Category Archives: Colonial New England

Which Ancestor Had the Largest Family?

About six weeks ago, Sally Knudsen on SallySearches shared some statistical numbers from her family tree using Legacy. One statistic she searched was how big the biggest family in her tree was. I didn’t have to generate a report to identify mine because his name has always stuck in my mind for three reasons- Samuel Tarbox. First, I remember him because he had so many children. Second, I noted that although he was away fighting in King Phillip’s War in 1675-1676, he managed to get back home to Lynn, remarry and keep the children coming. Third, his second wife, my ancestress, Experience Looke, is the holder of the title “The ancestor with my favorite name.” Although Samuel had a slew of children, there must have been quite a bit of heartache and sorrow because a number of them died young.

As far as I know, all those living in the U.S. today who carry the surname “Tarbox” are descended from one man, John Tarbox, born about 1612 probably in St. Ippolyts, Hertfordshire, England.

Source: Google Maps

The village of St. Ippolyts is due north of London. If you head north on the A1, it is located between Stevenage and Hitchin. The village church was built about 1087, enlarged about 1320 and had extensive rebuilding completed in the 1870’s, but is essentially the same building in which the Tarbox family attended Sunday services in the early 1600’s.

St. Ippolyts Church

John Tarbox married in England about 1631 or 1632. The name of his first wife is unknown and their son, Thomas, born in St. Ippolyts, died soon. His second wife, Mary Overall, was the mother of two children, both sons named John born in St. Ippolyts in 1636 and 31 December 1637, and both children died soon. Sometime between 1637 and 1645, John married a third wife, widow Rebecca (maiden name unknown) Andrews and emigrated to the colonies. No marriage date has been found for them, but Rebecca gave birth to four children – sons, John about 1645, Samuel about 1647, and Jonathan and daughter, Rebecca. John settled in Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts and his children were all likely born in Lynn.

John’s son, Samuel, holds the title for “My Ancestor with the Most Children” with his eighteen children by two wives. Samuel’s first wife was Rebekah Armitage, who he married on 14 November 1665 in Lynn. They had six children and Rebekah likely died from a difficult birth as she passed away two weeks after the birth of her last child, daughter Mary.

Children of Samuel and Rebekah:

1. Samuel, born 20 June 1666, Lynn, MA; died before 1693.
2. Jonathan, born 3 July 1668, Lynn, MA; married Eleanor about 1693. He died before 1718 when widow Eleanor Tarbox married John Gott, widower of Jonathan’s sister, Rebekah.
3. Godfrey, born 16 August 1670, Lynn, MA; died before 1701.
4. Rebekah, born 8 August 1672, Lynn, MA; married John Gott of Wenham, MA. She died before 1718, probably in Hebron, CT. John Gott married her widowed sister-in-law, Eleanor Tarbox in that year.
5. Sarah, born 15 October 1674, Lynn, MA; married Ebenezer Batchelder of Wenham, MA.
6. Mary, born 21 February 1676, Lynn, MA; died about 14 March 1676.

It appears that Jonathan, Rebekah and Sarah are the only three who lived to adulthood and left descendants.

Samuel Tarbox was a soldier in King Phillip’s War (1675-1676) and was off fighting at the time that Rebekah gave birth to Mary and both died. When he returned home, he set about finding a new wife and married (2) my ancestress, Experience Looke, on 16 October 1678, also in Lynn, MA. I have always thought that Experience Looke is the coolest name and I’ve never had to worry about sorting out too many women with that name when looking for records about mine! Samuel and Experience were the parents of twelve children.

Children of Samuel and Experience:

1. Experience, born 1 September 1679, Lynn, MA; no further information
2. Hannah, born 12 March 1680/1, Lynn, MA; died 1 July 1718, Wenham, MA; married John Batchelder on 28 November 1702, Wenham, MA. She died 1 July 1718, Wenham, MA.
3. John, born 8 March 1671/72, Lynn, MA; died 14 March 1671/72
4. Thomas, born 8 June 1684, Lynn, MA; died 9 January 1774, Wenham, MA; married Esther Edwards
5. Elizabeth, born 6 January 1686/7, Lynn, MA; died 22 January 1686/7. Her twin brother was:
6. Joseph, born 6 January 1686/7, Lynn, MA: died 22 January 1686/7.
7. Benjamin, born 23 January 1687/8, Lynn, MA; died 27 September 1710, Lynn, MA; unmarried.
8. Mary, born 20 January 1689, Lynn, MA; married Ephraim Kimball of Boxford, MA on 8 December 1720. No further information.
9. Samuel, born 6 February 1692, Lynn, MA; married Elizabeth Maxey on 19 Jnaury 1715/6 at Beverly. He died 21 November 1755, Wenham, MA.
10. Ebenezer, born 1 August 1695, Lynn, MA; married Sarah Hall of Wenham on 5 March 1718/9, Lynn, MA. No further information.
11. Mehitable, born 12 June 1697, Lynn, MA; intentions filed 4 December 1720 in Beverly, but she of Wenham with John Herrick of Beverly. No further information.
12. Joseph, born 6 March 1699, Lynn, MA; died after 8 November 1753; married Susanna Stevens, 28 January 1724/5 in Gloucester, Essex, MA.

There are many Tarbox descendants today. If you are one of them, I would love to hear from you. Samuel Tarbox and Experience Looke are my 7x great grandparents, but the Tarbox name continued down through the centuries to my grandfather, Vernon Tarbox Adams, named for his paternal grandmother.

Rediscovered – Possible Double Descent from Obadiah and Susannah Wheeler

I have written about several of my double or even quadruple descents from colonial ancestors, but I realized I overlooked one set of great grandparents, Obadiah Wheeler and his wife, Susannah Wheeler.  This double descent is a bit different because it is assumed that they were cousins, probably first cousins.

“Obedyas” Wheeler was baptized on 5 December 1609 in Cranfield, Bedfordshire, England, the son of John Wheeler.  Obadiah’s mother is unknown to me.

Susannah Wheeler was also baptized in Cranfield on 31 May 1607, the daughter of Thomas Wheeler. Thomas’s wife is purported to be Rebecca, maiden name unknown, but she is not named in the baptismal record and I don’t know the source of this claim.

It is thought that John and Thomas, both born about the 1560’s, are brothers, but to my knowledge no proof has been offered. I am also unaware of any 20th century research done on these early Wheelers.

Cranfield is a village with a population today of just under 5,000 people. It is located in Bedfordshire and sits almost due north of London.

Cranfield, England, Marked by Red Balloon
Source: Google Maps

Its Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, built in the 1100’s, is a beautiful limestone church. Photos of the church and a description of it can be found here.

This church has records going back to 1600, which helps to identify Obadiah’s and Susannah’s potential siblings, but says little about their parents.

Obadiah and Susannah Wheeler have many descendants today. Wheeler cousins – are any of you aware of further research done on the parents of this couple? Please leave a comment.

Joseph Eveleth, Centenarian

In modern times, both of my grandmothers and one of my great grandmothers all lived good long lives, into their 90’s. However, I only have one centenarian in my direct line that I know of and it’s a looonnngg stretch back to Joseph Eveleth, as he is my 8x great grandfather. On the plus side, the Eveleth family has been well researched and published by Jonathan B. Butcher in 1980-1981 in the New England Historical Genealogical Register,  134:299-309 and continued in 135:23-35 , 98-108.

Joseph Eveleth, or Everleigh as the family name was first spelled, was born about June 1641, as his baptismal record at the First Church, Boston, noted that he was one year and three quarters old on 26 March 1643. No birth record has been found for him and he may have been born in England, as it is believed that his parents, “Silvester” and Susan “Nuberry” Eveleth arrived in Boston about 1642. The family appears in parish records of Exeter St. Thomas until 1633 and then disappear from sight until they resurface in Boston, Massachusetts when Susan Eveleth, wife of baker Silvester Eveleth, was admitted to the First Church on the 19th day of the first month of 1643. It is not known whether the start of the English Civil War in 1642 influenced the Eveleth family’s  migration to New England or whether political, religious and/or economic views brought them to their decision to leave Exeter.

Joseph was one of six known children of Silvester and Susan. His eldest sister, Margaret, was born probably in the 1630’s, likely in Devonshire. Second sister, Mary, was baptized on 30 June 1633 in Exeter. Sister Susannah was likely born between 1635 and 1640. Joseph had one younger sister, Hannah, baptized on 8 October 1643 in Boston and one brother, Isaac, born in the 1640’s, probably in Gloucester.

Joseph married Mary Bragg on 1 January 1667/68 at Gloucester, where the family first lived, but removed to nearby Chebacco, part of Ipswich, about 1675.

Joseph and Mary were the parents of eleven children:

1. John, born 18 Feb 1669/70, Gloucester, MA; a Harvard-educated preacher who died 1 August 1734, Kittery, York, ME; married Mary Bowman, 2 December 1692, Charlestown, MA
2. Elizabeth, born 17 December 1671, Gloucester, MA; died 10 May 1727, Gloucester, MA; married (1) Francis Perkins, about 1696 (2) George Giddings, intentions posted in Ipswich on 18 January 1706/07
3. Joseph, born 31 May 1674, Gloucester, MA; probably died young
4. Isaac, born 11 October 1676, Ipswich, MA; died 23 March 1755, Gloucester, MA; married Sarah (MNU), about 1699
5. Edward, born 25 July 1679, Ipswich, MA; died 5 November 1759, Ipswich, MA; married Elizabeth Perkins, 4 January 1704/05, Ipswich, MA
6. Moses, born 13 Feb 1681/82, Ipswich, MA; probably died young
7. Mary, born 13 November 1683, Ipswich, MA; died 17 January 1718/19, Ipswich, MA; married Stephen Perkins, 13 July 1709
8. Hannah, born 1 October 1685, Ipswich, MA; living in 1739 but unmarried
9. Jacob, born 4 February 1687/88, Ipswich, MA; died 16 February 1738/39; did not marry
10. James, born about 1690, probably Ipswich, MA; died 3 June 1773, Ipswich, MA; married Elizabeth Cogswell, 26 February 1715/16,Ipswich, MA
11. Sarah, born about 1692, probably Ipswich, MA; died 19 March 1716, Ipswich; married Stephen Glasiar, intentions published 26 September 1713 at Ipswich

Jonathan B. Butcher, the author of the “Eveleth Family of Colonial New England” in NEHGR went beyond simply recreating the names, dates and places in a family history and instead sketched a picture of the day-to-day social and economic status of the Eveleths in New England.

Joseph, he found, was among the richer strata of Chebacco citizens and his wife was of similar economic status. It seems that although he was a land owner, he did little to further his own prosperity. His focus seemed to be to help his children continue on their own upwardly mobile social trajectory.

He likely thought that his life was drawing to a close in 1719, when at the age of 78, he divested the last of his real estate holdings to his children. His wife, Mary, had already passed away in 1713/14 at the age of 64. Little did he know that he would live for another 26 years.

Butcher notes in his article that Joseph had a minor involvement with the witchcraft hysteria as he was a member of the 1692 jury that tried John Proctor, but he later signed a petition of regret for participating in the witchcraft trials.

There is nothing in the longevity of his parents or his own children to suggest that his life would be atypically long. Like my previous post about Peter Hay, I would question whether Joseph was over 100 when he died. Yet, like Peter Hay, there are records still in existence proving his age.

The 1980-1981 study of the Eveleths noted that Joseph was well remembered for posterity by William Preble Jones in Four Boston Grandparents. cited in NEHGR, volume 134, page 305:

He celebrated his one hundredth birthday in 1741, taking a scythe in the morning and mowing a field of grass. A sumptuous dinner followed, with a sermon by a minister.

Then, quoting Babson’s 1860 account in The History of Gloucester:

A venerable descendant, not long deceased, remembered to have often heard her mother, who was born in 1730, describe the life, person and character of Joseph Eveleth, who was her great grandfather, and with whom she was fifteen years contemporary. Among her interesting recollections of her aged ancestor was that of a visit made to him, just before his death, by the celebrated Reverend George Whitefield. Her mind always retained a vivid impression of the solemnity of the scene that was presented, when Mr. Whitefield knelt upon the floor and received, from the lips that could relate a Christian experience of a hundred years, a truly patriarchal blessing.

Joseph Eveleth died on 1 December 1745 at the age of 104 1/2 years. Pretty amazing for any time period, but even more so for a man born in the early days of colonial New England.