History of Bridgewater, Mass., remains invaluable resource

Posted Oct. 04, 2009, at 4:10 p.m.

Which genealogical resources stand the test of time?

Certainly one of those is Nahum Mitchell’s “History of the Early Settlement of Bridgewater in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, Including an Extensive Family Register,” first printed in 1847.

The family information includes numerous families with members and descendants who came to Maine.

There are eight pages of information on the author’s family, the Mitchells. The immigrant ancestor was Experience Mitchell, who came here in 1623 on the third ship, the Ann.

Experience’s descendants are also Mayflower descendants, as his wife, Jane, was a daughter of Mayflower passenger Francis Cooke. Experience and Jane had Thomas, John, Jacob, Edward, Elizabeth, Mary, Sarah and Hannah.

There are 12 pages on the Packard family, descendants of immigrant ancestor Samuel Packard who came over on the Diligent. His children were Elizabeth, Samuel, Zacheus, Thomas, John, Nathaniel, Mary, Hannah, Israel, Jael, Deborah and Deliverance.

Deacon John Willis and wife, Elizabeth (Hodgkins) Palmer Willis, lived in Duxbury before helping to settle Bridgewater. Children were John, Nathaniel, Joseph, Comfort, Benjamin, Hannah, wife of Nathaniel Hayward; Elizabeth, who married a Harvey; and Sarah, wife of John Ames.

In the early years of Bridgewater, John Howard spelled his name Haward. He married Martha, daughter of Thomas Hayward, probably a different family. John and Martha had John, James, Jonathan, Elizabeth, Sarah, Bethiah and Ephraim.

Thomas Hayward had come over on the same ship as John Ames and settled in Duxbury first. Hayward’s children were Thomas, Nathaniel, John, Joseph, Elisha, Mary, wife of Edward Mitchell; and Martha, wife of John Howard.

Mayflower passengers John and Priscilla (Mullins) Alden lived in Plymouth and Duxbury before becoming original proprietors in Bridgewater. Their children were John, Joseph, David, Jonathan, Elizabeth, Sarah, Ruth and Mary.

Altogether, the Family Register in “History of the Early Settlement of Bridgewater” takes up more than 300 pages in the book, covering dozens and dozens of families.

It is available in the Bangor Room at Bangor Public Library, at Maine State Library in Augusta, Bowdoin College Library in Brunswick, Maine Historical Society in Portland and Portland Public Library, among others.

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The Maine Genealogical Society presented two prestigious awards during its Sept. 26 meeting in Bangor.

Valdine Chalmers Atwood of Machias received the Award of Excellence in Genealogical Service. The award reads:

“Presented to Valdine Chalmers Atwood in recognition of her years of service in the areas of society volunteerism, lecturing and writing, and her tireless efforts to preserve the old records of Washington County. Maine Genealogical Society honors her extraordinary contributions in advancing the field of genealogy in the State of Maine. September 26, 2009.”

I’ve known Valdine since 1980, when she began her three-year term as state regent of the Maine Daughters of the American Revolution.

She is a tremendously hardworking genealogist who is a priceless resource not only to MGS and DAR, but to the local Washington County Genealogical Society.

She also is a noted historian and certainly a specialist on the Burnham Tavern, the Revolutionary War-era museum in Machias that is owned and maintained by Hannah Weston Chapter, DAR.

A good many of these attributes were also true of Valdine’s mother, the late Veronica “Scotty” Chalmers. Theirs is a legacy in Washington County and beyond.

Last Saturday, MGS presented the “Award of Excellence in Genealogical Research” to Gerald and Janice Gower of Raymond.

In particular, Jerry and Janice have been a mainstay of the “Maine Families in 1790” project, which has published 10 volumes of family sketches through Picton Press.

Many genealogists have had one or a few sketches included in one or more of these volumes. I did one sketch on my Revolutionary War soldier, William Hayford Sr. of Hartford, for Vol. 1.

Jerry and Janice Gower have researched, documented and written more than 225 sketches for “Maine Families in 1790.” That is amazing.

These two awards by the Maine Genealogical Society are certainly well-deserved.

A third award also was given, and I’ll share information on that as soon as I find out more.

Send queries to Family Ties, Bangor Daily News, PO Box 1329, Bangor, ME 04402; or e-mail familyti@bangordailynews.net.

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