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.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

#52Ancestors Favorite Photo (Week 2)

I call the photo "Dad and Me."  I have so many thousands of photos that choosing just one was very difficult.  I could probably blog about a photo each week for the whole year.  Maybe that is how I will approach #52Ancestors in future blogs.

This photo was taken on 20 November 1976 in the 25th Signal Battalion Chapel, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.  How many photos do you have in which you know the exact date and place taken 41 years later?  Well that is because this is a picture from my wedding to my love- Vickie Jean Ray, also a Lieutenant in the 25th Signal Battalion at the time.  We were married by Chaplain (Capt) Brian Donley.  I was a Lieutenant and Dad was Major General.  Not everyone gets to have a two-star general give away the bridge. Vickie and I both wore our dress blue uniforms and Dad did also.  The other officers in the battalion made a sabre arch as the newly married couple exited the chapel. 

The chapel had long been in disuse until a new chaplain arrived in the battalion and decided to start up church services on Sundays.  Our battalion occupied old World War II style barracks with a layout of four companies, A-D and each company having four two-story barracks buildings, one for each platoon in the company.  One of the buildings held the company  headquarters. There was a motor pool, supply office, mess hall, battalion headquarters, parade field all in close proximity.  The battalion was completely self-contained in about 20 buildings and when we went to the field to perform our communications mission, we were also completely self-supporting.  Each battalion of about 500 soldiers has a chaplain assigned.  Chaplain Donley asked for help from Vickie and me to get the chapel aired out, cleaned up, re-carpeted and with his chaplain's assistant we started holding weekly services there.  Everything in this old barracks layout was in walking distance so a soldier did not need any transportation to perform duties or even attend chapel.

The photo represents a day that can  never be forgotten.  Full of joy and future we went straight from our wedding weekend with lots of family and guests to a field exercise the following week.  Honeymoons would just have to wait until the Army made time available.  We were a communications company so I had no trouble calling my wife during the two-week field exercise but there were probably a few operators listening in to the newlyweds?  That's life in a signal battalion.  First out in the field to set up communications for XVIII  Airborne Corps headquarters (they called us Dragon Soldiers because of our shoulder patch) and last back in to garrison when war training was complete.

Sunday, January 7, 2018


One of my hobbies is postcards.  My grandmother saved hundreds of them and I have since collected many more.  I see an early one dated 1914 so some are over 100 years old.

Probably some of my favorites are in the early 30s when my Dad would write to his father about an upcoming visit to Cape Cod.  Leslie, Sr worked in Boston during the week and the Metropolitan District Commission and on Friday night he would take the train down to Dennis, Cape Cod.  My Dad would usually report to his father on one of those penny postcards during the week.

I have been trying to preserve these postcards at  but it is slow going so far.
25 Aug 1932
Dear Daddy
I went in swimming at Harwichport yesterday. We are going to take Grandma to the train this afternoon. Uncle Roy is working at the Fair grounds for a few days. Earl is here playing with me this morning. Sabra is down playing in the box shop with Jay & Priscilla. We will meet you Sat at 3:45  Love xxx Leslie Jr
to Mr Leslie R Sears
39 Hilldale Rd, So Weymouth, Mass

Even in 1932 a postcard only cost a penny to mail.  I am sure the postcard made its way from East Dennis to South Weymouth on one of the daily trains.  From the handwriting you  can guess that my Dad did not write this card but must have dictated it to his mother.  He was only 4 years old at this writing.

Even better are the postcards that my grandfather posted from France back to his mother and brother during World War I.  In these cases the soldier did not have to pay any postage. In fact during a war, a soldier can write on a piece of cardboard, like the one that his C-rations come in, write Soldier's Mail and that scrap of cardboard will be delivered. In most cases that is all the family ever heard from a soldier and this postcard was basically evidence that the soldier was still alive! There was nothing else written on this card but i can tell that my grandpa Leslie wrote this from his handwriting.

Friday, January 5, 2018

#52Ancestors Start (Week 1)

Richard Sears (1610-1676) is my "start" for the #52ancestors challenge.  He is my 7th Great-Grandfather and was probably born in England and shows up in Marblehead, Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1633 - maybe he was a fisherman who came over on one of those early boats and decided this was the place for him.  From Samuel P May's book we read: "The name of Richard Seer is first found upon the records of Plymouth Colony, in the tax-list of March 25, 1633, when he was one of fourty-four, in a list of eighty-six persons, who were assessed nine shillings in corn, at six shillings per bushel, upon one poll.  His name is not in tax list of 1634 or in list of freemen 1633."

He soon after crossed over to Marblehead, in Massachusetts Colony, where Richard Seers was taxed as a resident in the Salem rate-list for January 1, 1637-8, and on October 14, 1638, was granted four acres of land "where he had formerly planted." [This would seem to indicate that he had then some family.]

What his reasons were for removing can now only be conjectured.  It has been suggested that he sympathized with Roger Williams and followed him in his removal, but this is improbable.  It may be that he wished to be near friends, former townsmen, or perhaps relatives.

Antony Thacher, and his wife who was sister to Richard Sares wife, was then living in Marblehead, and this fact probably influenced his removal to that place

The early settlers of Marblehead were many of them from the channel islands, Guernsey and Jersey, and in these places the family of Sarres has been established for several centuries, and is still represented in Guernsey under the names of Sarres and Serres.

He took up residence on Quivet Neck between Quivet and Sesuit creeks [in what became East precinct of Yarmouth now Dennis], where in September of the same year their daughter Deborah was born, perhaps the second white child, and the first girl born in Yarmouth; Zachary Rider being supposed to have been the first boy.

In 1643, the name of Richard Seeres is in the list of those between the age of 16 and 60 able to bear arms. (In Williamsburg we learned that the requirements were, male, able bodied and with at least two teeth, one top and one bottom to pull the cap off the powder horn)

Oct 26, 1647, the commissioners on Indian affairs were appointed to meet at the house of Richard Sares at Yarmouth, when he entered a complaint against Nepoytam Sachumus, and Felix, Indians.

I have recorded over 22,000 of Richard's grand-kids in my Ancestry tree and have been researching the Sears Family since 1976.  One of those grand-kids was Honorable David Sears, of Boston, who commissioned a Sears genealogy ( and that's where I picked up the ball.  The first comprehensive Sears genealogy came out  in 1890 and I published the updated Sears Genealogical Catalogue in 1992.  You  can see the Catalogue here-

I hope you will also participate in #52ancestors!   Ray Sears

#52Ancestors and Preserving Data

I have been sharing genealogy projects that I am working on and today my sisters and I decided to take on

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

Family history is better when it's shared! 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is a series of prompts to help you share the discoveries you've made in your genealogy.

Just sign up on Amy's site and each Monday, you'll receive the prompt for that week, plus an email on the 1st of each month with a look ahead.

Use the hashtag #52ancestors if you share your work as well as get inspired by others in the project! That brought up the idea of using hashtags more often.  So for example this blog would be  #CapeCodFolks 

In the Ancestry Searsv5 tree that I have been building ( I have recorded over 22,000 of the descendants of Richard Sears so this should give me quite a wealth of information to choose from in the #52ancestors challenge. I have used a plug-in called Family Book Creator which extracts the information from the database in "Register" format.  This format is probably familiar to everyone here but one of the problems is that each time you extract the data, people receive a different number in the book.  Individuals who are not carried forward to the next generation are not given any number.  For many years I used Personal Ancestral File (PAF) as my genealogy database and I loved the Record Identification Number (RIN) that was assigned to each person as you added their data.  This number stayed constant and I used the number to index photos and other information.

Now with FamilyTreeMaker there is a reference number and I can even add the RINs as a piece of data from my earlier PAF database. In Ancestry each individual is also assigned a unique number.  You can see it in the URL- for example my Dad is  About the only other way to uniquely describe someone is to include full name with birth and death years.

I have 77,000 people in my Ancestry tree and they are linked to FamilyTreeMaker which is a great feature.  Make a change in either location and it is reflected in the other place.  I don't trust that the FamilyTreeMaker file on my computer will outlive me so having the data duplicated on Ancestry is some comfort.  The same issue with my website      It requires maintenance and will die when I am gone.  I did mention that Sears Archives and I plan to copy that all to DVDs and take the scanned papers to Boston this summer- Lord Willing and The Creek Don't Rise.   Paper and DVD currently seem to be the only way to really preserve information for the future.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Quivet Neck Cemetery

I have been writing about various genealogy projects that i am working on.  One is Quivet Neck Cemetery, on South St in East Dennis.  There are over 800  memorials in this cemetery including my grandmother, grandfather, his daughter, her husband and 100s of other members of the Sears family.  This area was sometimes called Searsville due to the number of Sears famlies living on the neck.

Burt Derick listed all the tombstones in the cemetery in his 1993 Cemetery Inscriptions of Dennis, Massachusetts, Heritage Books but there are many additions since then. Since he walked the cemetery and listed the tombstones in order it is much easier to find them.  Find-A-Grave has a great deal of information about the memorials but does not tell you exactly where individual stones are located. That site -( )- has recently added a lat-long feature that would help pinpoint the locations.  I may go there and right down 900 locations on my next visit.  Might as well take pictures of every stone (I already have photos of the Sears stones) while i am there.  Maybe a camera with GPS could pinpoint the location with each tombstone photo??

I am writing the names down on a piece of paper so when I am done it will look like the work I  did on the ancient Sears Cemetery just south of this location. (

I missed blogging yesterday what with going back to work after a long break and having some other family issues arise.  Let's see how I do from here on?  It looks like a quiet morning is the best time to get some words out on the blogosphere.

You can see in this photo the cemetery is on the south side of South St, divided into about four sections and Quivet Creek (the border between Dennis and Brewster) meanders its way across the south side of the cemetery.  To the east of here is Crowes Pasture, a beautiful Dennis Conservation Land where my ancestors used to maintain salt works.

Monday, January 1, 2018


One of the reasons I love genealogy is geography.  Maps.  I love maps.  I have hundreds of them, mostly rolled up but every once in a while I unroll the bundle just to marvel at the work of thousands of cartographers.  I used to subscribe to National Geographic and I have every insert map they printed over a period of many years. NatGeo probably has the best map makers in the world.

Back in April I did additional work on a list of places with the name Sears in them.  You can make your own maps with map pins in google and so I saved those places 


 I am sure there are more.  Those were just some I discovered at the geographical map server online and other Sears places i have come across in history.  I would like to augment that list of Sears cemeteries, villages, geological places with Sears in the name to include historic landmarks and houses that were owned by Searses.

I have a good list of "Sears" houses on Quivet Neck, East Dennis, Cape Cod from Mary Kuhrtz and I think I will mark those on the map next.  Just knowing which  houses your ancestors lived in adds so much to a genealogy work.  I know the house where my  grandfather was born.  I know the house that my Dad built in East Dennis with Johnny Burt.  I know of an ancient Benjamin Sears house in Brewster, NY, with friendly ghosts.  The Community of the Holy Spirit invited me to stay there when I was passing through  and gave me a wealth of genealogical information about  Benjamin (1703-1796) (you can read more at 

In my FamilyTreeMaker database I have over 12,000 geographical locations.  As part of genealogy do-over it would have been nice if every location was formatted properly, e.g.  Benjamin Sears House, Southeast, Putnam, New York, USA   or Ancient Sears Cemetery, West Brewster, Barnstable, Massachusetts, USA  but that  is one of my ongoing projects since there are probably a hundred ways to format and store those locations - adding the word county after Putnam or Barnstable, abbreviating NY, spelling out USA, leaving the county out altogether- spelling South East incorrectly - (there is also a Northeast, Dutchess, New York, USA) and of course the county boundaries changed over time.

One of the dilemmas I am trying to address is the changing political  affiliations over time- for example Dennis, Massachusetts didn't exist until 1793 so you cannot be born in Dennis before that- you were born in the East Precinct of Yarmouth before 1793.  Barnstable county didn't exist until 2 June 1685 when Plymouth Colony was divided into three counties to make governmental administration easier.  So you can't be born in Barnstable county before 1685.   USA didn't exist until 1776 so before that you were born in Plymouth Colony, England or Massachusetts Bay Colony, England.  And Plymouth Colony was absorbed with the Bay Colony in 1691 to form the Province of Massachusetts Bay.  So from 1691 to 1776 you were born in that Province?

Do you make these political distinctions in your genealogy geographical place names?  I think it helps when we are dealing  with colonial history to remember that our Cape Cod ancestors were English subjects from 1621-1776 -  155 years.  They used the English pound, they had an English governor.

Well maybe you have a glimpse of my fascination with geography.  Going back to school  today I might even major in geography? There is a nifty application called Map My Family Tree. I used this program to "map" the locations of Sears folks through time.  You can check some maps out at  Sometimes it helps to see the concentrations of family by county.  Enjoy!  and Happy New Year.