Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Burrill Family of Fairfield Maine

The Burrill (also written as Burrell) surname is purportedly rooted (at least for our ancestry) in the Anglo-Saxon name Burwell, which is derived from the Old English byrig-wiellw, which means 'town well' or 'fort by a spring'.

Early origins of the name stem from those families that resided in the township of Burwell, as such township was located in each of Northampton, Cambridgeshire, and Lincolnshire.  Anyone with this last name would have ancestors originating in one of these three East England counties.

According to Ancestry trees (which can be dubious in nature), my 13th great grandfather was Edmund Burwell (1485-1549), from Suffolk (closest to Cambridgeshire), and is the furthest I've been able to trace the line.  Edmund's grandson Thomas Burwell, along with Thomas' son John, sailed to Connecticut about twenty years after the Mayflower arrived, but later migrated up to Plymouth Colony.  Many other Burwells from England had sailed directly to Virginia Colony at the same time.  Our branch of the Burwell family name had changed to Burrell/Burrill.  Several of these settlers married into lines that descended directly from Mayflower passengers, much like all colonial families. 

With reliable records, however, I've been able to trace as far back as John Burrill (1609-1711), who came at the age of 26 on the ship Blessing July of 1636.  He settled in Weymouth, MA in 1639. He was granted 26 acres. He had two lots of five acres granted 'in the Rainge' and 1 acres 'in King oke hill.' He also had lot 33 of 5 acres in the First Division and lot 41 of 15 acres in the second division granted 14 Dec 1663.

He was provided arms and ammunition for King Philip's War on 1 Dec 1675, one of 13 Weymouth men in Capt. Johnson's Company in Oct 1675.

His son, John Jr. (1658-1731), married Mercy Alden, granddaughter to Mayflower passenger John Alden.


Bela Burrill (1756-1816) was my 5th great grandfather, and a direct descendant of the Burrell family from Weymouth, MA.  At the age of nine, while the family was living in Abington, in Plymouth County, his mother (Anna Vinton) was in Maine and died giving birth to Bela's youngest brother Ziba.  According to online trees, Bela's father John Burrill died in Abington on the same day (12 Mar 1765).  I have yet to find any backup records for this date coincidence (so it could be an error), but if true it could prove to have been a sad tale.  

Bela fought in the Revolutionary War for five months, in Capt. James Lamont‘s Company. Private 22 July 1775 to 31 Dec 1775.  Afterwards, he somehow found his way up to Somerset County, Maine, where he met Hannah Colemore, a Sagadahoc, Maine native.   Bela fought in Captain James Lamont's Company from 22 Jul 1775 to 31 Dec 1774.  Bela's brother John fought in the Revolutionary War, in Capt. Gould's company, Col. John Greaton's regiments, among others, and fought five and a half long years. His father John was a Sergeant and his grandfather John was a Captain.

Bela and Hannah settled in Fairfield, and had approximately nine children.  Their son Hull Burrill was a veteran of the War of 1812 and a prominent attorney from nearby Canaan, and father of 10.  He appeared in many Somerset County court records going after people for failure to pay him money.  Their son Jonas lived in nearby Clinton, and their son Bela Jr. lived in nearby Albion (now China).  Another son Benjamin Burrill (1782-1857), 4th great grandfahter, grew up in Fairfield and took on farming, just like the Colemores, Emerys, Sibleys, and Osborns who were his neighbors.  I have yet to establish proof that Benjamin is the son of Bela (an established John Alden descendant), but other applications to the Mayflower Society have succeeded for Benjamin's descendants in the past. 

In 1803, Benjamin married Margaret Sibley, daughter of English, French Huguenot and Nova Scotian immigrants, and they had five children.  In July 1825, he sued his brother Hull for a fraudulent conveyance of 82 acres of land in Canaan Hull had sold to him when he didn't actually own the property.  Hull never showed up in court, and Benjamin was awarded his money back. [Source:  Somerset County Court Records].

Benjamin's daughter, Lydia Burrill (1806-1854) married local farmer Jacob Osborn, son to sea captain Isaac Osborn (Rev War veteran and transplant from East Hampton, Long Island) and Sarah Wyman (Isaac's brother Ephraim married Sarah's sister Lydia - who was a cousin to Polly Wyman, Hull Burrill's wife!). 

Jacob died very young, and only a few years after marriage.  A couple of years later Lydia married Jacob's own younger brother Timothy Osborn (1805-1898), pictured below:

Their daughter Lydia Osborn married Charles Samuel Fuller (who was Timothy's cousin!).  Lydia and Charles were my 2nd great grandparents.


As is often the case with early New England families, another set of Burrills figure in to the family:

My third great grandfather, John Holland, whose nephew, James Madison Bell, married Sylvia Belle Burrill, who was also a descendant of immigrant John Burwell (Sylvia was also a descendant of the same Bean family from Scotland as the ancestors of Samuel Bean Fuller, father to Charles Fuller mentioned above!

Below is a pedigree chart of Lydia Burrill-Osborn-Osborn.  She was 25% French, 75% English.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Edwin Clinton Temm (1901-1964)

My great uncle was Edwin Clinton Temm, elder brother to my grandma Emily Temm-Clarke.

Edwin is the elder boy seated on the left with the younger boys

He was born on the Temm Homestead on Beech Ridge Road in Scarborough Maine to John Henry Temm and Hattie Morgan-Temm, one of their eight children.  He was named after an earlier Edwin Clinton Temm who had died in infancy (and this baby's burial location is a family mystery).

He grew up and attended Scarborough schools, and spent most of his life working as a railroad machinist at the Portland Terminal Company in the South Portland Rigby Yards.

In 1928 he had moved to Portland and married Marion Eunice Dolloff, who had grown up in the Bath area to parents with long held Rumford and New Gloucester roots.  Edwin & Marion's marriage only lasted about nine years, and they had two daughters:

-Eunice Evelyn Temm (1928-1995) grew up in Portland and Windham, married Edgar Marks from Texas, and had three daughters.  This family settled in Manteca, California, and I believe descendants are scattered throughout California today.

-Eva Helen Temm (1930-2003) also grew up in Portland and Windham and went to dental school to become a hygienist.  She married Earl Pushard, a Merchant Marine from Dresden Maine, and had three children.  This family was briefly in northern Maine for a time and settled in Las Vegas and is still largely residing there today.


After the divorce, Eunice married Glenn Buzzell and settled in New Hampshire.  Edwin remarried a few years later in 1943 to his neighbor across the street in Westbrook, Laura Isabelle Butler (lovingly referred to as "Aunt Isabelle" by many people). 

They bought a house on Pope Road in Windham and had three children.  Edwin passed away in 1964, and Aunt Isabelle held down the Pope Road house until her recent death in 2011.  Aunt Isabelle will always be fondly remembered as the family genealogist.  She was invaluable to me in my own research, and we had a lot of fun together solving some of the family mysteries.  She died just shy of her 90th birthday, and I'm very grateful of the time we spent together, and of her assistance in tracing the Temm ancestry.

Edwin and Isabelle are buried at Eastern Cemetery in Gorham.

Pictures of Edwin & Isabelle Temm and family:

Thursday, July 7, 2011

American Indian Ancestors: Fact or Fiction?

Having researched hundreds of American family groups at this point, and having spoken to many family researchers over the years, one conundrum seems to persist in most every white American family:  the tale of the mysterious "Indian" ancestor.

Try asking any white American what their heritage is, and I will bet you that most all of them will mention being part Native American.  It's a strange phenomenon, all these ivory skinned people claiming to be a small part of a rich native heritage. 

I've heard a number of variations on the story, with most of the stories involving one of the more famous Indian chiefs:  Geronimo, Sitting Bull, Massasoit, and even the famed and laughable tale of the "Indian Princess".  It sounds quite exotic, but Native tribes did not have titles like those of English Royalty.  A daughter of an Indian Chief might be referred to as a "Princess" in hindsight by an English Colonial, however, and I'm sure that's where the term originated and was then romanticized into infinity.

One blog about the famed fake Indian Princess named "Nicketti Powhatan", the supposed niece of Pocahontas, expertly hones in on the phenomenon revolving around one of the more enduring Indian Princess stories.

But stories are all that can be offered.  When you think about it, how could one actually prove a link (with true documentation) to a famous indigenous American from the 17th century?  It's not like they have their own vital records database going back that far.  What we have here are an assortment of family legends, nothing more.

Slate wrote a very thoughtful write up on this phenomenon as well, and the main thesis there was "To claim Cherokee blood is to authenticate your Americanness".  A very salient point captured here is that there is some basis for believing in a high frequency of Cherokee-Euro Settler marriages, in an effort to establish diplomatic ties, and to secure trading business between native and settler.  Further, Cherokees also were known to take on African slaves, which led to a certain amount of mixed blood offspring.

I think the connection is there, but it's been exaggerated over the generations.  A great many Hollywood celebrities make the claim to Indian ancestry, and many of these claims are simply unverified.  Former NFL player Emmitt Smith, like many African Americans, grew up hearing the story of having a significant amount of Indian blood, and DNA testing proved him wrong.

It's understandable though.  Growing up here, it's quite exotic to believe that one's family is rooted in anything other than European or African stock.  Speaking for myself, as a run-of-the-mill white person from New England, it's exciting to imagine that even the slightest touch of Spanish, Asian, African or anything other than the standard Irish/English/French blood could be involved.  I would view it as welcome news (not everyone shares that excitement, of course).

My opinion is that the true number of Americans with Amerindian blood is much lower than what has been claimed, and, outside of the folks who can easily prove this by having grown up on a reservation, or had recent ancestors who have done so, those few who truly have that famed "1/16th" Indian blood will find it near impossible to prove. 

Not all family researchers share my pessimistic viewpoint, however.  Many appear to like hanging on to the family story of the Cherokee Indian Princess, or other such stories, despite lack of available documentation.  But of course some families have a strong link.  I'm very curious about this process of proof, and would welcome feedback from those who have succeeded in bridging the gap between family lore and substantive documentation.

Many members of indigenous tribes of North America have expressed anger, outrage, and disgust over the fact that many white Americans claim to possess American Indian traits, understandably so.  Many other natives decry the rising interest in Amerindian genealogy as well.

"Indians" began being counted as a specific race on the 1870 U.S. Census.  During the prior census, taken in 1860, "taxed Indians who have renounced tribal rule" were the only ones to be counted (even though they were often still checked off as 'white').  After 1870, there is still some evidence that census takers (whether racist, coerced, or careless) would still list most people as "White" anyhow.  By 1885, many tribal nations started being counted on the U.S. Indian Census Rolls for those living on reservations.

The story I had always heard in my family while growing up was that somewhere on my mom's mother's side of the family, we are from the "Blackfoot Tribe".   As a child, it sounded interesting enough to me.  I began to adopt the idea as fact as a teenager, and believed myself to be special in some way, given that I already had been told that my dad's side of the family had Mayflower roots (a rumor I was able to prove true with a lot of help from cousins, and digging through a lot of old records).  I found it fascinating to imagine myself as descending from native people and also from those who colonized.  But this Tribe is from Montana, and my own research proved that I had no roots in Montana at all, so I quickly dismissed the story as family folklore.

There have been some great strides in genealogical DNA testing, whereby one can determine percentages of ancestry from just a cheek swab.  FTDNA is one such company, and such percentages can be revealed, along with the news that you may actually be part of some reputed Amerindian "Haplogroups".

My mother had her cheek swab done in 2010, for instance, and her group came up as "Haplogroup X".  Now, A, B, C, D, and X are all associated with migratory Siberian Asian (and Central Asian) people that settled in the Americas as the first, "Native Americans"...for lack of a better term.  There was some evidence at the time, however, that Haplogroup X also is potentially linked to European people, so the jury wasn't out yet.  In 2015, the Haplogroup got revised to a subclade of X, namely X2b4, which was confirmed as rooted in Western European ancestry, and NOT Native American.

I feel relieved to close this chapter on my family history - this story of the mysterious (and false) Indian, at least in my family, can finally be put to rest, along with the one about that guy who invented the telephone.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Clarks of Connecticut

Our immigrant ancestors were Thomas Clarke who came to the New World on the ship Anne, and his father John Clarke who was a Jamestown settler and Master's Mate of the Mayflower.  Their descendants settled in Lyme and Haddam Connecticut during colonial times, and their many hundreds of descendants have spread out all over America.  While my Clarke line moved to Maine in the 1910s, where I grew up, the vast majority of these descendants actually stayed in central Connecticut, and still live there today.  I've had the privilege of meeting (online and in person) some of these distant cousins, through shared ancestral research. 

While the Clark/Clarke name is a very common English name, it's a fair assumption that about 75% of the current crop of New England Clarks descend from the above mentioned Thomas & John.

For the benefit of my common cousins, below is a pedigree of our Clark line going back to England, to the extent I've been able to research and confirm:

13th Great Grandfather:
Thomas Clarke (1500-1551) a nobleman from Norfolk, England, married "Catherine".

12th Great Grandfather:
Sir Thomas Clarke (1527-1580) a nobleman who settled in Hertfordshire, England, and married Martha Micklewood.

11th Great Grandfather:
William Clarke (1553-1624) from Hertfordshire, married Margaret Walker from Cambridge, England.

10th Great Grandfather:
John Clarke (1575-1623) from Cambridgeshire or Middlesex, explorer, ship worker, and ultimate settlor of Jamestown Virginia.  He arrived in America on the Mary Margaret, part of the "Second Supply" fleet of ships in 1608.  He was later captured by the Spanish in 1611 and held prisoner for five years until being exchanged for ransom.  He likely had arrived in Jamestowne again in 1622, but was potentially killed by Indians during the 1623 massacre.  His first wife, Mary Morton, died in England, and he married his second wife, Sybil Farr, just 10 years before leaving England without her.

9th Great Grandfather:
Thomas Clark (1599-1697) born in Stepney, England.  He was purported to have been a shipmate on the Mayflower, but went back with the ship and its captain.  This same story has been attributed to John as well, in other publications.  Thomas married Susannah Ring and settled in Plymouth, Massachusetts.  He was likely the eldest member of the Plymouth Colony at the time of his death at age 98.  Thomas had shortened the name from Clarke to Clark upon arrival in the New World.

8th Great Grandfather:
John Clark (1637-1719), first Clark in our family to be born in Plymouth.  He married Sarah Smith in Boston and became the first Clark to settle in Connecticut (Lyme).  They had two sons, John and Nathaniel.

7th Great Grandfather:
Nathaniel Clark (1672-1749), born in Boston, died in Lyme, CT.  Married Sarah Lay.

6th Great Grandfather:
Samuel Clark (1705-1758), born in Lyme, married Hannah Champion.

5th Great Grandfather:
Samuel Clark, Jr. (1744-1790), born in Lyme, married Ruth Graves.  Samuel moved to nearby East Haddam Connecticut, and was the first Clark to settle in East Haddam, where many Clarks live today.  Earlier East Haddamites were also ancestors of mine, and ancestors of many who married into the Clark line (a tangled web, for sure).  Samuel was a Revolutionary War Minuteman, and served under Captain Eliphalet Holmes.  He had children who stayed in East Haddam, yet some moved over into Central New York State, and have descendants still there today.  I'm uncertain about what caused this migration of several hundred miles.

4th Great Grandfather:
Sterling Clark (1767-abt 1855), born in East Haddam, married Sarah Warner, and had six children, again some of whom stayed in East Haddam, others who moved to NY State to be closer to their relatives already there.  Sterling himself moved to Whitestown, NY (in Oneida County), to live with his son Sterling Jr. (a doctor).  Sterling Sr. was listed as blind on the 1850 census.

3rd Great Grandfather:
James Clark (1795-??), born in East Haddam, married an Anne, and fought in the War of 1812.  He received a land patent in Ursa, Illinois, but sold it off soon thereafter.  No trace of he or Anne past the 1821 land sale.  He had five children:  Infant, Delia, Harriet, James A., and Leonard Sherman, who was my ancestor.

2nd Great Grandfather:
Leonard Sherman Clark (1821-1899), born in East Haddam, was a carpenter who built many East Haddam houses which are still standing today.  He married Esther Phelps Martin, and had twelve children.  Many of the currently living Connecticut Clarks are descendants of Leonard Sherman.  He was a Civil War veteran in Company C of 20th Connecticut Infantry Regiment; enlisted with his eldest sons John Ozias Clark and Charles Clark.  They fought in the battles of Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Tracy City, Boyd’s Trail, Resaca, Cassville, Peach Tree Creek, Siege of Atlanta, Silver Run, Bentonville, and Raleigh.  Leonard was blind at the end of his life, just like his grandfather Sterling.

Great Grandfather:
Niles Martin Clark (1866-1911), born in East Haddam, was the 2nd youngest child of Leonard Sherman, married Lizzie Tooker of Lyme, and had nine children:  Emma, Claude, Niles, Clifford, Leonard, Ethel, Herbert, Geraldine, and James.  He worked as a blacksmith, and died of heat exhaustion working in a barn in North Lyme.

Herbert Francis Clarke, born in Higganum, Connecticut, lived in Opportunity Farm for Boys, settled in Scarborough, Maine, married Emily Iva Temm and had twelve children.