Bradstreets and Days: From Massachusetts to Minnesota, descendants wed

Descendants of Ipswich settlers Humphrey Bradstreet and Robert Day met in Minnesota and married in 1781

Descendants of Ipswich settlers Humphrey Bradstreet and Robert Day met in Minnesota and married in 1781

Lavina S. Bursley’s fifth great grandfather, Robert Day, was made a freeman in Ipswich in 1641.  In Robert’s will, he wrote:

“I give to my son John Day after my decease…ye parcell of land lying near the common fence gate w[hi]ch was part of Mr. Bradstreets his lot…”


Humphrey Bradstreet arrived in Ipswich in 1635.  From this will, we know that Humphrey Bradstreet not only knew Robert Day, but had also lived nearby and conducted land transactions with him.  He would never have guessed that two and half centuries later, his sixth great grandson, Albert J. Stanwood, would meet and marry Robert’s fifth great granddaughter, Lavina Bursley, in the small town of Elk River in Minnesota.

Albert and Lavina are my second great grand parents, and Ipswich, the home of both of their ancestors, one of my favorite places.


Me with the headstones of Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood’s great grandparents, Aaron and Sarah (Goodhue) Day

Ipswich Town Historian led a walking tour of the town in June 2015.  The Caldwell home was built by Lavina's Day ancestors.

Ipswich Town Historian led a walking tour of the town in June 2015. The Caldwell house was home to Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood’s ancestors.


The Bradstreet Farm was originally in the town of Ipswich but was later annexed to neighboring Rowley. This portion of Humphrey Bradstreet’s land remained in the family until 2007!


Books and more books: using Trello to track them

trello book board

Trello can be used track stuff, like your genealogy (or other) books

Have you ever found yourself at a genealogy conference wondering if you already own a book?  Ever gone a step further and purchased a title you already have on your shelf?  Argh – I have!  And I’ve been looking for a free method to manage my bookshelves so I don’t ever do it again.  Trello seems to meet this need.  (You can click here to view my actual Trello board see what’s in my personal genealogical library – at least what’s been loaded so far.  Note: this board was set to “public,” but in most instances you will set your boards to private unless you wish to share with others.)

It didn’t take long to upload these books.  My workflow:

1) Grab a pile of books from the shelves.

2) On my laptop, I entered the book title (easier on a traditional keyboard), and then under description, I added the author’s name.  (This allows one to search by author as well as title.)

3)  After downloading the Trello app, I then added the image of the books as follows:






After taking the photo, click “Use photo” in the bottom right corner of screen, or you have the option to retake.  Continue to exit back to the main screen (you do not need to wait while the photo processes and uploads), and shortly you will see the image added to the Trello card.


While Trello was designed as a project management tool, it can clearly be used for myriad other purposes.   It can be used to keep lists of whatever you might have need of, such as where you are on a given task.  (I read of one user who manages his inventory in his personal wine cellar using Trello – great idea!)  I’m also giving it a whirl for my endless “To Do” list for work and home projects, hoping it’s a system that I can stick with.  So far I think this app is a keeper.

Untangling the John Days of Ipswich, Massachusetts

John Day, my 5th great grandfather, was baptized in Ipswich, Essex County, Massachusetts on 24 February 1750/1.  In earlier documents John was referred to as John Day Jr., so obviously other men of the same name lived in Ipswich.  To ensure my research centered on the correct John Day, I decided to do a bit more digging into taxes, deeds and other records.

The John Days of Ipswich, from the Vital records of Ipswich, Massachusetts, to the end of the year 1849:

No. Name Birth/Baptism Parents Marriage Death
1 John Unknown Robert Sarah Pengry Bef. 25 May 1690
2 John 17 Feb. 1665/6 John Sarah Wells 28 Feb. 1722
3 John bp. 27 Sep. 1696 John & Sarah Eunice Burnham Bef. 5 Dec 1780
4 John bp. 29 Mar. 1724 John & Eunice 26 Apr. 1723
5 John bp. 17 Sep. 1727 John & Eunice 13 Apr. 1724
6 John bp. 24 Feb. 1730 John & Eunice 31 Mar. 1730
7 John bp. 24 Feb. 1750/1 Jeremiah Sarah Day 12 Oct. 1820
8 John bp. 1 Oct. 1769 Thomas Salome Chapman 16 June 1842
9 John bp. 17 Nov. 1776 John Jr. & Sarah Elizabeth Skillings 7 Mar. 1833
10 John bp. 12 Apr. 1789 Abner Jr. & Elizabeth Hephzibah Smith Unknown

As noted in the chart above, 10 individuals named John Day are recorded in the Ipswich vital records, with three dying in infancy. My ancestor, John Day #7, was born in 1750/1, and was the son of Jeremiah and Mary (Caldwell) Day. The only other adult male of the same name during my ancestor’s life was John Day #3, the husband of Eunice Burnham. John Day #7 is often referred to in town records and deeds as John Day Jr, distinguishing him from the elder John Day #3. The two men, both descended from sons of Robert Day and his wife Hannah, appear in red below.

Cousins John Day #3 and John Day #7 lived in Ipswich at the same time.

Cousins John Day #3 and John Day #7 lived in Ipswich at the same time.

In addition to the use of the suffix “Jr,” the two Johns may also be distinguished in other ways. John Day #3, the elder, was sometimes referred to as “Mr. John Day,” a term often used to denote an established man of esteem. A young man typically would not have earned the title “Mr.” Therefore, references to Mr. John Day must refer to the elder John #3, born in 1696, and 55 years older than our subject, John Day #7.

The place of residence also provides clues to the identity of subjects in town records. John Day #3 is found living in the south part of the town, below the river, while John #7 resided near his family in Pine Swamp, north of the river and listed in the north town lists.

Mr. John Day appears third from the bottom on this 1770 South List Province Tax in Ipswich.

Mr. John Day appears third from the bottom on this 1770 South List Province Tax in Ipswich.

1832 map of Ipswich

1832 map of Ipswich

1768, 1770, and 1771 Tax Valuation Lists

Only one John Day was listed in the tax lists in Ipswich for the years 1768 and 1770, and he was residing in the south part of town, across the river from our subject’s family.   He is referred to as “Mr. John Day,” ruling out our subject, John Day #7, who was a teenager during these tax assessment years.   Additionally, only one John Day appears in the 1771 tax valuation list, and it is most certainly John Day #3 who is taxed in all three assessments. John #3 would have been 75 years of age in 1771, with a well-established real and personal estate. The tax list appraises his real estate at £26 18s., and he had £100 lent at interest. Animals taxed were 2 horses, 2 oxen, 5 cattle, 20 goats and sheep, and 4 swine.   His land included 20 acres of pasture able to accommodate 150 cattle; his farm produced 150 bushels of grain annually; he owned 37 acres of salt marsh; produced 20 tons of salt marsh hay annually; had 4 acres of English and Upland mowing grass, and produced 4 tons of English and Upland hay annually.   Since our subject, John Day #7, was only 21 years of age, it seems quite unlikely the 1771 tax list refers to him. Additionally, December 1780 probate records show that John Day #3 was a man of means; land holdings were valued at £554, with his entire estate totaling £658.

1779 Tax List?

Unfortunately, the town clerks did not clearly label each tax book during the years 1780-1850.   Because of this, we cannot ascertain in exactly which year the following tax was collected.   John Day #7 is still referred to as John Day Jr., so John Day #3 was still alive.  We do know that John Day #3 had his will probated 5 December 1780, and since John #3 appears in the following tax year, it seems likely that the entry below is actually for 1779, and not for 1780 as indicated on the microfilmed roll.

John Day #7 is assessed for one poll, likely in 1779

John Day #7 is assessed for one poll, likely in 1779

While the above image is not clearly legible, thankfully “Jr” was added to the name, denoting John #7, the youngest adult male of the name in Ipswich. The amount is illegible, but from this image we learn that John had money lent at interest, and appears to have been financially comfortable.

The next image is apparently from the subsequent tax year.   (The tax book and film was not paginated.)  Shown is John Day #3, who died before 5 December 1780 when his will was probated, so this tax year was very likely in 1780.

John Day #3 Tax Valuation

John Day #3 Tax Valuation

The tax records also provide clues to the when my ancestor’s father died.  In the same tax year appears “Heirs Jeremiah Day”, helping narrow Jeremiah’s death date, which is still unknown.

“Heirs of Jeremiah Day, “listed above John Day #

Jeremiah’s son, John #7, is listed at the bottom of the page with his poll crossed out.   Others in the town who had served in the militia during the war were noted in the town records to have their taxes abated, which is likely the case with John, who served at least twice in the state militia during the Revolutionary War.

Jeremiah Day of Ipswich – Cabinetmaker??


Jeremiah Day of Ipswich purportedly made the listed chest of drawers

Having been on hot on the trails of my Day ancestors, I’ve found deeds and other documents stating that Jeremiah Day, son of Sgt. Thomas and Elizabeth (Jewett) Day, was a yeoman.  Imagine my surprise to find this posting on the Yale University Website, attributing Jeremiah Day with the production of this beautiful high chest of drawers?  The site states there are multiple affidavits to certify the piece’s construction in the mid-18th Century, as well as family letters describing the piece’s creator.  (Click here to go to the Yale page, and scroll to the bottom to view the envelope.  The addressee, Elsie (Day) Clark.)

In addition to this gem, the Winterthur Museum and Library in Delaware has a photograph of another piece of furniture attributed to Jeremiah.  Posted on the ArchiveGrid, details available here.

Three individuals named Jeremiah are listed in the Ipswich vital records:  Jeremiah, son of Thomas and Elizabeth, his son, and grandson, also by the same name.  The Yale listing states Jeremiah’s year of birth as 1712, consistent with vital records, while Winterthur states the cabinetmaker’s birth was in 1717, likely a typo.   My next goal is to obtain further documentation of these items, and will post most if the libraries are able to provide more info.  For now, I will be happy to look at this gorgeous piece of furniture.





Take 1! Take 2! Take 3! Sources….again!!!!


Take one!  Take two!  Take three!

Yup, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

Uh huh, “The third time’s a charm!”  But…..I am hoping it doesn’t take me three times to get my sources correct.

In my last post I shared my transition over to Leister Pro’s Reunion software for the Mac.  I’ve been spending a lot of time on the Reunion Talk discussion board, learning from other users how they utilize the software.  I’ve also been conversing on the DB about sources.  Lots of dialog about sources!  There are the supporters of Evidence Explained, and the naysayers as well.  Unfortunately, it seems like those outside the EE camp don’t understand the concepts behind Elizabeth Shown Mills’ citation formats, nor that she states citation is an art, not a science.  In other words, there is not a one-size-fits-all way to cite our sources.

Previously I relied heavily on my RootsMagic’s source templates.  This was quick and easy, and generally captured what I wanted to note for my citation.  However, when it came time to complete a family sketch with citations, I had to spend an inordinate amount of time to reformat the source citations, as templates will never be able to place the information in the appropriate format.  It made sense to me to re-write my sources when switching to Reunion, one at a time.

On the surface, may not seem like a huge deal.  I had close to 1,000 source citations in my RootsMagic database.  However, because each citation was simply the root source, it could have been utilized dozens of times, appended and modified for each individual for which it was used.  Some using Reunion are doing the same thing – using one source citation (1870 U.S. Census, for example) and then placing the detail for that citation in the individual’s event field (Monticello, Wright County, Minnesota, family no. 99, household 103, etc.).  I’m opting, however, to write out the entire citation for each use, for each individual, saved in a single source with the accompanying digital image attached.

Using the free-form text field, the complete citation can be documented in its entirety

Using the free-form text field, the complete citation can be documented in its entirety

Media is attached to the citation for easy viewing

Media is attached to the citation for easy viewing

They say practice makes perfect, and operating on that premise, I started working on groups of citations, starting with the re-write of all sources for obituaries and newspapers, and then moving on to vital record sources.

Reunion allows sources to be categorized by type for easy review.

Reunion allows sources to be categorized by type for easy review.

By writing similar citations at one time, it’s allowing me to think about one type of citation before jumping to another. I’m much closer to EE standards than I would have been otherwise, as the saturation with a group of sources and the various nuances of each has caused me to stop and consider the best way to format each citation.  While I often think I may have hit the mark, its not uncommon for me to read another section of EE only to find that perhaps a different format may be more appropriate, and hence require yet another revision.  But hopefully as I dutifully continue on these occasions will become less and less.  At the end of this exercise I will have better understanding of source citation, and will feel confident that when I share my research, others will know I’ve truly done my homework and can have confidence in my findings.

My genealogy do-over: switching from RootsMagic to Reunion for Mac

Reunion Family View

Reunion Family View

At the risk of being called a genealogical heretic, I’ve come to the resounding conclusion that my genealogy software program is just that – a program that manages data and relationships in my family tree. It does not matter which program I use – just that it works in my workflow.

Hello? Are you still there? If you haven’t closed your browser’s window on me yet, here’s my rationale: whether I use Legacy, RootsMagic, Reunion or another program, the real work is done elsewhere – in Excel spreadsheets and Word documents.

While I have been one of RootsMagic’s biggest fans (and remain a huge advocate for the program), I’ve been debating a switch to Reunion since becoming a Mac user in 2013. Reunion 11, recently released, provided the inspiration for me to do what I’ve needed to do – overhaul my database, and begin re-organizing hard and digital copies of my media files.

The process actually began last winter, when I began scanning, labeling and placing photos in archival quality storage materials. Kind of like when you are painting a room in your house and you suddenly realize you can’t paint without buying new drapery, and can’t do new drapery without new carpet, and then decide you must have new furniture to go with the paint, drapes and carpet. Well, all that scanning, labeling and archiving made me think about my current digital organization system which I’ve previous described as horribly inadequate and needing to be overhauled. With thousands and thousands of pieces of digital media, it was quite an overwhelming project to think about renaming PIC 001 to SIMPSON_Goldie_b1921_pic_001. So my first step was deciding what was going to provide value and where to start.

Like many new genealogists, when I first began entering family members many years ago, I thought if someone was related – even distantly – they should be in my family tree. Consequently, my digital tree continued to grow to nearly 5,000 individuals. Of course, that earliest research was not sourced, and I had no intention of ever going back and revisiting my 3rd cousin 10 times removed! So, I created a GEDCOM file that pruned away those distant branches, and included only my direct ancestors, and four generations of descendants for each ancestor. For example, the GEDCOM for import contained my 3rd great grandfather, Benjamin Stanwood, and his children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren. This should provide enough depth to continue cluster research without cluttering my database. It effectively whittled my file down to just over 2,000 individuals.

After importing my pruned GEDCOM into Reunion 11, my next step was to address the source list. I’ve been working to recreate many sources, as they were quite jumbled after import. This was fine, as I’ve decided from now on I’m using freeform text for my citations, and no longer using source templates. It’s given me a good opportunity (starting with my direct ancestors) to review my sources and clean them up using Mills’ Evidence Explained standards. To help, I’ve taken EE citation examples, and created my own templates in Evernote. These are then copied/pasted into the source’s freeform text field and then modified for the actual source.

After spending about 40 hours so far with Reunion, I’m glad I’m making the switch. I have many, many hours more to get things back in shape, but am simply focusing on lines I’m currently working on, and will eventually address the others when I resume those families. So here’s my review of the strengths and weaknesses of Reunion when compared to RootsMagic:


  • Drag and drop. Sources can be dragged and dropped from the side bar onto the appropriate event for citation.
  • Events can be copied/pasted from one person to another, and carries the source citation with it.
  • Media linked to people or events opens in Preview. I LOVE this! No more trying to see the file in the RM tiny, awkward window.
  • Reunion forces me to get detailed in my citation. By not cheating using templates, and sticking to freeform text only, I’m using good citation methods and will be confident when I share my research with others.
  • Documents and similar media is attached to sources, not to events. This makes me less likely to “cheat” by attaching media to a source that hasn’t been fully modified for that specific item. In other words, each media item has it’s own source.
  • The “Tree View” was one of my primary reasons for making the switch. Like’s trees, one can view their family by generation, not just in a pedigree chart.
"Tree View" allows visualization of many members of a generation, not just a linear pedigree chart.

“Tree View” allows visualization of many members of a generation, not just a linear pedigree chart.

  • Many different types of notes can be created, and are not limited to events or general/research.
  • “Map All Places For This Person” opens a map (you can choose Google or Bing) that shows all places in which the individual has events. Hovering over pin shows the event coded for that location.
Map of all locations for individual

Map of all locations for individual


  • Reports suck. I will likely export back to RootsMagic periodically when I wish to share various reports with other researchers. I often used RootsMagic’s “Individual Summary,” and liked how it was formatted.
  • No shared events. This isn’t such a big deal, as one can simply copy/paste an event to multiple people. Also, shared events in RootsMagic didn’t always show up in reports, so I’d found the safest way to ensure printed reports for children reflected each year they’d been found in a census was to enter each census for each individual. Consequently, there’s really no change there.
  • Price. Reunion is quite expensive compared to RootsMagic. Reunion sells for $99, while an upgrade is priced at $49.   (RootsMagic is currently $29.95 for the full program, and a modest $19.95 for an upgrade. Of course, one can also use the free RootsMagic Essentials.)

I’ve been a very happy RootsMagic customer for the last ten years, and will still use their product for reports and periodic tasks that Reunion is unable to perform. However, I am very happy with my switch. I love the look and feel of Reunion. It has many features that can’t be beat. Plus, it’s provided me with the impetus to prune, clean and get my database in good working order. That alone was worth the hassle of completing my own mini genealogy do-over.

The mad and successful hatters in my family tree


Beaver hats

Apparently, making hats could be a lucrative business in the 19th century. Several of the brothers of Aaron Day, my fourth great grandfather, had taken up the trade, which they likely learned from their uncle, Daniel Day. Aaron’s oldest brother, John, resided in Starks, Maine, and his great granddaughter, Lucy Hutchkins, wrote the following:

John Day “The Hatter” was Grandpa Day’s father.  Born in Mass. (Ipswich, I think)…Perhaps it was in Hallowell that he learned the hatter’s trade.  He had a brother Aaron living in Starks at that time, he went there and met and married Elizabeth (Betsy) Skillings the oldest child of Lewis Skillings- May 1809.  They lived for a time on “Mount Hunger” in Starks.  Perhaps he gave it the name…

Grandpa told me once how his father made the felt hats.  Wish I could remember it better.  The washed wool was pulled apart very fine and the strands pressed down evenly into a large circular form, it was wet, under pressure (perhaps steamed) I think and shrunk until it became firm.  Then it had to be blocked by shaping it over a “block” of wood.  I suppose it was dyed, don’t remember just when but before it was blocked I guess.  Grandfather, the hatter, was only 56 when he died.

Before his death, John had much difficulty feeding his family; at least one of his children (Jonathan, the grandfather of Lucy who wrote the history above) was sent to be raised by relatives when he couldn’t manage to support all nine of them.

While the trade of a hatter was not so promising in the tiny town of Starks, John’s brothers Francis and Moses had much better success.  From the book, Manchester Maine 1775-1975, we learn the following:

In the early 1800’s the Crossroads [in Manchester, Maine] had its own hat shop, owned by Francis and Moses Day. An old “hatter’s iron” from there was in Mrs. Henrietta Sampson’s possession in 1902, and deeds for Day land definitely say where the hat shop was. We have no records of what kinds of hats they made, but in Winthrop “the making of fur and wool hats was begun in 1809” – “the manufacturing the various kinds of hats then in demand and dealing in furs.”

Early land transactions provide Francis’ occupation as hatter, while in later Kennebec county deeds his title is “gentleman,” a term usually reserved for those few individuals who were quite financially well off and did not have to work for a living.  Moses, on the other hand, did not fare so well. Lucy Hutchins wrote that Moses had a head injury as a child. It may have been this, or it could have been the trade of hatter that resulted in his institution in the Augusta “insane asylum” by the time he was enumerated on the 1850 census.

Wikipedia states:

Mad hatter disease, or mad hatter syndrome, is a commonly used name for occupational chronic mercury poisoning among hatmakers whose felting work involved prolonged exposure to mercury vapours. The neurotoxic effects included tremor and the pathological shyness and irritability characteristic of erethism…By the Victorian era the hatters’ condition had become proverbial, as reflected in popular expressions like “mad as a hatter” and “the hatters’ shakes”.

Perhaps this contributed to John’s relatively early death as well, and his inability to care for his family financially.  Now, someday, maybe I will learn if Aaron also followed this family trade!



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