I'm still trying to squeeze in some time for family history research in between all the other things I need to be doing. Well...lately, it would be more like I'm trying to squeeze some of the other things I need to be doing in between the family history research but that's because I've hit a bonanza of information.
When you find one ancestor who came to New England in the 1630s, the chances are very good you're going to find a whole lot more because they had to marry into another family. I think I'm on the fourth or fifth. And because our country was so new at that time, these ancestors are the founding fathers of several small towns in Massachusetts. That means somewhere along the line someone wrote a book detailing the history of that community, giving me a picture of their life names and dates just can't provide...and you know how I love that.
Among the many stories I've uncovered these last few days is the one involving the family of John Rogers, my eighth great grandfather, who along with his father helped found Billerica, Massachusetts. [For those for whom a scorecard is meaningful, the relationship goes like this: Zora Steele > Adda Riggs (m. William Newton Steele) > Sara Agnes Hubbard (m. Marion Riggs) > Willard Hubbard (m. Nancy Ann Burns) > Sara Agnes Marshall (m. Daniel Hubbard) > Abel Marshall (m. Lydia Dryden) > William Marshall (m. Elizabeth Richardson) > Eunice Rogers (m. John Marshall Jr.) > John Rogers (m. Mary Shed)]
Billerica had a somewhat checkered relationship with the Indians in the late 1600s, being somewhat on the edge of the Massachusetts frontier. They had long periods when each looked out for the other interrupted by some attacks leading to burned homes/wigwams and murders on both sides. Two entire families were killed in August 1692, including Zachary Shed, his wife and five children. He was the brother to Mary Shed, wife of John Rogers. Mary had died in 1688 and John remarried, needing a mother for his five children still at home. One of those children was Eunice, my seventh great grandmother.
There's something in the phrasing and descriptive word choices I love for the story of August 5, 1695, as told in The History of Billerica, even if the event itself is tragic so I'm just going to quote part of it:
The Indians came suddenly upon them in the day time. They entered the house of John Rogers, son of one of the early settlers, about noon, and while from the fatigues of the day he was enjoying repose upon his bed, they discharged one of their arrows, which entered his neck and pierced the jugular vein. Awakened with this sudden and unexpected attack, he started up, seized the arrow, which he forcibly withdrew, and expired with the instrument of death in his hand. A woman being in the chamber threw herself out of the window and, though severely wounded, effected her escape by concealing herself among some flags. A young woman was scalped and left for dead, but survived the painful operation and lived for many years afterwards. A son and a daughter of Mr. Rogers were taken prisoners.
I'm still amazed to have this much detail about an ancestor who died more than 300 years ago. While I might have expected a "killed by Indians" footnote, I never expected a play-by-play of the circumstances surrounding that death. The book goes on to describe the effort to catch the Indians which failed, in part, because the Indians tied the mouths of their dogs "with wampum" so they couldn't bark and give away the direction they'd taken. In all, fifteen people were killed or kidnapped in the attack, including John's brother Thomas and his oldest son. I do, however, wonder if Eunice was the woman in the chamber who threw herself out the window...or maybe the young woman who was scalped. Perhaps I'll find the answer to that yet.
The volume of information I've uncovered is a little overwhelming in some respects but I'm thrilled with all the new branches now hanging from my tree.