possibilities. Dick Blumenthal isn’t perfect, but I’ve watched him over the years, as our Attorney General, fight hard against the corporatocracy our government has become, and no amount of McMahon’s $50 million of corporate riches spent on advertising will tear him or his record down in my eyes.

Christmas Barn ~ 10.23.10 ~ Woodstock, Connecticut
Christmas Barn ~ 10.23.10 ~ Woodstock, Connecticut

After arriving at the popular restaurant/coffee house and settling down to chattering away and eating our salmon pesto salad and turkey sandwich, out of the blue, gubernatorial candidate Dan Malloy came up to our table and introduced himself and shook our hands! It was the first time either of us had met a politician face to face! Now to be honest, I had been supporting his opponent in the primary, but since Malloy won that contest I had shifted my support to him. Meeting him was an encouraging experience, but it was what I realized after he left that made an impression on me. It wasn’t a photo op! There were no reporters or TV cameras following him around. He was spending a Saturday afternoon out on his own, connecting with and listening to citizens in a rural town, out of the limelight. And of course, I had left my camera in the car…

10.23.10 ~ Woodstock, Connecticut
Mrs. Bridges’ Pantry
10.23.10 ~ Woodstock, Connecticut

After that bit of excitement we drove through Mashamoquet Brook State Park, enjoying the fall scenery and crisp autumn air, and then found two charming shops in Woodstock, the Christmas Barn (oh what a 12-room wonderland of a barn!) and Mrs. Bridges’ Pantry (British imports and a tearoom/restaurant). We found the perfect indoor pumpkin for Halloween and returned home by way of the Interstate as darkness fell around a full bright Harvest Moon. ‘Twas a good day. 🙂

10.23.10 ~ Woodstock, Connecticut
Southwood Alpacas ~ 10.23.10 ~ Woodstock, Connecticut