The Letter

Call Out the Angels! This piece is called “The Sad Angel” glass mosaic art by Wendy Harty. The three of us sisters call out the angels often for each other, whether for an illness, a storm, or in support of our families. I made each sister a glass angel with wings outspread so the angel could fly quickly. For myself I created this sad angel. She sits on my dresser and feels the weight of the world, the sin, the problems I can not solve. My angel weeps for the world. She has come to be a comfort for me and reminds me that I have a refuge and a fortress…”For God will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. They will lift you up so that you will not strike your foot against a stone”. Luke 4:11. My glass angel sits on glass plate so I can see myself behind her. The message there is that I can go on my way safely and my foot will not stumble. She is a good reminder that I should try to make her joyful throughout my day with each thought, word, and action. “And someday God will wipe every tear from our eyes.”

275 years ago, today, on December 16, 1744,Keziah Atwood married Abraham Gibbs. I found your stone today, the weeds are overgrown; The stone conveyed your name, your birth and the date you reached the Throne; I write this story on this site, legacy to what you’ve sown; To living and to babes unknown, your history will be known. To my 5th great grandmother, your wedding anniversary remembered.

A recap of Keziah’s life: she was 6 when her father Stephen Atwood died leaving her mother Hannah Doane, a young widow with 4 children to raise while being lame and disabled. Hannah within months married another widower Elisha Higgins with 4 children. They left Eastham when the population became unsustainable there and moved to Hardwick, Massachusetts. Elisha and Hannah had 4 more children: Joseph 1734, Abigail 1737, Abial 1740 and Uriah 1742. Hannah was 39 when this last child was born having born 13 children in 20 years. While Keziah was growing up in this household with 11 other siblings all children worked hard, the most minor sickness was potentially life threatening and pleasures were few. It’s amazing all reached adulthood with the high infant mortality, where bodies wore out and women aged fast. Colonials wore their hair long, women keeping theirs covered with hats, hoods, and kerchiefs. They made their own clothes from linen, flax and wool; every home had a spinning wheel and knitted constantly. Dyes made from birch bark and pokeberries made colorful shirts, pants, dresses, socks and caps. The farm grew its own food, a main staple being corn which could be roasted, boiled and cooked into pancakes and cornmeal bread. Squash and beans were added to apples and hunting supplied rabbit, squirrel, bear and deer. Bible reading was always acceptable.

This information is found in Part 3, Ye Alde Wode Annuals. Keziah Atwood was published to Abraham Gibbs at Hardwick, March 18, 1744, but the banns were forbidden. She married him at Brookfield December 16, 1744 as had likely become of age. Keziah your birthday was in December so you would have been 18. How did you know you wanted to be with Abraham forever? Your parents did not like him! You made your own decisions and were strong enough and brave enough and you alone know the reasons. I hope you were truly happy. You followed Abraham back to his home town of Quabbin which was later changed to Greenwich which is listed as the birthplace of all your children. This town known for its lakes and ponds, bordered the town of Hardwick where your mother and step father Hannah and Elisha Higgins lived. Together you and Abraham raised six living children; Thomas, Keziah, Abraham Jr. Azubah, Isaac, and Joshua. These five sons you watched march off to the Revolutionary War. You buried a daughter named Sarah who was born April 15, 1748. You named one daughter after yourself Keziah Atwood Gibbs, and also gave her your maiden name. Her first husband Samuel McClure died in 1778 in the Revolutionary War. Keziah then married Gershom Hall who also served as a private in the Berkshire county, Mass., militia under Captain David Wheeler and Colonel John Brown. Keziah you lived long enough to see your daughter Keziah’s seven children born: Jabez, Luther, Jabish, Azubah, Loammi, Hannah and Esther. Keziah, your next son you named after your husband Abraham and the Massachusetts records are becoming sketchy; your name is spelled Kiza Gibbs. Your other daughter Azuba married Captain Samuel Wright who was a Captain, a Revolutionary soldier. My connection to you is through your son Isaac born March 14, 1756 at Greenwich and duly recorded in Massachusetts Birth records. Your youngest son, Joshua, joined the Continental Army for a term of 6 months, age 20 years, 5’6″, complexion light, engaged for town of Greenwich; marched to camp July 20, 1780, under command of Capt. Benjamin Warren. I sense your joy when he was discharged Jan 26, 1781.

The colonists rose up against no taxation without representation imposed on them by the Boston merchant oligarchy. The Contentental Congress raised an army around Boston and selected George Washington to command it. But that first morning when the alarm went out with Paul Revere riding to warn the people were your sons among those who picked up their assorted caliber muskets and shared in the spirit and courage, with a rage and enthusiasm that marched together as a ragged militia against the Red coated British. This army of amateurs held their fire till they could see the whites of the eyes of the enemies. Did your sons find themselves on a smoke filled black powder battlefield on a still and oppressively hot day. The war dragged on. All five of your sons survived though 7000 died of battle wounds, 10000 died of camp diseases, and 8500 were captured and died in captivity.

Elisha Higgins did not like Abraham Gibbs; but the Gibbs and Atwood families got along well enough to marry each other. Mary Mercy Gibbs was Abraham’s aunt. She married James Darroch Aikens Jr. They named their daughter Mercy 1712-1823 and when she was about 12 years old and her father was building at Hardwick, she rode through the pathless forest to Hardwick guided by marked trees to deliver her father his weekly rations of food. This cousin of Abraham’s lived to be 102 and was a member of the church for 86 years. The Aiken’s family history led me down the research path to the Jacobite uprising in England. The Jacobites were a group of mostly Scottish people who believed that the Catholic James VII of Scotland and his Stuart descendants should be restored to the throne of Scotland and England. Jame’s father fled the Highlands after the Battle of Culloden in 1745. The British aggressively sought out the survivors and executed them. James Sr. escaped where he took shelter with a family of Aikens. Jame’s surname was Darroch, changed his name to Aiken, to help conceal his identity. His son’s name reflects the family name and story. James Darroch Aikens Jr. died in 1775, the same year a smallpox epidemic raged through Hardwick. Whether this is what he died from is unknown, but the red spots on the tongue, fever and a body rash plagued the people and if did not kill left many scarred.

Mary Mercy Gibbs and James Aiken’s son, a cousin of Abraham Gibbs, Ensign John Aiken married Keziah’s sister Jerusha Atwood. Keziah’s cousin Bethia Bacon (whose mother Keziah Doane sister to Hannah Doane had lost her husband before Bethia was born) married Abraham’s younger brother Lieutenant Jacob Gibbs. They all lived at Hardwick, Massachusetts. Jacob died Nov 13, 1777 aged 50 during the Revolutionary War and is buried in the Quabbin Park Cemetery. There are 60 other memorials found in this cemetery bearing the name Gibbs.

Jerusha and John Aiken had a son named Solomon. He graduated at Dartmouth in 1784, was pastor in Dracut from 1788-1812 when he was given leave to enter the army as a chaplain. He had served two years in the Revolution. Another of Jerusha’s sons Israel Aiken served as Captain in Page’s Company during the American Revolution. The Gibbs family certainly participated on the American side of the Revolutionary War so its interesting how they ended up being married to the Loyalists who took the side of the British but that’s another story for another day.

Abraham and Keziah had 7 children:

Thomas Gibbs born January 27, 1746, at Greenwich, Massachusetts. He had one son named Joseph. Thomas died in Russell, New York, having lived 82 years.

Sarah was born Apr 15, 1748, at Greenwich, Massachusetts, no other records found. That same year Keziah’s grandfather Doc David Doane died November 18, 1748 back in Eastham where she had been born. Keziah was named in his will and inherited 20 pounds. In his will he had many books, silver, 1/2 a whaling boat, and farming tools. He was buried in the Old Town Cove burial ground, near the fence by the public road; the inscription reading: Here Lies Y Body of Doc David Doane who Died Nov y 18th 1748 in the 74th Year of His Age. The probate lists 56 pounds, 10 shillings and 6 pence due by notes of hand from several Poor men, doubtful of being recovered. Doc probably did a lot of doctoring for vegetables or unpaid notes.

Keziah Atwood Gibbs born December 6, 1749 in Greenwich, Massachusetts. She died May 23, 1834 at Spafford, New York having lived a long life of 84 years.

Abraham Jr. was born March 22, 1753 at Greenwich.

Azubah was born on March 22, 1753. She died in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania at the age of 71.

Isaac (4th great grandfather) was born March 14, 1756 in Greenwich. Children: Abraham (3rd great grandfather) 1806, Hiram 1812-1859, Philanda, Joshua, Isaac Jr., David and Sarah.

Joshua was born in 1759 in Greenwich married Anna Clark ( info from David Gibbs. There were 2 different Joshua Gibbs both married women named Anna!

The Letter written at Hardwick November 24, 1744 found on page 77/1167 Mass Town and Vital Records 1620-1988

The reasons why Kezia Atwood doth not proceed in marriage with Abraham Gibbs are these as follows: 1. Because that he told her that he maintains two children, one by Hannah Marks and other by Ernoch (sp?)Hinesis, daughter which he said he paid twenty pounds to each of them for the maintenance of the children; and likewise he told the same words to me, Elisha Higgins, which the above said Gibbs said they were his children; furthermore by his carriage and abuse to his sister and his carriage to Kezia so that the people in the house were afraid to sleep, for fear that he would do her a mischief. These are the reasons that we forbid their proceeding in marriage. Signed Elisha Higgins Hannah Higgins her X mark

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