Sibling Saturday: 1860 Letter from Ellen J. Bonney of Hanson, Mass. to her brother Otis L. Bonney of Boston, Mass.

Below are scanned images, a transcription, and explanatory footnotes of a letter written on 18 March 1860 by fifteen-year old Ellen Josephine Bonney (b. 22 Feb. 1845) of Bonney Hill, South Hanson, Mass. to her older brother, twenty-one year old Otis Lafayette Bonney (b. 2 Dec. 1838) who at the time was working for Daniel Allen & Co. in Boston, Mass. They were both the children of Ezekiel Bonney and Angeline White of Hanson, Mass. Three years after writing this letter, Ellen J. Bonney married Noah A. Ford at East Bridgewater in 1863. In addition to reporting local news relating to their family and friends, she also relates details pertaining to a debate club that her brothers participated in. The club seems to have consisted of numerous young male friends of the Bonney brothers. Yet Ellen is well-informed of their discussions, and a particularly wonderful image of the Bonney women “accidentally” overhearing the debates is casually mentioned by Ellen at the end of the letter: “Oh I forgot we had the door open last night so we heard all they said at the debating meeting”.

Front of envelope addressed to Otis L. Bonney

Front of envelope addressed to Otis L. Bonney

Back of envelope

Back of envelope

1860 Letter from Ellen J. Bonney to her brother Otis L. Bonney

1860 Letter from Ellen J. Bonney to her brother Otis L. Bonney

1860 Letter from Ellen J. Bonney to her brother Otis L. Bonney

1860 Letter from Ellen J. Bonney to her brother Otis L. Bonney

Transcription of the letter:

[Envelope (front) 3 cent stamp]

So. Hanson Mass.

Otis L. Bonney

Boston, Mass.

Care of Daniel Allen & Co.

[Envelope (back)]

[in different hand, pencil] South Hanson 1860


[Letter, page 1]

March 18th 1860

Dear Brother,

I will commence again to write as Theodore[[1]] received your letter last night and it was read with pleasure in the club room Theodore says the question was decided in the negative but then the most of them were in faver of the negative in the first place there was four on the affirmative they were Reuben S.[,] Alonzo B.[,]  Morton V.  and T.L. B. and on the negative they were Josiah B.[,]  Thompson P. and Joseph T. [,]  Lot. P. and George Stetson.[[2]] Theodore thought some of them that they didn’t decided according to the merits of the argument, the question for discussion next Saturday night reads thus, are early marriages condusive to the public good. Theodore says he should like to hear from you by Friday night if he could, if you can write then as it would give ample time for perusal he read your letter to the club with and it was received with great applause Theodore says they are going to they and fetch have that question brought up again after they have got through with the marriage ceremony next Saturday night.[[3]] The next is the condition that Bil Thomas is left in[.][[4]]


[Letter, page 2]

He had his court last Wednesday for getting his [corn?] hiding and they didn’t fetch in but five dollars for Ezra[[5]] to pay besides the cost of the court and then they took Bill as soon as the court was done with Ezra they took him for slander and he has so many enemies they say it will go hard with him he is bound over for one hundred dollars to appease to the court next Friday at Bourne’s hall here in Hanson they think they will have a greater time than at the court at Abington the court up there now was from nine o clock in the morning until in the evening and he would not have got home that night if it hadn’t been for Theodore and George Bonney[[6]] for he couldn’t get anyone to be bound for him as his father did not go up and so Theodore and George were bondsman until the next day and then Bill’s father l released them Bill seems to be up to his eyes in the law business at this time.

There was a gentleman spend the night here last night and he has

[Letter, page 3]

Just gone away his name is Elms he came here yesterday noon he wanted to be here to the debate he writes pieces for the Division he writes a good deal of poetry and reads it at the Div.

Mr. Levi Everson is dead he died last week and was buried last Thursday[[7]] and the doctor thinks that Marina will live until the fall if she gets any better they don’t let anyone see her only in the morning because she is not so well in the afternoon[[8]]. There was a lady drowned herself in Hanover yesterday but we haven’t heard what her name is yet[[9]] it is a pleasant day here today but not so pleasant as it would be in the city. Sarah and Melly are in here now and they send their respects to you and they are going down to the depot and I am going to and are going to carry this down[.]Sarah wants you to get your ambrotype taken and bring it home when you come home and give it to her she wanted me to write it in the other letter but I forgot it.

[Letter, page 4]

We are looking for you home fast time and bring your accordion to and Mother wants you to send her a box of soap home[[10]] and when you send it you let us know you can write when you write home again our spelling schools are going yet and we have good times. Oh I forgot we had the door open last night so we heard all they said at the debating meeting there were quite a number here it is a general time of health I came from Julia’s yesterday and they were all well.[[11]] We had an earthquake here last Wednesday night there was two of them[.] St. Patrick had a real pleasant day yesterday[.][[12]] I cannot think of any more to write this time but I will write again next Sunday[.] Good-bye.




Ellen’s children are later mentioned in a letter written to Otis Lafayette Bonney by their cousin Ida which was previously transcribed here. If anyone has additional knowledge about the people or events mentioned in this letter, please let me know!


[1] Theodore refers to their twenty-three year old brother, Theodore Lyman Bonney (b. 27 Oct. 1836). T. L. Bonney died three years later during the Civil War of typhoid fever on 11 May 1863 at Aquia Creek, Virginia. Post 127 of Hanson’s G.A.R. was named in his honor.

[2] Otis and Theodore belonged to a debate club which met in Hanson weekly on Saturday evenings and whose membership largely consisted of male 20-somethings from Hanson, although this letter does not provide the club’s name. Apparently Otis was still able to participate in the club’s debates from afar by writing his answer to the weekly question in a letter. The fellow club members mentioned were probably 26 year old Reuben Smith Jr. (b. 29 March 1833, Otisfield, Me., son of Reuben Smith and Mary C. Whitney), 20 year old Alonzo Beal (b. 1840, son of Edwin and Sarah D. Beal), their 19 year old brother Morton Van Buren Bonney (b. 8 March 1841, Hanson, son of Ezekiel Bonney and Angeline White), 20 year old Thompson Pratt, 19 year old Lot Phillips (b. 13 Feb. 1841, Hanson, son of Ezra and Lucy Phillips), and their neighbor 27 year old George Forbes Stetson (b. 11 April 1833). No teenaged or twenty-something Hanson residents could be identified for “Josiah B.” – this was possibly their 32 year old second cousin Josiah Bonney. No teenaged or twenty-something Hanson residents could be identified for “Joseph T.” unless it was “Joseph F.” in which case it may have been 23 year old Joseph Fish.

[3] A marriage which took place in Hanson on Saturday, 24 March 1860 could not be identified in Hanson Vital Records.

[4] Possibly either William Thomas (b. 28 Jan. 1828, Hanson, son of John and Mary R. Thomas) or William Otis Thomas (b. 31 Oct. 1830, Hanson, son of Nelson and Anna Thomas).

[5] Possibly either Ezra White and Ezra Magoun.

[6] George Bonney was a second cousin of Otis and Theodore. George was born at Hanson, 2 December 1826, son of Nathaniel Bonney and Polly Robinson. He was married to Julia A. Smith, daughter of Reuben and Mary Smith.

[7] On 13 March 1860, 53 year old Levi Everson, a farmer, died of consumption in Hanson. He was the son of Levi Everson and Bathsheba Holmes and the husband of Mary T. Dunham.

[8] This may have been 23 year old Marina Winslow Turner Bearce (b. Hanson, 24 Nov. 1836, daughter of Isaiah and Marina A. Bearce). If so, not only did she “live until the fall”, she married 30 June 1860, Cyrus A. Bates and died in 1915.

[9] Angelina (Bates) Church, wife of Lewis C. Church and daughter of Calvin Bates and Elizabeth Stetson, a 41 year old married woman of Hanover. According to her death record, she died in Hanover on 17 March 1860 of “insanity, death by drowning”. She was born at Hanover, 11 March 1819.

[10] Their 52 year old mother, Angeline Dean (White) Bonney was born at Easton, 11 May 1807, the daughter of Howe White and Temperance Dean. She married Ezekiel Bonney 10 June 1827. She died of Bright’s disease at Hanover, 20 Feb. 1880, and was buried at Fern Hill Cemetery, Hanson.

[11] Refers to the family of their 28 year old sister Julia Ann (Bonney) Howland (b. 28 Sept. 1831). Julia married Martin Howland 6 November 1851. In 1860 they were living in Halifax, Mass. and had one child: John Francis Howland (b. 21 Aug. 1852, Hanson).

[12] St. Patrick’s day had been celebrated in Boston, Mass. since the 18th century.


Below are images of two of the Bonney brothers mentioned in this letter:

Theodore Lyman Bonney during the Civil War, circa 1863

Theodore Lyman Bonney during the Civil War, circa 1863

Morton Van Buren Bonney during the Civil War

Morton Van Buren Bonney during the Civil War

Military Monday: 2nd Lieutenant Roy Edwards of the Rifle Brigade, 10th Battalion

After writing a post the other week about Sydney Henry Payne’s service in World War I, I found myself wondering what happened to Syd’s commander, 2nd Lt. Roy Edwards [no relation to Syd’s brother in law, William James Stephen Edwards, the husband of Syd’s sister Ida Edith (Payne) Edwards, who also served in WWI].

You may recall that he sent Syd’s mother, Edith Jane (Scarrott) Payne Burns Hart the following letter, assuring her of Syd’s safety:

“Oct. 26 1917.  Dear Mrs. Payne, No doubt your son has told you he is servant to me in France and as I have just arrived home on leave I thought you might like to hear from me that he is quite well and as we are in a quiet part of the line he is quite safe for many a day to come. As an officer’s servant he has quite a good time as I think he will admit & I feel sure it will be a consolation for you to know that servant’s seldom if ever do any of the dangerous jobs. Yours truly, Roy Edwards, 2nd Lt. R.B. PS Your son asked me to tell you that I am getting his watch mended & will take it back with me.”

First page of letter written from Roy Edwards to Edith Hart, 1917

First page of letter written by Roy Edwards to Edith Hart, 1917

Second page of letter written by Roy Edwards to Edith Hart

Second page of letter written by Roy Edwards to Edith Hart, 1917

The tragedy of that letter, of course, was that one month later the 10th Battalion of the Rifle Brigade would be called to participate in the Battle of Cambrai. Sydney Payne was injured in the Battle of Cambrai on 20 November 1917 and died of his wounds on 21 November 1917.

It seems that Lt. Edwards returned to the front in time to give Syd back his newly-repaired watch.

2nd Lt. Roy Edwards is listed as a casualty who died 30 November 1917 on the Cambrai Memorial in Louveral, France, according to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and The War Graves Photographic Commission, but unlike Sydney Payne, he does not have an individual gravestone. Investigating further, it seems that the reason for this was because his body was never found or identified. According to British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920, 2nd Lt. Roy Edwards of the 10th Battalion Rifle Brigade [service number NW/5/15883] was “wounded and missing” on 30 November 1917, with a note stating that Roy’s brother, L.H. Edwards, applied for a medal in his late brother’s honor on 29 October 1921, and that Roy’s next of kin was his mother, Mrs. Edwards of 30 Nevern Place, S.W. 5.

Probate of Roy Edwards of 21 Bush-lane Cannon-street, London, a lieutenant of the Rifle Brigade who “died on or since 30 November 1917 in France” was granted to his widow Louise Isabelle Edwards on 20 November 1919. His effects were valued at £1051 7s. 6d., according to the National Probate Calendar.

So Lt. Edwards survived his servant Sydney Payne a mere 10 days along the previously “quiet” and “safe” front in France, yet unlike Syd’s family who were immediately notified of his death, Lt. Edwards’ family waited two years before declaring Roy dead, since his body was not identified on the battlefield, presumably holding onto the slim hope that he would miraculously appear, perhaps having been taken prisoner rather than dead. But like so many of England’s families at the time, their son/husband/brother never came home.

Tombstone Tuesday: WWI Rifleman Sidney Henry Payne

Sidney Henry PAYNE was born on 21 July 1898 in 125 Blackfriars Rd., Southwark, London, England, the son of Thomas Samuel Henry Payne and Edith Jane Scarrott. His name was also spelled as “Sydney”. He was the brother of Ida Edith (Payne) Edwards and the half-brother of Lucy Lilian Burns. He was baptized on 16 December 1900 in St. Mary’s, Lambeth, London, England.

Sidney/Sydney Henry Payne, 1917, World War I

Sidney/Sydney Henry Payne, 1917, World War I

At the age of 18, he enlisted for World War I at Southwark on 7 September 1916, and was assigned service number S/25413. From then until August 1917, he was stationed at Minster West, North Sheerness, where he engaged in rifle training and machine gun training. As Sidney’s letters to his sister Ida show, he became frustrated having to wait in England. He volunteered three times for service to France, but was turned down. Upon receiving advice from his uncle Henry Percy Scarrott, he volunteered again and was accepted for service in France. He wrote to his sister about the news, but asked that she not inform their mother, since he did not want her to worry unnecessarily. By September 1917, he was stationed in France.

He wrote to his mother Edith on 25 September 1917, “My Dear Mother, Just a line in reply to your most welcome letter and also to thank you very much for parcel and give my thanks to Lucy. I could not write before as I have just come out the line and I am getting on fine and am in good health and I hope you are not worrying over me, I hope the war to be over very shortly”.

On 26 October 1917, Sidney’s senior officer wrote a letter to Edith (Scarrott) Payne Burns, describing Sidney’s service in the war thus far: “ Dear Mrs. Payne, No doubt your son has told you he is servant to me in France and as I have just arrived home on leave I thought you might like to hear from me that he is quite well and as we are in a quiet part of the line he is quite safe for many a day to come. As an officer’s servant he has quite a good time as I think he will admit & I feel sure it will be a consolation for you to know that servant’s seldom if ever do any of the dangerous jobs. Yours truly, Roy Edwards, 2nd Lt. R.B. PS Your son asked me to tell you that I am getting his watch mended & will take it back with me.”

On 12 November, Sidney Payne wrote his last letter to his mother, written only 8 days before he was injured in the Battle of Cambrai on 20 November 1917 and died of his wounds on 21 November 1917. “My Dearest Mother, Just a few lines in reply to your most welcome letter, and am so glad to know that you still are quite safe and you must cheere[?] and look forward to the best and you must not worry over me because I am quite allright, and I should like you to thank Lucy very much for photograph and I also answered Mrs. Butler’s letter, also I am jolly glad you have had some one to console you feelings during these awful air raids and you must thank Mr, [Maxter?] for me & also for cigarettes. Well how is Lucy getting on I hope she has been a good girl while I have been out, here also next line you write you might send me a few safety razer blades ask for Gilletts. Well how are you getting on; well I hope and not worrying about Fritz’s aeroplanes, I expect by now you are quite use to them any way I wish it was all over, you had better not keep my dinner hot because I don’t suppose I shall be home this Christmas very likely. You say in your letter Ma that my officer is a [sport?] well as a matter of fact he is one of the best officers we have got and all the boys like him. As Christmas is drawing near I think I would like you to get me a present. I should very well like a ring, if you think you can get me one, let me know and I will send you the one I have on my finger so you can get the size. Well this is about all I have to say and I hope you are all in the pink and that you will write again soon. Closing with heaps of love and kisses. I am Your Loving Son, Sid. XXXXXXXXXXXXXX PS Am enclosing a Gillett safety blade these are the sort I want.”

Although Sid didn’t know it at the time, his mother had very good reason to worry.

While in France, Sidney served as a rifleman in the military in the 10th Battalion, Rifle Brigade which served in the 59th Brigade of the 20th (Light) Division, which was a New Army division formed as part of the K2 Army group. They were stationed in a quiet section of France along the German Hindenberg line. However, his division was called in to participate in the surprise attack known as the Battle of Cambrai, which began at 8 PM on November 20, 1917.

From Wikipedia: The Battle of Cambrai (20 November – 7 December 1917) was a British campaign of the First World War. Cambrai was a key supply point for the German Siegfried Stellung (part of the Hindenburg Line) and the nearby Bourlon Ridge would be an excellent gain from which to threaten the rear of the German line to the north. The British plans originated from Henry Hugh Tudor, commander of the 9th Infantry Division artillery. In August 1917, as Brigadier-General, he conceived the idea of a surprise attack in IV Corps sector that his unit occupied. Tudor suggested a primarily artillery-infantry attack, which would be supported by a small number of tanks to secure a breakthrough of the German Hindenburg Line. The German defences were formidable. Cambrai having been a quiet stretch of front thus far enabled the Germans to fortify their lines in depth and the British were aware of this. Tudor’s plan sought to test new methods in combined arms, with emphasis on artillery and infantry techniques and see how effective they were against strong German fortifications. The battle began at 8 p.m. on 20 November, with a carefully prepared and predicted but unregistered barrage by 1,003 guns on German defences, followed by smoke and a creeping barrage at 300 yards ahead to cover the first advances. Despite efforts to preserve secrecy, the German forces had received sufficient intelligence to be on moderate alert: an attack on Havrincourt was anticipated, as was the use of tanks. Initially there was considerable success in most areas and it seemed as if a great victory was within reach; the Hindenburg Line had been penetrated with advances of up to 5 miles (8.0 km). The 20th (Light) Division, which Sidney Payne was a part of, forced a way through La Vacquerie and then advanced to capture a bridge across the St Quentin canal at Masnières. The bridge collapsed under the weight of the crossing tanks, halting the hopes for advance there. Of the tanks, 180 were out of action after the first day, although only 65 had been destroyed. Of the other casualties, 71 had suffered mechanical failure and 43 had ditched. The British had suffered around 4,000 casualties and had taken 4,200 prisoners, a casualty rate half that of Third Ypres (Passchendaele) and a greater advance in six hours than in three months there.

Sidney Payne was injured the first night of the attack on 20 November 1917, and he died on 21 November 1917 at the age of 19. He had been brought to a clearing station located just to the west of the line, where he died of his injuries. He was buried in Rocquigny-Equancourt Road British Cemetery, Manacourt, France.

Two days after his death, the matron of the clearing station where Sidney died wrote the following letter to his mother:

“48 Car Clear Stn. 23 Nov 1917.

Dear Mrs. Payne [51 Rockingham St., New Kent Rd., London ],

It is with much regret I have to tell you of the death of your son 25413 Pte. S. Payne on Tues. from wounds sustained in battle. He was brought in to us that day, but we found him beyond our aid to resussitate, & all we could do was to ease his pain & make him comfortable. He passed very peacefully away to his rest. He is buried in the military cemetery nearby here. With very sincere sympathy, Yours faithfully, Matron”

Sid’s mother’s pain must have been amplified by having likely just received the letter from Sid on November 12th (which was packaged with his officer’s letter from October 26th) with assurances of his safety and how quiet the line was.

Battle of Cambrai, France, 20 November 1917, The 20th British Division in which Sidney Payne was stationed with the 10th Battalion Rifle Brigade, moved from Gouzeaucourt to Masnières, France, where he suffered injuries and died the following day

Battle of Cambrai, France, 20 November 1917, The 20th British Division in which Sidney Payne was stationed with the 10th Battalion Rifle Brigade, moved from Gouzeaucourt to Masnières, France, where he suffered injuries and died the following day

Not only did Sid’s mother and sisters mourn his loss, but he had also recently become engaged. Sydney Henry Payne and Emily Louise Fournier were engaged in 1917, probably during or just prior to his service in World War I, although it is likely they met before the war began. She was born in 1901 at Southwark, London, England, the daughter of Emile A. Fournier and Emily Brett.   While it is uncertain how long their engagement lasted, it may have taken place while Sidney was away during the war, since Emily Fournier’s mother had never met Sidney. Emily later married Robert Thomas Bastin, in 1926 at Lambeth, England.

95 years ago today, Mrs. Emily (Brett) Fournier wrote the following letter of condolence to Edith (Scarrott) Payne Burns regarding the death of Sidney, as reported by Emily:

17 St. Albans St. Kennington Dec 4th 1917

Dear Mrs. Payne,
Since Emily told me the sad news I have not had courage to write as I feel so sorry for you being your only son perhaps I should not have noticed it so much only Emily told me you had a letter saying he was an officer’s servant and would be allright for a time it seemed no time after all is finished in this world for him for Emily it is a wound that will heal but for your it will be for the rest of your life. I have never seen your son but as the child received his letters, she used to pass them to me. I will tell you his mother what I thought of him. I thought him a most noble character with all of the fine qualities to make a good man it seems to me so hard for you with no husband. I hope I am not hurting your feelings but I have wanted to write two or three times but could not do it. Mrs. Payne I have much to be thankful for as I have my husband and all of my children still and this is much to be thankful for. The eldest is 21 years next May he goes up again tomorrow, the next is in the army but still in England, and I have Emily and five younger. The youngest two next February and when I look around and know such lovely boys have gone I feelt frightened of what I should feel if I was in your place today accept my best wishes for your health and strength to help you over this great trouble.
Yours Respectfully.
Mrs. Fournier.
[Note, handwritten in blue pen by Ida Edwards: From Sid’s Fiancee’s Mother]

Sidney Henry Payne wrote numerous postcards and letters to his mother, Edith Jane (Scarrott) Payne Burns Hart and to his older sister, Ida Edith (Payne) Edwards during World War I, which were saved by sister, Ida Edith (Payne) Edwards. Sid often mentions that he has spoken to or wishes to speak with the two men in his immediate family who were also serving in World War I: his uncle, Henry Percy Scarrott, and his brother-in-law, “Will”, William J.S. Edwards, the husband of Ida (Payne) Edwards. He also often requested that his sister Ida send his love to his little sister Lucy Burns.

Sid’s letters show that he was a funny, stubborn, cocksure, brave young man. In his death at the all-too-young age of 19, he joined the almost one million casualties that the United Kingdom suffered during the Great War. Although but a small percentage of that overwhelming statistic, his death was greatly felt in his immediate family for generations to come.

So 95 years after his untimely death, here’s a moment to honor Sidney Henry Payne, beloved son, brother, uncle.

The gravestone of Sydney Henry Payne, Rocquigny-Equancourt Road British Cemetery Manancourt, France, courtesy of the War Graves Photographic Project

The gravestone of Sydney Henry Payne, Rocquigny-Equancourt Road British Cemetery Manancourt, France, courtesy of the War Graves Photographic Project


ROCQUIGNY-EQUANCOURT ROAD BRITISH CEMETERY, MANANCOURT, FRANCE, where Sidney Henry Payne is buried. Image courtesy of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission,

Sid’s gravestone is listed by the War Graves Photographic Project, and he also has an entry at FindAGrave.

Amaneunsis Monday: Inventory of the Estate of Capt. Henry Josselyn of Pembroke, Mass., 1787

Below is a transcription of the inventory of Capt. Henry Josselyn of Pembroke, Mass. He was born at Scituate, Mass., 24 March 1696, the son of Henry Josselyn and Abigail Stockbridge. He married at Pembroke, 23 September 1718, Hannah Oldham. He died at Pembroke by 26 June 1787, when his probate was filed, at the age of 91 years. His eldest child, Hannah Josselyn, married Henry Munroe Sr. at Pembroke on 16 November 1738. The unknown origins of Mary Miller, the wife of their son Henry Munroe Jr., were recently discussed in this blog.

From Plymouth County, Massachusetts Probate Records, volume 30, page 195 [part of docket #11660]

Plymouth, SS. To Messrs. William Torrey, gentleman, James Bonney & David Oldham, yeoman, all of Pembroke in the county of Plymouth, Greeting –

You are hereby impowered and directed to make a just and equal appraisement of all the estate, real and personal, which Henry Josselyn, late of Pembroke, aforesaid, gentleman, deceased, died seized, in lawful money, and make return of this warrant with your doings, under your hands & upon your oaths, as soon as your can. Given under my hand and seal of office at Hanover, this 26th day of June 1787.

Joseph Cushing, Judge of Probate

An inventory and appraisement of the real & personal estate of which Henry Josselyn, late of Pembroke in the county of Plymouth, gentleman, deceased, died seized, taken by us the subscribers this fourth day of July 1787 by virtue of a warrant from ye Honorable Joseph Cushing, Esqr., Judge of Probate for the County aforesaid, viz –

Homestead farm, 280£ _ Foster Lot (so called) 216£…496.0.0

16 acres (so called) 45£ _ Wood lot in the West Parish [present-day Hanson, Mass.] 150£…195.0.0

Cedar Swamp, 3rd Lot 28.6.8 _ 9th ditto 28£ _ 13th ditto 26.13.4…83.0.0

22nd ditto 72£ _ 27th ditto 20£ _ fresh meadow 22£ … 114.0.0

Amount of real estate ___ £888.0

Wearing apparel … 1.16.6

[total] £889.16.6

William Torrey, James Bonney, David Oldham

Plymouth, SS. July 7th 1787. Then Josiah Smith, administrator with the will annexed on the estate of Capt. Henry Josselyn, late of Pembroke, deceased, made oath that this inventory contains all the estate of said deceased, that had come to his knowledge and if hereafter he should know of any other, he will render account of it, the appraisers having also made oath to the same. Before Joseph Cushing, Judge of Probate.

Plymouth, SS. To the Honorable Joseph Cushing, Esqr., Judge of the Probate of Wills &c., for & within the County of Plymouth. Humbly shows, Josiah Smith, administrator with the will annexed of Henry Josselyn, late of Pembroke, gentleman, deceased, that he apprehends said estate is insolvent, therefore, prays commissioners may be appointed to examine the claims thereon & such procedure has as the law in such case has provided and as &c.,

Josiah Smith.

Plymouth County, Mass. Probate Records, 30:195, Inventory of Henry Josselyn of Pembroke, Mass., 1787

Autograph Book of Maria Jane Peeples, Gloucester, Mass., 1889-1900

Maria Jane (Peeples) Publicover, Beverly Farms, Mass. Courtesy of Maria McClellan.

Maria Jane Peeples (nicknamed “Rida” by her family) was the daughter of Thomas Peeples and Jane Rogers of Nova Scotia. She married Willard Binnie Publicover at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Gloucester, Essex, Mass., 24 January 1894, by Rev. John Alvey Mills.

From 1889-1900, she kept an autograph book in which her friends, family members – and a presumably courting Willard B. Publicover (he has several signatures and notes over the years) – signed their names and wrote her notes and poems – funny, poignant, sage, or straight to the point. She began keeping the autograph book while a resident of Gloucester, Mass. – several of her relatives moved to Hartford, Conn., as the autograph book shows. Below are photographs of the individual pages of the book, accompanied by transcriptions.

The autograph book cover:

Cover of Maria Jane Peeples’ Autograph Book, c. 1890-1891

Sister(-in-law) Mary (McCormack) Peeples Autograph, Hartford, Conn. 12 October 1891

To Rida,

I wish you joy, I wish you peace, I wish your friends may still increase and may you ever remain the same unchanged in all except the name.

Your sister, Mary, Hartford, Conn. Oct. the 12, 1891


Cousin Hattie Rogers and E.R.’s autographs

When far from you I go, will you one thought on me bestow. And let your memory often past In good times had in Gloucester, Mass.

From Your Cousin, Hattie Rogers. Aug. 14, 1891


Hap[p]y thoughts makes a pleasant day

E.R. [possibly brother-in-law Ernest Robinson?]


Jennie M Campbell Autograph, 3 November 1891, Gloucester Mass.

Jennie M. Campbell Gloucester, Mass. November 3, 1891


Eldridge Peeples Autograph, 11 October 1891, Hartford, Conn.

To Rida,

Remember me for can you must, as long as you can bite a crust

And when you can no longer bite, think of me if you think it rite.

Eldridge Peeples, Hartford, Conn. Oct. 11, 1891


Madie A. Campbell Autograph, 3 November 1891, Gloucester, Mass.

Madie A. Campbell, Gloucester, Mass. Nov. 3, 1891


J. D. Peeples and Bessie M. Wilkinson Autographs

When scattered abroad are land and sea

’tis if truly we owe to each other

to write a firm line and say something kind

this is the [idea?] of your brother

J.D. Peeples, Hartford, Conn. October 11th 1891. [brother James D. Peeples]


In friendships fond garden

In some sacred spot

Plant for me a fond forget-me-not

Bessie M. Wilkinson, Charlestown, Mass. Aug. 11, 1891


Charles A. Hayden Autograph, 13 November 1889, Gloucester, Mass.

May heaven’s blessing be always yours, I shall ever pray

Your true friend and rector, Charles A. Hayden. Gloucester, Nov. 13th 1889


Richard L. Morey and Rhoda M. Rogers’ Autographs

Let bygones be bygones, I foolishly say

And let you be wise and forget them

But old recollections may be active today

And you can do naught but regret them

Though the present be pleasant, joyous and gay

And promising well for tomorrow

Yet you may love to look back on the years right away

Embalming your bygones in sorrow.

Advice from your friend, Richard L. Morey

Dec. 15th 1889.


To Maria

May gladness be your portion

May mirth come at your call

May you be glad & happy

And blessed in dower & hall,

Rhoda M. Rogers, #15 Mt. Vernon St., Gloucester, Mass. Aug. 12th 1891


Lewis R. Martin and Mrs. Thomas D. Peeples Autographs

Lewis R. Martin, 55 Elm St., Charlestown, Mass.


Your loving morther, Mrs. Thomas D. Peeples

Pirate Harbor

[U.S. Carried?] N[ova] S[cotia]


Ella F. Welsh and Willard B. Publicover’s autographs

“Let the casket of memory contain one pearl for me”

Yours truly, Ella F. Welsh Gloucester, Sept. 25, 1889


Willard B. Publicover

Brattle Sq. Hotel

32-34 Brattle Sq. Cambridge, Mass.


Mrs. W. Engelhard Autograph, 12 October 1891, Hartford, Conn.

May hope in its surety and peace in its calm

Descend on thy spirit and bring to it calm

Mrs. W. Engelhard, Hartford, Conn. Oct. 12th 1891


Eva Englehart and W. B. Publicover autographs

Go show you that my thought of your still lives

Eva Englehart, Hartford, Conn. Oct. 12th 1891


To Maria,

If you your lips would keep from slips, five things observe with care

Of whom you speak to whom you speak and how and when and where

Your friend, W. B. Publicover


Maggie W. McPhee and Gertie E. Robinson Autographs

Remember me when “far, far off, where the wood-chuck die of the whooping cough”

Maggie W. McPhee, Gloucester, Mass. Oct. 15th 1891


To Rida,

To write in your album dear sister you ask

It’s well it is not such a difficult task

All I can say is contained in one line

May the blessing of heaven forever be thine

Gertie E. Robinson [sister Gertrude E. (Peeples) Robinson]


Images of hands holding birds and flowers, pasted into Autograph Book

Henry A. Calder and Ella E. Peeples Autographs

Henry A. Calder [future brother-in-law Henry Calder]


When you are supping tea with B.

Think of your poor old sister E.

Ella E. Peeples

Sept. 14th 1889 [possibly sister Drusilla Peeples?]


Mrs. Lizzie Adams Autograph, 27 September 1889, Gloucester, Mass.

In memories wreath of roses

Twine one bud for me

Mrs. Lizzie Adams

Gloucester, Mass. Sept. 27, 1889


Helena M. Gilbert Autograph, Gloucester, Mass.

“I shall not die but live & declare the works of the Lord”

Helena M Gibert

Gloucester, Mass.


Nellie C. Donovan Autograph, Beverly Farms, Mass., 17 February 1900

Nellie C. Donovan

Beverly Farms, Mass.

Feb. 17, 1900


B. Phalen Autograph, 26 September 1889, Gloucester, Mass.

Prove your friends.

Yours, B. Phalen

Gloucester, Mass. Sept. 26th /89


Blank Page in Autograph Book With Print of Girl in Flowers

Maria J. Peeples, Printed Card

[Printed card, perhaps a calling card or dance card?]

Maria J. Peeples


Autograph of “A Friend” (Probably Willard B. Publicover), 12 October 1890

To Maria

Curved is the line of beauty

Straight is the line of duty

Walk by the last and thou shalt see

The other ever follow thee

A Friend,

October 12th 1890

[appears to be the handwriting of Willard B. Publicover]


J. P. Mac Innis Autograph, 17 August 1891, Gloucester, Mass.

Memory is dearer, when pleasures trouble does mar

Life’s charities, like light

Spread smilingly afar,

Blend us as friends together

With a life of sweet content

And may the future be for you,

In glorious sunshine spent.

J. P. Mac Innis,

Gloucester, Mass.

August 17, 1891


Blank page featuring print of angel

Maggie A. Martin Autograph, Charlestown, Mass.

Maggie A. Martin

55 Elm St., Charlestown, Mass.


Lena P. Mackie Autograph and Coded Message from W. B. Publicover

[Words in each corner:] Love, Hope, Faith, Charity

Oct. 3rd 1896

Dear Maria

Remember me when far away

And your words I cannot hear

But hope that we will meet some day

In our home beyond the skies

Your friend,

Lena P. Mackie

[numbers written in pencil, perhaps Maria’s attempts at decoding the following page:] 111191101718





[note written in code]

Jin. u. a.nsy

W. B. P5bl3c4v2r.

ia. C12v2l1nd. 87.

G145c2972r. M199.

[possible translation: January, W. B. Publicover, [#?] Cleveland St., Gloucester, Mass.]


Maria J. Peeples and Hattie Rogers Autographs

Maria J. Peeples

Gloucester, Mass.


One line is sufficient for memory

Hattie Rogers, Gloucester, Mass.

Aug. 13, 1891


Nellie B. B. Phelan and M. C. Pernette Autographs

Not enjoyment and not sorrow

Is our [destined great?] and way;

But to act that each tomorrow

Finds us father than today

Very truly, Nellie B. B. Phelan,

Mill Village, Nova Scotia

Gloucester, Mass. Sept. 26th 1889


To Maria,

Never trouble trouble till trouble troubles you is the advice of your friend,

M. C. Pernette

Mar. 19th/94


Maria J. Peeples’ Autograph Book with Ruler

Autograph books are a lovely way to capture a better understanding of the community around one person’s life, which can often be difficult to reconstruct when pursuing genealogical research. If anyone out there has additional details or stories about the individuals who signed this autograph book, please feel free to share!

Amanuensis Monday: Marriage Records of Barnabas Everson and Deborah (Bates) Howland, 1848, Manhattan

Barnabas Everson of South Hanson, Plymouth County, Massachusetts (4 January 1825 – 22 February 1896) was a prominent citizen of the town, a wealthy businessman with major landholdings. His parents and grandparents were from the town of Hanson (or the part of Pembroke which became Hanson in 1820), and his children and grandchildren were born and raised in the town. It wasn’t until a recent inspection of the record of his marriage to the young widow Deborah (Bates) Howland (4 September 1819 – 16 April 1892), recorded at Hanson, that I noticed that their marriage was performed by an unexpected person: the mayor of New York City.

The Hanson, Mass. Marriage Record

The marriage record of Barnabas Everson and Deborah (Bates) Howland, recorded at Hanson [MA VRs 38:194], reads:

Marriages registered in the Town of Hanson for the year 1848-9, Isaiah Bearce, Clerk

[Registered] No.: 55   Date of Marriage: 1848 August 25th

Names & Surnames of Groom and Bride: Barnabas Everson & Deborah B. Howland

Residence of Each at Time of Marriage: Hanson & Hanson

Age of Each in Years: [Blank] & [Blank] Occupation of Groom: Mason

Place of Birth of Each: Hanson & East Bridgewater

Names of Parents: Richard Everson & Moses Bates

What Marriage, Whether 1st, 2nd, 3rd, &c.: 1st & 2nd

Name and Official Station of Person By Whom Married: W[illiam]. F[rederick]. Havemeyer, Mayor of N.Y. City

25 August 1848 Hanson, Mass. Marriage Record of Barnabas Everson and Deborah (Bates) Howland. [Courtesy of]

The Manhattan, N.Y. Marriage Record

Their marriage was also record at Manhattan, in the New York City Marriage Registers, v. 1-3, 1829-1860 [FHL Film no. 1671673], which was organized alphabetically by the first letter of the groom’s surname. The marriage record stated:

Date of Marriage: 1848 August 25

[GROOM] Name: Barnabas Everson; Place of Nativity: Mass.; Age (Years, Months, Days): 23 years; Residence: Mass.

[BRIDE] To Whom Married: Deborah B. Howland; Where Married: Mayor’s Office; By Whom Married: William F. Havemeyer; Color: white; Remarks: Mayor

First page of the 1848 Marriage Record of Barnabas Everson and Deborah (Bates) Howland. [FHL Film 1671673]

Second page of the 1848 Marriage Record of Barnabas Everson and Deborah (Bates) Howland. [FHL Film 1671673]

Barnabas generated an abundance of records throughout the course of his lifetime, with no obvious connections to Manhattan. Anyone know of a historical trend of couples traveling to Manhattan from rural New England towns to be wed?

[Genea-blogger John Newmark (author of TransylvanianDutch) started Amanuensis Monday: “A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.”]

Letter to Mr. Otis L. Bonney of Hanson, MA, 1887

I run the USGenWeb website for the town of Hanson, MA, and have always been interested in the history and genealogy of the town. Therefore, I am always on the lookout on eBay for Hanson memorabilia. I just won a letter, which I have transcribed:

The envelope is addressed to “Mr. Otis L. Bonney, Hanson, Mass.” and was stamped “Oil City, PA, NOV 5, 2 PM”. Otis must have handwritten, in a different script, “Answered, Nov. 10/ 1887”

The letter is handwritten in pencil on white paper with red lines.


Oil City, Pa. Nov. 4, 1887

Dear Cousin Otis,

If you will excuse this paper and pencil I will write you a long letter and think you will be rather astonished when you have finished.
Yes I have been very very busy in getting up Miles Standish, the entertainment was to have been given last evening, but when nearly time for the audience to gather[,] a fire alarm rang and the fire spread very rapidly and for a time the whole north side of the city was in danger, so we were obliged to postpone our entertainment until Tuesday the 8th. Alas[,] I am to be Priscilla, I did not wish to take any part but they all said I must be Priscilla [,] so I suppose it must be so.
I am still ver homesick and I think I shall be just as long as I remain in Oil City, as you say [,] if I had Jack and Carl here I might not be [,] but Willie is as much as I can attend to at once [;] he is a little mischief and goes from one thing to another about as fast as I can follow him. You say there may be a grand spring opening. The Dr. which I have had in Oil City says it will never do for me to teach school again, never in my life; now that may astonish you. You have asked me several times and so has cousin Grace whether I would talk or not but I have always avoided answering that question and thought I would continue to avoid it but have decided to tell you also about something and ask you if you can help me any. You have always been so kind that I feel almost as if I was imposing upon you. Well the truth of them matter is here I lost my voice again June 17th and from that time on have been unable to speak above a whisper, but can sing, I guess perhaps I have spoken aloud six words in that time, and the prospect of my speaking aloud is apparently just as far distant as it was April 24, 1886. My cough is very bad and the Dr. told me three months ago that my left lung was slightly affected but thought it might be nearly a cold but I had no cold at the time that I knew of, still he may have been right, any way my cough acts no better, but is harder than ever before. Well now comes the great secret which I have kept from you. After finding that my voice was not to be depended upon I knew that I must fit myself for something where a voice is not as essential as in public school teaching, so I pondered over it an concluded that short hand and typewriting would be the best thing, so Villa said I could take lessons of a young lady in the city here [,] so Sept 2 I took my first lesson and yesterday took my last lesson on the [theory?] so can now write any word in the English language & have noe to practice for speed, at present can write on an average of 42 words a minute. Now what I wish to do is to return east by Jan. for then I shall be able to write rapidly, and get private pupils and teach for six months then perhaps my voice can be depended upon and I can get a good position in some office in Boston. It seems to me I can’t stay in Oil City another day but will try to stay until Jan. then the holidays will be over and I can settle down to work; What I want your help about is this, do you suppose you can get me any pupils? It will hardly pay for me to start with less than ten or a dozen. I wrote to Carrie Ford and asked her and she said she has asked several and Addie Brown would like to study it after she graduates, Barbie Raymond and Charles Ford will also take, I want if possible to be near Hanson, because you know Lillie and Jessie are there. Wouldn’t you like to study it, Cousin Otis? I would love to give you lessons, now I will just explain the principle on which the system is founded, and you can judge of its simplicity. You will find that every word in the English language has one or more of the follow[ing] sounds or phonics for convenience take three positions in reference to the line (on this paper do not use the second line)
e o ai ou
a o oi
a oo

and are pronounced in the following words, eat, ate, arm, odd, ode, mood, hit, met, hat, hut, ire, oil, out
Now when the consonant r is combined with the phonic slants to the right (ere air ar) and so on, when l is combined they slant to the left ( ele, ale, al) and so on
then there are other combinations which are just as simple and are easily learnt.
Here is a part of Death of Little Nell, by Dickens
[two lines of phonetic transcriptions]
Translated, it is, “She was dead, no sleep so beautiful and calem for free from trace of pain so fair to look upon. She seemed a creature fresh from the hand of God and waiting for the breath of life not one who had lived and suffered death”
Will you write me at once what you think of it and whether you think you can get me any pupils. I love to write shorthand, but still think I love school teaching just a little bit better.
Give my love to all and tell Cousin Grace I will try and answer her kind letter soon.

Cousin Ida

If any wish to know my terms tell them $3.50 for short hand a month and $1.50 extra for typewriting. I think that is very reasonable.


I have not yet been able to identify who “Cousin Ida” was. From the letter, she may have had a son “Willie” William who lived with her in Oil City, and perhaps two sons, or brothers, named Jack and Carl who apparently remained in MA. She also indicated that someone named Villa suggested she take typing lessons in Oil City, perhaps a friend, kin, or husband.

Her cousin was Otis Lafayette Bonney (2 Dec 1838, Hanson, MA – 11 Aug 1922, Hanson, MA). He married Grace C. Cobb (28 Apr 1842, Hanson, MA – 1 Apr 1904, Hanson, MA). She may have been the “Cousin Grace” referred to in the letter.

Otis L. Bonney’s sister, Ellen Josephine Bonney (b. 22 Feb 1845, Hanson, MA) married Noah A. Ford, and they had several children, including Carrie and Charles Ford, who most likely were Ida’s potential pupils Carrie and Charles Ford.

Addie Brown may have been Addie R. Brown, born 8 April 1870 to Thomas and Lucy Brown.

Barbie Raymond may have been the daughter of Lewis Raymond and Mary C. Godfrey. In the 1880 Census, this family also included the brother of Barbie Raymond, George L. Raymond, age 26, with his wife Ida W. Raymond and their infant son William S. Raymond. In the 1900 Census, William S. Raymond was living in Hanson, MA with his grandmother, Mary C. (Godfrey) Raymond. Ida W. Raymond was the daughter of Ira R. Bailey and Laura A. White. This may be the “cousin Ida”, however I have not yet been able to identify a direct connection between Otis Bonney and this family.

The mother of Otis Bonney was Angeline D. White of Easton. The mother of Ida W. Bailey was Laura A. White of Easton, so perhaps the connection is through the White family of Easton, MA.

The letter is extremely compelling, considering the “astonishing” news she had to give to her cousin Otis L. Bonney. If Ida W. (Bailey) Raymond was indeed “Cousin Ida”, it seems that she returned to Hanson, MA, and perhaps taught typewriting and short-hand to a number of pupils.

Perhaps somewhere out there is the response letter written by Otis Bonney. If anyone knows more information about the identity of “Cousin Ida” or why she moved to Oil City, PA for a period of time, please let me know!