Tracing Mayflower ancestry for Thanksgiving

Posted Nov. 22, 2009, at 5:59 p.m.

Pilgrim Francis Cooke is my ancestor twice, which is not why I chose him for my application to join the Society of Mayflower Descendants some years ago.

I picked Francis because he seemed to be the easiest for me to “prove” at the time. So I went about collecting birth, marriage and death certificates and every other proof I could find to get me from here to 1620 Plimoth, Mass.

It was easy to get certificates for my dad and his father, Gayland Moore Jr. and Sr.

Gayland Sr., as it happens, was the son of first cousins Alton J. Moore, born in Dexter, and Hattie E. Moore, born in Monson. On their gravestone, the name is spelled MOOER, which is not how anyone else in my line spelled it.

Hattie was the daughter of John Colby Moore and Rebecca Packard. Colby was the one my grandmother Ione (Bennett) Moore always told me not to talk about because he died at Thomaston State Prison, which will be a topic for another column.

Interestingly, Colby’s death certificate says only that he died at Thomaston, with no reference as to why he was in that town. But my Mayflower line goes back through his wife, Rebecca, who was born in 1837 in Parkman.

Vital records weren’t centralized in Augusta until 1892, but I obtained a certified copy of her birth from the Parkman town records, showing Rebecca born to James and Lydia Packard. Lydia (Harris), born about 1813, remains one of my mystery ladies, though I suspect she has connections to the town of Greene.

James, born in the town of Hartford, was the son of Elnathan Packard and Rebecca Dunham, each the child of a Revolutionary War soldier.

Elnathan’s parents were Edward Packard and Rebecca Pope of Massachusetts.

Both of these lines go back to Francis Cooke, as Edward’s mother, Susannah (Mitchell) Packard, was a first cousin to Rebecca’s mother, Rebecca (Mitchell) Pope. So Edward and his wife were second cousins.

Rebecca, born in Kingston, Mass., was the daughter of Jacob Mitchell and Rebecca (Cushman). Rebecca Cushman’s line goes back to Isaac and Mary Allerton of the Mayflower.

Jacob Mitchell was the son of Jacob Mitchell and Susannah (Pope), bringing in another cousinship to the family.

The first Jacob Mitchell was the son of Experience Mitchell, who came over on the Anne in 1623, and wife Jane Cooke, daughter of Mayflower passenger Francis Cooke.

If my little tangents haven’t confused you too much, you’ll see that I’m a 12th-generation descendant from Francis Cooke. His wife was Hester Mayhew or Mayhieux, but she did not come over on the same ship.

There are lots of books available on Mayflower ancestry, including the “silver books” on many of the passengers and their descendants.

Some members of other lineage groups, such as the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, find that once they’ve proved a line back to a Revolutionary War patriot, there is much published material to help link up to a Mayflower passenger.

These sources include books published by the Mayflower Society, and numerous vital records books published for Massachusetts towns. Check the Bangor Room at Bangor Public Library for these.

For information on joining Mayflower, you may:

— Visit the Web site of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants at www.themayflowersociety.com/member.htm, or call (508) 746-3188.

— Visit the Society of Mayflower Descendants in the State of Maine on the Web at sites.google.com/site/memayflower.

— Contact the historian for Maine Mayflower, Lane Mabbett, 15 Sunny View Lane, Phippsburg, 04562; e-mail mainemflrhis@yahoo.com

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Of course, not everyone is Pilgrim-oriented. And even those of us who are, are also interested in the history of the Native Americans.

A wonderful new book out is “Indians in Eden: Wabanakis and Rusticators on Maine’s Mount Desert Island, 1840s-1920s,” by professors Bunny McBride and Harald E.L. Prins, with foreword by Donna Loring, longtime representative to the Maine Legislature from Indian Island.

I’ve already purchased several copies locally for grandchildren and other relatives who have Penobscot heritage. It is published by Down East for $16.95.

More about this book in a future Family Ties.

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In September 2008, I wrote about the Jack Ahern book, “Bound for Munsungun.”

The book on the early sporting camps in the Munsungun or Munsungan Lake area included stories and photos on families of camp owners such as Will Atkins, Charles Libby, David Pingree, Thomas Tyler, Abram Currier, Milt Hall and many others.

The book sold out, so Pear Tree Publishing has reprinted a hardcover edition with 20 more pages of material for $35.95. See commentary by Bangor Daily News outdoor writer John Holyoke on the Pear Tree Publishing Web site.

And Happy Thanksgiving!

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

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