Pilgrims and Others

July 19, 2017

We last visited our dear friend Bobbie Evens a couple of years ago at her lovely home on Cooper’s Pond near Carver, Massachusetts. We were in need of a rest before continuing. Who better to relax with than our New Zealand -Fiji buddy. But first we had to get there.     The trip across the bottom part of New York and through Conneticut and to Cape Cod was uneventful other than the monsoon-hurricane thing we drove through as we entered Massachusetts. All the trucks had their emergency blinkers on and I could make out the orange line on the left. Since we’re on the Mass Pike, there are no exits. Obviously we made it.

The last time I was here we focused on the Foster branch of the family tree. It was time to look at the Swift part of the ancestry. Almira Swift married Michael O’Rourke shortly after he got here from Ireland. Michael worked on the up and running Erie Canal. They lived in Lakeport, NY before moving on to Michigan. The O’Rourkes became merchants and grocers, and they would eventually end up in Oregon. However, let us go back in the Swift family line. 

10th great grandfather, Richard Warren arrives on the Mayflower along with the rest of the Pilgrims in 1620. Richard signs the Mayflower compact and survives the brutal first winter. By 1633 he sends for his wife and five daughters to come over from England to the Plymouth Colony he now deems safe. They arrive on “Anne” along with the Bartletts. Daughter Mary Warren will soon marry William Bartlett from whom we are descended through a few intermediaries like the Swift family. 

Today we visited the Pilgrim Museum in Plymouth, I talked to another Warren descendant and distant cousin. There are plenty. The museum held artifacts that once belonged to the family. We left and found the old burying ground above the present Unitarian Church. The graves and stones sit where the first Pilgrim fort was built. Richard Warren died in 1628 and no one knew exactly  where he was buried although the old hilltop is a likely resting place. After almost 400 years, the stones tell few tales.

William Bartlett and his wife Mary quickly became leading citizens with large land holdings. He was able to afford a custom cast iron backer for his fireplace. The piece is in the museum. His house is no longer around but we did find the oldest house on the Cape built by the family of another ancestor, Jonathon Wing. It is called the Wing Fort House despite there being no need to fear the friendly Imdians. They had more to fear from the Puritan Pilgrims in Plymouth. They along with other Quakers were persecuted and found sanctuary in Sandwich that lies just outside the control of Plymouth Colony. The Wings were part the local Quaker congregation. We found the 1802 version of the Friends Meeting House. Two other earlier meeting houses had been built on the site. The 1651 building was the oldest Quaker church in the Americas. Within a couple of generations, the inter secular hostility had softened enough to allow intermarriage.

At this point, I think I can reconstruct and tell the story of this Yankee part of the family in a reasonable manner. There are literally hundreds of them but the thread is common. They came looking for a better life. Most seemed to be successful and they contributed to their family, neighbors and country.

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