And Along Came Abraham

The owl hooted three times in the pre-dawn twilight. Keziah knew that was the signal that Abraham was waiting for her. Abraham was at home in the wood having grown up at Brookfield and then moved with his family to Quabbin. He hadn’t given up on their courtship and offered his friendship which she had never had before. The Great Awakening was happening and as they viewed each new sunrise, Abraham convinced her that God was giving them a new day and a new slate to write their lives, on which God’s promises would be renewed each day. It was a lovely new thought for Keziah. Hannah Gibbs, his sister, had helped Keziah secretively remove her belongings in the preceeding days, depositing them in the hollow tree in the forest at the edge of the farm. The couple had tried to make the union official with the ways of the Puritans. Their marriage banns were read in the Hardwick Church on March 10, 1744; Keziah Atwood intention to marry Abraham Gibbs of Quabbin (Greenwich). Their request was forbidden. Keziah’s stepfather Elisha Higgins had written a letter stopping the underage marriage of his stepdaughter.

Keziah was 17, Abraham 24. Elisha had disapproved of Abraham from the minute of meeting him. He had been escorting his sister Hannah through the forests and over the rivers from Quabbin to Hardwick when they took shelter at the Higgins homestead. Abraham stooped to enter the door frame of Keziah’s home. The brother and sister were soaked to the bone and sought relief from the cold rain they’d been caught out in. As Abraham’s eyes adjusted to the light, he’d spotted the young and beautiful Keziah and winked at her. Elisha saw and immediately disapproved. But Abraham was smitten.

Who was this Abraham? His roots were Puritan and English. Matthew Gibbs was born in 1615 at Lendam, Kent, England. He and his parent William (Jane Turney his mother had died) came to Charlestown, Massachusetts in 1650. The next year Matthew married Mary Bradish, daughter of Robert and Mary Bradish, who also came from England to America seeking land. The Gibbs had eleven children, all born in Charlestown, Middlesex County, which was the first capital of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Boston was across the river. Children: Mary 1652-1691; Hannah 1654-1695; Thomas 1656-1657; Matthew Jr. 1656-1732; Elizabeth 1658-1672; Thomas 1660-1687; John Apr 10, 1662-1718; Samuel 1665-1718; Joseph 1667; Jonathan 1669; Josiah 1671.

Massasoit was the peaceful Wampanoag Native Chief who helped the first Pilgrims providing corn and helping them build their homes as they came to the American Colonies. As more and more white men came, his son Metacomet, who took the name King Philip, waged war as their hunting lands were encroached upon. Tensions spilled over as 3 of his men were put on trial and executed. Aggressive expansion of colonist territories resulted in the warriors raiding and massacring 1000 during King Philip’s War June 20, 1675- Apr 12, 1678.

The lives of the colonists were threatened. Thriving villages were in ashes; fathers, husbands, brothers were slain or taken captives; farms and homes were laid waste and whole communities lived in block houses while the “reign of terror swept over them”. John Gibbs was 13 years old when his brother Matthew, aged 19 was listed with 75 men with Captain. Davenport with the Narraganset Expedition, December 1675, 5th Co. MA Regiment. On December 19th at the great Fort Fight, Indians shot 3 bullets through the Captain from which he bled to death. Edward Tyng took command. Matthew Gibbs Jr. was with William Gleason and this is the account given. A tedious march on a bitter cold night, in a severe snowstorm, they had marched all night and finally laid down in an open field. At 5 AM on the Lord’s Day they marched again and came upon the enemy. After a three hour fight, they recovered their wounded, 18 men and returned to quarters. There were 210 dead, 8 left dead at the fort and another 12 men died in the swamp. The troops burnt all the wigwarms and all the corn they found in baskets. The men had been promised if they took the fort and drove the enemy out they should have gratuity in land beside their wages. The Indians fled into a cedar swamp on an island and were pursued by companies of MA, Plymouth and Connecticut. The two survived and marched from dawn till noon, then engaged in a life and death struggle from noon until sunset, then plodded steadily back through the deepening snows and over unbroken roads, still fearing ambush. Another 22 died on this march back from their wounds and exposure. Their limbs were frozen and swollen.

Our John Gibbs married Anne Gleason. Thomas Gleason her father, probably born in Sulgrave, Northampton County, England in 1607, died in Cambridge, Mass. in 1686. He married in England to Susanna Page who died in Boston, 1691. His children: Thomas, Joseph, John, Philip, Nathaniel b 1651 died April 21, 1676, was killed that night in the Sudbury Fight with King Phillip’s warriors, where Col. Wadsworth and 50-60 troops were ambushed and slaughtered; Isaac, William, Mary and Anne b Charlestown, MA, 1659. In 1658 Anne’s father Thomas had moved the family here to Charlestown and on Dec 3, 1658 leased from Captain Scarlett, a portion of the Squa Sachem lands on the west side of Mysticke Pond. Soon after the lease was made a question arose about the ownership of the lands. The town of Charlestown sued Thomas Gleason and all his resources were swallowed up in the litigation and the case was unsettled when he died the spring of 1686. The oldest son, Thomas, settled near Sudbury and Framingham, in 1665 and bought 80 acres from the Rice family and Gleason’s Pond and Gleason’s Hill named thereafter. Four generations of Gleason’s lived here. His will was proved Sept 10, 1705 and states: to my son-in-law John Gibbs, who married my daughter Ann Gleason, I give and bequeath five shillings in money and gave to grandson John Gibbs 1 cow and his bringing up if he shall remain with my son John Gleason until 21 years of age. His assets included books, arms, beds with linens, pewter, brass and iron household, tables and chairs, loom, tools, corn, horse, cattle and swine, land and buildings. Thomas Gleason Jr. had children: Sarah born Feb 6, 1665 married Jeremiah Morse. He contested the will and lost; Anne b Apr 27, 1667 married John Gibbs; Thomas 1669; Isaac 1674; Patience 1677; Mary 1680; John 1682. (The John aged 14, raised by his Uncle John Gleason when his mother died ).

John and Anne Gleason Gibbs were married Apr 27, 1688 and children were born at Sudbury/Framingham: Thomas Apr 19, 1689; John Aug 3, 1691;Mercy Aug 3, 1691 (twins). Anne died in 1694 and John remarried Sarah Cutler and had 6 more children.

Thomas Gibbs moved to Brookfield, MA and had 80 acres there August 13, 1714 which he increased to 225 acres. Thomas married Hannah who died Dec 19, 1717 after childbirth when infant daughter, Abigail, also died December 5, 1717. Thomas then married Sarah Woolcott on April 13, 1719 at Brookfield., Massachusetts.

There were 5 generations of Woolcutt’s named John. John I born in England; John II b 1632 at Newbury and married there on Nov 20, 1653 Mary Thurlow 1636-1661 and owned 100 acres in a grant of land. He sold 600 acres on the Merrimack River October 1661 and built the bridge between Newbury and Rowley, and a windmill at Marbelhead in 1679, named as millwright and carpenter. Children born: Sarah 1657-1717; John III 1660-1747; Hannah 1679-1745. Brookfield in 1673 was attacked and of the 17 homesteaders 5 were killed in the ambush and siege of the town. The entire town but 1 house was burned out. Two women who survived each gave birth to twins and walked to Boston. The settlers were gloomy, discouragement felt in the stoutest hearts. The crops were out and when they joined together to convey grain from Deerfield to Hatfield they were ambushed by 500 and all slain. John Woolcott II was in Captain Appleton’s Troopers, who were sent in September 1675, on an expedition to protect the settlements along the Connecticut River, then being menaced by the Indians. John Woolcott marched through Brookfield and he liked what he saw and went back and settled there. His was one of the first homes rebuilt at Woolcott’s Corner. Major Pyschon put Mr. Woolcott in charge of the garrison at Brookfield and he died at Brookfield September 1690.

John III Woolcott b Oct 25, 1660 married Jan 4, 1684 Joanna Emerson 1663- Jul 4, 1751. John was one of the first to resettle Brookfield in 1686. He and his brother Joseph were the first squatters and awaiting land titles. Here he received several grants of land, one for building a grist-mill and a sawmill. Children: Joanna 1686-1751; Ruth 1690-1723; John Woolcott IV 1695-1728; Sarah M 1698-1777; Capt. Nathaniel 1700-1771; Hannah 1704; Lydia 1710-1750; Hannah 1712-1794.

Hostilities again broke out with the French and Indian War. Woolcott Village was unprotected. 40 savages came from the North, lying in ambush, watched and surprised Woolcott, Mason and Lawrence who were out haying in a meadow. On July 31, 1693 eight men, women and children were killed, Joseph Mason and son and wife and 2 small children of Joseph Woolcott carried away. Soldiers tracked and returned Dan Lawrence and wife and infant of Joseph Mason. The people of Brookfield desired a garrison and 6-10 men were sent and billeted in their homes which drew on their scanty supply of provisions. By 1698 John Woolcott’s signature was on a petition of 12 families to ask the court for a preacher, and the township was surveyed and given 8 square miles. In 1702, peace was short lived as England declared War on France. There were ten more years of savage warfare during the Queen Anne’s War 1702-1713. The French of Canada stirred up the Indians there who claimed ownership of the Brookfield old fields and meadows. An alarm of Indians being spotted sent the homesteaders driven from their houses into the fort. They couldn’t go out and plant or manage the fields. In nearby Deerfield 1704 where the snow had drifted the Indians climbed over the drifts into the fort and killed. They took captives and marched 111 away the 300 miles to Canada in the snow. The men were employed in scouting, marching, garrison duty and the outlying fields left unplowed and thus harvests were wanting. On October 13, 1708, John Woolcott’s son, John IV aged about 12 was out riding searching for cows, when the Indians shot his horse out from underneath him and took him prisoner. This was Sarah Woolcott’s brother; he was not returned until 1718. He became a trapper and while trying to avoid the Natives again in March 1728 steered for the far shore on the Connecticut River and was shot and killed. John Woolcott III was in service to raise a force and on the boat to help England attack Canada but the English fleet never arrived! He was given another 22 acres.

I can only imagine the life of Sarah Woolcott my 6th great grandmother, living this frontier life. She married my 6th great grandfather Thomas Gibbs and their first child born at Brookfield Jan 16, 1720 was…. Abraham Gibbs.

Forsaking His Father’s Church

Grandbaby #6, by Wendy Harty, pencil sketch 2009

The worst of the storm was to the west, the land was buried under four feet of snow. The winds increased. Major damage was done to the felled trees, but a high tide on a new moon produced fourteen feet high waves. The tides pounded the Great Beach and swept over the Nauset Spit. The wind built dunes were lowered to low mounds. The marsh was protected as the sand turned over as it was being washed. It was on this night that Joseph Higgins made his appearance into the world howling his anguish above the wind. The birth was March 1, 1734, duly recorded in the Bible of parents Elisha Higgins and his second wife, Hannah Doane Atwood Higgins. Keziah Atwood, had a new half-brother.

The trees felled were harvested for their wood to keep the home fires burning. The farmers of Eastham cleared more and more of the land. From the advent of the Seven Men of Eastham, who came in 1644 nearly one hundred years had passed. The population had continued to grow and grow as was again evidenced by the birth of twin girls, Abigail and Abial December 29, 1740, into the combined family of Higgins and Atwoods. There had also been sadness in the Doane family as their matriarch Dorothy Horton, aged 58, wife of Doc David Doane, mother of Jonathan, Hannah, Keziah and John, died in 1738. Hannah had lost her mother and Keziah her grandmother.

Elisha and Hannah Higgins had some decisions to make. The spit of land that four generations of their family had settled upon would no longer support the population. The trees they relied upon for heating were forested replaced by sea grass on the sandy dunes. Elisha aged 40, Hannah 37 with her children: Stephen Atwood Jr. 18, Keziah 15, Enoch 12, Jerusha 11, his children: Jane 20, Elisha Jr. 17, Enoch 12 and their children: Edward 8, Joseph 7, the twins Abigail and Abial still babies needed to relocate.

They couldn’t go east into the sea so they went west. Hardwick, Massachusetts would become their new home, in the center of the state. They found breathtaking scenery and amazing wildlife and crystal clear waters of the Swift and Ware Rivers. For thousands of years this valley was territory of the Nipmuc Indians who called the area Quabbin or the meeting of many waters. The Nipmuc were decimated by war and disease, and the valley rapidly became settled by the Europeans drawn by the abundance of water and rich farmland. Towns of Hardwich, Greenwich and Quabbin, sprang up about 70 miles from Boston, where soapstone quarrying, ice-harvesting, textile manufacturing and palm leaf hat braiding helped the people prosper.

Overland 180 miles the Higgins family moved to Hardwick which had first been settled just 4 years earlier in 1737. It was here that the family was completed with the birth of Uriah Higgins, May 28, 1742.

For over 100 years since the Pilgrims/Puritans landed at Plymouth they had tied their social and legal systems to their religious beliefs, as well as their English customs. At Plymouth they established their “City on a Hill”. A strong work ethic and moral sensibility was established. Were they truly miserable and wanting everyone else to be miserable? They attached a high value to marriage and strongly condemned sexual relations outside of marriage. These proud Englishmen wanted to set up an English state ran by God. They had annual elections, freemen had the right to hold office and vote. So what happened? People started looking to satisfy their spiritual and emotional needs. There was a growing formality and dampening of religious fervor. There began a splintering of American Protestantism.

Keziah’s mother, Hannah Doane had a brother, Daniel. Hannah and Daniel were both children of Doc David Doane and Dorothy Horton Doane. Daniel Doane was the first to leave Cape Cod and Eastham and forsake the church of his father. Daniel was characterized as self-reliant, independent, with an inquiring mind. He was led to study with Friends (Quakers) who were creating a sensation with a new doctrine. Charmed with their teachings, he united with their meeting house, the oldest or first Quaker meeting house in America, at Sandwich, 40 miles away from his father’s house. In 1696 he and his wife and four young children, the youngest being two, journeyed 700 miles overland to a Friends Colony at Middletown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. They were accepted as members and settled near Newtown, he as carpenter and farmer. In 1709 he paid 70 pounds sterling for 78 acres and acquired another 22 acres in 1713. His investigative spirit led him to study the stars and explore the influence of planets upon one another. Daniel started predicting with astrology and was disowned in 1711 by the Quaker Church and they stated “his wickedness lies upon his own head.” In his father’s will he was mentioned but only left one pound.

Daniel Doane’s death is recorded in a Middlestown meeting: Daniel Doane Senior deceased ye first day of ye ninth month 1743 on ye third day of the week. His will was dated Oct 4, 1731 and probated Dec 31, 1743. To child Daniel Jr. 1687, Ellezer 1691, Elijah 1694, Joseph 1697, Israel 1699, Lydia Stradley 1690, Rebecca Randall, George Randall (son-in-law), Elizabeth deceased 1701. left 5 shillings each. To dear and loving wife Mary Yates (2nd wife) his estate to maintain and educate and bring up her children: Samuel, Mary, Thomas, Sarah and Ebenezer Doane.

Hagiography, Vows Broken and Fleeing For His Life

Sketch of John Bale 1495-1563 by Wendy Harty 2019. When I sketch faces I start with the eyes. With every stroke of John Bale’s whiskers, which were numerous, I wondered what those eyes were trying to tell me. “Don’t judge me, only God can judge; be loving and kind there is so much evil and power wielding Kings and Queens directed my path; and chose your battles wisely. I was called controversial, argumentative and bilious. Yes, I was!”

Dear Keziah and Wendy and those who descend from me;

I am privileged and very bright as a lad. At age 12, I was sent off to join the Carmelite friars at Norwich, England. Oh the words, the ideas, the books. Just like you Wendy, I read and read. I believe the words of the controversial author, with a connection to Samuel Atwood and Edward Bangs, Margaret Atwood, “I chose and having chosen had less choices to make.” I fled not once but twice with the choices I made.

By age 34 I had my Bachelor of Divinity from Jesus College at Cambridge. How different my life might have been if King Henry VIII hadn’t wanted a divorce. At first King Henry sided with the Catholic Church against the Protestent Reformation and Martin Luther. A decade later, King Henry’s choice changed history forever. The Pope’s refusal to grant Henry a divorce led to the King abolishing papal rule over the Church in England. Henry VIII declared himself Head of the Church of England (Anglican) and took over the courts. He dissolved the monasteries, absorbing and redistributing their massive wealth as he saw fit. Thomas Cromwell was the King’s influential adviser.

I had become the Prior or Dean of the Ipswich Carmelite house in 1533, the same order I had joined at age 12. I broke my vows and married my “faithful Dorothy”, 1536. I wrote coarse writings against my former religion but dealt gently with my order of Carmelites because I esteemed the learning I had learned there. My world was not a kind and loving place. I wrote two hagiographies – writing of the lives of the saints with a political agenda. Was Sir John Oldcastle a traitor and an outlaw or as I wrote about him, a revered Protestant martyr. The second, Mistress Ann Askew was fifteen when her sister died who was betrothed. Her father replaced her as the bride. They hated each other. For twenty years, the Lollard’s had flourished with the teachings of John Wycliff and the translation of the Bible to English. Ann read and memorized Bible passages and began to preach. She asked King Henry VIII for a divorce. Ann got caught in a palace intrigue and was racked! The details are gruesome and they transported Ann on a chair because she could not walk to her burning at the stake.

I worked tirelessly to collect and personally examined the valuable libraries of the Augustinian and Carmelite monasteries before their dissolution. My notebook is preserved in the Oxford Library, 14 centuries of alphabetically arranged authors and their writing, that would otherwise have become lost. I developed and published an extensive list of the works of British authors just before the books in the monasteries were destroyed and dispersed.

I was summoned before the Archbishop of York and the Bishop of London, for my preaching. I was charged with heresy. I escaped and fled with the help of Thomas Cromwell, whose attention I had attracted with my miracle plays. He used my anti-Catholic pamphlets as invaluable propaganda tools. Cromwell used my writings against the church. In 1538, I wrote the oldest known historical verse drama on the subject of King John. These were historical plays, medieval religious drama full of abusive, insulting and mocking vocabulary – profane parodies. I was a zealous advocate of Protestant reform, expressing my views in my writings. When Cromwell well from favor in 1540, I fled with my wife and children to Antwerp, Belgium.

With King Edward VI ascending the throne we returned to England and made a living being Rector of Bishopstoke at Hampshire and then promoted to Anglican Bishop of Ossory 1552-1553 in Ireland: appointed Oct 22, installed Feb 2, 1553 and ended September 15, 1553. I clashed bitterly with Judge Thomas St. Lawrence of the Irish Court who opposed the Reformation.

Mary, Queen of Scots, ascended the throne and England became Catholic again. I, John Bale, fled again. I tried to escape to Scotland, but our ship was captured by a Dutch man-of-war, which a storm forced into St. Ives, Cornwall. I was arrested on suspicion of treason, but released. I narrowly escaped at Dover again and escaped to the Netherlands and Frankfurt and Basel. I spent my eight years in exile writing. My autobiographical prose was written about my experience as Bishop of Ossory, my conflicts with the Irish church and my exiles, called “The Vocacyon of John Bale”.

When Queen Elizabeth I took the throne we returned and I received in 1560 a prebendal stall as Canon of Canterbury, where I lived out my life for three more years before being buried in the cathedral there in 1563, aged 68. I lived through 6 reigning monarchies: King Henry VII 1485-1509; King Henry VIII 1509-1547; King Edward VI 1547-1553; Queen Mary I 1553-54; Philip and Mary 1554-1558; and Queen Elizabeth I 1558-1603. With each my fortunes ebbed and waned.

The writings that survived: “The Chief Promises of God”, “The Three Laws of Nature”, “The Temptation of our Lord”, “A Brief Comedy of John the Baptist Preaching in the Wilderness”, and 2 editions 1548 and 1559 of the English authors and their writings.

John Bale 1495-1563 married Dorothy Watts 1495

Henry Bale 1548-1593 married Margaret Senner 1554-1612

Lady Susan Bale 1574-1650 married William James III Cole Earl of Enniskillen (see my previous blog Enniskillen Castle).

In support of the facts of Daniel Cole 1614-1694. Death Dec 21, 1694 in Eastham, Barnstable, Massachusetts Note: “We, John Cole, Timothy Cole, Isreal Cole, James Cole, William Cole, Daniel Cole and Thomas Cole, Daniel Doane and his wife Hipsibath, John Young and his wife Ruth, Joshua Hopkins and his wife Mary, and Medad Atwood and his wife Hester (Esther) have mutually agreed to be contented and satisfied with ye divition and settlement of ye Estate”.

Medad and Esther Cole Atwood were parents to Samuel Atwood married to Hannah Doane parents of Keziah Atwood the subject of my novel.

A Mix of Politics and Religion and Castles

Pen and ink sketch of Ennisskillen Castle, Ireland by Wendy Harty November 2019.

Dear Keziah: I have not forgotten thee. Just took a little detour researching your fascinating relatives and the places they trod in history! Love Wendy

Back in 1468 Sir Thomas Cole was born in Devon, England. His son Thomas Cole 1494-1571 also of Devon, was an English Protestant, a Marian Exile, who graduated M.A at Oxford. When Catholic Queen Mary ascended the throne he fled to Frankfurt where he met John Knox and moved to Geneva with more of the radical protestants. As a political fraction, this group of disaffected country gentlemen, for the most part related, returned to England, under Elizabeth I. Thomas was made Archdeacon of Essex and was present at the convocation of 1563 and subscribed the original Thirty-nine Articles, the defining statements of doctrines and practices of the Church of England. Queen Elizabeth I attempted to reconcile Reformed and Catholic practices to appeal to all the peoples and made a Book of Common Prayer which included the 39 articles. The Marian Exiles would accept nothing less than the pure Calvinist ideal and the Puritan dissenters called for further purification of the Church of England. Thomas Cole had a reputation for eloquence and for nonconformity and he preached before the queen at Windsor in 1564. (He should not be confused with William Cole d 1600 president of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, one of the authors of the Genevan translation of the Bible.

William Cole 1521-1601 married Ann 1520-1598

Sir William J Cole II 1546-1623 married Elizabeth Deards 1550-1622

Sir William James Cole III, of Ennisskillen, Ireland July 28, 1574-Nov 19, 1630. The County of Fermanagh is famous for its 17th-century castle ruins, one being Enniskillen Castle, the town’s oldest building, built by Hugh (Maguire) the Hospitable who died in 1428.

The strategic position of the castle made its capture important for the English in 1593, to support their plans for the control of Ulster. The castle was besieged three times in 1594–95. The English captured it in February 1594. Maguire then laid siege to it, and defeated the occupants who were massacred after they surrendered. Maguire (Irish) gained possession of the castle from 1595 to 1598 and it was not finally captured by the English until 1607. (William Cole had married Susan Bale whose grandfather John Bale who was also a Marian exile and came back to join Bishop Thomas Cole to form Parliament.)

This was part of a wider campaign to bring the province of Ulster under English control; the final capture of Enniskillen Castle in 1607 was followed by the Plantation of Ulster, during which the lands of the native Irish were seized and handed over to planters loyal to the English Crown. The Maguires were supplanted by William Cole, originally from Devon, who was appointed by King James I to build an English settlement there.

Captain Cole was installed as Constable and strengthened the castle wall and built a “fair house” on the old foundation as the centre point of the county town. He remodelled and refurbished the castle adding the riverside tower at the south known as Watergate. This features two corbelled circular turrets. The medieval architecture technique placed successive flat stones, each one extending a little further inward than the layer beneath. The first Protestant parish church was erected on the hilltop in 1627. 

Excerpt from “Mayflower Planters, Cape Cod Series Vol. II, Merchant Adventurers of England. The Cole Family had a strong “dissenting” history. Three brothers Job, John and Daniel Cole, came to Plymouth in 1633 ,sailing on the ship “Mary and James. Daniel Cole was born December 12, 1614 at Weedon Bec, Northamptonshire, England and died Dec 21, 1694 at Eastham, Massachusetts, buried in Cove Burying Ground at age 80. (In 1648, Daniel was one of the jury that tried Alice Bishop for infanticide.) His daughter Esther/Hester 1661-1705 married Medad Atwood 1658-1704. Their son Stephen Atwood 1695-1732 married Hannah Doane 1704-1776. And their daughter Keziah is my 5th great grandmother.

My Way or the Highway

Watercolor sketch titled The Road Less Traveled by Wendy Harty 2019. The Puritans tried to take the less traveled road but ended up saying, “My way or the highway!”

Forbidden – Keziah a novel cont’d below

The Puritans had escaped from the persecutions they encountered from the King’s in England and landed in the New World. Their progress was slow but the trees were felled and homes and families established. They believed they were doing God’s service and were sincere and honest in their cores. Guards with muskets stood by their meeting place doors for their Sabbath services to guard from Indian attacks. They forgot human rights as they tried to maintain their separation from the world. Children were to be seen and not heard; never to speak unless spoken to; always to break the bread not to bite into a slice; take a clean knife for salt. By the time Keziah was born the people had striped and branded heretics and bigotry had sat at their tables for over one hundred years. Sin existed in the eyes of the beholder and eyes were everywhere. In 1692 they lived through the witch trials. Keziah’s great grandfather Edward Bangs lived in the time when the government made laws that all must observe the Sabbath. He was in charge of putting offenders into the stocks after warning and fines didn’t work. Most people did not transgress and were deemed sour, dour and obsessed with religion, although a robust sexuality springs forth from the pages of the record books.

Forbidden – cont’d

Keziah was jealous. And jealousy was a sin. Her jealousy was mostly due to a new baby being born on the night of October 15, 1733. Her new step father, Elisha was elated with the baby and named him Edward Higgins. As her mother nursed little Edward, Elisha’s children, Jane and Sarah and Elisha Jr. crowded around to admire the ten little fingers and toes. Keziah wanted a look at the new baby but there didn’t seem to be any room for her to inch closer. Jane and Sarah also got to hold the baby first being eleven and eight years old and that made Keziah not the oldest girl in the family anymore, and not the favored one. Baby Edward had made a hasty sudden appearance and though Dorothy Doane had been sent for she hadn’t arrived in time. When Gramma Dorothy bustled through the door she took over the care of the baby and then whisked Keziah and Jerusha away so mama could get some rest.

The next morning Keziah asked to help her grandparents by going next door to Uncle Jonathan’s house. She was supposed to bring back the freshly churned butter but her real reason was to see her cousin Bethia, whom she missed terribly since her mother had remarried and they had moved to her new home. Bethia was able to toddler after her and the two entertained themselves with a sticks and stones game until Aunt Martha nudged her out the door with the butter.

He Needed a Wife, She Needed a Husband

Sketch 2019 by Wendy Harty; inspiration: Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Two are better than one. If either falls down one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also if two lie down together they will keep warm. Though one may be overpowered two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Forbidden – Keziah cont’d

The New Year of 1733 had come and gone in Eastham, Massachusetts. Keziah Atwood woke with cousin Bethia’s heel pressed into her cheek. The little cousin had flipped upside down in her sleep and her sister, Jerusha was pressed tightly up against her back sharing their warmth. Keziah extracted herself from the sleeping bodies. Things were going to happen today. Mama’s leg was healing nicely. Aunt Keziah had let her sister, Hannah up out of bed. Last night she’d brushed her sister’s hair into a gleaming mass of curls that hung down her back. Melted snow water made warm bath water. While Hannah soaked Aunt Keziah brushed Keziah’s, Jerusha’s and Bethia’s curls into submission. Keziah’s brothers, Samuel 9 and Enoch 4 were also scrubbed behind their ears.

Their meagre belongings had been packed and Uncle Jonathan had helped transport them the three and a half miles to a new home at Cedar Swamp, the northwest corner of the Town of Orleans, situated on Town Cove and Rock Harbor on the Bay side of the Cape. At meeting last Sunday the people had heard the words of Ecclesiastics. Keziah knew their family certainly needed some help since her father, Stephen Atwood had died less than two months before.

Elisha Higgins became their answer. Elisha was a fourth generation Puritan, born in Eastham. He was a great grandson of Richard Higgins, one of the 7 Founding Fathers of Eastham. As the town of Plymouth outgrow itself in 1644, and the blessed increase in their families was so great it was plain that they must scatter, these seven moved to Eastham. Those first seven fast increased to twenty; the twenty to fifty. Thus it was that Richard Higgin had Jonathan who had Elisha Sr. who had ten more: Elisha Jr., Martha, Beriah, Alice, Apphia, Jonathan, Elizabeth, Joseph, Ruth and Barnabas.

Elisha Higgins Jr. had married Sarah Lewis. When Sarah died October 1732, the couple had three children: Jane 11, Sarah 8, and Elisha III aged 6. And Elisha Higgins Jr. needed a wife! His sister, Martha, who was married to Uncle Jonathan Doane, knew just the answer. There wasn’t much of a courtship, as both parties involved made the agreement.

Keziah wondered how she could feel happy and sad at the same time. She was leaving the only home she’d ever known. She was moving away from grandparents Doc and Dorothy Doane. The Higgins and Doane family were inconnected already. Besides Elisha’s sister, Martha marrying her Uncle Jonathan, his other sisters Alice and Apphia had married her mother’s cousins Solomon and Simeon Doane and Elisha’s brother, Jonathan had married Rachel Doane.

At the meeting house, this large extended family had paused in their work to celebrate the marriage of Elisha Higgins to her mother, Hannah Doane Atwood Higgins, January 24, 1733. A new family was formed with his kids, her kids and within ten months, their kids.

Sharing the Potato Crop

Sketch by Wendy Harty 1987 called Potato Harvest.

History should be a great teacher. The Mayflower had arrived on America’s shore in 1620. The Compact was signed stating that all would share everything for the next seven years. By 1623 the people were starving. The Governor decided that the communal effort wasn’t working as some were lazy and he divided up the land. The Governor’s plan worked and abundance of corn was planted. The women went willingly into the fields to help and took their little ones to set (plant) corn. The corn remained in the hands of those that raised it. This true story is the beginning of capitalism. The people worked hard and began to prosper.

By 1773 the British had imposed new laws and taxes without representation on the Colonies. Patriots protested the new tax on tea, and boarded ships in the Boston harbor, dumping the tea into the water. The British decided the colonies needed to be punished. The British passed 5 Intolerable Acts and the Revolutionary War ensued. Here on the eve of our election I ponder the new laws and taxes to pay for all the promises our leaders have committed too.

The potato farmer above grows a decent crop and through taxation is demanded to give 1/2 to the government. The next year he grows a crop but weather and insects interfere and he only harvests 1/2 the amount of potatoes but he is again demanded to give 1/2 to the government. This doesn’t leave him enough potatoes to feed his own family. Being a good neighbor he helps his friend who was unable to get his crop off and the friend also gives his 1/2 of the harvest to the government. Then he finds out the friend gets government assistance and therefore the friend who he helped has more than himself. The people demand more and more from the government and soon the farmer is asked to give more. Demands are made to share the wealth; the haves can give to the have nots until they also are the have nots. Promises of free dental, interest free loans, or 9.3 billion in new spending with no balanced budget projected are advertised. Once the wealth is shared and everyone is on an even footing, everyone is happy, no one needs to work and the government provides. Or, civilization fails, wars break out, and society rebuilds again and learns what the Pilgrims learned 380 years ago.

For those that don’t have potatoes to give, think of going to school and striving for those A’s and highest marks. When you do your homework, work on assignments and hand in essays you receive the same mark as your friend who slept in and didn’t make it to class, never even wrote the essay. For myself, I’d probably still write the essays for my own enjoyment but I’m about to give up planting potatoes.


Painting by Wendy Harty 2008.

My bench welcomes me back home after roaming. Yesterday I went “roaming home” again with a verse from Brewster Higley’s “My Western Home” playing in my mind as we traveled the dusty backroads; “Where the deer and the antelope play, where seldom is heard a discouraging word and the sky is not cloudy all day.” We passed herds of the pronghorn gleaning in the combined fields with the bucks standing watch over the does. I love watching the antelope flocks and when they are in motion can reach top speeds of around 55 mph. Their white rump hairs raise in alarm at any danger.

Roaming the hallways of my brain is Keziah Atwood Gibbs, my 5th grandmother. She is no longer ricocheting around as I toyed with an idea for a novel but I’ve settled into her being in my thoughts. I hope she and I can live happily together for as long as it takes to write her story. Truly as I come to research and understand her life, I have fallen in love with her: the little girl watching from the porch for her father, Stephen Atwood, to come home; the girl learning to spell her name K e z i a h, from the Book of Job, in the Bible; the girl as everyone around her is sorrowing, with a tear falling from her cheek. Keziah’s life is about to have a dramatic upheaval as the family struggles for survival.

Forbidden. Just one word written at the end of a church record, March 10th, 1743. If you are following along with the story, Forbidden – A Story of Keziah Atwood Gibbs, could you do me a favor and in the comments, write that one word, Forbidden.


Sketch of oil lamp by Wendy Harty, 2019. Doc David Doane in his will lists 1/2 share in a whaling boat from which the family would make whale oil to light their lamps with.

Eureka! That light bulb moment when the dots connect. Most of the fun in writing a “Forbidden – the story of Keziah Atwood” is researching. From the Seven Men of Eastham who moved from Plymouth to start the new settlement of Nausett, renamed Eastham, Massachusetts, was the name of John Doane. This is my eureka moment. Keziah Atwood’s mother’s name was Hannah Doane.

Keziah – continued

Keziah took little Bethia and Jerusha and retreated to the loft. She played mother to them and soon had them soothed for their nap. Aunt Keziah had not allowed her sister Hannah out of bed since she’d arrived. Their father Doc Doane had come morning and night and replaced the poultice of bread soaked in milk, on Hannah’s leg. The angry red lines from the sore were slowly rescinding and bed rest was needed. If Keziah helped with the smaller children, Aunt Keziah had promised the family stories on Saturday night after all their chores were done.

Aunt Keziah told them this tale as it had been handed down through her family for many generations. The Dones were chief Foresters for hundreds of years living beside the Delamere Forest, at Utkinton, one mile north of Tarporley, England. John Doane was in charge of the queen’s forest which included the queen’s deer.

A man named Greenways from Utkinton, about 50 years of age, was sticken with fits. He consulted a physician and told to go home, keep warm, use a good diet and find some pure spring water with which to bathe and drink from and he would have a swift recovery. Greenway knew of a pretty spring that bubbled forth on the south edge of Delamere Forest. His ague was shortly cured. Quickly spread the news. A blind man named Bradley was led blind and recovered his sight. People damned up the spring, wherein poor people could come and wash themselves. Many the crutch was left abandoned there no longer needed. This brought wealth to the village in the rooms and food required for the 2000 sick or curious people coming daily. John Doane though inconvenienced allowed the sick and diseased free access and allowed the water to be used for the health benefits that both the poor and rich derived from it. Eventually after three years, the queen’s deer in the queen’s forest were seen to be under threat and Doane closed the forest.

John Doane was born about 1575 at Saint Eart, Cornwall and married Lydia in 1589 at St. Alban’s England. Their children born in England: John Doane Jr., 1591, Anna 1600 married William Twinning, and Martha married to Joseph Harding. John Doane Jr. came with 35 of the Leyden Company and their families, those Puritans who had settled in Holland for the ten years after being persecuted in England. They arrived in Plymouth in 1629 and were members of Mr. Robinson’s church. John Doane Jr born 1591 and Abigail Ann Perkins born in 1600 were married in 1629. This John was elected to be Assistant to the Governor of the New World. He kept this appointment for three years when he asked to be released from his duties to devote more time to the Pilgrim Church and became Deacon of the Church. He was on a committee to revise the laws for the colony in 1636 and in 1644 left and became one of the founders of Eastham; also deputy to the Court, Justice of the Peace, on first board of Selectmen. A man of wisdom, integrity and deep piety, he gave himself unreservedly to the well being of his fellow men and the best interests of the community, his house stood on the north side of Town Cove where he died aged 95. His ashes mingle with mother Earth in an unmarked grave in the old Town Cove burial-ground at Eastham, Mass. no stone marks the spot but the family put up a large rock stone memorial. In 1902 a book was written called the Doane Family – a book of 9 generations.

Just some other fun facts: the well survives and called Whistlebitch Well at Primrose Hill in the Delamere Forest, in an overgrown gully on private property and the book, The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson has one setting in Delamere Forest.

The 7 Men of Eastham

Oil painting called “Home” by Wendy Harty 2010.

What and where do you call home? Mine is the Sweetgrass Hills also known as the Hills of Home and the Writing-on Stone Provincial Park (now named in 2019 a World Heritage Site.) Pictured in my painting was my playground growing up, six miles of ranch from the Milk River to the American border. My grandparents, Gordon and Olive Gibbs Waddell homesteaded here in 1910. Imagine starting from scratch and coming to make a home on this prairie. Our relatives from Plymouth Colony moved to Eastham, Massachusetts with the same pioneering spirit. On this Thanksgiving Weekend let us truly give thanks for the sacrifices and hardships they endured each time they moved to make a better life for themselves and their families.

Eastham was home for Keziah Atwood. It was here in 1620, the Mayflower landed a hunting expedition. The area was not settled until 1644. In 1643, the members of the Plymouth Church were dissatisfied with their situation and had a desire to take up new lands. They had built their town on a barren part of New England. The whole church began to wonder if they should move to another place, as there wasn’t enough upland to prosper. It was unanimously agreed upon to move if they could find a place to accommodate all of them. The purchase of Nauset on Cape Cod was made from the Natives. Later the Plymouth group reconsidered as the land was not capable of holding the entire colony and was 50 miles from Plymouth. In 1644 the grant of Nauset was made by the Court to the Plymouth Colony and the “Old Comers” those persons of similar minds and ambitions removed to Nauset. The name was officially changed to Eastham and the town incorporated in 1651. The church gave their blessing for the first seven settlers who were: Thomas Prince, John Doane, Nicholas Snow, Josiah Cook, Richard Higgins, John Smalley and Edward Bangs. These 7 men were considered the most respectable of Plymouth They had a clean slate to write history on. If it were not for four out of these seven men, ancestors of Keziah Atwood, being willing to relocate and start afresh my novel would not be set in her home of Eastham, Massachusetts.

Keziah a novel- continued

Uncle Jonathan stomped off his snowy boots and entered the grieving home of his sister. He smelled of wood smoke and sweat. His job was to dig the grave for Stephen Atwood. The early advent of winter had left the ground frozen. Jonathan had transported logs into the Cove Burying Ground Cemetery, lit them overnight to make smoldering embers and then had removed the hot ash so as to dig the warmed ground.

Aunt Keziah had come also. She tucked Mama up in bed and took over the house. Keziah didn’t mind. Keziah now shared her bed with Jerusha and Bethia. Life was better with her aunt and baby Bethia there. Keziah would still wake in the night to hear Mama’s sobs but Aunt Keziah, younger by two years, would sooth and shush. Aunt Keziah knew her own share of sorrow. Her daughter Mary had died after being in her arms one month.. Then her husband, Isaac Bacon, last year had died just as her morning sickness set in. Seven months later Bethia had been born.

Grampa Doane also came daily and changed the dressings on her mother’s leg. He always brought something to put in the soup pot. His other patients often paid him in produce, money being in scarce supply. Grampa Doane had never attended physician school but in the community of Eastham his common sense was often called upon to tend to their illnesses and injuries. Keziah heard him apologize for the little he brought one day as his patients were often to poor to pay him and gave him IOU’s.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Counting my blessings and remembering the history behind the abundance we will share with family as we eat our turkey.

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