Category Archives: Dilemma

Strong Woman ~ Sarah Hood ~ #52 Ancestors Week #10

Sarah HoodThis weeks writing prompt is “Strong Woman”. I feel fortunate enough to have several women in my family tree that fit that category. I had a really hard time deciding which one I wanted to write about so, I would like to introduce you to my 8 times Great Aunt, Sarah Hood.

Sarah’s father Richard a was born in England in 1625, He, along with his parents, made the long voyage to the British Colonies sometime before 1650 and they settled in Salem, Lynn County, Massachusetts. He met and married Mary Newhall in 1652. Over the next several years they added 13 children to their family. Sarah was the 3rd child and their second daughter.

In 1675 Sarah Hood married William Bassett Jr who was the brother of Elizabeth Bassett Proctor, wife of Sarah Hood MLJohn Proctor who came from a very influential family. In the spring of 1692, there was an increasing rise to accusations of witchcraft in and around Salem, Massachusetts. The hysteria had actually started over in England several years earlier and spread across the sea, brought over by the ever-increasing newcomers. Several young girls of the village began having “fits”. They screamed, threw things, uttered peculiar sounds and contorted themselves into strange positions, and a local doctor blamed the supernatural. As a result over 150 people were accused of being a witch, having supposedly signed their souls over to satan to obtain power.

Salem w trialOn May 23, 1692, Sarah Hood Bassett was accused of witchcraft and was immediately sent to prison. She had to take her two-year-old daughter Ruth with her as she had no one to care for her. Her 5-year-old daughter Hannah stayed with her husband. Just being associated with Sarah was dangerous during this time. Food and clothing were brought to the prison for Sarah and Ruth on a weekly basis. It didn’t help that she was also about 2 months pregnant at this time.

The month before Sarah was accused; her husband’s sister Elizabeth and brother-in-law John Proctor had salemwitchhousealso been accused, arrested, tried and convicted of witchcraft. They were sentenced to hang. They all three spent the next few months together in the prison in Boston. Conditions were extremely harsh. On the 19th of August, despite no evidence to the charges and in spite of numerous testimonials to the character of John Proctor he was hung on Gallows Hill for the crime of being a wizard. This left Sarah and Elizabeth alone to care for each other.

It is impossible to say that I know how she felt. Here she was married into one of the best families in the region. Her husband and she attended church every week. Then she had to endure being falsely accused, sentenced, thrown into prison along with her child and being pregnant. She had to watch her brothers-in-law be hanged even though he was innocent. I can imagine that she spent a lot of sleepless nights thinking about her situation and praying for freedom. I am sure she also feared for the child she carried.

SalemStreetSarah spent a total of 7 months in this prison and she was pardoned because the charges against her could not be proven. Elizabeth Proctor was also pardoned and released. Within 2 weeks after being released she gave birth to a son which they named Joseph. She was later granted payment of 9 pounds by way of compensation and her next child, a daughter, was named Deliverance. At the time of her death in 1721, she and William had been married for 46 years. She was an extremely strong woman to survive this ordeal and to carry on with life



I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.



Filed under #52ancestors, 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks, Ancestry, Dilemma, Family History, Family Search, History, Massachuettes, Salem Witch Trials, Sarah Hood Bassett, Strong Woman, Uncategorized

Saturday Dilemma ~ Francis McGowan

Searching McGowanFrancis McGowan is my 3x Great Grandfather and he is also one of my solid brick walls. He was born in Dublin County, Ireland sometime around 1794. He came to America in 1810 and he filed a Common Plea for naturalization on March 3, 1811, in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. After this, he is found living in Monroe County, Tennessee. He eventually married Margaret “Peggy” Divine sometime before 1829 and they had 9 children between 1830 and 1844. He died in April 1871 in Monroe County, Tennessee.

I have a cousin, who is a McGowan, who has researched this line and she found a lot of court documents that didn’t shed a good light on our ancestor. Apparently, he had bought 80 acres of land from a gentleman and never paid him. Sometime between the purchase of the land and the lawsuit Francis transferred the title to his son James. There were more suits brought against him over non- payment of bills.

This makes me wonder if Francis had been one of the Irishmen that were sent over here to fight in one of the ongoing skirmishes with the Native Americans. There is a large gap between his naturalization and when he is found in 1830 Tennessee. I am currently looking for any information about this but have found nothing yet.

My Dilemma is: His name is a common one in County Dublin. I can’t determine which one would be him. As you can see, my “proof” concerning this ancestor is very slim. What I need is to find alternate websites to try to discover where he came from etc.



I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Filed under Ancestry, Brick Wall, Dilemma, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Ireland, McGowan, McGowan Family, Saturday's Dilemma, Uncategorized

Saturday Dilemma ~ One Less Brick in this Brick Wall

Brick wallA week ago Wednesday I wrote a blog for the 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks about my favorite discovery. I wrote how, after over 20 years of searching I finally found information on my Great Grandmother Sarah Jane Page. I also express my frustration with the fact that I still had no leads on my Great Grandfather Pleasant Smith. It is amazing what a difference a week can make.

I am still missing a huge amount of documentation and facts about Pleasant but last Pleasant Smith burgalar 22 March1890 Lex Intelligencerweekend when they offered the free searches on, I took advantage of it. Let me tell you a little background before I move forward. I have Pleasant’s date of birth because it was written in my baby book. I know this is not evidence nor proof however all of the other names and dates have proven correct, so I believe this one is also. I do have my Great Grandparents’ marriage records and his name on my Grandfathers death certificate. I also have the wild tale my mother had told us when we were growing up. It was that Pleasant had been a Creek Indian and he was murdered, dismembered and placed on the railroad tracks because he had left the tribe. His remains were found before the train came. No time frame was given so from Sarah’s marriage to her third husband in 1894 I assumed he must have died prior to that.

Pleasant Smith burgalar 25 Jam 1890 Lex Intelligencer CaughtNow to my latest discovery. I knew that my Great Grandparents had lived in the Dover Missouri area. So, I looked in the Lexington Intelligencer newspaper for his name and gave it a 10-year window from his death date estimation for searching. Imagine my surprise when a Pleasant Smith popped up. I read the short article and thought this can’t be him. This person had been arrested in 1890 for burglary and larceny of a store in Waverly, Missouri. He was being sentenced to 3 years at the Missouri State Penitentiary. I started to “turn the page” when I noticed one of the men who were also named in the article. The name was John Page. I realize this isn’t solid proof, but Sarah had a brother named John! I kept searching and found 2 more articles about the burglary and sentencing. I then went to the website for the State Penitentiary and found his intake information. Again, not proof but it described Pleasant as fair-skinned with blue eyes.  My Grandfather and my mother had fair skin and blue eyes. At least I have a lead I can try to follow.

I contacted the Missouri Historical Society which holds the Penitentiary files and theyPleasant Smith Prision Record discharge date told me they will send me all the information they have on him. I am excited to see where this may lead. Now I am thinking that the “story” my mother told us was either part of her mental illness or it may be that the family was so embarrassed by Pleasant’s actions that they made up the story. I also am thinking maybe Pleasant and Sarah got a divorce before she got remarried and he wasn’t dead.

I anxiously await the information from the Historical Society and now I believe I have been able to knock one more brick off Pleasant’s wall.

My dilemma is: where to go next in finding his death information. Any Suggestions?



I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.


Filed under Ancestry, Brick Walls, Dilemma, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Missouri, Page Family, Penitentiary, Pleasant Smith, Research, Uncategorized

Saturday’s Dilemma ~ Should a Christian do Genealogy?

Family_TreeA few years ago, a Pastor friend of ours told me I shouldn’t be working on my genealogy because the Bible speaks against it. He quoted a few scriptures that “proved” his statement. At this point in my life, I had been a Christian for 42 years and I had been a Genealogist for over 20 years. I never felt the two were in conflict with each other. Even so, his words bothered me.

I went home and got out my Bible and sure enough, that is basically what those scriptures stated. They inferred that taking on Genealogy endeavors were “unprofitable and vain”. Being a researcher at heart and having been misguided by others in the past because they pulled one verse out of an entire book in the Bible to prove their point, I did my own research on what those scriptures meant.

Here is what I discovered. Throughout the Old Testament being able to “prove” your lineage is what gave you a position in society and/or in the Temple. If you were from, let’s say, the line of Aaron who was the high priest of the wilderness tabernacle, then each high priest that came after him had to be from his line. This line assured their importance and position. Fast forward to the New Testament. Things had not changed. Each group of people fits into society according to their lineage. When Jesus began His ministry, He did not follow the “rules”.  He called some fishermen, a tax collector, a doctor, a zealot, and several tradesmen to be His disciples.


When the 2 verses (see verse references below) that had been quoted to me made the statement about “vain genealogies” it was referring to those who use their ancestors to put themself above others or who believes this makes them better than others. The bottom line is…..God created us all and we are equally valuable. I can comfortably reconcile my love of genealogy with my faith in Jesus!

SIDE NOTE: I have found through my research that there is a rich Religious Heritage that has been passed down through the generations to me. This comes from many different faiths and beliefs and I am thankful for this foundation.


Scriptures: 1 Timothy 1:4; Titus 3:9


cropped-blog-pic.jpgI am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.












Filed under Ancestry, Christianity, Church, Dilemma, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Personal Stories, Religion, Research, Saturday's Dilemma, Uncategorized