I was excited to take another extended road trip, not only to enjoy the company of my parents on an adventure together, but to make research stops at some of the areas that have turned up in the past couple of years as being ancestral home places. Our genealogical research has had some wonderful breakthroughs, particularly on Dad’s side, when we discovered Lucinda (Parrish) Smith’s maiden name, which opened up both her Parrish and Starkweather lines back to early Massachusetts (from the 1630s), with the added bonus of the Billingtons of Mayflower notoriety. Also, further research on Mom’s side revealed that our Sarah (Preston) Eastlick’s mother, Anna (Winslow) Preston descends from a brother of Edward Winslow of the Mayflower. Suddenly we have Colonial American ancestors!
So our goals for the trip were to see Boston and Plymouth, and to really dig in on Alexander Eastlick’s roots in New Jersey. Mom wanted to be in on those parts of the journey. Then Dad and I would follow up in counties of importance to our family in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
Thursday, 6/30/11: Our plane flight from Seattle to Boston went well, including the brief stopover in Portland. We picked up our rental car at Logan airport and were making good progress toward finding our hotel in Peabody, about 15 miles north of Boston. Then we took a wrong turn and got all messed up. We ended up driving around for some three hours before we finally got to our hotel. TIRED!!! Crabby, but safe. We ate dinner at a little Italian grill place near the hotel, then came back and bought ice cream in the lobby. It was a tiring day as we had been up since 3:15 a.m. to catch the cab to the airport.
Friday, 7/1/11: After our bad experience driving yesterday, this morning we took the hotel shuttle to the nearest train station, hopped a commuter train into Boston’s North Station, then grabbed a trolley tour. It was one of those hop-on, hop-off tours, so we got out to tour the U.S.S. Constitution, have lunch, etc. It was great to see Boston in an overview with historical commentary. Took the train back and the hotel shuttle picked us up from the train. Very slick. Only had to use the car once, and that was to drive down the street for dinner.
Saturday, 7/2/11: Since the hotel shuttle wasn’t available on Saturdays, Dad and I drove our rental car to the train station at Wakefield this morning. We took the train into Boston while Mom stayed at the hotel to read and relax and catch up on email. Once there, we caught the subway to Boston Common and did a lot of walking around the middle of town, mostly around the Common and the historical sites there. It was great to see the old churches and cemeteries where our people were, way-back-when. Plus it was a successful day navigating the highways and biways north of Boston.
Sunday, 7/3/11: Drove south to Plymouth today. Went through the 17th century colonial village (replica of Plimoth Plantation, spelled the way Bradford spelled it) which was awesome with actors portraying the various Puritans. One house was that of the Brewsters, and we spoke with them a bit. Then we found the Billington home (but our ancestor was not there), and I spoke with the guy playing John Winslow (brother of my ancestor Kenelm Winslow), and another guy (Francis Cooke) we chatted with in the street. It was a really cool way of showing the history, what they wore, how they spoke, what their homes and village looked like.
Then we went into town and had lunch at a restaurant on the waterfront at Plymouth. After that, Dad and I went through the Mayflower replica ship moored there. Fun day, but I am tired, tired, tired! Ran into some rain showers on the way home from Plymouth to Peabody, but nothing our little Corolla couldn’t handle.
Monday, 7/4/11: Today we left Boston and drove to Somerset, New Jersey. We got here safely this afternoon with absolutely no hassles on the drive. Only once did I take a wrong turn, and it was easy to turn around at the next parking lot and make a correction.
The countryside was green and beautiful all the way from Massachusetts through Connecticut and part of New York, down into New Jersey. Am excited to end the “tourist” part of our trip and start the “research” part. Genealogy awaits tomorrow: the big search for Alexander Eastlick. Somerset County is the area where the Strykers and Brittons were involved in the Readington Church. It may also be where Alexander Eastlick married Elizabeth Britton. Three Eastlick offspring would eventually marry three Stryker siblings.
Tuesday, 7/5/11: Today Mom and Dad and I drove to Rutgers University campus, about six miles from our hotel, and spent the morning in their special collections area (genealogy materials) in the basement of their Alexander Library building. Easy to find and easy parking. After lunch we drove to the Somerset County Historical Society collection, housed in a neat old brick historic home called the Van Veghten house. They had some good materials but we didn’t have much time there before they closed.
Wednesday, 7/6/11: Today we drove south to Freehold, Monmouth County, New Jersey to research Eastlicks at two facilities, the Monmouth County Historical Association Library and the Monmouth County Archives. Both were great, as were the two yesterday. Unfortunately I think our Alexander Eastlick crawled out from under a rock. He didn’t leave behind very many records in his earlier life. We found a couple tidbits but nothing meaty. The New Jersey tax records show an Alexander Eastlick (various spellings) in Somerset County, but is that our Alex or the younger one who “absconded” from his Revolutionary War unit? So far, no big breakthroughs.
Thursday, 7/7/11: Today we drove to Trenton and went to the NJ State Archives. Viewed several types of records, including microfilm of the Wades petitioning for reimbursement for damages done by the British in the Battle of Connecticut Farms. Daniel Wade and others had their homes and property destroyed in that battle. Did a lot of looking for Eastlick clues but they all seemed to lead us back to Gloucester County and the Francis Eastlack group that came via Bermuda. Perhaps we should not assume that our Alexander was not from that group. Just because he enlisted from Monmouth County doesn’t mean he was born there. He could have come from anywhere.
Friday, 7/8/11: We spent the day back at the Alexander Library at Rutgers. I copied all the Wade cemetery records from their card catalogue. Also made several copies of Britton records for future reference in case a connection is made down the line.
Saturday, 7/9/11: We’ve been up since 3:30 a.m. since we had to check out of our Somerset hotel and drive Mom to the airport. It was still dark, of course, when we left at 4:00 and had started to rain, both stressful elements of the drive. Dad and I were able to drop Mom off safely at the Newark airport, although we did take some wrong turns along the way, heightening our anxiety quite a bit. There was some swearing involved…. but fortunately we had allowed plenty of extra time and got her there with time to spare.
Once Mom was on her way, Dad and I stopped at a Dunkin’ Donuts for some food and coffee. Dunkin’ Donuts is a big deal out here! We figured we ought to try it at least once. Then we went on to two historic churches and graveyards that have family connections to our Wade line, both within ten miles of the airport. One was the Connecticut Farms Church in Union, NJ and then the First Presbyterian Church in downtown Elizabeth, NJ. Both were awesome and the cities were not scary to drive in at all. However, at that early hour on a Saturday, both cemeteries were locked up. Even though we were disappointed not to see ancestral headstones close up, we were glad to see they were being protected. These two cemeteries are well-documented online.
From there we drove westward through New Jersey by freeway, which went quickly. We stopped for a farm-style breakfast at a truck stop along the freeway, then headed to Hainesville NJ. First we stopped in the cemetery where our ancestor, Mary (Brugler) Brown is buried. She was the first wife of John Brown, and the mother of our Mary Brown who married Joseph Otto. No stone remains for her, although we saw several other Brugler stones. While I was climbing around the hillside viewing headstones, Dad chatted with a neighbor who told him the Brugler relative he had met and visited last time had since passed away. Her former home, the historic Brugler house, was not being lived in, so we drove there and took some photos. Then we drove on to the John and Mary (Brugler) Brown home, the original part of which is made of stone with the date 1789 carved above the door. When we knocked, we heard dogs barking and I thought I could hear a man talking, but he never answered the door. So we felt a bit awkward about getting out and taking photos of the historic home and decided we’d make do with the ones we already have from Dad’s previous visit.
We made a stop at a Visitors’ Welcome Center near the border between NJ and PA, where we had an interesting chat with the ranger on duty. He gave us a map showing the area of the Minisink region (Alexander Eastlick and family lived here for a time) where the government had purchased land in the 1980s anticipating a dam going in. Fortunately the project was stopped for environmental reasons, so this area of historic importance was preserved, including the Dutch Reformed Church parsonage. We decided against journeying up along that route, and instead headed toward Mifflinville PA.
Once we had checked into our hotel in Mifflinville, PA, Dad and I went out to the Brown cemetery on the edge of town. That peaceful hilltop resting place holds the remains of our ancestor, John Brown, and members of his extended family.
At our hotel that evening I discovered that my blog had received a comment regarding my Wade relatives. I get a lot of spam comments every day but I always check them before deleting them. This one was legit. This man had read one of my posts on the Lewis-Wade family including some references to Timothy Whitehead and family. My contact has access to a diary written in the late 1700s by David Whitehead, naming all his father’s brothers and sisters and showing their dates of birth and death. One of those sisters is Magdalena Whitehead who married Daniel Wade. These are two of my direct ancestors, so this was incredible news. And what made it even more incredible was that it happened on the same day we had just visited two Wade/Whitehead churches in Union Co NJ! Couldn’t be more coincidental. A sign?
Sunday, 7/10/11: Cousin Eloise phoned us this morning and we met her and her daughter-in-law for coffee across the street at McDonald’s. She sure makes us feel welcome! Great picnic with our Brown cousins. They are so nice and welcoming. Seems everywhere we go on this trip, people are kind and helpful, even the ones who aren’t related to us!
Tonight we drove on to a hotel in Binghamton, NY. That cuts our travel distance to the next research stop in half.
Monday, 7/11/11: After departing our Binghamton NY hotel, we drove north on I-81 past Syracuse and onto the NY Thruway (a toll road). It was all easy going because the traffic was light and it was out in open country. Very nice scenery. Everything is beautiful, green, lush countryside and wonderful old farms and villages here and there.
Once we got to Utica, we stopped at the Public Library there and researched in their genealogy room, then grabbed a quick lunch at a deli before heading to our second research stop at the Oneida County Historical Society. They had a terrific collection in the basement of a fantastic old historic building. We looked at a lot of records but didn’t find anything on our Jacob Wade and family who passed through there long enough to be enumerated in the 1800 and 1810 census records. We had hoped for a tax record, militia list, anything that gave evidence of Jacob and Sarah’s life there before they migrated to Genesee and then Cattaraugus Counties, NY. We were also hoping to find evidence that Caleb Lewis lived there and might have met up with the Wades in that area. But nothing was found.
We also went to the county courthouse to look for deeds, and the man in the basement went out of his way to show us the old ledgers, but we couldn’t find our Jacob Wade anywhere in the records there.
After we checked into our hotel in Utica, we took a jaunt out to the rural area north in Herkimer County to the Century Cemetery where John and Lucinda (Parrish) Smith are buried. We found their stones and “rescued” Lucinda’s broken stone by lifting the pieces out and laying them on the ground so we could read and photograph the inscription. Then we carefully laid the stone back the way it was, but with the inscription side facing out so that people could read her name and dates. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! Awesome! I had so wanted to go there ever since some kind person posted a photo of their graves on Find A Grave and we could see that Lucinda’s stone was broken and situated so that you couldn’t read it. I wished I’d had those photos when I was securing proof of my lineage from Lucinda’s father, Revolutionary War patriot Roswell Parrish, for entry into the D.A.R.
Tuesday, 7/12/11: This morning we couldn’t wait to get out of our somewhat seedy hotel so we skipped out on the free breakfast and headed east to the town of Herkimer, where we ate a nice breakfast of eggs and bacon at a local diner. We enjoy it whenever we stop at some great “Ma and Pa” place instead of the regular carbon-copy chain places. I love this area…. beautiful, historic, and the people are so nice.
We went to the courthouse in Herkimer and got some township maps, Smith and Starkweather deeds, and Nathan Starkweather’s will. Everyone was helpful to this father-daughter pair of researchers.
Then we went across the street to the Herkimer Historical Society and spent another couple hours with a very helpful and enthusiastic genealogist lady who pulled lots of pertinent records for us to look at. Got some cemetery and marriage records on our Starkweathers.
After lunch we headed north to Newport and went to the Town Historical Society there. Not much on our line, as our Smiths lived in Russia Township and our Spencers in Norway Township. We did get a copy of an 1807 document in which John Smith was appointed overseer of the road from the town meeting minutes. Then we headed south to Warren Township and the old cemetery at Jordanville, where we found the headstone of our direct ancestor, Nathan Starkweather. It was an awesome discovery for us, as I had heard his stone was long-gone. What a serene and beautiful country lane cemetery! After that we motored on down the toll freeway to our hotel in Latham NY.
Wednesday, 7/13/11: Dad and I drove from Latham to Stephentown in Rensselaer Co NY. The historical societies we wanted to visit were closed on Wednesdays, so we instead decided to see the cemeteries and towns of our relatives and wait until the following day to go to research centers. Rensselaer was where the twin Spencer sisters married Carr brothers. They raised our John Spencer after his mother died. We believe this is the area he may have met his future wife, Nancy Carr. We drove through Stephentown, stopping at a roadside used bookstore and chatted with the owner who has lived in the area since 1987 and was helping to restore a local cemetery. He was interested in history and was able to direct us to the places we wanted to go. We found the Stephentown Cemetery and took photos of the headstones of Edward and Eleanor (Spencer) Carr. Then we headed south to Chatham in Columbia County. We stopped at the public library there but the small local history section was not very user-friendly. The one map I wanted to copy was in a book that was too fragile to Xerox. So we didn’t stick around and instead headed back to our hotel in Latham.
Thursday, 7/14/11: Today we spent time at the Columbia County Historical Association in Kinderhook. We looked at Smith and Starkweather surname files, will abstracts, and other records. They also had some valuable cemetery record books. I copied what I could find on the Starkweathers. I have been intrigued with Columbia County NY since I found the marriage record of John and Lucinda (Parrish) Smith. The record claims John Smith, Jr. was “of Chatham, New York,” so I have been eager to see if we could find his family there. We also knew some of Anna Starkweather’s brothers lived in Columbia County in 1790 and 1800. Of course, with a name like John Smith, it’s hard to sort out who belongs to whom. But I did by chance stumble upon the cemetery record of a John Smith who died in 1821 at age 80, buried next to Asa Starkweather and his wife. This could really mean something, as Asa is the brother of our Anna (Starkweather) Parrish. Now I can’t wait to find out more about this John Smith!
Then Dad and I spent the rest of the afternoon driving on to Griswold, Connecticut, Roswell Parrish’s home place. We had time to visit one cemetery before dinner, and that was the Preston City Cemetery. We immediately found the headstones of our direct-line ancestors Richard and Mary Starkweather. Richard’s parents, John and Ann Starkweather, are supposed to be buried there too, but we didn’t see any stones quite that old. Just touching Richard’s headstone, with a death date of 1760 was pretty fantastic.
Friday, 7/15/11: We’ve made two unsuccessful attempts to find the Crary Cemetery in Preston, where Anna (Starkweather) Parrish is buried. We have seen her grave listed in the records, so we know she’s there. We just can’t find the cemetery. After driving around quite a bit and using MapQuest and Find A Grave instructions, and even stopping to ask a local homeowner, we could not find the cemetery. We figure it’s an abandoned burying ground back in the forest on private property. There’s an interesting thing about these woods; they have stone walls running through them. I can only imagine the early farmers pulling the stones out of the ground and piling them into walls to clear the fields for farming. Then as farming gave way to urban area development, the woods re-grew up in these rural fields and around these stone walls. Boy, if these walls could talk!
Our next stop was at the Preston Public Library in Preston. The librarian there was quite helpful in showing us the ropes and we found lots of good information on our Starkweathers. The Preston Town Hall was located right across the parking lot from the library, so I walked over there and secured a couple of deeds (1765 and 1770) for Nathan Starkweather. We also bought a wonderful book from the Librarian about the historic homes of the Preston area. Our ancestors are peppered throughout the book!
Then we drove on south to the New London County Historical Society, housed in the Shaw Mansion, a great old historical home in New London. We only had about an hour there, but I gathered cemetery records while Dad followed up on a reference he spotted earlier at the Preston Library, and researched the possibility that John Starkweather’s wife Ann may have been a descendant of King Phillip, son of Massasoit. No evidence yet, but wouldn’t that be an interesting turn of events?
Saturday, 7/16/11: Today we went to the town of East Greenwich, RI. We stopped at the public library which had a great genealogy room…. all these places back east seem to have a nice local history and genealogy collection. Then we ate a late lunch at a dockside pub on the marina. Beautiful weather and nice breeze watching the boats, etc. Historic little town and not too big so the driving was easy. Half the fun of these genealogy road trips is seeing the countryside and imagining how our ancestors lived.
After lunch we drove to one ancestral cemetery where our immigrant ancestors, John and Joan (Tattersall) Greene are buried. They married in Salisbury, England before coming to America in the 1630s. They both had above-ground type graves with slabs of stone on top. John’s was still barely readable but Joan’s was obliterated by time and deterioration. I’m sure John’s was not the original seventeenth-century stone, but a replacement that was put there in some century since. It was a nice little cemetery with beautiful slate headstones set behind a church. We tried to find another family cemetery in nearby Warwick where John and Joan Greene’s son John and his wife Ann (Almy) Greene are buried, but we got lost and gave up the search.
Sunday, 7/17/11: This morning we left our West Greenwich, RI hotel to visit Carr Pond. This is the area that our (probable) ancestor, Esek Carr settled. We found the pond on the map and drove completely around it, but couldn’t get close enough to see the actual water. We did stop and talk with a few people. Lots of recreational use of the area even though it is not well-marked. It seems to be the best-kept-secret of local bikers, hikers and fishers.
Then we tried for a second time to find the cemetery in Warwick where John and Ann (Almy) Greene are buried. We got closer this time, but discovered it was on private property down a private road marked NO TRESPASSING so we didn’t brave it. At least the graves are pictured on Find A Grave already.
Then we drove on to our lodging for the night, an 1830s farmhouse in the woods near Rehoboth, Massachusetts. The owners are a nice retired couple and we enjoyed visiting with them. They weren’t quite ready for us when we pulled in, so we drove into Rehoboth and spent a couple of hours looking at cemeteries and going through a museum. Amazing that it was open on Sunday. Our Sabin, Billington and Kingsley families were connected with Rehoboth. These are Roswell Parrish’s ancestors.
We had a low-key evening at the B & B, just relaxing and talking genealogy and visiting on and off with our hosts. They have three cats, all sort of skittish, so I didn’t have a real CAT FIX yet. I kept hoping one of them would make up with me, but it never happened.
Monday, 7/18/11: Breakfast was served at 8:00 (full hot breakfast) and then we drove to Plymouth to find Billington Sea (which is really a lake, discovered by John Billington, Jr., son of our John and Eleanor Billington of the Mayflower). Took photos by the lake and then went to the Pilgrim museum. Remember how we enjoyed Plimoth Plantation? The Pilgrim Museum in Plymouth was really well done, too. No actors, but we enjoyed a documentary movie and displays of the history and artifacts from the Mayflower and from Plimoth Plantation.
Our final night of the trip, we stayed at a hotel in Watertown, MA, not far from Logan Airport. Dad and I re-packed our bags to reduce down the stuff we’ve picked up along the way…. a definite challenge but we got it done.
We set the alarm clock and both cell phone alarms, plus we requested a wake up call from the hotel office. We didn’t want to risk missing our early flight. Homeward bound!
Tuesday, 7/19/11: I didn’t sleep all that well, as I kept waking up to check the clock. But we both woke up before the first of four alarms went off. We were on the road by 4:00 a.m. and were glad we had extra time as we had a little trouble finding our way to the turnpike. Then the highway crew had the freeway closed and routed everyone off at exit 22 when we needed exit 26! So here we were, getting off on a ramp who-knows-where in the middle of Boston. I almost lost it then. But I pulled over to the side of the road and just then a cabbie pulled over behind me to let off a passenger. I jumped out and asked the cabbie for help in directing me to the airport. He gave me clear, concise directions, and we made it with no problems. Without his direction, I would never have found the way as there were no signs for the airport in that part of town. Jeez.
Dad and I made it safely to the airport and got the rental car returned. I felt MUCH more relaxed after we arrived in the terminal and sat down to a Starbucks latte. Dad caught up on the reading the newspaper and I took the opportunity to use the free WiFi. Last night and this morning he and I have been reviewing the trip and thinking of the fun stuff and interesting discoveries. We arrived at SeaTac and took a cab to Mom and Dad’s apartment. We visited with Mom, I did my laundry and called hubby Pete. I would not actually make it home until Friday, as I had a three-day conference to attend in Tacoma first.
Saturday, 7/23/11: Finally home. Got dropped off yesterday afternoon and I rested and caught up on my messages and mail. Fell asleep on the couch then went to bed and slept until after 10:00 a.m. which is really late for me. I feel a little like I’ve been run over by a truck. Showered and am now starting down my “to do” list of other things. It was so good to get home. Pete and “the boys” were all great and glad to see me. Pete was cleaning house when I arrived. This morning we drank coffee while I showed him our photos from the trip. So he got to hear all the details of our travels. Fun. It’s fantastic that we were able to have this adventure together, the three of us and then the two of us. Good stuff. I have LOTS to do to follow up on the genealogy we brought home. That will be weeks of “to do” items….