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CS 71 
.R66 
1901 
Copy 1 



ANCESTOR HUNTING, 






Some Hccoutit of a meek 6pcnt in OQindham Coun- 
ty, Yermontt During tb« ^ontb 
of JunCf 190K 



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"The man who cares not who his grandfather was, is worse 
than an infidel."— Horace Greeley. 



¥¥ 

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By HAMLINE E. ROBINSON, G. M. B. 
Editor Maryville Republican. 



¥¥ 

¥ 



Maryville, Missouri. 

Privately Printed by the Author. 
MDCCCCl 




ANCESTOR HUNTING. 



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Some Hccount of a deck Spent in dindbam Coun- 
ty, Vermont, During the jMontb 
of lunc, 190K 



¥¥ 

¥ 



"The man who cares not who his grandfather was, is worse 
than an infidel."— Horace Greeley. i. 



¥¥ 

¥ 



By HAMLINE E. ROBINSON, Q. M. B. 
Editor Maryville Republican. 



¥¥ 

¥ 



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MARYVILLE, MISSOURL 

Privately Printed by the Author. 

MDCCCCI 






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Only Fifty copies of this little brochure were printed 
privately by the Author, in the month of July, 1901. 
This is Number /i^ ^^ .^^T-J^,^^^ 



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ANCESTOR HUNTING. 




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The Author. 



ANCESTOR HUNTING. 

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Have any of my readers ever been on an ancestor 
hunting' expedition? 

If so, they will heartily sympathise with the fol- 
lowing- sketchy account of such a trip, and if not, 
perhaps something told here may awaken a desire 
to participate in like joys. 

For a long time it had been my desire to make 
some re??earches in New England, hoping to trace 
the footsteps of my forefathers who long ago con- 
quered the wild and rugged mountain sides, and by 
dint of incessant labor frugally brought up their 
children and trained them in the way they should 
go. If ever there was a "strenuous life," it was 
i)assed by the generations wh*? cleared and tilled 
New England during the two centuries and a lialf 
following its settlement Isy the Anglo Saxon. The 
years of conter^t with the aboriginal red man and 
his French and English allies, the savage beasts 
which glared from bt^hind almost everv rock and 
tree, the soil so filled witli flinty stone that every 
shower threatened to leave nothing but the worth- 



6 ANCESTOR HUNTING 

less substratum— tho ruj^god human product of 
such a series of difliculties canuot but till the stu- 
dent with adniirntion. It was to search for some 
facts with regard to six generations of such men 
that 1 had set my heart. 

Knowing that my emigrant ancestor had settled 
near Boston, and that successive generations had 
lived in Worcester county, Massachusetts, Wind- 
ham county, Connecticut, and Windham county, 
Vermont, the only question to decide was whether 
to start in the beginning and work forward, or 
start in my own time and work backwards. Tlie 
fact that I was born in Brattleboro, and that my 
father and mother were natives of Windham coun- 
ty, Vermont, the tirst of seven generations to move 
from New England finally decided me upon the lat- 
ter method. 

On Saturday. June 15, 1801, we stepped upon 
Vermont soil (mo>tly rock). But the bills were 
beautiful! Of a green that almost transcends de- 
scription, no \>'on(ler the early travelers called them 
Green Mountains! And the rippling brooks that 
run adown the lields, their waters fed bv never fail- 
ing springs, clearer than most any ciystal, who 
shall picture their beauty? In J he language of one 
who had never seen these charming sights Defore — 

"SVhat a sensation of restfulness it gives!" 

Brattleboro, the metropolis of Windham county, 
has been a thriving place for years. Situated on 
the Connectii'-ut River its manufacturing interests 
have grown apace, and being in a manner the 
gateway to a large interior country, it has bene- 
fitted thereby without cease. 

Up the brawling West River runs a narrow guage 



ANCESTOF^ HUNTING 7 

railroad making; sliort jerk^' turns that would seem 
at times about to throw the train from the track. 
It passes throu;4,h Newfane, wiiL're was horn Ros- 
well Field, the father of Eu;;ene, so ioved by all 
Missourians. On across brooks, around ledges like 
the course of a snake, its tortuous way leads some 
twenty seven miles to the old town of Jamaica. 

Here over a hundre<l years ago my grand-fathers 
8(»ttled. Here were born both father and mother, 
and here still live numbers of relatives of various 
degrees .Judging »>y myself (righteous judgment) 
they were glad to welcome their cousins from the 
wild and wooly west, and certainly we had a most 
enjoyabU.' visit. 

A saddening sensation Is caused by the sight of 
so many deserted farms. Place after place can be 
passed, with good, although weatherbeaten, build- 
ings still standing, where within the memory of 
comparatively young people there lived large and 
intelligent families, now alas wholly unoccupied 
In the school district in which my father was born, 
where a half century or m(3re ago there were fifty 
school children, now scarcely one resides. The 
township has gonr backward fn»m about 1700 pop- 
ulation in 1N50 to less than 800 in 1900. And so it is 
in every direction. Where once were good mead- 
ows, now grows the brush and the tree, and na- 
ture seems to be taking quick revenge upon the 
long continued and tireless labor with which she 
was at one time conquered. 

And this desertion of farms brings about another 
condition, desertion of roads. With no one to 
work the highways, they become encroached upon 
by the trees, and the storms of a long winter gully 



8 ANCESTOR HUNTING 

tl'-iM!i out so that they become almost impassable. 
In consequence, when my cousin and myself sought 
a team to drive us some three or four miles to the 
now deserted home of our grandfather, it was 
urged that the way was impassable, and only after 
much pursuasion could we induce a start. 

The drive up onto West hill was tedious and 
slow. And yet, not many years ago, many bright 
and happy people used to tread the road on their 
way to school and church. For they were a church 
going, God fearing class. Now none are in sight 
and the phice which knew them <ince knows them 
no more. After reaching the top, a distance nearly 
three miles from tlie village, and one continuous 
climb, there remained an almost precipitous descent 
of nearly one half mile before the old farm was 
reached. 

Looking out from the frontdoor of the old home- 
stead a charnr'ng sight met the eye Gently slop- 
ing down was a fine Held of grass, part of the old 
mowing ground n\ I, tie for a century had been cut 
the hay so carefully gathered foi- tlie stock during 
the long a.ud inclenuMit winter seasons A little 
to one side stood a massive apple troe ]HM'fect yet in 
shape and preservation, with its small iruit show- 
ing bountifully between the leaves. Curiosity led 
us to go bcueatli its \vide spreading branches, and 
its imniensity was striking to b<»hold. We carefully 
measured around iis base and found it fully 9 feet 
In circumference. No doubt but the dear old tree 
was a century old, and its frnit had gladdened the 
hearts of my father and gra.ndfcither in the days 
long goneby. 'i he a,ssociations which came into 
the heart were almost choking and I could not but 



ANCESTOR HUNTING 9 

wish for a mug of cider to drink to the prosperity 
of the remains of tlie old on-hard, and especiailv to 
the grand old pati-iarch under which we stood, 
which had so well born the i-avages of years. For 
in Dorsetshire, England, they drink thus and throw 
the lees on the ground at the foot of the oldest tree 
at the same time reciting the following toast: 

Yere's to tliee old apple tree 
Be zure'e bui. be zure'e blow 
And brjnt^ vorth apples K<->od enow 
Hats vul. caps vul 
Dree bushel ba^s vul 
Pockets vul, it'ouths vul 
Hearts vul and thankful — 
Huzzaj% old apple tree.^ 

The forest is narrowing down the once tilled 
fields, and soon the farm will only exist in a pris- 
tine state of savagery, if the changes of the last 30 
years go on as rapidly in the future. And when we 
recognize that it w^ould be an almost physical im- 
possibility to haul out a 500 pound load on a wag- 
on from this farm, the only wonder is that it re- 
mained in cultivation so long as it did. 

Over against us to the northwest lies Winhall, 
and to the westward Stratt(jn Mountain rears its 
head, one of the highest peaks of the southernmost 
Green mountains. These sights bring to mind the 
storj^ of hov>^ in bj^gone days when the native 
inquired at the store for salt codfish, he asked for 
''Stratton pork'"For as the old jingle went — 

Winhall for beauty, 
•hir.iaiea for priile; 
If It hadn't been for codfish 
Stratton would have died. 

So they jeered each other, but these mountains 
turned out bravesoldiers, beautiful women and 
scholarly, practical men, like the rocks in their rug- 
ged character, and likened after their beautiful 



lo ANCESTOR HUNTING 

scenic surroundings in their dispositions. 

In Winhall lived for many years an Irisliman, 
James Magarr by name, vvlio was a Revolutionary 
soldier. Old Jimmy, as he was called, liked his 
toddy extremely w^ell, and when about to die, selec 
ted his pall bearers and called them to his bedside 
for a last word. He was to be buried in Jamaica, 
and said he — 

•'As ye carry me down the hill, when ye get half 
way, stop and t*vke a drink; But when ye come 
back, dont drink, for Jimmy'll not oe with ye." 

Although these are more temperate days than 
then yet we can sympathise with and understand 
the half regretful mood of the dying old veteran. 

Over Jimmy NJagarr's resting place in the burial 
ground in Jamaica village stands a stone on which 
is engraved the following inscription — 

Behold ana see as you pass b3'' 
/» s you are now so once was I 
As i ani now so soon you'l be 
Prepare for death & fo low me. 

It is related that some irreverent person on 
reading this Immediately wrote — 

To follow you I'm not intent 
Until I know which way you went. 

I visited many old graveyards in Jamaica, 
Townsend and Athens. Some are found in places 
now almost inaccessible, onct in probably the 
thickest settled portion of the communit3^ These 
burial i>laces have generally from one to two hun- 
dred graves, and as a rule have been fairly taken 
care of, although not now used to great extent, 
But the old stone wall with which all are sur- 
rounded never rots away, and now^ more than a 
century old bids fair to last for ages. 



ANCESTOR HUNTING II 

Manv Inscriptions, more or less curious, were 

t 
noted in these J4;ravey circle. In those older, times it 

was the custom to put averse upon tlie headntone, 
or tell in some pithy way any out of the way fact 
concerning the deceased. Thus over one stone was 
found — 

He was drowuded at sea 
while, another, over a girl of 14, said — 

Her death was occasioned bj' her clothes taking fire 
while ironing. 

Could the sad story be told more succinctly? 

In the old hill cemeterj"^ at Athens, where lie the 
grandparents of General W. it. Shafter, by the w^ay 
a distant cousin of the writer, was read the follow- 
ing inscription over the grave of a young man who 
died when a little past twenty years of age- 

Sudden Death came hasting on 
Fore Id arrv'd to twenty-one 
To take ray soul from Earth away 
Heaven's decree all must obey. 

In the old Townsend cemetery, away off on the 
hillside were found the graves of my great grand- 
father and his wife, who died away back in the 
twenties, He was a Revolutionary soldier, serving 
first with the Minute men and afterwards in the 
line with old Putnam from (Connecticut. It was a 
pleasant surprise to his descendants to find the 
graves in good condition, and with good head 
stones over them, for they were unlvuown to us 
until this visit. 

Among tlie quaint verses read in tliis old Town- 
send grave yard was this — 

Come hither mortals cast an eye 
Then go thy way preparf- to die 
The time will come & die thou must 
And then like me be turned to dust. 



12 ANCESTOR HUNTING 

In the same burial place was seen an Inscription 
which we copy literally— 

iMau. count thy days, and if 
Tkey fly too fast for thy dull 
Thoughts to count, count 
Every aay thy loss. 

It is but charitable in such cases to suppose that 
part of the error at least is to be ascribed to the 
ignorant stone cutter. As for instance, in the fol- 
lowing copied from a stone in Pouth Hill cemetery 
In Jamaica — 

Death is no more the king of dread 
Since our Immanuel rose 
He took the tyrants sting away 
And sPild our helish foes. 

Over a mother's remains in the Jamaica church 
yard the bereft father had carved — 

Come all mv children that survive 
<'ome let us mourn together 
For I have lost a bosom friend 
And you a ten 'er mother. 

In the same place a stone over two ittle children 
read as foUows — 

Oh yes tis hard to give them o'er 
And see their forms on earth no more 
To yield the flowers ere scarce they bloom 
And hide their beauties in the tomb 

One more from the same location as the last two 
and I am done for the present — 

Yes gone to the grave 
Is he whom we lov'd 
And lifeless that frame 
I hat so manfully moved 
The olods of the valley 
Encompass his head 
The marble reminds us 
A Husband and Father is dead. 



^'-^ ^/ 1903 



LIBRARY OF CONGRESS 1 





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