Surname Saturday: John Everson of Plymouth, Massachusetts

Everson Title Image

As NEHGS celebrates its 170th anniversary, this week the New England Historical and Genealogical Register launched a beautiful new format and style. This Register features my article “Descendants of John Everson of Plymouth, Massachusetts” which identifies and untangles the early Everson family of Plymouth Colony. In the 17th century, John Everson was an unwelcome transient in both Massachusetts Bay Colony and Plymouth Colony, and he ultimately gave up custody of his three young children, who were each taken in and raised by separate Plymouth families. Very little has been published on the family up until now, and the few publications that have included references to them have often confused the early generations – a significantly repeated error being the division of Richard2 Everson into two men, one who married Elizabeth (_) and another who married Penelope Bumpas. However, my research shows that they were in fact the same man.

The article is part of my larger Everson project, a book which documents John Everson’s descendants through to the sixth generation (as yet unpublished). While many Eversons remained in Plymouth County, some lines were a part of the westward migration through New York and beyond, and others to Northern New England and into Canada.

Below is a copy of the article, which can be cited as: Mary Blauss Edwards, “Descendants of John Everson of Plymouth, Massachusetts,” New England Historical and Genealogical Register 169 [2015]:35-50.

EversonArticlePDFTitleImage

Pilgrim Hall Museum, Plymouth, MA

I just read in the Boston Globe a review about a fabulous new exhibit at the Pilgrim Hall Museum in Plymouth called “Journey’s End: Death and Mourning in Plymouth Colony”. The exhibit explores various death, funeral, and mourning customs in the Plymouth area throughout it’s history.
Some items of interest include:

*original 1704 will of Peregrine White, born aboard the Mayflower in 1620
*a silk needlework mourning scene of Charlotte Winsor from 1810
*the gravestone of Edward Babbit killed during King Philip’s War in 1675
*the gold mourning ring of Plymouth Governor Josiah Winslow from 1680, with a lock of his hair
*a funeral hymn for Daniel Webster, who died in Marshfield in 1852
*fragments of the wool burial cloth used to wrap the body of Myles Standish in 1656

Pilgrim Hall Museum
75 Court Street Plymouth, MA
Through April 30, 2007

Burial Hill, Plymouth, MA

Went on a visit today to the Pilgrim Hall Museum, then took a stroll through downtown Plymouth and ended up at Burial Hill, overlooking Plymouth Harbor. Nearby Cole’s Hill has the monument which always comes to mind: “ The Monument marks the First Burying Ground in Plymouth of the passengers of the Mayflower. Here under cover of darkness the fast dwindling company laid their dead, leveling the earth above them lest the Indians should know how many were the graves.” Cole’s Hill also has the large statue of Massasoit, as well as a sarcophagus which holds the bones of Pilgrims which periodically wash out from the hill, due to rains and erosion. (My mind always excites at notions of performing DNA testing on these bones!) Here’s a good description of Cole’s Hill and its significance.

Burial Hill, however, is separate and was once the main location for Plymouth’s fort. The oldest stone is 1681. James Deetz did much research in Plymouth, and wrote much about the area.

The main entrance to Burial Hill is well-marked:

A broad brick walkway leads up the Hill:

Here is a sketch from 1853 of Burial Hill:

(Bartlett, The Pilgrim Fathers (London: Arthur Hall, Virtue & Co., 1853))

And my contemporary view of the Harbor:

Burial Hill was the site of the first fort, as well as the powder house towards the back end, where another entrance is. It is also filled with many of the famous Pilgrims of the Mayflower and their descendants.

William Bradford’s obelisk:

John Howland:

Burial Hill is steeped in history and Pilgrim lore, and the town of Plymouth knows it well. The place is sprinkled with an array of signs, plaques, and monuments from clubs and organizations marking places of importance and people of significance within the cemetery. For all of its touristy nature, however, it still makes for a fun experience.

South Pond Cemetery, Plymouth, MA

In doing yet another round of genealogy work, I was determined to find the burial location of some more recent ancestors that had lived in Plymouth, MA. By chance, I stumbled upon some previous transcription work online of Plymouth graveyards, and found just the folks I had been seeking.

(Now allow me a few moments of passionate advocacy!!) I am a strong supporter of online access, especially when it comes to cemetery transcriptions and other forms of genealogical information. The internet has truly transformed the profession, for amateurs and professionals alike. In many cases, people are unable to access records towns or states away, having records online either transcribed or digitally reproduced is crucial to the further education of personal histories and larger social histories as well. Now, on the other hand, I also love nothing more than pouring through musty handwritten pages of records in libraries and town halls across New England. But what a much more valuable resource they become when someone takes the time to transpose them to an online medium!

Back to the South Pond Cemetery… after Google-mapping it’s location, packed up in the van and head down Long Pond Road, then turned off onto Cemetery Hill Road.

The road was significantly marked at the beginning by the old South Pond Chapel, a First Baptist Church of Plymouth.

Cemetery Hill Road turned out to be much more a dirt path than anything! Leading deep back into the woods, it snaked by some large houses and cranberry bogs, finally reaching a small summit with the cemetery.

The graves I sought all appeared on one large granite obelisk:

Henry DANFORTH
Died: Aug 28, 1876
Aged 72
Martha (RAYMOND) DANFORTH (wife of Henry)
Died: July 30, 1880
Aged 76

Charles H. DANFORTH
Died: Sep 29, 1880
Aged 53

Lemuel RAYMOND
Died: May 23, 1833
Aged 72
Jedidah (ELLIS) RAYMOND (wife of Lemuel)
Died: Feb 18, 1868
Aged 96

The stones represent a very wide range of dates – the earliest surviving stone is 1793, and there are still current burials today. Because of its remote location, most of the surnames are old Plymouth family names, and after referencing some old maps of the area, it seems to correspond directly to those who lived near the ponds. Life and death by the ponds, still distant from the busy nature of downtown Plymouth. Out here though, most of the roads are still dirt, an odd combination of old houses with newer “mansions “. I’d recommend a summer-time visit, however – the snow and mud of the winter along these bog roads would make most cars think twice about venturing onwards!