Here, gathered in our beloved South Dakota, are a few members of our Williamson / Mattson Clan. Charles and Luella are to be blamed (be kind, they didn't know what they were doing). We're generally a happy bunch and somewhat intelligent (notwithstanding our tenuous grasp on reality). I'm also proud to say that most of us still have our teeth.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Life of Thomas Massey, Servant of our 8th Great Grandparents (Williamson Line)

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Hello All,
On Friday I celebrated my 53rd rotation around the sun on this bright blue marble in space. Its been an interesting ride and surprisingly enough I've not tired of it. Every day brings new challenges, laughter, frustration and the occasional tear. It's all part of being human. Thank you for the kind wishes and remarks.

Researching and writing family history makes me painfully aware that life is short and every day should be cherished. Every day I scour over genealogy records. I record births, marriages and deaths. All numbers to be typed into the computer. Then I'll stop and remember that each birth record was a day of joy for my ancestors and each death a day of great sadness. I read our ancestor's stories. I marvel at their zeal for life. I take joy in their spirit and resilience and feel sadness for their pain and suffering.

Many of our ancestors died young due to disease, injury or childbirth. Many died well before my current age. It makes me grateful to wake up every morning knowing I've been given another day to do my best and make a positive difference in the world.

I will continue to search them out and tell their stories, knowing that one day my final number, like their's, will be written as a matter of record, and my story will be given a concluding period. When I meet them in that field beyond the River Styx, I want to embrace them and proclaim, "I know you!" That alone will be the greatest gift I can give - the happiness which comes from knowing you were not forgotten.

Today in our digital reunion we read more about our Great Grandparents Francis and Grace Stanfield and their servant Thomas Massey (the emphasis being on Thomas). First, the Relationship Chart.

Relationship Chart

Francis Stanfield b. 1642 England. married Grace Achelly b. 1646 England.
Sarah Stansfield b. ? England. married Edward Bennett b. 1656. England
Joseph Bennet b. 1704 Pennsylvania. married Rebecca Fincher b. 1704.
Phebe Bennett. married John Willis
Bennett Willis married Katherine Nosseman
Jonathan Willis married Anabella Phlegar
Margaret Ann Willis married George Matthew Williamson
William J. Williamson married Effie Helen Victor
Vennie, Ima Della, Inez, Lillie Ethel, Josie, Emmett, Walt, Charles married Elda, Maurice.
Charles Williamson married Luella Mattson
Kim, Victor, Kevin, Jon, Janice, Jilane, Lisa, Annette.

Francis Stanfield was born in Garton, Cheshire, England. His parent's names and his birth date are unknown at this time. He was a farmer by trade and a Quaker by religion. He married Grace probably around 1668.

Francis and Grace immigrated to American in 1683. They arrived in Pennsylvania aboard the ship "Endeavour", George Thorpe, Master, on the 29th of July 1683. They brought all six of their children and nine servants. Five of the servant's names are known: Dan Brown, John Smith, Robert Ryan, William Rudway and Thomas Sidbotham, and Thomas Massey.

The Stanfields settled in Marple Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania.

William Penn organized the "Provincial Assembly" on the 11th of May 1685. The Assembly was the local governing authority and met in Philadelphia on the 10th of each month. Francis was one of the six representatives from Chester County.

Marple Township Quaker meetings were held in the Stanfield home from 1686 until a meeting house was built in 1688.

Thomas Massey was baptised on 1 Oct 1665 in Saint Mary's Church, Nantwich (near Marple), Cheshire, England. He is believed to have been the son of HENRY MASSEYof Sale and HANNAH SIDEBOTHAM. Henry Massey died in 1675 leaving a will, requesting that his son Thomas be apprenticed, as he was yet under age.

Thomas was baptised and brought up in the Church of England (Anglican). He did not become a Quaker until his association with Francis Stanfield, who invited him to sail along to the New World and lent him the money for the fare. Thomas is recorded as a passenger on the Ketch Endeavour out of Liverpool, England. The Endeavour left England sometime after 11 July 1683 and arrived in the Delaware river on 29 Sep 1683. The passengers disembarked at Upland, which is now Chester, Pennsylvania. They were members of the new Quaker sect, most being from Cheshire. Many had been persecuted for their beliefs, fined, imprisoned and their property confiscated. William Penn had promised them religious freedom in his new colony Pennsylvania.
Twenty three Quaker families with children and servants were aboard the Endeavour. They had purchased land before leaving England. On the Endeavour passenger list were entered the names of Francis Stanfield and his wife Grace, their six children and eight servants, amongst whom, Thomas Massey.

Thomas Massey served out his term of indenture to Francis Stanfield and, as was usual, received fifty acres of land from his master, and another fifty from William Penn. By 1692, at the age of 29, Thomas had saved some money and sought to marry. With Thomas on the Endeavour was a thirteen year old girl, Phebe Taylor, who had come with her mother and seven brothers and sisters to join their father, Robert. On 20 October 1692 at the Springfield Meeting, Thomas Massey married Phebe Taylor. He was then twenty nine years old, she was twenty two.

Phebe Taylor was born 15 June 1670 in Little Leigh, Cheshire, England. She was the daughter of ROBERT TAYLOR and MARY HAYES of Little Leigh. Robert Taylor went to America in the first settlement under William Penn, from whom he bought land intending to prepare a home for his family which had stayed behind in England. Having done this, he was set to return to England for them, and set for Philadelphia to take ship. To his astonishment, he met his wife and children in the streets of Philadelphia. They had just landed and were coming in search of him!

In 1696 Thomas Massey bought 300 acres of land in Marple Township from James Stanfield, son of Francis Stanfield. At this time he began to build a fine brick house for his wife Phebe as an extension of an existing log house, and he called it Marple Plantation. Seven children were born here to Phebe and Thomas before his death on 8 September 1708. In his will Thomas Massey left his plantation to his eldest son , Mordecai, with the provision that Phebe should have ''the lower room in the brick end of the house, a horse and a cow as long as she remained a widow''.

Mordecai was thirteen when his father died and his youngest sister was less than a year old. With seven children to bring up - three under the age of ten - it was no wonder that within two years Phebe married Bartholomew Coppock Jr., a widower with two children of his own. Four girls were born to this union: Rebecca, Sarah, Esther, Martha. Phebe Taylor Massey Coppock died on 27 December 1749 at Marple Plantation.

In 1731 Thomas's son Mordecai married and replaced the central log house with a stone house and kitchen. The last direct descendant of Thomas Massey to work on the house was of the fifth generation - Mary Lewis, who married George Smith, M.D. in 1829. About 1860 they added a room over the kitchen. It was fashionable at this time to have a section of siding on a house, which is why the second story of the kitchen was faced with siding on one side. Dr. Smith later became a legislator and a judge, and was the authour of The History of Delaware County published in 1862.

In 1964 The Massey House was on the verge of demolition when a descendant, Lawrence M. C. Smith bought the house and one acre of ground and gave it to the Township of Marple for restoration. Thus Thomas Massey's 17th century Plantation House, one of the oldest and most typical English-style homes in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, still stands today and has been turned into a museum.

Please take a minute and look at the following web site:


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Another Great Grandfather in the Revolutionary War (Williamson Line)

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Hello Williamsons,

I want to first wish my Dad and all other fathers in our family a very happy Father's Day!

“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.”

Mark Twain

Today we discover another of our Great Grandparents who fought in the Revolutionary War. Robert Layton has been designated a "Patriot" by the Maryland Daughters of the Revolution. The official citiation coming from Revolutionary records read: "Paid in 1787 for serivce in Revolutionary period." Apparently, his ht eonly member of the entire Layton family to be so designated. Our Great Grandfather Robert was born about 1739 in Delaware. He married Rosannah about 1761 and died in Sussex in late October or early November 1786.

Relationship Chart

5th Great Grandparents
Robert Layton and Rosannah

Hesther Layton and Major Victor
Elijah Victor and Unicy Hitch
Whitty Victor and Nancy Morris
Effie Helen Victor and William Jonathan Williamson
Vennie, Ima, Inez, Lille, Josie, Emmett, Walt, Charles and Maurice


Charles Williamson and Elda Vercellino
Charles Williamson and Luella Mattson
Kim, Victor, Kevin, Janice, Jon, Jilane, Lisa and Annette

Lice, The Perfect Way to End Your Week.

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Hello All,
Before I started this family history blog I wrote interesting stories about family on my work blog (Spacecenterblog.org). I've decided to take them from that blog and post them to this blog so they are recorded in the right place.

So, gather around this digital forum here at the Fortress and let me share a story of horror and redemption. In it, you'll witness members of my family at their best and worst. We travel back to July 2009. This is what happened as I returned to the Fortress from a long week at Space Camp.

Saturday, July 25, 2009 ended our last full week of camps at the Space Center. I was ready for a nice lay down when I got home. I was shutting down my computer and gathering my things when the phone rang.

“Are you sitting down?” my sister Jilane asked. Jilane is one of my five sisters. She lives one block from me in Pleasant Grove.

“Who died?” I responded as I removed my lanyard and whistle. You’re not a real teacher unless you wear a Shrieker 2000 industrial strength whistle around your neck.

“Aidia has lice.” She said as a matter of fact. At first I didn’t comprehend the ramifications of such a statement. My first reaction was to say something like “And that means what to me?” After a moment’s reflection I realized why she wanted me seated for the news.

Perhaps a bit of a back story. My sister Lisa and her three children are staying at the Fortress for the summer. They return to California at the start of the school year. Aidia is her daughter. She has two sons, Draker and Caden. Many of you that work at the Space Center met Draker at camp this summer.

This last week The Fortress became The Fortress Discount Lodge and Home for the Elderly and Senile. The following extra guests checked in for a week’s stay:

  • My sister Annette and her four children.
  • My aunt and uncle from Arizona.
  • Our permanent residents, my parents Charles and Luella whooccupy a small mother in law apartment in the dungeon. They are still able to function normally, drive and use the toilet but can’t be trusted with electricity and anything that is powered by it.
“Lisa wants you to check Draker for lice but don’t make a big deal of it. It will embarrass him,” Jilane added.

“Yes, I’m going out into the Voyager, take the microphone from Emily and announce to the crew and staff that I’m taking my nephew off the ship so I can check him for lice and other vermin.”

“Just do it.”

“Yes ma’am.”

I found Draker wearing a Voyager’s engineering uniform ready to go out to the Bridge to check the ship for hull fractures. I motioned for him to follow me. Emily objected saying she needed him to do the acting part first.

“Spread the joy,” I mumbled to myself. “Send him to me when he’s finished.”

A few minutes later he walked up to my desk. I asked him if he knew what ‘unclean’ meant.

“You need to take a bath?” he questioned.

“Yes, in a manner of speaking. Do you understand what happens to little boys that never bath or wash their hair?” His eyes widened expecting me to accuse him of such a thing. I stopped him before he could continue.

“Little boys that refuse to apply water and soap to their bodies can develop diseases like leprosy, scabs, leeches, and lice! I need to check you for lice. Don’t run, it won’t help. Crying will only draw attention to your condition and if word gets out that lice might be present within these walls there will be a panic and stampede not even my Shrieker 2000 can stop. Now walk quietly into the nurse’s station. Don't talk to anyone and wipe away that look of horror.”

He followed me. I put on rubber gloves and began the inspection. Several minutes later I pronounced him lice free. Draker was happy and wanted to return to the Voyager. I called Jilane and gave her the good news. Her reaction surprised me.

“Do you know what you’re looking for?” she asked. A few moments later I was driving him up to her house for the professional inspection. I’m please to announce that my initial diagnosis was correct. Draker was lice free.

I expected to see EPA agents in full biosuits at my home when Draker and I pulled into the driveway. I was pleased with how Mormony everything looked. Yes, your typical average LDS neighborhood in Utah County. I got out of the car, took in the warm summer air scented with freshly mowed grass and pondered how pleasant everything was in Pleasant Grove.

The calm and serenity came to an abrupt end when I walked into the kitchen from the garage. The kitchen counters and table were covered with every possible cleaning agent used for lice abatement available for purchase at your neighborhood WalMart. They were weapons being gathered for a major assault on the infestation eating through the hair follicles of innocent Williamson’s, Belnaps and Coronatos.

Oh the Humanity!

I carefully walked around the chemical shop on the kitchen table and into the living room. I stood in the center of the room afraid to let my body come in contact with anything that might have a moving surface. Lisa saw my predicament and rallied to my cause. She grabbed a can of lung burning Destructall spray in each hand and sprayed everything with stereo shots. Luella was trapped in a corner chair. A cloud of Destructall moved in her direction like a fog of death.

“Move!” Lisa shouted. Mother saw the fumes, rose to her feet and did a shuffle that would have been a YouTube hit if we had a camera ready to film.

Both my sisters were armed and ready for war. Their children were in bathing suits, lined up outside the Fortress' four bathrooms and ready for delousing. The children were brought in one by one, put in the tub and scrubbed from top to bottom with Nuclear Nix Lice Removal shampoo, cream, ointment, solution, and alixer. Both sisters were in their bathing suits as well so it could all be contained in the tubs.

Once the sandblasting was complete and the children’s bleeding skin bandaged, out came the lice combs and the tedious process of de -nitsing their scalps. The children’s screams were so intense mother had to leave and seek refuge at my uncle’s. I of course wasn’t bothered considering I spend all day in space blowing up children ;)

Once the unclean were proclaimed clean, the delousing of the house began. Destructall Spray was unleashed on the children’s mattresses. All the bedding, towels, blankets, pillows, clothes, etc. etc. and etc. were dumped into the back of the pick up and taken to Pleasant Grove’s only coin operated laundry mat. Several hours later and twenty five dollars in quarters lighter, the bedding was finished and pulled removed from very hot dryers.

It was after 11:00 P.M. The procedure was complete after six hours and $150.00, but the Fortress was safely nuked and ready for habitation.

I was exhausted from sitting and watching these two great mothers scrub, curse, shout, clean, clean and clean as they debated who’s child got lice first, and from where.

Today I sit in my sterilized home feeling lucky to have survived my first lice infestation. Rest your worried minds - I didn’t have lice and neither does Draker. The Space Center is therefore lice free (unless Brock has lice. We will have to check him out).

All is well and I hope and pray next week will be uneventful. Please, may I ask for boring, dull and mindless. I need boring, dull and mindless.

Mr. Williamson

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Possible Spanish Jewish Blood in our Williamson Line.

Roosa Family Crest, Holland

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Hello All,
The bell rang on Friday ending the 2010-2011 school year. It was a race to see who could get out of the building the fastest, the students or the teachers. Who is left when the dust settles? You're correct, me. The end of the school year means the start of the summer camp season and we have a full slate of space camps and private programs in our simulators and planetariums. I'm pleased that all our camps filled and each has a waiting list. Full camps mean a good operating budget for the next school year.

Well, gather around and find a spot in the shade. It's time for another digital family gathering. Today we will discuss the Williamson family history through my Great Grandmother, Effie Helen Victor, wife of William Jonathan Williamson. Her mother's last name was Morris. It is my opinion Nancy Morris comes from the Morris family that originally settled New Jersey.

Although I can't be 100% certain of this branch of the family line, I will say that the majority of people that have traced their family history to the Riggs family of New England claim that a certain Edward Riggs married Elizabeth Roosa. There is a small group of genealogists that claim Elizabeth's family name was actually Rose, hence my caution that we can't be 100% sure about this branch of our family line. All I can say is that this is what the majority believe. With that said, we continue.

This is the Relationship Chart based on the majority opinion of those that have researched the Riggs family line.


Guysbert Roosa and Maria Dircksen
Heyman Roosa and Metje Deroos
Edward Riggs and Elizabeth Roosa
Edward Riggs and Mary Munn
Edward Riggs and Alphia Stoughton
Mary Riggs and Daniel Morris
Issac Morris and Rebecca Hathaway
Benjamin Morris and Mary Spinning
Isaac Morris and ?
Nancy Morris and Whitty Victor
Effie Helen Victor and William Jonathan Williamson
Vennie, Ima, Inez, Lille, Josie, Emmett, Walt, Charles and Maurice Williamson

There is evidence our probable Dutch Roosa ancestors were actually Spanish Jews who escaped the Spanish Inquisition. The following information was gleaned from several emails exchanged from family researchers detailing their evidence of the Roosa's family origin.

The name Roosa is pronounced "Rosa" in Dutch. The theory the Roose family is Spanish comes from Bert Feldman in which he states that the Roosa family were called a "Rabbinical family".

The Alhambra Decree (also known as the Edict of Expulsion) was an edict issued on 31 March 1492 by the joint Catholic Monarchs of Spain (Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon) ordering the expulsion of Jews from the Kingdom of Spain and its territories and possessions by 31 July of that year.[1]

In 1492, the king of Spain expelled all Jews from that country, and the king of Portugal did the same a few years later. Many Jews escaped expulsion by being baptized, and continued to secretly carry out the tenets of Judaism in private. Jewish converts to Christianity were relentlessly spied upon by the Spanish Catholic Inquisition, which tortured and burned to death those who were found to be "impure" in their Christianity. Many conversos (Jews who converted to Catholism then secretly practiced their Jewish faith) made their way to Belgium and the Netherlands during the 1500's, a place to which many of their "unconverted" brethren had apparently (according to Feldman) fled earlier.

The ROOSA name first appeared in the Netherlands in the 1400's, so this lends support that the ROOSAs were "rabbinical" (and therefore openly practicing) Jews of the earlier migration, rather than "conversos" ("converted" Jews).

The "Judaic" (Talmudic) religion is passed on through the mother, rather than the father, so when Albert HEYMANS (Heyman's son), the first American ROOSA, married Wyntje DE JONGH, the family probably ceased to be "practicing" Jews. Wyntje was the daughter of a Dutch burgomaster, and therefore was most likely a Gentile. Because of Albert's parentage, though,
we can claim to be descended from one of the first Jews (possibly the first Jew) in New York.

Albert was one of the first leaders of the Wiltwyck settlement, and along with his son Arien ( = Arie, "the Lion" or "the Jew") was among those petitioning Governor Andros to provide the community with a Dutch-speaking minister. Remember that the Dutch Reformed Church in New York served as an extended family "community center" for everyone in the Dutch community, so this action of the ROOSAs may have been more motivated by community concern than by religious convictions. His daughter Wynte, though, married into the DePuy family, descended from devout Huguenots.

There is a story told to about the Black Jew's in the Netherlands. It seems that during the Spanish Inquisition the Jews were given the chance to become Christians or leave. Some of the Jewish people did turn Christian but the majority of them left and traveled northward through Germany and France. Some ended up in the Netherlands. Over the years many adopted the Christian faith.

They were called Black Jew because of their dark Spanish complexion and their marriage into Spanish families.

The following is an article written about the question of whether or not the Rossa family is of Spanish / Portugues Jewish ancestry. It is an interesting read.

I have seen a great deal of supposition regarding the possibility of the Dutch Roosas being of Spanish/Jewish origins. There seem to be two firmly rooted camps; those who unquestionably support the theory, and those who believe it to be only a "legend". Hard evidence to support either argument has yet to surface.

Bert Feldman asserted that the Roosas were "from a rabbinical family", yet nobody has been able to identify his sources for this. His being Jewish himself does not qualify him for special knowledge that would enable him to ascertain this. Strictly speaking, Mr. Feldman was, at best, an amateur historian making an educated guess. And, without his source material, we can only wonder at what information he used as a basis for his statement.

That being said, there is enough historical background material available to convince me that the assertions made by Abraham Guijsbert Roosa of the family being of Spanish origins may be true. (The Nederlandse Familienamen Databank of the Marteens Institute states that Roosa only claimed Catalon descent, nothing of Jewish origins). First and foremost, anyone bothering to look at old Dutch records will find that the name was spelled "Rosa" with one 'o'. In many instances, it is "de Rosa". Kingston Dutch Reformed Church records from the 1600's list it as "Rosa" with one O. Secondly, after culling through many available online records from the state archives of the Netherlands, I cannot find one reference to this name prior to the end of the 1400's. I did, however, find Jewish names; Coen and Haym. Jews were in Gelderland from the middle of the 14th century, particularly in Nijmegen. The main migration of Sephardin came at the end of the 16th century following Dutch independence from Spain, but there had been Jewish communities in Holland for over two centuries already.

Many Jewish families from the Catalon region of Spain did migrate to Holland. And, the city of Rosas is in this part of Spain, a region heavily populated by Jews during the middle ages. Rosa/Rosas was a Jewish family in that region.
This is where the "theory" of Roosa Spanish roots do look more than merely plausible. The coat of arms for the Roosa family (Dutch) is three stemmed roses (two over one)on a field of gold. The coat of arms for the city of Rosas Spain is three roses (two over one).

In Spanish heraldry roses were rendered more realistically than the familiar English rose, and they were shown with stems. Additionally, Spanish heraldry followed the custom of the French in presenting trinaries (groups of objects in threes). Many Sephardic Jew coats of arms followed this same rule of trinaries, particularly in using a set of 3. One can find many examples with 3 Stars of David, 3 hats, 3 trees, and so on. And, these families continued their coats of arms even after emigrating to Holland. At least one known Sephardic coat of arms for a family by the name of Rosa is a realistically rendered stemmed rose on a field of gold.

The name Heyman has two historic origins. It is a variation of "Herman", like Herman Munster (I have actually run across this name in historical sources). However, the interesting take on this name is that it is also an anglicized corruption of "Heym" or "Haym", itself an Anglicization of "Chaim". Chaim is the Hebrew word for "life", and is a Hebrew name. I have encountered the name "Heym" in early 15th century tax lists alongside names like "Coen", another Hebrew name. So, it is likely that there were Dutch Jews named "Haym" who eventually became known as "Heyman".

I am not saying that either argument, the one for or against, the Roosa family being Spanish Jews lacks merit. However, while finding information that is consistent with the claim of Sephardic origins, I've found nothing refuting the idea. Taking into consideration all of this information when examining Abraham's claim, one can see that the story of the Roosa family's Spanish origins is not inconsistent with facts. It is even consistent with the possibility of their roots being Jewish in origin, as well as Spanish. This does nothing to prove the claim, but it does place it within a context that forces us to give the idea more serious thought.