52 Ancestors 2018 #10: Strong Woman – Mary Barrett Dyer

When it comes to strong women in my lineage, there is no shortage of good choices. All of the women of my line that I have been honored to know, are strong – and the ones that came before endured hardships and trials and felt joys and blessings that I can only imagine.

However, one of the strongest women is my 11th great-grandmother, Mary Barrett. She was born sometime in 1612 in London, England – her parents have been lost to history. On October 27, 1633, at St. Martin’s in London, she married William Dyer (1609-1672) a milliner.

On October 24,1634, she had a son, William who was born in London – and only lived three days, dying on her first wedding anniversary.

Her next son, Samuel, was born on October 20, 1635 (my 10th gr.grandfather). He was either born in either England or Massachusetts. They arrived in New England in the early 1630’s and joined the Boston church in December of 1635 – so it is likely that Samuel was born in the colonies. He was baptized at the Boston Church on Dec 20, 1635. A stillborn daughter was born on October 17, 1637 in Massachusetts. Children Mary (1639), Henry (1647) and Charles (1650) were born after.

“Like most members of Boston’s church, they soon became involved in the Antinomian Controversy, a theological crisis lasting from 1636 to 1638. Mary and William were strong advocates of Anne Hutchinson and John Wheelwright in the controversy, and as a result, Mary’s husband was disenfranchised and disarmed for supporting these “heretics” and also for harboring his own heretical views. Subsequently, they left Massachusetts with many others to establish a new colony on Aquidneck Island (later Rhode Island) in Narraganset Bay. Before leaving Boston, Mary had given birth to a severely deformed infant that was stillborn. Because of the theological implications of such a birth, the baby was buried secretly. When the Massachusetts authorities learned of this birth, the ordeal became public, and in the minds of the colony’s ministers and magistrates, the monstrous birth was clearly a result of Mary’s “monstrous” religious opinions.

More than a decade later, in late 1651, Mary Dyer boarded a ship for England, and stayed there for over five years, becoming an avid follower of the Quaker religion that had been established by George Fox several years earlier. Because Quakers were considered among the most heinous of heretics by the Puritans, Massachusetts enacted several laws against them. When Dyer returned to Boston from England, she was immediately imprisoned and then banished. Defying her order of banishment, she was again banished, this time upon pain of death. Deciding that she would die as a martyr if the anti-Quaker laws were not repealed, Dyer once again returned to Boston and was sent to the gallows in 1659, having the rope around her neck when a reprieve was announced. Not accepting the reprieve, she again returned to Boston the following year and was then hanged to become the third of four Quaker martyrs.” – Wikipedia

While the parents of Mary Dyer have not been identified, Johan Winsser made a significant discovery concerning a brother of Dyer, which he published in 2004. On 18 January 1633/4, a probate administration was recorded in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury for a William Barret. The instrument granted administration of Barret’s estate “jointly to William Dyer of St Martin-in-the-Fields, fishmonger, and his wife Marie Dyer, otherwise Barret.”[1] The fact that the estate of a brother of Mary Dyer would be left in the hands of Mary and her husband strongly suggests that William (and therefore Mary) had no living parents and no living brothers at the time, and also suggests that Mary was either William Barrett’s only living sister, or his oldest living sister. The other facts that could be drawn from the instrument are that William Barrett was unmarried and that he died somewhere “beyond the seas” from England.[1]

That Mary was well educated is apparent from letters that she wrote.[3] Quaker chronicler George Bishop described her as a “Comely Grave Woman, and of a goodly Personage, and one of a good Report, having a husband of an Estate, fearing the Lord, and a Mother of Children.”[4] The Dutch writer Gerard Croese wrote that she was reputed to be a “person of no mean extract and parentage, of an estate pretty plentiful, of a comely stature and countenance, of a piercing knowledge in many things, of a wonderful sweet and pleasant discourse, so fit for great affairs…”[3] Massachusetts Governor John Winthrop described her as being “a very proper and fair woman…of a very proud spirit, and much addicted to revelations”.[4]


Mary was hanged on June 1, 1660.


Mary Barrett (1612 – 1660) 11th great-grandmother
Samuel Dyer (1635 – 1678) Son of Mary Barrett
Henry Dyer (1693 – 1767) Son of William Dyer M.D.
James Dyer (1721 – 1797) Son of Henry Dyer
Joanna Dyer (1746 – 1814) Daughter of James Dyer
John Allen Roberts (1802 – 1905) Son of John Allen Robbarts
Hiram Hills Roberts (1827 – 1863) Son of John Allen Roberts
John Milton Roberts (1858 – 1939) Son of Hiram Hills Roberts
Hazel Pearl Roberts (1900 – 1990) Daughter of John Milton Roberts
Helen Adalaide Reynolds (1920 – 2003) Daughter of Hazel Pearl Roberts
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52 Ancestors 2018 – Willard Holt Eldredge

Today would have been the 136th birthday of my great-grandfather, Willard Holt Eldredge. He was born on July 18, 1882 in Willington, CT, the third son of six children and the youngest child of William Hunt Eldredge (1826-1889) and Adelaide Frances Holt (1846-1922).

Eldredge Farmhouse today

Willard’s father died when he was seven years old (and his next eldest brother, Walter, was nine)- and his mother never remarried. His eldest brother, Charles and one of his sisters, Mamie, remained at home – the sister never marrying – to help mother run the farm and care for the younger children. Charles was 29 when their father died – and Mamie was 26.

In a newspaper article, Willard’s playing of the alto horn was mentioned when he was 17 (in 1899). “The Congregational audience room was prettily and tastefully decorated as appropriate for the day last Sunday. Willard Eldredge’s alto horn, J.F. Whittford’s violin, the organ, Rev. A Gardner’s singing of “The Union Dixie” and the rendition by the choir of…”



On October 25, 1905, he married Olive May Lougee (1883-1956), daughter of Louis Fremont Lougee and Elvira May Smith. She gave him five sons that survived to adulthood and one daughter, that died within three months of birth. Howard Willard (1907-1952), my grandfather, Lester Fremont (1909-1991), Hazel Irene (1910-1910), Walter Sherwood (Jan 1912-1978), Louis William (Sept 1912-1970) and Charles Gilbert (1914-1985).

errors in this article about Willard & Olive’s 50th anniversary

They lived in New London County, CT most of their married lives – Waterford, East Lyme, Old Lyme, etc. Olive died on Jan 9, 1956 when Willard was 73. He remarried the next year to Gertrude Button (1908-1995) on July 27, 1957 – and was dead within four months, on Nov 26, 1957 – under what many consider very suspicious circumstances.

Willard Holt Eldredge – Lester Fremont Eldredge – Charles S. Eldridge – me

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52 Ancestors 2018 #3: Longevity

Isabella Dyer, my 7th great-grandmother, was born on July 10, 1729, in Truro, Barnstable County, Massachusetts to William Junisimus Dyer and Hannah Strout. She was the tenth child born of thirteen and the youngest of the three daughters.

At some point, part of the Dyer family relocated to Maine (between 1735-1744) when she married Vinson Robarts on March 16, 1744 in Falmouth, Cumberland County, Maine. Vinson was the son of Ebenezer Robarts and Sarah Elwell and had been born in Falmouth, Maine on June 8, 1727.

Isabella gave him sons Ephraim in February 1745 and Vinson Jr in December 1745, then a daughter, Susannah in August of 1747 – whom Vinson Sr never met as he was killed on February 25, 1747 in Annapolis, Nova Scotia during King George’s War.

On December 13, 1749, Isabella married John Fickett in Falmouth, Maine. She gave him seven children – John in 1752, Hannah in 1756, Isaac in 1759, Benjamin in 1759, Nathaniel in 1761, Sarah in 1763 and William in 1766. John died in 1823, leaving Isabella widowed a second time.

Isabella died on February 9, 1828, just shy of her 99th birthday, in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.

Many of my ancestors lived into their late 90’s, but without a way to sort through and determine who really lived the longest, I chose to write about Isabella as I’d not covered her story before.
She is the granddaughter of William Dyer, M.D. – who was also the great-grandfather of her son Ephraim’s wife, Joanna Dyer. Joannah was the granddaughter of her Uncle Henry – her father’s brother.

They are all also descendants of Mary Barrett (1612-1660) who married William Dyer (1609-1672) who was hanged for being a Quaker “rebel”.

Isabella Dyer (1729 – 1828) 7th great-grandmother
John Allen Robbarts (1779 – 1859) son of Ephraim Roberts
John Allen Roberts (1802 – 1905) son of John Allen Robbarts
Hiram Hills Roberts (1827 – 1863) son of John Allen Roberts
John Milton Roberts (1858 – 1939) son of Hiram Hills Roberts
Hazel Pearl Roberts (1900 – 1990) daughter of John Milton Roberts
Helen Adalaide Reynolds (1920 – 2003)  (my maternal grandmother) daughter of Hazel Pearl Roberts 
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52 Ancestors 2018: #9 Where there’s a will…

“Did you write about an interesting will you’ve discovered or maybe a strong-willed ancestor?”

Most of the women in my family are or have been strong-willed. It takes strength to survive the deaths of children, spouses, the rise and fall of fortunes and the casualties of war.

Fannie Foss, my 4th great-grandmother, was born March 29, 1805 in Machias, Washington County, Maine to Benjamin Foss (1741-1830) and Hannah Miller (1766-1830). She was the sixth born of eight children to Benjamin – the second born to Hannah, his second wife.

Fannie married John Allen Roberts on October 27, 1822 in Machias and gave him ten children – five daughters, five sons. Her firstborn son, Hiram Hills Roberts, is my 3rd gr.grandfather.

All five of her sons served in the Civil War. Hiram and Silas died in the war. William, Josiah and Lewis survived. Silas died on Feb 10, 1862 in Ossabaw Sound, Georgia. He was part of the 9th Regiment, Maine Infantry – Company H. He was 28 years old – unmarried – when he died.

Hiram died on August 20, 1863 in Bellefontaine, Ohio. He was 35 years old and had been married to Mary Ann Wilder for 13 years. They had six children, four surviving when he died, the youngest, Hiram Jr, born a month before he died. His body was buried in Ohio, but there is a gravestone in Wesley, Maine, with his name and dates on it.

Fannie died on December 7, 1907 in Northfield, Washington County, Maine. She had 35 grandchildren – and had outlived at least seven of her ten children. (Two I don’t have death dates for.) Her husband died in 1905 at the age of 103. She lived to 102.


Fannie Foss (1805 – 1907) 4th great-grandmother
John Milton Roberts (1858 – 1939) son of Hiram Hills Roberts
Hazel Pearl Roberts (1900 – 1990) daughter of John Milton Roberts
Helen Adalaide Reynolds (1920 – 2003) daughter of Hazel Pearl Roberts
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52 Ancestors 2018: #8 Heirloom

“An heirloom doesn’t have to be expensive to be valuable. What heirloom is special in your family?”

I am blessed to have many! My great-grandmother’s silver – complete with baby spoons and salt and pepper shakers; my mother’s crystal from Japan; china teacups from my deceased friend Donald as well as from my grandmother & great-grandmother – a spinning wheel that was my great-great-grandma’s; a trunk that belonged to my great-grand-uncle; bits of jewelry that were my great-grandmother’s and grandmother’s – and a hall tree that was a wedding gift to my great-grandparents.

Carrie’s spinning wheel 2015

Carpenter Trunk closed 2015

Carpenter trunk open 2015

Reynolds Hall Tree 2008

One precious thing that I don’t often talk about is the cookbook my Mom gave me – that my great-grandma put together for her as a wedding gift. It tells you how to set a table, 1950’s style – how to cook everything from a jello salad to opossum – and there are slips of recipes from the back of baking boxes, cut out of newspapers – and the random dried flower pressed in waxed paper. I absolutely love this!

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52 Ancestors 2018: #7 Valentine

This week’s prompt “Did you write about an ancestral love story or a Valentine’s Day wedding? Maybe a Valentine that’s been passed down or an ancestor named Valentine.”

Well – there were 30 couples in my records that were married on 14 February. The years range from 1429 to 1975.  Not all are directly related – some are through marriage – but that’s a pretty impressive number!

On 14 Feb 1429 at Heleigh Castle, Staffordshire, England – Eleanor Deholland and Sir James Touchet, Lord Audley, were wed. They are my 17th great-grandparents. Their daughter, Constance, married Sir James Whitney and I am descended through the Whitneys down to Reynolds, then my mom and me.

Inside Halifax church, Yorkshire, England

In 1577,  George Gilbert Fairebanke,  my 11th great-grandfather, and his second wife, Janet Brodley – who wed in Halifax, Yorkshire, England. His first wife, Cibella Wade, had died in 1573 after giving him 9 children – likely her death was in childbirth.  I’m descended from his son John (1547-1625) through the Smith/Lougee/Eldredge line.

On 14 Feb 1579 at St. Dionis in Backchurch, London, England – Lord Edward Robert Allerton married Lady Rose Davys – they are my 12th great-grandparents. Three times. How? Well, first through their daughter Sarah Allerton to Sarah Priest – Francis Coombs – Lydia Coombs – David Miller – Francis Miller – Hannah Miller – Fannie Foss – Hiram Hills Roberts – John Milton Roberts – Hazel Pearl Roberts – Helen Adalaide Reynolds – Mom – me. Then, through their son Isaac Allerton – Mary Allerto0n – Isaac Cushman – Rebeckah Cushman – Noah Mitchell – Hannah Mitchell – Sarah Cox – Almira G. Whitney – Ephraim Weston Reynolds – Edgar Bliss Reynolds – Harry Nelson Reynolds – Helen Adalaide Reynolds – Mom – me. And lastly – Isaac Allerton – Mary Allerto0n – Isaac Cushman – Rebeckah Cushman – Noah Mitchell – Hannah Mitchell – Rebecca Cox – David Reynolds Jr – Ephraim Weston Reynolds…etc. Yes- Sarah & Rebecca Cox were sisters and their children married.

Derby Church built 1530-1725

On 14 Feb 1617 in Derbyshire, England – William Bateman married Dorothy Beresford – my 10th great-grandparents.  I am descended from their son John down through the Wilder/Roberts/Reynolds line.


On 14 Feb 1859 in Rumford, Maine, my 4th great-grandfather, Stephen A. Foye,  married Chloe E. Holt – his second wife after Elizabeth Bishop, my 4th great grandmother, died in 1854. He was 59 years old.

Marriage Intentions: Stephen E. Foye and Chloe Holt, Feb. 9, 1859.

These are the only ones that are direct ancestors – the rest, I’ll leave for you to discover.





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52 Ancestors 2018: #6 Favorite Name

There are many names I have found interesting while doing my research – and one in particular is Tewksbury Pendleton, my 5th great grandfather.  He was born 1787 on Deer Island, Charlotte, New Brunswick, Canada to Thomas Pendleton and Sarah Tewksbury. He died 24 December 1826 on Deer Island, New Brunswick.

Tewksbury was the fourth child and second son born to this couple. Thomas (1777-1845), Dorcas (1780-1860), Sarah (1784-1851), Tewksbury, Mary (1787-1871), Daniel (1789-1850), Ward (1790-1822), Elizabeth (1790-1870), Susan (1792), Hannah (1794).

I’ve written about Tewksbury before – HERE and you can read about his tragic death.

Another interesting name – that has been repeated several times throughout my tree, is Theophilus Wilder. The first one is my 6th great-grandfather, born 12 Mar 1709 and died 30 Jun 1787 – both in Hingham, Massachusetts to Jabez Wilder and Mary Ford.

Theophilus married 28 Dec 1732 in Hingham to Mary Hersey (b. 14 Oct 1711 d.5 Oct 1805 Hingham, MA) – daughter of Daniel Hersey & Mary Mayes.

Theophilus and Mary had seven children – Rachel, Jabez, Theophilus, Mary, Persis, Keziah and Zenas (my 4th gr grandfather).  After the Revolutionary War, several of the Wilders moved to Washington County, Maine – including Zenas and his wife, Bathsheba Wilder (his second cousin).

 (From Sprague’s Journal of Maine History)

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52 Ancestors 2018 #5: In the Census

The prompt is ‘what discoveries have you made with the census?’

If not for census records, there would be HUGE gaps in my tree! They have told me of children born to a family – that never survived to adulthood. They have given me the names of neighbors – that turned out to be the wife’s family and, thus, gave me her maiden name.

Then there’s the case where the census records told me that – while my great-grandparents’ marriage license says they were wed in September of 1919 – the 1920 US Federal Census on January 10th, lists Hazel Roberts as a Lodger, age 27, Single, living in Somerville, MA and Harry Reynolds on January 13-14 as Single, age 25, Son, living in Everett, MA.

So which do you believe?

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52 Ancestors 2018 #4: Invite to Dinner

The prompt suggests to us “Which ancestor would you most want to invite to dinner? Do you have a story of a memorable dinner with an ancestor? Is there a special recipe that’s been handed down?”

I don’t know if I can pick just one of these!

George Neuhutl’s passport photo

I’d love to have George August Newhill/Neuhuedl to dinner – so I could find out who his parents are, what his life was like and how he ended up in NYC from Germany…answer SO many questions and get through that brick wall at last.  I’d probably have to remind him that smoking a cigar at the table after a meal is not really good these days…and set up a comfy seat on the porch. :grins:

Ed & Helen Graff

My Nana Graff – Helen Adalaide Reynolds Graff – was always known as an amazing cook. I still remember the rows of pies lined up on the big black cabinet for Thanksgiving or Christmas. I used to make her sweet & sour German potato salad until I stopped eating potatoes. Some of her recipes still get passed around the family – and what makes me chuckle is that when she first got married – all she knew how to make was Spanish Rice. (Minute rice, tomato sauce, ground beef, celery, onion and green peppers).

Yet, the meal I remember best was when Bampi – Edward Dewey Graff (and Helen’s husband) made me fresh venison steaks in a cast iron pan on the woodstove in his shop. A little salt and pepper, the tender steak tucked between two pieces of homemade bread – still remember that amazing taste – and the feeling I was someone special because he’d shown me how to make it and made it just for me.

Another recipe I’ve shared through the family is Uncle Howard’s bread recipe. Howard Lee Eldredge, my dad’s brother, was a Navy cook – and he used to make this all the time. When I married in 1982, he shared the recipe and I wrote it in the cover of my Beard’s cookbook.

Uncle Howard Eldredge’s Bread Recipe

Sprinkle 2 pkgs dry yeast over 2 cups warm water
Add 2 eggs, 1/2 c sugar, 1/2 c liquid shortening (melted Crisco or veg. oil) & 1 tbsp Salt
Stir well, mix in enough flour to make a soft dough (about 6-8 cups)
Knead well.
Let rise until double – punch down and knead again until no air pockets are in dough. Split into whatever you want it to be – rolls, loaves, etc.
put in pans and let rise again until double
Bake at 350F about 25-30 min until a thump on the top sounds hollow
makes 2 large or 4 regular loaves.
Also: take a handful of dough, stretch into a flat circle, and fry in hot oil – sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar for New England style fried dough treats

Food has always been a bonding thing in our family – and is part of our family history.

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52 Ancestors 2018 #2: Favorite Photo

This week’s prompt was ‘favorite photo’ and I don’t have just one!

My great-grandmother, Hazel Pearl Roberts Reynolds (1900-1990) was just sixteen years old in this photo – and the mischievous look on her face captivates me. This is the photo that her husband carried in his wallet until the day he died.

Then there’s this one – a photo of the surviving Graff children around 1897- including my great-grandfather, Henry William Graff (1890-1971) standing, far left. The other children are Arthur, Annie and Lillian.

Henry, Annie, Arthur & Lillian cir 1897


A photo of my grandfather, Edward Dewey Graff (1916-1994) when he was about 22 years old.

Edward D Graff -1938 age 22

This is one of my grandmother, Helen Adalaide Reynolds Graff (14920-2003) and her brother, Harry Nelson Reynolds Jr. (1921-2003) with their grandmother, Laura Emma Hooper Davis Reynolds (1858-1935)

This one is the only baby photo I’ve ever seen of my father, Charles Sherwood Eldridge (1938-2013) – and he’s being held by his grandmother, Mary Mildred O’Keefe Roach (1896-1960)

There are so, so many others – I could go on all day! I’ll leave you with this last one though… my parents’ wedding photo – taken October 21, 1961.

Charles & Elizabeth Eldridge October 21, 1961


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