Judith Tue Knapp

NOTE: If you are descended from this couple, they were extensively researched by Clifford L. Stott and his article was published in 1993 in the New England Historic Genealogical Register 147:315-328.

OK, I had a hard time choosing an ancestor who I thought was like me in some ways, but choosing a polar opposite was very easy. The only risks I take are those greatly tipped in favor of success and I am not very adventurous if the new adventure is attached to danger. I love to take cruises – long ones – but you couldn’t have paid me enough money to make the trip that Judith Tue Knapp, her husband William and their children did on the Arbella in 1630.

Here is my idea of sailing on a ship:

Google Images: Sapphire Princess

and this is an artist’s rendering of a ship from Judith’s time:

Google Images

You have to admit, sailing on these vessels would not produce exactly the same kind of experiences and that is without even considering the dangers of life facing them if they survived the voyage.

That is exactly what Judith Tue Knapp did and she was not particularly young when the family set out. She and her husband, William, also had to consider the risk to their young family.

Judith Tue was baptized on 31 May 1589 in Wormingford, Essex, England, the youngest of the four known children of John and Cicily Tue. She married William Knapp on 11 January 1606/07 in Wormingford. He was baptized on 1 January 1580/81 in Bures St. Mary, Suffolk, England, the fourth of eight children of Thomas Knopp and his wife, Alice Howlett.

The two towns are about 3 1/2 miles apart and about 70 miles from London.

William and Judith Knapp had seven children born to them, all in England:

1. Elizabeth, bp. 10 July 1608, Wormingford; married Mr. Buttery. They did not sail for Massachusetts with the rest of her family. She was buried in Bures St. Mary on 23 February 1661/62.
2. William, bp. 3 February 1610/11, Wormingford; died 25 September 1676, Watertown, Suffolk, MA
3. Mary, bp. 19 August 1613, Wormingford; married Thomas Smith in MA.
4. Anne, bp. 24 December 1618, Wormingford; married John Philbrick about 1649 in MA; died at sea with her husband and daughter sailing from Hampton to Boston on 20 October 1657 when their ship sank.
5. John, bp. 20 January 1622/23, Bures St. Mary; died before 9 April 1696, Watertown, MA; married Sarah Young, 21 May 1660, Watertown, MA.
6. James, bp. 30 April 1626, Wormingford; died before 11 November 1700, Watertown, MA; married Elizabeth Warren about 1654.
7. Judith, bp. 16 July 1629, Bures St. Mary; married Nicholas Cady about 1650 in MA.

Eldest daughter Elizabeth was likely recently married at the time her family emigrated, as she would have been about 22 years old. She remained behind in England with her husband and likely never saw her parents and siblings again.

I can’t imagine leaving the only home I had ever known, in that time period, aged about 40 years old, with my husband and children ranging from 19 to a very young one year old, hoping against hope that we would all survive and have a better life in Massachusetts.

Judith Tue Knapp is definitely my polar opposite.

What Would You Ask Your Ancestors?

Thomas MacEntee sends out a weekly update of newly found blogs. Last week, Cousins by Margie Tolsdorf featured a post called Dear Cousins and My Other Followers (I Know of at Least One:)

Margie posed the question: If you could spend some time with your ancestors, what would you ask them? I don’t know about you, but I am often fixated on breaking down brick walls. Yet, we all want to know the stories of our ancestors so they aren’t just names, dates and places on a piece of paper (or in a software program shared on the cloud, as the case may be) so I loved this question.

I am going to take the position that this opportunity to meet with our ancestors only allows us to ask one question of each, so here are questions I would ask:

1. Grandmother Hazel – How did Grandfather get the nickname “Ducky,” which you always called  him? I asked my Aunt Carole, their daughter, and she said she didn’t know and hadn’t thought to ask her parents either.

2. 5x great grandfather, Loyalist John Adams –  Was your sacrifice worth it all – would you do it again if given the chance? The Adams family was comfortably settled in Fairfield County, CT at the beginning of the American Revolution. Loyalist John Adams gave up his home, friends and family in Connecticut and sailed for Canada in 1783. Life was very hard for this uprooted family who settled on Adams Island, New Brunswick. John was last mentioned in 1818, living on land that he didn’t own, implying that he was a squatter.

3. 2x great grandfather, Frits Wille Oscar Emil Jensen – Was life in Denmark so difficult at the time that you would have still emigrated to the United States had you known the heartache your family would suffer? The Jensen family left Copenhagen in 1884 for Calais, Maine. A daughter, Elfride, died soon after arriving in the U.S. Wife Margaret Bruun died six years later in 1890. Daughter Anna Elisabeth died in 1916 during surgery performed in her kitchen and son Henry died six weeks after his sister of tuberculosis. Frits outlived them all, passing away in November 1920.

4. 5x great grandfather James Astle – When/where were you born and who were your parents? I have to ask at least one brick wall question! James was a Loyalist who served with British forces in Schenectady, New York. In 1783, they evacuated to Canada. The Astle surname is quite rare in colonial times and I have found no clues as to his parentage or birthplace.

5. 5x great grandfather Anders Molin – When and where did you die? Okay, one more brick wall question. I can’t find him after 1786 when he had separated and/or divorced his wife, Sara Brita Krok in Sweden, and had reportedly died before Sara, who passed away in April 1812.

6. 8x great grandmother Elizabeth Knapp – Tell me the story of how you came to be possessed by the devil. Elizabeth Knapp of Groton, Massachusetts was a servant of Rev. Samuel Willard, who documented her “possession” from 30 October 1671 until 12 January 1672.

7. 4x great grandfather Joseph Coleman – Did your father die of yellow fever off the coast of Guinea in 1775? I believe that Joseph’s father was another Joseph Coleman from Nantucket, Massachusetts and is the same man who died at sea in 1775, but I can’t find any proof.

Meeting up with the Stufflebean ancestors, I would ask:

8. 3x great grandfather William Sturgell – Please share the mystery of the family into which you were born! The Sturgills were a large family who are poorly documented, owing to the fact that they lived in burned counties or on the frontier in the 1700’s.

9. 4x great grandmother Vianna Palmer – Why is the existence of your father only documented on the note provided to the county clerk giving his permission for you to marry? No stone has been left unturned, but absolutely no proof of the existence of Abraham Palmer, father of Vianna, has been found except for his 1822  permission note for her to marry, which was not in his own handwriting.

10. 2x great grandmother Matilda Peavler Stufflebean – How did your family live on after your husband, John Stufflebean, died in the Civil War? Records appear to show that the lives of Matilda and her children were torn apart after John died. I would love to hear the story of their lives after the war.

11. 4x great grandfather John Dulworth – Tell me the story of your life. John Dulworth is a German immigrant who was dropped off by aliens in Knox County, Tennessee in the 1790s.

12. 7x great grandfather John Nation – What was life like as an  indentured servant? I don’t know that I’ve ever heard a first hand account of life as an indentured servant. That is how John Nation came to live in the United States in the 1700’s.

13. 5x great grandmother Happy Rogers Riddle – Tell me the story of your family’s life during the Revolutionary War. Happy Rogers’ husband was William Riddle, a Tory, who reportedly was hung by patriots in the frontier land between Virginia and North Carolina.

14. 4x great grandfather Frederick Alberty – What was your life like in Europe before you immigrated to North Carolina? Frederick Alberty was born about 1740 and living in Surry County, North Carolina in the early 1770’s. There are many wild, undocumented stories about him being the son of an Italian noble, killing a man in a duel and having to flee Europe, etc. I would love to find details to establish the truth!

Okay, I limited myself to seven questions for each side of our family. Some are directly related to brick walls, but also would reveal a lot about choices these families made during their lives

What questions would you ask your ancestors?



Commit the Crime, Do the Time! Part 2, Johan Alfred Molin

Researching my Swedish Molin family has been quite a roller coaster ride. Yesterday’s post about “criminal” Hans Samuel Molin was actually more a commentary on a difficult life that led to the “crime” of being unemployed and unable to support himself and his family.

Today’s post is about Johan Alfred Molin, son of Anna Christina Molin. His life circumstances were similar to Hans Samuel, who was his uncle of sorts, as Hans Samuel was the half brother of his grandfather, Hans Niclas Molin.

Johan Alfred’s mother, Anna Christina, never married, but was the mother of six children. She was born 9 November 1805 in Öved, Skane, Sweden and died 12 April 1880 in Lund, Skane, Sweden. Her first child was born in 1826, also in Öved, and her last child was born in 1849 in Lund.

Johan Alfred was the fourth of her children, born 16 September 1843, in Lund.

Like Hans Samuel, he not only had the stigma of no father on hand to help raise him, he wasn’t even living with his mother and siblings in the household examinations. Instead, he is found as a “foster son” living with a woman who lived in the church parish. It is hard to imagine how he must have felt growing up, not living with his mother and half brothers and sisters, who were close by. Was it an economic necessity for Anna Christina to give him up to a foster mother? If so, how was it that child #4 was the one given up?

I have been fortunate to make contact with several descendants of the Molin family who are all distant cousins of mine. Some live in the U.S. while others live in Sweden. Recently, I have spent a lot of time working long distance with Krister Thorell, who is a Swedish cousin. Between us, we have uncovered many records about the numerous Molins in the 1800’s.

Krister found this prison record for Johan Alfred Molin and provided the translation of the text. In spite of the sad reason for the record, the discovery of his photo was exciting!

Johan Alfred Molin
Malmo Prison Record of Johan Alfred Molin

Krister’s Translation: Johan Alfred was left off and lived with the unmarried Johanna Christina Hyberg in Lund. In his teens, he was sentenced to “husaga”(domestic chastisement?) for snooping.

(Does that mean he was a peeping tom, I wonder?)

At the age of 23 (about 1866), he was sentenced to four months in prison for violence against police. The year after (about 1867), he was sentenced for assault. In 1872,  he was sentenced again, this time to five years’ hard labor for robbery.

Here is his church record, covering 1872-1875 in the prison archives:

#680, Johan Molin

Unfortunately, he is not listed in the 1875-1879 church record. Perhaps he was paroled early.

Johan Alfred hasn’t yet been found after this time, so he is still a work in progress. However, unlike Hans Samuel Molin’s jail time, it appears that Johan Alfred’s “time” fit his crime.