Saturday, March 10, 2007

Chapter 3

Ever heard of Williamsburg?
It is a popular tourist destination for those seeking to observe re-enactment of early American life. The town was named after King William, he who had wed Mary, the daughter of King James. Together they reigned as "William and Mary", and impacted history in many ways, and are probably best recalled through the mention of William and Mary College, and William of Orange. Here's his portrait.

Interestingly enough, while his reign impacted my family, his Catholic faith had impacted my husband's family.

England had allowed the colony of Maryland to be established primarily as a sanctuary for Catholics. Later as tensions mounted, in 1649 the Crown via Lord Baltimore appointed the Protestant Governor Stone, a Puritan, to manage the outpost to assure that the area would not hold solely to Catholic sentiment. Governor Stone signed the Religious Tolerance Act, which premitted liberty to all Christian denominations.
Governor Stone originally had arrived in Virginia area in 1628. His brother-in-law, Thomas Spriggs, (my husband's ancestor) arrived in Virginia following the exile of Charles II.

Below is a short background of the political tensions which were impacting the Puritans Thomas and Hannah Dustin, and their family.

KING WILLIAM'S WAR (1690-1697)

King James II of England, unlike his profligate brother, Charles II, was extremely religious, and his religion was that of Rome. The large majority of the people of England were Protestants; but they would have submitted to a Catholic king had he not used his official power to convert the nation to Catholicism.

From the time of James's accession, in 1685, the unrest increased, until, three years later, the opposition was so formidable that the monarch fled from his kingdom and took refuge in France.

The daughter of James and her husband, the Prince of Orange, became the joint sovereigns of England as William and Mary. This movement is known in history as the English Revolution.

Louis XIV, the king of France, was a Catholic and in full sympathy with James. Moreover, he denied the right of a people to change sovereigns, and espoused the cause of James; and war between the two nations followed.

This war was reflected in America, as King William rejected an offer of colonial neutrality, and it is known as "King William's War."

The English colonies had long watched the French encroachments on the north; the French determined to hold the St. Lawrence country, and to extend their power over the vast basin of the Mississippi; and each was jealous of the other concerning the fisheries and the fur trade.

To these differences must be added an intense religious feeling. The English colonies were almost wholly Protestant except Maryland, and even in Maryland the Protestants were in a large majority.

New France was purely Catholic, and the two forms of Christianity had not yet learned to dwell together, or near together, in harmony.

King James had not confined his designs to the home country; he had not only revoked some of the colonial charters and sent the tyrant Andros to domineer New England, but he had instructed his Catholic governor of New York, Dongan, to influence the Iroquois to admit Jesuit teachers among them, and to introduce the Catholic religion into the colony. (NOTE: THIS PIECE OF INFORMATION IS IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND WHAT LATER HAPPENS IN OUR STORY.)

It was at this time that Leisler seized the government of New York, and called the first colonial congress. Exasperated by these things, the English colonists were eager for the conflict, while the French Canadians were equally ready to grapple with them.

King William's War was very different in aim and meaning in the colonies from what it was beyond the Atlantic. In America it was the first of several fierce contests, covering seventy years; or, it may be said, it was the beginning of a seventy years' war with intervals of peace, for the supremacy (Catholic versus Protestant) in North America. (italics and bold is mine for emphasis)

The war began by a series of Indian massacres instigated by Frontenac, the governor of Canada. The first of these was the destruction of Dover, New Hampshire, a town of fifty inhabitants.

One night in July, 1689, two squaws came to the home of the aged Major Waldron and begged a night's lodging. Being admitted, they rose in the night and let in a large number of Indians who lay in ambush.

Waldron was put to death with frightful tortures, the town was burned to the ground, about half the people were massacred, and the remainder were carried away and sold into slavery.

In the following month Pemaquid, Maine, met a similar fate. In February, 1690, a body of French and Indians, sent by Frontenac, came to the town of Schenectady on the Mohawk. For nearly a month they had faced the wintry blasts, plowing their way through the deep snow on their mission of destruction.

At midnight they fell with dreadful yells upon the sleeping village. In a few hours all was over; the town was laid in ashes. More than sixty were massacred, many were taken captive, a few escaped into the night and reached Albany. The towns of Casco and Salmon Falls soon after met a similar fate.

The war spirit was now aroused throughout the colonies. It was determined, through Leisler's congress, to send a land force against Montreal by way of Lake Champlain, and a naval expedition against Quebec.

The expenses of the former were borne by Connecticut and New York, and of the latter by Massachusetts. Sir William Phipps of Maine, who had this same year, 1690, captured Port Royal in Nova Scotia, commanded the naval force. He had thirty or more vessels and two thousand men.

But the vigilant Frontenac, in spite of his fourscore years, (eighty years old) was on the alert. He successfully repelled the land force, which turned back disheartened, and then hastened to the defense of Quebec. But here he had little to do. Phipps was a weak commander, and the fleet, after reaching Quebec and finding it well fortified, returned to Boston without striking an effective blow.

The people of Massachusetts (including no doubt the Dustins who were living there at the time)were greatly disappointed at the failure of the expedition.

The debt of the colony had reached an enormous figure, and to meet it bills of credit, or paper money, were issued to the amount of £40,000. Phipps was soon afterward sent to England to seek aid of the king and a renewal of the old charter that Andros had destroyed.

King William was hard pressed at home, and he left the colonies to fight their own battles; he also refused to restore the old charter, but he granted a new one, as we have noticed, and made Phipps the first royal governor of Massachusetts.

The war dragged on for several years longer, but it consisted only in desultory sallies and frontier massacres. The towns of York, Maine, Durham, New Hampshire, and Groton, Massachusetts, were the scenes of bloody massacres, and hundreds of people were slain.

In 1697 a treaty of peace was signed at Ryswick, a village near The Hague, and the cruel war was temporarily over. Acadia, which had been prematurely incorporated with Massachusetts, was restored to France. But this treaty was only a truce. The English and French nations had not learned to love each other, and the questions in dispute had made no progress toward settlement.

After the death of William and Mary the crown of England was settled (1702) on Anne, the sister of Mary. James, the exiled king, died in 1701, and his son, known as James the Pretender, was proclaimed king of England by the French sovereign.

This act alone would have brought another war, but there was another provocation. King Louis of France placed his grandson, Philip of Anjon, on the throne of Spain, and thus greatly increased his power among the dynasties of Europe. This was very distasteful to the English, and the war that followed was known as the War of the Spanish Succession.

In America, however, it was styled Queen Anne's War

(1702Source:History of the United States of America, by Henry William Elson, The MacMillan Company, New York, 1904. Chapter VIII p. 162-165

Colonial America had excellent communication. Journals were kept on papers that to this day are supple and readable. (Our modern paper are acidic, and yellow and crumble in decades.)
Thomas Dustin, farmer and brick maker, husband and father, spent time to create his own almanac, and attended town meetings, voting on matters both large and small that concerned the community.

Surely he had concerns. The designation of six garrison houses in Haverhill was a strong statement of the level of risk under which they were living. Some families moved into the garrison houses, sharing space with soldiers in common living space, with small windows and little privacy.

Perhaps it was concern for his newly born child that made him eschew the garrison for housing his family. Or perhaps he felt the crowded conditions there were unsuitable for his family. Or maybe he was of an independent mind and decided to remain on his own land and in his own home.

He had seen a lot in his forty five years. He made his choice. The family stayed put.

Friday, March 09, 2007

The story continues...Chapter 2

My favorite window on earth: The Dustin House in Haverhill Massachusetts.

This was the house that Thomas Dustin was completing in March of 1693 using brick from his own brick yard.
The brick work was in a style known as Flemish Bond.
It was deeply satisfying to look out the window from where my family had view the world so long ago.

March 9th 1697: There was much to do every day. Large with child, preparing meals for a family of ten over the large open fireplace must have been taxing for Hannah that day. Hannah's loom was warped, and perhaps she wove throughout the day as she felt the familiar contractions begin.

The widow Mary Neff was sent for, she being the town's midwife, as well as Hannah's husband's step-aunt.
The birth went well, and baby Martha was added to the family that day.

Why the baby was named Martha is not known. There were no immediate family members with the given name. Perhaps it was a name suggested by one of the children.

Hannah and the babe rested. Likely someone was sent to tell her parent's that their daughter had safely delivered another grandchild. Michael and Hannah Emerson were blessed with thirteen children, nine of which lived to adulthood. News of grandchildren most likely was often delivered to their ears.

Sadly, Thomas's parents no longer lived.

His father, for whom he had been name, died when Thomas was but ten years old, two years after a fire had destroyed their family home.
His mother, born Elizabeth Wheeler, soon remarried, becoming the fourth wife of the wealthy and successful Matthias Button, who then moved Elizabeth and her three children to Haverhill.

In Haverhill young Thomas was educated along with at least five of Matthias's children who were under the age of ten.
At age 20 Thomas's step father died, and provided for Thomas through his will, granting his widow one hundred acres, of which thirty were given to Thomas upon his mother's death, which occurred shortly thereafter.

Thomas and Hannah had named their first daughter Hannah after Hannah and Hannah's mother, as was the custom of the day.

The second daughter was named for both Thomas's late mother, and his sister Elizabeth.
And for Hannah's sister as well.
Little sister Elizabeth Emerson who was eight years younger than Hannah, and who had herself bore three children, and was now buried beside her dead twin daughters.

To call these children's names was always an echo of the family's past. For better or for worse, each child knew for whom they were named.

Yet it would be Baby Martha name that would echo for centuries, and touch the hearts of generations to come.
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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Chapter 1: The story begins...

August 8, 1997: Morning in Haverhill, a small town in Massachusetts.
How beautifully the wildflowers bloomed in the sunshine that morning.
It was my first visit to Haverhill.
I was visiting there with my parents and my husband.

We had made the trip, flying in from California, on the occasion of the Three Hundredth Anniversary of a significant event in my family history.

An event that occurred 310 years ago this month.
While I am photographed in a cheerful riot of flowers, three hundred years earlier it had been an entirely different scene.

So let's begin with the story.
I'll be telling it over the next few days, so the story will unfold in real time.
To document the facts of the story, I'll be using the book pictured above.

(Try not to give into the temptation to skip ahead by Googling the names until the end. Trust me, the names are all easily found there, but the experience of the story will be short changed if you "peek" at the last page now too soon!)

The story concerns a husband and a wife, their children, and their fierce love for one another.
It also concerns faith and courage that inspires me to this day.

Thomas Dustin (or Duston, the name was interchangeable back then) had been born in the New World in 1652. He married essentially the girl next door, Hannah Webster Emerson, who was likewise born in the New World on December 23rd, 1657. She was five year younger than her husband.

They had married in winter, December 3rd, 1677, when they were 25 and 20 years old, respectively.
Thomas had built a house in Haverhill for his bride and they settled in, and had their first daughter, whom they named Hannah after both her mother and grandmother, in late August.

The family grew rapidly; two years later little Hannah had a baby sister named Elizabeth.
A year later, another sister, Mary joined the family.

Son Thomas was born two years later, then Nathaniel, my ancestor, born two years later on May 16th, 1685.

Brother John arrived, then sister Sarah, and Abigail.

More sons, Jonathan, born in 1692, then twins Timothy and Mehitable in 1694. Mehitable lived but a short three months.

As our story opens in March 1697, the family had now also lost son John at age 4, in 1690, and were likely still grieving the loss of daughter Mary, who had died five months earlier at age 15.

Nineteen year old daughter Hannah and seventeen year old daughter Elizabeth are likely engaged, as they both married early the following year.

And wife Hannah, with eight children still in the home, at age 39 is pregnant again, and waiting the birth of her twelfth child. Her youngest child is now five years old.

Domestically the family was at peace. Outside, the times were troubling.

Indians raids, as part of hostilities related to King William's War, were instigated by the French, under Count Frontenac, Governor of Canada, as part of his campaign to hold the New World for his King. The raids had been steadily drawing nearer to Haverhill, and on several occasions neighbors in Haverhill had been taken captive.

Back in August, a neighbor Jonathan Haynes and his four children had been captured while in their fields picking beans. After that, six garrison houses were constructed for use in case of an attack. One such house was built a mile from the Dustin home.

There had also been a young boy captured a year and a half ago, a 12 year old named Samuel Lennardson, from a nearby town.

There was just cause to be troubled. But the demands of everyday life continued. Their growing family needed more space, and Thomas was finishing the building of a three story house for them, using bricks from his own brick yard. They were making plans to move there, perhaps shortly after the expected baby was born.

(To be continued...)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

On March 7, 1980

I got my "Baby Boy" flower.
Laura got her baby brother.
And we became a Foursome on Foursome Dr.
There were four generations
And we thanked God that we had a son.
On Jeff's birthday while he was in second grade he wrote this:
Happy Birthday Jeff!
*See more pictures from Jeff's life here.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Not endless: 1606 to present

March sure is a busy month.
At least for our family.

There is so much to celebrate!

On March 1st, we celebrate the day my husband's family got their property in Maryland.
From Lord Baltimore.
In 1673.
The property was named "Northhampton" and "Kettering".
Later Lord B. also handed over "Sprigg's Request". The gentleman pictured above, Thomas Spriggs (b. 1630, d. 1704) built a house on the thousand acres, and named it "Resurrection Manor."

George Washington used to drop by, in later years, and later still, President Madison hid out there while the British burned the White House.
Here's a picture of how the house looked until it a fire destroyed it in the early 1900's:

On March 2nd we celebrate the anniversary of my family's immigration to America.
That would be March 2nd, 1633, arriving at Richmond Island, in New England in the Massachusetts area. That was another Thomas, the one I call my Thomas.
Thomas Dustin (b. 1606 d.1662)

On March 7th we celebrate our son's birthday, he being the 12th generation of Spriggs in America. Thirteenth generation of Americans on my side of the family. (well, OK, one of those generations slipped up and was born in Canada...)

We remember the Indian raid on March 15th.
(Stay tuned! More details coming soon!)

Then there is the anniversary of when we became engaged, on March 23rd.

And of course, there was the scalpings, to be celebrated on March 30th.

Like I said: Busy, busy, busy.

On my "To Do" list for March is to re-copy our family Genealogy from the tattered 15 generation pedigree chart I've been lugging around for the last decade or so. It was done in pencil, as I was researching all the names, and wanted to verify names, places and dates before inking them in.

There are over 300 names. I started with 50. The research was addictive, exhilerating, and took decades.

Re-copying the names is going to take a while. But it is worth it.

Every name is a name of someone we would call either Mom or Dad, or Grandpa or Grandma. Some of those Grandmas and Grandpas would require eleven "greats" to be uttered before hitting the Grandma or Grandpa part.

But I think that is pretty great.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Who are all these people, pt.II

These people above are the Brosnans. I've already written about them in another posting way back when. The seated man in the corner is my great grandfather Corneilus Brosnan, either born in Ireland or born in NY to Irish emigrants. The census report vary...being Irish born wasn't something to brag about back then.

If you enjoy using paperclips, you can thank him. He held the US patent for the paper clip. If you don't believe me, just google Google Patents, and put in Cornelius J. Brosnan.

Anyway, that's part of the Irish gang listed over on the side bar. The Sullivans are from Bernie's side, the rest are the ancestors names of Cornelius and his wife, Margaret Mears. The woman seated in the center is my dad's mom. The lady on the far left with the rose at her waist was a milliner, and I own one of the hat's that she created.

But actually, I want to use this post to introduce some of the folks now listed on my side bar links.

Around Town Houston is a quirky picture blog done by a Houston police officer. He, Jason, just takes pictures of stuff he sees that strikes his interest. Sometimes I enjoy trying to see the world through other people's eyes, and their camera provides a venue to do just that. Near as I can tell from his other blog, Cigars, coffee, doughnuts, where he writes, he is married to a loving wife, has a couple of kids, and a few cats. His language can be a bit raw, so that part isn't a direct link from my site.

oncRN is another blog that helps me see the world through someone else eyes, except in this blog, the writer, a nurse who works with cancer patients only uses words to portray her world. Sometimes she shakes me to the core of my being. Sometimes I feel like I am on holy ground when I read what she writes...powerful stuff. My daughter is also an oncology nurse. It helps me understand a bit about Laura's world too.

Rantings of a Mad Hatter Wannabe is written by a woman who is currently living in Spain, and is indeed a milliner wanna be. She's doing great research into the field, creating in felt, and if you like millinery, it's a good blog to visit.

The Sewist also is a millinery junkie. She is a fine rambler, that is, she writes amusingly about hat that she finds in various electronic settings. I usually immediately covet the hat she posts, but am learning that sometimes just being able to look at the hat is enough.

And just as an added treat...a nice profile shot of Gayle modeling in the purple hat I made awhile ago. It looks awful on me...and I think great on her.

I'm sure this hat will belong to someone else someday.
I wonder who.

And another extra treat...some of the hat wearing ladies in Sue's living room.