Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Weathervane Wednesday ~ Five Weathervane Stamps

Every Wednesday for more than two and a half years Vincent and I have been posting photographs of weather vanes located in or near the Nutfield area (the former name for the land where Londonderry, Derry and Windham, New Hampshire are now located). Most are historically interesting or just whimsical and fun weather vanes. If you know an interesting weather vane, please send me an email or leave a comment below.

Today's weather vanes were found in a New England museum, as well as on a recent series of US postage stamps.

Do you know the location of weather vanes #147, #148, #149, #150, and #151? Scroll down to see the answer....

On 20 January 2012 the US Postal Service held a ceremony at the Shelburne Museum in Vermont to celebrate the release of five postage stamps featuring some examples from their weather vane collection.  One of these stamps was the centaur featured last week (click HERE to see the centaur), and the others are all shown above.  This display is currently at the Stage Coach Gallery at the Shelburne Museum.

This is not the first time weather vanes have been on postage stamps.  Here are some others...

1974 Eagle Weather Vane Airmail Stamp

1998 H Rate ( 1 cent) Stamp

1974 Christmas Stamp
The Weather Vane from atop Mount Vernon,
George Washington's estate home

Click here to see the entire collection of Weathervane Wednesday posts!

The Shelburne Museum - 

The USPS Issues Weather Vane Stamps

Silhouettes in the Sky: The Art of the Weathervane, by Jean M. Burks, The Shelburne Museum, 2006 [available at the main gift shop at the Shelburne Museum - this is the only book on their collection of weather vanes]

Copyright 2014, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Sarah Sargent and Mary March, Portsmouth, New Hampshire

These tombstones were photographed at the Point of Graves, Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Here lies Interred
the Body of
Relict of
who Departed this Life
April 7  1759
AEatis 80

Here lies Interred the Body of
who Departed this Life
August 21st 1771
AEtat 74
In honor of & Filial Respect
& Affection to her Memory
this Stone is here Placed
by her Children.
The Memory of the just is Blessed.

Sarah Pierce was the daughter of Captain Joshua Pierce and Elizabeth Hall (the sister of Mary Hall March).  This aunt and her niece were buried side by side, and the stones look like they were made by the same carver. It is interesting that both women were married to doctors. 

Sarah first married John Winslow and had three children with him before he died in 1731.  She married second to Dr. Nathaniel Sargent.  

The URL for this post is: 

Copyright (c) 2014, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Surname Saturday ~ NORMAN of Salem, Massachusetts

According to Sidney Perley’s History of Salem, “Old Goodman Norman and his son” were already at Salem before Governor Endicott arrived in 1628.  My 10th great grandfather, Richard Norman (1580-1653) arrived at Cape Anne, Massachusetts with the Dorchester Company in 1624, as part of a fishing fleet.  Some of these fishermen returned to England, and others stayed with Roger Conant at Naumkeag (now Salem, Massachusetts).  Richard and his son, John, were considered “Old Planters”.  His wife and daughter-in-law were members of the Puritan church in 1637, after Winthrop Fleet arrival. 

Richard Norman was a shipwright, and also a fisherman.  There is a sketch of his life in The Great Migration Begins.  He was married, but the name of his wife is unknown.   He was granted twenty acres of land in Salem in 1636.  In the 1637 division of marshland he was given ¾ of an acre.  The next year he was granted another twenty acres “that was Mr. Thorndeck’s”.  In 1653 he deeded his son, Richard Norman, his house and 10 acres “in Marvelheade upon Derbe Fort side” along with his rights to cow commons.

My NORMAN genealogy:

Generation 1: Richard Norman, born about 1580 in England, died 22 April 1653 in Marblehead, Massachusetts; married and five children.

Lineage A:

Generation 2: Alice Norman, born in England, died 8 March 1632 in Salem, Massachusetts; married about 1629 to William Allen.  He was born 1602 in England and died 30 January 1678 in Manchester, Massachusetts.

Generation 3: Samuel Allen m. Sarah Tuck

Lineage i
Generation 4: Joseph Allen m. Catherine Leach
Generation 5: William Allen m. Mary Ingalls
Generation 6: Isaac Allen m. Abigail Burnham
Generation 7: Joseph Allen m. Judith Burnham
Generation 8: Joseph Allen m. Orpha Andrews
Generation 9: Joseph Gilman Allen m. Sarah Burnham Mears
Generation 10: Joseph Elmer Allen m. Carrie Maude Batchelder
Generation 11: Stanley Elmer Allen m. Gertrude Matilda Hitchings (my grandparents)

Lineage ii
Generation 5: Alice Allen m. Daniel Williams
Generation 6: Ruth Williams m. Moses Platts
Generation 7: Sarah Platts m. George Southwick
Generation 8: Mary Southwick m. Robert Wilson
Generation 9: Mercy F. Wilson m. Aaron Wilkinson
Generation 10: Robert Wilson Wilkinson m. Phebe Cross Munroe
Generation 11: Albert Munroe Wilkinson m. Isabella Lyons Bill
Generation 12: Donald Munroe Wilkinson  m. Bertha Louise Roberts (my grandparents)

Lineage B:
Generation 2: John Norman,  born about 1612 in England, died about 1673 in Manchester, Massachusetts; married about 1629 in Salem to Arabella Baldwin, daughter of Sylvester Baldwin and Sarah Astwood.  She was born about 1613 in England and died 23 November 1679 in Salem. Nine children.

Generation 3: Arabella Norman, born 13 February 1644 in Salem, died 8 May 1681 in Manchester; married about 1672 in Manchester to Samuel Leach.  He was the son of Robert Leach and Alice Alls.  He was born about 1653 in Manchester and died 14 October 1696.  Three children.

Generation 4: Catherine Leach m. Joseph Allen (see above)

The URL for this post is 

Copyright ©2014, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Friday, April 11, 2014

Rev. James McGregor (1677 - 1729) of Nutfield, New Hampshire to be honored in Aghadowey, Northern Ireland

Richard Holmes, Derry Town Historian,
thanks to the Union Leader newspaper

A Press Release by Rick Holmes, the Town Historian of Derry, New Hampshire:

Blue Plaque Presentation, 2014

On July 28, 2014 the Rev. James McGregor (1677-1729) of Derry, NH will be honored with a “Blue Plaque” memorial in Aghadowey, Northern Ireland. Rev. McGregor was the leader of the pioneers that in 1719 settled the Nutfield grant in Southern New Hampshire -- now the towns of Derry, Londonderry, Windham as well as portions of Manchester, Hudson, Salem, and Pelham. The Encyclopedia of Irish History in America has called McGregor “the Moses of the Scotch Irish in America.” The plaque will be put up by the Ulster History Circle, with funding from the Ulster-Scots Agency.

The exact particulars of the ceremony on July 28th are still being developed. Derry’s Town Historian Rick Holmes has been invited to take part in the unveiling of the plaque. It is hoped that others from the area can join him at this unique honor being offered to the founder of Derry, Londonderry and Windham by the people of Northern Ireland. We are possibly the only town in America to have its founder so officially honored “across the pond.” 

History of the Blue Plaque Scheme

The original “Blue Plaque” scheme was started in London in 1867 with the goal of installing permanent signs in public places ‘to commemorate a link between that location and a famous person or event.” Examples of such commemorated sites include the homes of such luminaries as Charles Dickens, Napoleon III, Sigmund Freud, Benjamin Franklin and Lord Byron and even several buildings associated with the Beatles. The popularity of these plaques in London led to similar programs being run across the United Kingdom and now even in Paris, Rome, Oslo and Dublin.

 Since 1983 the Blue Plaque program in Northern Ireland has been under the administration of the Ulster History Circle. The circle is a wholly voluntary organization that relies on local councils, businesses, individuals, and organizations to fund the plaques. To this date they have erected over 170 plaques throughout the 5345 square miles of Northern Ireland. The Ulster History Circle has also recently installed one plaque in County Donegal in the Republic of Ireland.

Most of the plaques in Northern Ireland honor individuals who, while having distinguished careers, are likely unknown to most Americans. There are however a number which have established world-wide fame. Among these are:
      Cecil Frances Alexander (1818-1899) writer of the hymn All Things Bright and 
      Samuel Beckett (1906-1999) playwright and Nobel Laureate
      John Dunlop (1840-1921) inventor of the pneumatic tire
      C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) author of the Narnia stories
      Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937) inventor of wireless communication
      Robert the Bruce (1274-1329) King of Scots
      Lord Kelvin (1824-1907) scientist
      Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) author of Gulliver’s Travels
      Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) author and wit
Only 2 other Blue Plaques from the History Circle recognize Ulster-born individuals who are chiefly associated with America; one is for the Rev. Francis Makemie (1657-1708,) the “father of Presbyterianism” in America. His plaque is near his birthplace in Ramelton, County Donegal in the Republic of Ireland. The other is at the town of Strabane, NI in honor of Ezekiel J. Donnell (1822-1896,) an “industrialist, polemicist and philanthropist” of New York City

Background on Rev. James McGregor:

James McGregor was likely born in Northern Ireland (Ulster,) circa 1677 of Scottish ancestry; some believe he was the cousin of the famous Rob Roy McGregor. As a 12 year old boy he was trapped in the city of Londonderry during the 105 day long siege of the city by the forces of King James II in 1689. It is said that McGregor was standing on the tower of the city’s cathedral and was the first to signal the starving people of the city that a rescue boat had broke through the Jacobite blockade. In 1701 he became the pastor of a small Presbyterian church in Aghadowey and soon became known as the village’s peacemaker. In 1710 the synod gave him the privilege to preach in the Gaelic language.

 During the 2nd decade of the 18th century times began to grow tough for the Scots in Ireland. The British government issued a number of edicts favoring the Anglican Church which was the established (official) church. No longer were Presbyterians allowed to hold office, teach or to conduct most civil ceremonies such as marriages and funerals. Economic laws hurt the Ulster Scots in making a living by selling linen, their chief source of income. Rents on English owned lands were also on the rise. Soon there was a fever for emigration throughout Ulster. While for decades Presbyterian Scots and Ulster Scots had been immigrating to the British colonies in America, the first to do in a big way was Rev. McGregor
 In 1718 Rev. James McGregor and the major part of his congregation set sail for America on the brigantine Robert. This group consisted of perhaps 200 souls, representing 3 or 4 generations of Ulster’s history. They were primarily from16 families and ranged in age from babes-in-arms to an elderly couple nearly ninety years old. A few were landed local gentry but most were poor tenants of crown land. All were willing to follow the charismatic McGregor 3000 miles west to start a new Ulster in America. All shared the faith that their God and their pastor would lead them safely across 3000 miles of open ocean, despite the dangers of fierce storms and cut-throat pirates. Setting out, they truly believed with the Apostle Paul, “If God is for us who can be against us?”

 Each adult was aware that in the New World there was the possibility of Indian attacks, starvation, and disease. They were to become “strangers in a strange land.” Each knew that for the first time in their life, they would be without any kith or kin to give them comfort. They also knew that they would likely never see their Ulster friends again or walk the familiar green hills of the Bann Valley. They were giving up everything they had known to start a new life in the American wilderness. Despite these dangers the 16 families were united in their willingness to follow McGregor to America.   

Arriving in New England they found they were unwelcomed by the Puritans of Boston. Despite this hostility the 16 families stayed united behind pastor McGregor. They had come too far to turn back. Soon they were diverted to Maine where they suffered through a long, cold winter. Returning south in the spring they heard about an unoccupied piece of land in the province of New Hampshire that had been previously named Nutfield. In 1719 McGregor persuaded the Royal Governor to give the Ulster pioneers the 144 square mile wilderness grant. This thickly forested land was many miles from any other community…. or even from roads. Here in Nutfield they could establish their village on a hill; their new Ulster would be where they could be culturally Scots, raise their families, weave linen and worship in their own kirk. Beside their faith and culture, the Nutfield Pioneers also brought potatoes to North America. In the common field in 1719 they planted what is commonly recognized as the first crop of pradies in North America.

 By the end of the first year the Nutfield colony was judged a success. Under McGregor the community soon built a meeting house, church and a school. Nearly every house was soon spinning and weaving linen that quickly became known as the best in America. In 1722 Nutfield was incorporated as a town and took as it’s the official name: Londonderry.
The news of the success of Londonderry soon spread back to Ulster and thousands were inspired to follow McGregor across the Atlantic to the New World. Many Ulster Scots during the 1720’s came initially to “Londonderry in New England” before settling in other places which still had cheap land. There are dozens of towns in Canada and America which were founded by ex pats from McGregor’s town; some even named their new towns “Londonderry” after the town in New Hampshire. Rev. James McGregor died in 1729; he was only 52 years old. He is buried underneath an impressive red sandstone grave stone in the Forest Hill Cemetery in East Derry, directly behind the site of the church he founded in 1719. One additional matter of interest is that genealogical research has proven that the  Rev. James McGregor is the great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather of Secretary of State John Kerry.


1. Each year the Ulster History Circle receives many nominations for Blue Plaques. The basic criterion for approving the selection is that individuals to be honored must:
 ·         Be dead for 20 years or, if less, have passed the centenary of their birth;
 ·         Be associated with the province of Ulster through birth, education, work or vocation;
 ·         Have made a significant contribution to the development or delivery of education, industry, commerce, science, arts and literature, politics, international affairs or other calling anywhere in the world.
    2. The term “scheme” is Brit-speak for “plan” or “proposal.”

     3. The American term “Scotch Irish” is never used in the UK. The preferred phrase is     
        “Ulster Scots.”
     4.  During the 18th century the proper name McGregor was spelled in several
           different ways such as “MacGregor”, “Macgregor,” “McGregor” Mcgregor and
           “M’Gregor”  as well as having those 5 variant spellings having an “e” as the   
           last letter. IE “McGregore.” 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Forster Flag, 1775

The Forster Flag, 1775

Over the past few years I have blogged several posts about my cousin's long renovation project of the Israel Forster house.  You can read some of the posts at this link HERE.  A few months ago she told me that an interesting artifact from the house was up for auction.  It would be fun to bid on this object and return it to the Forster house, but unfortunately this was expected to sell for millions of dollars!

The Forster Flag was created in 1775.  It is red, with seven white stripes on one side, and six white stripes on the reverse.  This flag was carried by the men of Manchester, Massachusetts when they answered the Lexington alarm on 19 April 1775.  According to oral tradition, it was created from a flag from a British ship. The flag was flown by Captain Samuel Forster of Manchester, and preserved in his family for two centuries. For a long time it was kept at the Israel Forster house, built in 1804, in the center of Manchester.  In 1975 it was acquired by the Flag Heritage Foundation in Winchester, Massachusetts.

The Israel Forster House, Manchester, MA

The Doyle Auction House in New York City auctioned off the Forster Flag yesterday.  The proceeds from the auction were being donated to the Whitney Flag Research Center Collection in the Dolph Brisco Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin.

And the big news?  Who won the auction and how much did they pay?

At this auction of priceless historical items, a Babylonian cuneiform clay cylinder was sold for a record setting $605,000.  Other items included a full multi volume set of Birds of America illustrated by John James Audobon and Reverend Cotton Mather's book Wonders of the Invisible World: Being an Account of the Tryals of Several Witches Lately Executed in New England  published one year after the Salem witch hysteria in 1693 (sold for $8,750).  These are very historic items at impressive sales prices.

I called the Doyle Auction house in New York City at 3 pm yesterday, well after the morning auction.  I was told that the flag remains UNSOLD.  I don't know if this means there were no bidders, or if a reserve price was set and never met.  According to an article at Fortune magazine's website, the University of Texas at Austin was holding out for a minimum reserve (see this link: )

The story is apparently not finished!

US Flag stamps, 2000
The Forster Flag is in the top row, 
second from the right

Pre-auction press release by the Doyle auction house: 

A story about the flag from the Gloucester Times, 8 April 2014 (before the auction)

A story about the Forster Flag from the Brisco Center for American History


The URL for this post is

Copyright (c) 2014, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Weathervane Wednesday ~ National Wildlife Refuge

Every Wednesday for more than two years Vincent and I have been photographing weather vanes located in or near the Nutfield area (Londonderry, Derry, Windham and Manchester, New Hampshire).  Today's weather vane was photographed by a reader and permission given to post it as a featured weather vane for my blog.  If you know an interesting or historical weather vane, please send me an email or leave a comment below.

Do you know the location of weather vane #146?  Scroll down to see the answer...

Today's weather vane was spotted by reader Gerry Savard.  It was seen atop the visitor's center at the Perk River National Wildlife Refuge in Newburyport, Massachusetts.  I know that Gerry is a birding fanatic, as well as a locally known genealogist.  He was here at Plum Island in Newburyport photographing the snowy owls and other wildlife this winter. Gerry also provided a photo of another weather vane last year, an antique fire engine seen at the Shelburne Museum in Vermont.

This weathervane is a three dimentional replica of the symbol for the National Wildlife Refuges.  You may have seen this symbol on signage, maps and brochures.

Plum Island is on the Atlantic flyway, a pathway for migrating birds on the East Coast of the United States and Canada.  It is a fantastic place to spot migrating birds, as well as a beautiful coastal barrier island of dunes and salt marshes.

The Parker River National Wildlife Refuge website

Click this link to view a historic Parker River visitor guide written by conservationist Rachel Carson in 1947 

Click here to see the entire series of Weathervane Wednesday blog posts

The URL for this post is

Copyright (c) 2014, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Jane Meserve, 1747, Portsmouth, NH

This tombstone was photographed at the Point of Graves, Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Here lyes interred ye
Body of Mrs. JANE
MERSERUE, Wife to Collo.
Who Departed this LIfe
June ye 17 Anno Domi 1747
in ye 30th Year of Her Age

Jane Libby is a mystery. She does not appear in the compiled genealogy The Libby Family in America: 1692 - 1881 by Charles Thornton Libby, 1882.

Jane Libby married Nathaniel Meserve on 16 December 1725.  They had ten children.  He was the son of Clement Meserve and Elizabeth Jones.  Nathaniel was a shipwright in Portsmouth, and built the warship HMS America in 1749 for the British Royal Navy.  He served as a Colonel during the first capture of Louisbourg in 1745.  He and his son went on the second attack of Louisburg in 1758, where they both died of smallpox.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2014, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Monday, April 7, 2014

1805 Legal Complaint against my 5th Great Grandmother

To the Honr. Saml. Walton Esq.

Complains Wm. Coffin of Gloucester
that the widow Mary Carter of said
Gloucester holds an Estate belong-
ing to her former husband Levi
Younger formerly of sd. Gloucester, Decd.
that She will neither administer nor ???
the Debts of the sd. Levi Younger
We therefore begs you honor ??  ??
order her to conduct as xxxxxx
you may think proper-  ????
Duty bound wife ever ????

                      Wm Coffin

Glo -  Sept. 2d, 1805

Sept. 2nd 1805
I wrote to Mrs. Carter


from the Salem Gazette, March 11, 1806, page 4
"Notice is hereby given that the subscriber has been duly appointed administratix of the estate of Levi Younger of Gloucester, mariner, deceased, and has taken upon herself that by giving bends, as the law directs.  All persons having demands against the said estate, are requested to exhibit them for settlement - and those indebted to make payments to: Mary Carter, Admin'x
Gloucester, Feb. 4th, 1806"


Levi Younger and Mary (Wotten) (Younger) Carter, both mentioned in the legal complaint above, are my 5th great grandparents.  Levi was born 7 February 1756 in Gloucester, Massachusetts, the son of William Younger and Lucy Foster.  He served in the Revolutionary War as a seaman, and was captured and sent to the prison ship Favorite in New York harbor.  He was later exchanged for a British prisoner and returned to Massachusetts.   He died intestate at some unknown date, and was listed in the Essex County Probate dated 9 October 1806.

Levi married Mary Wotten, daughter of John Wotten and Mary Hall, on 17 July 1784 in Gloucester.  She remarried on 24 October 1801 in Gloucester to John Carter.

Apparently, after the complaint by William Coffin, she served as administratix of Levi's estate and put the notice in the newspaper in March 1806, and the notice of his intestate status was filed in court in October of the same year.  I can see why the complaint was filed.  Apparently Levi died some time before 1801, and William Coffin was probably owed money or services for about five years before all the accounts were finally settled.

UPDATE:  Thanks to Barbara Matthews, reader and fellow genealogist, who reminded me that the Essex County. Massachusetts Probate File Papers 1638 - 1840 are available online at the New England Historic Genealogical Society website (by subscription)- also Middlesex County, Barnstable County, and Worcester County:

The URL for this post is

Copyright (c) 2014, Heather Wilkinson Rojo