Sunday, November 28, 2010
From the Fortress of Solitude
Snow, Snow and more snow here at the Fortress. The walks have been shoveled and the snow plows have blown through so I have a few minutes today to post my latest research on the Williamson Family Tree.
Let me begin by saying that researching, correlating and consolidating all the information on this Williamson line has given me a headache. There were disagreements that had to be resolved and dates that didn't correlate. Now, four hours later, I'm ready to post the results.
So, without further delay, I unveil the newest Williamson Family Relationship Chart based on my latest research. (Click to Enlarge)
The information above is based on my research of census documents and family history (refer to the following post in the history blog: http://atropesend.blogspot.com/2010/10/new-theory-on-origin-of-our-williamson.html). While it may not be 100% provable, it is my belief that this is our Williamson line based on the evidence at hand. So, until I, or someone else, can produce evidence to the contrary, this will stand as our official Williamson genealogy (our line only through George Matthew Williamson).
Below is what we know to be 100% accurate based on our own family history. The connecting name is Matthew Williamson, who I claim is the son of Cuthbert Williamson and Suzanna White.
If you read the top Relationship Chart you'll see I also claim the earliest traceable Williamson in our line is an Anglican Vicar named Joseph Williamson. If this theory is correct, then we are related to Sir Joseph Williamson. I'll explain further in another post later this week.
Thank you for reading.
Friday, November 26, 2010
From the Fortress of Solitude
Our Pierce ancestors have been a topic of interest in several recent Blog posts. Tonight I'd like to pose a questions and hope someone in the Pierce family may have an answer. Why was this family line so dysfunctional toward the later half of the 19th and early part of the 20th Century?
Let me illustrate my point. I will begin with my Great Great Great Grandparents.
You'll see from the information provided we have the first recorded divorce along our Pierce line.
Andrew Jackson and Isabella Segrems Pierce's oldest child was Edwin Sherman Pierce. Edwin Sherman Pierce married Dora Fiddler (see below).
Once again, we have a divorce involving the eldest male Pierce child. Edwin Sherman and Isadora Fiddler Pierce's oldest child was our Great Grandfather Walter Edwin Pierce. Walter married our Great Grandmother Vesta (see below).
And once again you have the eldest Pierce son, three generations in a row, divorcing his first wife.
I'm curious as to the causes of the divorces. I do know that one of the causes for my Great Grandparent's divorce was alcoholism, which may have been a common theme running back through the family line.
This is what I know about divorce at the turn of the last century. Divorces in the United States were much harder to obtain. Back then the parties in a divorce had to prove sufficient cause like abuse, adultery and abandonment, the divorce rate in America was estimated to be less than 5% of all marriages.
When I think of the three generations of children produced in these three broken homes, I wonder about the emotional and physical effect the divorces had on them.
I did a little research and would like to include these statistics on the children of divorced homes:
- Teenagers in single-parent families and in blended families are three times more likely to need psychological help within a given year.
- Compared to children from homes disrupted by death, children from divorced homes have more psychological problems.
- Children of divorce are at a greater risk to experience injury, asthma, headaches and speech defects than children whose parents have remained married.
- Following divorce, children are fifty percent more likely to develop health problems than two parent families.
- Children living with both biological parents are 20 to 35 percent more physically healthy than children from broken homes.
- A study of children six years after a parental marriage breakup revealed that even after all that time, these children tended to be “lonely, unhappy, anxious and insecure.
- Children of divorce are four times more likely to report problems with peers and friends than children whose parents have kept their marriages intact.
- Children of divorce, particularly boys, tend to be more aggressive toward others than those children whose parents did not divorce
- People who come from broken homes are almost twice as likely to attempt suicide than those who do not come from broken homes
- Children of divorced parents are roughly two times more likely to drop out of high school than their peers who benefit from living with parents who did not divorce.
The stigma back then must have been very embarrassing, in addition to the loss of stability and income - leading to poverty.
One can only speculate, but it does help me understand my own Great Grandfather Walter Edwin Pierce a little bit better. He was the eldest son of his own parent's divorce and knew of the divorce of his own grandparents.
It is a sad chapter in our Pierce family history.
Black Friday. The Christmas Season has begun.
Our family's history stretches across this country to the Atlantic, and from the Atlantic to many of Europe's countries.
Both of my parent's lines are rich in German blood. I'd like to start this Holiday season with a family history blog post celebrating Christmas by sharing an old 15th century German folk song fitting for this holiday season. This would have been a song our ancestors were familiar with and sang. It is sung in its native German with the English
translation provided below.
Blest Mary Wanders Through the Thorn
Blest Mary wanders through the thorn,
Blest Mary wanders through the thorn,
That seven long years no bloom hath borne.
Jesu et Maria!
What clasps she to her breast so close?
An innocent child doth there repose,
Which to her breast she claspeth close.
Jesu et Maria!
Fair roses bloom on every tree,
As through the thorn-wood passeth she
Fair roses bloom on every tree.
Jesu et Maria!
What shall this Infant cal-led be?
The Christ, he shall be called truly,
Which Name he hath borne from eternity.
Jesu et Maria!
This holy Name, who shall proclaim?
Saint John Baptist shall do the same,
This holy Name he shall proclaim.
Jesu et Maria!
What christening-gifts to him are giv'n?
All things that be, the earth, the heav'n,
As christening-gifts to him are giv'n.
Jesu et Maria!
Who hath the world from sin set free?
This Child alone, and only he,
He hath the world from sin set free.
Jesu et Maria!
This has many of the characteristics of a fifteenth-century German folk carol. The flowering rose is a favorite medieval image and the subject of a multitude of legends. The barren thorn-wood is an image of the fallen world (Genesis 2:9; 3:18), and the birth of Christ, with its promise of redemption, is symbolized by the return of the thorn trees to their prelapsarian condition. "Seven long years," like the Hebrew "forty days," denotes a long passage of time.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
From the Fortress of Solitude
Happy Thanksgiving from the Fortress!
I hope all of you enjoy a very carnivorous Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving makes meat eaters like us happy because we hold the place of Supremo Honchorus on Nature's food chain.
A Williamson Thanksgiving Day
All I can say to describe a Williamson Thanksgiving is this. Have any of you seen the cartoon Simpson's eat a meal? They sit around their dining room table entirely focused on the food. Conversation is unnecessary. Manners are time consuming and distracting to the task at hand - which is the consumption of mass quantities as quickly as possible. The Simpsons are totally focused on their food. The only sounds heard at the table are the guttural expressions of chewing, gulping, gnashing of teeth, swallowing, slurping, and the screeching of forks scraping the surfaces of empty plates.
Now, take that mental picture and double it and you have an idea of Thanksgiving with the Williamsons.
Thanksgiving is how Williamson children are initiated into the adult world, our version of a Bar and Bat Mitzvah. The feast is layed out on the adult's table. The children, along with all accompanying animals, are regulated to the newspaper covered floor. Smart Williamson parents bring their children's swimming suits. The children change into them for the mass feeding. After the meal the children can be taken outside, hosed off, dried off and changed back into their clothes.
The feast begins with a blessing on the food pronounced by the oldest male in the room who still has a place at the Adult Table. His eyes are kept partially open, surveying the food as his booming voice gives thanks to the Lord for the bounty before him. As his voice begs God's blessings his mind is preparing the game plan. No football coach is better than a Williamson male at perfecting and executing plays. The football coach's art is on the field and the Williamson's is the dinner table.
We all wait for the "Amen" with our tools of the table ready for battle. Once sounded, the battle begins. Elbows come into play along with well placed kicks, stabs, jabs, and an over use of "French" shouted to warn off the young and weak as everyone jostles into position. The family arranges itself from strongest to weakest in the food chain for the turkey and dressing. The strongest get the best slices of meat leaving the grizzle and fat for the youngest at the end. After two minutes a haze of partly chewed food and spittle hangs over the table like a fog.
At three minutes into the meal those new to the Williamson table reach for the first aid kit. Band-Aids are dispensed to stop blood from the nasty fork punctures and cuts caused by the blinding light of swirling utensils from getting into the food.
Children earn a place at the table and in the circle of Williamson adulthood by proving they can get enough food from the table, and other's peoples plates, to feed themselves. I remember the day I was graduated from the newspaper covered floor to the table. I was 12 years old. The Thanksgiving meal had just begun. I stood there in my swimsuit with my brothers, sisters, and cousins. They surged forward with shoves and kicks on the "Amen" while I stood firm, reviewing my game plan, forged over years of experience and mistakes. I ducked just in time as my 4 year old sister was head butted across the room by my football playing uncle. I saw my chance at that moment.
Grandma wasn't well that day. I knew that would throw her off her game. We normally steered clear of Grandma. Everyone knew she was blessed with a defense mechanism far better than horns, muscle, or wits. Grandma had GAS, combined with a digestive system able to produce it at will. During the meal us children would approach her plate to steal mashed potatoes or turkey. Her advanced age made her appear the weakest in the pack. Grandma sensed our proximity and would rock up onto one buttock and release enough natural gas to warm two houses through an Alaskan winter. She was Deadly.
That day I noticed that Grandma's intestines were not up to full production and moved in her direction. Her eyes darted around the table for visible encroachments on her porcelain plate. She used her right hand to shovel food into her mouth and her left, armed with two forks, stabbed out in all directions forcing the foolish into retreat. I moved closer, coming in from the direction of her cataract covered left eye. She saw me out of the corner of her cat eyed glasses with the pearl trim with ruby inserts just as I reached out for a thick juicy slice of white meat. I saw her rock upwards toward the right side of the chair. Her face turned red as she summoned the best her internal pipes could produce. I froze, hoping for the best. Then - a squeak. No, it was more a tiny peep. Nothing. Grandma came to the table unarmed and therefore completely open to attack.
Sixty second later Grandma was left with a clean plate. Applause erupted from the gathering in celebration of another Williamson entering the ranks of adulthood. Grandma surrendered her place at the table and joined the geriatric table in the kitchen for white bread and gravy. I had made it.
Today's feast will begin shortly. I fear for Luella. She recently had an operation and may not be up to defending her place at the table. I'll do my best to defend her servings but Brandon and Monica's oldest son Cameron is in the sixth grade this year and hungry for a place with the adults. We shall see what happens.
Happy Thanksgiving to All,
From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove (A snowless Pleasant Grove I might add)
Hello To All!
I did everything I thought I should do. I watched the weather reports on TV. I read the weather forecasts in two different Utah newspapers. The signs were clear. Northern Utah was going to be hit with a major winter storm. They called it a blizzard - a storm of epic proportions with 60 mph winds and snow. I heard some say the highways would be impassible. So, taking all that into account, and thinking of the best interests of our customers, staff and volunteer, I made the decision to close the Space Center for all private missions Tuesday and Wednesday.
I rushed to the Fortress after school Tuesday and jumped in the Battlestar to pick up a few needed supplies from Lindon’s WalMart. What a madhouse! I joined hundreds of other shoppers in a frenzied game of shopping cart bumper cars. Each of us feared we would be caught on the roads if we didn't get in and out of the store as quickly as possible. I had a vision of being trapped near the Purple Turtle, stuck in a mammoth snow drift on State Street away from home and family. In my vision I saw the angel of death's skull face swirling in the avalanche of soon to be coming snow.
I finished my shopping list and rolled my cart toward the front of the store to pay and exit. I rounded a rack of ladies intimate apparel and came into view of the check out stands. I saw long lines of desperate shoppers waiting impatiently, each shifting his weight from foot to foot to keep blood circulating. Their gaunt expressions spread feelings of hopelessness to the new shoppers getting into line. Some looked like trapped wild animals with their heads darting back and forth looking for any queue with a moving line.
There was a high pitched sound that made everyone freeze. I thought it was the sound of the fire house siren warning us that white death was approaching? I realized what it really was a moment later. On Checkout 6 a child was screaming to be released from the wired jaw of the shopping cart's child seat. The mother acted quickly and shoved something sweet into the kid's mouth taken from the candy and gum shelves lining the checkout aisle.
I continued my search for the shortest line.
Two full shopping carts were left abandoned near the jewelry department. I'm assuming their owners had given up on the lines and left the store. I knew why. They feared the blizzard would catch them in a Walmart line, unable to be with their loved ones with it struck. I understood. Don't we all want to end life’s journey with family and friends? Who wouldn’t want to be held tightly in a warm embrace and smothered in kisses as the roof collapses above you, burying you and yours in an avalanche of white, carrying you together into eternity?
I stood confused, not able to process my next move. Then a course of action became clear. There, partially hidden by the long lines and magazine racks, was one check out register marked 20 items or less with only one person in its line. I had more than 20 items, but desperate times called for desperate measures. I made my move and rolled past several others unaware that checkout register was open.
“Suckers,” I thought to myself with a true sense of satisfaction.
I parked my cart behind an older gentleman purchasing a magazine and flashlight. Others saw what I had done and followed. A long line formed quickly behind me. I put my 20+ items on the moving belt knowing I had broken the sacred Shopper's Compact. I heard growling laced with mumbling. My fellow shoppers gave me cold penetrating stares. They knew - that I knew - I had more than 20 items. They knew that I knew I was breaking the Compact. I could read their thoughts.
I’ve always been an honest person. I’ve always followed the Shopper's Compact. But today was different. It was every man for himself with the storm bearing down upon us. The very fabric of society was beginning to dissolve right there in the Lindon WalMart - and I was a part of it. I feared the tension was so ripe it would only take one spark to tear away our last vestige of humanity, sending a shopping center full of people back thousands of years on the evolutionary scale. The vision of all of us scavenging through the SuperCenter in search for a carcase to chew on unnerved me.
The cashier ignored my indiscretion and rang me up. I couldn’t swipe my credit card and sign my name fast enough. I had to get out, away from those people.
I looked up a the sky as I emerged from the store. It was cloudy but still no snow or wind. Cars were coming and going around me. Shopping carts were abandoned everywhere. People were in a hurry. The ship was heading for the iceberg and we knew how this story could end. I put my provisions into the trunk and turned for the car door.
That's when I heard a thump. A woman had just backed into a parked car opposite the sidewalk from where I was parked. She drove forward a few feet, stopped and pulled into another parking place.
“She’s going to do the honorable thing,” I through to myself. She got out of her car and walked over to inspect the damage she’d caused. She stood there for thirty seconds or so then jumped back into her car and sped off.
I thought about following her and getting her licenses plate number, but in the end I didn't. I convinced myself it was none of my business. The Battlestar had rear wheel drive and was worthless in snow. I was in a hurry and didn't do the honorable thing. Am I ashamed of myself now? Yes but ........ there is always a "Yes But". I'll leave it at that.
I got home, put the groceries away and walked out onto the deck overlooking the valley and lake.
“Bring it on,” I said to the sky overhead. “I’m ready for you. I’m from South Dakota and understand you all too well. I know your moods. I know how you work. This is one house prepared for a long siege.”
Blizzards are as common in South Dakota as lime jello at a Utah social. I remember snow so deep we couldn’t open our screen doors to get outside. I remember cold so bitter your words froze, crackled and fell to the ground before the listener could hear them. A Utah blizzard would be laughable to someone with my history - yet, I knew to be cautious. Old man winter had a way of surprising you when you least expect it.
Its Thanksgiving Day. The predicted blizzard bypassed Utah county. We got jack squat. I feel I’ve been played and am not happy. I closed the Center for nothing. I sacrificed my integrity at Walmart for nothing. What's worse, I LEFT WORK EARLY! That's embarrassing and shameful. Leaving work early is disgraceful for a proud workaholic like myself.
And so, I apologize to my family, friends and coworkers for showing human weakness. I vow it won’t happen again. The Space Center will stay open no matter what. Our lights will burn through fire, flood, famine, tornado, earthquake, blizzard, drought, and pestilence.
And in the words of my hero, Winston Churchill
We shall go on to the end.......
we shall fight on the seas and oceans,
we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be,
we shall fight on the beaches,
we shall fight on the landing grounds,
we shall fight in the fields and in the streets,
we shall fight in the hills;
we shall never surrender.
Happy Thanksgiving to All.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
It has been several weeks since my last historical post on the Williamson line and for that I do apologize. My cousin Angie Mattson has been tireless in her research on my Grandmother Violet's family line (Pierce) and overwhelmed me with pictures and facts. With much of that now posted for our Pierce cousins, I am ready to turn my attention to the Williamson line once again.
You'll remember my post from some months ago detailing my strong belief that we are descended from Cuthbert Williamson of Virginia and therefore the Virginia line of Williamsons. You'll also remember my supporting evidence from the census' of that period. Given that evidence, I feel confident in posting this information on what I consider our Williamson history in Virginia. Please note that the following is a history compiled by the descendants of Cuthbert Williamson. It was written in the late 1800's. I've included the preface (in green) to explain in more detail what you about to read.
As you read this account of our Williamson family please note the red highlighted sections. I find those very interesting. You will also find a few of my personal comments in blue. And, as always, thank you for reading and celebrating the rich history of our Williamson family.
Submitters Note: The following text is verbatim from an original document in my possession. The document is not dated, but seems to have been typed in the late 1890’s timeframe. Most of the people performing the research were grandchildren or great-grandchildren of Cuthbert Williamson (married 1st Price, 2nd White). Therefore, while not many sources are listed, there should be considerable merit in the report.
TO THE PRESIDENT AND MEMBERS OF THE CUTHBERT WILLIAMSON FAMILY UNION.
About two years ago some of us commenced investigating the history of the Williamson family. At that time we knew but little as to the family, except that our great grandfather was named Cuthbert Williamson and lived and died in Charlotte County, Va., near Rough Creek.
While we have not found out all that we had hoped to, still we have been amply repaid for our trouble in what we have learned, and are, we think, on the road to certain additional facts of great interest.
Cuthbert Williamson was born near Richmond, Va., about 1740, and in 1765 purchased land in Charlotte County, at which time it is supposed he moved either to that County, or to Prince Edward. His first wife is thought to have been Miss Price. He had three children by his first marriage, John, Rebecca and Elizabeth. His second wife was a Miss White, and by this wife he had the following children:- Charles, Mary, Martha, Nancy, Samuel, Cuthbert, Susan, Kate Francis, William B., Daniel M., Matthew and Sallie; Kate died young, unmarried; Sallie died when a child. (Remember, our GGG Grandfather George Matthew Williamson's father was named Matthew. According to this history all two of Cuthbert's 16 children married and had families. Kate and Sallie died as children )
As parties have been appointed to get up information as to each of the children of Cuthbert Williamson, I shall not take any one of his children, but will speak in a general way of what I have found out as to the early settlement of Williamsons in Virginia, and some of the peculiar traits and characteristics of the family. The family at an early date of this country was what might be termed a stony, rugged type of men, low in stature, square built, broad shoulders, black hair, heavy beard, short, thick hands and feet; gray or blue eyes, erect in carriage and long heads. They are self-reliant and unyielding in their opinions and convictions; careful not to give an insult or offense, but never disposed to submit to wrong or injustice, and ready to take their chances in the world. (I'm fascinated by this physical description of our ancestors. Remind you of any in the family today?)
Few of them have accumulated much property, but it is a rare thing to find one of them, who has not the comforts of life around him, and who does not enjoy extending hospitality to his friends and kin.
They are industrious and economical in their habits; great lovers of home and family, and by nature self-reliant. I have never found or heard of one of them being in the poor-house, or jail, except when put there by the Yankees; nor are there any millionaires in the family. (My father is a complete work a holic. I am the same. Is this a trait amoung other Williamsons today?)
I have never seen or heard of a red-headed Williamson, and with the older generations, no good fiddlers or dancers; although some of them have made an effort at tripping the "Light Fantastic Toe." (No red headed Williamsons? I'm sure that's no longer the case. Remember, this was written in the late 1800's)
The old Williamson type has been transmitted from generation to generation in the men with remarkableness, so much so, that a Williamson is easily distinguished in a crowd. They are a long-lived people, many of them reaching to over eighty years. But few, if any bald-headed ones, but the men’s hair turn gray early, as evidenced by that of the writer.
When it is remembered that our Cuthbert Williamson had sixteen children, and it has been one hundred and thirty-two years since the first child was born, and fourteen of them were married, and they have very nearly all faithfully kept the Bible injunction to multiply and replenish the earth, a splendid example being set by their ancestor, you will see what a large crop has been raised. In nearly every State in the South and a few in the North, are the descendants of Cuthbert Williamson found, but Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Alabama and Texas contain the great bulk of them.
A Happy Sunday to everyone. The Fortress received a dusting of snow overnight. The valley below is frosted with white crowned with layers of gray clouds. The mountains opposite the lake are beautiful in their own way with this first real snowfall of the season.
We start this Thanksgiving Week by meeting our 13th Great Aunt Elizabeth Reade and her family. Elizabeth was the sister of our 12th Great Grandmother Margaret Reade Lake though the Pierce line. She is known today because of her husband, John Winthrop Jr., son of John Winthrop Senior.
If you remember your American history, John Winthrop Sn. obtained a royal charter, along with other wealthy Puritans, from King Charles I for the Massachusetts Bay Company and led a group of English Puritans to the New World in 1630.He was elected the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony the year before.
We begin our story with additional information on our 13th Great Grandparents John Lake and Margaret Reade Lake.
John LAKE was baptized at North Benfleet England on 26 Sept. 1590. He married about 1616, to Margaret Reade. Margaret was born 11 July 1598 and baptized at Nort Benfleet 16 July 1598. She died at Ipswich, MA, around 30 Aug.1672.
Sometime between 1631 and 1635, Margaret left John and emigrated with her sisters and their families to New England, taking with her her two daughters, Ann and Martha Lake. For many years she lived with the family of her sister Elizabeth and her husband Gov. John Winthrop, Jr. at New London, CT, and is mentioned repeatedly in the Winthrop family correspondence. The last decade of Margaret's life was spent at Ipswich,
MA, the home of her daughter Martha Harris, and of her brother-in-law, Deputy
Governor Samuel Symonds.
In 1654 Rev. Hugh Peter, Margaret's step-father,wrote from London to John Winthrop, Jr. "John Lake is alive and lusty;" and in 1657 he said "John Lake lives still." On 18 Jan. 1661/2 Margaret wrote the following from Wenham, MA, to her brother-in-law, Governor Winthrop, who was in London:
"Might I not bee to troublesome to you I would have desired yors. to have done mee yt courtesy as to have inquired concerning my husbands death, & howNo will of John LAKE has been found. Margaret's will, dated 30 Aug. 1672, left her property to her daughters Hannah Gallop and Martha Harris, and to her grandchildren.
hee ended his dayes, as also to have inquired of my cousen Thomas Cooke,
whether he knew whether their was any thing left mee or no."
The will of Margaret Lake of Ipswich, widow, was made August 30 and proved September 24, 1672.
To my daughter Hannah Gallop and her children, all my land at new London. To my daughter Hannah, my best gown, my red cloth petticoat and my enamelled ring, anf after her decease my granddaughter Hannah Gallop shall have the ring. To my granddaughter Hannah Gallop, a pair of sheets, one of my best pewter platters and one of the next [best]. To my daughter Martha Harris, my tapestry coverlet and all my apparel not disposed of particularly. To my daughter Martha, my mantle, and after her decease to all of her children as they need it. To my grandson Thomas Harris, the coverlet of tapestry, after my daughter Martha's decease. To my daughter Martha, and The inventory, which was made up of clothing and household articles, totalled
after her decease to my granddaughter Martha Harris, my gold ring. To my granddaughter Martha Harris, my bed and bedstead, one bolster, two blankets, two pillows and one coverlet. To my granddaughter Elizabeth Harris, on heifer at my cousin Eppes. To my grandaughter Margaret Harris, my carved box, a damask table-cloth and six damask napkins. All my brass and pewter, and all my household stuff nt otherwise disposed, to my daughter Harris' children. To my grandson John Harris, my bible and a pair of fringed gloves. To my son Thomas Harris, all the rest of my estate:viz. my part of the vessell, and all my debts. Executors: My son Thomas Harris and my daughter Martha Harris. Witnesses: Thomas Knowlton, Sir James Chute.
John Winthrop III. Our 1st Cousin 13 Times Removed
Born: March 14, 1637/8, Ipswich, Massachusetts
Parents: John Winthrop Jr. and Elizabeth Reade
- Magistrate, Colony of Connecticut, 1664
- Lieutenant and Captain in Richard Cromwell's Army (England), 1658-1660
- Deputy, General Court of the Colony of Connecticut, 1671, 1678
- New London Representative to the General Court of the Colony of Connecticut, 1671
- Head, New London County Militia, 1672
- Sergeant Major of Long Island, 1673
- Council member, Dominion of New England, 1687-1689
- Assistant, General Court of the Colony of Connecticut, 1690, 1693-1697
- Governor, Colony of Connecticut, 1698-1707
Died: November 27, 1707, Boston, Massachusetts
John Winthrop III, given the old Anglo-French patronymic (personal name) "Fitz" ("son of") to help distinguish him from his father, was probably born at what is now Ipswich, Massachusetts, March 14, 1637/38, the son of John Winthrop, Junior and his second wife, Elizabeth (Reade) Winthrop. However, his birth is recorded in Boston. Ipswich, then known as Agawam, had just been established in the Massachusetts wilderness in 1633.
Fitz-John, along with several sisters and a brother, Wait Still, were born into an illustrious family. Their grandfather, John Winthrop, Senior, was the first governor of Massachusetts; their talented and well-known father, John Winthrop, Junior was a physician, served in the Connecticut General Assembly, and was himself Governor of the Colony of Connecticut for eighteen years (1657, 1659-1576). John Winthrop, Junior, was a successful man, and his support and advice were in great demand. He was frequently away from home, sometimes for long periods of time. His changes in career and projects caused the family to move several times in Fitz-John's early years, from Ipswich to Boston to New London. By the fall of 1646, when Fitz-John was about eight, the family had settled at Winthrop's Neck on the Thames River in the New London area.
With all the moving and with the father's absences, the boys' education was somewhat neglected. The house at Winthrop's Neck was the center of several farms owned by their father. Emphasis was not on studies but on the farms, and Fitz-John liked being outdoors, a preference that was to remain with him throughout his life. It was 1653 before he, at age sixteen, was sent with Wait Still to Fitch's School for Boys in Hartford for a year and a half. He was an average student. Then, the boys were sent to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Wait Still entered a private boys' school while Fitz-John took the examinations for Harvard. Fitz-John did not pass, his lack of education hindering him. A cousin who was a scholar was hired to tutor him for a year, but the cousin became ill and died.
Fitz-John stayed on in Boston with relatives. He had not been especially interested in attending Harvard and had applied mainly to please his father. Preferring action and the outdoors, in 1658 when loyalists in England needed soldiers to help the King retake his throne from Cromwell, Fitz-John jumped at the opportunity. Through family connections he became a lieutenant in Richard Cromwell's Army, eventually rising to the rank of captain. The army moved down from southern Scotland to London and helped restore King Charles II to the throne in 1660. Fitz-John's unit was disbanded, but he remained in England visiting other relatives.
Fitz-John was still there when his father came to London in 1661 to obtain a charter for Connecticut. In April 1663, both returned to New London, and Fitz-John became involved in the political life of the colony. He served as a judge and in October of 1664 was one of the Connecticut boundary commissioners, resolving conflicting land claims along the New York-Connecticut border. One result of the commission's work was that Long Island, formerly part of Connecticut, was assigned to New York.
Fitz-John continued to take part in the Connecticut's government, being elected as one of New London's representatives to the General Court of the Colony of Connecticut in 1671. He served well in the legislature but preferred military campaigns to creating laws. In 1672, he was made head of the New London County Militia. In 1673, he was made Sergeant-Major of Long-Island and helped drive the Dutch from that area.
Fitz-John had many of his father's qualities, but was more of an outdoorsman, a soldier, and his own man. He lived at a time when church and government were not separated, and there was close monitoring of public and private morals. Yet, as the son of a wealthy and influential family, he could flout convention in ways that normally invited serious punishment by church or government authorities. That is perhaps why he was not officially punished when about 1677 he entered into a common-law marriage with Elizabeth Tongue, fifteen years his junior, and the daughter of wealthy New London innkeepers, George and Margery Tongue. The couple had one daughter, Mary. Elizabeth, who signed deeds and letters as late as 1698 as Elizabeth Tongue, died April 25, 1731.
Although people generally saw Fitz-John as someone with a buoyant personality and with much common sense, he was slightly self-indulgent and could hold a grudge against those opposing him. The latter attitude created problems for him in his many business enterprises. He also had a health problem, being plagued all his life by an unknown illness for which he took an all-purpose remedy created by his father, who was a physician.
King Charles II of England, restored to the throne, wanted to centralize New England under one governor, doing away with separate governors for each colony. By 1686, he had created the Dominion of New England with one governor, Sir Edmund Andros, at its head in Boston. Andros governed with a council of 27 members from the various colonies. The only Council member from Connecticut was Fitz-John Winthrop, a great supporter of the King's plan and a friend of Andros.
The Dominion of New England government was not popular. However, when it was overthrown in 1689, Fitz-John was in New London and his participation in the Dominion government did not seem to affect his overall popularity; he was elected as an Assistant to the next General Court in 1690. His individuality showed itself once again in this post, as he did not attend any of the meetings, which were held in Hartford. At the next election, he was not reelected. However, he continued to serve the Colony of Connecticut by commanding its troops on an invasion of Canada. Going north along the Hudson River, this expedition consisted of men from New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, and was meant to end the French-supported Indian raids to those colonies. The troops only received limited food and transportation, and the expedition was forced to retreat. Governor Leisler of New York, jealous of Winthrop, used the retreat to accuse him of treason. Leisler imprisoned Fitz-John and held him for court-martial at Albany. There, a large group of friendly Mohawks freed him. Fitz-John returned to Connecticut, cleared his name, and received the thanks of the General Assembly. The next spring, a new royal governor came to New York and tried, convicted, and executed Leisler for treason.
While the 1690 expedition to Canada was in progress, another political crisis was brewing. The settlement of Connecticut had begun without a charter from the Crown. New York and Massachusetts, both chartered from the beginning, often tried to infringe on its territory. Although it had been hoped that the Charter of 1662, obtained by Fitz-John's father, John Winthrop Junior, would prevent Connecticut from being taken over by Massachusetts or New York, those colonies did not give up their claims to Connecticut's lands. Arguing that the creation of the centralized government of the Dominion of New England had invalidated Connecticut's Charter, Massachusetts and New York attempted to annex Connecticut's territory.
Massachusetts and New York officials had friends at Court, and in August 1692, the new governor of New York, Benjamin Fletcher, arrived with power to command the military forces of both New York and Connecticut. Robert Treat was then governor of Connecticut, and he refused to surrender command of Connecticut's troops. Treat and the Connecticut General Assembly called on Fitz-John Winthrop's diplomatic abilities and connections at Court. He was to go to England and appeal the validity of Connecticut's 1662 Charter to King William and Queen Mary. Winthrop left for England late in 1693 and made his case early in 1694. A report prepared by the royal attorney and solicitor-general and ratified by the King and Queen confirmed the validity of the 1662 Charter of the Colony of Connecticut. Connecticut could continue to govern itself.
Fitz-John remained in England for three more years. When he returned to Connecticut, he was awarded five hundred pounds by a grateful General Assembly. He was elected as Governor in 1698, and was reelected annually until his death in 1707.
Although his common-law marriage and health problems somewhat affected his ability to govern, in the end Fitz-John accomplished much as governor. The 1662 Charter was threatened three times during his ten years in office, but each time Winthrop and the Assembly successfully defended it. Winthrop initiated a series of efforts to reorganize Connecticut's political and judicial structure. In 1698, the Assembly broadened the governor's authority to act between legislative sessions, and in 1699 the Assembly was divided into two chambers. The twelve Assistants to the General Court became one chamber, the Upper House, and the elected Deputies from the towns another chamber, the Lower House. Opponents at first criticized this change as no one was sure which House had authority over which issues. But adjustments were made, and these two Houses became Connecticut's first steps towards its modern legislature with a Senate and House of Representatives.
Winthrop considered retiring from the governorship in 1702 after neighboring governors charged him with not supplying enough soldiers for a war against France. The Connecticut voters refused to let him leave office, and he stayed. While on a trip to Boston to see his brother Fitz-John became ill. He died on November 27, 1711 and was buried next to his father and grandfather in the King's Chapel Burying Ground in Boston, Massachusetts.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
From the Fortress of Solitude
Tis a bitter cold this way comes. We have an Arctic front bearing down on Utah. Thanksgiving lows will drop into to 10 degrees. Just the kind of weather to keep one indoors, safe and warm in the Fortress. And how do I plan on occupying my time (other than eating myself senseless with holiday fare) than to create posts for my three blogs.
Today I'm please to share several photographs sent by Len Pierce, our newly found Pierce cousin. I begin with a Relationship Chart (click to enlarge) to help you place the people pictured and how they relate to us.
Today I display pictures of our GGG Grandmother Isabel, her daughter Jenny with her two sons and daughter Madge and her two sons. We also get to meet GGG Uncle Bert our GG Grandfather Edwin Sherman's only brother.
Shall we begin?
A Merry Christmas Portrait (1900?). GGG Aunt Jennie Pierce Joslin with husband George and sons Vern and DeVere
John Cowan. Second son of GGG Aunt Madge Pierce Cowan. He later became a dentist working on the east coast.
GGG Grandmother Isabel Pierce Stevens with granddaughter May Pierce at the age of 5.
We don't know what happened to our GGG Grandfather Andrew.
GGG Uncle Bert. World War I
GG Uncle Henry Raymond (Ray) Pierce. Ray was Grandma Violet's uncle. Brother to her father Walter Edwin (Edd)
GG Uncle Henry Raymond (Ray) Pierce. WWI.
GG Uncle Henry Raymond (Ray) Pierce. WWI.
And another interesting side note. Here you see that our GG Uncle Ray married Francis Roe. You'll notice in the 1910 census he was 17 years old and Francis was 11. They married 11 years later when she was 22 and he was 27.
GG Uncle Ora, his wife Grace and their family. Ora was Grandma Violet's Uncle, brother to her father Walter Edwin (Edd).
Aunt May and Aunt Nelle were both Grandma Violet's Aunts, sisters to her father Walter Edwin (Edd).
Thursday, November 18, 2010
From the Fortress of Solitude
Veteran's Day was November 11. It was once called Armistice Day, a commemoration of the day World War I ended with Germany's surrender. I was very please to receive the following email and pictures telling the story of a Pierce cousin that fought in The Great War. This information comes from Richard Carlton.
Thank you Richard.
Let's begin with a Relationship Chart so you can see how we are related to this Pierce "Dough Boy". As a side note, you'll read that he was in the Balloon Corps. During WWI the army would put people up in balloons to see where the enemy troops were located. He may have spent his time in the war dangling from a balloon making observations or he could have worked the winches that raised and lowered the balloons (the winch operaters made good yatchman because of their speed with the winches).
You see then that Vern Joslin was the son of our Great Great Great Aunt Jennie Pierce Joslin.
And Now Richard's Email:
Because he died so young, Vern is almost unknown.
Vern was taken ill with pleurisy in Jan 1916 and missed so much school that he could not graduate with his class that year. He graduated in May 1917 from Cassville (MO) high school (per Jenny Joslin's Journal and an article in Cassville Republican newspaper).
According to Jenny's Journal - in Oct. 1917 he went to Joplin, MO and enlisted in the Army Air Corps. His Soldier's Record says that he was actually inducted, subsequently, at the Jefferson Barracks Army Training Camp, near St. Louis, MO. He served in France as a private in Company A of the 3rd Balloon Squadron. It was organized on 11-04-1917 at Fort Omaha, NE. They were shipped overseas about the end of Jan 1918, first to England, and then to France in mid-Feb, and were renamed the 5th Balloon Company. Verne was still in France in April 1919, and according to an article in the "Cassville Republican" newspaper, he arrived back home on May 16, 1919. His Soldier's Record indicates he served from 1-31-1918 to 5-03-1919 and was honorably discharged.
After the war, Vern entered the University of Cincinnati in Sept, 1919 (according to the Cassville Republican) to study Mechanical Engineering. The family album has a several photos taken at UC, including one of a fire at UC Baldwin Hall that occurred in Jan 1920.
In Aug. 1920 Vern came home (to Rolla) from Cincinnati, and in Sept. entered the Missouri School of Mines at Rolla to continue his education in Mechanical Engineering. He finished in May, 1922, but was graduated with the Class of 1923.
Family lore was that the family moved to Rolla after the creamery burned down in Cassville. But I have found no reference in the Barry County GenWeb site of such an event, nor is it mentioned in Jenny Joslin's Journal. What I've found instead, is that George sold the business to a Mr. VanHorn, and according the the Cassville Republican (Nov 1919) the new proprietor reported that business was good. It also related that George was removing to Rolla, with DeVere to soon follow. In 1920 they established a creamery and ice plant business in Rolla.
Vern was taken seriously ill with back pain and fever on July 19, 1925 and died on July 31, 1925, just one week after Bobette was born.
Mother always said that he had bad kidneys, he also had contracted typhoid as a young teen, and that may have weakened them. The back pain he had the week before dying might have been symptomatic of kidney failure.
A fine morning it is turning out to be. The weather is calm and warming, usual before a storm. The weekend will be windy with rain and snow. I'm not enjoying the snow as much as I use to. It's more of a bother now.
An update on Luella, the Queen Mother. She returned safely from the hospital on Tuesday. She has been pampered, waited on, coddled, hugged and 'listened to'. Believe it or not, it was difficult but we all tried our best to stay focused through entire conversations lasting minutes! ;)
Then yesterday, a possible set back.
Yesterday afternoon I got a phone call from my sister Jilane telling me mother might have a blood clot. She had one thousand things to do (and began listing them thinking I might not believe her) and wanted me to take her back to the hospital for an ultrasound. I stopped her in mid conversation and told her I'd be right there . Note: I said I would be right there so she could do her 1000 things. Ahemm. The good and dutiful son. Let's all make a note of that for future reference :)
We checked into the Emergency Room at 5:15 P.M. and left at 7:00 P.M. The ultra sound was good. There was no blood clot. I think she just missed the place and wanted to go back to see her the friends she'd left behind. Dad was there as well using the visit as his lunch break.
I sat totally engrossed (not) in Luella's conversation with the patient across the curtain. They were comparing injuries, treatments, doctors etc. I stepped from the curtain into the hallway and saw a buzz of nothing. Must have been six or seven nurses and orderly sitting at computers typing. I was disappointed. This wasn't what I thought an Emergency Room would be like. I imagined blood soaked tile and screaming and doctors shouting orders and nurses rushing with defibrillators and priests giving last rights and patients lining the hallways in cots reaching out to anyone passing for the smallest bit of human companionship. I was disappointed.
Well, enough of that. Luella is home and waiting for your phone calls. Don't let me down now.
Now an updated and new pictures from the Pierce side of our family.
Our cousin Len Pierce found the following photographs and sent them to me yesterday. I'm very pleased. We have so few pictures of Grandma Mattson as a young girl.
If you've been reading the blog then you'll be able to pick Grandma out right away BEFORE you look at the bottom photo and see the caption. Give it a go. Did you find her? Violet Pierce is the lower girl on the far right.
Here she is again and labeled for you. You'll notice that both pictures were taken in 1926, making Violet 8 years old. Don't know where her brother Walter was at the time. He doesn't appear in the photographs. Remember, Violet's mother Vesta and her father Walter (Eddy) separated around 1920.
Len sent the following information with the pictures:
FYI. May Pierce Gadient was Violet's aunt - sister to her father Walter Edwin Pierce (Eddy). She is here with her aunt and cousins.
Thank you Len for sending the pictures.
Monday, November 15, 2010
From the Fortress of Solitude
Tonight we meet our Great Great Great Grandmother Isabella Segrems Pierce. She was Grandma Violet's Great Grandmother on her father's side of the family. Information on the Pierce family is now available thanks to Angie's hard work and the new family contacts she's made. A special thank you tonight to a Pierce cousin Richard Carlton for the pictures and additonal information.
Let's begin with a relationship chart to help you understand where Isabella fits into our family line.
Andrew Jackson Pierce b. 1835 New York. Married Isabella Pierce b. 1842 New York
Edwin Sherman Pierce married Eldora Elizabeth Fiddler
Walter Edwin Pierce married Vesta Althea Dennis
Violet Mae Pierce married Walter Albert Mattson
Luella, Linda, John, Marvin
GGG Grandmother Isabella and daughter Jenny Pierce about 1872.
Jenny is between 1 and 2 years old.
Our GGG Grandmother Isabella Segrems (Pierce) Stevens with daughters Jenny (11 years old) and Madge (Margaret. 14 years old). Taken in 1882.
Andrew and Isabella moved around a lot in the beginning of their marriage and settled in Hardin, Iowa about 1870, a few years before Jennie was born. Jennie was 5 years younger than Margaret. We assume Andrew and Isabella divorced after Jennie was born and before Isabella remarried. That would put their divorce between 1871 and 1880 in Hardin, Iowa. I'm thinking they waited until the boys were older, so more around 1878, which would make the boys around 16 and 14. Now we need to find out what happened to Andrew after about 1875.
GGG Grandmother Isabella Segrems (Pierce) Stevens (seated left) with daughters and friend.
I'm guessing the photo is c. 1887 - 1890. The child looks to be about 2 yrs old. Dora & Edwin had children in 1885, '87, '89, '91, etc. Madge & John had children in 1888, '95, '08.
So I'm thinking that the child could be Walter Edwin Pierce b.1885, Ora Joslyn Pierce b.1887, Frances Herbert Pierce b.1889, or Lynn (male) Cowan - b. 1888.
The dress styles strike me as pre-1890.
As to Isabella, I found this morning that I do have a note from my mother relating that Isabella's father was a Richard Segrems (now there are about 13 or more different ways (homonyms) to spell that surname and at last attempt I hadn't found any at Genforum.com).This would make Isabelle's father (Richard Segrems) our 4th Great Grandfather and another connection to England and Scotland through his unknown wife.
All I have on Richard is that he is thought to have been born in 1817 in England and that he had at least 2 male children before Isabella. I don't have a name for his wife, but only that she was born in Scotland.
Have a Great Week!