Harrison House Museum

Thanks to cousin Eve Sproat-Traill for this link to Harrison House Museum & Barn. It’s always exciting for me to find historical links to the family tree. It helps make history come alive knowing that my ancestors were part of it.

Nathaniel Harrison, who built the house in 1724, was the son of my 9th great-grandparents, Ensign Thomas Harrison and Dorothy Thompson. His elder brother, Lieutenant Thomas Harrison, is my 8th great-grandfather.


Mayflower 390th Anniversary


It was 390 years ago today that the Mayflower set sail from Plymouth, England, bound for Virginia. As history shows, they ended up in New England. Of the 102 passengers, only 53 would survive the first winter. I can count eight direct ancestors on the passenger list:

  • John Howland
  • John Tilley
  • Joan Hurst Tilley
  • Elizabeth Tilley
  • Isaac Allerton
  • Mary Norris Allerton
  • Mary Allerton
  • Francis Cooke

Three of them — John Tilley, Joan Hurst Tilley, and Mary Norris Allerton did not see the first spring in the New World. John Howland nearly didn’t survive the voyage across the Atlantic. He fell overboard during a violent storm but was able to grasp a line and be pulled back aboard.

Robert Cushman, who was instrumental in organizing the voyage and came over on The Fortune in 1621, is also a direct ancestor. His son Thomas accompanied him on that voyage and later married Mary Allerton. When Mary died in 1699, she was the last survivor of the Mayflower voyage.

On this day: 3 Dec 1658

This was recently posted on 4 Dec 2009 by David Sylvester in the First Ships Yahoo Group.

On This Day…

…in 1658, Plymouth Court ordered that any boat carrying Quakers to Sandwich be seized to prevent the religious heretics from landing. A year earlier, Quakers in Sandwich had established the first Friends’ Meeting in the New World. Magistrates in both Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay colonies were alarmed by Quaker teachings that individuals could receive direct personal revelations from God. To protect orthodox Puritanism, the courts passed a series of laws forbidding residents from housing Quakers. Quakers themselves were threatened with whipping, arrest, imprisonment, banishment, or death. But driven by conscience, some Quakers repeatedly returned to Massachusetts to preach; four of them, including Mary Dyer, went to the gallows before a shocked King Charles ordered an end to the hanging of Quakers in 1661.


Quakers and Puritans traced their roots to the same religious turmoil in England. Both groups were dissenters who objected to the Church of England’s rituals, dogma, and hierarchy. But Quakers took their reforms beyond what Puritans considered acceptable. Quakers believed an individual could experience the direct revelation of Christ; they rejected ordained ministers and traditional forms of worship.

When the first Quakers arrived in Boston in 1656, they received a chilly welcome. To the Puritans of Massachusetts Bay, Quaker teachings were not just heretical but a direct threat to the authority of the magistrates who governed the colony. Quakers placed the demands of their conscience above the dictates of human authority. In the eyes of colonial officials, this “contempt of the magistracy” made Quakers “instruments of the devil” who sowed seeds of social discord, sedition, and anarchy. The authorities took immediate steps to suppress Quakerism.

In July of 1656, two women seeking to share their Quaker faith traveled from the West Indies to Boston. The authorities did not hesitate to move against them: the pair was confined to the ship while their baggage was searched and their books confiscated. Then they were taken to jail, stripped, and searched for signs of witchcraft. After five weeks in prison, they were returned to the ship, and the captain was forced to carry them back to Barbados. Just two days later, four Quaker men and four Quaker women arrived aboard another vessel. This group spent 11 weeks in prison before being deported to England.

Meanwhile, Quakers had also made their way to neighboring Plymouth Colony. Lawmakers there responded by prohibiting the transporting of Quakers into the colony and authorizing punishment for residents who provided shelter to a Quaker or attended a Quaker meeting. In spite of these harsh measures, two Quakers began teaching in Sandwich; about 18 families joined what became the first Friends’ Meeting in America. As word spread, Sandwich became a gathering place for Quakers. Colonial authorities responded by seizing any vessel that was headed for Sandwich with Quakers aboard.

As the Quaker presence grew, the governors of Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth both took legal steps to prevent Quakers from entering their colonies. Under the Massachusetts Bay charter, the governor had no authority to imprison Quakers. In late 1656 and 1657, the General Court rectified this situation when it passed a series of laws that outlawed “the cursed sect of heretics commonly called Quakers.” Captains of ships that brought Quakers to Massachusetts Bay were subject to heavy fines; so was anyone who owned books by Quakers or dared to defend the Quakers’ “devilish opinions.” As the movement continued to gain adherents, Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth passed even harsher laws. Quakers who persisted in entering the colony were imprisoned, publicly whipped till they bled, and had ears chopped off. Finally, in October of 1658, the Massachusetts General Court passed a law that barred Quakers from the colony “under pain of death.”

Not all Quakers were deterred. One who defied the authorities was Mary Dyer. Arriving in Boston in the early 1630s, Mary Dyer had become embroiled in the religious controversy surrounding dissenter Anne Hutchinson. When Hutchinson and her family were forced out of Massachusetts, Dyer followed them to Rhode Island. During a 1650 trip to England, she met and became a follower of George Fox, founder of the Quaker Society of Friends. Passionate about her new beliefs, Mary Dyer returned to Boston in 1657. She was immediately imprisoned. Her husband, who was not a Quaker, promised she would not preach as long as she was within the borders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and she was released. The Dyers returned to Rhode Island.

Despite the threat of death, Mary Dyer repeatedly returned to Boston to support fellow Quakers who had been imprisoned. Finally, in the fall of 1658, she and two other Quakers were arrested and sentenced to death. When the governor pronounced the death sentence, Mary Dyer responded, “The will of the Lord be done.” A week later, the two men were hanged, but at the last minute, Mary Dyer was granted a reprieve. She reluctantly left Massachusetts, but less than two years later, she returned one last time to defy “that wicked law against God’s people and [to] offer up her life there.”

Once again, she was arrested and condemned to death. On June 1, 1660, she was taken to the gallows. Her husband pleaded for her life, but she herself refused to repent. The execution of Mary Dyer and the other Quakers so appalled King Charles II that he ordered an end to the death penalty for Quakers in all his colonies. By 1677 members of the Society of Friends were free to hold regular meetings.

Three centuries after Mary Dyer’s martyrdom, a descendant left a bequest that paid for Sylvia Shaw Judson, a Quaker woman herself, to produce a life-size bronze statue of Mary Dyer. In 1959 the statue was erected on the west lawn of the Massachusetts State House, where it stands today.

I found this very interesting because my earliest Warren ancestor in North America, John Warren sympathized with the Quakers and was often at odds with his fellow Puritans — On May 27, 1661 the houses of “old Warren and Goodman [William] Hammond” were ordered to be searched for Quakers.

For more information:
Quakers Outlawed in Plymouth, Dec 3, 1658
First Ships Discussion List


Mayflower Philbrick

I just finished reading Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick. I found it to be a very interesting read both from a historical and a genealogical point of view. He tells a 55-year epic of the Pilgrims from the crossing of the Mayflower in 1620 through King Philip’s War in 1676. He tells the real story — the good, the bad, and the ugly. He discusses their relationships with the Native Americans and the other colonists who followed them. He covers King Philip’s War in great depth, the causes, the heroism, the horrors, the aftermath, and its impact on the course the history of New England and America. I highly recommend it. There’s much more to the Pilgrims’ story than the myth we learned in school.

I had a genealogical interest in the book since I have eight direct ancestors among the Mayflower’s passengers. They were: Isaac Allerton, Mary (Norris) Allerton, Mary Allerton, Francis Cooke, John Howland, John Tilley, Joan (Hurst) (Rogers) Tilley, and Elizabeth Tilley. Of the eight, Mary (Norris) Allerton, John Tilley, and Joan (Hurst) (Rogers) Tilley did not survive the first winter. John Howland nearly didn’t survive the voyage when he was knocked overboard in a storm. Somehow he managed to grab a line that happened to be in the water and he was pulled back on board.

Pomfret, Vermont Records

WorldVitalRecords.com offered free access to its databases this week so I took advantage of it and did some research on my 5th great-grandfather, Oliver R. Warren. I found several Warren references in Pomfret, Vermont, Volumes 1 and 2 by Henry Hobart Vail. (1930). I found biographies, birth, death, and marriage information, and even some historical excerpts.

WARREN, Oliver and Lucy, had three children born in Pomfret. He died 20 Mar. 1813.

Oliver Warren was on the Grand List for 1784 at £10; in 1785, at £9. He then disappears until 1802, when he was listed £33. In 1803 he was listed $25.50. He owned a part of Lot 57, Second Division, for 1785 to 1789. He then left the state for four years. When he returned, he was formally “warned out.”

  • Children:
  • Oliver, Jr., b. 6 Jan. 1784.
  • Daniel, b. 18 Aug. 1785.
  • Anna, m. Samuel Woods.

(Pomfret, Vermont, Volume 2, page 594)

I hadn’t known about Anna and I wasn’t able to find any other references other than she married Samuel Woods. I have also heard about another son, Joseph from Cousin Jennifer. She related to me that Daniel had tried to obtain Oliver’s war pension but was unable because he couldn’t confirm whether or not his brother Joesph was living. I would suspect Joseph was probably born in Massachusetts either before 1784 or while Oliver was absent from Vermont. I did find a reference to a marriage in Pomfret of Joseph Warren to Betsy Bullock on March 17, 1807. I also found no records of Lucy after the 1810 census.

WARREN, Oliver, was in Pomfret as early as 1784. On July 6th, 1785, he bougght 13½ acres of No. 47, Second Division, of John W. Dana for £13. This he sold to John Perkins of Barnard on January 23rd, 1789, and left town, returning in 1803 to make his final home. His name is not on the census list of 1790 in any town in Vermont.

(Pomfret, Vermont, Volume 1, page 132)

This passage seems to indicate that he had left the state for 14 years rather than four. I believe he may have returned to Massachusetts during this time.

Oliver Warren was similarly warned. He appears first in the town records as the purchaser of a part of No. 57 Second Division, on July 6th, 1785. He was one of the early settlers. On January 23d, 1789, he sold his land to John Perkins of Barnard and moved from the state. He came back in 1803 and was warned by Marshal Mason, acting as constable under orders of Jeremiah Conant and Stephen Hewitt, selectmen. Possibly some irritation ensued, but Mr. Warren remained in town, and nothing but the record remains.

(Pomfret, Vermont, Volume 1, page 69)

The “warned out” incident requires some clarification. It was the custom then to take great care that anyone moving into a town would not become a burden to the town. Often “warning out” new residents was merely a legal precaution and, when served by the constable, nothing more was done. In cases where the newcomer became a valuable, prosperous citizen, the warning became ludicrous. (Pomfret, Vermont, Volume 1, page 68)

I also found new information on Oliver Warren, Jr.’s children and their families.

Podwils Pictures

I found some photos of Podewils (now Podwilcze) that may be of interest. Podwils, once part of Prussia, was the birthplace of my grandfather, Otto Wilhelm Carl Romig.


Schloß Podwils (Castle Podwils)


Gruß aus Podwils (Greetings from Podwils)


Die Kirche 1930 (The church in 1930)


Die Fußballmannschaft (The Soccer Team)

I have to wonder if the church pictured might be the same church in which my grandfather was christened. It’s quite possible.

In the photo of the Podwils (Podwilcze) soccer team, the players are identified as (standing): Heinz Gùlzow, Erich Ott, Walter Benwitz, Georg Manke, Werner Benz, ?, and Otto Minning. Seated are Walter Nitschke, Paul Fischer, and Willi Schulz. It’s possible that Erich Ott may be a distant cousin.

Finding information on my German and Slovak ancestors has been one of the biggest brickwalls I face.

Bivouacs of the Dead

The Bivouacs of the Dead book arrived yesterday. I took a quick look through it and only found one Warren buried at Antietam, a George C. Warren from Ohio. I’ll post on a Civil War board that I have the book and will do lookups. I might even offer it for sale.

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