Category Archives: Fones

I Think It Works – George Soule Family

A possible Mayflower line has been the BSO that has most recently caught my attention. In two recent posts, I have outlined the proposed – and accepted – Mayflower line to George Soule through Mary Fones who married Captain Ebenezer Hill, a sea captain from Rhode Island. I’ve also outlined my concerns about the accuracy of the line.

Well, recent correspondence with a state Historian of the Mayflower Society has helped bridge the gap to where I feel comfortable about previous research.

There are two pieces of information I received which greatly increase my confidence rate, mainly because I now have enough information to check primary evidence for myself.



The page was scanned at an angle, but the beginning sentence is the important one: The will of Mary’s brother Samuel Fones, dated 19 Nov. 1739, names sister Mary Hill.

This is the mention that I found once online on someone’s page, but could never find again. Samuel died in North Kingstown, Rhode Island and those probate records are on microfilm in Salt Lake City.



The next sentence provides yet a second proof document: The settlement of the estate of Capt. Jeremiah Fones includes a 1756 deposition that mentions Mary Hill, sister of the half blood to Capt. Jeremiah Fones and her children alive: Jonathan, Samuel, Mary, Ruth, Rebecca (burned). This record is badly burned and only an oval remains.

Again, checking the microfilmed probate records might be fruitful.

Samuel, son of Jeremiah and Martha (West) Fones was born in 1714, so only about 25 years old when he wrote his will. He may never have married and, thus, named siblings as heirs.

I now have enough information to verify these statements myself, but I have to admit that my Mayflower line is looking like it’s the real thing. 🙂

Mary Fones, Who Are Your Parents?

Mary Fones is a real sticking point for me. I mean, who wouldn’t love to claim a Mayflower descent and, after 36 years, this is as close to one as I’ve come in spite of having hundreds of early New England ancestors.

The Mayflower Society accepts her as a proven line, so why am I stirring the pot? Well, it’s because I see no way to reconcile several facts.

Here is what I’ve found:

  1. Mary Fones, daughter of Jeremiah and Martha, is entered in the Rhode Island Vital Records series with a birth date of 20 September 1707.


2. According to the same series, Jeremiah Fones married twice, the first time in 1694 and the second time in 1710.


Are you seeing a problem yet? If Mary was Martha’s daughter, then I highly doubt she was born three years before her parents married. That isn’t the only issue, either.

3. Most troubling to me, given that the widow of Capt. Ebenezer Hill, Mary Hill, was buried in the North Burial Ground in Providence, RI on 27 February 1754, is that Jeremiah Fones mentions no daughter Mary or her heirs in his will, written in 1727 and probated in 1747.


Why wasn’t Mary mentioned? Jeremiah mentioned heirs of his deceased daughter, Margaret Davis. Or did his daughter Mary die young and predecease him???

4. The tombstone of Mary Hill in the North Burial Ground apparently notes her age at death (27 February 1754) as 42 years and 5 months. If so, that would place her birth around December 1711. That is more than 4 years off from the 1707 birth date for Mary in the Rhode Island records. Yes, I know ages can be off some, but taken with my other concerns, something is not right.

5. I read some comments online about the Fones family, which for the life of me I can’t now find, but the statement was made that Samuel and Meribah Fones had a son Samuel born in 1702 and died before November 1738 when his widow remarried. He left a will (of which I have found no trace in any online records) in which he mentioned “sister, Mary Hill of Providence.” Jeremiah and Martha also had a son Samuel, but he was born in 1714.

I don’t know for sure when this Samuel died (or if it was actually this man who wrote the 1738 will), but I do know that the Samuel Fones who died in 1757 was the brother of Jeremiah Fones who married Martha West. That is because Samuel is noted as being 90 years old in the record.

If it was really the son of Samuel and Meribah Fones who were the parents of Samuel who died in 1738 AND he named his sister, Mary Hill, then I would say that is pretty strong evidence that this line is flawed.

5. Yes, the Mayflower Society says it’s so – that Mary Fones Hill is a proven line of George Soule. I’m not so convinced.  My last concern is that when Mayflower Families Through Five Generations: Family of George Soule (the source for Society approved lines, including Mary Fones Hill) was published in 1980, it was greeted by scathing reviews in The American Genealogist and, more shockingly, in The Genealogist (published by the American Society of Genealogists), which devoted 33 pages to picking it apart. I have no access to that article so I don’t know with exactly what they found fault, but there were obviously a lot of criticisms. The T.A.G. review actually suggested that the book be withdrawn and fixed by a team other than the current compilers.

There you have it. Am I right in thinking something is rotten in Denmark? Or am I looking a gift horse in the mouth?

The key to solving this mystery is in finding the supposed will of this Samuel Fones and determining who HIS parents were.

Are any of you George Soule descendants who can shed any light on this mystery?


My First Mayflower Link – Maybe – and – It Only Took 36 Years!

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
Bing Maps

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.

Sint Eustatius
Bing Maps

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).


  1. Jonathan, born 30 October ____, North Kingstown, RI
  2. Joseph, born 10 April 1734, Providence, RI
  3. Samuel, born 11 April 1739, Providence, RI
  4. Mary, born 5 August 1741, Providence, RI; said to have married Walter Rhodes
  5. Ruth, born 25 February 1744, Providence, RI; married William Boone, 21 May 1761
  6. Rebecca, born 14 July 1747, Providence, RI
  7. Martha, born 13 December 1749, Providence, RI
  8. 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.