Friday, March 29, 2019

Crowell Family Photo

This is a "Crowell" family portrait from Cape Cod- Dennis Historical Society- but you can see there are many Sears who are part of this family!

 Top row L to R: Edwin Dillingham Crowell, Louisa Maria (Sears) Crowell;
 :2nd row, L to R: Prince Sears Crowell, Polly Dillingham (Foster) Crowell, Minerva (Handren) Sears;
 :3rd row, L to R: Persis Sears Crowell, Polly Dillingham Foster, Joshua Sears;
 :4th row, L to R: David Sears, Nathan Foster, Polly Seabury (Sears) Foster.

So I made a sketch (below the photo) of who i think each person in the photo is with birth and deaths adn the relationships among these folks. I think Polly Dillingham Foster appears twice in the center of the portraits- once younger, once older?

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Barnabas Sears, Jr - 1818-1894

The History of Barnstable County is online at the "Web Archive" aka The Wayback Machine - and there is a neat sketch of the home of Barnabas Sears, Jr, (1818-1894) son of Barnabas and Hannah (Crocker) Sears.
I had the chance to visit the Bass River Baptist Church's cemetery (9 Feb 2007) and photograph a number of the Sears tombstones there. Barnabas is buried there even though he was once member of Middleboro Cong, Church? His 3rd wife- Susan H Crosby's- tombstone is the same design so maybe she was Baptist?
-Hist of Barnst Co, p. 500- Town of Yarmouth - In 1854 John K. and Barnabas Sears built a steam planing mill on the north side of the street, where they resided. They added machinery for grinding, all of which was a convenience to a large community. This was continued until 1865, when the importation of dressed lumber, instead of the rough stock, rendered the business unprofitable, and four years later the building was removed to Hyannis.p 501 Barnabas Sears."This citizen of South Yarmouth was born September 13, 1818. He is the second son of Barnabas Sears, deceased, with whose genealogy the reader of the preceding pages is familiar. Unlike most lads of the Cape, Barnabas turned his mind to mechanics instead of the sea. After such educational advantages as his own village afforded he went to Nantucket at the age of seventeen as an apprentice to the carpenter trade, and there for a short time he attended an evening school. At the age of twenty-one he returned to South Yarmouth, but was induced to spend the subsequent season on the island before he made a permanent residence in his native place. With his brother, John K., he engaged in the building and planing mill business as has been mentioned in the village histories of South Yarmouth and Hyannis. In the fall of 1873 he, with his older brother, as J. K. & B. Sears, established a lumber yard at Middleboro, where Barnabas removed, remaining there until 1887, when he returned, leaving the business with his youngest son, Henry W. Sears, who continues it. Mr. Sears has been three times married; first to Ruth H. Crowell, daughter of Rev. Simeon Crowell, whose portrait appears at page 492. They had four children, three of whom died in infancy, Simeon C, then the only survivor of his mother's branch of an illustrious family, met an untimely death on board the ship Fleetwing, off Cape Horn. He was only sixteen when, against the wishes of his parents, he made his first voyage with Captain David Kelley, and during a snow storm fell from the main yard. Twelve days after his fall his body was consigned to the waters of the Pacific. By his death, that branch of the Crowell family has become extinct. The wife and mother died October 13, 1850. Mr. Sears' second marriage was in October, 1852, to Deborah M., daughter of Captain William and Lydia Clark, of Brewster. She died April 22, 1885, leaving three children: Isaiah C, who was born in 1853 and married Sarah P., daughter of Timothy Crocker; Henry W., who was born in 1869, and married Martha, daughter of James and Lucy Pickens, of Middleboro; and Etta Frances Sears, born 1866. The present Mrs. Barnabas Sears, to whom he was married May 2, 1886, was Sarah H., daughter of Hatsel and Jerusha Crosby, and widow of Edwin F. Doane. She has one son, Walter H. Doane. Mr. Sears has persistently declined to hold office, prefering the social relations of life to the strife of party. He is a republican politically, with a strong tendency to promote the cause of temperance wherever an opportunity is presented. He has been earnest and forward in that cause as well as in every other good work. He is a member of the Middleboro Congregational church, but earnestly supports the religious societies of his village. In 1849 he erected his present fine residence, the subject of the accompanying illustration, where he is passing the twilight of his well-spent days in the quiet enjoyment of the association of brothers and sisters and in the full confidence of the entire community.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Well you can see i don't blog regularly but i do have a lot of irons in the fire. I recently plotted all the tombstones in the Quivet Neck Cemetery that are listed in Dennis Inscriptions. I know there have been many burials since then that i need to catch up on.

More interesting i was listening to a book- Kismet- based in England and they talked about Yar people. That got me to thinking.  Yarmouth is the town at the mouth of the Yar river in East Anglia.  Yar people must be people that live by/off the Yar river?

So we are descended from our own Yar people!  There are also other Yar people- Tai Yar people; The Madjars or Madi-yar people are a Turkic ethnic group in Kazakhstanand  those killed in Babyn Yar — people of various nationalities, prisoners of war, Ukrainian patriots.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

#52Ancestors Favorite Name (Week #6) - Hephsabah

Hephsabah is one of my favorite names.  Hephzibah is a figure in the Book of Kings in the Bible. She was the wife of Hezekiah, King of Judah, and the mother of Manasseh. If you want to send someone on a wild goose chase- Have them look up Hezekiah 5:3 in the Bible.  (there is no such book- Hezekiah was a king rather than a prophet).  My Grt4-Grandmother Hephsabah Bassett was known as Happy Bassett.  Maybe the name is just too difficult to pronounce or too formal but when I hear Grandma Happy Sears, it makes me smile. One of my other ancestors Hepsibah "Hepsy" (Hill) Sears, is wife of my third cousin Rowland Sears and I believe you will find the name is fairly common in the late 1700s and early 1800s.  Happy is not currently on the list of popular names for babies but maybe it will make a comeback someday.  Her birth record shows that her parents named her "Happy" which must have been understood as a nickname for Hephsabah.

We don't know a lot about Grandma Happy b. 1743 but her marriage record is spelled with the more formal Hephsabah.

We had once recorded that she died 1769 but then she could not have had all the children attributed to her and Smalley so I removed that death date.  I'm not sure where that date came from. As you know it is difficult to figure out later the source of your information so keep good notes on your sources. Notes in the Sons of the American Revolution application that used Smalle Phillips as a Patriot say that the county records burned in 1812 and the Harwich records were not well kept.  The 1790, 1800 and 1810 census indicate a Smalle Phillips was alive at that time. It seems that Happy is still alive in 1810 by the count of people in the household.

By the birth of her children she is recorded as Hapsay so the name seems to have numerous shortcuts and pronunciations.  Just something that makes her more intriguing.

In any case- Happy, Hepsy, Hephsabah will always be foremost in my mind when it comes to names that stand out in our family history.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

#52 Ancestors 1880 Census Dennis, Cape Cod, Mass. (Week 5)

My sister and I have a hypothesis that there is a high degree of consanguinity amongst Cape Cod residents in the 1800s. Consanguinity refers to two people having a common ancestor. The more recent the ancestor, the higher degree of consanguinity. We want to prove this idea using the census of the Town of Dennis (Cape Cod) Massachusetts in 1880.  So first we typed in all the names from that census into a spreadsheet.  You can see the sheet here

A quick look shows a list of individuals from #1 to #3292.  But that number is a little bit high. More detailed study shows that the same person was enumerated as #194 and #275 -  Johnathon Howes- listed as a widower and the only member of family #59 and with his daughter and grand-daughter in family #77.  A little later under person #959 we see Allen Frank listed. But the enumerator got his name backwards.  He is really Franklin L. Allen and is counted again as #1270 son of James Allen. Emily B Small #984 is the same person as  #1076 where she is daughter of Alvin Small.  #1161 Ferdinand Williams Baker is duplicated as is his brother #1162. James Roderick Baker #1805 (listed as James K Baker) so you can see that census details are not always dependable.  We did a lot of work to try to include people’s full names in our census spreadsheet.  George M Whelden and brother William Magnum Whelden are also counted twice as #1204&2606, #1332 & 1673. George Biron Nickerson is duplicated as is his wife Sarah Swift (Whelden) Nickerson #1333.  You will notice we have included Sarah’s maiden name.  The information about maiden names is not in the census and must be derived at great effort by the genealogist. Their daughter Anna M Nickerson is also duplicated as #1334. Ruthie P (Overton) Kelley #1273 is also enumerated as #1378.  The three members of the Van Buren Chase family are counted twice #2217. Amos and Lydia (Crowell) Crowell are #1650, 1651 and #1900, 1901. 
In addition to duplication, the census taker often took liberty with spelling. The name Howes was often spelled House.  Kelley spelled as Kelly. Harward spelled as Howard.  Bearse as Birs. Patterson as Peterson. Joy as Jorg. Eldredge as Eldrey. Long as Lang. Barstow and Barston. Small as Smalley.  Then there is Edward B Phillips who is enumerated as Phillip Edward, family name and given name were swapped.  Whittemore was recorded as Whitman. Megathlen as Nigathline. William Alister is listed as Alister William.

My sister and I entered all these people into an Ancestry tree ( and then we started tracking down their ancestors.  We had already collected a lot of this ancestral information because of our work on the Sears family which is heavily concentrated in Dennis.  Then we wrote a computer program to compare each person in the 1880 Dennis census with every other person in the census to see if they had a common ancestor- i.e. they were cousins.  Remarkable!  So for example, my great-grandfather Elkanah Howes Sears is a cousin to 1,367 people (over 40% of those in town are his cousins!) The "most related" person at our current analyis is Mercy Baker - a baby when the census taker stopped by- daughter of Wilbur Cornelius Baker (1856-1898) and Mercy Ella Baker(1857-?) [yes Mercy Ella was also a Baker] who is related to 2,355 townfolks - 71% - Has little Mercy got a few cousins or what?

We have a map of the residences of people in town in the 1880s and one point of interest is that the enumerator did not collect the information house by house, street by street. The order of the people in the census is not the same as the order of their houses on the street.  He often skipped houses, maybe to come back later.  Or maybe he just wrote down the information from memory to save a lot of walking around town?

All this goes to show a great deal of information can be gleaned from the census not just from neighbors close by but from the analysis of the whole town. Enjoy your search of the census!

Friday, February 2, 2018

#52Ancestors Dinner (Week 4)

I have always wondered what it would be like to have dinner with my grandfather, Leslie Sears.  I know that he held me when I was an infant in his house on Cape Cod in 1952 when he was 60 years old but that was the last time he ever saw me. Our family moved to Germany as part of the US Army Occupation Forces and Grandpa died in 1954.  At dinner with Grandpa I would probably ask about his time in prep school as a baseball player before he went off to MIT in Cambridge.  His years at MIT in the beginning of the 20th century must have been amazing.  He had attended high school on Cape Cod and prep-school at East Greenwich Academy in Rhode Island.  The academy was a Methodist boarding school and helped prepare him for college. At MIT he was also on the baseball team and the chess team.

Grandpa left MIT early when his father died in 1914.  That must have been very traumatic but the training he received at MIT served him the rest of his life.  Grandpa surely had some stories about his service in the US Army Engineers building small gauge railways in France during WW I. I am sure he would tell me about his days at the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad from 1924 – 1931 where he was surveyor and resident civil engineer at a salary of $46 per week.  I would be proud to tell him that just like him, I was a Registered Professional Engineer in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  My specialty was electronics where his was railroad stations, shops, roads and bridges but the “knack” of people with engineering skills was certainly passed down from grandfather to grandson.

Grandpa finished his career working for the Metropolitan District Commission where he was involved with work in the Blue Hills and along the Charles River including the Esplanade and the Hatch Shell which was dedicated in 1940. Arthur Fiedler was conductor of the Boston Pops then and I am sure Grandpa could regale us with stories about his conversations with Fiedler as that project was underway.  Maybe we would even hear about one of Fiedler’s famous fire truck rides as an Honorary Captain of the fire department.

I am sure Grandpa was a proud fisherman and also enjoyed automobiles and I know that cribbage was a favorite pastime of the family so those stories would also probably be among those told at dinner.  And finally any baseball player would be proud to call the Red Sox his team.  Please Grandpa, tell me one more story about going to the games at Fenway Park.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

#52Ancestors Longetivity (Week 3)

In West Brewster, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, just south of Route 6A (The Old King's Highway) there is a small plot of land we call the Ancient Sears Cemetery. The 124 headstones and footstones in the cemetery are facing west on a hillside overlooking a pond and everyone in the cemetery is related to the others whether by birth or marriage. You can see the tombstone transcriptions at this web page (   The earliest identifiable tombstone belongs to Capt John Sears (1676-1738), my 6th Great-uncle. He died about age 62 and his wife's stone, Prissilla Freeman, shows that she was 78 years old when she died in 1764. John's house still stands just a few hundred feet northeast of the burial ground.  Buried next to them is his brother, my 5th-great grandfather, Paul Sears who was born 15 Jun 1669 and died 14 Feb 1739/40.  Paul was 69 years old.  It is remarkable that these stones still exist and even more so when you consider the age of the people they memorialize.  Seventeenth century life expectancy was 35 years, partly due to child mortality, but these folks lived twice as long. Was it the food, climate, genes, work ethic, faith, family or possibly a combination of all of those factors?

Paul and his wife Mercy Freeman, a Mayflower descendant, had 12 children in 17 years.  That is amazing in itself.  Paul had to live longer just to support all those kids? They lived in the East Precinct of Yarmouth which later became the village of East Dennis.  We see an old record - "Yarmouth a register of the names and births of the children of Pall and Marcey Seers as followeth &c; Ebnezer Seers the son of said Paull and Mercey Seers was born upon the 15th day of August 1694; Paull Seers the son of the said Paull and Mercy was born upon the 21st of December 1695; Elezabeth Seers the daughter 27th Aug 1697; Thomas Seers the son 6 Jun 1699; Rebecca Seers the daughter 2 Apr 1701; Marcy Seears the daughter 7 Feb 1702; Debroah Sears the daughter 11 Mar 1705; Ann Sears the daughter 27 Dec 1706; Joshua Sears 20 Nov 1708; Edmon Sears the son 6 Aug 1712; Hanah Sears daughter 6 March 1714/15; Daniel Sears 16 Jul 1710."

What was that home like with 12 kids running around? I am sure they all had chores and the older ones helped Momma with the babies. Even so, six boys and six girls - I guess you didn't have to worry about being cold on those winter evenings. John Denver wrote a song about a feather bed that would hold eight kids and four hound dogs and surely this Sears family had one of those? Paul was very involved in the local church. "Aug. 4, 1724, Paul Sears was one of Committee to inform Mr. Taylor of call to ministry;" Oct 5, 1725, one of Com. "to lay out meeting-house floor for pews; "June 24, 1726, "to receive Mr. Dennis answer;" Mar. 16, 1727, On Com. "on ordination of Mr. Dennis." The distance to church was about three miles and I imagine that was quite a gang that walked to church on Sunday morning. How do you get 12 kids to sit still through a church service?

All of Paul and Mercy's children had long lives including my fourth-great grandfather, Edmund Sears (1712-1796) who was a participant in the Boston Tea Party and with his wife, Hannah Crowell, had ten children. All four of Edmund's sons were also in the war. Eldest son Edmund was a soldier in Lieut. Micajah Sears' company, and on the alarm at Dartmouth and Falmouth, 6 Sep 1778, marched and did 13 days' service. Son Joshua "served in Lt. Micajah Sears' Co., 6 Sep 1778, on alarm at Dartmouth and Falmouth; and shipped in ship "General Putnam," Capt. Daniel Waters, for naval service, 12 Jul 1779, at £2 per mo.; was taken prisoner and committed to Forton Prison, England, and imprisoned several years, during which he had the small-pox from which and other hardships he nearly died. He was an active member of the church in Dennis." Maybe it is the genes that enabled longetivity through all these trials? Christopher Sears (1756-1809) "served from 27 Jan to 21 Nov 1776, in Capt Elisha Nye's Co., at Elizabeth Islands; and in Capt Micah Chapman's Co., Lt Micajah Sears, on alarm at Dartmouth and Falmouth, Sep 1778; 3 days' service." Finally my third-great grandfather, Elkanah Sears (1758-1836) lived to age 77 and "was a soldier in Lt Micajah Sears' Co., and marched on alarm at Dartmouth and Falmouth, 6 Sep 1778; was on duty 3 days."

Quite a distinct legacy of soldiers and sailors and one which my grandfather, father and I followed.