Clio – Muse of History…And You Can Help

I am history geek who loves genealogy, or a genealogist who loves history. To me it makes no difference. I have always loved history and I have always loved learning about the part my own ancestors played in history.

Genealogy and history are two topics that go hand in hand. You cannot effectively research genealogy without a solid foundation of knowledge about historic events. Many times some of the best information about earlier generations will come from historic documents at a local level.

Today I saw a Facebook ad for a site called Clio. It claims to be an online tour guide to historical locations. Okay at pre 9 am hours that had me excited! Old cemeteries, historical buildings, and museums are some of my favorite places to visit. Every time I visit a new place, I struggle to discover the neat forgotten pieces of history tucked away. This site has potential.

What is Clio?

Named after the ancient Greek muse of history, Clio puts history at your fingertips. Similar to locator ‘apps’ that help you find a nearby restaurant or repair shop, Clio picks up your present location and guides you to landmarks, museums, and historic and cultural sites. It also acts as a virtual time machine, allowing a user to see images and videos and hear and read about historic events that happened around them. ”

The site uses volunteers and educators to help build a database of historic places. As of this blog, the site has over 29,000 entries. The entries are submitted, reviewed and listed in a searchable format both my name and by location. The list lets you see the results either on a map or in a list format. The user is able to restrict the search area to distance from a certain place or their current location.

As someone who enjoys traveling to new areas and seeing new places this site could be a great travel resource to locate historic locations while on the road. I look forward to adding a few of my favorite historic sites to the Clio database soon!

 

Featured Image:

Featured Image Source: Muse of History Nicolas Poussin

Death by Fire: Charles Shuck

Charles Shuck was a son to Mose Shuck and Mary Ann Fleshman, a great uncle many times removed to myself.

I was looking up random ancestors names on Chronicling America when I discovered this article about the death of Uncle Charles Shuck. At age 80, Charles fell into his fireplace and burned to death. He was discovered with his face badly burned and his clothes nearly burned off. The fire was out and his body when he was found a day after he was last seen alive.

charles shuck obit 1893
The Clarksburg telegram. (Clarksburg, W. Va.), 03 Feb. 1893. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84037844/1893-02-03/ed-1/seq-4/>

The moment I saw this article I thought of Rebecca Cornell and the odd way she died. She too was found dead in a similar manner. The difference being that when Rebecca was found burned to death at the foot of her fireplace her own son Thomas Cornell Jr was executed for her murder.

I am certain that burning to death was probably more common in a period where everyone cooked and heated their homes with an open fire. It seems odd that I had not just one ancestor, but two, who suffered such a strange unfortunate death.

That these cases had such vast different conclusions is even more shocking. By all accounts it appears that Charles’ death was never considered anything more than a tragic accident. In Rebecca’s case her son was hung for her murder on spectral evidence.

What do you think the difference was between the case of Charles Shuck and Rebecca Cornell and why do you think such different conclusions were reached in their deaths?

 

Rebecca Persinger: Abducted

Another update on the notable relations page with the story of Rebecca Persinger.

Rebecca married a Swiss immigrant, Jacob Persinger, in 1743 and the couple braved the region that would later become West Virginia when it was still a hostile wilderness full of Natives.

Source: Rebecca Persinger: Abducted

William Hunter Cavendish: Revolutionary War Soldier

An update to the Notable Relations section about my direct ancestor William Hunter Cavendish and the part he played in establishing government in what would become West Virginia.

Source: William Hunter Cavendish: Revolutionary War Soldier

A Strange Tale in Ripley County, Missouri

Recently I stumbled upon an article about an odd double murder that happened nearly a 100 years ago which left me fascinated and delving deeper for more information.  The murders took place in Ripley County, Missouri during prohibition.

Ripley County was an area with a reputation for lawlessness.  Homemade corn liquor poured from stills long before the law forbidding alcohol in the country.  A lack of roads inhibited the law enforcement authorities from cracking down on unsavory types in a region where many of the locals traveled by the many waterways that snaked through the area.

The region was mostly poor; a majority of the population was illiterate.  Many of the people in the area had immigrated to the area during the lumber boom after 1880, most of them from Tennessee.  Small family farms and timber operations were the main industries of the area.

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Lillie Mae Weatherspoon

In 1920 the Bennett family lived on the South Branch of the Buffalo Creek in Pine Township in Ripley County.  The family is headed by 62 year old widow Celia Louisa “Lucy” Bennett.  Also living with her at the time was her 34 year old son, J.W. Bennett, and 17 year old Gertie Bennett, a granddaughter whose mother was deceased.  Lucy claimed to be a farmer and reported that she owned her land.  Living next door to Lucy in 1920 were her daughter Fanny, with her husband Willie Weatherspoon, and their children.  The family had resided on the same land for over 10 years.   My Great Grandmother, Lillie Mae Weatherspoon, was one of Willie and Fanny’s children.

A gruesome discovery rocked the region in June 1926 when the bodies of Ernest and Frank Van Patton were discovered.  The old men had been dead, exposed to the elements and animals, about a week prior to discovery.  The men were misers and local rumors indicated they had a hidden wealth of money which was never recovered.  Local authorities were unable to solve the strange demise of the Van Patton brothers for a year.

16508358_10155071687469073_3064852324250557269_n
The Springfield Leader Springfield, MO June 20, 1926 pg 1

A break came in the case when 17 year old Cecil Atchinson walked into the local police station and told Joe Cochran a strange tale which implicated his uncle J.W. Bennett and another man, George Williamson, in the murder of the Van Patton brothers by poison in an attempt to rob the men.  Cecil also confessed that he confessed the tale to his grandmother, Lucy Bennett, and the tale shocked her so bad she died.  He claimed that on her death bed she ordered him to turn his uncle in.  J.W. was also implicated in a murder attempt on George Williamson by placing dynamite in his stove causing an explosion which injured the intended victim.

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Simpson’s Leader-Times Kittanning, Pennsylvania May 16, 1927 pg 12

J.W Bennett was convicted of the double murder of the Van Patton brothers and the attempted murder of George Williamson.  He was sentenced to life in Missouri State Prison in November 1927.  J.W. was the only one to receive a murder conviction and he quickly appealed his case.

In May 1928 the Missouri Supreme Court amended the conviction against J.W. Bennett and ordered that he had to be given a new trial.  The Supreme Court found issue with both the confessions signed by illiterate men and by the lack of physical evidence in the case.  The condition of the bodies when discovered had made a cause of death impossible to determine.  J.W. was released and never retried for the crime as far as I have been able to determine.

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The Sedalia Democrat Sedalia, MO May 25, 1928 pg 8

Joe Cochran the man who cracked the Van Patton case went on to have a very successful career.  He made headlines in several big cases involving recovery of stolen Army equipment, the recovery of a stolen mill, stopping a crazed man armed with a gun, and breaking up a counterfeit coin ring.  He also survived at least one assassin attempt.  In 1933 he was elected Vice President of the newly formed Midwest Peace Officers Association which was created as a multi-state agency to fight the rampant crime in the region.  After the mid 1930’s he appears to have left law enforcement.

By 1952 Joe Cochran owned a tavern operating in Doniphan.  He was gunned down during broad daylight on Main Street by a man named Ace Robinson.  Another man was also injured in the shooting.  Ace Robinson was instantly arrested and claimed he killed Cochran in self defense after years of extortion attempts by Cochran.  Ace Robinson claimed Joe Cochran had recently began to make threats against his life and that he shot him when he thought he was going to shoot him.  Joe Cochran was buried in the Doniphan Oak Ridge Cemetery.

16427422_10155071726814073_4031875754451386843_n
St Louis Post-Dispatch St Louis, MO June 20, 1952

Ace Robinson was found innocent of murder in 1953.  It was decided that he shot Joe Cochran in self-defense.  Ace died in 1956 of natural causes.  He is buried in the same cemetery as Joe Cochran.

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Macon Chronicle-Herald Macon, MO Apr 29, 1953 pg 1

 

What a strange series of events.  More to come on this one…

Cover Photo:

Sterling, Illinois
Mon, Jun 21, 1926 – Page 1

Baker

What’s in a surname?

I grew up with a surname I hated.  It was unpleasant to the ears, hard to spell, and easy for school children to mock.  I was eager to get married in life if for no reason more than I wanted to change my last name.

I think I was about 14 the first time I realized in talking to my Great Grandmother that it was only a twist of fate that gave me that much disliked name and that biologically I had zero connection to it.  In a different world, under better circumstances, I would have been born with the last name Baker.  The countless hours I wasted in my life spelling my maiden name could have all been saved if not for that one adoption.

A Dark Page in Family History

My Great Grandmother, Lillie Weatherspoon, was in her early teens when she married her first husband.  His name was Willie Baker and they had one child together, my grandfather Jay Dee.  In the tale shared with me by my Great Grandmother her first husband was a mean tempered man who liked to drink a lot and become physically abusive.  According to the story shared with me while sitting on the front porch of her house on Niagra Street in Flint, Michigan some 60 years later the last night she spent living with Willie was around the year 1930 and they lived near Paragould, Arkansas.  My Grandfather was just a baby at the time.  Willie had gone out for a typical night of drinking.  Lillie said she had reached her breaking point and resolved to not be beaten when he returned home and spent hours wandering the house armed with a knife before finally going to sleep.  She said by some miracle he never came home that night.

Willie did return the next morning.  While sitting at the breakfast table he spilled hot coffee on the baby.  That was the final straw and Lillie laid him out with a cast iron pan to the head, grabbed the baby and started running.   She didn’t stop until she reached Iowa.

The next decade of my Great Grandmother’s life was a dark period that she didn’t like to discuss.  Somehow over that time she managed to make it from Iowa to Michigan and meet and marry the man I would know as my Great Grandfather.  Moman Harold Fulkerson was a childless widower several years older than Lillie who adopted my Grandfather and raised him as his own child, including changing his last name from Baker.

Digging Up Old Skeletons

Willie and the surname Baker became a closed chapter that was more or less forgotten.  Growing up I never realized my Great Grandfather wasn’t truly my Great Grandfather.   It was only by chance that I sat down with my Great Grandmother that one afternoon and started prying into her past.  When I talked to my Father about it I was surprised to learn that he too was aware of the family history but beyond that the topic was laid to rest again.

It would take another 20 years before I would research information about the mysterious Willie Baker.  All my great Grandparents, my grandparents, even my Father were deceased before I decided to dig into the forgotten biological Baker branch.  Relying on hazy memories of that afternoon so long ago I decided to see what I could find out about him.

The Puzzle Pieces

A marriage license from September 24, 1926 in Lake City, Arkansas was my first hit.  Lillie Weatherspoon married W.D. Baker.  I had confirmation that the name I recalled was likely correct.  It was time to hunt up more.  I found the 1930 census for Greene County, Arkansas with William Baker, wife Lillie, and son J.D. living on a farm.  Their divorce was recorded Greene County, Arkansas in 1938.  The 1940 census finds a divorced William Baker still living in Greene County, Arkansas as a lodger and working as a timber cutter.  The last record for Willie Baker is a simple tombstone in the New Friendship Cemetery in Greene County, Arkansas with a death date of 1950.  He never remarried and fathered no other children.

I have managed to find a few details about Willie’s family but nothing extensive so far.  His parents, James Baker and Viola Morgan, were both from Crockett County, Tennessee and brought their small family to Greene County, Arkansas sometime between 1901 and 1908.  Tragedy struck the family and both James and Viola died within months of each other, James in October of 1915, Viola in February of 1916.  I haven’t found a cause of death yet but both pneumonia and malaria was prevalent in the area at the time, Viola received several doctor’s visits in the last couple days of her life.

James and Viola left 5 orphaned children when they died.  The children were split up and boarded out to various different people.  A receipt included in Viola’s estate documents show George Ferguson of Greene County, Arkansas receiving payment for the boarding of Willie; likely the same George Ferguson that is present in the 1930 household of Willie, Lillie, and their son.   Willie would have been about 16 when his parents passed away.  By the time of the 1920 census he had moved on from the Ferguson farm, I’m currently unsure where he was located at that time although records indicate he probably wasn’t far from the area he spent his entire life in.

Questions Remain

In all my research so far I haven’t located much that would reveal the character of that mysterious Great Grandfather that never was.  I can only wonder if the tragedies that befell his early life with the death of his parents and the subsequent experience of being an orphan in rough region led him to become the person my Great Grandmother described.  I haven’t located any indication that Willie Baker ever had any legal troubles during his life.  There was no indication he ever harassed my Great Grandmother after she left him so perhaps Willie recovered from his drinking problem after the loss of his family.  He appears to have lived an uneventful life.

 

 

Part Three: Tearing Down Brick Walls – Spence Family Mystery

Finally a Breakthrough?

My Spence line has been a challenge.  Going into my research on this line I had very little knowledge about this branch of my family.  My Grandmother, my connection to this line is still alive and her mind is intact even at 89 years old, but sadly there just isn’t a lot of family knowledge about her father’s family.  Although my Grandmother reports that her own mother was very interested in genealogy and loved history the passion was not passed down to her only daughter so much information was lost to time.

I have spent hundreds of hours scouring records trying to find the pieces that fit the puzzle I had been given.  Most of my sessions have ended in frustration and more questions than answers.  Finally I think I have had a possible breakthrough in my hunt.

The basic facts I started with were sparse.  I pulled the few details I could out of each record and tried to put together a picture of the events.

Evaluating Evidence

My first basic facts started at the cemetery.  I know where my Great-Great Grandfather is buried without a doubt.  He is buried in a small rural cemetery on land that according to my Grandmother was donated by him prior to his death.  He has a marked grave with his name, birth and death dates all clearly legible[1].  Starting with this information I tracked down every census and vital record I could locate and conclusively determine was the correct James Spence and began extracting further clues.

James was married at least twice although records for only one marriage have currently been located.  He was head of a household with Emily Spence in 1880 census in Ottawa County, Ohio[2].  His oldest two children (Emma and William) report Emma Jane Davis as their mother through life on legal documents.  His second marriage was to Anna Dorman, who his youngest four children report as their mother on legal documents.  Of note, Harry Spence, 3rd child of James Spence was born prior to the marriage of James and Anna so is likely the child of Emma.

I have currently only located two documents recording the possible identity of James’s parents.  One is his marriage record to Anna[3].  He records parents James Spence and Jane Davidsen.  There are no parents recorded for Anna.  The other document is the death record of James Spence[4], his daughter Emma is the informant and she provides a name of John Spence and no mother’s name.  In reconciling these contradictory documents I have given more evidence to the parents recorded by James himself as opposed to secondhand information provided by Emma about an event that happen before her birth and involved people she did not apparently know.

Summarizing the Clues

James Spence is buried in the North Brinton Cemetery in Isabella County, Michigan.  His grave is marked and his headstone is legible, he died in 1940.  His date of birth was 1853 and he was born in Canada.  His parents were James Spence and Jane Davidsen, both of Irish birth.  He was married at least once and had children with two women, Emma Jane Davis and Anna Dorman.  He had six known children, 3 with Emma Davis named Emma Jane Spence, William J Spence, and Harry Spence;  with Anna Dorman he had Mary Ann Spence, Margaret Ellen Spence, and Thomas Spence.

James and Jane Spence of Simcoe County, Ontario

After countless hours of fruitless searches I finally had what I think is a huge breakthrough in research.  At least it is currently the strongest lead found and I haven’t yet located information to rule it out.  Starting on the 1851 Canadian census[5] I locate a couple of Irish birth named James and Jane Spence living in Simcoe County, Ontario.  By the time of the 1861 Canadian census[6] this James and Jane Spence also record a son named James born in 1854.  The 1871 census[7] shows the family again, with James still in the home.  The 1881 census[8] shows an elderly James and Jane Spence still in the same place, son James is no longer noted in the area.  This would correspond with my ancestor being located in Ohio in 1880.  Currently, my assumption is that this James Spence is my ancestor.

Looking Closer…

The demographics of this Spence family match up with my James Spence but there are smaller clues that also help point to this being a successful match.  James and Jane Spence had several children, one of which was named Thomas Spence.  Thomas Spence later went on to settle in the United States…in Michigan, the same place where James later settled when he came to the United States, although they settled hundreds of miles apart in different parts of the state.  Another detail of note regarding Thomas Spence is that my James Spence named one of his sons Thomas.

Only DNA Can Tell For Sure

Are James and Jane Spence my Great-Great-Great Grandparents?  Currently my guess is yes.  I am going to continue researching this family and hope that at some point I can conclusively declare that yes these are indeed my ancestors or no they are definitely not my ancestors.  At this point it may take DNA testing of living members of the family to give the evidence needed to successfully answer this question.

 

 

[1] http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&amp;GRid=15977253&amp;ref=acom

[2] Year: 1880; Census Place: Danbury, Ottawa, Ohio; Roll: 1056; Family History Film: 1255056; Page: 441C; Enumeration District: 069; Image: 0382 Ancestry.com

[3] Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952 Ancestry.com

[4] Michigan, Death Records, 1867-1950 Ancestry.com

[5] Year: 1851; Census Place: York, York County, Canada West (Ontario); Schedule: A; Roll: C_11760; Page: 121; Line: 23 Ancestry.com

[6] Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; Census Returns For 1861; Roll: C-1072 Ancestry.com

[7] Year: 1871; Census Place: Gwillimbury West, Simcoe South, Ontario; Roll: C-9960; Page: 39; Family No: 141 Ancestry.com

[8] Year: 1881; Census Place: Gwillimbury West, Simcoe South, Ontario; Roll: C_13250; Page: 72; Family No: 336 Ancestry.com

Matriarch Monday: Cassandra Burnell Southwick Persecuted Quaker

Well it’s Monday so it must be time for a Matriarch Monday post.  I have been researching more into the lines of my paternal 3rd Great Grandmothers, sisters Harriet Cornell Eckler and Cornelia Cornell Ashley.

Cassandra Burnell Southwick

While researching their lines I discovered the tale of a woman by the name of Cassandra Burnell Southwick.  Cassandra Burnell Southwick was the 5th Great Grandmother of the Cornell sisters and my 10th Great Grandmother twice over.

Cassandra Burnell was born in England in 1598.  She married a man by the name of Lawrence Southwick and together with their children they immigrated to the American colonies in 1638.  They set up home in Salem, Massachusetts where Lawrence was one of the first glass makers in the new world.

A Dark Page in Salem History

Most people recognize the name Salem, Massachusetts for its dark history involving witch trials in the late 1600’s but Salem has a dark and tragic history of crazed persecution that dates back even farther than the witch trials.  Long before Rev Cotton Mather’s name became famous another dark man terrorized the people of Salem.  His name was John Endecott, he was the Governor of Massachusetts, and his victims were the Quakers.

The Puritans came to America to escape religious persecution but that did not create compassion for others suffering the same fate.  The Puritans were known for harsh treatment of anyone who did not follow the strict doctrine of their faith.  The Quakers were a frequent target of Puritan ire.

Quaker Persecution

During the year 1657 Lawrence and Cassandra Southwick were living in Salem and were found to be associating with Quaker preachers, a crime in Puritan Massachusetts.  Lawrence and Cassandra were both arrested.  Lawrence was released but Cassandra was imprisoned for 7 weeks and fined for possessing a paper written by the visitors, a heretical act under Puritan law.

In 1658 the Southwicks were once again found to be breaking Puritan law for being Quakers.  Lawrence, Cassandra, and adult son (my ancestor) Josiah were all arrested and sentenced to serve 20 weeks in jail.  The family’s personal property was confiscated to pay for the fines levied on them and their younger children still at home were left penniless with no livestock or goods to sustain them.

Sold into Slavery

The following year, 1659, the youngest children of Lawrence and Cassandra Southwick, a daughter named Provided and son Daniel, were ordered sold into slavery in Barbados to pay outstanding fines related to the families Quaker activities.   The children were hauled up to the auction block but no ship captain would agree to transport them forcing Gov. Endecott to rescind that part of his punishment.  The tale of Endecott attempting to sell the children into slavery led to the Ballad of Cassandra Southwick written by John Greenleaf Whittier which details the experience from the perspective of daughter Provided.

Exile

In 1660, Endecott managed to finally get rid of his problem with the Southwick family of Quakers.  After the failed attempt to sell the Southwick children into slavery he had the family banished.  Lawrence and Cassandra were both in their 60’s at the time and their physical condition was no doubt much deteriorated after their long ordeal which involved being whipped and starved during their imprisonment.  The family sought refuge on Shelter Island in New York where Lawrence and Cassandra died in the spring of 1660.

lawrencecassandrasouthwick

Inscription on the memorial placed in 1884 at the Sylvester Manor Burial Ground on Shelter Island, New York.

“LAWRENCE AND CASSANDRA SOUTHWICK
Despoiled, imprisoned, starved, whipped, banished,
Who fled here to die.”

The Ballad of Cassandra Southwick

                By John Greenleaf Whittier

To the God of all sure mercies let my blessing rise today,
From the scoffer and the cruel He hath plucked the spoil away;
Yes, he who cooled the furnace around the faithful three,
And tamed the Chaldean lions, hath set His handmaid free!

Last night I saw the sunset melt though my prison bars,
Last night across my damp earth-floor fell the pale gleam of stars;
In the coldness and the darkness all through the long night-time,
My grated casement whitened with autumn’s early rime.

Alone, in that dark sorrow, hour after hour crept by;
Star after star looked palely in and sank adown the sky;
No sound amid night’s stillness, save that which seemed to be
The dull and heavy beating of the pulses of the sea;

All night I sat unsleeping, for I knew that on the morrow
The ruler said the cruel priest would mock me in my sorrow,
Dragged to their place of market, and bargained for and sold,
Like a lamb before the shambles, like a heifer from the fold!

Oh, the weakness of the flesh was there¯the shrinking and the shame;
And the low voice of the Tempter like whispers to me came,
‘Why sit’st thou thus forlornly,’ the wicked murmur said,
‘Damp walls thy bower beauty, cold earth thy maiden bed?

‘Where be the smiling faces, and voices soft and sweet,
Seen in thy father’s dwelling, hoard in the pleasant street?
Where be the youths whose glances, the summer Sabbath through,
Turned tenderly and timidly unto thy father’s pew?

‘Why sit’st thou here, Cassandra? Bethink thee with what mirth
Thy happy schoolmates gather around the warm, dark hearth;
How the crimson shadows tremble on foreheads white and fair,
On eyes of merry girlhood, half hid in golden hair.

‘Not for thee the hearth-fire brightens, not for thee kind words are spoken,
Not for thee the nuts of Wenham woods by laughing boys are broken;
No first-fruits of the orchard within thy lap are laid,
For thee no flowers of autumn the youthful hunters braid.

‘O weak, deluded maiden!¯by crazy fancies led,
With wild and raving railers an evil path to tread;
To leave a wholesome worship, and teaching pure and sound,
And mate with maniac women, loose-haired and sackcloth-bound,

‘And scoffers of the priesthood, who mock at things divine,
Who rail against thy pulpit, and holy bread and wine;
Bore from their cart-tail scourgings, and from the pillory lame,
Rejoicing in their wretchedness, and glorying in their shame.

‘And what a fate awaits thee!¯a sadly toiling slave,
Dragging the slowly lengthening chain of bondage to the grave!
Think of thy woman’s nature, subdued in hopeless thrall,
The easy prey of any, the scoff and scorn of all!’

Oh, ever as the Tempter spoke, and feecle Nature’s fears
Wrung drop by drop the scalding flow of unavailing tears,
I wrestled down the evil thoughts, and strove in silent prayer
To feel, O Helper of the weak! that Thou indeed wert there!

I thought of Paul and Silas, within Philippi’s call,
And how from Peter’s sleeping limbs the prison shackles fell,
Till I seemed to hear the trailing of an Angel’s robe of white,
And to feel a blessed presence invisible to sight.

Bless the Lord for all his mercies!¯for the peace and love I felt,
Like the dew of Hermon’s holy hill, upon my spirit melt;
When ‘Get behind me, Satan! ‘ was the language of my heart,
And I felt the Evil Tempter with all his doubts depart.

Slow broke the gray cold morning; again the sunshine fell,
Flocked with the shade of bar and grate within my lonely cell;
The hoar-frost melted on the wall, and upward from the street
Came careless laugh and idle word, and tread of passing feet.

At length the heavy bolts fell back, my door was open cast,
And slowly at the sheriff’s side, up the long street I passed;
I heard the murmur round me, and felt, but dared not see,
How, from every door and window, the people gazed on me.

And doubt and fear fell on me, shame burned upon my cheek,
Swam earth and sky around me, my trembling limbs grew weak;
‘Oh Lord, support thy handmaid, and from her soul cast out
The fear of men, which brings a snare, the weakness and the doubt.

Then the dreary shadows scattered, like a cloud in morning’s breeze,
And a low deep voice within me seemed whispering words like these:
‘Though thy earth be as the iron, and thy heaven a brazen wall,
Trust still His loving-kindness whose power is over all.’

We paused at length, where at my feet the sunlit waters broke
On glaring roach of shining beach, and shingly wall of rock;
The merchant-ships lay idle there, in hard clear lines on high,
Treeing with rope and slender spar their network on the sky.

And there were ancient citizens, cloak-wrapped and grave and cold,
And grim and stout sea-captains with faces bronzed and old,
And on his horse, with Rawson, his cruel clerk at hand,
Sat dark and haughty Endicott, the ruler of the land.

And poisoning with his evil words the ruler’s ready ear,
The priest leaned over his saddle, with laugh and scoff and jeer;
It stirred my soul, and from my lips the soul of silence broke,
As if through woman’s weakness a warning spirit spoke.

I cried ‘The Lord rebuke thee, thou smiter of the meek,
Thou robber of the righteous, thou trampler of the weak!
Go light the cold, dark hearth-stones,¯go turn the prison lock
Of the poor hearts though hast hunted, thou wolf amid the flock!’

Dark lowered the brows of Endicott, and with a deeper red
O’er Rawson’s wine-empurpled cheek the flash of anger spread;
‘Good people, ‘ quoth the white-lipped priest, ‘heed not her words so wild,
Her Master speaks within her¯ the Devil owns his child!’

But gray heads shook, and young brows knit, the while the sheriff read
That law the wicked rulers against the poor have made,
Who to their house of Rimmon and idol priesthood bring
No bonded knee of worship, nor gainful offering.

Then to the stout sea-captains the sheriff, turning, said¯
‘Wish of ye, worthy seamen, will take this Quaker maid?
On the Isle of fair Barbados, or on Virginia’s shore
You may hold her at a higher price than Indian girl or Moor!’

Grim and silent stood the captains; and when again he cried,
‘Speak out my worthy seamen!’ no voice, no sign replied;
But I felt a hard hand press my own, and kind words met my ear,¯
‘God bless thee, and preserve thee, my gentle girl and dear!’

A weight seemed lifted from my heart, a pitying friend was nigh,
I felt it in his hard, rough hand, and saw it in his eye;
And when again the sheriff spoke, that voice, so kind to me,
Growled back its stormy answer like the roaring of the sea.

‘Pile my ship with bars of silver, pack with coins of Spanish gold
From keel-piece up to deck-plank, the roomage of her hold,
By the living God that made me! I would sooner in your bay
Sink ship and crew and cargo, than bear this child away!’

‘Well answered, worthy captain, shame on their cruel laws!’
Ran through the crowd in murmurs loud the people’s just applause.
‘Like the herdsmen of Tekoa, In Israel of old,
Shall we see the poor and righteous again for silver sold ?’

I looked on haughty Endicott; with weapon half-way drawn,
Swept around the throng his lion glare of bitter hate and scorn;
Fiercely he drew his bridle-rain, and turned in silence back,
And sneering priest and baffled clerk rode murmuring in his track.

Hard after them the sheriff looked, in bitterness of soul,
Thrice smote his staff upon the ground, and crushed his parchment-roll.
‘Good friends,’ he said, ‘since both have fled, the ruler and the priest
Judge ye, if from their further work I be not well released.’

Loud was the cheer which, full and clear, swept round the silent bay,
As, with kind words and kinder looks, he bade me go my way;
For he who turns the courses of the streamlet of the glen,
And the river of great waters, had turned the hearts of men.

Oh, at that hour the very earth seemed changed beneath my eye,
A holier wonder round no rose the blue walls of the sky,
A lovelier light on rock and hill and stream and woodland lay,
And softer lapsed on sunnier sands the waters of the bay.

Thanksgiving to the Lord of life! To him all praises be,
Who from the hands of evil men hath set his handmaid free;
All praise to Him before whose power the mighty are afraid,
Who take the crafty in the snare which for the poor is laid!

Sing, O my soul, rejoicingly, on evening’s twilight calm
Uplift the loud thanksgiving, pour forth the grateful psalm;
Let all dear hearts with me rejoice, as did the saints of old,
When of the Lord’s good angel the rescued Peter told.

And weep and howl, ye evil priests and mighty men of wrong,
The lord shall smite the proud, and lay His hand upon the strong.
Woe to the wicked rulers in his avenging hour!
Woe to the wolves who seek the flocks to raven and devour!

But let the humble ones arise, the poor in heart be glad,
And let the mourning ones again with robes of praise be clad,
For he who cooled the furnace, and smoothed the stormy wave,
And tamed the Chaldean lions, is mighty still to save!

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawrence_and_Cassandra_Southwick

https://archive.org/stream/essexinstitutehiv16esse#page/2/mode/2up

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=pv&GRid=6783049&PIpi=48313012

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ballad_of_Cassandra_Southwick_(poem)

Odd Death of Rebecca Cornell. What Really Happened?

My Mom’s Uncle helped get my Dad’s Grandpa hanged… well that escalated quickly!

I finally got the chance to do some real research today after weeks of real life responsibilities killing my groove.  I decided to grab up one of my loose ends and start digging in.

The line I chose was one that I suspected I connected to twice.  Work smarter, not harder right?  I’ve been doing genealogical research long enough to not be surprised by cousin marriages anymore.  They are almost like a bonus because it narrows down the number of lines I need to research in the end.

My line in question was the Cornell line which was in New York around the early 1800’s.  I had a Cornelia Cornell and a Harriet Cornell, both of who were my 3rd Great Grandmothers.  Their Grandchildren, Myron Ashley and Sarah Eckler, were my father’s maternal grandparents.   I was off and tracking the line, making progress at a pretty good pace, killing two birds with one stone.

Myron and Sarah Eckler Ashley with some of their children and a son in law

The data was interesting but not noteworthy for countless generations as I followed the trail.  The family is connected to the university that bears their surname, founded by some Cornell relative I haven’t bothered to connect yet.  They trace back generation after generation, an American colonial family helping to forge a new world out of the frontier.

Cornelia and Harriet were sisters.  They were the daughters of Wilbur Cornell land Sylvia Mosher.  Wilbur was the son of Joseph Cornell Sr and Abigail Allen, Joseph’s parents were Zebulon Cornell and Ruth Allen.  Zebulon was the son of Daniel Cornell and Elizabeth Allen.  Daniel Cornell was the son of William Cornell and Mehitable Fish.  William Cornell was the son of Stephen Cornell and Hannah Mosher.

That brings me to Stephen Cornell’s parents.  Thomas Cornell II and Elizabeth Fiscock were his parents, the time period is the 1600’s, and they were my 10 great grandparents.   At this point things got interesting in my research.

Rebecca Briggs Cornell Burned to Death

Thomas Cornell II has a very interesting footnote in history.  In 1673 he was hanged for the murder of his mother, Rebecca Briggs.  According to records from the time it was a farce of a case, most of the evidence being that his uncle had a dream in which Rebecca’s spirit visited him pointing the blame at Thomas.


This book provides a great look at the case of Thomas Cornell II and the death of his mother.

One of the other noteworthy witnesses to offer testimony that led to the hanging of Thomas Cornell II was a local town Constable at the time.  The town was Portsmouth, Rhode Island and the Constable was none other than George Soule.  I’ll have to research further to confirm but I believe this would be my 10th great uncle, as opposed to my 10th great grandfather of the same name due to the year.  That’s right my mother’s ancestor helped get my father’s ancestor hanged…probably a good thing they didn’t know this when they got divorced!

Weak Case

By modern accounts the testimony against Grandpa Thomas was shoddy at best.  In a court of law today there is no way Thomas Cornell II would have been hanged.  Present researchers think Rebecca Briggs probably burned to death when an ember from her pipe fell on her igniting her clothing.  In the end the result was the same, Thomas Cornell II was hanged in Rhode Island for the death of his widowed mother in May 1673.

Murderous Legacy?

His wife went on to give birth to a daughter after his execution.  She named the child Innocent.  As a further interesting side note many researchers believe that Innocent Cornell went onto marry Richard Borden and is the 4th great grandmother of the infamous parent murdering Lizzie Borden.  So maybe Gramps wasn’t so innocent after all….

Not bad for a morning dipping back into the research pool.  I tracked two lines for the price of one and discovered an unexpected connection between my maternal and paternal relatives hundreds of years before they would cross paths later to create little ole me.

Did my 10th Great Grandfather burn my 11th Great Grandmother to death or was she the victim of a tragic accident for which her son would lose his life in a quest for justice?  Some mysteries will always be mysteries….

Throwback Thursday

I decided a few old photos would be a good way to fill the void while I continue working on my latest blog.  These are some of my favorites.

Barefoot and Bearing Serpents

This photo strikes me as interesting because it is a 4 generation family photo.  The old lady in the back right is Jennie Osborn Brown and she is surrounded by 3 generations of her descendants.  The man in the black suit is her son, James C. Brown.  The two younger women are his daughters Della and Minnie.  The children are Della and Minnie’s children.

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Early 4 generation photo

It is everything one would expect of a family photo for the time and region at a first glance.  A closer inspection reveals the stick with the large snake dangling from it.  I’m still researching but I don’t think the snake is related.  Unique photo prop to say the least.

Grandpa Needs a Safety Lesson

This second photo is of my paternal Grandfather, Jay Dee Fulkerson Sr.  He died 3 years before I was born so I didn’t know him and know very little about him.  He was killed in a horrible accident.  Despite the unfortunate photo pose, no he did not suffer a firearm injury.  He was cut in half by a malfunctioning street sweeping machine while working for the city of Flint.

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Jay Dee Fulkerson Sr a pose worth a thousand words

Strong Genetics

The final photo is actually of one of my hubby’s paternal ancestors.  This picture actually made me look twice the first time I saw it.  It’s uncanny how much my hubby’s aunt resembles her Great-Great-Great Grandmother, Nancy Penrod (1798-1868).  It’s amazing how strong some physical traits can be.  I enjoy looking at old photos and watching physical characteristics that are passed down generation after generation.

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Nancy Penrod my hubby’s GGGGreat-Grandmother