Monday, March 31, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 13 Accused witch Sarah Noyes Hale

Since I posted this March 31, 2014, my siblings and I have been to Salem and to Beverly. Visiting the places where our many times great grandparents John and Sarah (Noyes) Hale lived and the sites of those infamous trials. One would like to believe that things of this nature could not take place today. However, whisper campaigns and gossip still do irreparable damage daily.

Dear Grandmother Sarah,
Since 1980, Americans have noted Women's History Week and since 1987 National Women's History Month. The focus of the month is to honor the achievements of American women. For family historians, the emphasis is on telling the stories of female family members. Yours is one of the more interesting stories in our family tree.

The Noyes family from which we are descended comes from Cholderton, Wiltshire, England.
This map of Wiltshire, with its relative location in England
is from
The family is found on a "1545 list of taxpayers for the benevolence of Cholderton in the county of Wilts." A very thorough history of the Noyes family can be found at Your grandfather William was a graduate of University College at Oxford and became rector at the church in Cholderton in 1601.  William's ministry continued for twenty years until he was called to be Attorney General for the King.

Your father James, was the eldest son of his father's second marriage to Anne Parker born 22 October 1608. Born into an educated family, James was also sent to be educated. He matriculated at Brasenose College, Oxford, 22 August 1627. It must have been expected that James would follow his father's footsteps into the ministry but he left university when he was called to teach at Newbury, Berkshire, England. He married your mother Sarah Brown, daughter of Joseph Brown about 1633. I imagine you were named for her.

This was a turbulent time in English history and we do not know what was the spark that led James, Sarah, your Uncle Nicholas and cousin Thomas Parker to decide to immigrate to Massachusetts. We do know that 26 March 1634 they boarded the Mary and John at Southampton and the ship was detained until all took the oath of "Supremacy and Allegiance" to the King. First settling in Ipswich, the family had moved to Newbury by the time you were born 21 Mar 1655. Your father had also settled into his perhaps predestined occupation, minister.

I wrote 'the family had moved to Newbury" as if Newbury was just another town down the road. In fact, your father, Uncle Nicholas and cousin Thomas Parker were among the first settlers there. Your family helped to carve a new community out of the wilderness. Are you surprised that the house where you grew up still stands?
This photograph of the Rev. James Noyes House was taken for in 2012.
The house was built about 1646 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Headstone for Rev. James Noyes who died 22 October 1656
Sarah did not have long to get to know her father.
In 1679, an event took place in Newbury that may have influenced your life. Elizabeth Morse was accused of practicing witchcraft. Three times she was condemned to die but each time she was reprieved. She was eventually allowed to return to her home where she lived out her days. Since witches were often hanged or crushed by stones, she probably considered herself fortunate. However, the rest of her life was not spent in freedom. According to an article published in the Newburyport News 28 October 2006, "She was forbidden to travel more than 16 rods (264 feet) from her property unless she was accompanied by a pastor or a deacon."

At 29, you became the second wife of widower Rev. John Hale 31 March 1684 and step-mother to his four children. The daughter of a minister, stepping into the role of minister's wife probably seemed very comfortable. We do not know if there had been earlier opportunities for marriage. Four boys were born in quick succession as you became an integral part of the Beverly, Massachusetts community and your husband's ministry.

Six years after your marriage, John was called to serve as a chaplain to the militia during Massachusetts' unsuccessful campaign to capture Montreal from the French. It was several months from the time of his departure until the battered and defeated force returned. Nearly 1,000 men had been lost. Waiting for word from your husband must have been nerve wracking.

In March of 1692, the minister of the church at nearby Salem, Samuel Parris, suggested that John help him observe the "strange behavior of a group of girls claiming to be tormented by evil spirits." Did John confide in you the horror he had felt as a child when he witnessed the hanging of convicted witch Margaret Jones in his hometown of Charlestown in 1636?

How shocked you both must have been on November 14, 1692, when 17 year old Mary Herrick accused you and the ghost of Mary Etsy of afflicting her. Many who have written about this time in Salem, believe that these accusations against you helped end the hysteria associated with the witch trials. Public opinion did not support the accusations and you were never arrested.

It is difficult for us today to understand how you felt about witches and their demonic powers and acts. Today most people do not believe in the existence of witches but there are also people who proudly declare themselves to be witches and participate in covens. Knowing that people were being put to death as witches would have made the accusations terrifying. It turns out that merely having been accused of witchcraft is sufficient to have your name included on the list of people from whose descent qualifies one for membership in the "Associated Daughters of Early American Witches." I expect that you would not be pleased that people think you were a witch.

Cecily Cone Kelly

For family members; Our descent from Sarah Noyes Hale is as follows:
Rev. John and Sarah Noyes Hale's son Rev. James Hale
Rev. James and Sarah Hatahway Hale's son James Hale, Jr.
James and Elizabeth Bicknell Hale's daughter Joanna Hale
Eleaszer and Joanna Hale Warner's son Thomas Warner
Thomas and Rhoda Hopkins Warner's daughter Joanna Warner
Naaman and Joanna Warner Cone's son William Warner Cone
William and Eliza Utley Cone's son Frederick Naaman Cone

Sunday, March 23, 2014

My Maternal Ancestors' Motherhood

Dear Grandparents,
March is the month when modern Americans celebrate Women's History Month. Genealogy friend Lisa Alzo has for the last five years provided a list of 31 blogging prompts to celebrate Women's History Month on her blog The Accidental Genealogist. One of her prompts seems interesting to explore today.

"Make a list of your direct line maternal ancestors beginning with your mother. So you will list your mom, her mom, her mom's mom and so on, back as far as you can. Now figure out how many children each female ancestor had. Did the females in your direct maternal line tend to have the same numbers of children each generation? Did they have more? Less? Were they prolific or are there few children born to each woman? Is there a pattern emerging?"

My mother, Betty Lorraine Werst Cone, was born in Spokane, Washington in 1926. She gave birth to four children, three girls and a boy. She was 24 when I, the oldest, was born and 30 when my younger brother arrived. We four were stair steps, one child born about every two years. My sisters and I were born in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon. Even though my family was living in California, my mother returned to Portland for the birth of her 2nd and 3rd daughters. My brother was born in Whittier, Los Angeles County, California. I guess it was too difficult to transport three children to Portland for the duration of the pregnancy especially since I was in first grade.
Sitting in birth order Christmas Day 1958 La Habra, California.
From left: Mom with brother Rusty in lap, Trude, Peggy,
 and me in my paternal Grandmother Hazel Allen Cone's lap.
I have two daughters the first born when I was 30, the second at 32. My sister Trude has one son born when she was 39. My brother Rusty has two children. His son was born when he was 25 and his daughter when he was 26.

My maternal grandmother, Ada Grace Colby Werst Branchflower, was born October 21, 1902 outside Kirwin, Phillips County, Kansas. Grace had two daughters with her husband Cecil Oscar Werst. Betty, my mother, the oldest, was born in Spokane, Spokane County, Washington. Cecil died in October 1927, so Grace was staying with her sister Madge Colby Massey in Pendelton, Oregon when daughter Helen Louise Werst was born in 1928. Grace was 23 when Betty was born and 25 at Helen's birth. Helen is the mother of two children, Ronald Andrew Pearce was born in Portland, Multnomah Coumty, Oregon and Jill Louise Caldwell was born in Whittier, Los Angeles County, California.

Ada Grace Colby Werst Branchflower's Grandchildren 
circa 1965 Hacienda Heights, California
from left: Trude Cone, Cecily Cone, Leslie 'Peggy' Cone, 
Ron Pearce, Rusty Cone, in front Jill Caldwell
Mary Elizabeth Hugunin, my maternal great grandmother, was called Mamie. According to family legend, she was born on leap day, February 29, 1868 in Edgefield Junction, Davidson County, Tennessee. Records list her birth as February 28th. She and her husband William Wallace Colby were married October 16, 1884 at her parents home outside Kirwin, Phillips County, Kansas. Mamie and W. W. were the parents of five daughters: Ethel May Colby 1887, Edythe Pearl Colby 1888, Marguerite 'Madge' Colby 1890, Pandora Blossom 'Pansy' Colby 1892, and Ada Grace Colby 1902. Three of the daughters were childless. Ethel had a son Van Epps King who died at age 21 and a daughter Irene King.
From left Mary Elizabeth 'Mamie' Hugunin Colby with daughters Marguerite 'Madge', 
Pandora 'Pansy'  and in front Ada Grace Colby at Pine Lawn Farm 
outside Newberg, Yamhill County, Oregon circa 1912.
My second great grandmother, Sarah Amanda Gibson, was born February 1, 1845 in Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee.  She married Van Epps Hugunin January 8, 1865 in Edgefield Junction. They were the parents of two daughters and a son. First daughter Mamie was born in Edgefield. Their son Walter Hollister Hugunin was born November 15, 1871 in Johnston, Rock County, Wisconsin home of the Hugunins. Daughter Grace was born May 10, 1879 outside Kirwin, Phillips County, Kansas. Grace was the mother of William Eugene Bissel who died at six months. Walter had two girls and two boys. When I was selecting names for my children, I compiled a list of grandmothers' names including Sarah Amanda. My husband and I eventually picked Amanda as the name for our first daughter. It was not until I visited Sarah's grave in the 1990s that I realized that she had gone by Amanda.
Sarah Amanda Gibson
Elizabeth Jane Jones, my third great grandmother, was born May 2, 1821 in Tennessee. She married Newsom Gibson December 29, 1840 in Davidson County, Tennessee. I found the family in the 1850 Federal Census still living in Davidson County with daughter Martha Gibson age 9, son Henry Gibson age 7, daughter Amanda Gibson age 5, son Newsom Gibson age 3, and Josephine Gibson age 0.  A family Bible also reveals a son Joshua Gibson born 1846 who died the same year. She gave birth to six children in the ten years after her marriage. She was more fortunate than many in that time as all but one of her children lived to adulthood. Elizabeth is the end of my known direct maternal line. I continue to search diligently for her parents.

In looking for patterns of fertility, they are difficult to discern. Elizabeth had the most children in the days when birth control was not generally practiced. I do not know if Amanda lost babies between her widely spaced children. Mamie had four girls in quick succession and my grandmother always said that she, the youngest by 10 years, had been a surprise.   My grandmother probably would have had more children if her husband had survived. My mother always said that she and my dad planned to have four children. My husband was a career Naval Officer and I figured with his deployment schedule I could manage two children but not more. Sometimes life circumstances limit family size.

I know, dear grandparents, that you have the answers to these questions and I try to be patient in waiting to find them here. Any clues as to Elizabeth Jane Jones' parentage would be most appreciated. Just saying....


Cecily Cone Kelly

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Luck of the Irish?

Four Leaf Clover from Getty
Dear Grandparents,

I'm not certain if you are aware of a person in your midst that has a very special talent. Today Country Living Magazine posted on their Facebook Page (okay, just go with it.... way too hard to explain) an article about the rarity of finding four leaf clovers. They say, "The odds of spotting a four-leaf clover are pretty darn small—about 1 in 10,000, actually. Chalk that up to the fact that the appearance of extra leaves is the result of a genetic mutation."

My mother, Betty Lorraine Werst Cone, had the uncanny ability to find four leaf clovers. In fact, I can not remember being out clover hunting with her when she did not find one. Sometimes, she would find two or three in a sitting. She looked every time she was outside. If we had a picnic in a park, or were putting flowers on grandparents grave, she would stop and look for four leafed clovers. She found them everywhere, Oregon, California, New Jersey, North Carolina, Texas, Colorado, Kansas. It wasn't that she just had mutant clover in her yard.

She preserved her findings, pressing them between the pages of the book she was reading, her address book, the family Bible, whatever was handy. Literally, she had hundreds stuck away for safe keeping and, of course, good luck.

I asked my sister Peg to look in some of Mom's books to see if she could find some examples and send me a photograph to use in this post. She stopped counting at 150 four leaf clovers found in one book. Mom was certainly among the luckiest at finding four leaf clovers.

I wonder if she passed this ability to any of her great grandchildren. The ability does not seem to have passed to any of her children.

Cecily Cone Kelly

Monday, March 10, 2014

Happy Birthday Helen Louise Werst Caldwell

Dear Aunt Helen,
Cecil Oscar Werst 1900-1927
Photograph circa 1926
All photographs from the author's
personal collection.
In celebration of your 86th birthday today, I thought I would share some of your early photographs with your family and friends. Daughter of Cecil Oscar and Ada Grace Colby Werst, you were born in Pendleton, Oregon four and a half months after your father died of an infection following a tooth extraction.

Betty, Grace and Helen in Spokane circa December 1928
Growing up in the 1930s meant growing up in tough times.You and your Mom moved to Seattle, where she found a job as the secretary for a radio station, leaving your sister behind with her Aunt Madge in Pendleton. It was the middle of the depression and many people were struggling.
Helen, on left with big sister Betty on board USS Constitution "Old Ironsides"
during its stop in Portland on its west coast tour 1933

Things were a little better, when the family was reunited at Pine Lawn Farm, your grandfather W. W. Colby's place outside of Newberg, Oregon. This security did not last. W. W. died March 2, 1936 with only $12.00 in the bank. The family struggled to make ends meet, Grace taking any job she could find, even hoeing hops for ten cents an hour.
On the farm, from left Helen, Grace and Betty circa 1938

Things had hardly begun to get better, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Food, gasoline, and tires were all rationed. Blackout drapes hung at every window. It must have been particularly frightening when the Japanese bombed the Oregon Coast.

Seeing stepfather Kenneth Branchflower off to World War II May 1944
Perhaps it was not the most auspicious of beginnings, but you have never let it phase you. Your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, as well as nephews-in-law have always appreciated your support and encouragement. Happy Birthday!


Monday, March 3, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #2 James Dismukes

Dear Grandparents,
Continuing to catch up on the 52 ancestors in 52 weeks, we're focusing today on my grandchildrens' Propes line. James Dismukes is their 5th great grandfather. Born January 10, 1795 in Pike County, Georgia, he lived in Georgia his entire life. He is the son of Edmond and (Ina) Bethany Hannah Cox Dismukes. The Dismukes family traces it lineage back to William Dismukes who was probably born in England. His immigration date has not been found but he is in King and Queen County Virginia as early as 1704.
Pike County Georgia is highlighted in red. Map from

James' mother Bethany Cox Dismukes' father Cary Cox was wounded during the Revolutionary War according to a deposition filed by his son William in 1843. He is recognized as DAR Patriot A026978, Cary Cox was living in North Carolina during the war and has more than 50 descendants who have become members of the Daughters of the American Revolution based on their relationship to him.

After the war, the Cox family moved to the Edgefield District of South Carolina and are found there in the 1790 Census. They next moved west to Warren County, Georgia where Cary paid a poll tax in 1805. They continued to move west in 1807 settling in Stanfordville, in the southwest corner of Putnam County. Cary lived until March 24, 1814 so had plenty of time to speak with his children about his opposition to the British.

Remembering that the British had been successful in keeping Georgia under their control during the Revolution, leaders in the state appealed for help from the Federal Government who dispatched a naval expedition to Sunbury, Georgia. The expedition failed leaving the Georgia coast open to attack from the British navy. The states realized that its defense would have to rely on locally raised militias. James Dismukes followed his grandfather's example and enlisted in the Georgia Militia during the War of 1812. He joined Captain Huckaby's Company September 26, 1814.
James Dismukes' 'Declaration of Soldier for Pension'
signed by him October 3, 1859.
Image is from the National Archives 'War of 1812 Pension and Bounty Land Warrant
Application files hosted at
James states "said company went from Clinton to Camp Hope near Fort Hawkins and was there put into Col. Z Wimberly's Regiment which formed General David Blackshears' Brigade. We went from Camp Hope to Hartford where we crossed the Okemalgee River, thence to Flint River where we build a fort, the command then started to follow Genl McIntosh at Mobile, but was stoped [sic] 7 went to Darian Georgia."

British and American representatives meeting at Ghent, Belgium signed a preliminary treaty that would end the war December 24, 1814. Word of the settlement was slow in coming to the United States. In fact, the famous Battle of New Orleans took place January 8, 1815. James was finally discharged March 2nd.

Returning home to Putnam County, James married Nancy Wilson November 16, 1816. They are the parents of 4 children; Bethany b. 1820, George Washington b. 1832, Sarah Caroline b. 1835 and William Thomas Jefferson b. 1838. Nancy died in 1858.

The 1850, 1860 and 1870 Federal censuses, list James as a farmer with property worth between $1200 and $1800. There is no 1850 Slave schedule for James, but there is an 1850 Agricultural Schedule in Pike County for a Dismukes (the first name is buried in the area where the pages are bound together). The valuation of the property is the same as that for James Dismukes on the 1850 population schedule. If these are the same men, James has 55 cultivated acres, 65 unimproved acres, 8 horses, 3 milch cows, 3 working oxen, 1 other cow, 35 swine for a total value of $311.

James swears in his application for a pension that he did not participate in the Civil War. He would have already been 65 at the out break. His son George Washington Dismukes did serve in an Alabama Cavalry unit and Thomas Cranmore Phillips, husband of his daughter Sarah Caroline, served in the 1st Texas Infantry for 6 months before being discharged for illness. Thomas and Sarah Phillips had emigrated to Rusk County, Texas before the war.

No tombstone for James has been located in Zebulon, Pike County, Georgia. It may be that he was buried in a family plot on the farm. Any information on the location of his grave would be welcome.

Cecily Cone Kelly

For family members:
My grandchildren's descent from James is as follows:
James and Nancy Wilson Dismukes' daughter Sarah Caroline married Thomas Cranmore Phillips;
Their daughter Sarah 'Sally' Francis Phillips married Richard "Bud" M. Washington Propes;
Their son David Earl Propes is my grandchildren's great great grandfather.