05 July 2010

Atwood Mott and His Mysterious Female Relatives


It seems fitting on this Fourth of July weekend to discuss the family of one of my own Revolutionary War ancestors, Atwood Mott. Atwood, it seems, was surrounded by women of unknown origin: both his mother and his wife are shrouded in mystery.

I was first introduced to Atwood in the context of a Mayflower line. In 1979, my mother and Aunt Abbie were accepted into the Mayflower Society on a line back to Stephen Hopkins through Atwood's mother Deborah Atwood. By 1998, when I tried to join the Mayflower Society on that line, it was rejected––precisely because of Deborah Atwood! I won't dwell on Deborah here except to say that that I know she's not going to be easy to find.

I haven't delved into thorough search on Atwood yet. I have two other proven Mayflower lines, so it has never seemed too critical. Plus, I know that these are not going to be simple to solve, and because I've been so preoccupied with clients, family and other ancestors, he remains on my "Requires Further Research" list. He was born 18 September 1736, in Scituate, Massachusetts, son of Ebenezer Mott Jr. and Deborah Atwood, according to the published Vital Records of Scituate (1:262). His marriage to Mrs. Hannah Whood on 23 July 1758 also is listed (2:211).

And Samuel Deane, in his History of Scituate, says only this about him:  "Lieutenant Atwood Mott, a worthy man (the father of the wives of Nehemiah Merritt, Nathaniel Vinal and Laban Rose), was also son of Ebenezer, Jr. He married Hannah Hood 1758. Hannah (widow of Laban Rose) was wife of Gamaliel Merritt, 1782."

How's that for a confusing treatment? I find it odd that for a man described only in terms of his daughters' husbands, the other two women in his life are so hard to pin down. You'd never know it from the above paragraph, but the Hannah in the last sentence is his daughter, not his wife. Of his three daughters, two were married twice, both to Merritt men, not brothers. The other sister was my ancestor.

Anyway, for a "worthy" man, he doesn't get much space in the history books. He is, however, mentioned in Mass. Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolution (11:168):

"Mott, Atwood, Scituate, Corporal, Capt. Samuel Stockbridge's co. of Minutemen, Col. Bailey's regt., which marched on the alarm of April 19, 1775; service, 21 days; also, Lieutenant, Capt. Samuel Stockbridge's co., Gen. John Thomas's regt.; list of officers who were commissioned May 19, 1775; also, Lieutenant, same co. and regt.; muster roll dated Aug. 1, 1775; engaged May 10, 1775; service, 2 mos., 3 weeks, 6 days; also, company return dated Oct. 7, 1775; also, Capt. Seth Stowers's co., Col. J. Robinson's regt.; engaged June 27, 1777; service, 6 mos. 3 days, at Rhode Island."

Apart from his military service, the only other information I have in my notes is that he was admitted to full Communion in the First Church of Scituate on 4 February 1770 (Mayflower Descendant 10-11:208).

Nothing on his mother, not much on him, so my first step will be to get a look at some land and probate records. These will hopefully also provide some information on his wife, Mrs. Hannah Whood. WHOOD? What kind of name is that? The vital records say it could also be Wood or Woods, and somewhere else I saw Hood suggested. Still, nothing comes up in Scituate. She's a mystery, plain and simple. From the Mrs. we can deduce that she is a widow of a man named Whood. My mother always thought that maybe she was Native American. That is probably because the only time the name, spelled as Whood, is found, it belongs to some "Indians" around Plymouth. The name has also appeared in Middleborough and in Shapleigh, Maine.

I don't even dare to guess at anything, though, and I think it would be jumping the gun to make any kind of research plan before even seeing land and probate records. This is the kind of project that will require writing up as I go along, and I'll have to suffer a lull in clients before I attack it, but whenever that happens, I will enjoy it, I'm sure!

2 comments:

Thomas said...

Have you found anything new about Hannah Whood? I'm very curious, as I'm doing my mother's genealogy, and she descends from Atwood and Hannah...

Polly Kimmitt said...

Hi Thomas. No, but I haven't looked, either! One of these days... I'm just dying to know.