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.

Konrad Fusiak & Ludmila Karasek

This the story of my Ukrainian great-grandparents, most of it given to me by their granddaughter, my aunt Mary, during a lengthy interview on 21 July 1999. Aunt Mary was the oldest child of my grandparents, William & Katherine, but she grew up in Ukraine with her grandparents, Konrad & Ludmila. When Mary was 2 years old her mother sailed to America without her to join her father here. Mary didn’t see her parents again until she was 18 years old when her parents could finally send for her.

Konrad Fusiak (1864-1926)

Konrad Fusiak was born sometime after 1864 in Ternopol’ (Galicia) Austro-Hungarian Empire, now in Ukraine, and died after 1926. He married (as his first wife), Ludmila Karasek, who was born in Prague, Bohemia, which is now Czech Republic, and died in 1917 in the Ukraine, daughter of Joseph and Anna (Cermak) Karasek.

Konrad died at the age of 72, according to his granddaughter. He was a land owning farmer and a deacon in the Orthodox Church. Ludmila came from Prague to Ukraine with her parents to work in the salt mines at Starasol (or Stara Ceyl?). Konrad and Ludmila raised their granddaughter Mary when their daughter Katherine left for America. Ludmila died of double pneumonia. Apparently after Ludmila’s death, Konrad married (as his second wife) (—) Blenday. Mary remembers this step-grandmother as being very kind and protective of her, since Konrad was apparently a man harsh in his ways.

Left to right: Konrad & Ludmila (Karaseck) Fusiak, Ludmila is holding her baby granddaughter Mary Chomiak, daughters Anna and Augusta, and in front, sons Nicholas and Julian.

These pictures were taken in Ukraine, and brought to America by my Aunt Mary. Konrad & Ludmila were the parents of eight children, five of them emigrated to America. Order uncertain:

1. Katherine Fusiak (my grandmother), born 19 November 1887 in Luzok Horishni (Galicia) Austro-Hungarian Empire [now Ukraine], died 22 October 1943 in New London (New London) Connecticut. She married 16 February 1907, William Chomiak, who was born 2 February 1882 in Drohobych or Nahvevitchi (Galicia) in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a village now known as Ivano-Frankovsk in Ukraine, and died 7 November 1965 in Willimantic (Windham) Connecticut, son of Fedor and Anastazia (—) Chomiak. Katherine & William were the parents of eight children.

2. Anna Fusiak emigrated to America, settled in New Jersey and married a boarding house operator, Michael Prytuliak/Palmer. She died on 11 December 1963 in East Newark (Hudson) New Jersey. Anna & Michael were the parents of six children.

3. Augusta “Gussie” Fusiak, born in Luzok Vizniy (Galicia), died at age 39 in Harrison (Hudson) New Jersey. She married a butcher, Jacob Wasyliw, who was born in Lviv (Galicia). Gussie & Jacob were the parents of three sons.

4. Mary Fusiak, lived in Stariy Sambir (or Sambor) and married a Polish railroad worker (perhaps surnamed Nyedv) at Mazurka.

5. Nicholas Fusiak went to school in Sambor, and served in the Austrian army. Nicholas was studying to be a teacher in the Soviet Union. At some point he went to Czechoslovakia. He is thought to have been killed by Stalin when he returned to Ukraine.

6. Steve Fusiak also went to school in Sambor and served in the Austrian army. He apparently had a child, but died young of tuberculosis.

7. Andrew Fusiak, born 13 December 1896 and died in November 1940. He also attended school in Sambor, married Christina Wolanski (born in 1909) in Luzok Vizniy (Galicia), emigrated to America, and settled in New Jersey. He was a butcher. Andrew & Christina were the parents of four children.

8. Julian Fusiak, born 6 August 1898 and died in June 1976 in Irvington (Essex) New Jersey. He didn’t like school (in Sambor) and ran away from home often. He married Božena Lowda, who was born 24 April 1902 in the Austro-Hungarian Empire [now Czech Republic] and died in October 1986 in Irvington. Julian served in the Austrian army immediately after World War II. He is thought to have collaborated with the Nazis to free Ukraine from Russia. He worked as a storekeeper. Julian & Božena were the parents of four children.

Last Revised:  18 April 2018

 

New Lights Preacher

johnpettiearoadsidesermon800
“A Roadside Sermon” by John Pettie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

endless strife

FrederickChildeHassam2
“Summer Evening” by Frederick Childe Hassam

All outward forms of religion are almost useless, and are the causes of endless strife. What do creeds matter, what possible difference does it make to anyone today whether the doctrine of the resurrection is correct or incorrect, or the miracles, they don’t happen nowadays, but very queer things do that concern us much more. Believe there is a great power silently working all things for good, behave yourself and never mind the rest.
~ Beatrix Potter
(A Life in Nature)

unusual obituary

I’ve been on a journey of discovery this winter, making use of Ancestry’s powerful search engine to add more and more branches to our family trees. Part of the excitement comes from finding new distant cousins through DNA matching. And a cousin, who I haven’t seen in many years, recently submitted her DNA sample to Ancestry. When I popped up as her genetic first cousin she contacted me and said, “I guess it works!”

But the search engine at Ancestry is constantly rummaging through the paper trail, too. It searches hundreds of databases, periodicals and books, some of which I never would have dreamed of looking at. A couple of weeks ago a little leaf (a hint) popped up next to the profile of my 3rd-great-grandmother, Ann Isabella (Hughs) Thompson, who was born in Ireland in 1830, came to America, and then married my 3rd-great-grandfather, sea captain Martin Thompson, the Norwegian ancestor (born Ingebrigt Martinus Hansen) who I’m always going on about.

I’ve never found the identity of Ann’s parents and my few attempts to research her origins have never been successful. The only thing I knew about her was a story I had been told about her religion. She lies buried with her husband in Swan Lake Cemetery in Dennis on Cape Cod. I was told she was Catholic and that Martin’s relatives wanted her body removed from the Protestant family’s plot. Martin’s second wife was born in England and sometimes I wonder if she was the “relative” who wanted Ann’s body disinterred.

So then, imagine how startled I was when I followed the “hint” to a publication called Saints’ Herald Obituaries, 1885, p. 426 and read the following:

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

RLDSChurchDennisPort
the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on Sea St. in Dennis Port, a six minute walk from my grandparents’ house

Religious differences are forever popping up on our family tree. And many of our ancestors have changed religions, sometimes later in life. Ann was 44 when she did so. I am more and more convinced there is something in our DNA, traveling down the through the ages, stirring up conflict in almost every generation.

But until now it has always been the men I’ve found stories about. I’ve often wondered what my female ancestors were thinking and believing. If they disagreed with their husbands did they keep their thoughts locked up inside? Finding out about Ann’s conversion was so remarkable because she is the first female ancestor I have found who apparently believed differently than her husband and had the gumption to follow her own spiritual path.

a gentle tree

4.7.13.5078
4.7.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

On March 31st I met a lovely tree in a local cemetery and could not stop thinking about her all week. (See the Lady Patience post.) So I plan to visit her as often as possible and get to know her through the seasons. As is often the case with me, I sensed an energy coming from her but did not notice any of her particular physical characteristics.

During the week following our meeting a life-threatening health crisis arose for one of Tim’s brothers, Toby. Brother Josh flew from his home in England to California to collect Toby and fly with him here so he could stay with us and seek treatment. So it’s been a very busy week getting Toby settled in for the indefinite and uncertain future.

4.7.13.5080
Larisa ~ 4.7.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

It is difficult to realize how great a part of all that is cheerful and delightful in the recollections of our own life is associated with trees. … Their shades, which, in the early ages, were the temples of religion and philosophy, are still the favorite resort of the studious, the scene of healthful sport for the active and adventurous, and the very sanctuary of peaceful seclusion for the contemplative and sorrowful.
~ Wilson Flagg
(The Atlantic Monthly, June 1868)

I don’t even know what kind of tree “my” tree is! When she puts out some leaves I will be able to identify her, but I wish I could identify her by her bark.

Larisa came for the weekend to visit her uncles, and when I mentioned my new tree she was happy to pop over with me to see her and to pose for a couple of pictures with her, too. On this trip I noticed the tree’s burls – one very large one near the base of the trunk, and perhaps ten much smaller ones above it and below the first branches. And Larisa noticed the shape of the branches – like check marks they arch up and then down before reaching up again.

The kitties are handling all the extra people in the house pretty well. Zoë is blossoming with friendliness and curiosity. Scarby is still pretty shy and anxious, but she stays where she feels safe under Tim’s bed and I suspect she comes out to eat and use the litter pan once everyone is asleep. We’re giving her all the time and space she seems to need. After all, it’s only been a month since her whole world was turned upside down!

my soul is in the likeness

Stapafell, Iceland, photo by Christian Bickel

If I imagine my soul, as I do when I pray, it’s shaped like Stapafel. No change of place or religion can alter that. I lived beneath Stapafel from the hour I was born until I was sixteen. I’ve never seen it since, but that doesn’t matter. My soul is in the likeness of a jagged peak with a rock like a man standing on its summit, and snags of rock shaped like trolls along its spine. Screes defend it, although it’s not quite inaccessible if you know the way up.
~ Margaret Elphinstone
(The Sea Road)