Spotlight on Female Ancestors #2 ~ Mary Brewster and Susanna White 2 of 4

Susanna Jackson, my maternal 10th Great Grandmother, was born in 1595 in Nottinghamshire, England. She and her father were English Separatists who fled religious persecution in England under King James I for their non-conformity to the dictates and practices of the Church of England. They came to Holland in 1608. There she married William White in 1612 in Leyden, Holland, and they had a son, Resolved. In 1620 William, Susanna, and Resolved boarded a ship that would take them back to England to join 101 other passengers embarking on a voyage to the New World aboard the Mayflower. Susanna was 25 years old and a little over 6 months pregnant when they began the trip on September 6, 1620..

Mary Brewster Statute

Mary, my paternal 11th Great Grandmother, whose maiden name has not been verified, was born in 1569 in Nottinghamshire, England. She married Elder William Brewster about 1593 in England, and she accompanied her husband and 3 young children to Leiden, Holland in 1608. Here they had at least 3 more children. William, Mary and their 2 youngest children also made the trip back to England to make the trip on the Mayflower. Mary was about 51 years old.

There were 3 pregnant women aboard the Mayflower and Susanna no doubt kept close company with matronly Mary Brewster, her family’s friend and neighbor from back in Scooby, England and in Holland. It must have been a great comfort to her. The ship arrived in Cape Cod Harbor on November 21, 1620. Because of the rough waters only the men were allowed to leave the ship, while the women and children were confined to their place on the middle deck of the Mayflower.

Peregrine White Cradle

On December 10, 1620, Susanna gave birth to a son aboard the Mayflower. They named him Peregrine, meaning a traveler or pilgrim. Peregrine White was the first Pilgrim child to be born in the New World. By the time all of the passengers made it to land, winter had blown in and made life miserable because of a lack of shelter. That first winter, death claimed 52 members of the group with the greatest loss being among the women with over three quarters of their number dying. The extremely high mortality rate among women is probably explainable by the fact the men were out in the fresh air, felling trees, building structures and drinking fresh New England water; while the women were confined to the damp, filthy and crowded quarters offered by the Mayflower, where disease would have spread much more quickly.

Susanna’s husband, William, died on February 21, 1621, along with the family’s two young man servants. Being left a widow with 2 young boys she remarried a few months later to fellow Mayflower passenger Edward Winslow, whose wife had also died had first winter, on May 12, 1621. Their marriage was the first marriage at Plymouth.

By the end of the summer of 1621, only four women, Eleanor Billington, Elizabeth Hopkins, Mary Brewster, and Susanna White, would remain alive to care for the Colony’s fifty surviving men and children. These four brave women faced some incredible hardships and heartbreak as they tried to make a new life in a new land. They had to be very strong, not just physically but also in their faith to withstand those first couple of years as the caregivers to so many people. I am proud that Mary and Susanna were two of the four.

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

Hometown Tuesday ~ Scituate, Plymouth County, Massachusetts

Sailing up from Plymouth, shortly after it was settled, came the Men of Kent. They discovered this harbor and realized its future possibilities of farming and trade. The first plantations of “Satuit” were laid out by the Men of Kent before 1623 on Third Cliff and here the first windmills merged with the soft sounds of the breezes which turned their great sails.

The name Scituate is derived from an Indian word which the early settlers understood as “Satuit”, which means “Cold Brook”, and referred to the small stream flowing into the harbor. In some part of the years 1627 or 1628 a group from Plymouth increased the population of this area by bringing new arrivals from the County of Kent in England, and they formed the first permanent settlement. They laid out their village a mile or so back from the coast behind one of the cliffs, established a main street, which they named Kent Street, and assigned spaces on this street to the various householders forming the Company. They were of course under the jurisdiction of the General Court at Plymouth, and it was not until 1636 when the population had increased that permission was given to elect certain officers and to some extent carry on their own affairs. They referred to this act as the incorporation of the Town, and its boundaries were established at this time.

No other part of our country was more difficult to clear for planting than this dense New England jungle with its horse briers, elderberry, sumac and other dense undergrowth throughout which is strewed with granite rocks and stones. To clear the undergrowth, fell the trees and clear land of rocks and stumps would have been an unpleasant task, and without horses and oxen would have been almost impossible. But meantime, horses, oxen and cows had to be fed, and it was the marshlands that, in the interim, produced this feed. The hay of the marshlands of Scituate harbor and its North River was its fundamental economic factor. Corn was the only major crop grown in the area, but beans, pumpkins, rye and squash were also grown in limited quantities. The settlers learned how to grow the crops thanks to the Wampanoag Indians who lived in the area.

The Men of Kent Cemetery is a historic cemetery on Meetinghouse Lane in Scituate. The cemetery dates from the earliest days of of the settlement, estimated to have been established in 1628. It is the town’s oldest cemetery, containing the graves of some of its original settlers. The 0.75 acres cemetery is also the site where the town’s first meeting house was built in 1636.

The Williams-Barker House, which still remains near the harbor, was built in 1634 making it is one of the oldest buildings in Massachusetts. The house is believed to have served as a garrison during King Philip’s War when it was owned by Captain John Williams and the walls were reinforced with bricks. The thick wooden walls and beams were “once pierced for portholes.” The Williams and Barker families occupied the house for seven generations.

John Otis Sr, my 9th Great Grandfather, was born in 1581 in Barnstaple, Devon County, England. He married Margaret (unknown) in 1603. They had 9 children, 3 sons, and 6 daughters. In 1631, John and his family left England for the Plymouth Colony and arrived in Hingham, Plymouth Colony aboard the Ambrose. They quickly made their way to Scituate. During the division of lands in that town, a lot of 5 acres were granted to John and it bears the date, June 1, 1631. It was located in the meadow called the Home Meadow next to the cove. Here he built his home on the side of a hill.

John took the oath and was made a freeman of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay on March 3, 1635. On March 15, 1646, his house was burned to the ground, but it was soon rebuilt, and he continued to live here until his death. His wife, Margaret died on June 28, 1653. John married a widow by the name of Elizabeth Whitman Stream that same year. He died on May 31, 1657, in Scituate, at the age of 76. He was buried in “The Men of Kent” Cemetery just outside the town limit, however there is no headstone remaining.

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.

My Ancestors Signature #9 ~ William Brewster

How many of you have searched for any kind of photo of an Ancestor and you weren’t able to find one? Especially for one who lived before photography was invented? Have you ever looked through documents like wills, or marriage licenses and you discover that your 3x Great Grandpa had signed it? This signature is a little piece of him that was left behind. By posting it online we can preserve it for future generations.

My 10th Great Grandfather

Man's Silhouette

Signatures William Brewster 1620 Mayflower Compact


From the Mayflower Compact  1620



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.

Sunday Salute ~ Josiah Winslow ~ King Philips War

josiah Winslow paintingJosiah Winslow, my 10th great-uncle, was born on May 22, 1629, in Plymouth Massachusetts Colony to Edward and Susanna (Jackson White) Winslow. Both of his parents came to Plymouth aboard the Mayflower. Both of his parents lost their spouses during the first winter in Plymouth and married on May 12, 1621. Josiah had several half-siblings as a result. He married Penelope Pelham (1633-1703) in 1651 in Marshfield and had the following children, Elizabeth Winslow 1663-1738 and Isaac Winslow 1671-1735.

Josiah was educated at Harvard in Cambridge Massachusetts. He then became the assistant Governor of Plymouth Colony from 1657 to 1673. In 1656 he succeeded Myles Standish as commander of the colony’s military forces. He also served as Plymouth’s Commissioner to the New England Confederation from1658 to 1972. He became Governor of Plymouth in1673 and served until his death earning accolades for establishing America’s. first public school.

In 1675 and 1676 Winslow was a military commander during the action against Native Americans known as King Philip’s War. As governor, he signed the colony’s declaration of war and also issued a famous statement denying the Indians had a legitimate grievance against white settlers in New England “because the Pilgrims had honestly bought their land.”

Massasoit, the leader of the Wampanoag. had maintained a long-standing alliance withKPW Soldiers top the colonists. Metacom was his younger son, and he became tribal chief in 1662 after Massasoit’s death. Metacom, however, did not maintain his father’s alliance between the Wampanoags and the colonists. The colonists insisted that the peace agreement in 1671 should include the surrender of Indian guns; then three Wampanoags were hanged for murder in Plymouth Colony in 1675 which increased the tensions. Indian raiding parties attacked homesteads and villages throughout Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Maine over the next six months, and the Colonial militia retaliated. The Narragansetts remained neutral, but several individual Narragansetts participated in raids of colonial strongholds and militia, so colonial leaders deemed them to be in violation of peace treaties. The colonies assembled the largest army that New England had yet mustered, consisting of 1,000 militia and 150 Indian allies, and Governor Josiah Winslow marshaled them to attack the Narragansetts in November 1675. They attacked and burned Indian villages throughout Rhode Island territory, culminating with the attack on the Narragansetts’ main fort in the Great Swamp Fight. An estimated 600 Narragansetts were killed, many of them women and children, and the Indian coalition was then taken over by Narragansett chief Canochet. They pushed back the colonial frontier in Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, and Rhode Island colonies, burning towns as they went, including the town of Providence in March 1676. However, the colonial militia overwhelmed the Indian coalition, and, by the end of the war, the Wampanoags and their Narragansett allies were almost completely destroyed. On August 12, 1676, Metacom fled to Mount Hope where he was killed by the militia.

Old Winslow burial Grounds signJosiah Winslow died on December 18, 1680, in Plymouth and is buried in the Winslow Burial Grounds there.



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.





Saturday’s Dilemma ~ Sometimes All You Need Is A Little Advice

Mayflower-IIWith the upcoming 400-year anniversary of the Mayflower arriving in Plymouth, Massachusetts I thought it would be a good idea to start writing blogs about my Pilgrim ancestors. I want to publish them as a series later in the year and I am striving for absolute accuracy, if possible. I am excited about this endeavor.

Here is my dilemma, one of my female ancestors has some controversy over her correct maiden name. To be honest, I have had both of her “proven” names listed on my tree at different times. I have done my own research and I have found credible evidence for both names. I have scoured through all of the Mayflower websites that I can find, as well as numerous books and publications. These have also been divided on her name.

2 people arguing

Because of my uncertainty of the correct one, I have been verbally attacked and harassed about the name I have associated with this ancestor. No matter which last name I have on the tree, someone who believes the other name is correct gives me a hard time about it. I always try to respond nicely, explaining why I have this particular last name listed and confessing that I have gone back and forth with the 2 names. I know you can’t please everyone, but until I find definitive proof, I will not take a side in this issue.

Question markSo, I was thinking yesterday, after my latest confrontation, that I may add a “second” wife to my ancestor. In other words, add the same wife with the other last name. I had thought about just putting both names on the existing one, kind of like Smith/Jones but I know in doing this it will wreak havoc with any hints I may receive. I would add the documentation for the “second” wife so when it is viewed a person can understand why I have it this way.

Has any of you done this with an ancestor before? If so, how did it work out? Any other 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.

Disaster ~ Captain John “Mad Jack” Oldham ~ 52 Ancestors #9

Plimoth_Plantation.I believe that one of the best parts of Genealogy is finding the stories of our Ancestors that show them in a “not so good light”. It shows us that they were just like us, doing the good things, the bad things, and even a few ugly things. This prompt helped me to find this story about my 10x Great Uncle, Captain John “Mad Jack” Oldham. I was surprised and excited to see so many twists and turns that guided his life. Bonus points, he did the good, the bad and the ugly!

The Anne

John was born on April 9, 1592, in Derbyshire, England. He was the son of William and Philippa (Sowter), Oldham. The Oldham’s were a well to do family in the area. In the Spring of 1623, 3 years after the Mayflower arrived at Plymouth, John boarded the ship, The Anne, along with his sister Lucretia, his brother Thomas, and his brothers’ wife Elizabeth Rhoades who was pregnant. They landed there in the Summer of 1623.

It was soon made obvious that John did not fit in with the Puritans, They had come for religious reasons and he had come for monetary ones. He was determined to become wealthy in this new land. He had purchased 10 acres of land in Plymouth before leaving England which meant he owned more land there than anyone else. This included Edward Winslow who was the Governor of the area. William Bradford said of John “He is a rough and ready man, a man of considerable practical ability, but heady, self-willed, and of an ungovernable temper.”  John became dissatisfied with the way things were run and by the Pilgrims Holier-than-thou attitudes. When Reverend John Lyford arrived in 1624 the two men developed a close bond. Bradford also said about the two’s friendship “They were plotting against them and disturbing their peace, both in respects of their civil and church-state.”

Wethersfield John Oldham PlaqueJohn began to write letters of complaint against Winslow, Bradford, and Brewster. They were to be sent by ship back to England, but Bradford opened them and read them before the ship left. Upon finding out what happened to the letters, John became “A Mad Jack in a mood” and he lashed out. Miles Standish was head of the Military and he tried to stop John who pulled a knife and yelled at Miles “You are a Rascal! A Beggarly Rascal”. These were harsh words for that time. He was brought up before the court and as a result, he and Lyford were banished from Plymouth, an extreme punishment in this wild frontier. 

John Oldham path rock marker

He, Lyford and 10 other men left Plymouth and were the first to set out along the old Connecticut Path to establishing Wethersfield Ct, the first English settlement on the Connecticut River. John Oldham was considered the first Englishman to conduct explorations there. After his trip north, there was a severe outbreak of smallpox. Many natives, including the Pequot, held him responsible for the death of thousands from Maine to New York. John became a successful sea captain, merchant, and Indian trader. He grew rich in coastal trade and trading with the Indians. He was made the overseer of shot and powder for Massachusetts Bay Colony.,

oldham mad jack marker block island

John made several trips to England and back and on one trip he brought his 2 nephews to live with him. In July 1636 he was on a voyage to trade with the Indians on Block Island. On July 20 his boat was boarded by a band of 14 angry Indians, presumed to be from Pequot tribes. The attack was due to a disagreement over a previous trade. He and five of his crew were brutally murdered, his ship was seized by the Indians and his two nephews were captured by the Indians, but they were later rescued. The ship’s cargo was looted. The Bay Colony was outraged at this latest incident and sent John Endicott with a force to retaliate. This is thought of as the incident that caused the Pequot War and brought about the extinction of that tribe by the following year.

John Oldham definitely experienced a lot of disasters in his 44 years of life. Not only in his personal life but to all those around him. There is so much written about him I could probably write 8 more blogs and not repeat myself. Who knows, I might just do that in the future.



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.


Two Sisters, Two Grandmas ~ Freaky Fridays #3

Mayflower-III am not sure this is an unusual occurrence or not but to me, it seemed pretty strange. That may be because it had me confused for a while. My 9th Great Grandfather Jonathan Brewster came over from England on The Fortune the year after his parents and his 2 younger brothers came over on theMayflower in 1620. He was 28 years old at the time. He got married to Lucretia Oldham 2 years later and immediately started having children. They had 3 sons and 5 daughters. This is where my confusion started.

I had been working on another genealogy site to find some missing information on my 8th Great Grandfather Samuel Starr when I found a document that mentioned the name of Grace Brewster. I figured this document belonged to Samuel since his wife’s maiden name was Brewster, so I saved it. As I continued searching, I found a few more references to Grace so those were saved also. Then I discovered a U.S. New England Marriages prior to 1700 hint that gave the name Hannah as his wife! At this point, I started second-guessing myself. Was Hannah his wife and not Grace? Was he married more than once? By this time I was confused.

I sat and thought for a couple of minutes and decided to go to Jonathan’s page in my Ancestry tree. Scrolling down the list of children there was my answer…..Grace and Hannah were sisters! Hannah was Samuel’s wife. Grace had married Daniel Wetherell. But wait, I thought that Grace was my 8th Great Grandmother. Come to discover both Grace and Hannah are my 8th Greats as I descend from Grace and Daniel’s line also! I spent some time combing through both of their pages correcting misplaced documents.

I understand that this happened because there weren’t too many people who survived the first winter at Plymouth and this wasn’t strange for those days. For a genealogist 400 years later, it can cause a little confusion and embarrassment. Shouldn’t I have known better?


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.

Famous or Infamous?

TreeAs I was looking over my paternal and maternal trees, I remember thinking that I must be doing something wrong. It seems that I kept finding more and more “Famous” people and I am sure that couldn’t be correct. There seemed to be too many of them, especially coming from such common people. I realized that I should ask other Genealogists about this. I contacted three of my Ancestry friends and two of them stated they had only found one person that was well known in all of their trees. Another friend hadn’t found any. At this point, I thought maybe I should start all over again. I must have made a mistake of some kind. I decided to sleep on it before I did anything that drastic. When I awoke the next day I was determined to search my trees to see if I could find anything unusual in them.

I spent the next few days carefully tracing each famous person back as far as I could. I wrote down the dates and places and this is where my revelation became clear. Each of these persons was directly descended from an Ancestor who came to the New World between 1607 and 1655. This would make my immigrant ancestors my 8th or 9th Great Grandparents.

I then did some research and verified that in 1607 there was only one established town, Jamestown, in map of the colonieswhat is now Virginia. By 1620 Plymouth Mass. was founded. As more people arrived they began to spread out along the eastern coastline. By 1630 there was a whopping 4,646 people living here. By 1650 there were 26,634 inhabitants. That is equal to the population in Kingman AZ or Spring Valley NY. This meant there weren’t a lot of people to choose from if you wanted to get married. As our country grew more people came and intermarried with those who were already here.

Because of the limited amount of people living here, and taking into consideration all of the Historic events that took place I discovered that yes, it is possible to have more than a couple of “Famous” persons in my trees!

Do you have any “Famous” or “Infamous” Ancestors? Tell me who they are!


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.

Judith Vassall White – Now That Took Courage

silenceIf you have been researching your family history for any length of time you know how hard it is to find anything, other than a few documents, for those Ancestors who were born before 1800. That is unless they are famous for some reason. Even harder is to find personal information on a female Ancestor since they usually aren’t even mentioned by name. Imagine my surprise when I actually found an exciting account of a risky confrontation that my 9 times Great Grandmother had.

Judith Vassall was born in 1619 in Cold Norton, Maldon District, Essex, England to William and Ann ships_to_america_large(King) Vassall. Her family were prominent merchants and devout Puritans. Because of the persecution of this religion in England, the Vassall’s along with dozens of other believers boarded the ship “Blessing” headed to the Colonies. They arrived in Plymouth Massachusetts in 1635 when Judith was 16 years old. In 1640 she married Resolved White who had come to Plymouth aboard the Mayflower with his parents William and Susanna (Fuller) White.

Judith’s father William, was considered a troublemaker among those who lived in Plymouth. The Puritans were intolerant of those of other religions. They would persecute them and run them out of town. Many were beaten beforehand. William was considered too liberal in his religious views and he would stand up for the Quakers and this caused quite a stir. He was even beaten at one point. As a result, William and his family moved to Scituate Massachusetts. He eventually left the Colony and moved to Barbados.

pilrim womanThis is what was written about Judith in 1660: “She was a mother and woman worthy of her times; like Wycliffe, she could see, hear and act. When the Quakers were persecuted in court she could not sit still and listen to them denounced with persecutions and death, but (woman as she was, who had been taught to sit in silence in Church) arose and sternly rebuked the complainer for his unchristian like talk and behavior; and to her bravery, and influence over her husbands half-brother, Gov, Josiah Winslow, he refused his signature to the circular sent by the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and that no worse persecutions are found written on the Old Colony records, she is entitled to the grateful remembrance of the pilgrim daughters. Green as Green Harbor be her memory.”

At this time in history, women had very little rights, especially in Puritan society. She literally risked her life to stand up and publicly speak to “the complainer”. She apparently was well thought of to have any influence over her brother-in-law causing him to refuse to sign the circular. Also, her statements must have convicted those who heard it for them to cease their unjust treatment of the Quakers. She was indeed a woman of great faith and courage!

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.