My grandfather, at right, receives the Bronze Star from the Assistant Secretary of the Navy. My grandmother stands between them.

John Tyler’s recent blog post on Elizabeth Knapp of Groton has a personal element for me, as I am descended through my maternal grandfather from Elizabeth (Knapp or Knopp) Scripture. According to my notes, both of my mother’s parents were descendants of the Warren family of Watertown, but it was Elizabeth Knopp – the daughter of Elizabeth (Warren) Knopp – who was my grandfather’s ancestress.

In fact, this group of families makes up part of my grandfather’s matrilineal line, one that ends in a mystery. Elizabeth’s son John Scripture married Abigail Utley; their daughter Elizabeth, named for Elizabeth Knopp, married Isaac Heath of Framingham, Massachusetts, and then Tolland, Connecticut.

Isaac and Elizabeth Heath’s son Levi (1743–1818) married twice: his first wife, who is sometimes identified as Abigail ____, was my grandfather’s matrilineal ancestress, the mother of Eunice (Heath) Jeffers; the second, Abigail (Orton) Doud, was the mother of those Heath children born after 1779. The printed vital records of Berkshire County, where Levi Heath and his two wives lived, do not distinguish between the first and the second Mrs. Levi Heath, and so my grandfather’s matrilineal line ends with a tantalizing blank.

It’s interesting to see what happens to the women in these families, since the trend is ever westward. Eunice Heath (1771–1845) was probably born in Sandisfield, Massachusetts; her daughter Laura Jeffers was born in Connecticut in 1793 and living in Athens County, Ohio, in 1860.

The printed vital records of Berkshire County ... do not distinguish between the first and the second Mrs. Levi Heath, and so my grandfather’s matrilineal line ends with a tantalizing blank.

Laura’s daughter Tryphena Judd (1821–1901) was born in Hadley, Saratoga County, New York, and died in the household of one of her children in Brock, Scotland County, Missouri; her daughter Rebecca Jane (Eggleston) (Jackson) Waterman (1856–1937) was born in Ward Township, Hocking County, Ohio, and died – after a restless life in Ohio, Virginia, New York, and California – in Long Beach, California. So it took (just) three generations for Eunice’s female progeny to travel from western Massachusetts to southern California!

And here the pattern shifts, becoming rather random: Jennie Waterman’s daughter Minnie Estelle (Jackson) Bell (1876–1935) was born in tiny New Straitsville in Perry County, Ohio. Raised in Jacksonville (founded by her father) and then in Columbus, Ohio, Estelle was married in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1902; she died in Pinewell, then suburban and now a section of Norfolk, but she had made at least one trip out to California to visit her mother, Mrs. Waterman, and her son (my grandfather) and her granddaughter (my mother).

My maternal grandfather was a Navy man, stationed wherever the Navy had ships, so my mother – born in Baltimore – grew up in California and Hawaii. She went to high school in Maryland and to college in New York, and she met my father at a block party in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. My parents married in Baltimore and settled in Massachusetts, not so very far from Framingham, where – two centuries before – my mother’s forebears the Heaths had once lived.

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