Tuesday, December 22, 2020


Cape Cod Magazine Oct 1921 by the Cape Cod Publishing Company, Hyannis

by Kirk McCall p. 15,18

Eben Sears

The village of Grand Cove [West Dennis?]  is not a populous place, nor is it in any sense up-to-date according to the modern interpretation of the word. Off of the main lines of travel, it lives and is a part of the low, wooded hills; the winding river, the cove and the great free ocean that surrounds it.

     Its white cottages nestling in the hollows, its winding roads that lead to Uncle John's and Cousin Mary's, rather than to they do not represent the modern age in town planning. Here they skirt a meadow and then wind down beside the sea. All roads lead to the sea. The village, the meadow, the rustling pines and the white church spire pointing heavenward and you know Grand Cove.

     Among the roads that lead from out the village none is more picturesque, more restful, more winding than Uncle Ezra's Lane. The state road runs through the village. Straight, macadamized and modern- but Grand Cove is not to blame for that. It was put there by the state so that those that neither knew nor cared for the life of the little village could visit it;; and wonder at its quaintness, and perhaps make austere remarks about its homely affairs. The state road is not part of the village nor ever will be, albeit all roads lead from it.

     Uncle Ezra's Lane joins the main road near the parsonage. What better entrance? The white cottage covered with climbing roses on one side and the rows of waving corn on the other. THen, in the distance you see the ocean, with its many colors in the parting rays of a setting sun. The whole is quiet, restful, just as it was meant to be by those who first settled there. It was a little Devonshire in the new world.

     The road goes down to meet the sea. Here and there a white cottage somewhat back from the road, blends with the pines, its garden and the sea. Then it turns when it reaches Grandpa Snow's English meadow and goes winding over toward the winding river. Just before you get to the river and on the right is a palatial summer home. It stand on a knoll. Bizarre, extravagant, Italian, it lives near the sea and the sea knows it not, it stands in the village and the village, is different knows it not. It is a stranger. An alien whose life, whose ideals whose very existence is irreconcilable to the hamlet. The road turns after it passes this estate and goes through the pines to the river, to the cottage of Eben Sears.

     Eben Sears, of four score years and five, lives alone. This was not always so. Once a wife and family of happy, romping children shared the low, rambling cottage. There they played in the sand beside the river; they grew up, and when they were men and women they went away. Some to other homes in the village, but most of them to other homes in other cities and in distant states and lands. But the little cottage has never forgotten them. Perhaps it expects them to return, for each Spring it send forth a profusion of flower they once loved and is ready if they return.

    The road ends at the cottage; or rather melts away into the rolling fields. The cottage stands amidst the fields shaded by oaks and poplars and covered with wisteria and red ramblers. If the day is clear we will find Eben, or Uncle Eben as you will know him now, sitting out on the stoop, perhaps mending a net or a sail, or just watching the river and dreaming, dreaming of the days when he was a captain and sailed the seas. Dreaming of the young Eben now a master of a liner on the Pacific, of his wife sleeping up beside the church. There are many things to dream of there for Grand Cove has a past and one not to be ashamed of.

     We go in through the opening in the privet hedge to where he is sitting. He sees us as we turn in from the road and a happy smile lights up his face. Maybe he wears no hat and his white hair sort of blends with the man. The loose jersey, the baggy pants, the high boots speak of him as he is. Living in the twilight of life, one who has known the world, not a little world but many worlds; Europe, China, Africa, he has been to them all and now is resting after his labors. He has learned the beauties of nature and nature has taken him for her own. We take the stools offered and after we have exchanged the gossip of the village we ask him to tell us of his last voyage. His last trip before he came to Grand Cove to spend his remaining days.

     "It was in the last part of the seventies when I made my last trip. I was captain of the four- masted Mildred Snow, as good a craft as ever drew water. Not fast, but for all of that a lucky ship. I had been sailing as master of the Hope and had been running between Buenos Aiyres and Liverpool, but we came here in ballast and then it was that Uriah Snow asked me to take the bark, Mildred Snow, out to Shanghai for silk and rice. The Snows in those days owned thirty ships out of Grand Cove and you met them all over the world.

    "I went to Philadelphia to get her. Her captain had been the oldest Smith boy, Cedric was his name, and he had been offered a steamer on the Pacific and as sailing wasn't what it had been, he accepted.

     "I can remember it well I went on with the family for he never expected to come here again and such a time we had getting there.

     "We sailed from Philadelphia with coal and machinery for Cape Town. The voyage out to the Cape was all that could be asked, the old ship had good cargo to hold her down and with fair winds made a quick voyage. Cape Town wasn't what it is today. Then you would meet old friends from home, then it was filled with adventurers going out to the gold fields, settlers and their families from the old country. Just a big family of all kinds going and coming. Now I understand it is more settled.

    "We unloaded our coal and machinery and got ready to sail for the China Coast when my mate, a fellow named Andrews was taken down with the measles and had to be taken ashore. While an old time sea-captain was something of a doctor yet they knew the limit and as Andrews had the measles he had to be taken ashore, the vessel fumigated and another mate found. As the season was pretty well advanced I looked around for another man intending to pick up Andrews on the return.

     "In a town like Cape Town in those days it wasn't easy to get a good crew, let alone a man to handle the crew, and we had to be satisfied finally with a fellow by the name of Richards. Richards was tall and slim, the product of an English father and a Japanese mother. He called himself English, claimed to have been born at sea, and turned out to be an adventurer and dare-devil who could handle men and rum with the best of them.

     "All went well until we got off the coast of Ceylon when we ran into a gale and put into Achin in Sumatra to refit. We lay at Achin a week and I spent most of the time sending men ashore to get the mate who would get beastly drunk and getting new sail and rope. Before I left I had a presentiment of trouble for the men were drawing their money and getting discontented. Yet, when I got away I felt that the  mate would get back into his old shape and all might go right.

     "It was one warm night, there was a fair wind blowing from the southwest and I had gone below to turn in at eight bells. The mate had kept to himself all day, but as he had run a rough course ahsore I thought little of it as we were only two days out. After I had been asleep some time I was awakened by my little spaniel Zip, tugging at the covering of my bunk. Now Zip was an intelligent little creature and after a minute's thought I decided to take a walk up on deck to see how she was going,

     "The after hatch opened in front of the wheel and to my surprise I found it deserted and the vessel hove to. I kept pretty well behind the deck house and decided to get my revolver and explore forward. A master usually in those days, in those seas carried a pistol as sometimes it was pretty good company.

     "To my surprise I found we were laying near a small rock bound island and on the shore I could see lights moving about. Not one of my men was to be seen. I crept forward on the lee side of the ship to about midships when I heard voices on the other side and got behind a pile of cordage to investigate. It did not take me many moments to see what was happening. Beside the ship were two or three boats filled with Chinamen armed to the teeth. Hanging over the side and talking to them in Pigeon English was Richards. Now I had made voyages before to the Malay Coast and could understand about what they were saying. The rascal Richards had smuggled aboard some cut-throats at Achin, had overpowered those of the crew that would not go in with them and was dickering what his share would be. By his voice I could see he was groggy as were the four cut-throats beside him, also I could make out the shining cutlasses of those beside him. Now, I tell you friends, I did some hard thinking the next few moments. I figured that he must have left one or two on guard over the sailors in the forward hold, perhaps they were dead, perhaps he had thought I didn't ocunt anyway and had left no one to watch me. I knew in a few minutes the bargain would be made and I decided on quick action.

     "I stole forward to the men's hatch and picked up a couple of belaying pins on the way. Strange to say I saw none of his gang. I peeped into the hold; there on the bunks lay my men, most of them tied. In the middle of the hold were two Chinamen and two I had taken on at Philadelpha going through the clothes and boxes of the men.

     "I crept quietly down clear of the hatch and slid it to cover my head. I had made up my mind to shoot if discovered, but they were too busy with their plunder and the American sailor too full of rum. I stuck my pistol in my belt and made a leap among them. For a few minutes it was lively work; one of the Chinamen got by me and made for the hatch, I knocked the others where they stood and started after him, but I was too late. He was out. I knew the men tied must be freed, so I grabbed a cutlas from a Chinaman, cut loose two of the boys and made off after the others. I went up the hatch. The Chinaman had given the alarm before closing the hatch, I could hear the sailors swearing in the hold and making ready to follow. I started for the side of the ship where I had left the mate and his murderous crew.

    "A shot rang out as I got abreast of the mast. I felt it scratch the mast and it just touched my arm. I dodged behind a pile of cordage and gave them both barrels. I saw two Chinamen fall and the others scramble for cover or go over the side.

     "It wasn't a long fight, I cleaned up seven with my revolver before about five of the crew joined me armed with marlin spikes, Then we decided to rush as my ammunition was getting low and as we expected a crowd on shore and in the boats to try something pretty soon. They winged one of my sailors but we answered for five more, including the one that had escaped from the forward hold. The rest dove over the side. After a time I made them out about seventy feet away holding a conference from which they would send a shot every so often. But I stationed my men where they could watch all sides and hoisting a jury sail let her work off shore with the wind. They set up a big shout and tried to come along side for two or three hours but at last we managed to get her sails set and made away.

     "Two of the Chinamen never came to and we hove them overboard, the others we carried to Shanghai and turned over to the authorities. I never saw Richards again. He was no stranger in those parts, that fellow, and we were well rid of him.

     "We came back to New York, picking up Andrews on the way. There the Mildred was sold. The new owner offered me the position as master but I had had enough and had made up my mind that I was coming home for good. THe old days were not like the present. I was glad to get back here and settle down with my family.

    Captain Eben filled his pipe and gazed at the winding river.

     "I suppose that my boy is sailing those very seas now. But it's better now, better than when I went out to Shanghai in the Mildred Snow."

The Hamlet photo from Lisa Robertson- thanks Lisa- “Ship Hamlet of  Boston. CaptaIn Eben T Sears taking a pilot off Point Lynnas,  bound for Liverpool January 1854” 

Thursday, February 13, 2020

I have been learning how to create an eBook in preparation for my On Demand Publishing class. As a result i have created my first eBook based on my hardcopy edition- Let Go To Listen- Cape Cod Ruminations. This book comprises my memories and ruminations from childhood visits to Cape Cod and study of family history. You can get your copy of the eBook from Smashwords!



Friday, January 3, 2020

I have been studying our Revolutionary War ancestors. Even though a fellow's whole contribution was to march on Alarm from Yarmouth to Dartmouth for 3 days we must consider that he probably spent a lot of time drilling with the local militia! Here is my second cousin- Noah Sears- Noah Sears was born on 11 Apr 1751 in Yarmouth, Barnstable, Massachusetts[i],[ii],[iii] as the seventh child of Elisha Sears and Sarah Vincent. He had six siblings, namely: Samuel, Bethiah, Elisha, John, Enoch, and Constant. He died on 23 Sep 1835. When he was 42, he entered marriage intentions 8 Feb 1794[iv][v] with Desire Merrill and married Desire Merrill on 17 Feb 1794[vi],[vii] in Yarmouth, Barnstable, Massachusetts, USA by Rev. Nathan Stone. Desire was admitted to the Dennis Church, 14 Sep 1794[viii]; He was in Lieut. Micajah Sears' company, and served 3 days, alarm at Dartmouth, 6 Sep 1778[ix],[x],[xi] Noah is second cousin of Micajah- with grt-grandfather Paul Sears and Deborah Willard as their common ancestor.

Noah appears as grantor or grantee in seven deeds recorded at the Barnstable county courthouse. In his time the border between the towns of Dennis (inc. 1794 from part of Yarmouth) and Brewster (inc. 1803 the north part of Harwich) was walked every year by the selectmen of both towns to formally establish the boundaries but vital records and deeds of citizens of the area could be recorded in records of either town. They seemed to claim residence in whichever town provided the best advantage. In one case Noah sells property which is partly in both towns. The villages where Noah lived and worked are referred to as East Dennis and West Brewster. The Barnstable County Courthouse burned 22 Oct 1827 destroying 93 folios of deeds recorded since the county formed in 1685. The selectmen of the towns were charged with going door to door to re-file property deeds. It is possible Noah was part of many transactions which were never re-filed.

The Dennis Historical Society has original records of monetary notes held by Noah in which he loaned neighbors money and received interest. In 1812 he was owed by Widow Nickerson's estate $50 plus $13.12 interest. In another deed on 22 Jan 1830 when he is 79 years old he buys saltworks from Isaiah Crowell on Quivet Neck, Dennis. The saltworks were in development on Cape Cod during and after the revolutionary war operated into the 1860s. In 1831 there were 764,280 feet of saltworks. That number tripled in the next ten years. Quivet Neck was uniquely situated to take advantage of the tides and wind to manufacture salt by evaporation. So it appears Noah was quite an industrious realtor, banker and salt manufacturer.

Noah Sears was buried in Ancient Sears Cemetery, West Brewster, Brewster, Barnstable, Massachusetts, USA (#45). “In Memory of Mr NOAH SEARS who died Sep 23, 1835 in the 85th year of his age next to his wife Desire who died Sept 1, 1828 In the 62 Year of her age.


[i]Dennis Vital Records- Vol I, p. 5 [Book of Records for the Town of Dennis. Begun in the year 1794 page 6 original record] Elisha and Sarah Sears of Yarmouth – Noah Sears born 11 of April 1751

[ii]Dennis Vital Records- Vol I, p. 117 [Borths and Deaths Early 1700s to Date: Part I page 1 original record Elisha Sears and his wife Sarah. A record of their children – Noah Sears born April 11 1751

[iii] May, Samuel. The Descendants of Richard Sares (Sears) of Yarmouth, Mass., 1638-1888, [https://archive.org/stream/descendantsofric00mays#page/153/mode/1up] (Joel Munsell's Sons, 1890) p. 152, No. 232

[iv] May, Samuel. The Descendants of Richard Sares (Sears) of Yarmouth, Mass., 1638-1888, [https://archive.org/stream/descendantsofric00mays#page/153/mode/1up] (Joel Munsell's Sons, 1890) p. 152, No. 232

[v]Yarmouth Vital Records-Book 4, p. 118 ent int Feb 8th 1794

[vi]Dennis Vital Records- Vol I, p. 61 [page 120 of original record] Returns of marriage made to me by the Revd Nathan Stone for the years 1794- Feb. 27. 1794 Noah Sears and Desire Merrill

[vii] May, Samuel. The Descendants of Richard Sares (Sears) of Yarmouth, Mass., 1638-1888, [https://archive.org/stream/descendantsofric00mays#page/153/mode/1up] (Joel Munsell's Sons, 1890) p. 152, No. 232

[viii] May, Samuel. The Descendants of Richard Sares (Sears) of Yarmouth, Mass., 1638-1888, [https://archive.org/stream/descendantsofric00mays#page/153/mode/1up] (Joel Munsell's Sons, 1890) p. 152, No. 232

[ix] May, Samuel. p. 153He was in Lieut. Micajah Sears' company, and served 3 days, alarm at Dartmouth, 6 Sep 1778

[x] Massachusetts, Revolutionary War, Index Cards to Muster Rolls, 1775-1783- Sea Cost Defence Muster Rolls, Vol. 35, page 237 [https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QLR5-8DLL]

[xi] United States Rosters of Revolutionary War Soldiers and Sailors, 1775-1783, p. 954 [https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QG2M-JS8Q] 3 days, Capt Micah Chapman’s Co Col Freeman’s Regt See more genealogy blogs at: [https://www.facebook.com/groups/248658478657613/]

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. https://archive.org/details/historyofbarnsta00deyo/page/484
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.