John Stephenson and wife Anne

May 29, 2010

In the course of our recent study of the Stephenson/Stevenson family in Lincolnshire, we have run across a fascinating Stephenson family group.  John Stevenson married Anne Clarke on 09 July 1688 in Hogsthorpe, Lincolnshire.  John and Anne had three children: Elizabeth (born 05 October 1690), John (born 18 February 1691), and Edward (born 08 July 1694).  They were apparently well-to-do for they had four servants — Elizabeth Kirkby, Unknown Balaam, Willm Hastrop, and Anne Harrison.

Born about 1663, John was a contemporary of whom we have come to call Henry I, born about 1666.  Anne, John’s wife, was born about 1667.  The ages of all three are derived from the ages they declared on their marriage records.  At this time, we do not have the birth or christening record of any of the three.

Anne Stevenson’s maiden name, Clarke, is the same as Susannah’s, wife of Henry I.  Were they sisters or close relatives?  We do not know yet, but we are hoping the information will surface as our study continues.

In 1692, the English Parliament levied a poll tax on each landowner to finance the war with France.  John Stevenson had to pay 6 shillings as his share, i.e. 1 shilling each for himself, Anne, the two children who were born at the time of the tax, and servants William Hastrop and Anne Harrison.  Although the other two servants are recorded by name, it does not state whether a tax was paid for them.

Speculation abounds about this family group, of whom we have learned so much.  It is highly probable that there is a family connection to our Stephensons but we have not nailed it down at this time.  Sandra and I have requested records from the Latter Day Saints in Salt Lake City that may yield further information.  As we learn more, I will keep you informed.


Stephenson Update

April 9, 2010

George Wold Stephenson

During the past week, I have been in contact with two of my Stephenson 4th cousins.  My 3rd great-grandfather was George Stephenson (1774-1846), who lived in Lincolnshire, England.  He and his wife Elizabeth Wold (W0uld) had 12 children.  My ancestor was George Wold Stephenson (1813-1896), who immigrated to the US and settled in St. Johns, Michigan.  Most of my records follow this line.  Another son of George and Elizabeth was Absolam Wold Stephenson (1798-1854), whose son John Absalom Stephenson (1840-1921) immigrated to Australia.  His descendant Frazer Stephenson has established a family tree The Stephenson Family Tree- Australia on  Another son of George and Elizabeth was David (1802-1875), whose family remained in England.  His descendant Patrick Stephenson has set up The Stephenson Family Tree, also on  Much of the Stephenson information and pictures  from my blog are now also available on these two trees.  

 To make it easier to collaborate, I have now up-loaded my Stephenson data and have a family tree George Wold Stephenson Descendants on Ancestry.  We are working to combine data on these three trees to form more complete records on the Stephensons.  If you are not a subscriber to, please respond in a comment to this post.  I can add you as a guest on and you can view what information is available. 

St. Mary's Church, Horncastle, Lincolnshire, England

This summer Sandra and I will spend time in Europe, including a brief visit to Horncastle and Hogsthorpe.  I will share our findings when we return.  Since we are traveling using airline miles, our itinerary is determined  by available flights, rather than the time we would like to spend.  Three days would be more appropriate.  The good thing is that Horncastle and Hogsthorpe, where our Stephenson ancestors lived, are very small and have few cemeteries and churches.  Hopefully, we can cover a lot in the short period.  I have communicated with Pat Stephenson, my 4th cousin mentioned above, and we will try to make contact during our brief stop in England.

A few months ago I wrote a blog, comparing genealogy in my father’s time and in mine.  Thanks to resources such as, three distant cousins on three continents can now easily collaborate on virtually a real time basis to build an extensive genealogical data base.  How times have changed!

Are the Winegars Mayflower Descendants?

December 9, 2009

The Mayflower

In several of my earlier posts I have mentioned the research of my father, Donald Stephenson Winegar, who spent many of his retirement years doing genealogical research.  He labored in the years before computers and the internet, and, what today can be done almost instantly on the internet,  took him years.  In the case of Winegar Mayflower descendants, he was confident that we were descendants, but modern research leaves the issue very much in question.  In any case, what follows is a very interesting story, and it is very easy to find corroborating or refuting evidence on the internet for those who may be interested.

Deacon John Dunham (Denham) was born about 1589 in Scrobee, England.  He was among the group of Pilgrims who emigrated to Leiden, Holland.  He was married twice  and had children by both wives.  Dunham family records claim that he was wanted for treasonable activities in England, and, therefore, traveled to America on the Mayflower under the assumed name of John Goodman, a single man.  Goodman is reported to have died in the first winter and and, at some point, Dunham assumed his real name.  He was a prominent member of the Plymouth Colony and was appointed a Deacon in the church, a high honor in the Colony.

Most English settlers in the American Colonies kept excellent records, but the Plymouth Colony seems to be an exception.   Governor Bradford began writing the Plymouth Annals in 1630, ten years after the Mayflower arrived, and continued writing until 1641.  The first list of passengers did not appear until 1669, after the death of John Dunham.

Several experts report that the claim that Goodman and Dunham were the same man is completely unsupported and that Dunham probably arrived in the colony around 1632.  Those supporting the Goodman/Dunham claim of ancestry point out that there are problems if it is not true.  Goodman was granted a garden plot in 1623.  These plots were only granted to married men.  Dunham’s son John later received a special grant being one of the first born of the newcomers.  Deacon John’s daughter Abigail,  born in 1623, is reported to be the first child born in the new colony.  Dunham became a deacon in 1633, which would have been very unlikely for a newcomer. 

I do not intend to investigate this controversy.  For anyone interested in doing so, a Google search will provide abundant material.  Where do the Winegars fit in to this?  I believe that we are direct descendants of Deacon John Dunham.  Whether we are Mayflower descendants depends on answering the above question.  At any rate, we had ancestors that were in the Plymouth Colony very early in its existence.

The following traces our connection to John Dunham.

John Dunham/Susanna Kenny(John’s first wife)

Thomas Dunham/Sarah

Sarah Dunham/James Palmer

Sarah Palmer/Conrad Winans

William Winans/Sarah Hawley

Silas Winans/Elizabeth Howe

Elizabeth Winans/Ulrich Winegar   (This is Ulrich (5) born in 1783 the great-great-grandson of Ulrich (1) who brought the family to New York in 1710.

Ashbel Winegar/Mary Rease Roberts

Edwin Ashbel Winegar/Myrtie Stephenson

Donald Stephenson Winegar/ Mary Deone Daniells

Even if we are not direct descendents of the Mayflower, we do have another connection.  Ulrich Winegar (1) had a son Garrett.  Two of Garrett’s sons married sisters who were Mayflower descendants: Jacob Winegar/ Deliverence Doty and John Winegar/Elizabeth Doty.  According to Family Tree Maker, Elizabeth is the wife of my 4th grand-uncle.

Mary Bliss Parsons: Was She a Witch?

September 17, 2009
This painting is widely believed to be that of Mary Bliss Parsons, but that is not certain.

This painting is widely believed to be that of Mary Bliss Parsons, but that is not certain.

On June 23 I wrote a brief posting about Mary Bliss Parsons and promised you, the reader, that there would be more information to follow.  Today I am keeping that promise.

Like most families, mine can claim a few scoundrels in our history, but few can claim to be related to a witch.  My 7th great grand aunt was Mary Bliss Parsons, acquitted twice of being a witch in early New England.  My direct ancestor was Lawrence Bliss, brother of Mary Bliss.  Here is the story.

Mary Bliss, daughter of Thomas and Margret Bliss, was born about 1625 (some references say 1628) in England.  Her family moved to the New World while she was very young and, after several moves, settled in Springfield, Massachusetts.  Thomas Bliss died, but Margret and her children prospered.

In 1654, a few years after Mary’s marriage to Cornet Joseph Parsons, the couple moved to the newly settled town of Northampton, Massachusetts.  “Cornet” is a title, rather than a name, and Joseph earned the title as Color Bearer in the Hampshire Troop of Horses.  He was also a merchant and fur trader, eventually becoming the wealthiest man in the area.

A website developed by the University of Massachusetts describes the events leading up to the witchcraft trials of Mary Bliss Parsons.  It states:

…soon after the Parsonses moved to Northampton, rumors of witchcraft began to circulate, implying that the family’s success came at the expense of other families, and was the result of Mary’s dealings with the devil. To head off the allegations, Joseph Parsons initiated a slander case in 1656, which he won. But eighteen years later, Mary was officially accused of and tried for witchcraft in 1674. She was eventually acquitted, but it seemed that the residents of Northampton, despite any court decrees, were convinced that Mary was a witch.

The charges of witchcraft against Mary are confusing because there was apparently another woman named Mary Lewis Parsons who was also charged with witchcraft.  The two cases are unrelated, but it is easy to “merge” the two cases into a single account, which would be inaccurate.

Was Mary Bliss Parsons really a witch?  Evidence indicates that the first charge was the result of jealousy and gossip spread by another woman named Sarah Bridgman.  The UMass website goes on to say:

Joseph Parsons won the slander trial, but the feuding did not stop.  Years later, Mary was again charged with witchcraft after the daughter of the Bridgman’s died unexpectedly.  This time Mary was charged officially and tried as a witch, but was acquitted.

Mary and Joseph Parsons had 11 children.  Joseph died in 1683 in Springfield, Massachusetts.  Mary lived until 1715, dying at the age of 87, also in Springfield.

You can get more information at 

Plowman Poetry: Song of the Little Old Rocker

August 18, 2009


This poem was written by George Fawcett Plowman in 1908.  George was one of the eleven children of William Tuthill Plowman.  He was also brother to Lide Plowman who wrote extensively about her early life in rural Michigan.  George writes this poem about Lucy, his wife, and her rocker, no doubt also remembering his mother and her rocker.
George and Lucy Plowman

George and Lucy Plowman

Song of the Little Old Rocker

By George Plowman


Here I am, dressed out anew,

In nineteen hundred eight.

Not many of my early chums

Can boast of such a fate.


I’ve helped to soothe the restless child

When the fire was burning bright,

With a ruddy blaze and glowing coals,

By the fireplace at night.


I’ve heard the hum of the spinning wheel

As the housewife made it fly,

While she drew the thread out from the roll

And hummed a lullaby.


I’ve watched the reel, reel off the skein

When the spindle full had got

And listened for the little click,

The signal for the knot.


I’ve seen the skein stretched on the swifts

And the swifts go whirling round

As the quillwheel turned the shuttle’s quill

And the yarn on the quill was wound.


I’ve listened to the noisy loom

Beneath a lowly roof,

While the shuttle through the warp would fly

And the lathe bang up the woof.


This all I’ve seen and heard, and more,

I’ve seen the forest wane,

And by the woodman’s axe to fade

Into a fertile plain.


I’ve rocked the babies now grown old

And the babies they have born

And I’ll be rocking babies still

When Gabriel blows his horn.


The different coats that I have had,

To know would be a shocker,

Though now disguised with Japalac,

I’m Lucy’s same old rocker. 

Plowman Poetry: Memories of the Old Stove

August 17, 2009


This undated poem was written by Sarah Elizabeth Plowman, known to her family as “Sate.”  The poem was written to her neice Luna May Plowman, daughter of Charles Nelson Plowman.  Charles and Sate were both children of William Tuthill Plowman.  The last stanza of the poem refers to a “souvenir.”   The Plowmans often wrote poetry to accompany gifts at Christmas, birthdays, and other special occasions.  We do not know what the souvenir was.

Sarah Elizabeth "Sate" Plowman

Sarah Elizabeth "Sate" Plowman

Memories of the Old Stove

by Sate Plowman


Way back in old Westphalia

When we were young and gay,

When brothers too and sisters

Wore the common home-spun gray,


Our happy brother Charlie

So strong in hand and arm

Had left the dear old homestead

Moved on his Riley farm.


To us other numerous children

It always seemed a treat

To visit this dear brother

And around his board to eat.


They always set a table

Good enough for any king,

For what ever there was needed,

He would always gladly bring.


His wife was kind and thrifty

And of pies, baked not a few,

For of fruit he furnished plenty,

Both to bake and also stew.


Now soon they found their oven

Quite too small for their demand,

And they planned to buy another

Either new or second-hand.


So now this happy brother

To an auction found his way;

I think he will remember

For it was his lucky day.


It was there he found the creature

They always called, “Old Dutch,”

Of milk she gave a plenty

And of butter they made much.


There too, a fine large stove he found,

‘Twas just as good as new,

The oven large and roomy

The fire-box ample too.


But as the years went fleeting by

They made another change,

This stove now old, was set aside,

For the bright and modern range. 


Our brother’s oldest daughter

With a voice quite sad and low,

While looking at the old stove, said,

“I am sorry to see it go.”


When a very little maiden

With her round and dimpled cheek,

By it’s side she sat and prattled,

In the oven warmed her feet;


By it sat in early childhood,

When the time so quickly flies,

By it rocked her little sister,

With the bright and laughing eyes.


Many pleasant recollections

‘Round the old stove seemed to twine,

And she loved it very dearly

For that bright and sunny time.


And now for happy memories

For which we all have sought,

We bought this little souvenir

For what the old stove brought.

The Plowman Family: Lide Remembers Childhood, conclusion

August 15, 2009


Mary Eliza "Lide" Plowman

Mary Eliza "Lide" Plowman

In the last two posts, Lide Plowman has told the story of her childhood — homelife, schooling, and childhood play.  Today she concludes the true story, recalling spelling bees and courting.  Her account makes us remember the things that are positive and good for families today.  As usual, the family tree chart is at the end of the post to assist you with keeping the family members and relationships straight.

The spelling bees were a source of much pleasure and profit.  Each school would train their pupils on a certain part of the speller and use that part when they spelled at their own school, their  teacher being the one to pronounce the words.  It was quite a honor to spell another school down.  Every one was eligible to try.  The first part of the evening was spent in choosing sides and spelling and after a social time at recess, the contest was between the different schools.

 I remember especially one with Mr. Macumber when Mrs. Macumber came with her school.  Among them were Naomi, Harriet and Maryette Dutton.  I was younger but I see Maryette yet standing when nearly all were down.  I admired her very much and in a few years loved her as a sister.  I do not remember who won.  At recess the young people visited and at the end paired off for the home trip.  Some tomed they went to some home and had a short party or dance if there happened to be a musician present.  George and Granvil Peck, Hermans cousins, had violins, and Sidney Bliss a dulcimer, which considered good music.  There were neighborhood parties, no public dances near us.  Young folks found places to meet for amusement then the same as now.

 Till and had two escorts, the one Till liked best liked me, and one I liked best liked Till.  When Till would refuse one, he would ask me, but sometimes through such maneuvers I would be left out and one of the boys sisters would go instead, which did not please our sister nor myself either.

 As I have written you before, our elder brothers spent many winter evenings shelling corn to be ground at the mill, chopping sausage meat in the winter on a bench made of hard wood using a ax to get it fine.  It took some meat to supply our family and the fresh meat would keep sweet and good in that way a long time.  The bony parts had to be eaten first.

 We had apples, peaches, plums and cherries when I first remember and using our own sugar with our own fruit gave us a good supply of desserts.  Later cider applesauce formed quite an item in our fare.  It was planned to make a good supply and send some to Ezra, also dried fruit and fresh apples and any thing else that they lacked.

 Our first experience in canning fruit was in a small mouthed jar, (crock).  Met had given me instructions and I did as near as I could remember, but it was a sad failure.  I was probably 16 then.  Met’s kept alright and mine did the next time.  Glass jars came soon after and our preserving days with equal parts of fruit and sugar were over.

 I wanted to tell how Sate came to be called Eber, how mother and her children rented a house for a school week where Sate was teaching.  John went for them each Friday and took them back each Monday with provisions for the week, and Till at home always glad to welcome them.  How Lute went to Ezra’s to do chores and attend school where I was teacher.  How George went with Jule and me to attend school in St. Johns.  How Jule went to care for Barbara and keep people from killing her with kindness, and Ezra gave Jule a cow when she was married.  No use to enumerate, the thoughts come faster than I can write.

 As I look back it seems we have much to be thankful for, in a home of plenty and enough work to keep us interested in our home, each having a share and doing it cheerfully.  The boys helping out doors the girls helping Mother, spinning, knitting, sewing and tending baby, — all loving each other in a happy simple life. 

Plowman Family Tree

Plowman Family Tree