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.


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 

Uldrich Winegar in the 1700s

June 24, 2009

At the end of the 1600s Ulrich and his family were located in Wurttemburg, Germany.  He and Anna had two daughters, Anna and Elizabeth, and a son Garrett, who were born between 1698 and 1705.

The Palatines

The Palatine region, where the Winegars settled, was torn by wars throughout most of the 1600s.  The Thirty Years War was from 1618-1648.  This was followed by other wars.  It is estimated that as much as 50% of the population lost their lives during these conflicts.  The ruler of the region broke with France, which infuriated Louis XVI.  He ordered the region burned to the ground, and two cities and 25 villages were reduced to ashes.  We don’t know if the Winegars lived in any of these areas.

At this time, the ruler controlled all the land.  Workers were heavily taxed to support the war effort and could only buy and sell through their landlord.  During 1708-1709, the region experienced a devastatingly cold winter.  The rivers froze and all the crops, including the vineyards, were destroyed.  Starvation was everywhere.

During this time, England was busy colonizing the New World.  Queen Anne saw the Palatines as a valuable source to populate the region and create wealth for England.  She had advertisements distributed throughout the Palatine region promising land in America.  Facing starvation in their own land, thousands responded.  The ruler prohibited migration and even threatened death to those caught leaving, but most ignored the threats.

To escape, the Palatines had to make a four to six week trip during the winter, up the Rhine River to Rotterdam, Holland.  The Dutch were unprepared for all the immigrants and quickly arranged to send them on to England.  England, likewise, was unable to handle so many sick and starving people.  As quickly as possible, they were relocated, many to the New World.  English sea captains were paid a “bounty” by the crown to recruit and transport colonists to America.  The Palantines who spoke only German signed English language contracts which commited them to pay for their passage perhaps from their labor in the new world where they were promised land. 

Most of the Palatines were sent to Pennsylvania, and they became known as the Pennsylvania Dutch.  Ulrich and family were on the List of Palatines leaving England in June of 1709.  They went to New York.  On the list, Ulrich said he was 41 years old, of the Catholic Religion and gave his occupation as Husbandman and Vinedresser.  Being Catholic would have been unusual in that most of the Palatines were protestants and oppression by the Catholic Church was another reason for escaping from Germany.  We have no record of the family being Catholic in New York.

Conditions on the voyage were terrible.  Approximately one-sixth of the passengers were buried at sea.  When they arrived in the New World, the local population was so afraid of all the sickness on board that the passengers were quarantined on Governor’s Island for six months.  This was the first case of a quarantine of immigrants in America.

Eventually, in 1710, they reached the area where they were to settle.  The Palatines lived in camps across from each other on the Hudson River – the East Camp, where Ulrich lived with his family, and the West Camp.  The East Camp came to be called Germantown, New York.  It is said that, although people in the two camps could see one another across the river, they were unable to meet face to face except in the winter when they could cross on the ice.  Even with today’s modern roads and bridges, the distance is 17 1/2 miles between the two camps.  The campsites are memorialized in monuments, one bearing the names of the residents of the camps.   

East Camp Marker.  Photo by Sandra Winegar.

East Camp Marker. Photo by Sandra Winegar.

Note name "Winninger" in East Camp list, last name on second row from bottom.  Photo by Sandra Winegar.

Note name "Winninger" in East Camp list, last name on second row from bottom. Photo by Sandra Winegar.

View from East Camp to West Camp across Hudson River.  Photo by Sandra Winegar.

View from East Camp to West Camp across Hudson River. Photo by Sandra Winegar.

 Although we have no real information on life at Germantown, we do know they became tenants to the lord of the manor, Robert Livingston.  The colonists had been promised land but did not receive it until 1724, 14 years after arriving.   Ulrich, bitter that others had profited unfairly from his labor, sold his land the same year and relocated to the Oblong, which is now Amenia, New York.


Map showing Amenia and Germantown

Map showing Amenia and Germantown

Ulrich, his wife, and son Garrett moved from the East Camp (Germantown) to Amenia, a distance of about 50 miles,  in 1725.  At the time, there was only one other white person living in the area.  Ulrich obtained land from the Indians and built a house.  Later, when the area became part of the colony, he was able to purchase this land at a reasonable price.  Apparently, they got along very well with the Indians in that they had no need for blockhouses or forts although other nearby communities required them.  We know little about Ulrich’s life in Amenia, but he was known as being a very laborious man, possessed of an iron constitution and of great muscular power.

Anna died in 1735 and Ulrich in 1750.  They are buried in the family cemetery in Amenia.

Jim Winegar at Ulrich's grave.  Photo by Sandra Winegar.

Jim Winegar at Ulrich's grave. Photo by Sandra Winegar.

The Daniells Family in the 1600s

June 24, 2009

(The following information is gathered from The Daniels – Daniells Family, Vol. 2, A Genealogical History of the Descendants of William Daniell of Dorchester and Milton, Massachusetts 1630 – 1957, compiled and edited by James Harrison Daniels, Jr., 1959.)

The Mary and John

The Mary and John

William Daniel (   -1678)

On March 20, 1630, a group of Puritans sailed from England on the Mary and John, a ship of 400 tons.  Among the passengers on the ship was John Grenaway (Greenway), whose daughter Catherine was to become the first Daniels mother in the new world.  The voyage took 70 days and was comfortable and accompanied by daily “preaching and expounding on the Word of God.”  They settled at Dorchester, Massachusetts which is now a part of Boston.  The town prospered.  A meeting house was built in 1831 which was a place of safety in case of problems with the Indians.  Everyone was required to attend church and come armed and all houses had to be built within one half mile of the meeting house.  Dorchester established the first free tax-supported school in America.  Girls were not admitted for several years but Katherine somehow learned to read.

Katherine married William Daniel (there was no uniform spelling of the last name for several generations) about 1645.  There is no record of how or when he came to America but recent researchers have reported that he was the son of Peter Daniells and Christina Grosvenor.  John Grenaway left land to William and Katherine in the area which became Milton and they built a tavern there.  For many years the people of Milton had to travel to Dorchester for church which was mandatory in the colony.  This was a great hardship in bad weather “perhaps with the father on horseback, the mother on a pillion behind him and the children trudging through the snow”.  The church was not heated.  The people stood during prayers which could last an hour.  The sermon might last two hours. 

Katherine undertook to teach some of the local Indians to read and was so successful that the commissioners of the colony commended her and provided 12 pounds in payment   plus another 3 pounds to continue for another year.   

The couple had 6 children including John, our ancestor.   Their daughter, Mary married Jonathan Wood.  When her husband was killed in an Indian uprising, Mary who was pregnant went into shock and died in childbirth.  The child was named Silence.

Memorial in Windsor, Connecticutt, with names of passengers on the Mary and John

Memorial in Windsor, Connecticutt, with names of passengers on the Mary and John

 John Daniel (1648-1718)

John was born in Dorchester but spent most of his life in Milton where he was an Inn keeper and was active in town affairs.  He was married to Dorothy Badcock.  They had 11 children including two sets of twins, but only 7 survived to adulthood.  John prospered as an Inn keeper and was one of the wealthiest men in the town.  In 1683, a public holiday was held and a minister read an address of loyalty to the king.  Many signed it but John and several others chose not to.  This was almost 100 years before the revolution.

17th Century map of Dorchester and Boston Harbor

17th Century map of Dorchester and Boston Harbor

The Bliss family in the 1600s

June 23, 2009


Thomas Bliss (1585 – 1650/51)

Thomas Bliss was born in Gloucester, England.  He married Margaret Hulins in 1621.  We do not know when or how they came to America, but he was in Hartford, Connecticut by 1639, and the records show that he had built a house by that time.  At his death, his widow was granted land in Springfield, Massachusetts, where she lived until her death in 1684.  She vigorously defended their daughter Mary Parsons when Mary was under suspicion of witchcraft in 1656, but in 1674 a formal charge was made resulting in Mary’s trial and acquittal in Boston.

Mary Bliss Parsons, who was charged with being a witch.

Mary Bliss Parsons, who was charged with being a witch.

Lawrence Bliss (1626-1676)

Lawrence, the son of Thomas, was born in England.  We do not know for sure how he came to America, but he probably came at the same time as his father before 1639.  He married Lydia Wright in 1654 in Springfield, Massachusetts.  He died in Springfield in 1676.

William Bliss (1670-1740)

William, son of Lawrence and grandson of Thomas, lived his whole life in Springfield, Massachusetts.  He married Margaret Lombard in 1710.

Bliss Mill at Chipping Norton, England.  Our family may have been associated with this mill that made woolens.

Bliss Mill at Chipping Norton, England. Our family may have been associated with this mill that made woolens.

Winegars in the 1600s

June 23, 2009

Ulrich Winegar was the patriarch of the Winegar in America.  Almost all of the American Winegars descended from him.  We know very little about his early years.  He was born in 1668 in Zurich, Switzerland, and moved to the Wurttemburg region of Germany along the Rhine River (in the vicinity of Stuttgart and Heidelberg on the map).  Ulrich and Anna lived in the Palatine region where residents were called Palatines.  His first child Anna was born about 1698.

The name Winegar probably comes from Ulrich’s occupation as a vine dresser or worker in the vineyards.  The name may have been pronounced something like Vine-ak-er.  For at least the first four generations there was no uniform spelling of the name.  Since the family spoke German, it was as likely to have been spelled and pronounced with a V as with a W.  Early records show the name also as Weyniger, Winniger, Viniger, and even Von Wegener.

A vinyard on the Rhine River

A vinyard on the Rhine River