Friday, March 21, 2008

Notable Ancestors blog

Notable Ancestors
· All relationships have been calculated relative to me (Tom Jones B. 1942) and all others of my generation.
· Variations in “degrees of separation” (times removed) of ancestors, i.e. William Carpenter1 B. 1605 (11th generation, including myself) and Frances Latham B. 1611 (12th generation), having otherwise relatively close birth dates, appears to be due to spacing of children over many generations. Either that or for a reason that I haven’t figured out yet such as a missed generation.
· “Times removed” is a count of the number of generations between two subjects and their common ancestor. Example: Ebenezer Dorr4 B. 1739(common ancestor) is seven generations back from me, his 5th great grandson and two generations back from Gov. Thomas Wilson Dorr, his grandson. Therefore, the difference between Gov. Dorr and me is five generations, which makes Gov. Dorr 5x removed from me.
· European surnames are a fairly recent addition to our identities having first come into use approximately between the years 1000 and 1400. Prior to this time period, particularly between the fifth and eleventh centuries, the time period that is most commonly referred to as The Dark Ages, people were largely illiterate, lived in rural areas or small villages and had little need of personal identification beyond their given names. During Biblical times people were often referred to by their given names and the locality in which they resided such as “Jesus of Nazareth.” You can see this evolution on your family chart as most, but certainly not all of the “of’s”, “De’s” and “La’s”, all of which essentially stand for “from”, are dropped by the 1500’s. However, as populations grew, the need to identify individuals by surnames became a necessity. Many surnames are derived from patronymics, i.e. the forming of a surname from the father’s given name such as Johnson, meaning literally “the son of John.” Some other popular origins for surnames were occupational, such as “Carpenter”, or seasonal, such as “Winter”. It would be interesting to know how many families decided to change their names as their occupations changed or they moved from place to place or some family members preferred the name Green to Brown or White. Surname spelling and pronunciation has evolved over centuries, with our present generation often unaware of the origin and evolution of their surnames. This is especially true for descendants of 19th century immigrants entering through Ellis Island and other entry points where Anglicization was prolific. We have a couple of notable name changes in our family. For example the name “Dorr” is a derivative of “Durr” and originates in Germany. “Sprague” is one of several derivatives of “Spragge” and originates in Holland. This tells us that less than 1000 years ago our ancestors from these two lines lived in those countries and migrated first to England and then to America. The name Jones is also patronymic from the Middle English given name, Jon(e) and has absorbed various cognate and like-sounding surnames from other languages. I thought that by tracking DNA online I could make some giant steps researching the Joneses. I did a 67 marker DNA test on the Family Tree DNA website. That’s the highest level and on the largest site of its kind. So far I have no matches with anyone anywhere. As of this writing, Oct., 2007, the site lists 19665 surnames with 48605 records and my markers are compared to all of them, not just the Joneses. The Jones group, obviously, is one of the largest groups and the countries of origin listed with the Jones samples covers the globe. As you might guess, name changes over time can pose difficult obstacles in genealogy research.
  • The following surname information for "Jones" was contributed by Jim Jones, 4/2/2008:
    Family Name History
    One of the most surprising features of the surname Jones is that despite its being by far the commonest surname in Wales, comprising ten per cent of the population in 1890, there is in fact no J in the Welsh alphabet! This anomaly is explained by the name's origin as the anglicized form of the Welsh Ieuan, much of whose popularity lay in its being adopted for the personal name John in the Welsh Authorized Version of the Bible. John in turn literally means "Yahweh or God has favored", and records of the name in Wales date back to the twelfth century, when the Caernaervonshire Court Rolls cite one John Hyna ap Thomas Ap Ieuan ap Grono. "ap" is the Welsh equivalent of the Scottish "Mac" signifying "son of", and Jones belongs to that large category of surnames derived from the personal name of the father of the original bearer, denoting "(the descendant of) the son of Ieuan". In the Memoranda Ros of Wales for the period 1282 to 1343 we find such entries as that of Ieuan ap Gruffyd and Ieuan ap Llywelyn.
    Since that period, the surname has had a long and distinguished history, as is testified to by the number of families of the Welsh nobility by whom it has been borne. Thus, the Jones of Abermarles in Carmarthen are descended from Lord Dynevor, and the Jones of Dol-yn-Edeirnon have as their ancestor Jeslyn ap Gwrgant, Lord of Glamorgan, whilst the Jones of Llanerchrugog trace a direct line to Bleddyn ap Cynfyn, Founder of the Third Royal Tribe of North Wales and Powis, and himself seventh in descent from Rhodri Mawr the Great, King of Wales. It was indeed among the first names to become established there, the name Jones appearing in the lists of Freemen of New England in the early 1600s.

· Breaking news, March 13, 2008! A DNA match of my Y chromosome has been made with Jones cousins located on the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation web site. The graph depicting our relationship shows a cumulative "Most Likely TMRCA", Time to Most Recent Common Ancestor, as 100% with these Joneses within 25 generations. Of equal importance, and what further validates this match, is that we share the same surname. This double match appears to confirm that Chester WP Jones, SR is the father of CWPJ, JR. It’s particularly good that this match showed up as I have only been able to trace back the Jones line to George W. Jones born in 1818 and I have not been able to identify from those ancestors any other male Jones lines except ours. Also, the Jones cousins list Massachusetts and New York among the places where their ancestors once/now reside(d) more conformation. Unless something unexpected turns up it looks like we can call this mystery solved.
· Some of you have received “ancestor” charts which list direct ancestors only, i.e.; parents, grandparents, great grandparents, etc. The only place where you will find brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, pets, etc. is in this document. Those who received “hourglass” charts will see the siblings of the primary person listed on their chart as well as their descendants.

· One direct ancestor was Governor/President of RI so the following should help clear up the titles. The State of RI originally consisted of four towns: Providence settled in 1636. Portsmouth in 1638. Newport in 1639 and Warwick in 1642. The Executive heads of Portsmouth and Newport were called Judges until 1644 at which time those two towns united and the Chief Executive Officer was called Governor. Providence and Warwick had no executive head until 1647. In 1651 a separation occurred between the towns of Providence and Warwick on the one side which continued the government established under the King’s Charter and thus had Presidents and Newport and Portsmouth on the other under a new government established by the Coddington Commission which first had Coddington as Governor and then as President. After 1663 all of Rhode Island’s chief executives were called “Governor”.
· The ancestral line from Frances Latham to the Joneses by way of the Spragues, Arnolds and Carpenters is well settled. However, another line from her second husband, Pres. Jeremiah Clarke, down through the Gortons to the Spragues, still has a few wrinkles that I’m having trouble with. I hope we don’t lose him as his line goes back through several French kings to Charlemagne….but hey, so does the Dorr line by way of William The Conqueror’s wife, Maud….actually, truth be told, it would be difficult to find someone of English or French decent that can’t be traced back to Charlemagne. The hard part is to gather the information that leads to there. Additional research at the RI Historical Society in July, 2005 clearly indicates that Jeremiah is not an ancestor….perhaps a 9th great stepfather??? I might be reaching on this one. His son, Walter, however, remains an 8th great granduncle as Frances was his mother.
· There were many generations of Spragues that used the same first names, for that matter, it’s a custom that continues today. Genealogists use a generational numbering system, in part, to help them keep track of this kind of situation. I’ve employed their methodology by giving each generation of Spragues ( and some of the other notables when I thought it might help in keeping track of the players) a number beginning with William1 Born 1609 through Inez9 Born 1900.
· Sources for this study have been many, including the city archives of Providence, Warwick and Cranston; the RI State Archives; searches of numerous graveyards; the Rhode Island Historical Society;;; Google; the Providence Public Library and the RIGenWeb Genealogy and History Project ( ). The result is that I have a stack of documents three inches high (actual measurement) and growing. You can appreciate the time and expense of re-copying that mountain for everyone; so I’m not going to. However, if you would like to have selected copies of information for any of the people listed on your chart you may contact me by e-mail: and I will be happy to supply them.
· I purchased the software that I used to make the charts from for $29.95. If you would like to expand your chart to include other family members, or to do any other editing, you will need to purchase this same software. The CD that I have included has your existing chart on it and can be down-loaded to the Family Tree Maker software to get you started. The CD also has the charts background tree. The Treemaker software has its own tree but it won’t transport to the CD due to the size of the chart and the Treemaker support people can’t figure out a way to patch the problem. However, you can download to a PDF file and that will utilize the software tree. Then e-mail the whole thing direct to Kinko’s for a print-out.
. As of 2-20-2009 the above chart information is obsolete. I can now produce charts for any specific line of descent which will include all of your direct ancestors and descendants. (you will have to supply me the names, dob's, etc. that I don't have) If you would like a chart for just your line, contact me and I will go over the options with you. I will send you the chart in PDF form with a link that you can forward to a business store such as Kinko's where they will print it out in black and white on regular paper for about $8.00. Fancier papers and multiple color printing are available at higher cost.
· As a descendant of the people listed on your chart and in this document, you are entitled to membership (some cheap---some expensive) in many organizations including: DAR, SAR, Founding Families of New England, Founding Families of RI, etc. You can check out the list at . Click on “Societies”. Hint. If you should decide to pursue any organizational memberships use the Dorr line. The documentation for generations closer to us has been much better researched and documented which makes it a lot easier to gather.
. This document that you are reading is also on the CD which is re-writable so you can add to or subtract anything you want. You can down-load from Google or copy information from an encyclopedia on almost all of the Royal ancestors.
· If you have the opportunity to visit the Sprague Mansion in Cranston, ask to see the Sprague family items donated by Jackie (Jones) Morrisette. The items are cataloged and are on display around the mansion. I’ve seen them, so they should be able to find them again. One of the items is a very nice mantel clock with lions on either side.
· My interest for doing this project was peaked by accounts from Aunt Jackie’s research which she told me about in 1997 and from what my sister Pat told me she and Cousin Alice Jones had been able to find. It also helped to have a lot of free time to put into it. I regret not knowing any of this when I was in JR/SR high school as it would have made one hell of a report.
· This document, started around 2002, is a work in progress which I update from time to time. You can tell from the various dates when information was added. The accuracy of the following information is only as good as the public records from which it came. In many cases I was able to double check the accuracy of the information by obtaining material from more than one source. In some cases some of the details differ from source to source (read Samuel Gorton and William1 below). Since I am at all times researcher, scribe and editor, I often run across errors that I’ve made. I can’t say with certainty that I have found all of my mistakes at this date. With this caveat, the following is part of your family history. I’m sure you will find it as remarkable as I do as I continue to collect it:
Begin Notable Ancestors

William Sprague 1 (8th great grandfather) B. 1609. Progenitor. Emigrated from England in 1628 with his two brothers, Ralph and Richard on the ship Abigail. Landed at Salem, MA with Governor Endicott. Another version has the brothers arriving in 1629 aboard the Lyons Whelp. The Abigail version appears most often. William1 was an early settler of Charlestown, Hingham, Marshfield and Milford, MA. Father of eleven children. Died in 1675 and is buried in Hingham, MA. Our line of descent is: William1, William2, Benjamin3, Jonathan4, Stephen5, James6, Stephen7, William8, Inez9. The Civil War Governors’ line is: William1, William2, Peter3, William4, William5, Amasa6, William7. There may have been a close relationship between our line and the Sprague governors. They all lived in the same neighborhood in Cranston, RI and our great grandfather, William Henry Sprague8 had a brother, great uncle Amasa, who was born in 1845 and was named after the Civil War Governors father, Amasa6, who was murdered in 1843. Also, it appears that William Henry Sprague8 named his second daughter, Inez9, after Gov. William Sprague’s7 second wife, Inez…or maybe not. Of the thousands of Spragues listed in the “Sprague Families” book there is only one Inez. Makes the probability pretty high.

Amasa Sprague (great uncle) B. 1845. When great granduncle Amasa, apparently a very successful butcher and real estate investor/broker, died in 1919, he left an estate that would be worth nearly $4,225,806 in 2005 dollars (unskilled wages then vs. unskilled wages now, not real estate values then versus real estate values now. In economics this is called converting a commodity value to a labor value. This is the generally accepted accounting practice for conversions of this type). I have a copy of his will that I obtained at Warwick City Hall. Having no children of his own he left almost all of his assets, valued in 1917 at $74,958.14, which were for the most part, real estate, to his brother and sister; great grandfather William8 and great aunt Phebe Sprague Kettle and to his 2nd wife, Bessie, for as long as she survived him. Upon Bessie’s death the remaining assets were sold and the money was to be divided evenly between William’s8 heirs and his sister, Phebe. William8 died in 1920, one year after his brother, Amasa. The story goes that after William8 died his wife, great grandmother Julia (Alice) Dorr Sprague used to ride around Spring Green in Warwick all dressed up in her limousine collecting her rents. When she died in 1932, a petition was filed on behalf of her creditors in the Probate Court of the City of Providence against her estate to sell a total of 51 of the lots located in Warwick, mostly in Spring Green. Those lots were originally part of great uncle Amasa’s estate. The answer to the question, what happened to all the money, is this: By the time Julia died in 1932 they had spent the little cash that was collected on rents and the sale of the rental properties to support three adults and five kids and pay some of the taxes on the empty house lots. By 1932 they were living a meager existence in a rented apartment at 882 Broad St, 2nd floor, over the store, in South Providence.  Circumstances and fees that included the complicated handling and distribution of Amasa’s estate by Hospital Trust Bank, which was the estate administrator, and Joseph Grimes, the family attorney, had to be expensive. Also, It would be unfair to accuse Grandmother Sprague of squandering the inheritance sense a big hit to the value of what she inherited came from the 30% reduction in property values that occurred between 1925 and 1932. She couldn't sell the property because this was the time of the great depression and nobody was building houses.  The Probate Court ordered all of the remaining property to be sold to cover Julia's debts, which were mostly unpaid tax liens. The debts were more than the lots sold for.  So, in the end, the only one to get anything from the remaining estate was the tax man. Conspiracies to the contrary, no one from the family made off with the loot. End of story.
OK, open mouth, insert foot. It is now April, 2012 and I stand corrected, again. What I have is a copy of the   petition for the "sale of real estate by the administrator". This sale was necessary because Julia's "personal estate" was insufficient to pay all of her debts. "Property" is divided into two categories, 1. Personal and 2. Realty. This means that after the sale of enough of the real estate to pay her debts there may have been some property left over. How much and where it went will require some more investigation which I will try to do this year. Stay tuned.
Aug. 8, 2012. OK, I have Julia's final estate summary and it says this: "this estate is insolvent". I also have Inez's final estate papers and included is an affidavit from her attorney that states that "the personal assets and real estate of said Inez I. F. Jones will not exceed the total value of three hundred dollars." My previous conclusion stands; only the tax man got something and not all that he was owed. There is one final item....many of the properties had "quit claim deeds".  To raise the deed level to "warranty" or "general warranty" any descendants still living would have to sign-off on their claim to the property. Over the years some of you, or your parents, may have been paid a nominal amount to do that.

Joanna Sprague (7th great grandaunt) B. ABT 1644. Seventh child of William1. Married Caleb Church, Son of Elizabeth who was a daughter of Richard Warren, A Mayflower passenger.
New information, Jan.,2010:  Now that the Jones line is complete through Joseph Jones b. 1574, it has been discovered that Joseph Jones b. 1628 married Patience Little, daughter of Sarah Warren who was the daughter of the same Richard Warren noted above.  This makes Richard a 9th great grandfather and the Jones line, Mayflower Descendants. Richard is also a 1st cousin, 9x removed through Joanna.

William Trevilian Carpenter 1 (8th great grandfather) B. 1605. This year, 2005, marks his 400th birthday. Progenitor of the Providence Carpenters. William’s 1st cousin, also named William, who was also born in 1605, was the Progenitor of the Rehoboth Carpenters. To confuse the situation even further, William1 sold some of his Pawtuxet property to his Rehoboth cousin. It took a while to sort out all of that. William1 was married to Elizabeth Peake Arnold (8th great grandmother) B. 1611. They were two of the original settlers of Rhode Island who were led out of Massachusetts by Roger Williams. William1 Carpenter was a charter member and lay minister of the First Baptist Church of America founded by Roger Williams in 1638. In Roger Williams’ first deed all of his followers were deeded lots that adjoined each other. William’s1 lot was at the corner of what is now Meeting St. and South Main St. in Providence. He was later allotted a large tract of land in the Arnold1 Settlement at Pawtuxet, “bounded on the east by Narragansett Bay and on the south by the Pawtuxet River,” upon which, from 1977-1980, Tom & Lori Jones owned the first house (26 Woodbury Rd.) 100 ft +/- up from the falls where the river enters Pawtuxet Cove. The house was built by Dorr descendants Ray and Ken MacDonald.
Rhode Island’s beginnings involved five different settlements: Roger Williams’s in Providence; Anne Hutchinson’s in Pocasset (Portsmouth); William Coddington’s in Newport;
William Arnold’s1 (9th great grandfather) in Pawtuxet (which was part of Providence at the time); and Samuel Gorton’s (9th great grandfather) in Shawomet (Warwick). Historical Cemetery No. 5, located in the middle of the Pawtuxet Highland Cemetery, is the original Arnold family burying ground. William Arnold1 (9th great grandfather) B. 1587 and his wife, Christian Peake, (9th great grandmother) were two more of the original Rhode Island settlers and charter Baptists. (It is thought that William Arnold might be buried under the parking lot at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet, per Henry A L Brown, a local historian and author). Their son, Governor Benedict Arnold I (8th great granduncle) B. 1615 was the first of at least six Benedict Arnolds. He was the last of the Presidents and first of the Governors of Rhode Island. He served 5 terms totaling 12 years. He was the 2nd great grandfather of Major General Benedict Arnold V (4th cousin 6x removed) the infamous Revolutionary War traitor. William Arnold’s1 granddaughter, Rebecca Rhodes (1st cousin 9x removed) daughter of Joanna Arnold2 (8th great grandaunt) and Zachariah Rhodes, was the wife of Roger Williams’ son, Daniel. All of the above traces back to Jonathan Sprague4 B.1719 (great grandson of William1 Sprague) and Barbara Carpenter B.1723, (great granddaughter of William1 Carpenter).

Frances “The Falconer’s Daughter” Latham. (9th great grandmother) Abt. 1610 – 1677. Also referred to as “The Mother of Governors”. As far as I’ve been able to determine she is connected to the following list of Governors/Presidents: Jeremiah Clarke, (2nd Husband). Walter Clarke, (son). Her daughter, Barbara Dungan, married Deputy Gov. James Barker (8th great grandparents), descends our line by way of Arnold, Carpenter, Sprague. Her daughter, Mary1 (8th great grandaunt) married John Cranston and both he and their son, Samuel Cranston, (1st cousin 9x removed) were Governors. Frances’ son, Weston, (8th great granduncle) married Mary Easton, daughter of Peter Easton and Anne Coggeshall, who were both Governors’ children. Her youngest daughter, Sarah, (8th great grandaunt) married the widower, Calib Carr, also a Governor. I have a book that was written about her life and times in Newport titled “Frances, The Falconer’s Daughter” written in 1932 by Elizabeth Nicholson White. Frances is buried in the Old Section of the Common Burial Ground in Newport. These two sections are adjacent but are separated by an iron rail fence and each section has its own entrance. She was married to: 1) William Dungan, Gentleman, of London, 2) President Jeremiah Clarke, Gentleman, of England and Newport, RI and 3) Rev. William Vaughan of Newport. Her father, Lewis Latham (10th great grandfather) is said to be descended from King Edward III (I‘ve had no luck confirming this). He was the Sergeant falconer to King Charles I up to the time that Charley was beheaded.

Governor Walter Clarke (8th great granduncle) B. 1640. President Jeremiah Clarke’s and Frances’s son. Three time Governor of Rhode Island. His second wife (He was also her second husband in most accounts, in some accounts she was his third wife; in any event both were widowed) was Roger Williams’ daughter, Freeborn Williams. They begot no children. Buried with Freeborn and his father in Gold Hill Cemetery (also called Clifton’s Burying Ground after the original owner of the property) in Newport. There are no monuments for Freeborn or Jeremiah, only his governor’s plaque. Pictures taken.

Governor John Cranston husband of Mary Clarke1 who was the daughter of President (Governor) Jeremiah Clarke and Frances “The Falconer’s Daughter” Latham. John was born in 1625. His name first appeared in colonial records as a resident of Portsmouth, RI in 1644. It is assumed he moved to Newport in 1655 where he was elected Attorney General and later Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner from Newport for a total of eleven years. He was elected Deputy Governor Five times and in 1678 he was elected Governor of RI in which office he served until his death in 1680. He was a physician and surgeon and bore the title M.D. He was the first person with the title Major-General which was conferred upon him during King Phillip’s War. John and Mary had eleven children. This and the following information for John and Samuel are provided through the Cranston Historical Society and “Representative Men and Old Families of Rhode Island” published in 1909.
Governor Samuel Cranston (1st cousin 9x removed) was the son of John and Mary1 and was born in Newport. He married Mary Hart who was a granddaughter of Roger Williams. She died in 1710. Then Samuel married the widow of his brother, the former Judith Parrett. Samuel had seven children by his first marriage. He was elected Governor of RI in 1698, succeeding in office his uncle, Governor Walter Clarke, and was reelected until his death in 1727. A remarkable twenty-nine consecutive years! (He is the longest serving Governor in the State’s history) The City of Cranston is thought to be named in his honor. The Cranston family coat of arms (now the city flag) consists of three cranes holding stones in their claws suggesting the original name “Cranestone” and the words “Dum Vigilo Curo” which translates to “While I watch I Care”. John and Samuel are buried in the Old Section of the Common Burial Ground in Newport. There is also a monument for them located in the Common Section. Pictures taken.

President (Governor) Samuel Gorton (9th great grandfather) B. 1591. Founder of (Shawomet) Warwick, Rhode Island. President of Rhode Island, 1651. Deputy Governor 1664, 65, 66 and 70. Graduate of Pembroke and Cambridge (maybe; accounts vary). Considered a type of Christian Transcendentalist, he believed that Jesus Christ was divine, but he did not believe in the trinity. He didn’t think preachers should be paid, he felt women were equal to men, was adamantly against slavery and believed each individual had a right to read and study the scriptures for himself and that the Indians should be paid for the lands. His followers were called “Gortonists”. He was denounced by the Massachusetts Magistrates as “an anarchist, a blasphemer and rouge”. He was fluent in both Greek and Hebrew (or Latin. Again, accounts vary). He was, along with Gov. James Barker and Dr. John Clarke B. 1609 (3rd cousin 1x removed of Gov. Walter Clarke), a petitioner for a Royal Charter. Died at age 85 and is buried in historical cemetery #67 located on Samuel Gorton Ave at the corner of Armstrong Ave off Warwick Neck Avenue. Traces back to Stephen7 and Eliza (Potter) Sprague. Eliza’s mother was Phebe Gorton, 4th great granddaughter of Samuel. You can read more on Samuel by Googling him on-line.

Deputy Governor James Barker (8th great grandfather) B. 1623. Deputy Governor of RI 1678/79. Was one of the Petitioners for a Royal Charter from King Charles II in 1663. That charter was in effect for 180 years until 1843 when it was replaced by Gov. Thomas Wilson Dorr’s (1st cousin 5x removed) State Constitution. Married Frances’ daughter, Barbara Dungan (8th great grandmother) B. 1628. Traces back to Carpenter/Arnold and down to Jonathan4 and Barbara (Carpenter) Sprague.

Governor Stephen Hopkins 1 (4th cousin 7x removed) B. 1707. The official “Favorite Son of Rhode Island”. Signer of the Declaration of Independence. Chief Justice of the RI Superior Court (there was no Supreme court at the time) 1751 to 1754. Chief Magistrate of the colony of Rhode Island 1756 to 1767. Governor of Rhode Island 10 times. (terms then were one year). Chancellor of Brown University (formerly the College of Rhode Island which he and John Brown moved from Warren to Providence) from 1764 to 1785. In 1774 he introduced the bill that outlawed the import of slaves to R.I. This law became one of the first anti-slavery laws in the U.S. Member of the Rhode Island Committee of Correspondence. Member of the Continental Congress (1774-76). Served on the committee that prepared the Articles of Confederation. His home now stands at the corner of Benefit and Hopkins Streets on the east side of Providence. (Until 1927 it was located on South Main St.) A plaque on the front of the house states that, “George Washington slept here on April 6th, 1776”. The town of Hopkinton, RI is named in his memory. “At the Albany Congress in 1754, Hopkins and Benjamin Franklin framed an early plan for Colonial Union that the Congress passed but the colonies rejected”. He was 69 and suffered from a paralytic affliction at the time he signed the Declaration of Independence. His condition required him to use his left hand to guide his right hand and he famously remarked: “My hand trembles, but my heart does not.” His great granduncle was Gov. Benedict Arnold I, his 2nd great grandmother was Joanna1 Arnold Hopkins, wife of William Hopkins B. 1577. Joanna1 was the sister of William Arnold1 B. 1587 and daughter of Nicholas Arnold B 1550. Joanna’s1 son, Thomas Hopkins (1st cousin 10x removed) B 1616 was Stephen’s1 great grandfather and was another of the group that first came to RI with Roger Williams in 1636. Joanna’s1 husband, William Hopkins, was the brother of another Stephen Hopkins2 B. 1580 who was a passenger on the Mayflower. As he was the brother of the husband of Joanna1, my 9th great grandaunt, the software relationship calculator that I use defines this Stephen2 as “no direct relationship” to me and by extension, to you. This year, 2007, is the 300th anniversary of Stephen Hopkins’1 birth and among the tributes to him was his “formal” indictment for his treasonous acts against King George III involving his obstruction of the Gaspee investigation and his signing of The Declaration of Independence. At the RI State House ceremony, Cathy, Bobby, Patrick and I got to dress up in colonial Quaker garb and stand in for him and some of his immediate family members. It was a lot of fun and we got to keep the indictment document. Let me know if you want a copy. Traces back to Carpenter/Arnold and down to Jonathan4 and Barbara (Carpenter) Sprague. Buried in the North Burial Ground in Providence. Picture taken.

Commodore Esek Hopkins (4th cousin 7x removed) B. 1718. Stephen’s1 brother. In December, 1775 Esek was appointed Commander-in-chief of the newly formed Continental Navy. At the time he was a brigadier general in the Continental Army. He was dismissed by Congress in 1778 for disobedience. He was instructed to attack the British fleet in Chesapeake Bay but instead, outnumbered, he sailed for the Bahamas where he captured the British post at New Providence capturing much needed supplies for the Continental Army. During the French and Indian War he commanded a privateer. Since 1903 three navy ships have been named in his honor. Esek Hopkins Middle School (formerly a Jr high school) in Providence is also named in his honor. In 1765 he captained the ill-fated slave ship Sally for the Brown brothers, Nicholas, Joseph, John and Moses. One hundred and nine slaves, approximately half the number on the Sally, died from smallpox and/or dysentery on the return trip to RI. There are a couple of versions of this story which have different numbers. This horrific debacle represented a turning point for three of the Brown brothers; Nicholas, Joseph and Moses who thereafter left the slave trade for good.

Captain John B. Hopkins (5th cousin 6x removed) B.1742. Son of Esek. Was a Captain in the Continental Navy serving under his father. Both Esek and John outranked 1st Lieutenant John Paul Jones. John’s claim to fame is that in 1772 he captained one of the longboats that attacked and set fire to the British revenue schooner, HMS Gaspee after the boat had run aground at what is today Gaspee Point in Warwick. All descendants of proven Gaspee Raiders, and who can submit reasonable proof of their ancestry are eligible to receive a certificate indicating that they have been formally “indicted” for their ancestor’s crimes against King George III in ceremonies held each May at the RI State House. Contact for more details. We are related to at least five of the Gaspee raiders/conspirators including the next individual.

Joseph Bucklin V (3rd cousin 6x removed) B. 1753. At age 19 he was a member of the Gaspee raiding party. Joseph fired the shot that wounded Lt. William Dudingston, commander of the HMS Gaspee. Local historians claim that Joseph was the first American Colonist to deliberately shoot an English military man. He was lost at sea at age 27. He lives on today in the spirit of the Joseph Bucklin Society. Web site For a membership fee of $20.00 they will provide you with a “distinguished three color certificate suitable for framing” containing your personalized information. His father, Joseph IV, was a ship builder and he built the brigantine Providence for Stephen Hopkins in 1757. The ship was used as a privateer to seize goods of France during the French/Indian War. Esek Hopkins was the vessels captain. Joseph V is descended from William Bucklin1, progenitor, B ??, D 1683. William Bucklin owned 600 acres of land surrounding the Pawtucket falls and the present site of the Apex store in Pawtucket. Traces back to Benjamin Sprague3 and Alice Bucklin.

Captain/Commodore Abraham Whipple, husband of Sara Hopkins (5th cousin 6x removed) B. 1739. The “forgotten man” of the Continental Navy. Whipple fired the first authorized naval gun at an English ship on the Atlantic. He was the leader of the Gaspee raiders. In 1779, without firing a single shot, he captured ten richly-laden vessels of a Jamaican fleet bound for London. He served in the Continental Navy as a Captain under Ezek Hopkins. Abe engaged in privateering during the war with France. In the years 1759-60, as a commander of the privateer Gamecock, he is said to have captured thirty-three French prizes. Early in his career, like Ezek, he captained a slave ship for John Brown. In 1780 he was sent under orders to the relief of Charleston, South Carolina which was besieged by the British. Vastly outnumbered, his ships were sunk and he was forced to surrender. He spent the rest of the war as a prisoner. Like many others he served in the Continental Navy with little pay. At the end of the Revolutionary War the US government owed him $16,000 for which sum he was eventually given securities in final settlement. However, since he was forced to sell these securities at eighty percent discount there was only enough to regain his mortgaged farm. In 1788 the Whipple family moved to Marietta, Ohio where he died in 1819 after living the final 31 years of his life on half pay as a captain which was then sixty dollars a month. There are several streets located around the state named in his memory and a small obelisk monument with the following inscription marks his grave which is located in the Mound Cemetery in Marietta, Ohio:

“Scared to the memory of Commodore Abraham Whipple whose name, skill and courage, will ever remain the pride and boast of his country.”

You can read the whole story at or you can Google him.

Edward Dorr (8th great grandfather) B. 1648 in the west of England near the Welsh line. Progenitor. He was first recorded to be at Pemaquid, Maine near the mouth of the Kennebec in 1674. He subsequently removed to Boston because of King Philip’s War which broke out in 1675. Between 1677 and 1683 Edward purchased several acres of land in Roxbury where he built a home, mill house and tannery. At one time he owned a part of what became the Boston Commons. He was a Selectman and Assessor, an Inspector of the Town Treasurers account, a Moderator, Fence Viewer and Constable. He was also a Viewer and Sealer of molds for making bricks. He died in 1734 and is buried in the Eliot Burying Ground, Roxbury, MA. His tombstone reads: “Here lies buried ye body of Mr. Edward Dorr. He died February 9th, 1734, in ye 86th year of age.”

Ebenezer Dorr (7th great grandfather) B. 1687. Leather tanner, town constable, auditor, fence viewer, surveyor of highways and sealer of weights and measures. Captain of the Roxbury, MA Militia 1733/34.

Ebenezer Dorr (6th great grandfather) B. 1712. Carried on the family business of leather tanning. One of the “Committee of Fifteen” to “carry into execution the agreement and association of the Continental Congress,” Member of the Roxbury, MA Committee of Correspondence and Safety. Father of thirteen children--seven of his 8 sons served in the Continental Army. In a custom that is generally associated with the South, he (as well as many other Northerners) at one time owned a female slave named Flora.

Ebenezer Dorr 4 (5th great grandfather) B. 1739. “Listen my children and you shall hear of the midnight ride of …Ebenezer Dorr?” Yes! Ebenezer was one of the “three countrymen” who rode with Paul Revere, William Dawes and Dr. Samuel Westcott on that historic night in 1775 to help spread the word that “The British Are Coming”. (The other two were Joseph Hall and Solomon Brown) By any measure Ebenezer was an unsung-hero of the Revolutionary War.

Citation….. Roxbury, MA town records, volume 7:
“The intelligence that the British intended to go out to Lexington was conveyed over Boston Neck to Roxbury by Ebenezer Dorr of Boston, Leather dresser or Tanner, who mounted a slow going horse with saddlebags behind him and a large flapped hat on his head to resemble a countryman. Colonel Josiah Waters of Boston, a staunch Whig and one who later helped build Roxbury forts, followed on foot on side paths at a short distance behind till he saw Dorr safely past the sentinels.”

As a member of the Boston Committee of Correspondence and Safety he helped plan, direct and was rumored to have participated in the Boston Tea Party. I have Googled two lists of names of the men who are “historically said to have participated” in the raid. The lists don’t match to each other. Some names from each list are missing from the other list and one list has 125 names and the other has 177. Ebenezer Dorr is not on either list. However, there is a Samuel Sprague and both he and Hugh Maxwell's brother, Major Thompson Maxwell, are on both lists. There is also a Seth Putnam but I'm not sure what his relationship to us is. and

Biography: “My grandfather, Ebenezer, was originally an artisan, moved from Roxbury into Boston, early in his career; and afterwards entered into mercantile business. He was one of the Boston shipping merchants who first traded for furs on the North Western coast. He is reputed to have been in practical affairs, shrewd, enterprising, and energetic; in domestic life, affectionate and hospitable, with a warm place in his heart for relatives. In faith and life, a devout Christian of the elder school. I remember dimly that his form was somewhat robust, his mien dignified, his countenance good humored and intelligent. His pockets were likely to be well stored with candies and sugar plums intended for grandchildren who he required to receive his gifts in due form; aligning us like miniature soldiers on his front. His residence in my day was a substantial but antique house on the northerly side of Milk Street near Devonshire Street. The front door was double and could be opened inwards and upwards. In the front hall was a rocking horse ridden hard by young Dorrs, especially on the days of the old gentleman’s wonted weekly family reunions; and behind the house was an old fashioned fruit and flower garden.”
Francis Oliver Dorr about 1883.

Ebenezer’s son, Andrew Cunningham Dorr (4th great grandfather) B. 1772 owned the brig, Littler. One of Andrew’s Captains died from fever in the Caribbean at ST. Thomas.

Ebenezer named another of his sons Samuel Adams Dorr (4th great granduncle) after another Boston patriot of the time. Ebenezer died 1809 and is buried on the Boston Commons in one of two historical cemeteries (A white stone tipped slightly forward, on the right side against the iron rail fence, under a large tree, about 50’ from the gate) at the corner of Boylston and Tremont Streets. There is a book titled, “The Old Cemeteries of Boston” by Dunkle & Lainhart of the New England Historic Genealogy Society. Listed is Ebenezer’s tomb, #119. The listing includes the names of 21 people buried in that tomb; 19 of them are Dorrs and believe it or not, a Thomas Jones. In the adjacent tomb, #120, are listed 4 more Dorrs. Thanks to John and Theresa Jones for finding the stone. Pictures taken.

1st Governor William Sprague (3rd cousin 5x removed) B. 1773. First of the Sprague Governors. In another book that I have, titled “Brotherly Love,” it is speculated that he had his brother Amasa6, the second Governors father, murdered in order to gain control of the Sprague Empire. Apparently there was strong disagreement between the brothers on how the company should be run. The book also contains the story of “Dorr’s Rebellion”. Buried in Swan Point Cemetery in Providence. Pictures taken.

2nd Governor William Sprague7 (4th cousin 4x removed) B. 1830. Entrepreneur. Civil War Colonel in the Rhode Island Militia. He was promoted to Brigadier General but declined due to his duties as Governor; 1860-1863. While Governor, he fought in the first battle of Bull Run. Had his horse shot out from under him whereupon he mounted another and continued fighting. States youngest Governor at age 29. US Senator 1863-1875. Trustee of Brown University. Purported to be the wealthiest man in America in the 1860’s. Lost most of the family fortune, which he was also responsible for creating, in the recession of 1873. Gov. Sprague was growing the Empire at a pace that exceeded his cash flow and so he borrowed heavily to buy new businesses. It was said at the height of their power that if you saw smoke rising in RI that it was probably coming from a Sprague mill. During the Civil War and while he was a US Senator, it was alleged that he smuggled into Texas, by route of Matamoras, Mexico, textile machinery, guns and ammunition in exchange for cotton to keep his mills running. He was never charged with this act of treason. This may have been a false claim by his political opponents, of which he had many, including his fellow governor/senator, Henry B. Anthony, who just happened to head the Providence Journal. It would have been far easier and, with no risk at all, for him to buy his cotton from growers in Mexico or even India. Think of what he would lose if he was found out. The allegation seems to fly in the face of common sense. His first wife was Kate Chase, daughter of Salmon P. Chase, Lincoln’s Secretary of the Treasury. Chase was later appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Chase had also been a Governor and US Senator from Ohio. The history of these people is chronicled in another book that I have a copy of titled “So Fell the Angles” (three copies are in the Prov. Public Library). Williams’ second wife was Inez Weed. They moved to Paris, France in 1909 after fire destroyed Canonchet, their 68 room Narragansett, RI mansion which abutted what is now the site of The South County Museum. The house burned to the ground nearly killing Gov. Sprague. Michael Allen, the family coachman, went into the burning house and found Sprague overcome by smoke on the second floor where he had been searching for his journals. Allen picked up the fallen Sprague and carried him from the fire as it reached its full fury. A part of the stone carriage barn is all that remains on the site today. He died in Paris on 9/11/1915, one day short of his 85th birthday. He was the last of the Civil War governor’s. Buried in Providence in Swan Point Cemetery with his parents, Amasa and Fanny (Morgan), in the largest and grandest grave site that I’ve ever seen. Excluding, of course, the pyramids.

Governor Thomas Wilson Dorr (1st cousin 5x removed) B. 1805. Lawyer. Elected “People’s Governor”. Was not allowed to take office by the presiding elected officials and was jailed for treason by his political opponents. The Dorr in “Dorr’s Rebellion”. His followers were called “Dorrites.” He was the architect of the present Rhode Island Constitution which eventually gave voting rights (suffrage) to the disenfranchised who at the time were primarily none property-owning Irish and Blacks (men only). Universal suffrage didn’t happen until 1973 with the repeal of the requirement of paying taxes, either real or personal. He lived on the east side of Providence near Brown University at 109 Benefit St. The house is called the Sullivan Dorr House named after Gov. Dorr's father who was the owner. Gov. Dorr was the Grandson of Ebenezer Dorr4 B. 1739. There is a good book that I mentioned earlier that combines the murder of Amasa6 Sprague, William’s7 father, in 1843 and the subsequent trial and speculation of who was actually responsible and the story and trial of the Dorr Rebellion which took place around the same time. The book is called Brotherly Love by Charles and Tess Hoffman, copyright 1993 by The University of Massachusetts Press. Buried in Swan Point Cemetery in Providence. Pictures taken.
Brigadier General Rufus Putnam (3rd cousin 7x removed) B. 1738 in Sutton, MA. First fought in the French and Indian War. At the outbreak of the Revolutionary War he signed on as a Lt. Col. in the Continental Army. He fought in battles in Providence, Newport, Roxbury, Dorchester Heights, Long Island and West Point. George Washington appointed him to be the Chief of Engineers of the Works of New York. He resigned when the Continental Congress rejected his proposition to establish a corp of engineers in 1776. He reenlisted in the Northern Army under General Horatio Gates. He commanded two regiments in the battle of Saratoga. Putnam constructed crucial fortifications, including Fort Putnam at West Point. In 1783 he was commissioned as brigadier general. After the war he ressumed working as a surveyor. In 1786 he established The Ohio Company of Associates for the purchase and settlement of Western lands. The primary purpose of the group was to settle the North-West Territory. In 1788 at the confluence of the Ohio and Muskinghum rivers he fonded Marietta, Ohio, the first permanent American settlement in the North-West Territory. He went on to serve as a Supreme Court judge for The Territory. In 1796 Putnam was appointed as the first Surveyor General of the United States. One of his grandsons, Catharinus Putnam Buckingham, was a brigadier general in the Union Army during the Civil War. Rufus is referred to as The Father of Ohio. He died in 1824 and is buried at Mound Cemetery in Marietta, Ohio. Traces back to VanBuren and Sarah Putnam Dorr.
Lt. Colonel Hugh Maxwell (5th great granduncle) B. 1733. Like Isreal and Rufus Putnam he was a farmer and surveyor. Like the Putnam's he also fought in both the French and Indian and Revolutionary Wars....five years in the former and nine years in the latter. In 1774 Hugh was a member of the first Provincial Congress in Salem, MA which resulted in organizing and equipping companies of Minute Men. He was made lieutenant in the Charlmont (later named Heath), MA company. Their first call to duty was at Lexington in 1775. His group joined Colonel Prescott at the battle of Bunker Hill. Hugh was shot through the right shoulder. His wound was severe and he was no longer able to work as a farmer. He returned to duty as a captain and went to New York with Washington where he was assigned to Governor's Island. The Colonists were driven out of New York but continued to fight at Princeton and Trenton. He fought with General Gates against Burgoyne and he was one of those who survived the sufferings of that winter at Valley Forge. In 1779 he was promoted to major and was under the command of General Heath on the Hudson. At the end of the war in 1783 Hugh left the army as a lieutenant colonel. He returned home after 14 years of hard fighting for his country. In 1785 he went to Boston and obtained the charter of a new town. He named the town Heath in honor of his old General. Like Rufus Putnam and Esek Hopkins, he also was a member of the highly prestigious, officer only, Society of the Cincinnati of which George Washington was the first president. In 1799 he traveled to the West Indies to sell some horses and on the way home he was stricken with a fever. He died on the same day and was buried at sea. Traces back to George and Elizabeth Maxwell Jones.
Brigadier General Charles R. “Boss” Brayton (4th cousin 4x removed) B. 1840. Born in Warwick of another old Yankee family. His father, William D. Brayton (3rd cousin 5x removed) had been a Republican Congressman from 1857 to 1859.
Boss served with distinction in the Civil War and was discharged with the rank of Brigadier General. He was the power behind the throne in RI for the Grand Old Party. He was the right hand man for Senators Anthony, Burnside and Aldrich for many years and used every quirk in the Rhode Island constitution to keep them and the Republican Party in power as the old Yankee guard gave way to the influx of the Irish in the 1840/50’s, the freeing of the many slaves in both the North and the South in the 1860’s and the Italian and French Canadian migration of the 1880/90’s. By 1910 only 30 percent of the population in the state was of old Yankee stock. Boss was the states primary dispatcher of patronage positions and he held various patronage positions himself; US Pension Officer for the state, Postmaster General of RI, Indian Inspector for the state, Postal Inspector and Chief of State Police. In 1901 he engineered “the Brayton Act”. This act effectively deprived ( the governor of his power to make administrative, judicial or executive appointments; that power passed to the Republican senate.
For better or worse this man’s contribution to the political and economic history of Rhode Island was substantial and is well worth the reading. He is a main figure in the book; “Rhode Island a History” by William G. McLoughlin, WW Norton & Company, Copyright 1978, 1986 which is part of “the States and the Nation Series” and is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. If you only read or purchase one book that relates to our family, this should be the one. Mentioned in addition to General Brayton are William Arnold, Samuel Cranston, Thomas Dorr, Stephen Hopkins, Samuel Gorton, John Clarke and of course, the Spragues. Can be purchased on-line at for $14.95 plus shipping. “Boss” Brayton traces back to James Sprague6 and Roby Brayton Sprague.
Major Thompson Maxwell (5th great granduncle) b. 1741 d. abt 1833 He was the younger brother of Lt. Col.Hugh and Lt. Benjamin (5th great grandfather) Maxwell and as such is an 5th great granduncle. He was a life-time soldier and It's difficult to understand why somebody hasn't written a book or made a movie about him.He joined the military when he was 14 or 15 years old and retired at 77. During the 62 year interim he was a Provisional Ranger during the French and Indian Wars from 1757 to 1763 serving in Roger's Rangers as well as three other units commanded by Captains Lovell, Barnes and Brewer. From 1775 to 1779 he fought in the Revolutionary War at Lexington and Concord and Bunker Hill and many other historical places. He is documented on all known lists as a participant in the Boston Tea Party, helping to plan the "party" at John Hancock's house. Just think for a minute of the significance of we have our 5th great granduncle sitting there with our 5th great grandfather, Ebenezer Dorr, Paul Revere, Samuel Adams and the rest of the Committee of Correspondence and Safety plotting one of this country's most well know historical events in John Hancock's living room. In 1787 he fought in Shay's Rebellion. He also fought from 1812 to 1819 against England in the War of 1812 and then at Tippecanoe. Was a POW at age 71 and was exchanged at 73. He spent the last years of his career as Barracks Master at Detroit until he was finally pensioned from the army at age 77. He was wounded at least once. Equally amazing, he lived to about 93 years of age.,M1
Lt. Benjamin Maxwell (5th great grandfather) b. 1737 d. 1829 Brother of Hugh and Thompson. Fought in the Revolutionary War.

Colonel Samuel Colt B 1853. The Sprague line merged with the Colt line about 1575 with the marriage of Tristram Sprague and Elizabeth Colt. To date I have not been able to definitively tie together Elizabeth’s and Samuel’s lines. Both Colt lines came from the same general area of England but an actual connection remains to be identified. I’m certain it exists so I will continue to search.
Additional Notes:
English and French royal ancestors can be traced back through both the Sprague and Dorr lines. William “The Conqueror’s” wife, Matilda (Maud) De Flanders’ line traces back to Charlemagne. My personal Royal favorite, traced down the Dorr line, is Alaric I “Balthas” King of the Visigoths (370-410 AD). Alaric sacked Corinth, Argos, Sparta and Rome. In so doing, he removed the primary barrier to the Germanic tribes; Goths, Vandals, Huns, etc. from sweeping in from the East. This act, which contributed to the elimination of the influence of Roman civilization was largely responsible for ushering in The Dark Ages. You should keep in mind that ancient genealogies are a mix of fact and fiction. Also, it is estimated that 25% of people of English descent are related to William “The Conqueror” (a Norman of Viking descent) and no person of English descent is more than 30 generations removed from any other person of English Descent. Thirty generations is equal to about 750 years. I guess that’s what happens when you live on an island. People will be more impressed if you don’t mention this.

I’ve come to think of this project as a three-part drama. The pedigree charts that you now have go back about one thousand years and is part one. Part two would go back as far as there are individual records, easily another thousand years. I will leave Part two for someone else to chronicle. Part three is now a work in process. Lori and I are participants in National Geographic’s “Geneographic Project”. We have submitted DNA samples which, along with other DNA samples collected from around the world, will be used to identify the path that mankind's first human ancestors took on their journey out of Africa. These paths are considered to be the collective deep roots of all of mankind's ancestral tree. By analyzing and tracking the mutations in our DNA that identify our line they will be able to identify the route our ancestors took and when they took it. The male Y chromosomes are tracked father to father to father…. The female mitochondrial DNA is tracked mother to mother to mother (males can also be tracked by mitochondrial DNA down their mother’s line)…..Genetic paleontologists have concluded that all of the Earth’s population are “effectively cousins separated by no more than 2,000 generations”. I expect to have the results sometime around the first of the year (2006). I will send you a copy.

For questions, additional information that you may have or want and/or corrections, I can be reached by e-mail at or

No comments: