Lucky clues

During the war_2 My maternal grandparents with my mother.

On the face of it, my mother’s immediate family was Southern: her father was born in Norfolk, Virginia, and her mother in Baltimore, Maryland. Things quickly get complicated, though, as my grandfather’s mother and my grandmother’s father were both born in Ohio; it was their spouses’ respective families who had the Virginia and Maryland connections. A generation further back, and my great-great-grandfather William Boucher Jr. (1822–1899) is my most recent immigrant forebear, arriving from Mannheim in the Grand Duchy of Baden in 1845. It will not be surprising, perhaps, that some other nineteenth-century ancestors hailed from elsewhere in the United States, or that both of my maternal grandparents had a lot of New England ancestry.

I’ve already mentioned my parents’ common descent from the Perkins family in Massachusetts: I grew up in a house on Perkins Row in Topsfield, and on a parcel of land that had once belonged to a collateral relative. It was only recently that I learned that my mother, like my father, descended from the Hollister family of Wethersfield, Connecticut.

The clue had been visible for some time, as my maternal grandfather’s great-grandfather Jackson was named Joshua Hollister Jackson. A lucky bonus was that J. H. Jackson was named for his grandfather, Joshua Hollister of Morgan County, Ohio, and that the Hollister and Randall families[1] both had genealogies which covered his line.


A further bit of luck was the genealogical information kept by various Ohio cousins on, allowing me to follow the families of Oliver Dodridge Jackson (1848–1915) and Rebecca Jane "Jennie" Eggleston (1856–1937), in many cases, all the way back to the seventeenth-century immigrant. In the process of following these lines, I learned that my great-great-grandmother Jennie Eggleston Jackson Waterman, who died in Long Beach, California, in 1937, was probably my earliest West Coast forebear, and that her mother Tryphena Judd Eggleston (1821–1901) died in Scotland County, Missouri – unexpected, since she was born in Saratoga County, New York, and lived for much of her life in Athens County, Ohio.

In following the Hollister and Judd lines back into New England, I could see much shared ancestry in my maternal grandfather’s background, a sliver of it shared with my father – but in spite of assorted Watertown families behind both my maternal grandparents, I can find no shared ancestry for them. My maternal grandfather, on the other hand, is the most inbred of my grandparents, since his grandmother Jennie Waterman was the offspring of first cousins.


[1] Joshua Hollister married Sarah Randall in Sharon, Connecticut, in 1787.

Scott C. Steward

About Scott C. Steward

Scott C. Steward has been NEHGS’ Editor-in-Chief since 2013. He is the author, co-author, or editor of genealogies of the Ayer, Le Roy, Lowell, Saltonstall, Thorndike, and Winthrop families. His articles have appeared in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, NEXUS, New England Ancestors, American Ancestors, and The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, and he has written book reviews for the Register, The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, and the National Genealogical Society Quarterly.View all posts by Scott C. Steward