Who am I?

Redwood grove, courtesy of the National Park Service.

My surname comes down to me from a ten-generation line of Grovers, all of whom have lived in America. The first in this line is Edmund Grover (1600-1682), who emigrated from England to the Massachusetts Bay Colony some time between 1628 and 1633.[i] His ancestry in England is not known with certainty, so ten generations is all that can be claimed. But ten generations are enough to say that I am thoroughly a Grover. Biologically speaking however, Edmund’s bloodline has been diluted at each generation by spouses who have contributed equally to who I am. I carry Edmund’s surname, but only a vanishingly small percentage of his blood.

Researching my Grover line has not been overly difficult, just time-consuming. Finding information about those ten maternal lines has been more than challenging. It takes a lot of digging to compensate for lack of records. In working with those lines, I keep running into family names that occur repeatedly. Some of them may be familiar to others working on their New England ancestry: Andrews, Parsons, Dolliver, Low, and Haskell, to name a few. Of those families, the Haskells have become the most interesting to me. It seems I have multiple relationships to them, even to the point that, aside from my name, I probably should consider myself a Haskell. What a surprise.

The Haskell family maintains a database[ii] of more than 165,000 individuals with the Haskell surname, and many thousands of those related to them. This database has become a wealth of information for me. From their information and my research, I find that my line from Edmund Grover runs through his son Nehemiah, who married Ruth Haskell (1654-1714), daughter of William Haskell.

More recently, another connection to the Haskells has come to light.

More recently, another connection to the Haskells has come to light. My great-great-grandfather Isaac H. Grover (1829-1908) married Lucy A. Verrill (1836-1900), one of whose family lines descends from Joseph Haskell (1646-1727), brother to the above mentioned Ruth. So I have Haskell blood from two lines.

But wait, there is more!

Isaac’s son Edmund G. Grover (1859-1931) married Emily F. Gould (1857-1927), who descends from William Haskell Jr. (1644-1708), brother to Ruth and Joseph. So it appears I am descended three ways from William Haskell. Whose family do I belong to anyhow? Well, to all of them of course, and a lot more. But all these relationships make it difficult to continue the practice of placing all my ancestors on a single, broadly branching Grover family tree – it is too complicated for that.

Over time, members of my branch of Grovers have generally followed the country’s migratory trends. They started in the Salem/Beverly area, then moved north and east as the population expanded and new land was needed. The first move was to Gloucester, and the next to New Gloucester in Maine. Perhaps, not surprisingly, Haskells are found in the records of all three of those towns. After a few more generations, my line of Grovers was living in and around Bangor, Maine. Then, Isaac Grover and his two brothers got caught up in the gold rush, abandoning farming for the vision of wealth promised by stories of easily-found gold and silver out west.[iii]

...Isaac Grover and his two brothers got caught up in the gold rush, abandoning farming for the vision of wealth promised by stories of easily-found gold and silver out west.

One brother went to Coloma, California, arriving just a few years after the discovery of gold there triggered the historic 1849 gold rush. Another went to the Arizona Territory and made a living mining silver and copper. Around 1879, Isaac went to Leadville, Colorado, not long after the beginning of the Colorado Silver Boom. Then one of Isaac’s sons, my great-grandfather, made his way over Independence Pass into to Aspen, and made a good living in mining and a grocery business. (Grubstaking can be more profitable than mining.) As the ever-deepening mines in Aspen made mining more difficult and less profitable, and as the Great Depression took hold, the next generation moved further west to California, where economic opportunities seemed more available. And that is how I came to live in the Golden State.

California is home to two species of the magnificent redwood tree. These trees do not have the broad, long-limbed structural profile of trees typically used to visualize family relationships. But they have several characteristics that more than make up for that. Redwood trees grow in groves, and their roots are shallow and long. The roots of single redwoods intermingle with those of nearby redwoods. They can, and usually do, fuse, forming direct and living connections between all the redwoods in the grove.

In addition, redwoods are monoecious, meaning pollen-producing male cones and female seed-bearing cones both exist on each tree. But the two types are on different branches – maternal lines are on different branches of the tree from the paternal lines. (Well, I shouldn’t push that analogy too far!) Since the Grover name is believed to be derived from those who tended groves in England, I am quite enamored of the idea of using redwood groves to represent my family relationships – individual family trees joined in life-sustaining networks, whose connections are unseen until you dig deep for them.


[i] Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633, 3 vols. (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1995), 2: 824-26.

[ii] www.haskellfamilyhistory.com.

[iii] The following paragraph is from an 1849 letter to my great-great-grandmother, Mary Ayer Gould, from her cousin William Flemming, both of whom lived in New York at the time; it captures the flavor of the gold fever. “If Miller [her husband, Aaron Miller Gould] wants to get rich fast he had better pull up stakes & move to California where all the world seems crazy to get just now. It seems to be the common salutation now instead of saying ‘How do you?’, it is ‘When do you start for California? What news from California? Which is the best route? How long will it take to go?’ Gold! Gold! Gold! Where is uncle Bill Gould? Aint he off? Bid him good bye for me.”

Philip Grover

About Philip Grover

Philip Grover is a retired chemical engineer who got involved in genealogy by helping his mother enter her extensive family research into Personal Ancestral File for Mac. Little did he know then what a slippery slope that minor involvement would become. After getting deeply involved in doing his own research, he realized how disinterested family members can be in genealogical charts, lists, and diagrams. His focus since has been making his family history more interesting and accessible, and toward that end he has self-published three books of family history.View all posts by Philip Grover