You never know. You just never know what you are going to find in the family tree.
My Rhode Island lines have been a bit of a challenge because some of the colonial records are rather sparse and my families mostly either moved to Canada in the 1760s when they were convinced to move north for better land opportunities or else they left in 1783 because they were Loyalists.
One of my ancestors, Ruth Hill, married William Boone and removed to Burtt’s Corner, New Brunswick, Canada on the Loyalist ships. I have been delving into Ruth’s ancestry, but, until now, haven’t gotten much beyond her parents because of conflicting information.
Ebenezer Hill of Prudence Island married Mary Fones of North Kingstown on 1 January 1729/30 at North Kingstown, RI.
Even though I attended the University of Rhode Island for my undergraduate degree, I have to admit that I don’t remember ever hearing of Prudence Island, but here it is:
Prudence Island to North Kingstown, RI
Ebenezer Hill was a mariner who had achieved the status of captain by the time he died in St. Eustatius in the Caribbean on 31 October 1753.
David W. Dumas published an article in The American Genealogist (57:45-49) titled “New Englanders in St. Eustatius” with a description and short family history of each person buried in the churchyard there. Ebenezer Hill is one of those treated in the article. Mr. Dumas also mentioned that Captain Hill’s probate is to be found in St. Eustatius.
By the time Ebenezer died, he and Mary were the parents of eight children, although oddly I mostly found others’ family trees with only six (son Jonathan and daughter Mary being among the missing).
- Jonathan, born 30 October ____, North Kingstown, RI
- Joseph, born 10 April 1734, Providence, RI
- Samuel, born 11 April 1739, Providence, RI
- Mary, born 5 August 1741, Providence, RI; said to have married Walter Rhodes
- Ruth, born 25 February 1744, Providence, RI; married William Boone, 21 May 1761
- Rebecca, born 14 July 1747, Providence, RI
- Martha, born 13 December 1749, Providence, RI
- Ebenezer, born 19 July 1752, Providence, RI
Normally, I would look at the time gaps and wonder if Mary had lost several children. She might have, but with Ebenezer’s life as a mariner, it is also very possible that he was away for long stretches of time. These births were recorded in the Rhode Island vital records compiled by James Arnold.
Additionally, Providence records show that coffin expenses were recorded on 25 April 1754 for the 27 February 1754 burial of “ye widdo” Hill. She was buried in the North Burial Ground in Providence. Find A Grave shows no photo of the gravestone, but says she died on 27 April 1754, aged 42 years, 5 mos., spouse of Capt. Ebenezer Hill. Therefore, she survived her husband by only four months.
Ebenezer Hill’s ancestry is a separate project, but when I saw the surname “Fones,” I figured with it being somewhat rare (I had never seen that surname in New England records) that someone must have put together a family history at some time.
Surprisingly, the family hasn’t been particularly easy to piece together, but thanks to another article in The American Genealogist (59:182) by Robert S. Wakefield, F.A.S.G., which takes a further look at Mary Fones Hill, wife of Captain Ebenezer, I think I have my first Mayflower descent!
The crucial piece of evidence is found in the will of Samuel Fones, son of Jeremiah and Martha Fones. His will was sworn on 19 November 1739 and in it he names his siblings, including Mary Hill of Providence. Martha’s mother was Susannah Soule and her grandfather was Mayflower Compact signer George Soule!
It turns out that this line has been recognized by the Mayflower Society, too. After 36 years of researching and coming to the conclusion that, although I have many colonial ancestors here well before 1640, I was convinced that I just didn’t have a Mayflower line. The bigger surprise is that my tie isn’t through a Massachusetts family, but through a Rhode Island Loyalist!
My newly discovered line:
George Soule = Mary Bucket/Becket
Francis West = Susannah Soule
Jeremiah Fones = Martha West
Ebenezer Hill = Mary Fones
William Boone = Ruth Hill
Richard Jones = Mary Boone
Peter Crouse = Rebecca Jones
William Coleman = Sarah Moriah Crouse
Hartwell Thomas Coleman = Anna Elisabeth Jensen
Vernon Tarbox Adams = Hazel Ethel Coleman
George Michael Sabo = Doris Priscilla Adams
Me – Linda Anne Sabo
The neatest part of this is that it is through my grandmother’s line. It took just as long to discover her likely ancestor Joseph Coleman who married Eunice Coffin in Nantucket as it did to find that she has a Mayflower descent. She would have loved to have known all this.
Now, if you read the title carefully, there is a MAYBE in it. Why? There are a couple of troubling pieces of data that I’ve found, in spite of the fact that the Mayflower Society has accepted this lineage.
Tomorrow’s post will take a look at the clues.