Ancestors in northern New England

My Thompson ancestors' home in Industry, Maine, in 1892.

An article I co-wrote on a colleague’s ancestors in Berwick, Maine was recently published in The Maine Genealogist. While I have worked on families in Maine over the years, and several of my colleagues have specialties in “Northern New England” (Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont), I have generally stated that my New England ancestry is largely southern (Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island). Just how much northern New England ancestry do I have?

While my great-great-grandmother, Alice Goodrich (Thompson) Challender, was born in Industry, Maine in 1844, none of her great-great-grandparents were born in the Pine Tree State. Her patrilineal great-grandparents were Ulster Scots from Ireland who came to Maine in the mid-eighteenth century. Alice’s father’s maternal grandmother, Anna (McCausland) Winslow, the only great-grandparent (likely) born in Maine, was also (probably) the child of Ulster Scots who had arrived in Maine in the early eighteenth century.[1]  Alice’s other five great-grandparents were born in Massachusetts between 1725 and 1748. Three of the five went to Maine as young adults or as children with their parents. Alice’s mother’s paternal grandparents – Jason and Elizabeth (Locke) Russell – left their native Arlington, Massachusetts for Mason, New Hampshire in the late eighteenth century, and their son Jonathan moved to Maine as a young adult.[2] So, while Alice was born in Maine in 1844, her ancestors only lived there for five generations, beginning in the early eighteenth century.

My connections to Vermont are even briefer. A great-great-great-great-grandmother, Julia (Vaughan) Perry (ca. 1814-1899), was born in Allegany County, New York. Her parents William and Elizabeth (Foster) Vaughan were born in Massachusetts, Vermont, or Rhode Island (sources vary). William’s probable parents were born in Rhode Island and had moved to Wallingford, Vermont by 1800. I do not know who Elizabeth’s parents are. Those are my only known ancestors in Vermont![3]

William’s probable parents were born in Rhode Island and had moved to Wallingford, Vermont by 1800.

Aside from my Russell ancestors, described above, who were in Mason, New Hampshire, I have a few other ancestors who traveled through the Granite State on their way to New York, as well as some other Ulster Scot families which paused in Londonderry, New Hampshire in the early eighteenth century, all later traveling west. Again, for these ancestors in the three northern New England states, none were living there in the seventeenth century. Do I have any ancestors in Northern New England in the 1600s? To date, I have found … one!

My paternal grandfather descended matrilineally from Phebe (Leete) Parkhurst of Watertown, Massachusetts, and years ago I decided to trace Phebe’s matrilineal descendants through her four surviving daughters. While my grandfather’s line moves in the 1690s from eastern Massachusetts to northeast Connecticut, where it remains today, I noticed some substantial geographic variety among the matrilineal descendants of Phebe’s other daughters, ending up in Rhode Island, Martha’s Vineyard, and New Hampshire. While I had largely considered myself to have little New Hampshire ancestry, through this matrilineal study project I learned I was distantly related to many of the early English families of New Hampshire, such as Batchelder, Dearborn, and Sanborn, among others.

However, recently showing my descent from Phebe to a friend made me realize that I do have a single ancestor who lived in New Hampshire in the seventeenth century, Mary (Carter) (Wyman) Batchelder (1648-1688), a granddaughter of Phebe (Leete) Parkhurst. Mary’s early years were in her native Woburn, Massachusetts, where she married John Wyman, Jr. in 1671, and had two children – John in 1672, and my ancestor, another Mary, in 1674. Mary’s husband John died in 1675 at the “Great Swamp Fight” (or Great Swamp Massacre) during King Philip’s War, leaving Mary with two young children. The following year in Woburn, Mary married Nathaniel Batchelder, who was the widower of Mary’s cousin Deborah (by whom he had nine children). Nathaniel was a resident of Hampton, New Hampshire, and Mary moved there as well. Even though the elder Mary had a living daughter Mary, she had two daughters named Mary with Nathaniel, both dying young, the last Mary likely resulting in the elder Mary’s own death on 16 December 1688. Of Mary’s ten children (two with John Wyman and eight with Nathaniel Batchelder), all but the second and third Marys survived to adulthood.[4]

What I am not certain about is what happened to Mary’s children by her first marriage when she married Nathaniel, especially as she attempted to name two of her daughters the same name as her living eldest daughter. Did the younger John and Mary travel to New Hampshire with their mother and stepfather, or did they stay in Woburn with other relatives? At the elder Mary’s death, her eldest two children were only sixteen and fourteen. If they had gone on to Hampton, both were back in Woburn where they married in the 1690s. My ancestor Mary Wyman and her husband Thomas Pierce moved shortly after their marriage to “northern” Plainfield, Connecticut (present-day Thompson), not far from where I was raised.

So, for ancestors in seventeenth-century northern New England, I’ve got ONE!


[1] Kathleen Canney Barber and Janet Ireland Delorey, “The Houston/Huston Families of Falmouth, Maine,” The Maine Genealogist 25 [2003): 147-63, 26 [2004): 15-35, discusses Anna’s possible parents in the final section on pages 31-35.

[2] The first (and so far only) volume of New Hampshire Families in 1790 was published in 2007, profiling families from the first federal census. It included a sketch on my ancestors Jason and Elizabeth Russell, which I believe might be just one of two families in my ancestry enumerated in New Hampshire in 1790.

[3] Rushford and Rushford People, 1910; Descendants of John Vaughan in Newport, Rhode Island, 1638, 65.

[4] Genealogy of the Wyman family, 4; Genealogical Dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire, 81. Nathaniel married a third time, but had no children by his last wife – seventeen children (fourteen of whom survived) was plenty.

Christopher C. Child

About Christopher C. Child

Chris Child has worked for various departments at NEHGS since 1997 and became a full-time employee in July 2003. He has been a member of NEHGS since the age of eleven. He has written several articles in American Ancestors, The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, and The Mayflower Descendant. He is the co-editor of The Ancestry of Catherine Middleton (NEHGS, 2011), co-author of The Descendants of Judge John Lowell of Newburyport, Massachusetts (Newbury Street Press, 2011) and Ancestors and Descendants of George Rufus and Alice Nelson Pratt (Newbury Street Press, 2013), and author of The Nelson Family of Rowley, Massachusetts (Newbury Street Press, 2014). Chris holds a B.A. in history from Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.View all posts by Christopher C. Child