I have numerous ancestors from Tewksbury, Massachusetts, so I decided to check out the Tewksbury Historical Society website (http://www.tewksburyhistoricalsociety.org). The amount of material on this site astonished me. If you click on Archive, you will find links to: Online Videos, Published Articles, Published Books, Historical Documents, Images and Photographs, Local Maps, Tewksbury State Almshouse, Government Publications, Short Stories, People from Tewksbury, 1850 Federal Census, Aunt Hannah Chandler Collection, 1883 Lowell Weekly Sun, Minute Men of Tewksbury, Postcards from Silver Lake, Sister City – Tewksbury England, Police Chief Cyril Barker Collection and The Fred Carter (Carter Farm) Collection. (1)
Some of my Tewksbury ancestors are:
- My sixth great grandparents, REV. SAMPSON SPAULDING and his wife MEHITABEL HUNT, as well as their many children. Rev. Spaulding was the first minister of the Tewksbury Congregational Church, which was established in 1734. (http://www.tewksburycc.org/aboutus/history.php)
- My six great grandparents STEPHEN MERRILL and his wife ELIZABETH BAILEY, and their family.
- My eight great grandfather SAMUEL HUNT and his wife RUTH TODD and their children.
I wanted to see if I could find any records about my ancestors on the Tewksbury Historical Society website. There is an article entitled “Following the Spaulding Bell” which discusses the donation of the bell through the fundraising efforts of Benjamin Spaulding, a seventh generation descendant of Rev. Sampson Spaulding. (2) See http://www.tewksburyhistoricalsociety.org/Archives/articles/spaulding.pdf.
And then I found Ask Now of the Days that are Past: A History of the Town of Tewksbury, Massachusetts 1734-1964 (http://www.tewksburyhistoricalsociety.org/Archives/books/pattons.pdf). Inside this book I found amazing items such as a copy of Rev. Spaulding’s Last Will and Testament, a picture of the Spaulding Homestead built in 1736, a record of his salary and his biography. I learned that he worked as a waiter while studying at Harvard University. (3) In the year 1792, “during the Thanksgiving service, at the age of more than four score a paralytic shock rendered Rev. Mr. Spaulding unable to preach.” (4). When he died in 1796, the Boston papers called him “the Christian, the Gentleman and the Neighbour.” (5) In the church record books is written “the Revd Sampson Spaulding Died December the 15 ye 1796.” It is believed to have been written by Mrs. Spaulding (Mehitabel Hunt). (6)
In his will, Sampson gave:
- one third of his estate to his wife Mehetebel
- five shillings to his son Sampson
- forty pounds to his son Jonathan
- two thirds of his estate to his son John, who would be his executor
- five shillings to his daughter Mary Bridges
- thirteen pounds, two shillings & six pense to his daughter Manning
- four pounds, ten shillings & eight pense to his daughter Hannah French
- five shillings to his daughter Anna Kirk
- forty pounds to his daughter Sarah Spaulding
Rev. Spaulding addressed each child as his beloved, and the amounts gifted depended on if the child had been given money previously. He also asked that his books be divided equally among his wife and children and that his books in Latin go to the Rev. Mr. Abel Kirk. (7)
Ask Now of the Days that are Past also contained a list of the Tewksbury citizens who were in the War of the American Revolution (1775-1782). On this list I found a number of people with the names of my ancestors, including Jonathan Spaulding, Sampson Spaulding, David Merrill, Daniel Merrill, Samuel Hunt, Jonathan Hunt and David Bailey. Further research is required to ascertain whether these were indeed my ancestors. (8)
When I clicked on the link for Documents on the Tewksbury Historical Society website, I found a copy of a deed for a land transaction in Tewksbury for property sold by Stephen Merrill to Seth Jewitt on March 12, 1738 (http://www.tewksburyhistoricalsociety.org/Archives/Documents/deed-merrill.pdf). (9) Further research is necessary, but this may be Stephen Merrill, my 6th great grandfather, who was born in 1711 and died in Tewksbury. The deed is witnessed by Sampson Spaulding. How incredible to have a deed that old available so readily on the web!
The next document of interest was the Annual Return of the Names of all the Persons enrolled in the Militia, in the Town of Tewksbury for the year 1843. (10) (http://www.tewksburyhistoricalsociety.org/Archives/Documents/1843militia1.pdf). On this list is a Spaulding, but I don’t recognize the first name.
The next surprise was a wallet card printed by the Tewksbury Congregational Church in 1888, containing a six month prayer meeting schedule. The officers are listed, and someone by the name of F. M. Spaulding is the President. (11) (http://www.tewksburyhistoricalsociety.org/Archives/Documents/cong1888-1.pdf). Rev. Spaulding died in 1796, so this was probably one of his descendants and possibly one of my ancestors.
But wait! There’s more. The next item was a booklet printed in 1890 by the Mechanics Lodge No. 11 International Order of Odd Fellows (Masons) containing a membership list of people who belonged to the Lodge from October 26, 1842 to January 1, 1890. (http://www.tewksburyhistoricalsociety.org/Archives/Documents/mechanics.pdf). I saw the following potential ancestors:
- J Merrill, Mch 22 44, 34, trader, (withdrawal), Feb 4 48
- Spaulding J, Mch 31 67, 28, Carpenter, D (dead)
- Spaulding D S, July 27 70, 29, Police
- Spaulding PS, Apr 18 87, 21, Jeweller [sic]
And, finally, under Books there was “Tewksbury Vital Records,” which contains all birth, marriages and death records until the end of the year 1849. In this I found numerous references to many of my surnames. I could spend hours entering this information on my tree. (13) The link is http://www.tewksburyhistoricalsociety.org/Archives/books/vitalrec.pdf.
What amazing finds, and I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of all the other material contained on the Tewksbury Historical Society website! If you have ancestors from Tewksbury (or any of the surrounding towns such as Billerica, Lowell, Dracut, Andover or Chelmsford), I highly recommend that you visit the website of the Tewksbury Historical Society!
Thank you, Tewksbury Historical Society, for making this incredible information available to us online!!
Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Electronic Clip Art, Early American Design Motif, 2003.
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(1) Digital Collection, Tewksbury Historical Society Archives, Tewksbury, Massachusetts, 2004 (http://www.tewksburyhistoricalsociety.org/Archives/index.html: accessed November 20, 2012).
(2) "Following the Spaulding Bell," originally published in the Town Crier, September 24, 1986, text of speech by Maureen Kelley on September 13, 1986 (http://www.tewksburyhistoricalsociety.org/Archives/articles/spaulding.pdf: accessed November 20, 2012).
(3) Patten, Harold J., Ask Now of the Days that are Past: A History of the Town of Tewksbury, Massachusetts 1734-1964, 1964, p. 27 (http://www.tewksburyhistoricalsociety.org/Archives/books/pattons.pdf: accessed November 20, 2012).
(4) Ibid, p. 60.
(5) Ibid, p. 27.
(6) Ibid, p. 55.
(7) Ibid, p. 190.
(8) Ibid, p. 142.
(9) Deed for a land transaction in Tewksbury for property sold by Stephen Merrill to Seth Jewitt on March 12, 1738 (http://www.tewksburyhistoricalsociety.org/Archives/Documents/deed-merrill.pdf: accessed: November 20, 2012).
(10) Foster, Enoch, Town Clerk, "Annual Return of the names of all the persons enrolled in the Militia, in the Town of Tewksbury for the year 1843, the whole number enrolled being one hundred and two," (http://www.tewksburyhistoricalsociety.org/Archives/Documents/1843militia1.pdf: accessed November 12, 2012).
(11) Wallet Card, Tewksbury Congregational Church, July 24, 1888. (http://www.tewksburyhistoricalsociety.org/Archives/Documents/cong1888-1.pdf: accessed November 12, 2012).
(12) Membership of Mechanics Lodge, No. II, I. O.O. F. from Date of Organization, Oct. 26, 1842, to Jan. 1, 1890, arranged by Chas. H. Eaton, P.C., Butterfield & Co., Lowell, Massachusetts, 1890. (http://www.tewksburyhistoricalsociety.org/Archives/Documents/mechanics.pdf: accessed November 12, 2012).
(13) "Tewksbury Vital Records to the end of the year 1849," (http://www.tewksburyhistoricalsociety.org/Archives/books/vitalrec.pdf: accessed November 12, 2012).