28 May 2012

Our Loved One Sleeps For His Country's Flag: Pvt. Hosea Orcutt Barnes (1842-1864)

by Fearing Burr and George Lincoln, 1876

Today is Memorial Day. Somehow Memorial Day and Veterans Day have morphed into similar holidays and many people don't know the difference. Memorial Day is in danger of being swallowed up by Veterans Day. It's not a huge deal, really, and I'm glad that people pause to remember servicemen at all on this weekend that is most commonly associated with barbecues, the start of summer, being granted permission to wear white shoes, and the Indianapolis 500.

On both holidays we make a point to let our servicemen know we are grateful to them for keeping us safe. We salute the flag, hear veterans' memories and pause to pray. After all, the vets are still among us, and we need to make it clear to them how precious they are to us. And of course, we take a minute in our incredibly self-obsessed lives to be grateful for what we have. But there is actually a difference in these two holidays, and a place for both.

The tradition of decorating the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers is surely timeless. But after the Civil War, the sheer numbers of lives lost caused people to gather and pause, and eventually the practice was formalized into Decoration Day. By the early 20th century, decorating graves extended beyond soldier's graves to all family members, and it has become a sort of Day of the Dead. But Decoration Day was already well established when we declared Armistice Day, a day to remember all those who had fallen in World War I. In Great Britain, Armistice Day was also called Remembrance Day because they didn't have the equivalent of our Decoration Day. In the US, Armistice Day was renamed Veterans Day in 1954, and on that day we celebrate and remember the horrors, thank the veterans, acknowledge that peace is much nicer than war, etc.

But just for today let's talk about remembering and memorializing those who actually died in battle or in service to our country. Not to minimize the suffering of returning veterans or their families. My own brother was a veteran and died prematurely because of exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam.

My work on Army repatriation cases makes this a sore spot for me. Most of the servicemen whose families I trace were just about 20 years old and not married when they disappeared or perished. Many have no one left who even remembers them--no one even interested in claiming the remains, or being honored by a stately military funeral. The serviceman's sacrifices have disappeared into a file somewhere in St. Louis. He is invisible. And I'm not talking about the Civil War. I'm working on Korea and World War II. Poof. It's like these kids never lived, fought, suffered or died. I sit with the file and wonder if I'm the only person alive who knows and cares, and is grateful.

So I went through my own files to find a family member who died young and unmarried. I don't have too many, thankfully. But this one actually did fight in the Civil War. He got plenty of accolades, perhaps more than usual for a private. But I want to thank my first cousin three times removed, Private Hosea Orcutt Barnes. Hosea was mustered into the Massachusetts 10th Battery, Light Artillery on September 9, 1862, just after turning 20.

Pvt. Hosea Orcutt Barnes,
photo from Barnes family album
Fearing Burr and George Lincoln's 1876 book, The Town of Hingham in the Civil War... (available on Google Books) tells us on pp 324-25:

Hosea Orcutt Barnes, whose name is upon the Soldiers' and Sallors' Monument, son of Elisha J. and Harriet A. (Peakes) Barnes of Boston, was born in Scituate, Mass., June 13, 1842. He joined the Tenth Light Battery, under Capt. J. Henry Sleeper, and was mustered as private, Sept. 9, 1862.

During the time young Barnes was connected with the battery, it was engaged at Kelley's Ford, Mine Run, Po River, Spottsylvania, and North Ana.

May 30, 1864, the battery went into position on the south side of Pamukey River, at a place called Jones' Farm, and was about to engage the enemy, when a detachment of four men was sent to cut down a tree which stood in a position that 'prevented accurate firing.[no end quote] The men returned and reported that it could not be accomplished by reason of exposure to the enemy's sharpshooters. Private Barnes then *volunteered* to perform the duty, and had removed the obstruction when he received his death-wound.

He was a promising young man, and a favorite with all who knew him.

A marble tablet, erected over his remains in the Hingham cemetery, bears the inscription:––
HOSEA O. BARNES
member of 10th Batt., Mass. Vols.
killed at Jones' Farm, Va.
May 30, 1864
Aged 21 years, 11 months.
-------
Our Loved One Sleeps
For His Country's Flag


Tombstone of Hosea O. Barnes and Little Willie,
Hingham Cemetery, Hingham, Massachusetts,
FindAGrave.com, memorial n. 2012533, added by MP, 27 Jun 2007;
(www.findagrave.com : accessed 28 May 2012).
I located a History of the 10th Battery, Mass Light Artillery, 1862-1865 online and it has a description of Hosea's death, but it is not as detailed as the one I found on a website dedicated to Hosea back in 2001. You can reach it via the Wayback Machine at:
http://web.archive.org/web/20080217210820/http://home.earthlink.net/~mmp2000/index.htm. The author was Mary Powers. She said:

It was high noon when three Union soldiers scrambled over the works to clear away brush that obstructed the view of the gunners. A single shot rang out from a rebel sniper's gun and found its mark. Private Hosea Orcutt Barnes lay mortally wounded from a Minie ball. He was just one month shy of his 22nd birthday...As reported in the battery's history written in 1909: "It was Hosea O. Barnes, Number Three man on the Third piece. One of his companions lifted him up and bore him into the breastworks, but he was rapidly entering the valley of shadows. ‘I am about gone,' were the last words that passed his lips. Shrouded in his shelter tent he was laid in a grave dug near by, and the spot marked by a hastily carved board placed at his head. His death cast a deep gloom over the Company, for his many good qualities as a soldier, notably his genial temperament and good humor, had made him a general favorite."

26 May 2012

Elizabeth Warren's Ancestry a Problem? Meh!

Someone asked me what I thought about the whole kerfufflement over Elizabeth Warren's ancestry. I've been really busy lately, and haven't read deeply on the issue, but here goes.

I'm not well versed in Native American ancestry, but I don't even think that's the issue. There are lots of descendants of Native Americans today that don't look have the stereotypical "look", and therefore don't suffer discrimination based on race. So theoretically they shouldn't be entitled to benefit from affirmative action policies. But it doesn't mean their ancestors didn't suffer disadvantages. Elizabeth Warren does not appear to be disadvantaged in any way, but there are lots of reasons why one still would want to claim that ancestry other than milking the system: pride being foremost among them.

I've been too busy to follow it closely, but from skimming reports, etc. it seems as though Warren and Harvard used this label to perhaps satisfy some quota. So big deal. Not the best idea, but did this take anything away from a "real" Native American? I don't see how it could have. I'm not sure, but suspect that affirmative action has a double purpose: make up for past transgressions and give a leg up to people still suffering. Part of the beauty of affirmative action is being played out right here. It undoes the stigma attached to a group of people and moves everything back towards equilibrium.

I know Warren has been mocked because of the "high cheekbones" comment. Hello, we genealogists call that a family myth. Is she just lying? I don't actually care, because I do not think it indicates anything evil in her character. I'd so much rather talk about critical issues. The high cheekbones comment is simply the basis for future research: one clue in thousands to help us figure out the ancestral trail. The general public, including Harvard, has no freaking idea on how to prove such a claim. There are deserving Native Americans who cannot claim membership in a tribe because the tribes are extremely picky about who they let in, and rightfully so. But that does not mean that those individuals do not have Native American blood. It's just a very complex issue that cannot be distilled down to a sound bite. Or a paragraph.

So what percentage of ancestry qualifies you to call yourself black, white, Native American? Why is Obama always thought of as black? His mother was white! He's neither and both, something the press can't seem to handle. People assume I'm Irish because of my FitzGerald maiden name, and although my grandfather was an Irish laborer straight off the boat during "Irish need not apply days," my mother's ancestors came over on the Mayflower. There are just as many family stories about freckle-faced redheads indicating Irish ancestry, or platinum blonds revealing Scandinavian blood, short people being Pygmies (kidding). It doesn't mean she's evil if she believes her mother's stories about family. That's where we all start out. Family tradition. I'm Irish. And I'm a blue-blood. And I'm descended from kings and peasants.

Summing up, I think it is a non-issue and wish it would just go away. That fact that she's a blue-eyed blonde is irrelevant. I do kind of like it that today people are fighting to prove that ARE Native American. Makes a tiny dent in the horror that has been inflicted upon people for their race/religion/sexual orientation. If it can help balance the universe and help us let go of these labels, I'm all for it. And to Elizabeth Warren I'd just like to say I know the best Native American board-certified genealogist in the country and would be happy to refer you to her!

18 May 2012

"I Begun to Learn Latin Latter End of the Year 1763"


[Continued from "I Call to Mind My Parent Dear": Isaac Stone's Tribute to His Mother


This is the last installment of Isaac Stone's beautiful manuscript on his family history. It's not addressed to anyone in particular, so I wouldn't call it a letter. It's more about his relatives than himself, so not really autobiographical, either. Yes, I guess it is notes on his family history: almost a compilation.

I took to my software program (newly updated Reunion for Macintosh, v. 10) and created a tree using only the information in his letter, and only if I was sure of what he meant. The relationships in this portion of his work are not always so clear, so I left a bunch of them out altogether. I resisted the temptation to check it all via the published vital records, and will leave that to anyone who really wants to pursue Isaac and his family, or for another time.





p. 8 [cont.]


My Father mar.d to Miss Anna Parker Feb. 28. 1788. __
My children. Mos. born March 2. 1774. Mard Nov. 6. '94.
His child.n Jonas_ June 6. '93. Died Sept. 30. '95. Sukey Feb. 19.
'92. Moses Died, in the morning, May 10. 1803. ~
~ Sukey – Sept. 14. 1776. Luke Rice _ Aug 10. '78. Jonas _
Nov. 17. '79. Died, Nov. 19. 48 h. old. Grace Nov. 28. '81.
Submit. G. July 6. '88. ~ My sis Lydia inft. Mar. '50.
Died Jan.    '60. ~ Rachel_Oct. 20. '54. Mard Sept. 3. '84.
Racl Rice_[Nye?]_Sept. 4. '85. Elisab. Feb. 4. '87. Olive___
June 26. '88. Mary, Sept. 21. '90. Lydia _ May 1. '93.
Jonas _ Ward _ Decr '95. ~ Sis. Parer, Lydia 2nd
Mar.     '61. 1Sally_May 4. '84. '84. Died, Mar. 27. '803.
2Lydia_       '86. 3Lucy June      '88. 4Luke '90
5.Jonas_ Friday, Oct. 25. '92. 6Simn Mar. 11. '95.
7[Scratched out then faint overwrite of Phebe] '97. 8[Phebe scratched out and Mars? overwritten, faintly] April.   1800.
9Asa_ Oct. 13. 1802. 10 [^illegible addition] Stillman. 11. [Eb. Druids?]
///////////////////////
L.R.S. Mard to N.S. June 24. 1804. Nabby Taft_
_Jan. 14. 1777. Now, N. Stone. Moses their son___
May 2. 1805. Na[t/b] Stone Sept. [20]. 180[4/9].
////////////////////////////////////
Susanna Goddard born August 4 O.S. 14. N.S. [^1744]
Marrd Oct. 27. 1773. I begun to preach about 14.
of Oct. 1770. _ Came to Douglas, Mar. 30. preached
first at Doug. Mar. 31. 1771. Ordained Oct. 30. 1771.
I begun to learn Latin, latter end of the year 1763.
Joined the ch'h in Shrews. June or July '64 being
16 years the Mar. before. Studied [^with] Mr Sumner
next winter. abt. 17 '65 I went to Mr. Payson's__
'66, July after I was 18. I [??, ink blot] College. Isaac Stone.





p. 9

[accounts]


Douglas, 1807. George Riedel Dr

   Horse to Providence, cr 1 day.
x Mr. G. Briggs Horse + Hey
twice to Sutton    in 1807. + 1808
Mr Saml Smith, Dr 1807.
Horse to Uxbridge_ + Buck Hill_
Mr. Hunt unwilling to pay__
Mr. Clar[kson?] Hunt had my horse
several times + paid. But Decr
1805. He had my horse to Mendon.
It was to have been paid by [^Mr] Oliver
Flint_ it was not _
Febry 1808. Mr. Simeon Marsh
   had my horse + Sleigh to Worcester
Mr. Stoddard had my horse to
Uxbridge. all which I wish may
be paid to Luke R. Stone.
April 16. 1808      Isaac Stone.




p. 10
Freeborn White had my
[???] Freeborn White had
my horse _ _ March 1808.
[Bottom of page, upside down]
Luke? April 16, 1808


This chart comes out very tiny here, but gives you an idea of how much information Isaac provided!




This is the end of series on Isaac Stone article. For other posts in the series, please see:

16 May 2012

Isaac Stone's Paternal Ancestry

Continued from Sensible of His Own Vileness: The Battle for Isaac Stone's Immortal Soul, posted 11 May 2012*

Isaac traces his paternal ancestry back to early Cambridge, Massachusetts.

p. 3 (half of page: image in previous post)

My Grandfather's Father, Nathanael
was the Son of John Stone, an Elder in the
church in Cambridge, N. E. Probably, while
Mr. Shepard, Mr. Mitchel + President Oakes mi-
nistered there. Likely, his gravestones [sic, that would be a headstone and footstone] are yet
legible, in the burying ground, near the Col-
lege. GrandF Stone's [^Mother's] maiden Name was Waite,
Elder Stone + his son Nathanael lived to


p. 4
be old: the elder had two brothers settle at Lex-
ington, then Cambridge Village.
   My GrandMother Elizabeth Stone was born
Nov. 1696 - died 1792. - aged more than 95 years:
In Shrewsbury. In her prime she was a
prudent, resolute, sensible woman + a tender
mother. Her father was Mr. Brown of Sud-
bury: her mother Miss Abigail Haynes: Mr.
Brown's Grandfather came out of England:
his wife's Grandfather Hayes came in the
same ship. Each had a son with him, who mar-
ried to two young women who came in the
same ship. These two couples were the parents
of Mr. Brown + his wife; grandparents to
My Gr.Mother Elis. Stone.
   I affectionately remember my dear Mother,
+ her relations. Her father [^Luke Rice] was born at Marlboro' Mas.
Nov. 30 1689. Died suddenly, June 8, 1754:
in Shrews. age 64 + 6 mo.- was reputable,
Town clerk + c. Her mother, Rachel Rice
was born at Marlboro' Feb. 14 [old stile] 1690. Died at
Shrews. Feb. 12. 1780. N. Stile. age 90. Maiden name
Stow: her mother's maiden Name Stone.
Her sisters Azuibah Baker, died while her children
were young. Dinah Eager died since my mo-
ther; Her brother Hezekiah some years
before. Lydia died [^young]. My Aunts, Abigail May-
nard, Priscilla How + Sarah –. Survive.


Continued in "I Call to Mind My Parent Dear": Isaac Stone's Tribute to His Mother.


Other posts in the series

"I Call to Mind My Parent Dear": Isaac Stone's Tribute to His Mother

[Continued from Isaac Stone's Paternal Ancestry, posted 16 May 2012.]

In my previous post, Isaac had just finished describing his father's family. Here he begins on his maternal line, focusing for three pages on his mother, alone.  Two things strike me about this long passage. First, in the days before Mother's Day, children surely appreciated their mothers, just as we do now. And somehow they got by not buying Hallmark cards, taking her out to brunch, sending flowers or making keepsakes in school to demonstrate their love. No doubt they honored and respected both their mothers and fathers, or they would be in serious trouble. But I wonder if he ever mentioned to his mother how he felt about her? Did he discuss her with other people? I doubt it. You don't need Hallmark to get sentimental, as you can see from his memorialization--the feelings were there, just probably not spoken of. I suspect that then, just as now, mothers could feel the love of their children and didn't need any extravagances beyond the best gift all, a loving glance.

Sometimes people say that because death was so prevalent in earlier times, people were somehow hardened to it. Perhaps they didn't get attached to infants as early, didn't "decorate the nursery" before a child was born, but I love Isaac for making it perfectly clear that death struck an equally cruel blow two hundred years ago as it does today. Mother suffering for lost child, son lamenting loss of beloved mother, nothing can change the way our hearts react to losing loved ones. This letter is a treasure in the way that it brings out Isaac's humanity.


p. 4 [cont.]
My Mother, Raschel Stone was born at Marlbo-
rough April 2, NS. 1723. Moved with her parents
to Shrewsbury, 1737: age 14. Died April 17. 1787.




p. 5
Tues. eve. 10. o'clock. Married Feb. 1747: in a mar-
died state 40 years - - age 64. 7. 17. d. at Death.
   She was lame + feeble from her childhood;
a woman of Sorrows. Since my remembrance,
her lameness increased by a broken bone, at-
tended with anguish + exquisite pain. In
1759. In June her eldest daughter Lydia, was
sick; languishing thro' the Summer +
Autumn till Jan. 1760. By watching + ten-
ding, + by the death of her child, my mo.
ther received a shock, of which she never
recovered; tho' she had comfortable hopes,
that her little daughter was an heir of
heaven: after this She lived 27 years; but
could never promise herself enjoyments
in this world any more: willing to
wait, + to do, + to suffer her heavenly Fa-
ther's will, her great change appeared
definable in God's time. She was of a very se-
rious turn of mind while quite young; dedi-
cated herself, + made a public profession
early. She spent much time in secret meditation
+ prayer. Her mind was [best/bent] and looked, waiting
to learn Christ Jesus + holiness according to
the holy Scriptures. She deeply mourned for
her sins: abhorring all sin; renouncing
self, trusting in Jesus Christ. She constantly
took her infants with her to the house of worship.
She, watchful of her children, counseled them
most seriously with a mixture of tenderness.
Many of her pious counsels in her own hand
writing are my monitors and embalm her memory.



p. 6
She was ready to drop some pious word when
she could with propriety as long as she lived
She was provident in her family, careful +
an ingenious, industrious tayloress, curious
with her pen + needle, she employed her in-
ventive faculties + imagination judiciously.
She was a compassionate friend to all the hum-
ble + distressed. I call to mind my parent dear,
    Over her grave I weep__
Comfort! ____ Her Soul, her Mother's care,
   Tho in the dust she sleep.
From toil + sorrow ever free
   The Lord will raise the dead;
In realms of joy the blest agree
   With life eternal clad.
Monday, April 9. 1787. I wrote: "I visited my sick
Mother, last monday: found her in extreme pain
+ distress; waiting earnestly for her change. I was
filled with sorrow at seeing my kind parent in
such a wasted, distressed + low estate. She has ever since
my remembrance appeared to be a woman
of piety, always showing regard to God + to His in-
stitutions; expressing her dependence upon Christ
alone for Salvation. ___ She told me she had se-
cretly given me up [^to GOD] after I was born + before. __
I bless God for her earnest cries to Him for me:
+ for her pious care for me ever since I have had
an existence. I hope my parent's solemnly dedicating
me to GOD, their instructions, prayers + example
have been sanctified to me. Upon her death bed,
in the near [^view] of death, my Mother told me, she had
often cried to God, that I might be sanctified from
the womb. __I hope her prayers have been XXXXXX





p. 7
answered. May these considerations deeply affe[ct]
my mind, to excite me to strive to answer the
pious concern + expectations of [^my] Parents; that
I may be instrumental in promoting GOD's Glory.
The advancement of His kingdom, + the conver-
son of many Souls. __ If my mother is yet a-
live, I desire affectionately to commend her in
to the hands of GOD, thro' or Redeemer: GOD,
[alsoficient?] is our only hope. In extremity we
may safely trust in Him! May she have Divine
supports; when she  walks thro' the dark val-
ley of death, may she fear no evil: may thy
rod + thy staff comfort her! She has taken
her leave of us all: we leave her with GOD; hum-
bly pleading, that when death closes her eyes, all
her sorrows, grief + cares may end. May an open
+ abundant entrance be ministered to her into the
joys of her Glorious Redeemer. Weaned from the
world + from all its pleasures. She longs to be
with Jesus, I pray Thee, O my GOD, afford her Grace,
patience, hatred of Sin, self-denial, + to do, +
to suffer the whole will of God, until, full of love
to holiness, she shall be presented faultless + blame-
less before GOD, in chimes of boundless bliss, where
there is no sin, pain, nor Sorrow; but her Soul
shall eternally rest in God her Redeemer:
"April 22. '87. My Mother died Apr. 14 eve. 10 o'clock.
Her last words were, "I see the truth clearer than
ever." She bid my Father, "Farewell!" When he
asked her, if her faith held out? she answered, "yes."
How religion, how faith bears the Spirit up, un-
der most pressing pains + distresses? What a re-
commendation of religion, when its professors
p. 8
hold out to the end of life, + appear supported
by it, in distressing hours, in near views of Death.
////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////




[continued in "I Begun to Learn Latin Latter End of the Year 1763"]


Other posts in this series




Note: All ampersands have been replaced by a + symbol because of the interference with html.

11 May 2012

Sensible of His Own Vileness: The Battle for Isaac Stone's Immortal Soul

[continued from Isaac Stone of Shrewsbury, Mass., posted 10 May 2012]


When we left Isaac, he was recounting a visit to the deathbed of his grandfather, Isaac Stone. He quotes his own diary entry written nearly forty years earlier (22 April 1766) describing his feelings. At that time, Isaac Jr. was 18 years old and training for the ministry, and  like his grandfather, very concerned with the theological ramifications of death. He describes his grandfather's journey as he prepares to meet his maker. 

In the past I would have glossed over this bit, but the History of Shrewsbury, Mass., by Andrew Ward goes into excruciating detail on the battles fought over theological ideology and it seems that Isaac Sr. was well immersed in them. In particular, he was a staunch proponent of original sin! In 1750 the church appointed a committee to "discourse" with Dr. Joshua Smith and Isaac Stone on the controversy. "Isaac Stone [had] complained to the brethren, that one of them was defective in a fundamental article... The ground of controversy was doctrinal. It related to original sin. Mr. Stone contending for, and Dr. Smith against the doctrine."This was under the leadership of the first minister of the First Congregational Church in Shrewsbury, Job Cushing. 

Having served as the church historian at this very same church, I'm accustomed to reading exceedingly dry accounts of these discussions, whether taken in minutes of meetings or minister's records. You can tell that those involved felt very deeply about the issues, but still it comes across as lofty academic discussion. By reading Isaac's letter, on the other hand, you get a much more personal account, and see the implications of belief in certain doctrines. This poor man felt he had to spend his life atoning for original sin and spent his days weeping and gnashing his teeth. What a depressing existence he must have had!




2 [cont.]

                                ...He expressed
very comfortable hopes, that his sins
were pardoned;  that the consolati-
ons of God had abounded to him, more,
than in all his life before, in his time
of general calamity. Notwithstanding
the thought of Death seemed to lie with
weight on his mind." His countenance
was most solemn! Astonishing Solemn-
ity in his face + expressions, painted the
deep impressions made upon his
mind, by death, judgment + eternity.
in near view: Sensible of his own vile-
ness, by reason of original total de-
pravity + propensity to sin, he spent
much of hs time alone in his cham-
ber, many years before his death:
that he might mourn [for sin] + humble
himself: renouncing with abhorrence,
vile selfish feelings; striving to come near
to his dearest Saviour; renewably, + con-
tinually, devoting himself wholly to Christ;
he depended upon Him alone for rich-
teousness: + cryed earnestly. for the influen-
ces of Divine Grace upon his Soul: he re-
garded God above many; + poured out
Strong desires of his mind in prayer for


p. 3
the Strengthening of the church of
CHRIST; The advancing of the cause
of GOD: His native country Lay near
his heart: he longed for the Salvation of
[fellowday?], in all the world. His tempe-
rance was persevering. Years before his
death signs of a cancer appeared in his
face; he avoided cider, + whatever might
inflame: and it never increased. His com
plexion was dark, his eyes blue, his stature
a middle five; his features + deportment
quite agreeable: he retained his teeth + other
marks of a man of fewer years...


Note: Isaac used ampersands all over the place. But because the ampersand is an escape character in html, it appears as & when I type it here. I have therefore decide to replace all ampersands with a plus sign (+) instead.

10 May 2012

Isaac Stone of Shrewsbury and Douglas, Mass.

I don't choose my friends by how many historical documents with genealogical value they own. I just got lucky. Occasionally my pal Harry brings along a treasure for me to admire. It makes me feel like I did as a kid when my father would bring home a little trinket. Only what Harry has is immensely valuable to historians and genealogists alike.

A couple of weeks ago he appeared bearing a mylar pocket with a small yellowed letter in it. I only had to read a few words before I knew I'd need to transcribe the entire ten pages. The words of a man about my age, born a little more than 200 years before me, all about his life and family. He wrote it about a month before he was discharged from his position as a minister in the town of Douglas, Massachusetts.

I snapped photos of it on my kitchen table with my iPhone, at night, so the images aren't great. I can always go back and recapture them, but I want to share some of it with you here before I bust a gusset. It will have to be in installments, though, because it is so long. I have Harry's permission to publish this.


Letter in possession of Harold Richardson, Shrewsbury, Mass.
Written by Isaac Stone, 5 September 1805, Douglas, Mass.
Transcribed by Polly Kimmitt, 1 May 2012, 10 pp




p. 1
                            Douglas, Sept. 5, 1805

I, Isaac Stone was born March 17. 1748:
at Shrewsbury. My Father, Jonas Stone,
was born at Framingham, Massachusetts,
August 23, 1725* My Grandfather, Isaac
[footnote in right margin reads *died March 27. 1809]            
Stone was born at Framingham, Sept.
3. 1697. O. S. Died just before midnight,
April 22. 1776. N. S. In his 79th year. He
much encouraged me in my fitting for
College, at College, + since, in the gospel
ministry, as long as he lived. I received
many letters +; pious instructions from
him. He had 300 acres of excellent land
in Shrewsbury, new, when he first pos-
sessed it. Lived many years upon it, and
died there. He was an ingenious pen-
man and draughtsman_ he was town-
clerk _ he was accurate in his writings;
his labours were well accepted in church
+ town. When his deathbed sickness began,
he thought he should not recover. In my
Diary I wrote: "April 22. 1776. Last week
I visited my Grandfather, whose name
I bear, – was much affected at seeing
him sick, to appearance on the verge
of eternity! He desired me to remem-
ber him to Mr. Hall of Sutton, + to de
sire his prayers, that he might have
a safe + easy passage through the valley
p. 2
of the Shadow of Death, +that he might enter
into the haven of eternal rest... [much religious
verbiage follows].

Title page of Webster's 
Dictionary of the English Language,
 circa 1830–1840
The first thing that strikes me is that his spelling is virtually the same as that we use today. I've seen works by well educated men but there's always something that gives away the fact that spelling had not settled down into anything standard. This man was spelling words the way we spell them today, and it was 23 years before Noah Webster first published his Dictionary of the English Language in 1828. Of course that was when the difference in spelling between British and American English was really standardized, thus we find Stone spelling labours rather than labors. 

A brief entry in Andrew Ward's History of the Town of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts (Boston: Samuel G. Drake 1847), 425, states "Stone, Rev. Isaac (s. of Jonas) grad. H. U. 1770; ord. minister of Douglass, Oct. 31, 1771; married Susanna, D. of Benjamin Goddard, Oct. 27, 1773; dis. from his pastoral charge Oct. 28, 1805, and d. in 1837, aged 89."

H. U., as you may know, refers to Harvard University. And well yes, that's what Harvard did: it trained ministers and educated them extremely well. Still, I'm surprised by his consistency in spelling, the neatness of his writing, and his syntax. Can't help it. And I find it appropriate that he mentions his grandfather being "an ingenious penman and draughtsman" and notes that "he was accurate in his writings." The apple don't fall far from the tree!

I compared some of his date notations to the Vital Records of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, to the end of the year 1849 (Worcester, Massachusetts: Franklin P. Rice, 1904). There, on p. 99, his birth appears as "Stone, Isaac, s. Jonas and Rachel, March 6, 1747-8." OK, pretty close. (We'll see later that he gives us his mother's maiden name as Rachel Rice). The History of Shrewsbury also gives his birth as March 6, 1748, corroborating the date in the published vital records. So I just wonder which date is correct. The dates for his father and grandfather's deaths agree in Isaac's letter and Shrewsbury VRs. 

The first page was enough to draw me in, and I continued to transcribe through his description of his grandfather's religious convictions, which I will present in the next installment.


*I have been obliged to substitute a + for an ampersand because of the limitations of html. If I can figure out a way around this, I will fix it.http://pk-pollyblog.blogspot.com/2012/05/sensible-of-his-own-vileness-battle-for.html