Thursday, November 29, 2007

Straw Plains - 1863

Shorpy has a photo of Strawberry Plains taken in 1863. The town is much closer to Knoxville nowadays!

Dear Santa . . .

Remember those days when all I wanted for Christmas was a doll? Well, those days are over. I hope you have the resources to meet my current requests.

First of all, I, like every other genealogist who works a day job to support the genealogy habit, would like a huge endowment which will enable me to quit my day job and do research full-time as well as travel to all the places my ancestors lived to do research, order or make all the copies needed for my research, support my book-buying wishes and needs, pay for all the really cool genealogy databases that I'd find helpful, attend all the genealogy conferences I want to attend, etc.

Second, I would like for you to find the cave in the hills of northwest Alabama where my ancestors hid all the details of their lives when they decided to burn down all the courthouses over there to erase evidence of their existence and from whence they came.

Third, I'd like to find backup copies of all the documents that were burned in those courthouse fires that I believe my ancestors deliberately set to hide from me generations later.

Fourth, I'd better ask for an addition to my house with floor to ceiling built-in bookshelves and additional filing cabinets to house all those additional books and files I'll be accumulating when you supply my first wish.

And, last but not least, I'd like LOTS OF SNOW! I'm tired of winters with no White Christmas, White New Year's Day, White Birthday, or White Valentine's Day. I'd like at least four days with 6 or more inches of snow with one of those being Christmas eve so that I have a White Christmas.

I hope this isn't asking too much!


P.S. - Brumley says he supports my request for more time away from work so that I can be with him more and wishes for a lifetime supply of catnip.

Some Thoughts on the Cancellation of Emeril Live

I was upset when Food Network moved Emeril Live from the 8 p.m. Eastern time slot to the 7 p.m. Eastern time slot which is 6 p.m. Central and conflicts with the local news there. My mother was an avid Emeril fan. It's one of the few shows on television that she truly enjoyed; however, there was no way Dad would give up the local news to watch it even though he usually watched Emeril with her. Now we hear that Emeril Live will only live in re-runs. This is truly disappointing. I've been very disappointed with the direction that the Food Network seems to be going with all the cook-offs, reality shows, etc. I couldn't believe they cancelled Molto Mario earlier this year. His show is much better than Giada's. I think Food Network is forgetting the people that made it a network. Pretty soon there will be no reason to watch Food Network because it will all be reality shows with no true personalities that keep people coming back.

I've not really seen a good reason for the cancellation. If they say it was ratings-related, they brought about the poor ratings themselves by moving it to a poor time-slot so they could air the junk I've seen all fall in their prime time slots -- most of which I've ended up turning off because it doesn't interest me. I used to be able to know that there was decent programming at night on Food Network. This fall, I've sat with the TV turned off a lot because I can't find anything decent to watch.

Partial vs. Full Feeds

I'm a blog reader who reads my feeds through an RSS reader. I definitely prefer feeds that are full. Plagiarism Today has an article that talks about full vs. partial feeds and concludes that "there is little business justification for keeping your feeds partial" and that "if you are running a partial feed and are considering the switch, there are ways to provide better security for your feed." It's a thought-provoking article.

Let's Get Kids Reading Again

I find a new report that 4th graders in the United States lag behind other countries in reading skills very disturbing. We need to read to kids from an early age and then get them excited about reading. I invite all my readers to reply to this with their suggestions of books 4th graders might find interesting or which they remember reading in the 4th grade. I'll begin with a book that I picked up at Borders in Knoxville recently as I was browsing. The book was written by Deborah Wiles and is entitled Each Little Bird That Sings. I think it would make a great read-aloud book. In the book, Comfort Snowberger lives in a funeral home in Snapfinger, Mississippi. She enjoys writing obituaries. In the book, Comfort's Great-Uncle Edisto and Great-Great Aunt Florentine die. Comfort and younger cousin Peach have a near-death experience of their own.

P.S. - I've added another entry in the page 161 meme. I made some comments about a comment that George Morgan made regarding library funding that really ties in well with this.

Update: An interesting Wall Street Journal editorial on the subject of reading.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

In a Christmas Mood . . .

I've been listening to Christmas music most of the day so I'm kind of in a "Christmas-y" mood. I loved Mainelife's Lobster Trap Tree. That's one kind of tree that I'll never see in the South. Marie offers us the Christmas goat and some advice about where to purchase your Christmas tree. I will say that last year those Christmas tree growers around Boone were doing a thriving business. Almost every car had at least two strapped to the top. I saw one with at least 4. Amy offers us some items we might want to add to our shopping lists. Seeing the pocket bamboo saxophone made me think about Bill's flutophone.

Monday, November 26, 2007

FINALLY Published

Arphax has finally released its Family Maps of Monroe County, Mississippi. I've been hounding Greg ever since they first showed up at NGS a few years ago with the first 4 volumes to get Monroe done! I've ordered mine and can't wait for it to arrive! Greg, if you're reading this, I'm still waiting for Itawamba!

Top 100 Breaking News Blogs

Carnegie Mellon did a study. Instapundit came out on top.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Back Home

I had planned to go to Mississippi for Thanksgiving last week, but I ended up leaving a little earlier because of my uncle's death. I drove from East Tennessee to the Mobile Bay area to pick up my cousin's wife before heading to north Mississippi. My cousin had gone when the hospital called which left her without a way to get to the funeral. She'd stayed behind because of appointments she needed to keep. Let me just say that the weather was gorgeous down there! We made it to Amory in time for the last 30 minutes of the visitation on Tuesday night. The funeral was on Wednesday. On Thursday, my cousin brought me a bag of old family photos! Needless to say, I was thrilled to get the photos, but sorry for the circumstances. However, I know that Uncle Bud was an independent person and did not want to go into a nursing home. He was able to maintain his independence until the end. God honored his wishes. We found comfort in knowing that he'd been able to live his life as he wished and in knowing that the suffering was for a brief time. I'll get back to my regular routine of blogging in a day or two.

Monday, November 19, 2007

36th Carnival of Genealogy

Jasia at Creative Gene has posted the 36th Carnival of Genealogy. It's a carousel edition so the topics are varied. It looks like there are several new participants. I'm looking forward to reading all the entries as I have time.

Light Blogging the Next Few Days

There's been a death in the family. I know you all understand!

I'm Intrigued

Amazon's announcement about Kindle has left me pondering whether this may be my Christmas present to myself this year or if I want to wait awhile and see what the reviewers say. It does appear to be very proprietary which is probably not a good thing. However, it does allow one to download books from Amazon, read their favorite blogs, and their favorite newspapers. It's light-weight, works with the same wireless technology that advanced cell phones use, and uses e-ink. The librarian in me cringes that their bookmarking method is "dog-earring" the page. I'll probably wait to purchase because I'd hate to be one of those persons who bought it right before they announce a big price reduction such as the one with those iPhones earlier this year; however, I've been debating getting one of these for road trips, especially when flying.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Terry's Name Meme

I'm not going to repeat the directions for the meme. If you wish to participate, check out Terry's post. Here are my answers:

1. Rock star name = E.R.M. Toyota
2. Gangsta name = Cherries Garcia No Bake Cookies
3. "FLY" name = Ltho
4. Detective name = Red cat
5. Star Wars name = ThoLo
6. Superhero name = The Blue Latte
7. NASCAR driver name = James Irving
8. TV Weather Person Name = Cutcliffe Cincinnati (or Wilf Warsaw or Reeves Rome or Allen Aberdeen) - [Note: We changed classes in 5th grade.]
9. Spy name = Winter Tulip
10. Cartoon name = Watermelon Shirty
11. Hippy name = Biscuit Dogwood
12. Rock Star Tour name = The Cross Stitch Snow Tour
13. Soap Opera name = Ann Amory
14. Witness Protection Name = Ann Thomas

Thanksgiving: A Simpler and Humbler Holiday

I located an 1867 description of Thanksgiving day written by William Adams in his book Thanksgiving: Memories of the Day; Helps to the Habit (New York: Charles Scribners' Sons, 1867). [Page 5]

It is a day not indeed heralded and emblazoned, like the corresponding festivals in our ancestral land, in all the pomp and glory of song. It has not been celebrated like Christmas, by the imperial song of Milton, the dove-like notes of Herbert, or the classic beauty of Keble. Connected with it are no superstitious rites handed down from time immemorial; no revelings in baronial halls; no decorations of churches or houses with garlands or evergreens; no wassailings; no shoutings; no carols; no riotous dissipation. Simpler in its nature, humbler in its pretensions, better suited to a people of more recent origin, it is set apart to the exercise of those home-bred affections, those "honest fireside delights," which are greener than laurel or fir-tree, and which, from a natural affinity, most closely harmonize with the sweet sanctities of our holy religion.

I found this to be an interesting description of a holiday that I know some friends consider to be their favorite. Thanksgiving is a time when families get together, but it is less commercialized than Christmas. As Dr. Adams wrote, it is "simpler in its nature" and "humbler in its pretensions." We are reminded that we have so much for which to be thankful.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

A Thanksgiving Poem

When I think of Thanksgiving, my mind goes back to a poem that I learned in elementary school. The poem was written by Lydia Maria Child, a children’s magazine editor who was also prominent in the anti-slavery movement of the 19th century. The poem was called “Thanksgiving Day” although most of us know it best by its first line. The poem was first published in Flowers for Children, volume 2 in 1844. This version comes from Children’s Literature: A Textbook of Sources for Teachers and Teacher-Training Classes, edited by Charles Madison Curry and Erle Elsworth Clippinger (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1921).

Over the river and through the wood,
To grandfather’s house we go;
The horse knows the way
To carry the sleigh
Through the white and drifted snow.

Over the river and through the wood --
Oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes
And bites the nose,
As over the ground we go.

Over the river and through the wood
To have a first-rate play.
Hear the bells ring,
Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!

Over the river and through the wood,
Trot fast, my dapple-gray!
Spring over the ground,
Like a hunting-hound!
For this is Thanksgiving Day.

Over the river and through the wood,
And straight through the barnyard gate.
We seem to go
Extremely slow,
It is so hard to wait!

Over the river and through the wood --
Now grandmother’s cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun!
Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for pumpkin pie!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Page 161 Meme

I borrowed this from Amy.

Open up the book you are currently reading to page 161 and read the sixth sentence on the page, then think of 5 bloggers to tag.

Last night, I started a "fun read." It's called Cooking Up Murder and is written by Miranda Bliss. The sixth sentence on page 161 is "I breathed a sigh of relief."

I am tagging:

Linda at The In Season Christian Librarian

Suzanne at CBCTS Librarian

Maggie at Maggie Reads

Taneya at Taneya's Genealogy Blog

and the footnoteMaven

Update (11/17):

First, I confess that I only had one of the 4 books I'm currently reading downstairs with me at the time, so I only gave you the book I really was reading between blogging and watching TV. I will give you page 161 of my other books in progress now.

I'm reading a children's book entitled Each Little Bird that Sings by Deborah Wiles. It's aimed at about a 4th-6th grade audience and was a National Book Award finalist the year it was written. The "draw" for the book is that it is about a girl who lives in a funeral home in Mississippi and writes obituaries. What family historian can resist such a book description? Anyway, the 6th complete sentence of page 161 is "He nodded."

My most literary book in progress at the moment is Ross King's Ex-Libris. The 6th sentence of page 161 is actually a somewhat incomplete sentence in that the subject and verb are implied from sentence 5. It is "Records of your sales?" Let me just say that they are trying to locate a rare manuscript that has been taken from a home. In this sentence, the antiquarian dealer/investigator is asking the person whether he keeps records of the sales. I can't help but think about the sales ledgers from the store in Quincy, Mississippi that Terry posted.

The other book in progress is my non-fiction history book. I'm reading Communities of Kinship: Antebellum Families and the Settlement of the Cotton Frontier by Carolyn Earle Billingsley who blogs over at Life in Possum Holler. I've had the book for awhile but I'm just getting around to reading it. Page 161 is in the references of that book. I don't know how to count bibliographic citations. If I go with punctuation as a guide, the 6th sentence is "19. Woodman, King Cotton and His Retainers (see esp. chap. 9, "Bankers and Planters"); and Cashin, A Family Venture, 6-7."

Taneya reports that she's too busy with genealogical research to read at this time.

Here's a listing of bloggers that have participated in the meme. If you know of others, let me know, and I'll add them to the list (or you can just add as a comment).

footnoteMaven replies with The 161 meme.

Randy at Genea-Musings replies with The "161" Meme.

Terry at Hill Country of Northeast Mississippi responds with The 161 Meme. Terry challenged his readers to reply so there are several who have responded in the comments. I'll extend the invitation to my readers to reply in the comments as well.

In what may well be the most amusing entry, Jasia at Creative Gene who was reading a Janet Evanovich book (need I say more?) responds with 161 Meme, Oh My!

Becky at Kinexxions replies with The 161 Meme.

Update (11/18):

Maggie of Maggie Reads has responded with Sixth Sentence 161 Meme.

Schelly at Tracing the Tribe has entered with 161 Meme: Tracing the Tribe Tagged.

Lee at the I Seek Dead People Blog has posted The "161" Meme.

Steve at Steve's Genealogy Blog has asked "Do You Really Want to Know What I'm Reading?"

Miriam at AnceStories replies with Two Memes: 161 and Can You Top This?

Jessica at Jessica's GeneJournal responded with The 161 Meme.

George at Genealogy-Photography-Restoration has also entered The 161 Meme.

Chery at Nordic Blue has also submitted The 161 Meme.

John at Transylvanian Dutch responded with a meme of his own. He invites anyone who wishes to participate. No tagging required. It's called Can You Top This? I won't give a spoiler, but I can't top the number of children there! The replies are interesting too!

Nikki-ann has also entered the 161 Meme.

Karen at Passions of My Heart has replied with Naughty or Nice?

Apple at Apple's Tree has responded to The 161 Meme.

Craig at GeneaBlogie has added Page 161.

Bill of West in New England has responded with MEME 161. This one is rather colorful as would be any post which includes the word "entrails."

Update (11/19):

Susan at Family Oral History Using Digital Tools entered 161 Meme!

Paula Stewart-Warren of Paula's Genealogical Eclectica chimes in with Page 161, 6th Sentence.

Update (11/29):

George Morgan has replied with Do You Really Want to Know What I'm Reading? I will say that as a librarian, I really appreciated his comment about keeping funding for public libraries. I've seen too many public libraries closing their doors in the last few years because government officials decided it is an expense they can live without. Not everyone can afford to purchase books. Most of the free book programs such as Dolly's Imagination Library only extend to children up to age 5. If we are going to do something about the growing problem of illiteracy in this country, we need to be committed to public libraries and to their funding.

Preserving Community Names

In researching our family history, most of us have run across the names of communities that are no longer recognized by persons living in the county today. In Sevier County, a group is doing what they can to make sure that those historic names become more recognized. Fox, Sims, Blowing Cave, Birds, Jones Chapel, and Cannon's Store are a few names that were used by previous generations. A few names such as Catons Chapel, Richardsons Cove, and Fair Garden are still recognized today. The entire article is available in the Mountain Press.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


We had a few flurries here in East Tennessee today. At 6 p.m. they were reporting 2 inches of snow in some of the higher elevations of the Smokies. Newfound Gap Road and Highway 441 are closed. I can't wait for a "real snow."

Putting Up the Family Tree

VOLuntarilyConservative alerts us to the fact that Lowe's is offering "family trees" this year. As a genealogist, you can imagine the picture I'm getting in my mind. Yes, I can just see the tree pictured here. Perhaps, if you don't like your own family tree, you can purchase another one, such as the ones Gustav Anjou made up.

Monday, November 12, 2007

On this day in 1812

On November 12, 1812, my second great grandfather Walton A. Harris was born. He is believed to be the son of Charles Harris and Dicey Davis who married 22 January 1811 in Wayne County, Kentucky. Better proof of this relationship is needed but it is based partly on recollections of my grandmother about where she heard he was born (and the state of Kentucky is corroborated by census records) and partly on naming patterns. (His first son was named Charles Newton presumably after father. His second son was named John Jasper, presumably after his grandfather John. His second daughter was called Dicey although her name was Dianna C., presumably after his mother. Some of the children were named after his wife's family.) The reason his parents have been so difficult to identify has been because Walton removed from the area in which his family lived. Family tradition states that he was on a cattle drive from Kentucky to the Starkville, Mississippi area. Along the way, they stopped to water the animals at the farm of his future father-in-law Caleb Mosely. Tradition says that his future wife Margaret was lying in a petticoat on a table when they met. He was so enamored of her that after delivering the cattle, he returned to Tennessee to wed Margaret. The best estimate of this date is in 1840 because Walton has not been located in the 1840 census, and it appears that Margaret is enumerated with her father in that year. Their first daughter was born in 1841. I have seen some estimates of their marriage date as early as 1838. No marriage record has been located. Giles County suffered a record loss in 1865.

I have no idea how much truth there is to this family story about the cattle drive and petticoats; however, in discussing it informally with professional genealogists most have said there appears to be at least some element of truth in it. Wouldn't it be neat to find a record of a sale of cattle from Kentucky to someone in the Starkville area? Mississippi State's predecessor (The Agricultural and Mechanical College of the State of Mississippi) was not founded until 1862 so a sale to the land grant university would not have been an option.

I haven't had a lot of time to spend researching this line prior to their arrival in Itawamba County, Mississippi. With the record loss in Giles County, it is going to be difficult. However, I am hopeful that some more progress can be made when I do get to work on this line with such a common surname.

On one census, Walton's name is spelled Walther; however, the majority identify him as Walton as does my grandmother's Bible.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

On the Menu: Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I thought it would be fun to post about traditional Thanksgiving meals. I have to admit that when I read about the Duct Tape Turkey that my first thought was that wasn’t right because it wasn’t cornbread dressing. If my mom ever soaked our turkey in brine, I never knew about it. I know that she didn’t in later years, but I don’t recall it as a child either. Earlier today, I saw Tyler Florence praising the brining process on the Thanksgiving turkey. He said that it really made the meat moist and delicious. I may have to try it sometime just to see if it's all it's cracked up to be! I see those big turkey fryers in stores all the time, and I have to admit that deep-fried turkey wasn’t our family’s tradition either.

Turkey was, of course, the traditional meat served. It was placed in a large roaster in the oven. We did not stuff it. Instead we had a separate dish called dressing (or cornbread dressing). The turkey and dressing were accompanied by giblets and gravy (although there was usually a little of it set aside without the giblets for those who didn’t like all those “innards”). Jellied cranberry sauce was always served. Mom always chilled the can in the refrigerator ahead of time. Both ends of the can were opened and the sauce would just slide out on the relish tray where it could be cut in slices. Side dishes usually included green beans or a green bean casserole, a sweet potato soufflé or butternut squash casserole, Waldorf salad, and ambrosia. My maternal grandmother was the big fan of the ambrosia. After he died, I often heard mom talking about how he always insisted on ambrosia at Thanksgiving. Rolls (some store-bought variety) were usually served also. For dessert, we’d have pumpkin pie or sweet potato pie and pecan pie.

In later years, Thanksgiving meals have been modified to accommodate the changing tastes of my nieces and nephews. The Waldorf salad has been replaced by a fruit salad that my sister-in-law makes that is basically just cut-up fruit (apples, oranges, grapes) with sugar on it. The sweet potato soufflé has been replaced by the hash brown casserole. The pies are usually either fried apple pies or a cheesecake (although sometimes some of us insist on one of the more traditional pies although we rarely get them both). The turkey and dressing remain the same, although we often only purchase the turkey breast now. The gravy is now always minus the giblets. Last year I made real cranberry sauce. It was much better than the canned stuff, and I definitely prefer whole cranberries. The rolls are homemade now. Green beans are still usually on the menu, even though the nieces and nephews avoid them. Due to the amount of ambrosia left over each year, it eventually was removed from the menu.

In On the Banks of Plum Creek, Laura Ingalls Wilder describes what they had one Thanksgiving. They had stewed goose with dumplings in the gravy, corn dodgers, mashed potatoes, butter, milk, stewed dried plums, and three grains of parched corn as a reminder of the Pilgrims’ first dinner.

The Thanksgiving menu in Fannie Farmer’s 1896 edition of the Boston Cooking-School Cook Book consisted of oyster soup, crisp crackers, celery, salted almonds, roast turkey, cranberry jelly, mashed potatoes, onions in cream, squash, chicken pie, fruit pudding, sterling sauce, mince, apple, and squash pie, neopolitan ice cream, fancy cakes, fruit, nuts and raisins, bonbons, crackers, cheese, and café noir.

So, what was your family’s traditional Thanksgiving meal? Has it evolved over the years to accommodate changing tastes?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Happy 120th Anniversary!

. . . to my great grandparents, Cape and Bennie Thornton.

Andrew Capus Thornton was born 4 Sep 1855 near Vernon, Fayette County, Alabama. (Vernon is now in Lamar County.) His parents were James M. Thornton and Lucinda Aldridge. His mother died at the time of or very soon after his birth, and he was reared by his maternal grandparents Ashley and Celia Aldridge.

Berniece Estelle Duke was born in July 1868 in or near Cotton Gin Port, Monroe County, Mississippi. Her parents were Thomas Duke and Nancy Malinda Allred.

Cape and Bennie were married 10 November 1887. It was Cape's third marriage although he had no children by his previous wives. The couple settled in Becker, Mississippi. They had twelve children. The house pictured below is the "old home place" shown shortly before it was demolished.

While the couple only lived to celebrate 47 years together, today marks the 120th anniversary of their marriage!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Photo Challenge

Terry at Hill Country of Monroe County Mississippi has challenged us to post photos of ourselves as adults dressed in costume. This is about the best I can do! As I recall, I went to some sort of AAA travel show where they had the perfect costume for every true Tennessee Vols fan!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Carnival of Genealogy #35

Blaine Bettinger, The Genetic Genealogist, is hosting the 35th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy. The theme was "Do you have a family mystery that might be solved by DNA?" Blaine offered to analyze each scenario. He was asked a couple of questions regarding ethical issues also.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Reading Roundup - November 3

As I'm listening to the Vols playing Louisiana Lafayette on the radio, I'm surfing through my blog posts.

Is your society looking for an interesting event? Try a genealogy fair such as the one Birmingham Genealogical Society held this weekend. The concept appears to be similar to that of the science fairs we had back when we were in middle school. Each member brings a project which is placed on display. Awards are given for first, second, and third places.

footnote Maven really had her creative juices flowing when she wrote about Little Red Genetic Hood.

I used to live in Ohio. The town of Yellow Springs was about an hour away. It was an interesting little town made up of all sorts of New Age shops. There are a lot of artists in the town. The heart of the town has always been Antioch College which announced earlier this year that it would be closing its doors. Thanks to the college's alumni, the college is going to remain open. One of the more interesting features of the college is Glen Helen which is like a small nature preserve. I always enjoyed hiking there. No visit to Antioch is complete without a visit to Young's Dairy Farm. It looks like their menu has been updated to include gelato now, but it still looks like they have many of the same tasty treats!

Randy has posted the table of contents from the latest issue of The American Genealogist. There are several articles that look interesting to me: Card-Playing and 'The Corrupting of Truth'; Of Nightgowns and Childish Misapprehensions; One Wife Too Many? Two Wives Too Many? 'How It Is and How It Was' (by Ronald A. Hill).

Noel is now only a tropical storm, but Bill West tells us his observations on the storm. I'm glad we won't have a repeat of the Great Colonial Hurricane of 1635.

And, now, in the just for fun category, this video reminds me of my cat, except that my cat is successful in his lower level attempts to get his slave out of bed to feed him.

2007 Weblog Awards - Time to Vote

You can vote once per day. Unfortunately no genealogy blogs appear to be among the nominees.

Great Colonial Hurricane of 1635

As I'm watching Hurricane Noel go up the Atlantic Coast and threatening Long Island and parts north, I'm reminded of the Great Hurricane of 1938 and of the Great Colonial Hurricane of 1635 which some of my ancestors, particularly the Perkins family, were sure to have experienced first-hand. The Perkins family had removed from Boston to the Ipswich area by 1635. They were probably spared the worst of the storm by doing so. The eye of the category 3 or 4 storm is believed to have passed between Plymouth and Boston.

There are several first-hand and second-hand accounts of the storm available. Increase Mather, the well-known Puritan minister who is a central figure in the Salem Witch Trials, has this to say:

I have not heard of any storm more dismal than the great hurricane which was in August, 1635, the fury whereof threw down (either breaking them off by the bole or plucking them up by the roots) thousands of great trees in the woods. Of this some account is given by Mr. Thacher in the first chapter of our present collection. And I must confess, I have peculiar reason to commemorate that solemn providence, inasmuch as my father and mother and four of my brethren were then in a vessel upon the coast of New-England, being at anchor amongst the rocks at the Isles of Sholes when the storm began; but their cables broke, and the ship was driving directly upon a mighty rock, so that all their lives were given up for lost; but then in an instant of time, God turned the wind about, which carried them from the rock of death before their eyes. (1)

Writing two months after the storm, William Bradford, the well-known leader of Plymouth, described it thusly:

This year, on the 14th or 15th of August, a Saturday, there was such a fearful storm of wind and rain as none living hereabouts either English or Indians, ever saw. It was like those hurricanes and typhoons that writers mention in the Indies. It began a little in the morning, a little before day, and did not come on by degrees, but with amazing violence at the start. It blew down several houses and unroofed others; many vessels were lost at sea, and many more were in extreme danger. To the southward the sea rose twenty feet, and many of the Indians had to climb trees for safety. It took off the boarded roof of a house which belonged to the settlement on Manomet and floated it to another place, leaving the posts standing in the ground; and if it had continued much longer without the wind shifting it would probably have flooded some of the inhabited parts of the country. It blew down many hundred thousands of trees, tearing up the stronger by the roots, and breaking the higher pine-trees off in the middle; and tall young oaks and walnut trees of a good size were bent like withes, -- a strange and fearful sight. It began in the southeast, and veered different ways. It lasted, though not at its worst, for five or six hours. The marks of it will remain this 100 years in these parts, where it was most violent. There was a great eclipse of the moon the second night after. (2)

Today, we know that many hurricanes spawn tornadoes. In his history of Newbury, Joshua Coffin recounts the town’s official record of the storm. The account seems to be that of a tornado spawned by the hurricane:

August 14th: About eight o’clock there was in Salisbury and part of Amesbury the most violent tornado, or short hurricane, perhaps ever known in the country. It continued about three minutes, in which time it damaged, or entirely prostrated, nearly two hundred buildings. It removed two vessels one of them of ninety tons, twenty-two feet from the stocks. The vein of the tempest was about a quarter of a mile in width on the river and about a mile and a half in length. (3)

The descriptions in these accounts remind us so much of today's hurricanes. Today we have heavier settlement so the impact may seem more devastating, but to those early settlers, the hurricane of 1635 was just as devastating.

(1) Increase Mather, Remarkable Providences Illustrative of the Earlier Days of American Colonisation (Boston: Samuel Green, 1684. Reprint. Reeves and Turner, 1890), 220; digital images, Google Books ( : accessed 3 November 2007).

(2) William Bradford; Harold Paget, translator, Bradford’s History of the Plymouth Settlement 1608-1650 (New York: Dutton, 1920), 270-71; digital images, Google Books ( : accessed 3 November 2007).

(3) Joshua Coffin, The History of Newbury, Newburyport, and West Newbury, from 1635 to 1845 (Boston: Samuel Drake, 1845), 241; digital images, Google Books ( : accessed 3 November 2007).