Uncle Dave's book

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

52 Ancestors Year 2 #48: William Bassett, Pilgrim, arrived on the Fortune

     It has been a source of some frustration to me that I have not been able to find a Mayflower passenger among my ancestors. This despite the fact that many ancestral lines go back to the 1600's in New England in both my father's and my mother's families. Even some in Plymouth. You'd think you'd somebody could have married a descendant of a Mayflower Passenger, right? So every year at Thanksgiving I review all the lines again  and look to see if I've missed a Mayflower ancestor. So this year I didn't find that (I did find a couple of spouses of cousins who had Mayflower ancestry but that doesn't count.). But I did find William Bassett, who came on the SECOND ship, the Fortune which arrived a year after the Mayflower in 1621.  It arrived on 9 Nov 1621, according to what I've read, after the first Thanksgiving.  The truth, though, is that no one has an exact date for that feast, it's thought to have been somewhere in October or early November 1621.  So it's possible he was there. But I think my father would find it amusing and a telling part of family lore to say that he missed it!

     William Bassett was born in Sandwich, Kent, England in 1600, possibly the son of William Bassett and Cecily Light.  He came to the Plymouth Colony in 1621 aboard The Fortune as noted above.  His wife, Elizabeth, was also on the ship and they married shortly after arrival. They had five children.  William was a blacksmith and was one of the wealthier and more prominent men in the town.  He acquired land in Duxbury and in Bridgewater and was one of the proprietors of Bridgewater.  He served in several town and court positions.  He had the largest library of any of the Pilgrims. His inventory after death lists more than twenty books, mostly theological, at a value of over 9 pounds. His wife died prior to 1651 when he married a widow, Mary Tilden Lapham. He died on 4 Apr 1667 in Bridgewater, leaving a last will and testament.

     William didn't come on the Mayflower but he was one of the earliest Pilgrims, a leader in the community and one of the founders of this country. The Pilgrims who came on the first four ships, with the Fortune being the second, called themselves the "First Comers", S

o he was a first comer to this country. And he was a reader which makes me feel a kinship even over the centuries!

Friday, November 20, 2015

52 Ancestors Year 2 #47: Walter Hudson Peterson, my Uncle Wally

     This week's prompt is to write about "Sports".  In my family there is very slim pickings in that category.  My husband's father and grandfather played baseball in College and my father played Basketball in High School but I have written about them (and my father would've thought it hilarious if I wrote about him in the category of sports!). Dennis' brother played baseball and football in High School and my father's brother played football in High School.  I also found a cousin who was on his High School Bowling team. Over 10,000 on my trees and this is about it in terms of sports! But I thought I'd write about my Uncle.

     Walter Hudson Peterson was born 1 Aug 1918 in San Antonio, Texas.  He was named Walter for his father, Walter Leonard Peterson, and Hudson for his mother, Elizabeth Hudson. (At least, I am assuming this as it seems logical). His father was employed by the US Army as a Physical Ed Instructor with YMCA. WW I was still in progress when he was born. The family moved to Fort Worth where his younger sister, Betty, and brother, John (Jack) were born.  The family moved to Detroit and then to Chicago where his father entered a Seminary and became a Presbyterian Minister. The first Church his father had was in Bessemer, Michigan. This is where Wally (as he was called by the family) went to High School.  And this is where the sports comes in! He played guard on the football team. After High School, Wally went to Ironwood Junior College where he again played guard on the football team.  This explains the photo I have of him wearing a helmet.  I believe that this is the football gear worn at that time. My father said of him, in his autobiography, "He was muscular, well coordinated and a tough he-man.  Playing guard in football is a rough, mud-biting, nose-grinding, and hard-knocking 'sport'...I imagine that he couldn't be pushed around.  He was held in respect by other boys...I think he had courage, but no chip on his shoulder."

     He married Grace Basket on 15 Sep 1938.  They had a long and loving marriage with three children of their own and one adopted child.  When WW II came he served in the Pacific in the Navy.
He became an Industrial Psychologist and was successful in his field.  His brother says, "He was brilliant and independent in thought...He could speak well and clearly. I don't know anyone who made more sense and who could handle questions and elicited discussions better." He loved to spend time with his children and grandchildren camping and visiting National Parks. My sister and I always enjoyed any time spent with him. He died 25 Jan 2001 in Decorah, Iowa, leaving his wife and many descendants. I think he would be amused to know that I have chosen him to write about in the category of "Sports!"

Saturday, November 14, 2015

52 Ancestors Year 2 #46: John Humphrey, one of the Founders of New England

     John Humphrey was important to the history of our country because he was one of the founders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  He is important on our family tree because he married Elizabeth Pelham who was of royal descent. It is interesting to look at why someone makes such a big change as to leave England to be part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

     John Humphrey was born in approximately 1595 in Chaldon Herring. Dorset, England.  He was the son of Michael Humphrey, a steward at an estate in Dorset. He was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge and studied law in 1615.  His family must have had some position and wealth as he married Elizabeth Pelham, the granddaughter of Lord Thomas De La Warre (her brother was the Thomas De La Warre for whom Delaware was named).  He was a member of John White's church in Dorchester and very much influenced by Rev. White.  He became involved in starting the Massachusetts Bay Colony, he personally invested in it and was its Treasurer. In 1629 when it received its charter he was elected Deputy Governor, second to John Winthrop.  However, he didn't sail with the company in 1630, eventually arriving in 1634.  He received land at Swampscott or Lynn, Massachusetts.  There is still a house there which is said to
have been built for him and called the Humphrey House.

     His wife, Elizabeth died in 1628 so he remarried Susan Fiennes, daughter of Thomas Clinton, the Earl of Lincoln. He had three children by his first wife and he brought them with he and his wife to America.  In the Massachusetts he was a magistrate and a leading member of the Colony.  He was also a founder of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company.  However, he was unhappy with the strict religious views and rigid adherence to them in the colony.  He attempted to establish another colony in the Bahamas that would be a more tolerant society but that failed as the Spanish had arrived first. He eventually left New England and returned to England.  He died in 1661.

     He had many descendants and you can see in our family tree his stature as the first name Humphrey is common and was the name of our 5th Great Grandfather, Humphrey Avery. I find it interesting that at least two of our early New England Puritan ancestors left because they wanted a more liberal approach to religion and society. This has certainly been a family theme in more recent generations!