Family History Mystery: Discovering Alexander Balla’s Immigration Details

For a while now, a great deal of mystery has surrounded the immigration details of one of my 2nd great grandfathers, Alexander Balla Sr. (1886-1950). According to oral family history, Alexander left the village and country of his birth, Eszény, Hungary (now Eseny, Ukraine), for the United States when he was between 18 and 22 years old, working aboard the passenger ship in exchange for part or all of the passage fee. Oral family history about his immigration also adds that although one of the reasons Alexander immigrated to the United States was to be with family members that were already living there, another significant reason was the fact that his life had been threatened in Eszény by someone or a group possibly connected to the Black Hand. Despite these details from oral family history, I was never able to track down a shipping manifest for Alexander’s immigration.

Recently, Ancestry.com made Texas Immigration and Naturalization records available, which has helped clear up some of the mystery surrounding his immigration. According to both his Declaration of Intention and Petition for Naturalization, which were filed in 1942, Alexander immigrated from Eszény to the United States on May 8, 1906 aboard the SS Pretoria, arriving in New York, New York. In addition to providing the date of his immigration, Alexander’s Declaration of Intention and Petition for Naturalization provide an additional, and highly interesting, fact about his immigration to the United States. According to these records, Alexander did not arrive in the United States under the name “Alexander Balla,” “Alex Balla,” or even “Sándor Balla.” Instead, he states that his lawful entry for permanent residence in the United States was done under a completely different name, that of “Joseph Domoks.” Seeing this was surprising, as there was no mention of his using an assumed name in oral family history or on any other historical record. Although there is a lot of mystery surrounding the threat made against his life, including who exactly did so, it is likely that this motivated him to change his name in order to conceal the fact that he was leaving the country, as well as concealing where he was immigrating to.

Alexander Balla’s 1942 Declaration of Intention
Alexander Balla’s 1942 Declaration of Intention
Alexander Balla’s 1942 Petition for Naturalization
Alexander Balla’s 1942 Petition for Naturalization

The information provided by Alexander’s Declaration of Intention and Petition for Naturalization records, is, moreover, supported, with slight differences, by the SS Pretoria ship manifest for his arrival. According to this record, Alexander arrived on May 6, 1906, instead of May 8, 1906 as stated on his naturalization records. His name is enumerated on this ship manifest as “Jozsef Domokos” (or “Jozsef Jomokos”), which is slightly different than what is found on his naturalization record (“Joseph Domoks”). This immigration record also states that Alexander arrived in the United States to be with his brother, István Balla (Steven Balla Jr.), who he reported was living in Tompkins Cove, Rockland Co., New York.

Immigration Record for Alexander Balla, who appears on line 12 of the manifest with his assumed name of “Jozsef Domokos” (or “Jozsef Jomokos”).
Immigration Record for Alexander Balla, who appears on line 12 of the manifest with his assumed name of “Jozsef Domokos” (or “Jozsef Jomokos”).
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Family History Through the Alphabet – R is for Religion and Rhode Island

R is for Religion:

One of the interesting topics to explore when researching your family history is the religious history of your ancestors. For many, this will probably be the same religion or denomination that is practiced in their family today. However, many others will discover that their families have a diversity of different denominations or even faiths. When I began to research my own family history, I discovered a few surprises, considering the fact that I assumed that my father’s side was entirely Catholic and that my mother’s side was either entirely Presbyterian or Methodist as well.

Research into my Kernan branch confirmed that this branch was in fact Catholic and for all known generations. However, branches that married into the family were not. My Davis branch was Baptist. My Stearns branch was Puritan when they arrived in America, as was my Dunton branch, though original apart of the “Church of England.” Over the generations both Stearns and Dunton drifted from Puritanism, and no specific denomination appears to have replaced it. However, recently I discovered a possibly Mormon connection via Dunton, which will be discussed in a forthcoming post.

The religious history of my Lapham branch also consists of a variety of Christian denominations. The Lapham family arrived in America as Quakers in the 1630’s. Over the generations, the family became Baptists, then Methodist (by my 3rd great grandfather), and for a couple of generations they were Seventh-Day Adventists. My grandmother, however, was a devout Catholic. The families that married into the Lapham family also appear to have been of varied denominations. Although few records or details exist for the religious history of the Wellin family, as well as related families of Stålberg, and Lowenburg, they were most likely Lutheran when they arrived in America, as this was the predominate denomination in Sweden. The Agee family, which married into the Wellin family, were Huguenots when they arrived in America, after which those in my line appear to be primarily Baptist. The Graber family, which also married into the Wellin family, were Mennonites when they arrived in America in 1832. The Leishman family was Presbyterian when they arrived, and changed to Seventh-Day Adventist with my 2nd great grandmother’s conversion in 1894. The Reynolds and Colwell families were Puritan when they arrived in America, with no specific denomination appearing to have replaced it over the generations since their arrivals. The Arnold and Mann families were, like the Lapham family itself, Quakers.

Research into my Hamilton branch is has been recent and is still missing important details, and there is no exception with respect to its religious history. According to oral family history, my great grandfather, Harry Carl Hamilton (1891-1960), was a Methodist. Since it seems that religion did not play a very large part in the lives of those in my ancestry belonging to this branch, it has been difficult to determine if this oral account is true. For the known generations prior to Harry, few details have been discovered with respect to the family’s religious history. The most significant has been the fact that Harry’s father and mother, Rufus and Jennie Heldman, were married by a pastor of the Church of Christ. This is the only specific mention of a denomination or religion I have found, with marriages and other major events occurring in non-religious services. The Worthington family, moreover, were Quakers when they arrived in America in 1714. By the mid-1800’s, the family was Baptist. The Gifford family, which married into the Worthington family, was also Quaker when they arrived in American in about 1647. Based on records, the Gifford family was still a part of the Quaker faith by the late 1700’s, after which it is not totally clear what denomination became predominant in the family, though it was probably Baptist. The Lightcap family, which married into the Heldman family, was Presbyterian when they arrived in America in 1734. By the 1780’s the family were members of a Lutheran congregation in Pennsylvania.

The religious history of my Sebok branch was presumed to be Presbyterian. However, family records, particularly a baptismal certificate for my great grandfather, Albert Sebok (1903-1968) and several Bibles with stamps in them, show that this branch of my family was a part of the Hungarian Reformed Church, which is a form of Calvinism. The Balla family, which married into the Sebok family, was said to be Presbyterian when it arrived in America. However, a New Testament Bible that belonged to my 2 great grandparents, Alexander and Julia Balla, has stamped in it “New Yorki Magyar Istengyülekezet.” I have not been able to find a definitive answer on what “Istengyülekezet,” though it appears to roughly mean “Church of God.” This phrase is associated with many different denominations, including Pentecostalism, Baptists, and Adventists. The Bible itself is a publication of the American Baptist Publication Society. Perhaps this means they were members of a Hungarian Baptist Church in New York.

R is for Rhode Island:

R is also for Rhode Island, the only State in the United States that starts with the letter R. Rhode Island, or rather the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, was the thirteenth State admitted to the Union, being admitted in 1790. As a Colony, Rhode Island was one of the original thirteen, and was founded in 1636 by Roger Williams (ca. 1603-1683), an English Protestant theologian.

I have a few ancestral connections to Rhode Island. My Lapham branch left England and came to America in 1660 settling first in Providence, Rhode Island, joining many other Quakers in the state. They left Providence for Newport, Rhode Island in about 1673, following destruction to the city during King Philip’s War. In 1682, the family left Rhode Island all together for Dartmouth, Massachusetts, only to return by about 1765. In the 1790’s my line of Laphams left Rhode Island for good, moving to Madison Co., New York, where my 6th great grandfather was among the pioneers of that county.

Another connection I have to the state of Rhode Island is by my Gifford branch, which married into the Worthington family (a branch of my Hamilton family). The Gifford family came to Rhode Island just prior to 1716, where my 8th great grandfather, Jabez Gifford (1686-1761) married his wife Dinah Sheldon (1697-?) in Newport Co., Rhode Island. My line of the Gifford family remained in Rhode Island until about 1750, when they moved to Dutchess Co., New York.

Another connection I have to the state is to the founder of Rhode Island, Roger Williams (ca. 1603-1683) who is my 10th great grandfather. My descent from Roger Williams is as follows: Roger Williams (ca. 1603-1683) married Mary Barnard (ca. 1609-1676). Their daughter was Mercy Williams (1640-1707), who married Samuel Winsor (1644-1705). Their son was Samuel Winsor (1677-1758), who married Mercy Harding (1683-1771). Their daughter was Martha Winsor (1703-ca. 1797), who married Robert Colwell (1702-1797). Their son was Benjamin Colwell (1746-1829), who married Deborah Brown (1747-?). Their daughter was Mary Colwell (1772-ca. 1808), who married Duty Lapham (1772-1846). Their son was Benjamin Lapham (1807-1860), who married Cemantha Broadway (ca. 1813-ca. 1846). Their son was William B. Lapham (1838-1925), who married Emoline Pauline Reynolds (1844-1886). Their son was Horace Irving Lapham (1869-1927), who married Anna Margaret Leishman (1875-1951). Their son was Theodore Alexander Lapham (1910-1955), who married Alice Lucretia Wellin (1916-1985). Their daughter was my paternal grandmother, Margaret Ann Lapham (1936-2004), who married William Kernan (LIVING).

Click here to learn more about Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge (Clicking this link will take you to another site.)

Education of Our Ancestors: Alice Wellin & the Girl’s Polytechnic School

A recent post from A Hundred Years Ago asked the question, “What Courses Did High School Students Take a Hundred Years Ago?” Although she did not attend high school a hundred years ago, this made me think of my paternal great grandmother Alice (Wellin) Graber (1916-1985) and what education she had.

Alice Wellin’s 1931 Certificate

Although I do not have every detail of Alice’s education during her high school years, I do know that in 1931 she completed a course of training in “home hygiene and care of the sick” through the American Red Cross under the auspices of the Girl’s Polytechnic School in Portland, Oregon. In the 1940’s and 1950’s, the Girl’s Polytechnic High School was a technical school for girls who were trained to work in in-demand occupations. At the time my great grandmother attended the Girl’s Poly, it appears they trained young women not only in certain occupations, but also provided training that would be termed “home economics” today.

According to the course textbook, American Red Cross Textbook on Elementary Hygiene and Home Care of the Sick (Delano and McIsaac, 1913), the home hygiene and care of the sick course was established to provide the necessary knowledge and skills for not only what Florence Nightingale once said that “nearly every woman at some point in her life is obliged to act in,” that of “the capacity of a nurse to the sick,” but also “the continued good health of the well,” with particular attention to enabling woman and girls “to prevent the conditions in their own homes which undermine the health of their families.” This was achieved by fifteen lessons, which included: a discussion of bacteria and its relation to health and disease; causes and transmission of disease; proper care of food, water, and ice; proper care of air, ventilation, heating, lighting, soil, sewage, and garbage; the proper arrangement of rooms and furnishings in the home; the care of the home, including laundry, the cellar, plumbing, cleaning of the home; personal hygiene; hygiene of infancy and childhood; proper care of beds, mattresses, pillows, and bedding; bed making; general care of the sick in their own homes; general care of patients; sick room appliances; symptoms of disease; and the household medicine closet.

I am certain that my great grandmother was taught other subjects in high school, but it is fascinating to learn that at the young age of 15 what kinds of information she was expected to learn in high school and how it differs from today. When I was in high school in the 1990’s, a course in home economics was not offered, though I did take a semester of it in junior high. We did not cover a fraction of what my great grandmother was expected to learn. I kind of enjoyed the course. I wish I knew what Alice thought of hers.

About a year after Alice’s completion of this course, she married Theodore Alexander “Ted” Lapham (1910-1955), with whom she had three daughters: Gloria, Margaret (my paternal grandmother), and Jacqueline. Alice and Ted’s two eldest daughters also attended the Girl’s Polytechnic School in Portland.

94 Years Ago Today

Chamberlin Farm

On August 6, 1918, ninety-four years ago today, Willard Pershing Graber (1918-1988), my step-great-grandfather, was born on the Chamberlin Farm just outside Cooperstown, Griggs Co., North Dakota, USA.

Willard was the tenth child born to Kit Carson Graber (1875-1960) and Iva Mae McKeehan (1879-1950). According to Iva’s extensive diary, Willard weighed seven and a half pounds when he was born, making him Kit and Iva’s fourth largest baby, and tying him with his brother Gail. At about four months old, his parents moved their family to Iowa, before returning to North Dakota between 1922 and 1924. As a sharecropper, Kit often had to move his family around at this time, particularly as the Great Depression set in and the droughts took their toll on farms in the Midwest.

  

Between 1932 and 1934, Willard completed two years of high school at Grilley High School. By 1936, the Graber family was struggling in North Dakota and decided to move west, settling in Albany, Linn Co., Oregon, USA in that year. Iva, Willard’s mother, kept an extensive account of their trip by car. In 1937, Willard, at the age of nineteen, enlisted in the Oregon National Guard, which he served in until 1940. The following year, he married his first wife, Mae Houser (1923-1989), with whom he had one son before their divorce in 1945. In 1943, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps during World War II, and began his training to be a pilot (the war ended before he finished his training).

In 1947, Willard married my great grandmother, Alice Lucretia (Wellin) Lapham (1916-1985), who was recently divorced from her first husband, Ted Lapham (1910-1955).

Click here to read my earlier post about Willard Graber.

Family History Through the Alphabet – M is for Military Service, Mistakes, Midwest, Molnar, & McLaughlin

M is for Military Service:

One thing many people find really interesting and take a great deal of pride in when researching their ancestry is discovering the military service of ancestors or relatives. In researching my own ancestry, I have discovered several ancestors and relatives with military service, many of which with service during war. Perhaps the earliest known of these is the service of Mathieu Agé, my 9th great grandfather, in the Glorious Revolution. Mathieu was a Huguenot refugee in the Netherlands and was conscripted in the army of William of Orange (1650-1702) that invaded England in 1688. He was among many Huguenot refugees that served and was granted land in Virginia for his service.

In addition to Mathieu, I also have ancestors and relatives that served in wars in and involving the United States, including eight ancestors that served in the American Revolution, one of which was on the side of the British; some yet unverified claims of service in the War of 1812; four confirmed ancestors that served in the American Civil War, one of which was on the side of the Confederacy; one in the Spanish-American War; one in World War I; no direct ancestors in World War II, but two step-great-grandfathers that served, along with some great uncles; one that served during the Korean War; and a couple of relatives that served during the Vietnam War.

M is for Mistakes:

M is also for mistakes. In researching our ancestries, everyone comes across mistakes, particularly in oral accounts of our ancestry. On my paternal side, it was always claimed that my 3rd great grandfather, Owen Kiernan (1836-1901), and his wife, Harriet, were born in Ireland. Research revealed that Owen was in fact born in Canada to Irish émigrés, and Harriet was born in New York. On my maternal side, many mistakes were collected from the recollections of my great grandmother, Goldie (Worthington) Hamilton (1912-2006). Although she had the names kind of correct for several ancestors, they turned out to be of her own ancestry and not both hers and her husbands, Harry Carl Hamilton (1891-1960).

Although mistakes can take some time to discover and correct, I have found the process in doing so to be rewarding, as you uncover the past for what it really was piece by piece.

M is for Midwest:

M is also for Midwest. As I researched my ancestries, I was amazed by how many of my branches traced back to the American Midwest. The Midwest, also called “the heartland,” is a region in the United States that consists of 12 states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. All four of my “cardinal branches” (Kernan, Lapham, Hamilton, and Sebok) discussed on this site/blog trace to the Midwest; and I have connections to all but Kansas (so far). I know (from oral accounts) that many of my Midwestern ancestors left the Midwest because of the cold weather, so I suppose they avoided Kansas because they didn’t want to end up in the Land of Oz.

The following is a listing of which of the 11 states in the Midwest each of my four “cardinal branches” (including related branches) trace to:

  • Kernan: Missouri, Minnesota, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois
  • Lapham: Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota
  • Hamilton: Ohio, Missouri, Indiana
  • Sebok: Indiana, Illinois, Ohio

M is for Molnar:

M is also for Molnar (or Molnár), the maiden name of my 2nd great grandmother, Julia (Molnar) Balla (1885-1962), the mother of my great grandmother Irene Vera (Balla) Sebok (1913-2006). The surname is Hungarian in origins and is an occupational name from the Hungarian word “molnár,” meaning “miller.” Some name studies state that it may be a Magyarized form of the Slavic word for a miller, “mlinar.” My Molnar family traces back to a village called Eszény, which was in the Tisza District of Szabolcs County in the former Kingdom of Hungary. Today, although still inhabited by a majority of Hungarians, it is located in the Zakarpattia Oblast of Ukraine.

M is for McLaughlin:

M is also for McLaughlin, the maiden name of my 3rd great grandmother, Eva Flora McLaughlin (1863-1899), who was the biological grandmother of my great grandmother, Maxine Elizabeth Davis (1912-1992), who married Delmar Clair Kernan (1908-1979). According to name studies, the surname is Irish and Scottish in origins, and is an Anglicized form of the Gaelic “Mac Lochlainn” or “Ó Lochlainn,” meaning “son (or descendant) of Lochlainn,” with Lochlainn being a personal name meaning “stranger,” originally denoting Scandinavia (a compound of “loch,” meaning “lake,” and “lann,” meaning “land”). This name may originate in Ireland around the time of the Viking Invasions of Ireland. Irish bearers of the name often claim descent from Lochlann, a 10th century lord of Corcomroe, County Clare.

Click here to learn more about Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge (Clicking this link will take you to another site.)

A Genealogy Read

The following is an interesting genealogy read from Prologue magazine, a publication of the National Archives. The article is titled “Leaving the Army During Mr. Madison’s War: Certificates of Discharge for the War of 1812” (Fall 2011), and is part of the magazine’s genealogy notes section. As this year marks the 200th anniversary of the beginning of the War of 1812, which was fought between June 18, 1812 and February 18, 1815, some may find this article helpful in researching their ancestors that fought in it. The article is hosted at Scribd. If you would rather visit their site to view the article, click here.

227 Years Ago Today

Jesse Beeney Headstone

On July 25, 1785, two hundred and twenty-seven years ago today, Jesse Beeney (1785-1870), my 5th great grandfather, was born in Crowhurst, Sussex, England.

The identities Jesse Beeney’s parents has not been confirmed, though it is claimed that they were William Beeney and Elizabeth Gallop. In about 1803, Jesse married Mary Ann UNKNOWN (ca. 1784-1857). After which, Jesse and Mary had at least eight children. In 1821, Jesse, Mary, and their eight children left England for the United States, settling in Licking Co., Ohio where Jesse was a farmer. Jesse died in Licking Co., Ohio in 1870. He was buried at Bell Church Cemetery in Knox Co., Ohio.

Jesse Beeney, and his wife Mary, are direct biological ancestors of Maxine Elizabeth Davis (1912-1992), my paternal great grandmother, who was born Maxine Beeney, and was the first wife of Delmar Clair Kernan (1908-1979).

107 Years Ago Today

On July 25, 1905, one hundred and seven years ago today, Jennie M. (Lightcap) Heldman (1872-1905), my 2nd great grandmother, died in Shreve, Wayne Co., Ohio, USA.

Jennie was born in 1872 in Prairie, Holmes Co., Ohio, the daughter of Samuel S. Lightcap (1844-1893) and Sarah Jane Saunders (1842-1887). In 1890, she married Rufus Bert Heldman (1870-1944) in Richland Co., Ohio. Together, Jennie and Rufus had four children. Jennie died in 1905 and was buried in Shreve Cemetery.

Jennie (Lightcap) Heldman was the mother of Harry Carl Hamilton (1891-1960), my great grandfather, who was born Carl H. Heldman, and was the father of my maternal grandfather, Lee Hamilton (LIVING).

Research Tips: Ancestry.com Citing Sources

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE VIDEO FROM ANCESTRY.COM

The following are some templates for citing sources, which appeared on Ancestry.com’s Sticky Notes on Tumblr. Click here for the original post.

1850 US Census
1850 U.S. Census, COUNTY_NAME County, STATE_NAME, population schedule, CITY_OR_DISTRICT, p. XXX (stamped/penned), dwelling DDD, family FFF, person or people; Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com accessed : DATE); digital images, citing NARA microfilm publication, M432, roll RRR.

1860 US Census
1860 U.S. Census, COUNTY_NAME County, STATE_NAME, population schedule, CITY_OR_DISTRICT, p. XXX (stamped/penned), dwelling DDD, family FFF, PERSON; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com accessed : DATE); digital images, citing NARA microfilm publication, M653, roll RRR.

1870 US Census
1870 U.S. Census, COUNTY_NAME County, STATE_NAME, population schedule, CITY_OR_DISTRICT, p. XXX (stamped/penned), dwelling DDD, family FFF, PERSON; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com accessed : DATE); digital images, citing NARA microfilm publication, M593, roll RRR.

1880 US Census
1880 U.S. Census, COUNTY_NAME County, STATE_NAME, population schedule, CITY_OR_DISTRICT, enumeration district ENUM_DISTRICT, p. XXX (stamped/penned), dwelling DDD, family FFF, PERSON; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com accessed : DATE); digital images, citing NARA microfilm publication, T9, roll RRR.

Private Holdings: Family Bible
ORIG_OWNER_AND_DATES, BIBLE NAME, (PUB PLACE, PUBLISHER, YEAR), PAGE_OR_SECTION, CURRENT_OR_LAST_OWNER, OWNER’s LOCATION, YEAR OWNED, descriptive detail. Example: Gillespie Family Bible, The Holy Bible, (New York, American Bible Society, 1857), “Family Records, Births”, p840; privately held by Anne Gillespie Mitchell, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] California, 2012. The sons of Tarlton and Mahala Gillespie are listed with their birth dates; it appears that they were all written at one time and are date April 20 1860.

Ancestry.com Index/Database
DATABASENAME, database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed DATE), entry for PERSON, EVENT DATE, EVENT LOCATION; citing SOURCE.
Example: “Virginia Marriages, 1740-1850,” database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 Jul 2012), entry for Jeremiah Gillespie and Mary E Gillespie, 21 Nov 1848, Amherst, Virginia; citing Dodd, Jordan R., et al.. Early American Marriages: Virginia to 1850. Bountiful, UT, USA: Precision Indexing Publishers.

The Death of Susannah Martin & My Family Connection to the Salem Witch Trials

Susannah (North) Martin Praying in Prison

On July 19, 1692, three hundred and twenty years ago today, Susannah (North) Martin (ca. 1621-1692) was hanged following her conviction of witchcraft along with four other women during the Salem Witch Trials in Salem, Essex Co., Massachusetts, USA. Although I am not a descendant of Susannah Martin, I am (unfortunately) a descendant of one of her accusers, William Brown (ca. 1622-1706).

Susannah (North) Martin was born in about 1621 in England and immigrated with her family in 1639 to Salisbury, Massachusetts. In 1646, she married George Martin, with whom she had eight children. In 1669, she was accused of witchcraft, but was acquitted. In 1692, when witchcraft accusations were again being made in Puritan Massachusetts, Susannah was once more a target. On April 30, 1692, a warrant for her arrest was made, ordering that she be examined by the court for “high suspicion of sundry acts of Witchcraft done or committed by her upon the bodies of Mary Walcot, Abigail Williams, Ann Putnam, and Marcy Lewis of Salem Village or farms.”

It is clear from the warrant for her arrest that her principal accusers were the four young women. However, these were not the only persons that testified against Susannah. In most cases in Puritan Massachusetts, more than just the accusations of children were required to convict a person of a crime such as witchcraft. Thus, there are usually many others offering testimony against the accused in court, particularly for those that were convicted and executed. In the case of Susannah Martin, there were at least fourteen additional accusers offering testimony before the court. One of these accusers was William Brown (ca. 1622-1706), my 10th great grandfather.

William Brown Deposition against Susannah Martin

William was born in about 1622 in Wiltshire, England and had immigrated to Salisbury, Massachusetts in about 1640/41 with his brothers and mother. In 1645, he married Elizabeth Murford, with whom he had at least six children. William’s testimony against Susannah Martin centered on the condition of his wife, Elizabeth, who suffered from mental illness. It was alleged by William that this mental illness began thirty years ago following a dispute and legal case with Susannah Martin. The following is a transcription of the deposition of William Brown against Susannah Martin, given May 11, 1692:

The deposition of William Brown of Salisbury, aged seventy years, who, testifying, saith: That about one or two and thirty years ago Elizabeth, his wife, being a very rational woman and sober, and one that feared God, as was well known to all that knew her, and as prudently careful in her family, which woman going upon a time from her own house towards the mill in Salisbury, did there meet with Susanna Martin, the then wife of George Martin of Amesbury. Just as they came together the said Susanna Martin vanished away out of her sight, which put the said Elizabeth into a great fright; after which time the said Martin did many times appear to her at her house, and did much trouble her in many of her occasions; and this continued until about February following, and then, when she did come, it was as birds pecking her legs or pricking her with the motion of their wings; and then it would rise up into her stomach, with pricking pain, as nails and pins; of which she did bitterly complain, and cry out like a woman in travail; and after that it would rise up to her throat in a bunch like a pullet’s egg, and then she would turn back her head an say, ‘Witch, ye sha’nt choke me.’

In the times of this extremity the church appointed a day of humiliation, to seek God on her behalf, and thereupon her trouble ceased, and she saw goodwife Martin no more for a considerable time, for which the church, instead, of a day of humiliation, gave thanks for her deliverance. She came to meeting and went about her business as before. This continued ‘till April following, at which time the summonses were sent to the said Elizabeth Brown and goodwife Osgood by the court to give their evidences concerning the said Martin; and they did, before the grand jury, give a full account.

After which time the said Elizabeth told this deponent that, as she was milking her cow, the said Susanna Martin came behind her and told her that she would make her the miserablest creature for defaming her name at the court, and wept grievously as she told it to this deponent. About two months after this deponent came home from Hampton, and his said wife would not own him, but said they were divorced, and asked him whether he did not meet with one Mrs. Bent of Albury, in England, by whom he was divorced. And from that time to this very day she has been under a strange kind of distemper and frenzy, incapable of any rational action, though strong and healthy of body.

He further testifyeth that when she came into that condition this deponent [got] Doctors Fuller and Crosby to come to her for her release, but they did both say that her distemper was supernatural, no sickness of body, but that some evil person had bewitched her.

Sworn the eleventh day of May Anno Domini 1692, before me, Robert Pike, Assistant.

Although there were many others that provided testimony against her, William’s testimony before the court helped to convict Susannah, who was put to death nearly two months later. The tragic death of Susannah Martin, and all the victims of the Salem Witch Trials, has never been forgotten. Her memory is kept alive by her many descendants, one of which was Chester A. Arthur (1829-1886), 21st President of the United States of America.

Memorial Marker of Susannah (North) Martin at The Salem Witch Trials Memorial Park in Salem, Massachusetts.

Although petitions were granted and legislative acts were passed to reverse the convictions of victims of the Salem Witch Trials, Susannah Martin’s family was never a part of them. It was not until 2001 that a 1957 Act was ammended to include Susannah (and others) among those whose convictions were reveresed.

William Brown and Elizabeth Murford’s daughter, Mary Brown (1647-?), along with her husband Thomas Hoyt (1641-1691), is a direct ancestor of Jemima Hoyt (1729-ca. 1762), my 6th great grandmother, who, along with her husband Samuel Stearns (1720-1776), is a direct ancestor of my 2nd great grandmother, Maudena Elizabeth Stearns (1885-1936), who married George Edward Kernan (1884-1960).