Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Colonists II - Pence, Norman, Hoyt, Strickland, Pettit, Webb, Weed, Finch and Lockwood

Beatrice (Scofield) Syska's Ancestors First Generation Arriving in 1621-1630


Thomas Prence (1600-1673) and Apphia Quickie
Richard Norman (abt. 1580-1682) and Margaret (Alford) Norman (1594-1645)
Simon Hoyt (1590-1657) and Susannah (Smith) Hoyt Bates (1615-1674)
John Strickland (1584-1672) & Jane (Fenwick) Strickland (1590-1663)
John Pettit (1608-1662) - son of a French Huguenot 
Richard Webb (1611-1675) and Margery (Moyer) Webb (1610-1676)
Jonas Weed (1597-1676)
John Finch (1613- 1657 ) and Martha (Brett) Finch (1618-1681)
Robert Lockwood (1600-1658)

1) Thomas Prence (1600-1673)
came over aboard the Fortune landing in Plymouth, MA in 1621.   Later, he served several terms as the Governor of Plymouth colony and resided in Duxbury & Eastham MA.  

Thomas was born in Lechdale, Gloucestershire England, in the year 1600, the son of Thomas Prince/Prence Sr. and Elizabeth Todlerby.

Prence's father, in his will of July 31, 1639, mentioned "my son Thomas Prence now remayninge in New England in parts beyond the seas", and bequeathed him a "seale Ringe of Gold"

When Thomas arrived in Plymouth, only half of the Mayflower's 102 passengers including just 4  women, had survived.  Ships continued to arrive bringing more family and settlers, but the mortality rate remained high.   

Thomas Prence House in Eastham, MA -
Built 1646
Thomas Prence - House Diagram
During his life Thomas was widowed three times.   Patience Brewster, daughter of Mayflower passenger William Brewster, was his first wife and their's was the 9th marriage recorded in Plymouth. Patience died in 1634 of Pestilence Fever (probably small pox or influenza) and Thomas next married Mary Collier, who died in 1644.   Apphia Quickie Freeman (1602-1668) became his 3rd wife in about 1646.  Apphia probably arrived in America in 1630,with her husband at the time, Samuel Freeman, who she later divorced, prior to her marriage to Thomas.  After Apphia died in about 1668, Thomas married Mary (Burr) Howes.  In total, he fathered 8 daughters and 1 son.  

His youngest daughter Judith Prence (probably of his 3rd wife, Apphia Quickie) is documented as marrying Clement Buxton in 1677.  There are however a number of conflicting records regarding the marriage of Judith which essentially have her married to multiple husbands at the same time, thus this pedigree is far from certain.  
*Judith first married Isaac Barker in 1665 which is confirmed by the Will of Thomas Prence in 1673.  She may have married Clement Buxton 2nd in 1677, but records show Isaac living until 1688.  Further records indicate Judith also married William Tubbs in 1693, which could have been her 3rd husband, but again the dates don't match up.   

PEDIGREE (Unconfirmed):
  • Thomas Prence (1600-1673) - Judith (Prence/Pirent) Buxton (1646-1722)*- Moses Buxton (1686-1766) -Mercy (Buxton) Scofield (1721-1779)- Enos Scofield (1753-1830)**- Stephen Scofield (1782-1853) -Samuel Scofield (1805-1885) - James Scofield (1831-1918) - Harry F. Scofield(1870-1956)- Beatrice P. (Scofield) Syska (1906-1945)
  • Thomas Prence (1600-1673) -  Judith (Prence/Pirent) Buxton (1650-1722)*-  Eunice (Buxton) Scofield  (1678-1743)  - Eunice (Scofield) Slawson (1707-1742/43) - Jonathan Slauson (1736-1820) - Daniel Slauson (1765-1846) - Nathan Dann Slauson (1803-1873)- Lewis Slawson (1830-1885) - Sarah Francis (Slauson) Selleck (1863-1938) - Maud J (Selleck) Scofield (1882-1968) - Beatrice P. (Scofield) Syska (1906-1945)
  • Thomas Prence (1600-1673) -  Judith (Prence/Pirent) Buxton (1650-1722)*-  Eunice (Buxton) Scofield  (1678-1743)  - Eunice (Scofield) Slawson (1707-1742/43) - Jonathan Slauson (1736-1820) - Lydia (Slauson) Selleck (1777-1845) - Sands Selleck (1817-1898) -  Sanders Selleck (1859-1947) - Maud J (Selleck) Scofield (1882-1968) - Beatrice P. (Scofield) Syska (1906-1945)

2) Richard Norman (abt. 1580-1682) and Margaret (Alford) Norman (1594-1645) my 10th Gr. Grandparents

Richard Norman was a fisherman and shipbuilder who married Margaret Alford in 1615 in St. Giles in the Wood, Devon, England.  Documents show the Normans arrived in Salem, MA about 1626 with 5 children including  10 yr old Susanna. 
 But the Norman Family was already here in America, having come to the new world in 1623 with the Dorchester Company as part of the Cape Ann Colony.  The group moved to Salem in 1626, built homes and were established when Governor Endicott arrived in 1628.  

Per colonial records: "Old Goodman Norman and his son and others who owned what they came over on the account of a Company in England called by the name of Dorchester Co. of Dor. Merchants: they had sundry houses built in Salem"

Richard & Margaret's daughter, Susanna Norman married Robert Lockwood in 1634. Susanna's parents remained in Mass, but the Lockwoods moved to Connecticut about 1645, first to Stamford and then Greenwich. Robert Lockwood was Sergeant of the Fairfield County Regiment in 1650.  He passed away in 1658 and Susanna remarried Jeffrey Ferris about 1660, but she died a year later in December of 1661.   Robert & Susanna had ten children, with their eldest oldest son, Jonathan Lockwood, marrying his step-sister, Mary Ferris, in 1664  

  •  Richard Norman (abt. 1580-1682) and Margaret (Alford) Norman (1594-1645) - Susannah (Norman) Lockwood (1616-1660) - Jonathan Lockwood (1634-1688) -Still John Lockwood (1672-1758) - Robert Lockwood (1714-1784) - Lydia (Lockwood) Slausen (1742-1773) - Daniel Slausen (1765-1846) - Nathan Dann Slausen (1803-1873)- Lewis Slawsen (1830-1885) - Sarah Francis (Slausen) Selleck (1863-1938) - Maud J (Selleck) Scofield (1882-1968) - Beatrice P. (Scofield) Syska (1906-1945)
  • Richard Norman (abt. 1580-1682) and Margaret (Alford) Norman (1594-1645) - Susannah (Norman) Lockwood (1616-1660) - Jonathan Lockwood (1634-1688) -Still John Lockwood (1672-1758) - Robert Lockwood (1714-1784) - Lydia (Lockwood) Slausen (1742-1773) - Lydia (Slausen) Selleck (1777-1845) - Sands Selleck (1817-1898) -  Sanders Selleck (1859-1947) - Maud J (Selleck) Scofield (1882-1968) - Beatrice P. (Scofield) Syska (1906-1945)

3) Simon Hoyt (1590-1657) my 9th Gr. Gr
 arrived in 1629 on the Higginson fleet of Massachusetts Bay Colony, possibly aboard the Lyons Whelp ship.  His first wife & the mother of his 5 oldest children died in England prior to his emigration.  Its unclear if any of those children came with him to America.   

In 1630 Simon married 2nd wife Susannah (Smith) Hoyt Bates (1615-1674), daughter of Richard and Rebecca (Buswell) Smith, and had 7 more children.  The family is recorded in Dorchester in 1633, then in Scituate in 1635, Windsor by 1639, Fairfield by 1649 and finally in Stamford in 1657 when Simon died.   Susannah married 2nd Robert Bates in Stamford about 1657 and passed away before 1674.    

Probate records document receipt by 5 of his children:  Joshua Hoyte of Stamford; Moses Hoyte of Westchester on April 2, 1666; Samuell Hoyte April 1665; Samuel Finch for his wife Sarah in April 1665, Benjamin Hoyte January 27 (yr unk); and Samuel Firman for his wife, Miriam on March 25, 1662.  

Records document that in 1674, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, Benjamin, Thomas Lyon (wife Mary), Samuel Finch (Sarah) and Samuel Firman (Miriam) agreed upon the distribution of the estate of deceased mother Susanna Bates. 

Simon & Susanna's daughter Sarah Hoyt (1646- ) married Samuel Finch (1636-1698),my 8th grgr, the son of John & Martha Finch.  
Sarah & Samuel's daughter, Sarah Finch married Obadiah Seeley (1670-1745) in 1692

  • Simon Hoyt (1590-1657) - Sarah (Hoyt) Finch (1646-  ) -  Susannah (Finch) Seeley (1671-1745) - Obadiah Seeley 4th (1701-1745) - Obadiah Seeley 5th (1728-1775) - John Seeley (1755-1832) -Seth Seeley (1806-1880)- Emily (Seeley) Scofield (1843-1920) - Harry F. Scofield (1870-1956)- Beatrice P. (Scofield) Syska (1906-1945)

4) John Strickland (1584-1672) & Jane (Fenwick) Strickland (1590-1663) my 10th Gr Gr
arrived in Salem, with their children, before 1629 (exact date unknown).  John is recorded as a member of a jury in Watertown MA on Sept. 18, 1630 after which he moved to Wethersfield CT.  At some point, he moved to Long Island, but the date is unknown. 

In 1639, their son, Edmund traveled with Roger Ludlowe and three other men, along with their cattle, from Wethersfield, CT across 70 miles of wilderness and settled the town of Uncowa, now Fairfield.  
Source:    Fairfield, Conn. Tercenterary,  1639 - 1939,  Three hundred Year anniversary ,pg. 34 - 35

Edmund Strickland (1610-1670) married Hannah (unknown) ( -1695) in about 1641 and their daughter, Mary Strickland (1648 - 1714) married John Weed in Stamford in the year 1670.  

  • John Strickland (1584-1672) & Jane (Fenwick) Strickland (1590-1663) Edmund Strickland (1610-1670) - Mary (Strickland) Weed (1648 - 1714) - Hannah (Weed) Scofield (1687-1739)-  Abraham Scofield (1727-1787)- Amy (Scofield) Scofield (1760-1844)Stephen Scofield (1782-1853) - Samuel Scofield (1805-1885) - James Scofield (1831-1918) - Harry F. Scofield(1870-1956)- Beatrice P. (Scofield) Syska (1906-1945) 

5) John Pettit (1608-1662) arrived in Salem about 1629/1630.  

Conflicting versions have John emigrating with his sister Anne Pettit or his brother Thomas Pettit and family, but neither is confirmed.  The passenger list of the Talbot, indicates Thomas Pettit, his wife Christian and their infant son, Thomas Jr. (born enroute on the Talbot), arrived in Massachusetts in 1629. While records from the Winthrop fleet have Anne Pettit arriving in Salem in 1630 and enrolled in the Boston church on Aug. 1630.
  • Thomas Pettit settled in Salem but was forced to leave in 1639, along with Thomas Hooker and other colonists, who had openly supported Anne Hutchinson during her trial.  They moved into New Hampshire and settled the town of Exeter.  In 1655, Thomas again moved to Newtown, LI, which is known today as Elmhurst, Queens. 
John Pettit, our ancestor, has not been found on ship passenger lists, but town records show John was made a 'Freeman' in 1631 and a communicant of the Ispwich church in 1632.  He was, further, employed in Boston in 1634 by Oliver Mallows, the father-in-law of his brother, Thomas. Property and church records have the family residing in Roxbury Mass in about 1640 and then moving to Stamford. John Pettit is considered one of the first settlers of Stamford.  

Born on 1608 in Essex Co. England, the eldest son of Mary & Henri Pettit, a French huguenot refugee.  
He first married Debrow/Deborah (unk) (abt. 1612-1652), the mother of his first two children, John and Deborah.  John's next married Mary Moore (1610-1657), the mother of David (1554-1657) and Jonathan (1656-1720).
I have not been able to determine Mary Moore's ancestry.

John & Mary Pettit's son, Jonathan Pettit (1656-1720) married Elizabeth Finch (1669-172) in Stamford, CT. 
Jonathan & Elizabeth moved with their son Nathaniel Pettit (1688-1768)  to Bedford, Westchester Co. NY.   While their daughter Elizabeth Pettit (1690-1772) married Nathaniel Scofield(1688-1769), son of John & Hannah (Mead) Scofield and remained in Stamford CT.   


John Pettit (1608-1662) -Jonathan Pettit (1656-1720) - Elizabeth (Pettit) Scofield (1690-1772) - Sylvanus Scofield (1729-1795) - Rhoda(Scofield) Seeley (1765-1806) - Seth Seeley (1806-1880) - Emily (Seeley) Scofield (1843-1920) - James Scofield (1831-1918) - Harry F. Scofield(1870-1956)- Beatrice P. (Scofield) Syska (1906-1945)

John Pettit (1608-1662) -Jonathan Pettit (1656-1720) - Elizabeth (Pettit) Scofield (1690-1772) - Jonathan Scofield (1719-1788) - Elizabeth Ann, 'Betsey' (Scofield) Jones (1783-1838) - Sally Ann (Jones) Scofield (1808-1884) - James Scofield (1831-1918) - Harry F. Scofield(1870-1956)- Beatrice P. (Scofield) Syska (1906-1945) 

6) Richard Webb (1611-1675) and Margery (Moyer) Webb (1610-1676)
Richard Webb arrived in America as a teenager sometime between 1626 and 1629 with his parents Richard Webb Sr. and Grace (Wilson) Webb. 
The Webb's are said to have come to America with much of their family including:  Alexander & Mary Webb (parents), and their four grown sons and families, including Richard, Henry, William & Christopher.  A fifth son, John Webb may have stayed in England initially, emigrating to America several years later.  

Sir John Alexander Webb (1484 -  ) served
as an officer in Henry VIII army.  H
is son Sir Henry John Alexander Webb (1510 -)
was granted the Webb Coat of Arms in 1577
by Queen Elizabeth I.  The coat of arms is
said to have established the family as nobility.

*Alexander Webb (1559- abt.1629) was the first cousin of William Shakespeare.  Alexander's mother, Margaret Arden, was the sister of William Shakespeare's mother, Mary Arden.  In addition, their father's are said to be cousins as well. 

Richard Webb, Jr., married Margery Moyer, probably in Stamford, CT, and had 7 children.
Richard served two years as a Selectmen in Stamford and represented Stamford in the Connecticut General Court.  
Richard owned and operated the first mill in Stamford, which his son Joseph Webb  inherited when his father died in 1675.  Joseph married Hannah Scofield, daughter of Richard & Mary, though, we are not direct descendents of this line.  They were our great grand Uncle & Aunt.

Richard & Margery's other son Samuel Webb (1662-1736) married Hannah Jagger (1667-1729), probably the daughter of Jeremiah Jagger, and they are  my 9th Gr Gr.  Samuel & Hannah's grandson, Charles Webb Jr. was a Colonel in the Stamford Fairfield Regiment during the Revolutionary war and married Mercy Holly.   


Richard Webb (1611-1675) & Margery (Moyer) Webb (1610-1676) - Samuel Webb (1662-1736) - Charles Webb (1697-1730) - Charles Webb (1724-1800)* - Sarah (Webb) Dann (1753-  )  - Betsey (Dann) Slausen (1777-1857) - Nathan Dann Slausen (1803-1873) - Lewis Slausen (1830-1885) - Sarah Frances (Slausen) Selleck (1863-1938) - Maud Justina (Selleck) Scofield (1882-1968) - Beatrice P. (Scofield) Syska (1906-1945) 

Colonists Arriving on John Winthrop's Fleet
In the spring and summer of 1630, John Winthrop's fleet brought 11 ships to the New England colonies carrying 1000 settlers, livestock and provisions with plans to start the Massachusetts Bay Colony.   The initial group of four ships, led by the flag ship Arbella, left England  April 8, 1630.   The Arabella reached Massachusetts on June 12, 1630. The Jewell arrived the following day; the Ambrose arrived on June 18; and the Talbot arrived on July 2.

7) Jonas Weed (1597-1676) - arrived on the Arabella.   
 There is some discrepancy regarding Jonas' birth year, but based on John Winthrop's journal and English baptismal records, its probably 1597.  He arrived in Salem, but settled in Watertown MA, where he was made a freeman in 1631.  
Jonas moved to Wethersfield about 1635 and, in 1637, he married his younger wife, Mary (unknown).  In 1641, Jonas and Mary joined a group of other settlers from Wethersfield to found Stamford CT

"Whereas there was a dismission granted by the Church of Watertown in Massachusetts dated 29th of Ma[ ] last to Andrew Ward, Jo: Sherman, Jo: Strickland, Rob'te Coo, Rob'te Reynolds & Jonas Weede, wth intent to forme a newe Ch: Covennte in this River of Connecticut, the sade prties hase soe accordingly done with the publicke allowance of the rest of the members of the saide Churches, as by certificate nowe prduced apprs. It is therefore, in this prsent Cort, ratified & confirmined, they prmising shortlie and publiquely to renewe the saide Covenant vppon notice to the rest of the Churches."

Three of Jonas & Mary's children are our direct ancestors: 

Jonas Weed Jr. (1647-1704), a shoemaker in Stamford Ct., married Bethia Holly (1655-1713) the daugther of  John & Mary (Waitstill) Holly.   Jonas & Bethia's daughter, Abigail Weed, married Jeremiah Scofield in 1714. 

John Weed (1643-1714) married Mary Strickland and their daughter, Hannah Weed married Samuel Scofield in 1709.  

Daniel Weed (1652-1697)  married Ruth Woods (1653-1709) and their son Abraham Weed married Susanna Bell in 1706.  Lois Weed, the granddaughter (out of wedlock) of Abraham and Susanna, married Abraham Scofield in 1752.



  • Jonas Weed (1597-1676) - Jonas Weed (1647-1704) -Abigail (Weed) Scofield (1695-1758)- Richard Scofield (1717-1772) - Enos Scofield (1753-1830)**- Stephen Scofield (1782-1853) -Samuel Scofield (1805-1885) - James Scofield (1831-1918) - Harry F. Scofield (1870-1956)- Beatrice P. (Scofield) Syska (1906-1945)
  •  Jonas Weed (1597-1676) - John Weed (1643-1714) -Hannah (Weed) Scofield (1687-1739)-  Abraham Scofield (1727-1787)- Amy (Scofield) Scofield (1760-1844)Stephen Scofield (1782-1853) - Samuel Scofield (1805-1885) - James Scofield (1831-1918) - Harry F. Scofield(1870-1956)- Beatrice P. (Scofield) Syska (1906-1945) 
  • Jonas Weed (1597-1676) - Daniel Weed (1652-1697)- Abraham Weed (1680-1711) - Daniel Weed (1705-1776) - Ruth Weed (unk father) (1709-1773) - Lois Weed (Scofield) (1731-1763) -Amy (Scofield) Scofield (1760-1844)Stephen Scofield (1782-1853) - Samuel Scofield (1805-1885) - James Scofield (1831-1918) - Harry F. Scofield (1870-1956)- Beatrice P. (Scofield) Syska (1906-1945) 

8) JOHN FINCH (1613- 1657) - arrived on the Winthrop fleet.

Passenger lists show John Finch arriving with Abraham and Daniel Finch, possibly his brothers.  Abraham Sr., their father, may also have been on the ship them to America, but some genealogists believe that was a transcription error.  Others also believe John may be the son of Daniel not Abraham, but none of this is confirmed.

What we know is that Daniel, Abraham and John Finch all arrived in Massachusetts in 1630 and settled in Watertown.  In November of 1630, John Winthrop noted in his journal, "Old Finch had his wigwam and all his goodes destroyed by fire,"  which probably refers to either Abraham Sr. or the oldest brother, possibly Daniel.     

John Finch was born in England sometime between 1595 and 1613.  His first wife is unknown, but died before 1634 when he married Martha Brett in Watertown, who is, most likely,  mother of his last three children.  Martha was born in Kent, England in 1618 and is believed to have also come to America on the Winthrop fleet in 1630, but her parents are unconfirmed. 

While there is no evidence John Finch lived in Wethersfield, Abraham & Daniel definitely moved there.  Abraham  was killed on April 23, 1637 in the Wethersfield Massacre by Massutunk, a Pequot chief, who was tried, convicted and beheaded in 1639, for the murder.   

The Wethersfield Massacre  was part of the Pequot War
that ended with the massacre of hundreds of Pequots and
destruction of the Pequot tribe.

John Finch moved to Stamford, along with Daniel, before 1642 when he was granted six acres in the town.   John died in Stamford in 1657, after which, Martha married 2nd John Green. 

John & Martha's son, Samuel Finch (1636-1698) married Sarah Hoyt  (1637-whose daughter Sarah married Obadiah Seeley.

Another son, Isaac Finch (1639-1702) married Elizabeth Bassett (1637-1672), the daughter of John & Margery (Holland) Bassett.  Isaac & Elizabeth's daughter Elizabeth Finch(1669-1720) married Jonathan Pettit (1656-1720) in 1688.  

  • JOHN FINCH (1613-1657)- Isaac Finch (1639-1702) - Elizabeth (Finch) Pettit (1669-1720) - Elizabeth (Pettit) Scofield (1690-1772) - Jonathan Scofield (1719-1788) - Elizabeth Ann, 'Betsey' (Scofield) Jones (1783-1838) - Sally Ann (Jones) Scofield (1808-1884) - James Scofield (1831-1918) - Harry F. Scofield(1870-1956)- Beatrice P. (Scofield) Syska (1906-1945) 
  • JOHN FINCH (1613-1657)- Isaac Finch (1639-1702) - Elizabeth (Finch) Pettit (1669-1720) - Elizabeth (Pettit) Scofield (1690-1772) - Sylvanus Scofield (1729-1795) - Rhoda(Scofield) Seeley (1765-1806) - Seth Seeley (1806-1880) - Emily (Seeley) Scofield (1843-1920) - James Scofield (1831-1918) - Harry F. Scofield(1870-1956)- Beatrice P. (Scofield) Syska (1906-1945)
    • JOHN FINCH (1613-1657)- Samuel Finch (1636-1698) - Susannah (Finch) Seeley (1671-1745)-Obadiah Seeley 4th (1701-1745) - Obadiah Seeley 5th (1728-1775) - John Seeley (1755-1832) -Seth Seeley (1806-1880)- Emily (Seeley) Scofield (1843-1920) - James Scofield (1831-1918) - Harry F. Scofield(1870-1956)- Beatrice P. (Scofield) Syska (1906-1945)

      Illustration of a typical soldier9)  Robert Lockwood (1600-1658)  arrived 1630 also aboard the Arabella with his brother Edmund Lockwood.  He settled in Watertown MA and married Susanna Norman four years later.  They moved to Fairfield Ct. about 1641.  Robert was the Sargent of the Fairfield CT Regiment and may have lived in Stamford and Norwalk as well.  Robert Lockwood died in 1658 and Susanna married Jeffrey Ferris, but Susanna died only a few years later in 1661.   

      In 1664, Robert and Susanna's son Jonathan Lockwood (1634-1688) married Mary Ferris (1640-1708), who was his step-sister and the daughter of Jeffrey & Mary Ferris.  Jonathan & Mary moved to Greenwich and Jonathan was one of the early proprietors in 1672.  Their son Still John Lockwood (1674-1758) married Mary or Mercy (unknown) and fathered Lydia (Lockwood) Slausen/Slawson (1742-1773).

      Robert Lockwood (1600-1658) - Jonathan Lockwood (1634-1688) -Still John Lockwood (1672-1758) - Robert Lockwood (1714-1784) - Lydia (Lockwood) Slauson (1742-1773) - Daniel Slauson (1765-1846) - Nathan Dann Slauson (1803-1873)- Lewis Slawson (1830-1885) - Sarah Francis (Slauson) Selleck (1863-1938) - Maud J (Selleck) Scofield (1882-1968) - Beatrice P. (Scofield) Syska (1906-1945)

      Robert Lockwood (1600-1658) - Jonathan Lockwood (1634-1688) -Still John Lockwood (1672-1758) - Robert Lockwood (1714-1784) - Lydia (Lockwood) Slauson (1742-1773) - Lydia (Slauson) Selleck (1777-1845) - Sands Selleck (1817-1898) -  Sanders Selleck (1859-1947) - Maud J (Selleck) Scofield (1882-1968) - Beatrice P. (Scofield) Syska (1906-1945)

      Wednesday, August 3, 2016

      Witch Trials in Colonial Connecticut

      I admit I am fascinated with our ancestral involvement in the colonial witch trials, but I am reminded that these were real people caught up in this hysteria; mothers, fathers, friends and neighbors who genuinely feared the devil's presence in their lives. Two of my ancestors were tried for witchcraft and one was executed.  While others were witnesses and judges.

      As  portrayed in popular stories of the Salem witch trials, the accused might be spared if they confessed, repented and pointed the finger at others which did nothing but feed the frenzy. Almost four hundred years later, we know these people were innocent and to falsely accuse another to save oneself is wrong, yet, in the 17th century, witchcraft was accepted as a very real threat. We can only imagine what the accused went through.  But in that situation I can understand how an accused witch could convince herself that a strange neighbor was bewitched, amidst her own self doubts as to whether her seemingly innocent actions were, in fact, witchcraft.  

      There was no forensic science, to speak of, thus the courts relied almost entirely on witness' accounts.  They did have a few witch 'tells' including putting a person in the water, possibly with their hands and feet bound, as witches would float. It's believed that some women briefly floated due to their dresses.  Most people sank proving their innocence but risking their lives. Some drowned when the rope tied to their waist, intended to pull them to safety, broke. Another tell involved searching the body of the accused for witch marks or teats that were believed to have been made by the devil and, thus, were insensitive to pain.  The courts did not necessarily accept these as evidence, but they were done nonetheless. People were often convicted based on voluntary confessions, or the testimony by two witnesses.

      It's estimated that 80 people were accused of witchcraft and 15 executed in New England during the initial wave of hysteria in the mid 1600's.  One of those accused was Elizabeth Cogan Holly Kendall (1599-1651),my 9th great grandmother, who was put to death in about 1651.  The famous Salem witch trials didn't occur for another 40 years, in about 1692, during which 19 more people were executed with many more accused.

      WATERTOWN, MA - 1651

      Elizabeth Cogan, was born in Somerset England about 1599.  She married Samuel Holly (1593-1643) in England in 1618 and came to America in about 1635 with her husband and children including her oldest son John Galen Holly (1618-1681) (my 8th gr grandfather).   Samuel Holly died in 1643 leaving his wife Elizabeth and children, the youngest of which was probably about 10 years old.  In 1644, Elizabeth married John Kendall (1608-1661)

      A few years later in approximately 1651, 'Goody' or Mrs. Kendall was charged with bewitching the child of Goodman Genings to death.   Goody Kendall was said to "make much of the child when she was well." The child then "quickly changed color" and dyed a few hours later.  Goody Kendall was accused by the Genings' nurse of witchcraft.  Her trial and execution, which was one of the earliest in colonial america, were said to be unusually swift.  According to one source, she was put to death by hanging, but other sources indicate the method of her execution  is unproven.  

      Not long after the execution, upon questioning, the parents of the child indicated that the nurse had taken her out into the cold the night before which they believed was the cause of the child's death.  In order to protect herself, the nurse had accused Mrs. Kendall.  In all likelihood neither woman was to blame for the death.  The nurse was imprisoned for bearing false witness against Goody Kendall, but she was never tried and died in  prison.  I can't help wondering how this trial may have impacted history had it occurred and shed light on the ease with which a person could be falsely accused.    

                  John Galen Holly (1618-1681) - Our Ancestor
      • The exact year the Holly family arrived in New England is uncertain, but probably between 1630-1635.  In either case, town records show they resided in Cambridge MA by 1639.  
      • After his father's death, John Holly moved to Stamford CT in 1645, where he became a prominent town official serving as selectman, representative and judge.  
      • A conflicting opinion claims John Holly was not Samuel's son.  However,  there is quite convincing evidence to refute this including property records of land owned by Samuel Holly on the southside of Charles river in Cambridge, MA that was willed to Samuel's son in Dec. 1643, and then sold by John Holly to Edward Jackson in Oct. 1645.   The sale also included land currently in use by Elizabeth Kendall, late wife of Samuel Holly.
      • Notably, John Holly named his eldest son Samuel and eldest daughter Elizabeth, after his parents, in accordance with English naming traditions of the time.
      • Two of John Galen Holly's children are our direct ancestors  - John Holly (1649- 1716) is a 7th gr grandfather and Bethia (Holly) Weed (1655-1713) is an 8th gr grandmother. 

      FAIRFIELD - 1692

      Elizabeth Clason/Clawson (1641-1714)  (my 9th gr grandmother) was accused of witchcraft and tried in Fairfield, CT in 1692.  Elizabeth's maiden name was Periment or Pennoyer.  She was believed to have been born in England, most likely coming to America with her parents in approximately 1643.  I have not positively identified her parents, but she married Stephen Clason (McClay/Clawson) on November 11, 1654 in Stamford.  They had four children, including their youngest daughter, Elizabeth (Clason) Dann (1666-1748) who is my 8th gr grandmother. 

      Unlike Elizabeth Kendall's case for which there is only one written account, her story is recorded in detail in a number of documents that still exist today.   Further the people of Stamford are said to have been very suspicious of the accusations against Elizabeth Clason.

      Katherine Branch was a servant who lived with the Wescot family in Stamford Ct.  In April of 1692 she began to suffer seizures and fits causing her to fall to the ground, convulse and call out.   A local midwife concluded she was bewitched. 

      On May 27, 1692, hearings were held by a Court of Inquiry, led by Nathan Gold and Jonathan Selleck , both of whom are my 9th gr grandfathers, as well as John Burr and John Bell. Katherine Branch told stories of a cat speaking to her and turning into a woman and then back to a cat. Katherine accused several women of being witches with her, including Goody (Elizabeth Periment) Clason and  Mercy Disborough of Fairfield. 
      Elizabeth Clason denied the accusations, but admitted there had been a disagreement between herself and Abigail Wescot for some years which could have been the motive for the Wescot's servant to accuse Clason

       According to records Mrs. Clason was subjected to the water test in a Fairfield pond and floated, an indication of her guilt as a witch. The preliminary investigation of a special Court stated that she had 'familiarity with Satan'...'and deserved to dye.'   The court appointed Sarah Burr, Abigail Burr, Abigail Howard, Sarah Wakeman, and Hannah Wilson to examine the bodies of Mrs. Clason and Mrs. Disborough in search of marks of the devil.  They reported finding nothing unusual on Mrs. Clason.

      In an unusual move, Stephen Clason asked his neighbors to sign a petition asserting his wife's good character.  In spite of the 'evidence', 76 Stamford residents signed the petition, the original of which still exists today at the Stamford Historical Society.   

      Elizabeth Clason's defenders

      After the hearings, Mrs.  Clason remained in jail pending the outcome, but the jurors were unable to reach a verdict.  In June the court created a special commission to try the case the following September.  The Fairfield trial began on September 14, but the jury was once again unable to reach a verdict.  Finally on October 28, 1692 court convened again.  This time the jury acquitted Clason and convicted Disborough who was sentenced to death.  The Hartford Court subsequently overturned that verdict and acquitted Disborough as well.  The women had spent months in jail awaiting the outcome but were at last freed. 

      Elizabeth (Clason) Dann (1666-1748) - Our Ancestor

      • Elizabeth Clason married Francis Dann Sr. in Stamford in November of 1685 - my 8th gr grandparents.  
      • We are direct descendents of two of her children. 
        • Their daughter, Elizabeth Dann (1686-1731) married John Jones (1676-1721)  
        • Their son, John Dann (1701-1731) married Deborah Green (1701-


      FAIRFIELD - 1653

      In another case, in Fairfield CT. our ancestor Susannah (Norman) Lockwood (1616-1660), wife of Robert Lockwood, testified against Goodwife Knapp who was convicted of witchcraft and executed by hanging in 1653.  Goody Knapp was tried by Magistrates John Davenport and Roger Ludlow.  

       Goody Knapp was reported to have been tormented emotionally and physically while in jail. A group of women, including Susannah Lockwood, were appointed to examine her body and were quite thorough and rough.  Goody Knapp is reported to have told the group "take heed the devil have not you."

      Goody Knapp refused to accuse others and is credited with the following statement, "I must not render evil for evil ... I have sins enough already, and I will not add this [naming another witch] to my condemnation."


      Lucius Robinson Paige, History of Cambridge, Massachusetts, H. O. Houghton, 1877 - Cambridge (Mass.), http://www.cambridgehistory.org/content/gallows-hill-ancient-place-execution

      David D. Hall,Witch-Hunting in Seventeenth Century New England, A Documentary History 1638-1693, Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1999

      Godbeer, Richard, Escaping Salem The Other Witch Hunt of 1692.  Oxford University Press, Inc., 2005.

      Tomlinson, Richard G., Witchcraft Trials of Connecticut:  The First Comprehensive, Documented History of Witchcraft Trials in Colornial Connecticut. Hartford, Conn. Connecticut Research, In., 1978

      Stamford Historical Society

      Thursday, July 28, 2016

      My Mother Through the Smoke

      MARGARET ANNE (HENNESSY) SYSKA  (1935-1989) 

      Our family pictured here in 1985 celebrating Mom's first Christmas at Cedar Lane Rehabilitation Center in Waterbury CT.  At the time, we were still optimistic the therapists could wean her from the respirator.  That was not to be.  She spent 4 years, 3 months and 2 days as an appendage to a ventilator.  

      I vividly remember my mother's dreadful, raucous cough that seemed to walk into a room before her.  That was part of who she was in my mind, not an ominous sign of Emphysema lurking in her lungs.  I still see Mom sitting at the kitchen table, chin cradled in one hand, a cup of black coffee or glass of Pepsi,  in the other.  That plain, creaky kitchen table was where we talked about everything and mom dispensed her shrewd advice that was almost never well received by my teenage self.  

      I've written about oodles of relatives going back hundreds of years, but not my own mother. I glossed right over her.  So much was left unsaid when she was dying. I never said goodbye or told her how I felt because I was clueless. I have to admit I wasn't a very good daughter when she needed me most.  Back in the 80's we didn't have skype, facetime, email, texting nor any digital form of communication.  Mom's tracheotomy prevented her from talking so phone calls were out.  Months turned into years in the hospital which atrophied her muscles and made letter writing difficult so she basically lived for our visits.  Visiting was hard, time consuming and emotionally draining. Every visit ended with us leaving her in the hospital, knowing after the first year or so, that she wasn't coming home, she would never sit at the kitchen table again, laugh or dispense advice, cook one of her amazing dinners or even smell the lilacs she loved so much.  Over time weekly visits turned into monthly and then every few months until she was gone.
      Tom, Robert, Jack and Peggy

      But enough of that wishy washy stuff. I should be telling you about her roots. It seems impossible to sum up my mother's life in a neat little blog post, but I will try to give you a glimpse of the impact her truncated life made. 

      My mother, Margaret Anne Hennessy, who everyone called Peg or Peggy, was the fourth child born on November 17, 1935 to Thomas Francis Hennessy and Margaret Florence (Cox) Hennessy.  Older brothers Thomas, Robert and John (Jack) were 4, 2 and 1 years of age when Peg was born.

      Eight years later, the twins, Donald  & Sherry  came along.   In 1940 the family resided at 56 Northfield Rd. New Rochelle, NY.  
      Sherry, Peg & Don
      In 1954, her father, Thomas Hennessy passed away due to a heart condition, although my mother wondered if his condition was caused or exacerbated by smoking.  Just about everyone smoked back then and for the most part, they were oblivious to the health consequences.  My mother started smoking when she was 15 years old. 

      Sherry Hennessy and Margaret
      Cox Hennessy about 1980.  

      That's our kitchen table with the
      Grand union bicentennial dishes 
      from 1976.
       Peg's mother and my grandma, Margaret (Cox) Hennessy, was hospitalized around 1956. In the 2  prior years Margaret had lost her husband, mother and sister, all of whom had passed away, leaving a burden she couldn't handle. Margaret remained in the hospital for 25 years until her death in 1981.

      Peg, along with her brother Jack, went to work and took responsibility for raising their younger siblings, Sherry and Don. Their brother Tom had left home years earlier and had started his own family, while Robert had joined the military and was serving in the Phillipines.

      Stan, Scott and Peggy in 1963
      Peggy married Stan Syska on October 20, 1962.  My brother Scott was born in November of 1963, my sister, Suzy, in  February 1965 and I came along 13 months later in March of 1966.  Years later, I came to understand how chaotic a time that was for Mom, when my twins were born and I had 4 children of my own under the age of 5.  I wished my mother could have been there although I'm sure we would have bickered over something important like diaper duty or pacifier protocol.   

      Stan Syska, Tom Hennessy and Peggy
      (Hennessy) Syska
      Life wasn't easy for my parents.  They worked hard always struggling to make ends meet.  Dad was a self employed carpenter.  Mom dreamed of going to college and becoming a writer.  Instead she worked nights as a nurses aid, slept during the day and took care of us in the afternoons and evenings.
      I don't know exactly when Mom was diagnosed with Emphysema, but she told us kids in 1981 when she began oxygen therapy.  Eventually, the oxygen wasn't enough, she went into cardiac arrest and was put on a respirator.   The typical onset of Emphysema symptoms occurs in the 60's or 70's even for smokers. I suspect my mother may have had a genetic condition  called AAT deficiency (see picture on below right)

      On April 25, 1989, my brother and his wife had their first child, Kevin Syska, who was my mother's first grandchild. About 2 1/2 months later, they brought Kevin to Cedar Lane where Mom was delighted to hold Kevin in her arms. All the nurses came in the room and Peggy got to proudly show off her grandson.  And then she knew it was time to go.  Peg stopped eating or drinking, with a do not resucitate order, it was only a matter of time until she passed away on July 27, 1989.

      My mother promised each of her children she would give us $100 if we didn't start smoking cigarettes by the time we were 21.  None of us have ever smoked, defying the odds that say children of parents who smoke  are twice as likely to take up the habit themselves. I never got my cold hard cash but my mother had already given me everything: life, love, air.  


      Mom had been 'quitting smoking' for most of my childhood. She tried everything from hiding her cigarettes, to joining smokenders, even hypnosis but the addiction was too strong.  She finally quit for good when she started the oxygen therapy, but it was too late.  Emphysema is a progessive, terminal disease that destroys the lung's air sacs.

      It's hard to imagine a time when people didn't know smoking was harmful. 
      To help illustrate what that era was like, I compiled some  cigarette advertisements with celebrities like Gary Cooper, John Wayne, Ronald Reagan, Lucy & Desi Arnaz and Babe Ruth.  There were many more. Even Fred and Barney Flinstone appeared in cigarette ads in 1960-61.

      Then there are the ads that claim "more doctors smoke Camel" or cigarettes make you thinner.  One of the most bizarre is the "Winston, when you're smoking for two" ad that claims low birth weight is a win-win: easy labor, slim baby and great taste. 

      Cancer by the Carton

      1952 article published in Readers Digest that demonstrated to the public the connection between smoking and lung cancer.  This was based on 30 years of research at the time!

      Tobacco companies fired back with the statement below and intense ad campaigns touting low tar and low nicotine cigarettes with filters.  While the number of smokers in the US continues to decline, we have exported the problem. Today there are 1 billion smokers globally with 80% of smokers living in low and middle income countries according to the World Health Organization.