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Random Interesting Facts and Stories

All of my ancestors had interesting and perhaps difficult lives. All of their stories are worthy of recording for posterity. It can be somewhat boring though to hear about another farmer, who married, had children, was a farmer, and nice and pleasant to be around. This page is a random and arbitrarily-chosen list of some interesting, odd-ball or even "juicy" tidbits about my direct ancestors. Some of these are proven facts, whereas some of them are family legends or stories that have been passed down for posterity.

The story of The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is supposed to be based on Mary, the fourth wife of Stephen Batchelder (my distant ancestor, I descend from his first wife). In 1651 in York County, Maine, Mary was convicted of adultery and sentenced to 40 lashes and to be branded with the letter “A.” After waiting 6 weeks for the delivery of her illegitimate child, her sentence was carried out.
Women shaving their armpits came into vogue in the US in about 1915. My great-grandmother Vera Merriman (then a teenager) had her younger brother Sharon shave her armpits for her, because she fainted when she did it herself.
In 1844 in Deerfield, New Hampshire, Abigail Freese Tilton (my g-g-g-g-grandmother) gave birth to triplet daughters. All three of them were named Sarah Tilton.
When James Wadleigh of Sanbornton, New Hampshire (my g-g-g-g-g-grandfather) wrote his will in 1830, he bequeathed (among other things) the use of his pew in the First Baptist Church. One half of the pew went to his son John and the other half to his son Asa.
In 1876, Jesse James and his gang robbed a bank in Northfield, Minnesota and killed two innocent people in the process. Afterwards, Jesse and his brother made their getaway to Missouri and apparently rode near the home of Sophia Hoffman (my g-g-g-grandmother) who lived near Mankato, Minnesota. One of Sophia's hired farmhands wanted to go after the gang, but she had to convince him not to, so that he would not come back and harm her family.
Louetha Jones (my great-grandmother) was married between 1920 and 1921 in Nashville, Tennessee to a gangster named Manlius Hosse. He was involved with bootlegging, gambling, political racketeering and owned a popular speakeasy in Nashville. He was shot and killed in 1921 by a police officer during a shootout.
Anna Barbara Albrecht Foust (my ancestor) is said to have brought the first white mulberry tree to America in her black silk apron when the family emigrated from Germany to America in 1732.
In 1655 in Kaldenkirchen, Germany, Agnes Doors (my ancestor) was slapped in the face by the local governor while nearly 9 months pregnant. Agnes and her family were Mennonites and apparently suffered persecution for their beliefs. In 1655, the governor had been sent by the Duke of Julich to collect a fine from Agnes' husband for disobeying a submission. Apparently Agnes' husband was not at home, and the governor instead found an angry Agnes who tried to rip the decree from his hands, at which point he slapped her in the face.
Mrs. Hannah Chandler Bixby of Andover, Massachusetts (my distant ancestor) was was to be "afflicted" during the Salem withcraft trials of Salem, Massachusetts. She was never charged and escaped punishment.

Miss Mary Lacey (my ancestor) of Salem, Massachusetts, then 18 years old, was accused of being a witch during the trials. Mary was tortured in prison, and subsequently accused her mother (Mrs. Mary Foster Lacey) and her grandmother (Mrs. Ann Foster) of being witches. Apparently by providing additional names, Mary was acquitted and released. Mary's mother Mary Lacey (aged 40) and her grandmother Ann Foster (aged about 75) were subsequently arrested of witchcraft and both pled guilty. Neither of them were executed, but Ann Foster died in prison in December 1692, probably with her daughter in the same cell.

Mrs. Mary Bradbury of Salisbury, Massachusetts (another distant) ancestor was accused, convicted and sentenced to death for being a witch during the trials. Among other things, she was accused of taking animal forms, including that of a "blue boar." She apparently escaped from prison and fled to Maine until the hysteria died down. In 1711 (years after she had died), her attainder (conviction) was reversed and her heirs were paid money in restitution.
“Virtue” names were common among the Puritans of 17th and 18th Century New England. Some of the virtue names of my (female) ancestors were: Mercy Blossom, Sufferance Haynes, Deliverance Kingman, Patience Farrow, Desire Harris, Honor Newton, Rejoice Plaise, Humility Cooper, Peacable Silliman, Experience Allen, Hope Robbins, Charity Jennings, and Temperance Denslow.
There is a family legend (with unknown accuracy) that Mrs. Mary Custer (my g-g-g-g-g-g-grandmother) was kidnapped by Indians in about 1766 from her home in Virginia during the French and Indian War and held captive in Canada for a long period of time (sometimes listed as 20 years) before finally beind released and making her way home to her family in Virginia.
  • The story of The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is supposed to be based on Mary, the fourth wife of Stephen Batchelder (my distant ancestor, I descend from his first wife). In 1651 in York County, Maine, Mary was convicted of adultery and sentenced to 40 lashes and to be branded with the letter “A.” After waiting 6 weeks for the delivery of her illegitimate child, her sentence was carried out.
  • Women shaving their armpits came into vogue in the US in about 1915. My great-grandmother Vera Merriman (then a teenager) had her younger brother Sharon shave her armpits for her, because she fainted when she did it herself.
  • In 1844 in Deerfield, New Hampshire, Abigail Freese Tilton (my g-g-g-g-grandmother) gave birth to triplet daughters. All three of them were named Sarah Tilton.
  • When James Wadleigh of Sanbornton, New Hampshire (my g-g-g-g-g-grandfather) wrote his will in 1830, he bequeathed (among other things) the use of his pew in the First Baptist Church. One half of the pew went to his son John and the other half to his son Asa.
  • In 1876, Jesse James and his gang robbed a bank in Northfield, Minnesota and killed two innocent people in the process. Afterwards, Jesse and his brother made their getaway to Missouri and apparently rode near the home of Sophia Hoffman (my g-g-g-grandmother) who lived near Mankato, Minnesota. One of Sophia's hired farmhands wanted to go after the gang, but she had to convince him not to, so that he would not come back and harm her family.
  • Louetha Jones (my great-grandmother) was married between 1920 and 1921 in Nashville, Tennessee to a gangster named Manlius Hosse. He was involved with bootlegging, gambling, political racketeering and owned a popular speakeasy in Nashville. He was shot and killed in 1921 by a police officer during a shootout.
  • Anna Barbara Albrecht Foust (my ancestor) is said to have brought the first white mulberry tree to America in her black silk apron when the family emigrated from Germany to America in 1732.
  • In 1655 in Kaldenkirchen, Germany, Agnes Doors (my ancestor) was slapped in the face by the local governor while nearly 9 months pregnant. Agnes and her family were Mennonites and apparently suffered persecution for their beliefs. In 1655, the governor had been sent by the Duke of Julich to collect a fine from Agnes' husband for disobeying a submission. Apparently Agnes' husband was not at home, and the governor instead found an angry Agnes who tried to rip the decree from his hands, at which point he slapped her in the face.
  • Mrs. Hannah Chandler Bixby of Andover, Massachusetts (my distant ancestor) was was to be "afflicted" during the Salem withcraft trials of Salem, Massachusetts. She was never charged and escaped punishment.

    Miss Mary Lacey (my ancestor) of Salem, Massachusetts, then 18 years old, was accused of being a witch during the trials. Mary was tortured in prison, and subsequently accused her mother (Mrs. Mary Foster Lacey) and her grandmother (Mrs. Ann Foster) of being witches. Apparently by providing additional names, Mary was acquitted and released. Mary's mother Mary Lacey (aged 40) and her grandmother Ann Foster (aged about 75) were subsequently arrested of witchcraft and both pled guilty. Neither of them were executed, but Ann Foster died in prison in December 1692, probably with her daughter in the same cell.

    Mrs. Mary Bradbury of Salisbury, Massachusetts (another distant) ancestor was accused, convicted and sentenced to death for being a witch during the trials. Among other things, she was accused of taking animal forms, including that of a "blue boar." She apparently escaped from prison and fled to Maine until the hysteria died down. In 1711 (years after she had died), her attainder (conviction) was reversed and her heirs were paid money in restitution.
  • “Virtue” names were common among the Puritans of 17th and 18th Century New England. Some of the virtue names of my (female) ancestors were: Mercy Blossom, Sufferance Haynes, Deliverance Kingman, Patience Farrow, Desire Harris, Honor Newton, Rejoice Plaise, Humility Cooper, Peacable Silliman, Experience Allen, Hope Robbins, Charity Jennings, and Temperance Denslow.
  • There is a family legend (with unknown accuracy) that Mrs. Mary Custer (my g-g-g-g-g-g-grandmother) was kidnapped by Indians in about 1766 from her home in Virginia during the French and Indian War and held captive in Canada for a long period of time (sometimes listed as 20 years) before finally beind released and making her way home to her family in Virginia.
  • My great-great-great-grandmother, Mary Palfrey, was born in October 1829 on a ship somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean while her parents were crossing from England to Canada.
  • In about 1641 in what is now Manhattan, New York, Marye Du Trieux (my g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-grandmother) had an illegitimate child with a man named Pieter Van Couwenhoven (both Marye and Pieter were married to different people at the time). Marye was a tavernkeeper and in 1664 was banished from New York for her shady business dealings including selling liquor to Indians and selling liquor after hours and during prayers.
  • In 1758 in Wallingford, Connecticut, Eliasaph and Abigail Merriman (my g-g-g-g-g-g-g-grandparents) were struck by lightning along with their 9-year old daughter Abigail. The parents were struck unconscious and recovered, but their daughter Abigail died.
  • Reuben and Betsy Merriman (my g-g-g-g-grandparents) lived in Sangamon County, Illinois, where Abraham Lincoln (then a lawyer) was also living. Reuben and Betsy both died in 1842, leaving no will and 7 children. Later that year, the oldest children filed a lawsuit to equitably divide up the property. The case was represented by Abraham Lincoln.
  • My g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-grandmother Maryke "Maria" Dyckman was about 4 years old during the massacre of Schenectady, New York in 1692. At the time, she and her immediate family fled and escaped with their lives, but their home and their town was destroyed and many of their relatives were slaughtered or taken prisoner to Canada.
  • James Barkelow of New Jersey and later Pennsylvania (my g-g-g-g-grandfather) had at least 11 children. His youngest child Flora (my g-g-g-grandmother) was born in 1826, when James was 72 years old.
  • Beatea Salina Springer of Gripsholm Castle, Sweden (a royal residence) was the royal housekeeper or "Lady Companion" of Dowager Queen Hedwig Eleanora of Sweden. Beatea's husband Christopher Springer was a musician for the royal Swedish Court and Beatea's father, Dr. Balzar Salinus was the court physician to King Karl X of Sweden.