10 December 2011

England, old and New


This day (and yesterday) in family history: On a cold December day in 2011, I am mired in the cold 17th century of both old and new England. 

Dec. 9: None of my ancestors apparently admits to doing anything notable on this day. I may make it an official holiday.

Dec. 10, 1637: Judith Burrow Phippen dies in Somerset, England. Unless she didn’t. The lineage here is a bit shaky and could be wrong. There is not a lot known about Judith. She was born in 1595 and died at the age of ~42. If the lines are in fact drawn correctly, her daughter Elizabeth emigrated to the New World in before 1654 and married one of the John Adams who pepper the family tree. At the most recent OCD count, there are 13 John Adamses in the tree. On both sides of the family, no less.

Dec. 10, 1700: Mary Folland Weldon dies in Barnstable, Massachusetts. Mary is my 9th great-grandmother and the direct ancestor of (among other people) my great-grandmother Elmyra Wacaster Johnson, mother of my maternal grandfather.  Her line goes through a few Bentleys, a Bailey and a Gibbs before it runs into the Wacasters of Arkansas, a large and complex family, as future posts will show. I’m having a hard time reconciling New England ancestors and Arkie-Okie-Texas descendants, but that move south and west was an overwhelming trend across our generations. Mary died at 70 and apparently never left the Barnstable area. I wonder what she would have thought about her restless migrating descendants following the ever-retreating frontiers. Her parents were among the first to arrive in the New World in this line—maybe one ocean crossing was enough for a few generations before the wanderlust hit again. There was no way back across the Atlantic for them, either.

Dec. 10, 1700: Close by, in Rhode Island, John Keese also dies on the same day as Mary Folland Weldon. They were not related and most likely never met, but there they are, both ancestors. He is a 7th great-grandfather of mine. There are 5 John Keeses of one kind or another in the tree. This John Keese was born in Rhode Island in 1655 and died at the age of 45, leaving children with good New England names such as Patience and Shadrach. It is odd that the most die-hard Confederate line in my father’s family has such staunch New England roots. John is the ur-Keese: I have found no information on his parentage.

More on John Keese and his family tomorrow. 

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