Wells Family Genealogy

The study of my Family Tree

30 Aug 2017: The case of the missing cemetery August 30, 2017

Filed under: Cemeteries,Wells Family — jgeoghan @ 2:34 pm
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The case of the missing cemetery.  It sounds like the title of a mystery novel in the vein of Nancy Drew or Sherlock Homes.  In this case, it’s a missing Wells Family cemetery in Ashaway, RI.

This past weekend I was up visiting my mom.  We went over to visit her cousin Dorothy who lives around the block.  We were talking about recipes and the produce they grew around the old Wells house when she started talking about this cemetery, one she was sure was a really, really old Wells family cemetery, that was located right off of Route 3 just south of the old Wells house (the one that was in Crandall Field.) When I showed her the area on Google earth, she pointed out the spot where it was.  I circled it in red.

Missing Cemetery should be located here.

She says that it was just south of the driveway to the house her father built, which is the one hidden by the trees in the google pic.

She also said it was surrounded by HUGE rocks, so tall she couldn’t see the inside of the cemetery.  (Mind you, she was a child at the time.) The cemetery was pretty sizable as well. About the size of a house lot. The stones, she thinks, were placed there on purpose to protect the cemetery.  I asked her if she remembered headstones, but she doesn’t. She said she never climbed up the rocks to look over them.

Right now, there is no physical evidence at this location to ever suggest there was a cemetery there at any point in time.  Dorothy remembers it being there around the time she lived in the house whose driveway is just north of Wells Street which would be around 1935. She couldn’t remember when the stoned disappeared. Dorothy says the rocks were very close to the road, easily visible to anyone passing by.  

I’ve searched through all my old photos of the Old Wells house to see if there were any signs of large stones in the distance.  Unfortunately, all the photos seem to be facing the other direction, north up Route 3, not south.

The question is, who’s buried in this cemetery? Dorothy seemed convinced it was a Wells family plot as it was on Wells land, land that had been in the family as long as anyone could remember.

So, anyone out there have any information about this cemetery? I’d LOVE to hear from you if you do. I’ve reached out to my friend, Lauri, who wrote the Hopkinton Historical Cemeteries book to see if she can lend a hand, but she’d never heard of it either.

-Jennifer

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17 Aug 2017: Planning a trip to my homeland August 17, 2017

It’s that time of year again when I get to blow this pop stand and head north.  YAY!! I’ll be up in CT/RI on vacation the beginning of October and have started my list of things to do and places to see. HOWEVER, my list is incomplete.

Read to the VERY BOTTOM for things I need help/suggestions for.

Visit Randall & Lois Wells’ graves in Hopkinton, RI.  My annual pilgrimage to my 4th great grandparent’s graves back in the woods.  Let’s face it, not too many of us still can even find them. I usually visit John Rogers grave on the grounds of Connecticut College as well.

Take my favorite hike.  There’s a great Nature Conservancy trail up to Long Pond in Hopkinton. Super scenic, like something out of Lord of the Rings.  There’s a timelessness to the landscape there that seems untouched, like some native American tribe from long ago could come strolling around a boulder.

Visit Mystic Pizza in Mystic, CT.  I know, the cheesiest and most wonderful of the chic flicks of the 80’s.  Not only that, the pizza is like … totally awesome (to quote the 80’s) Not sure how well it will fare now that I’ve had gastric bypass, but I’m willing to give it a shot. It’s worth a visit if for nothing but to inhale deeply and take in the scent of wonderful food.  Plus it’s a location I used a few times in my novels so it’s fun to visit.  I ever wrote some of my books sitting at the table in the bay windows up front.

Speaking of food …. I’m also planning meals at Abbots in Noank, CT and Ford’s Lobsters in Noank. I plan on being so tired of lobster by the time I drive out of New England that it will hold me for a long time!

Visit the Lighthouse Museum in Stonington.  Yes, the infamous lighthouse that is the setting for my third novel. I fell in love with it the moment I saw it and knew I had to feature it in a book.  I’ll also spend time roaming the streets of picturesque Stonington.

Visit B.F. Clyde’s Cider Mill in Mystic.  Again, after my gastric bypass surgery, this should be an interesting experience.  I love their apple baked goods and plan on sampling quite a bit.

Visit Oak Grove Cemetery in Ashaway.  Not only my future resting place, but also the current resting place for a good portion of my mom’s side of the family.  I always stop in to pay my respects but also to inspect the condition of our stones and do any necessary cleaning of them that may need to be done.

Fulfilling any Findagrave.com photo requests that are online for the area. Need any photos taken of a headstone in the area? I’ll be checking them out while I’m up there to see who I can help out.  I also plan on updating FAG.com on new burials in Oak Grove and finishing adding photos of all the stones.

Visiting Kenyon’s Grist Mill in West Kingston, RI. I’ve never been to a grist mill before so I’m looking forward to learning something new. I’m also in the market for some corn meal to make me some Johnny Cakes upon my return to FL.  

Popping over to Stonington Vineyards to buy a case of my favorite wine of theirs. Sadly, I can’t get it here in Orlando. Also sadly, gastric bypass severely limits how much alcohol I can drink, so that case will last me a couple of year!

Shop Craigslist.com for cool stuff in people’s basements! Sounds odd, but I bought a cool old trunk off of Craigslist last time I was up there from some couple in Ashaway. I’m on the hunt for cool antiques. I’m also looking for some good antique stores to visit if you know of any you can suggest. Not the shiny, all cleaned up kind of antiques, but the paint chipping off, just pulled out of the barn kind. Will also be looking for yard sales and estate sales as well.

If time permits, I’d like to visit Mystic Aquarium.  Haven’t been there since I was a kid.

Pop into the Mystic Seaport Gift Shop.  I’ll be honest and say I’ve been to the Seaport enough that I don’t need to go again …. for a long time, but the gift shop is awesome! I love the book section up stairs too. Always worth a visit.

Get out on the water.  No plans finalized for this yet, but I will get out on the water for a few hours, if not longer. I did a sunset sail out of Mystic a few years back that I could do again, but ideally I’d love to take sailing lessons.  I’m just having a hard time finding a place to do that so late in the year.  Seems sailing season ends the week before I arrive!!!

A day at the Coggeshall Farm Museum in Bristol, RI.  I can’t wait to spend some time here so I can do some research on farm life in the late 1700s.  Valuable info I can weave into my stories of the vampire, Randall Wells!!

St. Edmund’s Severed Arm.  Yes, you read me right. This one just has to be seen to be believed, at least by me.  It’s in Mystic and apparently on display.

CAN YOU HELP ME?

I’m looking for:

  • Good antique stores/malls. Ones that sell reasonably priced items of local origin. Items that are not all spit and polished, but need love and have chipped paint.
  • Scenic hiking trails (other than my favorite up to Long Pond in Hopkinton.)
  • Restaurants that serve good local cuisine.  Rhode Island Clam Chowder?  Johnny Cakes?
  • How can I get out on the water?  Boat tours you can suggest.  I’d even be up for whale watching. Ideally I’d love to take a sailing lesson or two.
  • Know of any places of local history interest like Kenyon’s Grist Mill? I love to learn about local history.
  • If you know where I can buy a courting candle, you’re my new best friend!!!

-Jennifer

UPDATES:

From Bruce: “Know you are connected to the Crandall family. Think about a trip north of Mystic to Canterbury, CT (Windham Co.) to the Prudence Crandall museum. Check their hours – I don’t think they are open every day.”  Thanks, Bruce.  I’ll add the museum to my list of possibles.  I’m sure a trip there would make a nice subject for a blog post.

From Wayne:  “Hi Jennifer – I too am a direct descendant of Samuel Hubbard (my mother is a Burdick), living now in southern RI. We are distant cousins. If you haven’t been, you might consider seeing the Gilbert Stuart Birthplace in Saunderstown, and maybe taking the Francis Fleet Whale Watch out of Galillee. BTW, white corn meal is ubiquitous here! Wayne”  Thanks Wayne. I’ve added the Gilbert Stuart Birthplace to my list. Looks really cool. Sadly, Frances Fleet Whale Watching closes in September so they won’t be open.  Too bad, they looked ideal.

 

22 Jan 2017: It’s here! Get your copy today! January 22, 2017

Yay!!!! My latest book is up for sale on Amazon.  I can’t tell you how excited I am that I finally took the time to gather together my genealogy knowledge in a user friendly how to book for those just beginning their genealogical journey.

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Check it out at: https://goo.gl/eSSZwa

Here’s what it’s about:

Every generation needs a family historian.

Where do we come from and how did we get here? To answer these questions you’ll need to sit down and piece together the story of your family. For over thirty years Jennifer Geoghan has tirelessly traced not only her own family tree, but also assisted many others in doing just the same. Now she brings her wealth of experience to you with this easy to read guide to help you jump-start your family research.

Some of the topics covered are …

  • Interviewing your relatives
  • Understanding Vital Records
  • Making sense of the US Census
  • Uncovering Military Records.
  • How to cite your sources.
  • Top websites for genealogy research.
  • Getting the most from you internet searches
  • Cemeteries
  • Genetic DNA Testing
  • Preserving your family memories

Intended for those just beginning to trace their family history, this Quick Start Guide includes an abundance of useful worksheet, templates and other tools to help you organize your research all in one convenient place.

  • Individual Person Worksheets
  • Family Worksheets
  • Pedigree Charts
  • Family Heirloom Inventory
  • Family Medical History
  • Research Logs
  • Family History Questionnaires
  • Activities to get your kids excited about family history

My book is now available in paperback on Amazon for $4.99.

-Jennifer

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5 Nov 2016: You Should Write a Book About That! November 5, 2016

Since I’m not only a novelist, but a genealogist as well, over the years I’ve had several friends tell me I should write a book about genealogy.  Well, I’m taking their advice and doing just that.

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I’ve started to write a guide for those just starting out on the journey of tracing their family tree.  I’ve helped dozens of friends over the years do just that so I really just have to write down what I’ve been telling people over the last decade or so.

But it’s never that easy.

My “Step One” so to speak is to have the reader gather up as much information as they can find, things they have scattered around the house, littering the back corners of the attic.  My list of suggested items to look for includes:

  • Newspaper clippings
  • Birth certificates or Baptism records
  • Adoption paperwork
  • Marriage records
  • Military records
  • Immigration records
  • Death Certificates
  • Obituaries
  • Family Bibles
  • Old letters or other correspondence written to or from you ancestors
  • Photos of each family member

vital-records

From these items, most people can begin to gather enough information start with before they reach out to relatives and the dreaded internet to fill in the blanks.

Can you think of any other items to tell people to be on the look out for?

Yes, I’m looking for suggestions, so please comment on this post if you feel so inclined.  🙂

-Jennifer

UPDATE: 22 Jan 2017

The book is now available on Amazon.com at https://goo.gl/eSSZwa

the-family-hist-quick-start-guid-lr-cover

 

6 Dec 2015: Colonial Park … A Southern Cemetery with Family Connections December 6, 2015

Last weekend I went up to Savannah, Georgia for my cousin’s wedding.  Of course Savannah is known for many things, among them for its great cemeteries.  Partially publicized by books such as Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, I visited two of Savannah’s historic cemeteries.   One of the things I love about visiting cemeteries in different parts of the country is to see how many different approaches one can take to bury someone.  In this, Savannah did not disappoint.

One of the cemeteries I visited was the old Colonial Cemetery, called Colonial Park, which is located just on the edge of the historic section of town where the famous squares are located.

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P1050317One of the things I loved about this cemetery is that it’s a park.  People just strolled in off the street and walked around.  There was none of the stiff formality of a place of the dead, but a warm coziness that the people of Savannah seem to have with those that have lived in their city before them.  I have to say, I really liked that a lot.

Now let’s get on to our family connection to Colonial Park.  I was wandering around taking pictures when I came across this:

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20151129_151511Yes, I know, look how they set the headstones in the brick like that.  Talk about cool.  But it was the marker beside it that caught my eye.  “William Scarbrough, Promoter of the First Transatlantic Steamship.”  I’m not history genius but I remember our family history pretty well and sure as can be, when I got back to my hotel and looked it up, my fourth cousin four times removed, Stevens Rogers, was on the very ship they’re talking about on this plaque, the Savannah.  How on earth did I remember that?  Because he has one of my favorite headstones and it happens to have a carving of that very same ship, the Savannah, on it.  Here’s a photo of it in Cedar Grove Cemetery in New London, CT:

Rogers - Stevens Rogers Captain 1Did William Scarbrough of Savannah, GA know my cousin Stevens Rogers? Odds are pretty good they did.  So that’s our family connection to Colonial Park.

Now I’ll share some pictures I took of the interesting ways they are preserving old stones here:

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Wooden Frame

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Metal Braces

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Cement Inlay

There must be a lot of stones that have been dislodged from their grave sites, because the brick back wall of the cemetery is something of an art project, a collage of homeless stones.  It’s beautiful and sad at the same time.  Here’s some photos so you can see what I’m talking about:

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I’ll also share some pictures of some odd and beautiful stones I found.  The first one has to be about the largest stone I’ve come across.  I put my cell phone on top of it to give you an idea of the scale of it.

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This next one has lovely imagery carved in it.  I love the detail on the woman’s dress:

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This carver was apparently getting paid by the word!!!!

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This carver apparently didn’t believe in under doing it!  It’s got so many design elements in it, it should be a little garish, but I like it.

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I have the feeling that in life no one ever accused Archibald Bulloch of being understated.  Check out his grave:

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Here’s some other neat carvings I found:

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With this one, I had to wonder which came first, the headstone or the brick monument.  It almost looked like the cut up the white headstone to the oval shape you see now to set it in the brick.

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Well, I hope you enjoyed your tour through Colonial Park and are inspired to stop in a visit for yourself should you ever find yourself in the lovely city of Savannah.

-Jennifer

 

20 Sept 2015: Rev. John Maxson 1714-1778 September 20, 2015

I’ve been spending my morning cleaning out my email inbox.  Between emails about my books and genealogy stuff, I tend to get backed up and have to spend a day untangling the web that is my in and to do boxes.  While weeding through my emails from findagrave.com, I found that someone had fulfilled a photo request for a great family member of mine, the Reverend John Maxson, born 1714 and died 1778.

Here’s the photo they kindly provided:

John Maxson: 1714-1778 Common Burying Ground, Newport, RI

John Maxson: 1714-1778 Common Burying Ground, Newport, RI

Isn’t it a lovely example of the carving used at the time?  John is buried in the Common Burying Ground in Newport, RI.  He is my First Cousin 7 times removed (Being the son of Johnathan Maxson and Content Rogers.)  John married Tacy Lucy Rogers (1715-1753) who was my 5th Great Grandaunt (being the daughter of Jonathan Rogers Jr and Judith Potter)

Here’s a link to John’s memorial page on Findagrave.com:  CLICK HERE FOR LINK

On the Rogers sides of their families John and Tacy were not only husband and wife, but first cousins as well.  I keep telling my friends that marrying your first cousin wasn’t uncommon back in the 1700’s but they don’t believe me.  I site that in Jane Austen’s books it happens quite a bit, but still … they think it’s weird.  Weird it is today, but back then, not so much.

Anyway, as I said above, I got this photo through findagrave.com.  If you’re familiar with this site, as a member (which is free) you can go on a memorial of a person and if there is no photo of their headstone posted, you can request a photo.  when you do this, it sends the request out to other members on the site who live in the area of that cemetery.  If you’re lucky, one of them will trot on over to the cemetery and take a photo that they will then post on the site for you.  You then get an email alerting you that your request has ben fulfilled.  Hence my cleaning out my email inbox and find old John there.

-Jennifer

 

19 Sept 2015: Visiting a Texas Cemetery on Vacation September 19, 2015

I went on a research trip/vacation to Texas last week.  It was research for my latest book project.  As I’ve mentioned before I write novels as a side job.  Despite the fact that this was a working vacation, I couldn’t help but drive into a cool looking cemetery when I happened upon one in Bandera, Texas.  Located in Bandera County in Texas Hill country, Bandera claims that it is the Cowboy Capital of the World.  So naturally when I pulled into the cemetery I was kinda hoping for some headstones in the shape of cowboy hats, boots or maybe even some horses.  I was sadly disappointed.

The first thing you notice driving onto the cemetery is that there isn’t a spec of green grass to be seen.  It’s all dead, but that isn’t surprising given the heat.

Bandera Cemetery, Bandera Texas

Bandera Cemetery, Bandera Texas

I did see some peculiar things in this my first Texas cemetery.  Like this poor stone strangled out by a cactus bush!  Don’t see this a whole lot in New England!

A prickly situation ....

A prickly situation ….

Here was an interesting stone.  From a distance I thought it was an odd-looking boulder, but upon closer inspection, it turns out it’s a headstone, but the stone says it’s from Maunalei Lanai Hawaii.

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Here was a neat little enclosure.  I’m still not sure if the chain is supposed to be purely decorative of it it’s supposed to serve a purpose.  Still interesting though.

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Here was an interesting juxtaposition between the rustic and refined.

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I’d never seen this sort of half barrel over a plot before.  Saw a bunch of them here though.

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I’d never seen this where the main Surname stone for a plot rested on top of the stones naming the individuals in the plot.  Saw this a few times as well.

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Just thought I’d share these pictures from my vacation.  It was interesting to see how similar and yet how different a cemetery in a different part of the country can be from what we’re so familiar with in New England.

-Jennifer