Context: Emerson’s “Circles”

Recently, I have been creating some collages in which the motifs include birds, music, and circles. I was looking through the bookshelf in the office to see if there was a book that wouldn’t be missed that I could tear up to use as collage material. I found a collection of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essays and figured the topic would connect with the spring/nature elements in my collages. I am vaguely familiar with Transcendentalist authors and their writings, but I have not read much of their work. I opened up the book to Emerson’s essay entitled Circles (1841) and started to read it. Immediately I saw connections to several aspects of my life.

Everything is connected through cause and effect. Think of a pebble thrown into a pond. There are ever-growing concentric circular ripples emanating from the original impact of the pebble. No singular ripple could not exist without the preceding ripple nor without the original impact.

First of all, the circle as literary motif connected with the circles I was using in my collage work, but, also, the homeschool curriculum we are using this year is the Big History Project which, essentially, is the history of everything. It starts with the Big Bang and looks at how the conditions created from that were perfect for the eventual creation of stars, then planets, then successively more complicated life forms, then civilizations, etc.. Civilizations couldn’t exist without first there being an origin of the Universe — that proverbial pebble.

Then I started seeing some ideological connections to the mindset of Americans in the first half of the 19th century that emphasized self-reliance that seemed to be an outgrowth of Thomas Jefferson’s glorification of the independent farmer as God’s chosen people to populate the New Republic. (See my post 1st Cousins 1x Removed.) Emerson has another essay in that book called Self-Reliance. Here’s a quote from it …

There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better for worse as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till.

Emerson, Ralph Waldo. “Self-Reliance.” In Ralph Waldo Emerson: Selected Essays, Lectures, and Poems, edited by Robert D. Richardson, Jr., 150-74.

America, being a new country and in the process of redefining itself apart from its English ancestry, was on its own. Emerson was speaking to his readers in metaphors that they would understand. They each were a field to till as they saw fit and to the best of their ability. To think for one’s self was to be self-reliant. To follow an original path was preferential to tripping over a stone in a well trodden path where the destination was to be crowded with no room for literal or proverbial land to till.

Emerson said in Circles that “… every action admits of being outdone. Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning; that there is always another dawn risen on mid-noon, and under every deep a lower deep opens.”[1] Genealogically, every ancestor is a preceding ripple around the original pebble plunk that emanates out to us. The original circle is infinitesimally small to the point of microscopic down to a sub-atomic level. Where it started goes back to the Big Bang. Carl Sagan said that we are the children of the stars. We would not exist if they didn’t first exist. Our family trees go all the way back to the formation of the stars. What made them eventually, through billions of years and increased specialization and ever growing complexities, led to each of us.

A whole bunch of years ago I read Rabbi Lawrence Kushner’s novel Kabbalah: A Love Story. In it I was introduced to the concepts of botzina d’qardinuta and alma d’ahtay. They are related to Jewish mysticism and the terms, I believe, are Aramaic. Botzina d’qardinuta is a highly concentrated dark spark — a seed of potential. Alma d’ahtay is the womb in which that seed fulfills its potential — in which it grows to become what it is meant to be. These concepts work together and cannot exist alone. Can you see a correlation between Ancient Jewish mysticism and the even more ancient origins of the Universe? It’s in the complex formation of each and every one of us, too. We each have started with a Big Bang of sorts, a stone’s plop in a pond. Our origin is reflective of the origin of everything. Whether or not there is a god or God at the helm is relative, but we each head our own ship. Each of our journeys will be dependent on how and where we are called to travel. Such were Simon’s and Abigail’s travels. They stepped away from their parents and the times that preceded them in various ways. The motivations that set them on their own path are what I am looking for.

The helms that our ancestors obeyed shifted as their children took the wheel. The journey from them to us, from there to here, has been one of logical ascent and descent. We are all of our own times and we should foster a consciousness of every moment of that time to better understand how we have been informed by our ancestors and the lives that they led in order to understand the historical, social, and cultural context that surrounded them. The choices they made have effected us in both subtle and profound ways. Some we can see, most we can not.

The Transcendentalists, which Emerson was a part, were part of the Romantic literary and art movement that largely took place in Germany, England, and, later, in America. One of the things that Romanticism emphasized was the heroism of the individual. The Revolutionary War caused America to start building its own mythology. Its Zeus was George Washington and the pantheon of gods surrounding him were the founding fathers (and their wives!) and soldiers of all ranks (including Abigail’s father) who fought the mightiest world power and won. If they could send England packing then they could do anything, including going forth into the wilderness of their new country to tame it, build farms on it, and to raise their large families on it.

Simon’s great grandson, my great grandfather, Leon Elstine Gilman (1866-1961) was a very patriotic man. There are many pictures of him with the American flag in the background in front of his house. He married his first wife, Mary Louisa Doty, on 4 July 1890. His son, Arthur Augustus Gilman (1892-1918) fought in France during WWI and died of pneumonia or influenza while over there. How much of Leon’s patriotism was handed down to him from his ancestors? How much was he programmed by the culture in which he lived? Was he effected by the ripples that were of Simon’s and Abigail’s parent’s generation that fought in the Revolutionary War? Although Augustus registered for the draft at the age of 26, there are no records that I have found that he actually served in the war. Augustus’s younger brother, John (1841-1868), however, did serve in the Civil War. He fought at Gettysburg with the 14th Vermont Volunteers. Leon’s father-in-law, Deforest Doty (1844-1921) served as well. Maybe Augustus was considered too old at 27 to serve. Perhaps the younger men were mined as soldiers first.

Leon Elstine Gilman in July 1956 in front of his home in Tinmouth, VT. He was 89 years old. Note the American flag on his house. Photo in private family collection.

My Gilman relatives have most definitely been examples of self-reliance. They’ve plowed, tilled, farmed, raised large families, and dealt with the loss of children and other loved ones to diseases that would later become curable with the invention of antibiotics and vaccines. My father, a Gilman descendant, wasn’t a farmer, but he built his own house and a couple garages. He knows how to refurbish old tractors and he has been a hunter. I have always known him, and my mom, too, to be good providers and to do whatever it took to make things work to raise me and my sister. Ideologically, we’ve had our differences for sure, but I was the succeeding ripple that emanated from his ripple.

Here’s a reading of Emerson’s essay Circles


[1]Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Circles,” in Ralph Waldo Emerson: Selected Essays, Lectures, and Poems, ed. Robert D. Richardson, Jr. (New York: Bantam Books, 1990).


1st Cousins 1x Removed

Blaisdells are all over the place! And there are way too many John Blaisdells in particular. The first one I found was my 5th great grandfather, Abigail’s father, who was a private in the Revolutionary War. In a recent post I had confused a couple different John Blaisdells which made it look like polygamy was a thing in Puritan New England. Were my ancestors proto-Mormon rather than Puritan? They weren’t, of course, but that would have made for an interesting narrative, wouldn’t it? I believe I have since ironed out that mess.

As I fill in my tree and gain historical and social context surrounding the people within it, I have noticed that certain families intermarried and traveled together. Three of the main surnames in my tree in the late 17th and early to mid 18th centuries in the Amesbury, MA area are the Challises (descended from the immigrant Philip Watson Challis), the Blaisdells (descended from the immigrant Ralph Blaisdell) and the Hoyts (descended from the immigrant Simon Hoyt). My father’s paternal line connects to the Hoyts and Challises and his maternal line may connect to the Challis and Blaisdell line. I say “may” because that line contains the Gilmans in my tree and I don’t have a smidgen of proof that my Gilman line goes back further than my 2nd great grandfather, Augustus Gilman. I currently have not found a birth record for Augustus. His “parents” (John Gilman & Polly Doolittle) were married several years after Augustus was born. I haven’t found any prior marriage records for John or Polly to determine if Augustus may have been either John’s or Polly’s son from a previous marriage. The Universe really needs to come clean about this for me! I’ve created a Wish List tab on my blog that lists all the records I’d like to receive by my next birthday in early May. (If you can’t find them, I’ll gladly accept deposits in any denomination to my PayPal account to fund my sporadic research trips.)

The Challis line faded out in my tree, but the Blaisdell and Hoyt/Hoit surnames can be found on the 1810 US Census for Gilmanton, NH. This is the same census that lists Simon E Gilman who was married to Abigail Blaisdell, the folks this blog is centered on and whom I believe to be my fourth great grandparents despite the caveat of questionable Gilman ancestry mentioned in the previous paragraph.

Digging into a pre-1850 census is a daunting task. Women weren’t listed by name unless they were the head of a household and the ages of everyone, male and female, were ticked off in columns specifying age ranges rather than as specific ages. However, with a little figuring and some searches using names, age ranges, and locations on and, I have come up with a Blaisdell connection that gives credence to my belief that the Simon E. Gilman listed on the 1810 census is, indeed, the Simon Gilman I believe to be my fourth great grandfather.

First of all, why Gilmanton, NH? Because “Gilmantown, NH” is listed as the place of birth on Simon’s and Abigail’s son’s (my third great grandfather’s) death record in Shrewsbury, VT.[1]

This is the only record I have found that mentions Simon’s birthplace. Now, this could also be erroneous, but John himself may have also been born in Gilmanton … or was it Alexandria, NH? John was also the only son that stayed in Shrewsbury with Simon and Abigail and it is quite probable that they were at least close neighbors if not living under the same roof based on the location of the land deed in Lot 197 Simon and Abigail took possession of on 20 December 1826 and that John most likely continued to live in for the rest of his life. I wrote about visiting the Gilman Farm, what remains of it anyway, back in September of last year. I can imagine conversations between Simon, Abigail, and John about things and people they remembered when they lived in New Hampshire.

About a year ago I visited the Strafford County Register of Deeds in Dover, NH. Gilmanton is now in Belknap County, but back in 1810 it was part of Strafford County. I found some deeds listed for a Simon E. Gilman, the same name listed on the 1810 Census in Gilmanton.

Photo ©Caron Gonthier.

Simon was purchasing land as early as 1804 when he would have been 20 or 21 years of age.

This is what the page in the 1810 census looks like that lists Simon E. Gilman. His name is at the top of the page [2]

You can see a transcription I did of the whole of the “fourth collectors [sic] district” in Gilmanton, NH HERE.

I also did a transcription of a selective extract which included sections of a couple pages of this census to hone in on Simon and his relationship to other people listed in this census. You can see that HERE.

I took note of all the Blaisdells, Hoyts, and Gilmans in the fourth collector’s district of Gilmanton as well as their age ranges and did some searching in,, and to find specific ages for them. Since the 1850 census was the first census to include the names of all persons living in a household as well as their ages, I also took note of all Blaisdells, Hoyts, and Gilmans who would have been 17 years old or older in 1810 to see if any names/ages coincided between the two censuses. You can see an extracted transcript I did of the 1850 census HERE. You will find a link there to the microfilm images of this census located on This area in Gilmanton had become Gilford by the time the census enumerator counted heads in 1850.

The 1810 census is mostly listed in alphabetical order by surname, but considering that this census is broken up into districts, perhaps it can be surmised that the Gilmans listed together in the 4th collector’s district could be closely related to each other. I’m still working on that. However, it’s the Blaisdells that are connecting in a rather convincing manner that leads me to believe the Simon E. Gilman listed is my Simon.

For the heck of it I did a search in to see if I could find a Blaisdell genealogy, or, at least genealogy that included Blaisdells that may have lived in Gilford, NH. I found this little blurb in David Hoyt Webster’s A genealogical history of the Hoyt, Haight, and Hight families and a list of the first settlers of Salisbury and Amesbury, Mass., etc. [3]

Samuel Hoyt married Judith Blaisdell January 16, 1794 and lived in “that part of Gilmanton now included in Gilford, 1797”. Samuel Hoyt would have been 42 years old in 1810. There is a Samuel Hoit on the 1810 census between the ages of 26 and 44. Some searching on triangulating his name, birth date, and Judith’s name led me to finding his specific birth date of 18 August 1768 (as mentioned in Webster’s book) – 3 February 1833. According to his memorial on he is buried in Bristol, NH. Bristol is next to Alexandria, the town mentioned in Simon’s and Abigail’s daughter’s (Harriet Gilman Balch) obituary where she and her family lived prior to moving to Shrewsbury, VT.

So, how was Judith related to Abigail? I did some searching and, without going into all of my tedious research process, I found Judith and her siblings … all of which are on the 1810 Gilmanton, NH census in the 4th collector’s district!

John was Abigail’s great uncle. She was the first cousin 1x removed to John’s and Judith’s children Eliphalet, Samuel, Jacob, Judeth, and Polly. Here’s a diagram showing how they are related …

Larger version HERE.

John Blaisdell (1733-1799) and Judith Shepard Blaisdell (1736-1807) were both dead prior to the 1810 census. They both are buried in Gilford at the McCoy Cemetery. Their children, Eliphalet, Jacob, Samuel, and Polly, are also buried here. I am unsure of where their sister, Judeth Blaisdell Hoyt, is buried.

Photo ©Andy Reed. Used with permission.
Photo ©Andy Reed. Used with permission.
Google Maps screenshot

Compare to this map showing the ranges and lots of this same area (Note Governor’s Island for reference) …

One of the plots of lands purchased by Simon Eaton Gilman was a portion of Range 1 Lot 1.

If, as Webster states in his book, they came to Gilford in 1797 that means that John was only there two years prior to his death and Judith lived a further 11 years in the town.

John was born in East Kingston, NH while Judith was born in Amesbury, MA. Abigail was also born in East Kingston just as her father was. Her mother was born in neighboring Newtown (AKA Newton), NH. They most likely were moving away from the towns they grew up in due to the scarcity of farmland due to a steadily growing population.

Thomas Jefferson wrote in his Notes on the State of Virginia sometime in 1782 that “[t]hose who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God, if ever he had a chosen people, whose breasts he has made his peculiar deposit for substantial and genuine virtue.”[4][5] With these words Jefferson idealized the self-sufficient farmer and husbandman and looked upon him as virtuous and godly. This foreshadowed the idea of Manifest Destiny that fueled the American Westward movement in that it implied that in order to be a virtuous man of the New Republic and in order to be a farmer, a man needed to procure himself some land on which to farm. I see this drive for land as perhaps the biggest reason for the Blaisdell/Hoyt exodus out of the Northern Massachusetts/Southern New Hampshire area into the less populated parts of Central New Hampshire’s Lakes Region of which that part of Gilmanton that later became Gilford and Alexandria are a part. Simon and Abigail would later move from Gilmanton, NH to Shrewsbury, VT with a stay in Alexandria, NH in between. Shrewsbury is almost due west from Gilmanton. Later, two of Simon’s and Abigail’s sons, William and Simon, Jr., would continue that westward movement into Wisconsin and Illinois respectively. William’s son Byron would end up in Nebraska, dying there in 1921, one hundred and eleven years after the 1810 census.

So, were there any of the same names on the 1850 census in Gilford that were on the fourth collectors district section of Gilmanton on the 1810 census? Possibly. There is a James Hoit, Jr listed on the 1810 census and two James Hoyts on the 1850 census that are five years apart in their ages. The elder James Hoyt (70) would have been 30 years old in 1810 and this would correlate with the age range of James Hoit, Jr. on the 1810 census.

The fact that Abigail’s cousins are living in Gilmanton near a man listed as Simon E. Gilman matched with the land deeds I found for Simon Eaton Gilman at the Strafford County Register of Deeds for parcels of land in a part of Gilmanton later known as Gilford, the blurb in Webster’s book stating that one of Abigail’s cousins, Judith Blaisdell, moved to Gilford in 1797 and had married a Hoyt (Abigail’s maternal grandmother was a Hoyt) and that her siblings are also listed on the 1810 census either as themselves in the case of her brothers, or implied as with her sisters with the listing of her brothers-in-law goes a long way to prove that Simon Eaton Gilman is, indeed, my fourth great grandfather, DNA not withstanding.


[1]“Vermont Vital Records, 1760-1954,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 22 May 2014), 004357192 > image 5289 of 6284; State Capitol Building, Montpelier.

[2]“United States Census, 1810,” database with images, FamilySearch  Strafford > Gilmanton > image 37 of 48; citing NARA microfilm publication M252, (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).”>( : 1 December 2015), New Hampshire > Strafford > Gilmanton > image 37 of 48; citing NARA microfilm publication M252, (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

[3]David Webster Hoyt, A Genealogical History of the Hoyt, Haight, and Hight Families and a List of the First Settlers of Salisbury and Amesbury, Mass., Etc. (Boston, MA: Providence Press Company, 1871), , accessed February 6, 2019,

[4]Thomas Jefferson, “Extract from Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia: Query XIX, “Manufactures”],”, , accessed February 6, 2019,

[5]Thomas Jefferson, “QUERY XIX: The Present State of Manufactures, Commerce, Interior and Exterior Trade?”, , accessed February 6, 2019,

Obituary of Harriet Balch née Gilman

I was digging around in the archives over at to see if I could find a trace of either Cornelia (Gilman) Goodrich or her husband Barnard Milton Goodrich between 1840 and 1850 because I have been unable to locate them on the 1850 census. I was starting to think they may have gone West with the Forty-Niners to dig for gold (and maybe they did)! I did a search for “Mrs. B. M. Goodrich” and lo and behold I came up with genealogical gold in the form of her sister’s, Harriet’s, obituary.

Cornelia and Harriet are Simon’s and Abigail’s daughters. In the obituary not only is Harriet’s date and place of birth mentioned, but also the year that she moved to Shrewsbury. I had her DOB as about a month earlier and sources only said that she was born in the state of New Hampshire. The town was unknown. I had thought it was Gilmanton, but the obituary states Alexandria. My genealogy to-do list just got a couple tasks added to it: 1. Visit the Alexandria, NH town clerk and 2. Visit the Grafton County Register of Deeds in Haverhill, NH. I used to live a couple of towns south of Haverhill back in the early ’90s and about 10 minutes away from Alexandria in the late ’80s. I worked in the town next to Alexandria for nigh on 20 years! More coincidences to add to my life. There’s no doubt in my mind that my early NH relatives have been guiding me since I left Vermont at the age of 18 and moved to New Hampshire! When you are called to do something there’s a good chance that there’s some strong energy behind it pushing you in the direction you need to be going.

Anyway, here’s Harriet’s obituary from page 1 of the 7 July 1899 edition of The Vermont Tribune[1]


[1]L. M. S, “Harriet Balch Obituary,” The Vermont Tribune (Ludlow, VT), July 7, 1899, Vol. 23, No. 35,

Divergent Paths

Getting my head wrapped back around all things genealogical after the holidays has taken some time. I’ve been at a standstill in my research directly related to Simon for awhile now, so I’ve tried to look for other routes that may bring me to him. One of these routes includes the history surrounding his wife Abigail Blaisdell. I had written a post about Abigail back in early September of last year and on September 29th I received an email from Carolyn Marvin, the author of Hanging Ruth Blay. Ruth was hung in Portsmouth, NH in 1768 for the death of her illegitimate infant. Carolyn had seen my blog and said that some of the surnames I was writing about (Blaisdell, Challis, and Carter among them) were surnames that came up in her book. I ordered the book and started reading it and then got sidetracked by the holidays. I was very interested in seeing if, and, more likely, how I was related to the individuals mentioned in the book as I knew that the names mentioned had deep roots in my tree.

All Blaisdells in my tree go back to Ralph Blaisdell (1593-1649) as he was the first Blaisdell to arrive in America. He as well as his wife Elizabeth and son Henry came from Bristol, England on the ship Archangel Gabriel in the summer of 1635 to what is now Pemaquid Point in Maine on a journey that would last a little over two months. [1] 

Ralph’s son, Henry would later be one of the eighteen men listed as the first settlers of Amesbury, MA in 1654. Coincidentally, my husband, David, grew up in Amesbury. There have been other examples of synchronicity that have connected my life to the lives of my ancestors; my husband being from the town my ancestors had a hand in founding is just one of them.

On June 30th my family and I went to Amesbury to visit the Golgotha Memorial on which is listed the names of all the founders of the town. My research had brought me to the name Haddon in my tree which led me to find this memorial. The memorial is on the site of an old burying ground, but all the original gravestones have long ago disappeared and the only stone that exists now is a boulder-sized rock with a memorial plaque affixed to it.

At the Golgotha Memorial in Amesbury, MA in the summer of 2018. The two handsome guys in the photo are my son and my husband. Photo by author.
Close-up of the plaque on the Golgotha Memorial stone listing the first settlers of Amesbury, MA. Many of the surnames listed appear in my tree. Photo by author.

The common names on this memorial and in Marvin’s book are Blaisdell and Challis. One name that I had in my tree was Carter, but because I started to dig further into my research as a result of reading this book, I realized that the Carter surname should quite possibly be changed to Challis. Let me explain.

Abigail Blaisdell, my 4th great grandmother and Simon Gilman’s wife, was the daughter of John Blaisdell and Dorothy Hoyt Carter — or so I thought. The Blaisdell part isn’t in question here, the Carter part is, however. Abigail’s mother, Dorothy Hoyt Challis/Carter was born on 21 June 1765 in Newton, NH. Here is her birth record in Newton, NH — [2]

This looked fine until I found that Dorothy’s mother, also Dorothy, was married twice. Dorothy, Sr.’s maiden name was Hoyt (another name on the aforementioned memorial!). Her first marriage, and the only one I’ve found a more or less official record for, was to Enoch Challis — [3]

Enoch Challis and Dorothy Hoyt from Newton (I’m not entirely sure if this is Newton, NH or Newton, MA) married in Amesbury, MA on 31 October 1751. Right page, 7th line down.

Detail from above record.

Dorothy’s second marriage was to Benjamin Carter. So far, I have been unable to locate a marriage record between Dorothy and Benjamin, but a record of the birth of their son, Enoch Carter, does exist — [4]

I surmise that a marriage record either does or once did exist considering they publicly acknowledged the birth of their son. My aunt Joann only got as far back as Dorothy, Jr. in her research based on her ancestry charts —

In David Webster Hoyt’s A Genealogical History of the Hoyt, Haight, and Hight Families he lists the children of Micah and Susanna Colby Hoyt. They include — [5]

Dorothy is listed as marrying Benjamin Carter “before December 1768.” As shown above, her daughter, Dorothy, was born on 21 June 1765, as much as three years prior to her mother’s marriage to Benjamin as listed by Hoyt in his book. This leads me to believe Enoch Challis rather than Benjamin Carter may be her father. So this may rule out my connection to the Carter family, at least at this family juncture. I have yet to locate a death record for Enoch Challis, so Dorothy’s paternity is still up in the air. Maybe my aunt realized this and that is the reason she didn’t fill in Dorothy’s parents on her ancestry sheets.

My 8th great grandmother was Elizabeth Challis (1661-1744). Her father is the Philip Challis listed on the Golgotha Memorial stone. It is with her marriage to her second husband, John Blaisdell (1668-1733) that the first intersection of the Challis and Blaisdell families occur in my line in Colonial America. The second time (possibly) is when Dorothy Hoyt Challis (1765-1850) marries John Blaisdell (1760-1835). Dorothy and John are Abigail’s parents and Simon Gilman’s in-laws. This line leads all the way down through my father’s mother’s family. Elizabeth Challis’ marriage to her first husband, John Hoyt (1663-1691) can be followed down through my father’s father’s family. So, Elizabeth Challis is my Dad’s 7th great grandmother twice; once on his father’s side and once on his mother’s side! The descendants of her and both of her husbands converged with my paternal grandparents.

So, back to Carolyn Marvin’s book Hanging Ruth Blay. There are several ways I am connected to Ruth and her story. Yes, I am related to her. Her grandmother is Lydia Challis (1666-1736). Lydia is the aforementioned Elizabeth Challis’ sister. This makes Ruth Blay my 2nd cousin 8x removed.

Ruth’s sister, Mary, married a Nathaniel Blaisdell. He’s a cousin somehow, but the tree I’m building around him is currently a tangled mess because his father comes up as John Blaisdell, Elizabeth Challis’s husband, but she’s not coming up as his mother. His mother is coming up as Ebenezar Stevens. (Yes, Ebenezar!) It looks like there may be some confusion between a couple of the many John Blaisdells living at the time.

Lastly, there is a Reverend William Shurtleff mentioned in the book that I am related to through my paternal grandfather. Shurtleff was preaching in Portsmouth, NH at the time of the Great Awakening (a surge of religious fervor and Christian revivalism in the 1730s and 1740s in England and the American colonies.) He’s my first cousin 8x removed.

Finding a narrative specific to one’s life such as Ruth Blay’s from such a long time ago is rare. As time moves on specificity tends to meld into the universal and the ephemeral lives of our ancestors are lost in the whirlpool of everything. The eventuality of anonymity is something that we all have to face. Sometimes, though, parts of our ancestors’ specific stories can still be told if we as researchers have the patience and tenacity to tease them out of the documents and contextual clues that do exist. I’m hoping that this is still possible for Simon. Might I still be able to save a bit of his life from the vortex of that whirlpool?


[1]“Ralph Blaisdell, Patriarch,” Patriarch Ralph Blaisdell, accessed January 15, 2019, b.htm.

[2]“New Hampshire Birth Records, Early to 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 21 May 2014), 004243724 > image 4669 of 5088; Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics, Concord.

[3]“Births and Miscellaneous Marriages and Deaths about 1706-1836 Births from Salisbury, Mass., About, 1637-1812 Births from Amesbury, 1671-1772 Marriages from Salisbury, Mass., About, 1636- 1812 Married in Amesbury, 1656-1800 Deaths from Salisbury, Mass., About, 1641-1838,” digital image,, accessed January 15, 2019, > image 354 of 627. Marriage record of Enoch Challis to Dorothy Hoyt.

[4] “New Hampshire Birth Records, Early to 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 21 May 2014), 004243724 > image 4716 of 5088; Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics, Concord.

[5] David Webster Hoyt, Genealogical History of the Hoyt, Haight, and Hight Families (Madison: University of Wisconsin, 1871), , January 8, 2008, accessed January 15, 2019, 49.

Interdisciplinary research

A big part of understanding the lives of my ancestors is attempting to understand their thought processes and reasoning behind why they made the choices they did. I have to ask about the principal beliefs that they had based on the times in which they lived. In order to do this, I have to be able to make interdisciplinary connections. Contextualizing lives from various perspectives gives dimension to the lives of our ancestors. It fills in the blanks between the BMD dates and turns them into the real people with real experiences that they most definitely were.

As can be imagined, this takes effort. It also helps a great deal to be deeply curious about everything and to instinctively follow our proclivities and interests because they will ultimately converge and lead to insights that only we will be able to have about the direction of our research.

At this point I am way beyond the point of searching for records that prove the timelines of my ancestors. My interest in genealogy is starting to connect with concepts that at first glance seem to be completely unrelated to genealogy.

For example, our homeschool curriculum this year is centered on the Big History Project. It encompasses, essentially, the history of everything starting with the Big Bang, so we have been focused a lot on the planets, universe, and people such as Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Carl Sagan, and Neil deGrasse Tyson. General Relativity, cosmology, quantum physics, Newtonian Physics, string theory, and M theory have all been on the table. Combine these things with my other interests in the concept of time travel (I’ve been watching Dr. Who and Outlander) and epigenetics (see Dr. Bruce Lipton’s book Biology of Belief) and concepts about how I am connected to my ancestors in cellular and energetic levels present themselves in ways that I am just beginning to comprehend. 

Epigenetics looks at how our perceptions change gene expression and that we are more than the DNA that we inherit from our parents. It implies that we have control of our gene expression based on our behavior. We, essentially, start with a blank slate. If we can transcend the programming from the social, familial, and cultural structures that program our beliefs and expectations of the world when we are young and get to a point where we live more intuitively then maybe we can live healthier and happier lives. 

Quantum physics, as I understand it, theorizes that all things are energy waves rather than matter. Matter is a central concept of Newtonian physics. Quantum seems to transcend linearity and exist everywhere at all times. Since Newtonian physics is based on matter, all things that can be seen and that exist in physical form, it would follow that two physical objects could not exist in the same place at the same time, a basic law of physics. However, waves are not objects and multiple waves can exist in the same place at the same time. I don’t pretend to understand this fully, but the concept of waves leads me down roads that lead to parallel lives and all time existing at the same time, hence time travel. I can imagine these are roads that H.G. Wells traveled on as well; at least the linear version of these roads. I see the non-linear Quantum version of these roads being more like the rabbit holes in Alice in Wonderland.

If I take these concepts and mix them up with genealogy I am left with the continued existence of the energy of my ancestors which can logically lead to the concept of ancestor veneration historically practiced in China, for example. Isn’t genealogy a way to keep our ancestors alive and a form of ancestor worship? If Simon’s and Abigail’s energy still exists, might I be able to connect with it somehow? Am I connecting with it by focusing on them in my research in this blog? Of course I am!

There’s more than just the physical in this world. There’s more that exists than what we can see. The concept of dimensions that exist beyond our comprehension are well known in belief structures such as religion, myths, and science. My ancestors were Protestants that believed in an afterlife that they imagined in the context of a judgmental Christian God. They couldn’t see this dimensional realm, yet they believed it existed. It was their reality and how they lived their lives was determined by this idea. There was an element of intuition, of knowing, that guided the lives of these people. There was nothing more that complicated this knowing. They were sure in their understanding of how the world worked. Upheaval came, however, with Darwin’s theory of evolution, the Industrial Revolution, and various social revolutions such as the abolition of slavery and womens rights. I know these things effected my ancestors to greater or lesser degrees. but how they responded to these things in the context of their daily lives is unclear and usually can only be speculated.

Don’t limit genealogical research to just the BMD records. Being aware of one’s whole self in terms of all of one’s interests can lead to rich insights into the possibilities of inroads to a better understanding of the lives of our ancestors and the nuanced lives they lived. Don’t discount seemingly unrelated disciplines. There just may be something there that may help you more fully understand their lives and maybe even your own life as well.

Context: 19th century

Although Simon and Abigail were both born in the penultimate decade of the 18th century, they lived the majority of their lives within the first half of the 19th century. Simon died in 1853, less than a handful of years after ground was broken on the Vermont Central Railroad and the introduction of telegraph lines to the state.[1] [2]  Abigail died 11 years after Simon in 1864; 5 years before the east and west ends of the transcontinental railroad came together at Promontory, UT and one year before the end of the Civil War. Simon and Abigail lived the majority of their lives living in a world that their parents would have recognized for the most part. Their children, however, were a part of the generation that saw some of the greatest change in terms of industrialization, westward migration, and immigration from Europe. 

Here’s a brief video that looks at other events occurring worldwide during the 19th century that will help historically and culturally contextualize Simon’s and Abigail’s lives. 


[1] “Transportation History in Vermont,” National Parks Service, , accessed November 17, 2018,

[2]Jens Hilke and University of Vermont, “Landscape Change Program,” The University of Vermont, , accessed November 17, 2018,

Context: NH Stagecoach Roads and the Concord Coach

Screenshot 2018-11-08 at 11.07.52 AM
An excerpt from An improved reference & distance map of New Hampshire constructed from the latest authorities with numerous additions and variations compiled and published by J.R. Goodno.[1] This map shows major travel routes, including stagecoach routes, that existed in New Hampshire in 1833. This image is of the area I believe Simon lived prior to his removal westward to Vermont ca. 1813. See my posts titled Gilmanton, Strafford, NH and Range 1, Lot 1 Near the Great Wares.
One of the things that I am curious about in my research is how people moved about in the era when Simon and Abigail Gilman moved from New Hampshire to Vermont circa 1813. I had taken a course on roads and transportation routes in early America earlier this year, but it only gave me a general idea of the main roads and migration routes in American history. What I wanted to know about were the routes my ancestors took in a more local context in a very specific time.

This morning, some months after I took that course, I received an email from the New England Historical Society (NEHS) with an article about six historical stagecoach stops in New England that still exist and can be visited (one from each state in New England). In this article there was a link to a map (I love old maps!) from 1833 that showed the stagecoach routes that existed in New Hampshire at that time. A further search brought me to a book on titled Taverns and Stagecoaches of New England (1954) by Forbes, Allan, 1874-1955Eastman, Ralph M. (Ralph Mason), 1891-1976. The introduction is just a few pages long, very readable, and illustrated.

In my post on the Robinsons of Shrewsbury, VT, I mentioned that Susan Hodges Robinson’s mother was the proprietor of the Hodges Anchor Inn in Clarendon, VT in the early 19th century. This inn is not mentioned in the above book; most of the book looks at inns in Massachusetts. A couple chapters in the book do, however, make reference to inns on Vermont’s stagecoach routes.

New Hampshire is pretty famous for its Concord Coach and the role it played in the westward movement. Here’s a video produced by the Abbot-Downing Historical Society in Concord …

The Concord Coach: Legacy of New Hampshire from Abbot-Downing Historical Society on Vimeo.

An original documentary created by the Abbot-Downing Historical Society

For a Massachusetts’ town perspective on the stagecoach, see The Stagecoach in Ipswich at

[1]“An Improved Reference & Distance Map of New Hampshire Constructed from the Latest Authorities with Numerous Additions and Variations,” map, Dartmouth Digital Library Collections, accessed November 8, 2018,

Research Process and Lesson Learned

It should be an obvious part of my research process to check newspapers when writing a blog post. I’m embarrassed to say that it hasn’t always been up to this point. I have checked newspaper archives for previous posts, but didn’t for some reason on my last one about Eva Lord. If I had done so, I would have learned about the circumstances of Ella Lord’s death. Ella, I posited, was Eva’s mother. I am starting to question this, however. In fact, I have not found proof that she is.

The research process is a learning process. The narrative it provides in the early stages can change once further information is gleaned from additional sources. I am realizing that my objectivity to the facts isn’t as strong as I thought it was and that I have a tendency and maybe even a desire to believe that there is an unexamined dark side in the lives of the people I am researching. That may be the case, but it may also be the case that there was a genuine goodness of heart in these people, at least most of the time. Innocent until proven guilty. People are complicated. Judgment about what is good and bad is subjective and can potentially be harmful. It stems from the beliefs we hold. Why we believe what we do is predicated on past experiences and what we have been told to believe by influential people and structures in our lives. Parents, teachers, schools, and the media have a huge impact on who we become. A willingness to question our assumptions is vital in the research process because it can open our eyes to the complicated truths surrounding the lives of our ancestors. It is this truth, I believe, that gives our lives and the lives of our ancestors a three-dimensional quality.

So, with this in mind, I continue the story from my last post. I ended the post with a disclaimer knowing that narratives are determined by what is known and can change when new information is found. Here is what I wrote …

In order to build a story around someone in the past it is necessary to ask a lot of questions and build narratives around the answers to those questions. The answers determine the direction of the narrative. The ideas I put forth in my findings aren’t necessarily factual (although I do my darndest to back up my research with reliable sources); they are possibilities. If you as the reader feel I have overlooked a possible scenario or have further evidence about someone I have discussed, I welcome hearing what you have to say. If the evidence you provide is compelling enough, I will add an addendum to my post about that person and give you credit.

A comment was made on my last post about checking newspapers to see if I could find anything that would further my research (Thank you, Liz!), so this morning I got a cup of coffee and opened up It wasn’t long before I found the following article on page 1 of the Friday 26 September 1876 issue of The Rutland Weekly Herald and Globe.[1]

Screenshot 2018-11-06 at 12.21.49 PMScreenshot 2018-11-06 at 12.22.19 PM

So, Ella had been on a trip to see her married sister in Kansas with her mother and father. The route they took was through Canada with a stopover in Michigan for a short visit to see friends. She got sick with a fever which eventually led to her dying of small pox. Ella is referred to as “Miss Ella Lord” and nothing is mentioned about Ella being a mother. She was “universally beloved and respected by a large circle of friends” and “buried among strangers in a strange land”. She was greatly loved and buried in Michigan and not in Vermont where she lived. Her sudden death came as a shock to those who loved her and an invocation of God’s will was used to explain her loss. The poem at the end is a typical Protestant meditation on the eventuality of death and the implication that life persists outside the bounds of earthly existence.

While Ella was buried in Michigan where she died, Philip, who died a little over a month after Ella in Kansas was brought back to Vermont to be buried in the Northam cemetery in Shrewsbury, VT. Without a death record at the moment, however, it is only speculation, but he most likely also died of small pox since his death was so soon after his daughter’s death and since the disease is so highly contagious.

Photo by Janet Muff. Used with permission.

It’s exciting to be able to fill in the blanks in the ongoing research process. I am still left with questions and wonder about the whole premise of Ella actually being Eva’s mother. I have no proof of that as of yet. Ella’s mother, Sallie, was now both a grieving mother and a widow. A trip that was supposed to result in a family gathering left her without two members of her family. The epitaph on her husband’s memorial reads as follows:

For my friend, a husband dear
A tender parent lieth here.
Great is the loss we here sustain
But hope in Heaven to meet again.

The Lord family obviously seems to have been a close loving family, so the conjecture I made about the possible family-related rape of Ella in my last post is most likely the wrong road to be going down. Philip was not only a husband to Sallie, but also her friend and a “tender parent” to his children. Sallie died on 3 July 1899, almost 32 years after the deaths of her daughter and husband. From experience I know that grief has a way of being transformed into experience and becomes a part of the whole of one’s world view. It gets easier to deal with profound loss as time goes on when life calls one to be with it in its immediacy. The loss is always there, though; it never disappears completely.

Eva’s story is still up in the air for me, though. I don’t know that Ella was her mother. I do know a little more about another family that was contemporary to my Gilman family in the area in which they lived, though.

What is the lesson here? Most obviously it’s to read the papers. Also, research is never done. There is always the possibility of learning more once what I am writing is out in the world. It’s all process and part of the premise of this blog is to show the process of my research.

[1]The Rutland Weekly Herald and Globe, September 29, 1876, Vol. IV – No. 178 ed., Miscellaneous Items: Mount Holly sec., accessed November 6, 2018, (Perry) Lord.

Who was Eva Lord?

Screenshot 2018-10-14 at 9.52.06 AM

There are clues if you look close enough. Beyond the dates and names listed there are relationships, neighbors, and things left unsaid that actually say a lot about the cultural mores that bounded the lives of our ancestors. The people that were listed in census records lived three-dimensional lives complicated by emotions, needs, desires, and all framed and confined by the microcosm of the community in which they lived. Every life is filled with stories that weave together a fabric between the spaces of birth and death. The reasoning that underlies circumstance is oftentimes a mystery that can only be discerned by looking at the social behavior and expectations of the community in which they lived; and even then there’s still no getting into the nuanced minds of the individuals involved.

This brings me to the narrative I’m weaving together about Eva Lord, a 7-year-old girl living with my third great grandparents John and Polly Gilman in Shrewsbury, VT in 1880.[1] I’m not sure exactly how Eva first came onto my radar. I think I was doing some research around John and Polly on Ancestry late one night, noticed Eva living with them in 1880 and then found another Ancestry user, Colleen, had a tree that included Eva. Eva was Colleen’s great grandmother. I sent Colleen a message through Ancestry and she and I have been emailing back and forth about some possible scenarios.

Based on Colleen’s Ancestry tree, Eva’s mother was listed as Ella Almira Lord. Ella was born to Philip and Sallie Knight Lord on Monday 9 July 1860. Both Philip and Sallie had been born in the neighboring town of Shrewsbury and were living in Mt. Holly when their daughter was born.[2]


The next record I have for Ella is when she shows up on the 1870 census in Mt. Holly. She is 10 years old and living with her parents and four siblings, Julius (26), Delia (27), Emma (18), and Eddie (16). There is also a domestic servant named Adeline Barber (46) living with them who is designated as being insane.[3][4] Philip is listed as Perry on this census. He is a farmer with real estate valued at $6,000 and a personal estate valued at $5,000. As I was paging through this census online, I noticed that only a handful of people had real estate valued at $6,000 or more, so determined that Philip Lord and his family were pretty well off financially. In comparison, the value of John Gilman’s real and personal estate in Shrewsbury in 1870 were $3,000 and $700 respectively.[5] Others living with John and Polly Gilman in 1870 included their youngest son, Simon (16), their daughter Mary (27) and a farm laborer named Mark Lewis (16).

The distance from Shrewsbury to Mt. Holly is approximately 6.5 miles depending on the route. Walking time would be a little over two hours going about 3 miles per hour. If traveling by horse or horse and buggy it would take less time depending on the weather, condition of the roads, and the speed of the horse. Most often a horse would walk about 3 to 5 miles per hour. If the horse were trotting or running then the travel time would be less. A trotting horse may go 5 miles per hour which would cut travel time down to an hour if it were to trot the whole distance. Most likely the trip from Shrewsbury to Mt. Holly via horse or horse and buggy would average about 4 miles per hour and take an hour and a half or so to complete.

Screenshot 2018-11-04 at 4.56.55 PM
Google Maps screenshot (LINK)

Of course, their were railways connecting these two towns at least as far back as 1848.[6] If a train were going about 30 MPH then a 6.5 mile trip could have taken as little as around 25 minutes.

Screenshot 2018-11-04 at 11.19.29 PM
Railway lines between Mt. Holly & Shrewsbury, VT. in 1848. (Gilbert, William B, and Rutland And Burlington Railroad. Map & profile of the Rutland & Burlington Railroad, Wm. B. Gilbert, Chief Engineer, Jany. 1st. [Boston, 1848] Map.)
Abigail Gilman, John Gilman’s mother, moved from Shrewsbury to Mt. Holly to live with her daughter Cornelia (AKA Caroline) Goodrich and her family sometime after her husband Simon died in 1853 as Abigail shows up on the 1860 census as living in Mt. Holly. As can be seen in the following excerpt of the 1869 Beers Atlas map of Mt. Holly, Philip (although dead by the time this map was published) and John Gilman’s sister Cornelia Gilman Goodrich (she’s married to Barnard Milton Goodrich) are living in relatively close proximity in adjoining districts within the town.[7] It is unlikely that the Goodriches and Lords would not have known of one another.


The scope of travel before automobiles amazes me. People traveled long distances on foot, on horseback, or via horse/oxen and buggies then. Today we tend to drive everywhere, even if our destination is just across the street. As much as I take the half-hour drive from my home to Concord, NH for granted, my ancestors most likely took their travel times for granted as well and allotted the time needed to go from one place to another just as we do today.

I imagine these communities were more intertwined than our communities are today. I’ve lived in my town for five years and know less than a handful of people. My community is centered around my son’s friends and their parents who live from a half hour to an hour away from us rather than my neighbors in my own town. As a homeschooling parent, driving longer distances to see friends or to go to various events is just the norm. Given that Philip and Sallie Lord and their family, including their daughter Ella, lived in Mt. Holly and that Ella’s daughter Eva would eventually live with John and Polly in Shrewsbury, the communities in these two towns seem to have been well-connected.

If the 1890 census still existed (most of it was destroyed in a fire at the Commerce Department in D.C. on 10 January 1921) then I could see whether or not Eva was still living with John and Polly Gilman as she would have been 17 years old in that year. Both John and Polly would die before 1890 ended, however, him on 2 September at the age of 76 and her on 28 December at the age of 78. The next record I have of Eva is the 1897 marriage index in New York where she is going by the surname of Jones.[8]


How do I know this is Eva Lord? Because Eva would later marry a man by the name of Warren Cutler. I knew this from census records I had found and from Colleen. I did a search for Eva in this NY marriage index and didn’t find one, but I had found a Warren Cutler. The number next to his name was 10489. I did a search for this number within this marriage index in Ancestry and found Eva L. (presumably Lord) Jones showed up with this matching number.[9]

Screenshot 2018-11-05 at 12.50.44 PM

The next question is did Eva marry previously to a man with the surname of Jones or did she list the common surname of Jones as her name so it wouldn’t be listed as the same name as her mother’s in order to remove herself from any shame of being born to an unwed mother? Maybe Eva had found out that the name of her biological father was Jones so gave that as her name when she married.

The 1880 census states that Eva, her mother Ella, as well as Eva’s missing father were all born in New York. As noted above, Ella is recorded as being born in Mt. Holly, VT, so the information on the census conflicts with Ella’s birth record. I have not as yet found a birth record for Eva, so she may have been born in New York. Since Eva’s last name is the same as her mother’s maiden name, it is most likely that Ella was not married when Eva was born. In fact, Ella would only have been 13 years old when Eva was born if Eva was, indeed, 7 years old as stated on the 1880 census. The word that keeps coming to mind here is “nefarious”. Thirteen years old is historically young for American women, and in this case, a girl, to have a child, especially if not married. So, what happened? Obviously premarital sex of some sort; either consensual or non-consensual. Was she a promiscuous adolescent? Was she raped? In either case, who would have been a likely partner or perpetrator? And, did Eva end up with John and Polly Gilman out of a feeling of obligation? If so, what was that obligation? If it was out of a sense of obligation to Eva, might Eva have been Simon’s daughter, therefore John’s and Polly’s granddaughter? Simon had been 16 years old in 1870 and Ella had been 10. When Eva was born in 1873, Simon would have been 19 and Ella 13.

If Simon was Eva’s father then I would think that Colleen and I would be DNA matches on Ancestry since we both have uploaded our DNA results there. Our DNA results do not match, however, so this would seem to rule out Simon (as well as Simon’s brother, John Gilman, Jr.) as the father unless I am not, in fact, descended from John Gilman. I don’t believe this to be the case, though, since I am in DNA circles connected to John Gilman on Ancestry.

The males living with Ella in 1870 were her father, Phillip/Perry, and her brothers Julius (26) and Eddie (16). Well, Julius and Eddie may have been her cousins and not her brothers since family relationships were not yet being listed on the 1870 census. Might Ella have been raped by her father, Julius, or Eddie? Colleen has told me that she imagines that Ella was sent to Michigan to relatives to have Eva. She believes Michigan because Ella died in Oronoko, Michigan on 16 September 1876. She was unmarried at the time of her death.[10] Her residence is listed as Vermont and she is buried at the Rose Hill Cemetery in Berrien Springs, Michigan. In fact, she has a gravestone there with this inscription:[11]

SEPT. 16, 1876
 Æ 16 YRS & 2 MOS.


Photo by Kathy Fournier Jillson. Used with permission.


Screenshot 2018-11-05 at 1.25.49 PM

The line that says “WHILE ON A VISIT AMONG FRIENDS” took a bit of hard looking, another pair of eyes (my husband’s), and a couple times looking at it to piece together the word “AMONG” as parts of the stone where this word is engraved had been worn away. This phrase confirms that Ella was visiting Michigan when she died. The stone is quite elaborate for a young woman of 16 years old considering its size, decoratively carved gothic revival arch and floral motif of not one, but two types of lilies. Not only are the names of her parents engraved on the stone, but the town in which they were living at the time of her death is also included. Ludlow is 12 miles southeast of Mt. Holly. The personal nature of the text engraved on the stone implies that Ella was loved and mourned by her family.

Philip was doing pretty well for himself in 1870 considering the value of his real and personal estates, so this might account for the modest grandeur of his daughter’s headstone six years later. Just 42 days after Ella died, he, too, would die. According to his and his wife’s gravestone, an elaborately gothic-arched and urn-topped double memorial in Northam cemetery in Shrewsbury, VT, he died in Kansas on 28 October 1876 at about 61 years of age. Ella’s mother, Sallie Knight Lord, died 13 years later on 3 July 1889, about six months before John Gilman’s death. She was 78 years old.

Photo by Janet Muff. Used with permission.


Photo by Janet Muff. Used with permission.


John, Polly, Philip and Sallie were contemporaries with one another. Undoubtedly they knew one another and maybe they had a respectful relationship with each other as well. Both sets of parents experienced the loss of children that were young adults. It is only speculation about why Ella died as I have not been able to find a death record that states her cause of death. Most likely it was from consumption (AKA tuberculosis), typhoid fever, or, given her age, maybe even meningitis. Maybe she was born with a congenital disorder such as Downs Syndrome and was raped because she was seen as an easy target. Maybe this is why she never married. John Gilman, Jr. was murdered in Shrewsbury on 1 August 1868, just shy of two years after Ella’s death. Maybe Polly and Sallie shared an understanding of two women in terms of knowing the pain and grief associated with the loss of children.

Why Ella’s daughter, Eva, was living with John and Polly Gilman in 1870 is not known at this time. None of their own children married Lords, nor is the Lord name found elsewhere in my tree except once as the last name of a man my maternal grandmother’s sister married later on in the 1900s. At the moment I can only surmise that John and/or Polly may have felt an obligation to care for Eva for some reason; perhaps out of friendship or even moral duty. Maybe they felt some responsibility for the now unknown father, whose identity is currently lost to time or maybe one of Polly’s children or siblings had been born with Downs Syndrome and she felt a connection to Ella because of it. Maybe the clues are still out there waiting to be seen when the time is right. Maybe I need more information from another source before Ella’s and Eva’s stories take further shape. More and more people are having their DNA tested and uploading their results to Ancestry, so maybe it’s just a matter of time until clues point to the identity of Eva’s father and to more of a connection between the Lords and the Gilmans which could then shed light on the social construct of mid-nineteenth century Shrewsbury and Mt. Holly, VT.

Note: In order to build a story around someone in the past it is necessary to ask a lot of questions and build narratives around the answers to those questions. The answers determine the direction of the narrative. The ideas I put forth in my findings aren’t necessarily factual (although I do my darndest to back up my research with reliable sources); they are possibilities. If you as the reader feel I have overlooked a possible scenario or have further evidence about someone I have discussed, I welcome hearing what you have to say. If the evidence you provide is compelling enough, I will add an addendum to my post about that person and give you credit.

 [1]“United States Census, 1880,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 24 December 2015), Vermont > Rutland > Shrewsbury > ED 194 > image 10 of 26; citing NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
[2]“Vermont Vital Records, 1760-1954,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 22 May 2014), 004667356 > image 3154 of 3606; State Capitol Building, Montpelier.
[3]“United States Census, 1870,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 22 May 2014), Vermont > Rutland > Mount Holly > image 27 of 40; citing NARA microfilm publication M593 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
[4]“United States Census, 1870,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 22 May 2014), Vermont > Rutland > Mount Holly > image 28 of 40; citing NARA microfilm publication M593 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
[5]“United States Census, 1870,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 22 May 2014), Vermont > Rutland > Shrewsbury > image 10 of 33; citing NARA microfilm publication M593 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
[6]Gilbert, William B, and Rutland And Burlington Railroad. Map & profile of the Rutland & Burlington Railroad, Wm. B. Gilbert, Chief Engineer, Jany. 1st. [Boston, 1848] Map.
[7]F. W. Beers & Co., “Mount Holly, Bowlsville, Mechnisville (1869),” map, Historic Mapworks, Residential Genealogy, accessed November 5, 2018,
[8] New York State, Marriage Index, 1881-1967 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2017. Original data: New York State Marriage Index, New York State Department of Health, Albany, NY.
[9] New York State, Marriage Index, 1881-1967 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2017. Original data: New York State Marriage Index, New York State Department of Health, Albany, NY.
[10]“Michigan Deaths and Burials, 1800-1995,” database, FamilySearch( : 10 February 2018), Ella Lord, 16 Sep 1876; citing Oronoko, Berrien, Michigan, reference P20 & 21; FHL microfilm 1,321,501.
[11]Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 04 November 2018), memorial page for Ella M. Lord (9 Jul 1860–16 Sep 1876), Find A Grave Memorial no. 104007584, citing Rose Hill Cemetery, Berrien Springs, Berrien County, Michigan, USA ; Maintained by Janet Muff (contributor 46951416) .

Nancy Willard Gilman

Today is the birthday of Nancy Willard Gilman, my second great grandmother. She was born on Monday 18 October 1830 in Pawlet, VT to Josiah Willard (1805-?) and Abigail “Nabby” Lobdell (1804-1883).[1][2][3] Her first and only marriage was to my second great grandfather, Augustus Willard Gilman on 19 February 1863 when she was 33 and he was 29 in either Wells or Shrewsbury, VT; William Lamb, J.P. officiated. She and Augustus would eventually have six children together, three girls and three boys. One of their sons would become my great grandfather, Leon Elstine Gilman (1866-1961). Nancy died at the age of 49 from typhoid pneumonia on Saturday 16 February 1878 leaving five surviving children between the ages of seven and twelve years old. They would be without a mother until 5 November 1879 when their father married Electa A. Griswold Young (1842-1909).[4]

[1]“Vermont Vital Records, 1760-1954,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 22 May 2014), 004705403 > image 1477 of 3612; State Capitol Building, Montpelier.

[2]“Find A Grave Index,” database, FamilySearch( : 11 July 2016), Nancy Willard Gilman, 1878; Burial, Middletown Springs, Rutland, Vermont, United States of America, Pleasant View Cemetery; citing record ID 52477089, Find a Grave,

[3]“Vermont Vital Records, 1760-1954,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 22 May 2014), 004667355 > image 3020 of 3962; State Capitol Building, Montpelier.

[4]“Vermont Vital Records, 1760-1954,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 22 May 2014), 004358918 > image 1965 of 3675; State Capitol Building, Montpelier.