Friday, December 12, 2014

Smith Christmas Mementos 1902

Smith-Emerine Family (William R. Smith 1852-1930 and Emma Jane Emerine 1860-1933)
 Tucked away in an antique family cookbook are treasures that may not tell the story of our Smith ancestors or even seem important enough to save for a century and more, but the little keepsake scraps of paper  pressed between the pages of an 1892 edition of "Everyday Cook Book and Cyclopedia of Practical Recipes" do provide some special ingredients for the imagination. 

As a child of the "modern" Betty Crocker era, I recall my Grandma Smith allowing me to leaf through the yellowed, brittle pages of this old-fashioned book, amazed by the industry of its author Miss E. Neil, who carefully compiled recipes and advice for the practical, turn-of-the-century homemaker.  In addition to traditional recipes for preparing all manner of vegetables, meats, and bakery, Miss Neil provided a compendium of helpful advice including (my favorite) a quaint miscellany section that catalogs tips on such quintessential topics as:  "to make hens lay in winter" (hint: it includes the use of Cayenne pepper), "to keep off mosquitoes" (hint: kerosene applied directly to the skin), and "cleaning lace" (hint: rubbing it with dry flour.)  The everyday homemaker could also refer to this section for advice on topics ranging from toothaches to tapeworm and even health and beauty secrets (hint: "High-Heeled Boots Must Go")  But I digress...

Carefully preserved between the pages of this family artifact is the following money order "Bill of Lading", dated "Milan [Mich.], Dec. 23, 1902."  It states: "Received of W. R. Smith, 1 pa[ckage or parcel] said to contain [merchandise] and represented to be of the value of 'asked & not given' dollars, and marked Sears Roebuck & Co., Chicago Ills." 
Lillie May, Emma, Grace and William R.

It doesn't take much detective work to see that my great grandfather was doing some last-minute work for Santa Claus!  The fact that this receipt was not just saved but evidently treasured, attests to the possibility that this package was a special Christmas surprise for his family.  In 1902 Great-grandfather Smith was 50 years old; his wife, 42.  Although they had two grown daughters, Grace (24) and Lillie (22), a special holiday was being planned for the young members of the family, too.  In 1902, sons William Ray was 9 and my grandfather L. Vern was only five years old.  Little Nina and Edna Pearl (Grace's daughter) were 3 and 4.  (photo at left probably taken ten years earlier)

Also lovingly preserved in the "Everyday Cook Book" is the crumbling recipe for what appears to be a Christmas Pudding. Although I don't recognize the handwriting, I'd like to think it was my Great-grandmother Smith's special recipe for the holidays.  (The "5 penny loaf" and raisins with seeds suggest a very old recipe!)  Another reasonable possibility is that the recipe was adapted through the Smith generations since William's father Ishmael emigrated from Lincolnshire, England with his family in 1837 and whose inlaws emigrated from Suffolk in 1831. 
[---] Pudding
Chop fine a half pound of suet
Stone 2 Pounds of raisins
Soak a 5 penny loaf of Bread in one
pint of milk. When it has taken up all of the milk
add to it the raisins and suet  
4 Eggs Well beaten
1 Cup of Brown sugar
1 nut meg
2 tablespoonsfuls of flower [flour]
put this in to 3 Pudding
and Boil 3 ours [hours]

Merry Christmas! 


Saturday, November 15, 2014

GENEALOGY: In Pursuit of Ancestry

“Of all the affections of man, those which connect him with ancestry are among the most natural and generous.  They enlarge the sphere of his interests, multiply his motives to virtue, and give intensity to his sense of duty to generations to come by the perception of obligation to those which are past… combining honor to the past, gratitude for the present, and fidelity to the future.”    (Josiah Quincy III, 1772-1864)

excerpts taken from a speech by Josiah Quincy III, Boston, MA 1830.   An Address to the Citizens of Boston: On the XVIIth of September, MDCCCXXX, the Close of theSecond Century from the First Settlement of the City.

Friday, November 14, 2014

ETCHED IN OLD STONE: Hezekiah Hoar, 1633 English Immigrant to Taunton, MA

Smith Family Line:  HOAR-Whipple-Winsor-Dort  
"He trusted in the LORD God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him. For he clave to the LORD, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses" (2 Kings 18:5,6).
The family crest
My 9th GGFather, HEZEKIAH HOAR (1608-1693) was christened in early Puritan fashion with a Christian name attributed to an important Old Testament king of Judah.  As a child Hezekiah would have learned how his namesake was instrumental in sweeping efforts to bring his people closer to God through the enactment of religious reforms, the reopening of Solomon's Temple and the return of the celebration of Passover.  Hezekiah was a name of honor and distinction, carried to colonial America with our ancestor.  Although this name was borne through two more generations, it would quickly fade from our family tree following the birth of his grandsons, Hezekiah Whipple and Hezekiah Hoar "III".  Our family descends from Hezekiah Whipple's sister Lydia, the daughter of Lydia Hoar and John Whipple -my 8th great grandparents. 

HEZEKIAH HOAR was born in the small eastern Devonshire coastal town of Sidmouth in 1608 where he grew to manhood.  In the spring of 1633/4 he booked passage on the ship "Recovery" sailing from Weymouth for New England. (His name appeared on the ship's manifest as "Ezechia Hore.")  Unlike many emigrants of the Great Migration, Hezekiah did not appear to travel with a family group.  Having just turned 25, he arrived in New England to begin a new life as one of the original proprietors of Taunton, Massachusetts.  What was the motivation behind this young man's emigration?  What were his skills?  -his ambitions?  -dreams?  There are more questions than answers to Hezekiah's story. 

According to a family researcher, Norton T. Horr, "HEZEKIAH HOAR was in Scituate, Mass., as early as 1637, and probably came in 1633.  He was one of the purchasers of the eight mile square known as Cohannett till Sept., 1639, and afterwards as the North Purchase of Taunton, Mass.  He paid L100 for his share.  He was a prominent citizen of Taunton.  He was the first signer of the articles of agreement of 1653 of the "Iron Works Company," operating the "bloomerie"...and was one of its three lessees in 1660."  [The author mistakenly called it "the first iron works in America" when, in fact, it followed the lead of Saugus and Braintree.]
In reviewing the small record left behind about our immigrant ancestor, facts can only be knitted together as loose threads that provide some shape for this family's place in early America. 
  • At the age of 8, Hezekiah experienced the death of his 11-year old brother, 3-year old sister, and his mother in 1616.  Brother Richard was born that year.  His father died a year after he arrived in America.
  • Although some research suggests that Hezekiah joined a brother William in America, it seems unlikely since William may have been only a teenager at the time.  More likely evidence suggests a connection with his cousin Roger Clapp, who emigrated in 1630.  As children of his mother's sister Johanna, his Clapp cousins grew up only a few miles from him in nearby Salcombe Regis.  Besides his cousin Roger (who was closest in age to him), cousins Jane, Sarah, and Edward Clapp also emigrated between the years 1633-1639, most settling in Dorchester, MA.)
  • Hezekiah married 23-year old Rebekah in 1653.  He was 45 years old, with no record of having been previously married.  They had at least nine children (of whom our Lydia was born in 1665.)  Hezekiah fathered their last child, Hezekiah "Jr.," born in 1678 at the feracious age of 70.
  • In our family tree, the Hoar surname disappears with the marriage between Hezekiah's daughter Lydia (1665-1711) to John Whipple "III" (1664-1700).  The legacy brought about through their union includes direct English ancestry from the following immigrants:

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

GENEALOGY: "Deem Also This Your Heritage"

"They haunt your breezy hillsides, green vales and thundering floods,
They linger by your gliding streams and mid your moss-draped woods,
They sit beside your green old graves in shadow and in sheen,
And move among your household gods though voiceless and unseen.
Then ye who make your happy homes where once their homes have been,
Deem also this your heritage, to keep their memories green,
To shield within your heart of hearts, the glorious trust ye hold,
And bear unstained the names they bore, those brave, proud men of old."
--Cornelia Huntington (1803-1890)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

300 YEARS IN AMERICA: Family Founders of Germanna, VA 1714

2nd GGP: GLOVER/MYERS  (Shriver Family)
Family Founders of First Germanna Colony, Virginia and 
Germantown, Virginia
In a previous post we met our 9th great grandparents (Bates' family line) who founded Germantown, Pennsylvania in 1683.  A generation later, German ancestors from the Glover family line became part of a recruitment effort to tap the potential of Virginia mineral reserves, settling  first in Germanna, and then moving  nearby to establish Germantown, Virginia before the families spread out westward through the Piedmont and over the Blue Ridge Mountains to West Virginia. 

This year marks the 300th anniversary of the 1714 emigration to Virginia by this group of families from the mining region of Siegen located in west-central Germany state of Nordrhein-Westfalen.  Recruited as skilled miners for proposed silver deposits in the Shenandoah Valley, the First Colony men instead spent their first two years in America as farmers, providing backcountry frontier defense as Rangers at the westernmost outpost of the expanding settlements. 
Fort at Germanna, VA

Their early service to Lt. Governor Alexander Spotswood prepared the way for what would be one of the first colonial iron mining industries (not silver). By 1718, dissatisfied with leasing their properties, many of the Germanna families moved about 40 miles north to claim an 1800-acre parcel of land that they distributed evenly among themselves. They called their new home Germantown.  (PLAT: Fauquier County's Licking Run ran through each of their properties.)

PLAT: Germantown, VA
Among the 12 original First Colony families who moved to Germantown were the maternal ancestors of Isaac Glover's wife, Mary Catherine Myers, including 1714 immigrants:
John Spilman and his wife, Mary (daughter of Phillip & Elizabeth Fischbach).
Many of the Germanna families were already kin and, within a generation, most were related by marriages.  Mary's six Fischbach siblings married into the Richter, Haeger, Otterback, and Brumbach pioneer families.  Although it is believed that Mary's parents died during their first year in Germanna, the siblings remained closely united and most lived out their lives in Germantown.  But by the time of the Revolutionary War, families had grown and scattered, leaving the small rural settlement behind. 
8th GGParents, Mary (Fischbach) and John Spilman were the parents of Alice Spilman who married a later immigrant from the Baden-Wuerttemberg region of Germany named Jacob Keckley.  From there the German family line continued with Shriver, merging with the English Horner family that led to Tazwell Myers' daughter, Mary Catherine as wife of Isaac Glover, my 2nd GGParents.  ~The genealogical trail from Siegen, Germany to Germanna & Germantown, Virginia to Alvy, West Virginia.
For more background information see: &

NOTE: Although the genealogical facts are sometimes inconsistent and confusing, there are a number of primary sources that reveal a detailed historical story of the people and times of Germanna as shown in the following sites:
    (John Blankenbaker's series of Short Notes on GERMANNA History based on dedicated research about Germanna and its people)
  •  (based on Germanna Record No. 5: Ancestry & Descendants of the Nassau-Siegen Immigrants to Virginia 1714 - 1750, Pages 145 - 168 with details on Phillip Fischbach and his descendants)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

COVERED-WAGON BABY: Roswell Harmon Post

2nd GGUncle Roswell Harmon Post, brother to 2nd GGFather John Franklin Post, Jr.
The following obituaries were discovered by Dan Houser, a 'cousin' to whom much credit is due for his years of dedicated work on our Post family tree. Countless hours and untold expense were involved as he combed library microfiche, acquired official documentation piece by piece, and visited long-abandoned graveyards.  Thank you, Dan!

Post, Roswell Harmon
The Detroit News, Dec 15, 1934, Page 3, (Detroit Lib)
Death Ends Long Career of Covered-Wagon Baby
A covered-wagon baby whose life spanned the development of Detroit and Michigan is dead.
Following a brief illness, Roswell H. Post, building contractor for 45 years, died Friday afternoon in his home, 949 Alexandrine avenue west.
Mr. Post, who was 88 years old was the youngest of seven sons of John Franklin Post, pioneer Monroe lumberman, and was born July 4, 1847 in a covered wagon while his parents paused for the night on the banks of the Miami River in Ohio, during their long wagon trek from New York State to
The family proceeded to Monroe, where Mr. Post's father cut a homestead out of the forest and established a mill. When the boy was 14, the Civil War broke out and he worked far into the night firing the furnaces of the mill while thousands of feet of lumber were converted into stocks for the guns of Union soldiers.
In later years, Mr. Post became a builder and among the buildings he constructed were the present Union Station at Third avenue and Fort street; the old Peninsular Stove Works, several Detroit churches and the early giant grain elevators at Duluth. His office and shop stood on the site of the present Detroit Trust Co. on Fort street west.
Mr.Post's ancestors were prominently identified with the early days of the Republic. His great-great-grandfather was a captain in the Revolutionary War and his great-grandmother was a niece of Benjamin Franklin. He leaves his wife, who was Mary Trueman, of Indianapolis.
He was a member of Zion Lodge No.1, F & A.M: Monroe Chapter, No 1,R.A.M; Monroe Council, No. 1 R & S. M.; Detroit Lodge No. 128, and Michigan Encampment, No. 1, I.O.O.F, and Mabel Rebekah Lodge No. 44.
Funeral services to be held at 2:30 p.m. Monday. will be under suspects of members of Zion Lodge. Note--> There is a picture with this notice.

Post, Roswell
The Monroe Evening News, Monroe, Michigan (Monroe H.S. & Ellis Lib.)
Dec 17, 1934 Page 7
ROSWELL POST DIES IN DETROIT-Son of Pioneer Monroe Family Was Born in Covered Wagon-Roswell Post, 88 years old, building contractor in Detroit for 45 years, whose father Franklin Post was a pioneer Monroe lumberman, died in his home at 949 Alexandrine avenue in Detroit, Friday.
Mr. Post, who died after a brief illness, was born July 4, 1847 in a covered wagon while his parents paused for the night on the Miami River in Ohio, during their long wagon journey from New York State to Michigan. The Post home here was at the northwest corner of Washington and Fifth streets. The house is now owned by Mrs Winifred Sisung.
When the family reached Monroe, Mr. Post's father cut a Homestead out of the forest and established a mill here. When the Civil War broke out the boy was 14 years old and he worked far into the night firing the furnace of the mill while thousands of feet of lumber was converted into stocks for the guns of Union Soldiers.
Mr. Post constructed a number of the larger buildings in Detroit and several Churches.
Mr. Post's ancestors were prominently identified with the early days of the republic. His great-great-grandfather was a captain in the Revolutionary War and his great-grandmother was a niece of Benjamin Franklin.
Mr. Post leaves his widow. He was identified with the Masonic Lodges of Detroit, and Encampment No. 1, I.O.O.F. Funeral services were to be held this afternoon in Detroit.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


 3rd GGF Titus Dort played a pivotal role in a legal matter that traveled by appeal all the way to Michigan's Supreme Court in 1858.  In 1851, while completing the appointed tasks as administrator of Alanson Thomas' estate, Titus uncovered documents that revealed a monumental flaw in the land deed that Aaron Thomas had provided to his son, Alanson, leading to years of contentious litigation and revealing testimony following the deaths of both father and son in 1848 and 1850.
[note: This case was initially confusing because I assumed that Titus was tending to the estate of his father-in-law, Alanson, whose father was Aaron Jr.  As I continued to read the court case it became clear that Aaron was actually Aaron III, another son of Aaron Jr. and father to a different Alanson, Thomas Alanson Thomas, cousin to Titus' wife, Deiadamia.  Farm census reports show that Titus' and Aaron Jr.'s families had adjoining properties and were, undoubtedly, long-time friends.]
The court records show that Aaron had made plans in 1838 to sell all his property to his son Alanson although there was no record of the monetary exchange since, at the time, Alanson was unemployed due to a chronic eye ailment and was supported by his father.  With Aaron living out the next ten years on the old homestead there, Alanson was deemed by all -neighbors, customers, friends and family- to be the rightful owner, running the farm and sometimes selling parcels of the land to others.  Although the deed was recorded, it apparently was not scrutinized by anybody and so both father and son went to their graves believing that the deed was a valid reflection of the original patent of 437 6/100 acres (minus 100 acres already sold).  What Titus discovered was that, when the deed was drafted in 1838, important acreage information was missing from the document and, as a consequence, only a small fraction of the farm was actually legally conveyed to Alanson.  A plat presented in court revealed that only a small triangle of owned land was covered by the deed as written; four of the 14 originally-patented courses were missed.  It was always understood and communicated by Aaron and Alanson that the deed was for the whole property, indicating this error was unintentional and undetected.

With notification of Titus' discovery, Aaron's widow, heirs, and the angry purchasers of property sold under this deed, went into a whirlwind of court actions attempting to right this wrong -each to their advantage.  What resulted was a steady barrage of complaints by the purchasers requesting that the widow and heirs be restrained from reclaiming and/or reselling properties the land holders had bought from the defective, or some said, deceptive deed.  Even Titus Dort filed a bill to have the deed description corrected but was denied since the whole matter was now under question.

In their attempt to build favor in the unresolved case, the widow Betsey (now remarried) along with at least one heir, sought to cast suspicion on both Aaron and Alanson by alleging that the property deed of 1838 was only made to defraud Aaron's creditors.  With that, the door swung wide open to admit a steady stream of hearsay testimony into the courts that soon turned the original topic of clerical error and omission to scrutiny of a possible act of deception and fraud.

Despite the fact that witnesses consistently testified that Aaron made it clear that Alanson was the sole owner/operator of the farm and property, they also consistently revealed that "it was whispered in the neighborhood" that the property was conveyed to keep it safely out of reach of a specific creditor, Dr. Hurd.

Titus Dort also testified that as supervisor of Dearborn, he assessed the property under Alanson's name with the exception of a span of horses and a wagon claimed by the father.  Dort reported that Aaron had told him that he did not intend to be "forced to pay" Dr. Hurd for physician costs but that he would pay the debt.  (Hurd had filed suit against Aaron to recover payment for services provided and the judgement of $468 was awarded in 1834.  The next year Aaron's property was levied to satisfy the unpaid judgement.  But the battle must have been on-going between Hurd and Thomas because Aaron and Alanson signed affidavits in 1846 stating that the judgement had been satisfied by payment in farm produce from the property.  The court deemed the debt satisfied.)

The widow Betsey continued to assert to the courts that Alanson never paid for the deeded property and that it was done simply to keep Dr. Hurd from getting anything from Aaron.  Now here is where it starts getting interesting...Betsey also claimed that "it was understood" that Aaron expected the property to revert back to him when things were settled with Dr. Hurd.  Although the property did not revert back to Aaron -even after the court found the debt settled in 1846- Betsey explained that was because there was "another liable claim" that prevented it returning to her husband.  If so, it was never brought up in court.  But, after Aaron's death, Betsey apparently threatened Alanson with legal action and, as a compromise, he paid her property taxes.  

What seems most interesting is that the widow (who signed off on dowager rights when the deed was written) was so outspoken about the "deceptive deed" between her now-dead husband and her step-son Alanson.  Wouldn't her knowledge of the proposed fraud from the start make her implicit in the act, too?  Since that question didn't appear in the court record, I'm guessing that her testimony was not looked upon as fully credible or that the burden of proof wasn't met.

The opinions that follow the written record of this Michigan Supreme Court case reveal some basic findings:
  • despite all the rumors and after twelve years of continuous ownership, Alanson was generally recognized as the owner of the property
  • since the deed was recorded and available for inspection at any time, it was up to the land purchasers to verify the validity of the transaction prior to purchase; "buyer beware"
  • fraud cannot be presumed; it must be proven beyond rumor and hearsay
  • Aaron was steadfast in his conveyance of the deed to Alanson, even declaring under oath to that fact (which doesn't disprove fraud but does suggest the transaction wasn't just a ruse)
  • when used to support testimony, rumor (of which the courts heard volumes) can be a "two-edged sword"

Michigan Reports: Cases Decided in the Supreme Court of Michigan, Volume 6 (Google eBook) October Term, 1858, Detroit

In the 1850 US Non-population Schedule (Farm Census) for Dearborn, the neighboring farms are listing as:

#3-Lorenzo Thomas (242 total acres)
#4-TITUS DORT (120 total acres)
#5-Betsey Thomas (80 total acres)
#6-TA(Alanson) Thomas (140 total acres)
and a little farther down the list:
#9-Edmund Quirk (one of the purchasers of Thomas' deeded land) Lawsuit "Quirk v Thomas"
#27-William Ford (80 total acres) 1846 immigrant and father of Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company-who would later purchase up all the above properties (and more) 


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

BUTTONS, WITCHES & FIRE: 1628 Immigrant Matthias Button

Our Button family lineage:
from 1628 immigrant, Matthias Button through Aaron Thomas, Sr.’s wife Zipporah Button to Titus Dort's wife Deiademia Thomas. (Deiadamia, Alanson, Aaron Jr., Aaron THOMAS Sr.- Zipporah BUTTON, Matthias, Peter, 9th GGF Matthias)

The first 17th century fire recorded in the annals of Haverhill, Massachusetts, completely destroyed the Matthias Button homestead, a thatched roof house. The “burning questions” of why? and by whom? reveal interesting accusations of witchcraft.  Here is some background for that story gathered from various genealogical sources, including an out-of-print book by Nye entitled “Button Families in America”. 

Matthias Button was baptized 11 Oct 1607 at Harrold, Bedfordshire, England.  There has been some speculation that his family may have spent time in Holland as members of the Leydon Separatists, but no facts have surfaced to support this theory 'wishfully' connecting our Matthias with Sir Thomas Button, a noted explorer and Welsh officer of the Royal Navy.  Sir Thomas had spent time in Holland, but he was not related to this family of Buttons.  According to Nye, author of the Button Families of America published in 1971, a different Thomas Button (1558-1617), the father of Matthias, was born and died in Harrold, Bedfordshire, England, the birthplace of Matthias.

As best we know, Matthias came to America with Governor John Endicott's party on the ship Abigail that sailed out of Weymouth England. They landed on the 6th of September, 1628 at a two-year old Massachusetts settlement named Salem which was located at the mouth of the Naumkeag River, the site of an ancient Native American village and trading center. After a voyage of eleven weeks, the group arrived physically exhausted.  Even though they brought cannon and small arms for their protection from Indians, the party of men found it difficult to prepare for the threat of early hostilities due to their weakened condition.  While scouting, they became aware of imminent danger.  They were, however, able to position their weaponry so that the approaching Indians ‘scattered like sheep’ when they fired the cannon.  Matthias Button is remembered in this early incident as one of the few colonists who was fit enough to ‘get and man the big gun,’ likened as a hale and hearty man.  Although his stay in Salem was brief, he spent the rest of his life in the Massachusetts Bay area.  From Salem he soon removed to Boston in 1633, where he is listed among the earliest settlers.  Though possibly not a member, he identified himself with Boston’s First Church and was admitted with his wife on January 26, 1633, where at least two of his children were baptized. He then moved to Ipswich prior to 1639 and then, in 1646, to Haverhill (pronounced HAY-vrill), Mass., where he resided until his death in 1672.

From Vital Records of Haverhill
Matthias Button married four times:
(1) Lettice; by 1633; died 1635-1639.
(2) Joan, widow of John Thornton of Ipswich; around 1639; died by 1650.
(3) ANN TEAGLE; around 1650 (our lineage is through a child of this marriage, Peter); died in Haverhill 4 February 1662/3 as a result of the burning of their house by John Godfrey.
(4) Elizabeth (Wheeler) Duston; 1663; daughter of John Wheeler, and widow of Thomas Duston; died in Haverhill 16 July 1690.

 [The following facts were collected from other sources, based on corroborating primary written records] [EQC=Essex Co. Quarterly Court records]

·         Matthias Button maintained an unfortunate association with the notorious John Godfrey. Owing him a bond dated 12 January 1663/4, at June Term, 1668, Button was sued by Godfrey for debt and the jury found for Button. The court disagreed and set the verdict aside. In this case John Hutchins and Abraham Whitaker deposed that four years before, Godfrey had them accompany him to Button's to demand the cattle valued to £12 that Button owed him.  Button said, "I will now look up my cattle and pay thee." Godfrey told him to bring them to town to Goodman Kent's before twelve o'clock where they would be appraised, and he would give up the bond. Godfrey chose Stephen Kent for his appraiser and Button chose Bartholomew Heath. The cattle were brought before the time and appraised, but Godfrey would not come to receive them, although deponents remained till almost night [EQC 4:29].  Even with the verdict set aside by the court, Godfrey evidently harbored his first grudge.

·         From the deposition of Edward Clark, we learn that Button gave Godfrey an acquittance, or payment-in-full (9 January 1662/3), before the burning of Button's house [EQC 4:152]. Godfrey was accused, in the course of testimony, of being in two places at once, provoking suspicions of witchcraft.

·         Godfrey was found legally not guilty of witchcraft by the Court of Assistants, but was found "suspiciously guilty."  Hence, Grudge #2.

At the April Term, 1669, Button sued Godfrey for "firing his chimney which caused his house to burn and the goods therein, also the death of his wife Ann, and for running away as soon as he had done it." *
Essex County Court, which did not have the power to rule in a case of wrongful death, brought a verdict anyway, and awarded Button £238 2s damages and costs. [EQC 4:130-31].
More detail about this case is seen in the June Term, 1669, when Godfrey sued Matthias Button for "unjust molestation." Button won, but the court again set the verdict aside.  Grudge #3 and #4.

Representing Button, Ela sued Godfrey for "willful firing and burning of the dwelling house of Matthias Button, which was the cause of the death of said Button's wife." Godfrey replied, "Why should I bely myself; there be the witness: and asked whether he should go and execute himself; ... protested that he was cleared of firing the house and knew not of it: and that he went to Corlis his house, and there remained until Button came with his family" [EQC 4:185]. In a calmer deposition, Godfrey "acknowledged that he was at Button's house the day before the house was burned and went about ten or eleven o'clock to Corlis' house; that he said to Goody Button, lying upon the bed, `Woman weigh me out some meat,' and she arose and gave him meat and brought in water; also that he made a little fire of small wood upon the hearth" [EQC 4:186].  Although the role of colonial women was undoubtedly very different than that of today’s ‘homemakers,’ it still seems a bit odd that Godfrey would see nothing wrong with getting the mistress of the house out of bed and demanding a meal, of which she obliged –all while he is fixing a “little fire of small wood upon the hearth” which would later be seen as the cause of (or contributing to) her death. 

Button apparently paid Ela for his services as deputy and attorney, and the court found Ela's charges to be excessive. During testimony at November Term, 1669, it was revealed that Button had agreed to give Ela one third of all he "should return of John Godfray for the burning of my house and goods" [EQC 4:199].

*We can assume that the lingering, central cause of Godfrey's enmity towards Button was chiefly due to the fact that four years earlier, Mr. Button and others were witnesses against Godfrey when he was arrested through a complaint of Job Tyler and John Remington on suspicion of witchcraft and tried in the court of Boston in March, 1665. [The court record indicates a pattern of unusual behavior by Godfrey witnessed by others, including what appears to be another ancestor, 10th great-grandfather William Symonds/Simonds.] 

(A list of Godfrey court proceedings can be found in John Putnam Demos’ book, Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England, published by Oxford Univ. Press, 1983. Appendix A, pp. 402-9)

(revised: 2/23/13 and 4/21/2018)