'The hurrier I go'

As the White Rabbit said in Alice in Wonderland, “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.” We’ve all been there. The good news is that two new Early New England Families Study Project sketches are being posted to Americanancestors.org this week: John Hollister of Wethersfield and Thomas Nichols of Hingham. In addition, two second-version treatments are also being posted: Samuel Jenney of Plymouth and Dartmouth, and Joseph Andrews of Hingham.

The embarrassingly bad news is that these are the first sketches to be posted to the database since last August. It’s not that I’ve been twiddling my thumbs – I have 36 sketches in various stages of completion “in the pipeline,” but there were two causes that contributed to the delay. The first was a procedural bottleneck that has been solved. The second was just me getting distracted by doing too many things at once. I get lured into starting a new sketch before finishing the ones I’ve been working on. Sometimes I have a legitimate excuse, such as needing to wait for research material, but many other times I just look at the “to do list” and think, hmmm, that one looks interesting (and maybe it is easier!). Okay, okay, I promise, no more starting new sketches until I have caught up.

The two new sketches, Hollister and Nichols, each had quirks that took some time to figure out. According to Rev. Peter Hobart’s journal, “Thomas Nicols daughter” was married in Hingham in October 1672, but Hobart gave neither the name of the daughter nor of her husband! Thomas had four daughters who were of marriageable age in 1672, but because he did not leave a will and no other record has been found to help, I have been unable to determine which daughter got married or to whom!

John Hollister of Wethersfield has long been conflated with John Hollister of Weymouth. After coordinating a bunch of muddled accounts, however, I found that the records are not for one man in two different places, but two different men in two different places.

In the case of the Samuel Jenney update, the issue was the identification of the wives of Samuel’s son John Jenney.

The two second versions are good examples of the benefit of on-line publication allowing us to post updates to sketches when needed. I began including a version number (V1.0) in the header of new sketches last year. When minor updates are made (typos, spellings, date corrections, etc.), I change the version number to V1.1. When there is a significant update, I change the number to V2.0. With the addition of the Jenney and Andrews updates this week, there are now six V2.0 sketches – the other four being Samuel Dudley, John Perkins, Richard Saltonstall, and John Winthrop the Younger. A current list of all sketches and their version numbers is also among the new postings.

In the case of the Samuel Jenney update, the issue was the identification of the wives of Samuel’s son John Jenney. In the original sketch I used a secondary source that identified his wives as Margaret Hicks and Phebe (Watson) Shaw. However, as described in the Commentary to Version 2 at the end of the updated sketch, John’s first wife’s name is unknown and his second wife was Mary (Mitchell) Shaw.

For Joseph Andrews the issue was identifying the birth order of the children. Again explained in the Commentary for Version 2 of that sketch, the entire list of children has been shuffled to match the order the children were named in Joseph’s will, although quite a few questions remain unanswered.

More to come.

Alicia Crane Williams

About Alicia Crane Williams

Alicia Crane Williams, FASG, Lead Genealogist of Early Families of New England Study Project, has compiled and edited numerous important genealogical publications including The Mayflower Descendant and the Alden Family “Silver Book” Five Generations project of the Mayflower Society. Most recently, she is the author of the 2017 edition of The Babson Genealogy, 1606-2017, Descendants of Thomas and Isabel Babson who first arrived in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1637. Alicia has served as Historian of the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants, Assistant Historian General at the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, and as Genealogist of the Alden Kindred of America. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut and a master’s degree in History from Northeastern University.View all posts by Alicia Crane Williams