Thompson Cemetery

7.5.19 ~ the first map used to try to locate the Thompson Cemetery

What a day! I was doing some research early in the morning and found the address to a cemetery in North Stonington where one of my 5th-great-grandfathers is buried. Tim suggested we go find it and so we set out. The address was incorrect. We couldn’t find it. But we found the town hall and a very helpful clerk there who solved the puzzle for us, using a variety of maps. We were on our way once again.

7.5.19 ~ found at last!

It’s a very small family cemetery on private property. The gate was locked so we somehow managed with our old aching bodies to climb over that stone wall. That’s determination for you. We landed in poison ivy and other greenery, full of ticks, for sure. But we found what we were looking for, tucked in the back, close to the stone wall.

In
Memory of
JAMES
THOMSON
who died
Jan. 30, 1808
Aged 92 years

In
Memory of
MARY,
wife of
James Thomson
who died
April 10, 1803
Aged 73 years

7.5.19 ~ the back of Mary’s headstone, nestled between a lovely tree, the stone wall, and her husband’s headstone

I was disappointed, but not at all surprised, to not discover Mary’s maiden name. I went to the cemetery believing she had given birth to 15 children and wondered what her life must have been like. Something about the data I had at home didn’t quite seem to add up.

When we got home we first took showers to wash away any possible poison ivy oil.

And then I was back online for hours trying to see if I could find anything else about Mary. Well, it turns out that there were two Marys! James’ first wife was Mary Dixon, the mother of 5 of his children, and his second wife was Mary Denison, the mother of 10 of his children. The Mary in the cemetery is the second wife, and my 5th-great-grandmother. It’s no wonder there is so much confusion but I think I’ve finally got it sorted out.

I descend from Mary Denison’s youngest son, Elias Thompson. He was born here in 1773 but moved to Kendall, New York and died there in 1848. His daughter, Lucy Anne, married Austin White and stayed here. I’m learning how deeply connected to southeastern Connecticut my roots are and why I feel so at home living here.

James Thompson (1724-1808) & Mary Denison (1728-1803)
Elias Thompson (1773-1848)
Lucy Anne Thompson (1808-1852)
William Martin White (1836-1925)
Samuel Minor White (1873-1949)
John Everett White (1905-2001) ~ my grandfather

After getting bleary-eyed online we finally went to the beach for supper. While waiting for our order and looking out over the water I suddenly saw my gull friend sitting on one of his posts! “My friend!” I exclaimed and rushed down the stairs and over the grass to say hello. He acknowledged me and took off, flying in a great circle and then came back and landed on a rock, safely away from some gull-chasing children. We gazed at each other for a long time and then he reached down into the water and brought up a large crab. He flew his catch to a rock closer to me and proceeded to break it up and eat it. I was mesmerized. It was so wonderful to see him again.

Of course I hadn’t brought the camera or my cell phone. But Tim got this picture of him. It’s kind of amazing, I first met this gull in 2011, 8 years ago. Most gulls can survive from 10-15 years in the wild. Perhaps we’ll be friends for a few more years to come.

Our first meeting: in the offing. It was a perfect ending to a great day. (And let’s hope we don’t wake up with poison ivy tomorrow…)

Gov. Andrew Hamilton

Exciting day at the Rodgers home! I’ve been trying to trace Tim’s grandmother’s Hamilton ancestors back to Scotland for as long as we’ve been married, almost 44 years. Taking notes from her father’s autobiography and her mother’s research, the line went back only 4 generations.

Allegra Estelle Hamilton 1900-1992
Charles Amos Hamilton 1866-1943
Charles Munson Hamilton 1815-1891
Benjamin Hamilton 1792-1880
William Hamilton 1756-1824

All we knew of Benjamin was that he came from New Jersey and settled in New York, and that his father, William, fought in the Revolutionary War. Charles Amos became a member of the Sons of the American Revolution as a great-grandson of William, on 4 January 1924.

William participated in the battles of the Narrows on the Susquehanna River and at Tioga Point. He was a member of Capt. Morrison’s Co. 1 Battalion.

No one seemed to know the name of William’s father but it was thought that he was born in Scotland. However, it seems he was actually born in New Jersey. As I was browsing Ancestry.com this morning I stumbled across a picture of a page entitled The Hamilton Family, pg. 291. It’s from the book by J. Percy Crayon, Rockaway Records of Morris County, N. J. Families, (Rockaway, N.J., Rockaway Publishing Co., 1902).

But, much to my delight, one of the Benjamins on the page matched up with Tim’s Benjamin Hamilton. And at long last the mystery is solved! William’s second wife, Phebe Hurt, is the name of Benjamin’s previously unidentified mother. And the line now goes back 3 more generations to the Scottish ancestor.

William Hamilton 1756-1824 (Revolutionary War)
Stephen Hamilton ?-1759 (died in the Battle of Ticonderoga, French & Indian War)
John Hamilton c.1681-1747
Gov. Andrew Hamilton ?-1703 (Governor of colonial New Jersey, Tim’s 7th-great-grandfather)

This afternoon I found the following account of Andrew’s life in Appletons’ Cyclopædia of American Biography (1900) edited by James Grant Wilson & John Fiske. It was all one paragraph but I’m breaking it up to make it easier to read. Enjoy!

HAMILTON, Andrew, governor of New Jersey, b. in Scotland; d. probably in Burlington, N. J., 20 April, 1703. He was engaged in business as a merchant in Edinburgh, and was sent to East Jersey as a special agent for the proprietaries. Having discharged that mission satisfactorily, he was recommended as a man of intelligence and judgment to Lord Neil Campbell, who was sent to that province in 1686 as deputy-governor for two years. He was made a member of the council in consequence, and in March, 1687, became acting governor on the departure of Lord Neil for England, who was called there on business and did not return.

In 1688, East and West Jersey having surrendered their patents, those provinces came under the control of Gov. Edmund Andros, and were annexed to New York and New England. Andros, then residing in Boston, visited New York and the Jerseys, continuing all officers in their places, and making but slight changes in the government. In consequence of the revolution of 1688 in England, Gov. Hamilton visited the mayor of New York as the representative of Andros, that official having been seized by the New-Englanders in April, 1689. He finally sailed for England, in order to consult with the proprietaries, but was captured by the French, and did not reach London until May, 1690. He was still residing there in March, 1692, when he was appointed governor of East Jersey, and also given charge of West Jersey.

Although he administered the affairs of the province to the satisfaction of both the colonists and the proprietaries, he was deposed in 1697, “much against the inclination” of the latter, in obedience to an act of parliament which provided that “no other than a natural-born subject of England could serve in any public post of trust or profit.” Hamilton returned to England in 1698, but so great was the disorder and maladministration under his successor, Jeremiah Basse, that he was reappointed, 19 Aug., 1699. He could not, however, right the wrong that had been already done, or repair the abuses that had crept in. Officers were insulted in the discharge of their duties, and the growth of the province was seriously interfered with.

In 1701 he was appointed by William Penn deputy-governor of Pennsylvania, the latter having been called to England to oppose the machinations of those who were plotting to deprive him of his American possessions. On Penn’s arrival in London everything was done to harass him, factious opposition being made to the confirmation of Gov. Hamilton, who was wrongfully charged with having been engaged in illicit trade. The appointment finally received the royal sanction. In the session of the provincial assembly in Oct., 1702, the representatives of the territories refused to meet those of the province, claiming the privilege of separation under a new charter, and expressing their firm determination to remain apart.

Hamilton strongly urged the advantages of union, and used all his influence to secure this result, but without effect. He also made preparations for the defence of the colony by organizing a military force. He died while on a visit to his family in New Jersey the year following. It was to Andrew Hamilton that the colonies were indebted for the first organization of a postal service, he having obtained a patent from the crown for the purpose in 1694. —

His son, John, acting governor of New Jersey, d. in Perth Amboy, N. J.. in 1746. It is not known whether he was born in East Jersey or in Scotland. He is first heard of in public life as a member of Gov. Hunter’s council in 1713. He retained his seat under Gov. Burnet, Gov. Montgomerie, and Gov. Cosby. In 1735 he was appointed associate judge of the provincial supreme court, but probably did not serve, as he became acting governor on the death of Gov. Cosby, only three weeks after the latter’s accession to office, 31 March, 1736. He continued at the head of affairs until the summer of 1738, when Lewis Morris was appointed governor of New Jersey, “apart from New York.”

Hamilton again became acting governor on the death of the latter in 1746, but he was then quite infirm and died a few months afterward. He is usually credited with having established the first colonial postal service, but the weight of authority seems to favor the belief that it was his father who obtained the patent.

Last Revised: 19 April 2019

morning light

10.22.18 ~ morning light ~ Chapel Hill, North Carolina

As a scientist I am indeed only an ant, insufficient and anonymous, but I am stronger than I look and part of something that is much bigger than I am. Together we are building something that will fill our grandchildren’s grandchildren with awe, and while building we consult daily the crude instructions provided by our grandfathers’ grandfathers. As a tiny, living part of the scientific collective, I’ve sat alone countless nights in the dark, burning my metal candle and watching a foreign world with an aching heart. Like anyone else who harbors precious secrets wrought from years of searching, I have longed for someone to tell.
~ Hope Jahren
(Lab Girl)

Reading Lab Girl by Hope Jahren was eye-opening for me. My father was a scientist and, like many children, I didn’t have much of a grasp on what he did all day. I knew he was researching chicken viruses in a lab at the university. Sometimes he would take my sister and me to work and I noticed all sorts of lab equipment, especially a special light he used to examine chicken embryos in their shells. I knew every couple of years he would be stressing about whether he would get funding for another couple of years. (He always did.) Once I tried to read his PhD thesis, but it was like trying to read a foreign language.

In this book Jahren, who studies plants, introduced me to the concept of curiosity-driven research. The scientist sets up and runs experiments to investigate whatever she happens to be wondering about. Any “real-world” applications of the results are not immediately apparent or sought. Collecting data is pure joy for her. She adds to the volume of scientific knowledge and leaves information for future scientists to make use of in their own research.

Now I get what my father was doing all those years! He may not have made any dazzling discoveries but he was an important ‘part of something that is much bigger than he was.’ Hope Jahren gives a very enlightening look into the everyday world of scientists, in words all of us will understand.

little fellow identified

Albert E. Weekes (1907-1991)

My cousin sent me a little puzzle I enjoyed solving. He is also going through boxes from the grandparents! Along with the front and back of this postcard he sent a question, “My middle name is Weekes and I saw this post card from Weekes to Swift… may be of interest to you and also I don’t know who the kid is on the photograph, might you?” It took me a couple of hours, going over my data stored away at Ancestry, to find someone who fit.

So finally I could write back:

My best guess for the identity of the little fellow in the picture would be Albert E. Weekes (1907-1991). He is our 2nd cousin, 3 times removed. The postcard was sent in July 1911, when he was 3 years 9 months old, and the message says the picture was taken when he was 2 years 9 months old, which Albert was in July of 1910. He was 10 years younger than his next older sibling, his sister Bertha.

The post card is from his parents, Mr. & Mrs. G. A. Weekes, George Albert Weekes (1849-1917) & Mary J. (Hilliard) Weekes (1867-1952).

The post card was sent to George’s first cousin, Mrs. Edward E. Swift, Susan Flora (Freeman) Swift (1864-1963). She is our 3rd-great-aunt, Aunt Flora, of Woods Hole.

Our ancestors in common are my 4th-great-grandparents, Isaac Weekes (1780-1841) & Elisabeth (Allen) Weekes, profiled here. The cousins, Mr. Weekes and Mrs. Swift, were their grandchildren. They have many descendants and I haven’t found all of them yet, I’m sure!

there is simply this moment, as it is

4.8.18 ~ Sandhills Horticultural Gardens, Pinehurst, North Carolina

Spirituality is life itself. Being life. Being this moment. Not as a practice or an attainment or something an imaginary person does in order to get somewhere else, but just because it’s What Is. It’s the natural state, the ever-present, ever-changing thusness of Here / Now. The part that falls away (if we’re lucky) is the search, the endless search to “get it,” to become “okay” at last… the belief in (and identity as) the psychological self and its problems and the endless attempts to cure them.

As I see it, there is no end to awakening, no end to spiritual exploration and discovery, no end to devotion and celebration and wonder… but what can end (and only now) is the search to fix “me,” to unstick “me,” to enlighten “me,” to finally get control (by understanding how the universe works, by getting The Answer, by finally vanquishing all “my” neurotic quirks and tendencies and solving “my” problems). When all of that ends, there is simply this moment, as it is. Boundless and free.

~ Joan Tollifson
(Facebook, July 18, 2017)

self-determination

“Lovers” by Pablo Picasso

How can twins with identical genetics and environment become so different and tolerate these differences so well? J. David Smith suggests that conjoined twins demonstrate an important aspect of human differentiation: intentionality. He notes that the role of self-determination has been lost in the “nature-nurture” debate about whether heredity or environment rules our lives. These two perspectives may appear to be complete opposites, but they share a common deterministic outlook. Even a compromise position still ignores how self-direction shapes our destinies. When we ignore the role of free will and active participation in our own lives, we damage and discourage ourselves.
~ David Schnarch
(Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love & Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships)

It was perhaps fifteen years ago when I read an excellent book, Passionate Marriage, quoted above, back when I was very interested in the balance between autonomy and intimacy in marriage and other relationships. And the gist of the above paragraph was etched into my mind as I embraced the idea of self-determination playing as much of a role in the course of our lives as heredity or environment.

Ever since I started this blog I have wanted to find the quote to add to my collection here. But memory is a funny thing. About the same period of time I had read another excellent book, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression by Andrew Solomon. I was certain I had read that paragraph in this book! Self-determination can definitely apply to will in the fight against depression, a very cruel disease. Who knows how many times I thumbed through The Noonday Demon, looking in vain for the desired paragraph? Eventually I abandoned the search.

A couple of weeks ago I happened to be rearranging my daughter’s bookshelves when I came across my old copy of Passionate Marriage. I started leafing through it, looking to see what ideas I had underlined all those years ago, before passing the book on to her. Voila! There it was. I was dumbfounded.

Tim and I often joke about our ever-changing memories. I’ve taken to saying that the more certain I am of something I remember, the more likely it is that I am totally mistaken! This was certainly a case in point. 🙂

in the dim twilight

summer wolf by Chrille Kroll

But especially he loved to run in the dim twilight of the summer midnights, listening to the subdued and sleepy murmurs of the forest, reading signs and sounds as man may read a book, and seeking for the mysterious something that called – called, waking or sleeping, at all times, for him to come.
~ Jack London
(The Call of the Wild)

a strange gift from our deep past

“The Ten Largest” by Hilma af Klint

In recent years, researchers have determined that most cases of autism are not rooted in rare de novo mutations but in very old genes that are shared widely in the general population while being concentrated more in certain families than others. Whatever autism is, it is not a unique product of modern civilization. It is a strange gift from our deep past, passed down through millions of years of evolution.
~ Steve Silberman
(NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism & The Future of Neurodiversity)

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.