With Thanksgiving almost here, Amy Johnson Crow suggested “thankful” as a theme in her 52 Ancestors weekly challenge. “Thankful” as a given name brings up immediate images in my mind of Pilgrim ladies preparing that first Thanksgiving feast.
“Thankful” was a given name most popular in New England. A database check of my husband’s family tree yielded not a single mention of a “Thankful” anywhere. He has very few ancestors who settled in New England – actually only one family who settled in Connecticut.
On the other hand, almost all of my mom’s family lines are based in New England. I found fourteen females named “Thankful” and I am directly descended from two of them.
Thanksgiving week seems like a perfect time to delve into one of my early New England families, so here are the stories of my two Thankfuls, related as grandmother and granddaughter – Thankful Mason and Thankful Bowen.
Sampson Mason, born about 1625 and his wife, Mary Butterworth, born about 1628, both likely in England, settled first in Dorchester, Suffolk, Massachusetts, but soon moved on to homes in Weymouth, Swansea and finally Rehoboth, Massachusetts. No marriage record has been found for them, but their first child, Noah, was born about 1651, perhaps in Dorchester. The estate of Edward Bullock, dated 25 July 1949, makes mention of a debt to be paid to Sampson Mason for his wife’s shoes, so Sampson was living in Massachusetts by that time.
Sampson and Mary Mason are my 8x great grandparents. They were the parents of thirteen children:
1. Noah, born about 1651, perhaps in Dorchester, Suffolk, MA
2. Sampson, born about 1654, perhaps in Dorchester
3. John, about March 1655/56, perhaps in Dorchester
4. Samuel, born 12 Feb 1657/58, Rehoboth, MA
5. Sarah, born about 15 Feb 1657/58 (sic), Rehoboth, MA
6. Mary, born 7 Feb 1659/60, Rehoboth, MA
7. James, born 30 Oct 1661, Rehoboth, MA
8. Joseph, born 6 March 1662/63, Rehoboth, MA
9. Bethiah, born 15 Oct 1665, Rehoboth, MA
10. Isaac, born 15 July 1667, Rehoboth, MA
11. Peletiah, born 1 April 1669, Rehoboth, MA
12. Benjamin, born 20 Oct 1670, Rehoboth, MA
13. Thankful, born about 1672, probably Rehoboth, MA
Thankful was the last of their many children. I wonder if she was given her name by her mother, who was very thankful that she had given birth for the last time? Her birth was not recorded in Rehoboth – I wonder why?
I haven’t worked on this family for years, but used Alverdo Hayward Mason’s book Mason Family in the collection of the New England Historic Genealogical Society. The book was published in 1902.
Sampson Mason left a will dated 1676, but he only named his “first son” Noah, his “second son” Sampson and son Samuel. He then mentioned “my six other sonnes” but didn’t name them. He also mentioned “my four daughters,” who were also not named.
The most curious point about this family is that, although Sampson was considered quite well-to-do, when his young family left Dorchester for Rehoboth, his son John was left in the care of John Gornell, a tanner, and was to be raised by him. It is kind of mind boggling to think that he willingly left his son to be raised by a man who had no apparent familial connection to the Masons.
Anyway, back to Thankful Mason. Thankful may not have had any memory of her father, as he died fairly young about 1675 or 1676. Thankful married Thomas Bowen on 17 June 1689 in Swansea, Bristol, Massachusetts. Thomas was born 3 August 1664, so he was a bit older than her. Thomas died before 21 June 1743 in Rehoboth, Bristol, Massachusetts. Thankful survived her husband, but her exact date and place of death isn’t known.
They were the parents of eleven children, the first of whom is my ancestor, Josiah. Thomas and Thankful didn’t name any of their daughters “Thankful,” so the name skipped a generation.
Josiah was born on 1 October 1691, probably in Swansea. He married Margery Child on 11 December 1718 in Barrington, Bristol, Rhode Island. Josiah also died as a somewhat young man on 11 February 1747/48 in Warren, Bristol, Rhode Island. His wife Margery was born on 6 January 1696, but I have no death date for her.
Josiah and Margery had ten children, the seventh of whom was a daughter named for Josiah’s mother, Thankful. Thankful Bowen was born 4 April 1731 in Warren, Bristol, Rhode Island.
Thankful grew up and married Samuel Hicks on 29 May 1746 in Barrington, Bristol, Rhode Island. Samuel and Thankful became one of my Canadian lines as they were pre-Loyalists enticed to settle in Canada about 1761, years before the Revolutionary war. Samuel and Thankful had nine children of their own. Samuel died after 1774, possibly in Sackville, Westmorland County, New Brunswick, Canada. Thankful’s death date is unknown.
Years ago, a friend of mine in my DAR chapter, Ella Rose, and I discovered we were cousins. Ella Rose passed away quite a few years ago, but one of our programs at our chapter meetings was a quick “share an ancestor” story. I knew Ella Rose’s maiden name was Mason, but being a somewhat common name, I didn’t think anything of it. That day, we found we were distant cousins because she was also descended from Sampson Mason and Mary Butterworth. Small world!
If you are a Mason, Bowen or Hicks descendant, please leave a comment. This is another branch of my tree for which I would love to meet some new cousins.