Monthly Archives: September 2013

The Diary of James Ritchie (1822-1913)

Among the Nancy Prescott Forrest archives were some excerpts from the diary of James Ritchie.  James was my 1st cousin, 4x removed.  He was a civil engineer in Perthshire, Scotland, and the nephew of my 3x great-grandfather Rev. William Duff.  His mother was Rev. Duff’s sister Marion “May” Duff Ritchie.  The diary is just wonderful.  I wish I had access to the whole thing.


James Ritchie, courtesy of Catherine Duff.

The first two entries tell of James dropping off his cousins Margaret Charlotte “Maggy” Duff (1853 – 1939) and Isabella Catherine “Bella” Duff (1854 – 1951), daughters of his Uncle Rev. William Duff, on the steamer “Cuba” from Liverpool, England to go back home to Nova Scotia.  It’s not clear why the girls were in Scotland for three years (1862-1865), but it might not be a coincidence that the American Civil War was raging during that period.  After his cousins are seen off, he takes a thoughtful walk in Wales.

Sept. 15, 1865

With Maggy and Bella Duff traveled to Liverpool to see them off by the Cunard steamer on their return home to Nova Scotia, after a stay in Scotland of three years.  Left Perth at 8:00 a.m. and without any noticeable incident arrived in Liverpool about 5:00 p.m, and proceeded to Laurence’s Hotel, in Clayton Square.  It is the best Temperance hotel in Liverpool, but what a pity temperance hotels are as a rule almost always dirty and ill-managed.  Total abstinence from alcoholic liquors and the quiet and peace accruing from it, have to hide a multitude of objectionable concomitants in those dirty places of entertainment.

Clayton Square, Liverpool.  Laurence's Hotel is barely visible to the far right.

Clayton Square, Liverpool. Laurence’s Hotel is barely visible to the far right.

[Image from ]

Maggy and Bella go out under the charge of Mrs. and the Revd. Professor King, of Halifax.   After a good wash and tea I went down to D & C McIver’s, on Water Street, and paid the passages to Halifax, per the “Cuba”, of Peg and Kate, ₤22 for the two, i.e. half fares, both being considered under age at 12 and 11 respectively, then returned and called for Mr. and Mrs. King at the Queen Hotel, missed them – they had gone out.  We then visited two exhibitions of wax figures in that neighbourhood, with which my young friends were much astonished and delighted.  After our return to Laurence’s, Mr. King called.  He seems over 60 years of age, a kindly-looking little, old gentle-man.  This has been an oppressively hot day.

Water Street, Liverpool, showing the Cunard Lines office

Water Street, Liverpool, showing the Cunard Lines office

[Above photo from]

Sept. 16, 1865

Last night very hot and sultry.  Got up early and roused the girls, breakfased and drove off to St. George’s landing stage about half past seven a.m.  Got aboard the Satellite tender, on which we were soon joined by Professor and Mrs. King.  Mrs. King is a precise looking old lady, but intelligent and kind.  Her object in coming to Britain this season was to consult medical men about her eyesight, one of her eyes being blind through cataract.  She was advised to let it alone, the other being good and unaffected, as any operation on the blind eye might injure the sound one.

St. George's Landing Stage, Liverpool

St. George’s Landing Stage, Liverpool

We steamed out to the “Cuba”, where I had just time to see the little stateroom set apart for Peg and Kate, containing two tidy little berths, when the bell rang for return to the tender of all persons not going across the Atlantic.  I had fortunately therefore, but a moment for saying adieu, just time to shake hands, kiss and run.  Poor Peg and Kate waved their handkerchiefs to me from the bridge, so long as I could see them, looking disconsolate enough, poor lassies, – two sweeter or more affectionate girls I never knew.  May our father who is in Heaven have them in his holy keeping, bless them and shield them from much sorrow all their lives, and at last may we all meet at his right hand where there will be no sorrowful partings like this one, no griefs, no pain, and where all tears shall forever be wiped away.

The SS Cuba of the Cunard Line, 1865.

The SS Cuba of the Cunard Line, 1865.

Margaret Duff with nieces Bella and Maggie Duff c1856

Margaret Duff with nieces Bella and Maggie Duff c1856

Returned to Laurence’s, got my luggage and once more drove down to St. George’s landing stage, this time seeking the railway boat, crossed over to Birkenhead and took the train to Llangollen…. walked up the valley to Valle Crucis Abbey, smoked a pipe sitting on the base of Eliseg’s Pillar, returned past the ruins of the Abbey, never can admire the west gable and window enough, climbed the hill to the west of the Abbey, above the public road, and sitting on a rock there had another long pipe, looking down the vale of Llangollen, lying calm and beautiful under the level rays of the setting sun, and musing on my young friends now steaming down the Irish Sea, thinking too, mayhap, of those they have left behind them, but with the happy bouyancy of youth, no doubt, already beginning to think quite as much of the joyful reunion with older and nearer friends that awaits them on the other side of the Atlantic.

Valle Crusis Abbey

Valle Crusis Abbey

Eliseg's Pillar

Eliseg’s Pillar

Vale of Llangollen

Vale of Llangollen

The next entry captures his thoughts after a visit to London with his Uncle, Rev. William Duff.  The description of my 3x great-grandfather is lovely.  I saw him as a sort of stern fellow, but this shows a much softer side of my grandfather.

October 25, 1866 (After a visit to London with Uncle William)

Saw Uncle William [Rev. Duff] off by train to Edinburgh.  He goes thence tomorrow to Liverpool and next day sails for Halifax by the [Cunard Line SS] Java.  Very sorry to part with him, in all human probability will never see him again.  He is one wholly after my own heart.  One of the most loveable creatures I ever knew, gentle, gentlemanly, pious, wholly unselfish and unaffected, with a rare fine racy sense of humour, most intelligent and affectionate, but undemonstrative, both in his affection and goodness.  He is much stronger in his general health since he came home, but his bronchial complaint is not removed.

SS Java, 1866

The SS Java of the Cunard Line, 1866

The next entries concerns James’s final visit to his aunt Jean Duff Kilgour [1796-1867], and include some wonderful reminiscences of his time at Berryhill Farm, the Duff family homestead in Perhshire, Scotland.

Nov. 22 1867 (At the time of Mrs. Kilgour’s death)

Went out to see Aunt Kilgour, found her sinking very fast.  I bade her goodnight, she answered “Goodnight, James, goodnight”.  I left her knowing I would never see her in life again, leaving with her her sisters, Aunts Margt. and Charlotte, and Jeannie Duff.  As I walked home I pondered on the long and close relationship.  Running over in review our whole past intercourse, beginning with my earliest recollections of Auntie in the old kitchen in Berryhill, as I used to sit by the wide fireside and see her before her marriage, bustling actively about, directing household matters, or occasionally joining the maids at the old spinning wheels, and almost invariably at those times humming on a favourite tune.  The many hundred times I have walked to Scone… never without pleasure and a certainty of the warm, kindly, true-hearted greeting and affectionate goodbye.

Berryhill Farm about 1913

Berryhill Farm about 1913

Nov. 23, 1867

Heard this morning that Aunt Jane had passed away.  She was out of all comparison my favorite.  I liked her independent spirit, her shrewd strong commonsense, her invariable straightforwardness, truth and honesty, and hatred of hypocrisy, duplicity and shams.  She has borne her long trying illness of over three years duration with great Christian patience and fortitude.  Not a single murmur was ever heard from her lips.  Her fine manliness of character, if I may so speak, made her quite above all complaining and grumbling about an ailment which she had long known to be beyond human skill to cure.

Stormont Cottage, home of Jean Duff & Thomas Kilgour

Stormont Cottage, home of Jean Duff & Thomas Kilgour

The final two entries concern his last visit with his uncle William Duff and his subsequent death.  They are almost 10 years apart.  Unfortunately they are the only two entries that I have at this time.

Sept 16, 1878

Saw my Uncle William off to Liverpool on his way home to Nova Scotia.  Very sorry to part with him.  I don’t know a truer Christian gentleman than my Uncle William.

May 26, 1888 This evening heard from Dr. John Forrest, Principal of Dalhousie College, Halifax, of the death of his father-in-law, and my uncle, the Rev. William Duff, of Lunenberg, Nova Scotia, who was born at Berryhill, Auchtergaven, in 1808.  My Uncle William was one of the best men I ever knew.  My mother and he – the eldest and the youngest of the old family of Berryhill – (the last of the Duffs there after a tenancy of some 200 years) – were more like each other in their sympathies dispositions and temperaments, and on that account, probably, I have always felt greatly attached to him, and have sent him papers every week and regularly corresponded with him for over thirty years.  He has done a great and good work in Nova Scotia, and now he has gone to his reward.

Rev. William Duff c 1880

Rev. William Duff c 1880


Grandpa Had a Gun

I found a reference in a book on Prescott Family Genealogy which indicated that a musket owned by my 10x great-grandfather Jonathan Prescott [1604-1681] was here in Madison, Wisconsin.  I wrote to the Wisconsin Historical Society, which confirmed that they did indeed have his musket in their collection.  They have indicated I can stop in and see it by appointment, which is kind of exciting. Here are the photos they sent me along with a lovely explanation of how they acquired it and the history of the item.  There’s not much left of the old girl, but it’s still cool to think it was used by my 10x great-grandfather to defend his land in the 1600’s.

Mr. Thomas,

We do indeed have the musket you mentioned.  Its catalog number is 1947.1066 and I have attached some images of it.  Here is the information we have about it in our collections database:

“An Ancient Gun. — Presented by Prescott Brigham.  This gun was the property of John Prescott, and was brought by him from Lancashire, England, who went first to Barbadoes, and owned land there in 1638, and came to New England about 1640.  In 1645, Sholan, the Indian proprietor of Nashawog, offered to him and other persons a tract of land ten miles in length, which was accepted, and the General Court subsequently confirmed the deed.  The town was named Lancaster, in the present county of Worcester, Massachusetts.  John Prescott had occasion to use this gun during King Phillip’s Indian War of 1675.  On one occasion, as tradition has it, a number of Indians made their appearance at Prescott’s old mill, hoisted the water-gate, when Prescott took this gun, heavily loaded, and started towards the mill, when the Indians retired to the hills close by; Prescott having fixed the mill, thought it prudent to retrace his steps, but did so backwards, with his eye upon the foe, until he reached his house.  At that point the Indians raised a whoop, Prescott concluded to give them a specimen of his gunmanship; and as he shot, they scampered off.  Afterwards visiting the spot where the Indians were when he shot at them, blood was found on the ground. The Indians ever after kept clear of the Prescott neighborhood.  Mr. Prescott had at least seven children; and among them was Hon. Benj. Prescott, the father of Col. Wm. Prescott, who commanded at Bunker Hill, and grandfather of Judge Wm. Prescott, of Boston, and great grandfather of Wm. H. Prescott, the historian. The old gun in question was given by [Jonathan] Prescott [III 1672-1749] to his daughter Tabitha, wife of Silas Brigham, who in her old age gave it to her grandson Prescott Brigham, born in 1780, now a resident of Sauk county, Wisconsin, and by him to the Society [in 1858].  Prescott Brigham is the elder brother of the pioneer settler of Dane county, Col. Ebenezer Brigham, of Blue Mounds.”

[Report and Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, for the Years 1857 and 1858, 1859, vol. iv, pp. 55-56.]

The following infomation appears on the catalog card which was typed c. 1947:

“Seventeenth century military matchlock musket converted to flint.  Said to have been used in King Phillip’s War 1675 to 76.  Carried by John Prescott, of Lancaster, Mass.  Would be valuable piece if we had more of it.  Pins missing or replaced with nails, ramrod missing, lock missing but recess has been filled with wood insert.  Part octagon barrel 48″ long and about .85 or .90 caliber.  63″ overall.  Only visible mark of identification on the gun is a mark on the barrel near the breech which looks like a trident but is not completely clear.  Gun is not in too bad [of] shape considering what it’s gone through, but wood stock is beginning to get beat up and should be treated with respect.  Lock is missing and a wooden plate has been inserted in the inlet.  Would be a very nice piece if it had the lock.”






Photos and explanation courtesy of Paul Bourcier, Wisconsin Historical Society

A Letter From John Fairbanks to Nancy Presott, 30 Aug 1825

As these letters go, this one is rather thoughtful and philosophical.  We find John Eleazar Fairbanks (1793-1860) in a reflective mood as he recounts his journey through Holland and contemplates his imminent departure for home after a long business trip abroad.  He writes, “Such, unhappily, is the fallibility of man, that civilized society has never yet made him in practice what we ought to expect him to be”, which I find to be a delightful dollop of world-weary wisdom.  It gives me great pleasure to read his words and discover what a kind, generous, and loving person my 4x great-grandfather seems to have been.

Mrs. John Fairbanks
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Born of Cap’n Smith
Schooner Reliana

Thank heaven my dearest Nancy I have at length accomplished all the objects which brought me to this country and tomorrow I once more turn my face towards home.  I have just taken my place in Coach to Bristol and thence go to Falmouth where I join the Halifax Packet and again embark on the tempestuous ocean where I hope the almighty may still continue to protect me as he has hitherto done. I think I have great reason to be grateful that I have escaped thus far so well though all the perils and dangers of traveling.  You may believe me when I say how happy I feel at the thoughts of once more meeting you and my dear children.  The desire of doing so will make me very impatient should our voyage be protracted beyond the usual 30 or 35 days.  Your late affectionate letters I have read over and over again.  I need not say how grateful I am for them.  You have most religiously performed your promise to me when I left you as reflects writing.  If it were possible for me to love you more, I should do so for this.  I am much interested in your account of our little ___ with their pens in their hands writing to papa to come home.  Tell them he is coming and will bring them some pretty books and will not leave them again –

My last letter to you was from London.  I sent it by way of the St. John’s MB and hope it may have reached you as this arrives.  I have written so much lately that I forgot what I said in that, but I suppose I gave you some account of the countries I visited.  My stay was limited to fewer days at each place than was necefsary even to obtain the commercial information I was seeking.  However, I obtained some, which I think will be useful hereafter.  I found the people very civil and attentive wherever I went.  I was obliged to speak French, which I found I have too much neglected, and was sorry for, as I was introduced to many interesting and well-informed men and women.  I first went to Hilvoetsberg, then to Rotterdam, The Hague, Hailaam, Amsterdam, Leyden, and back to Rotterdam.  Then to Antwerp, Michlin, Bufsols, Waterloo, then Burges and Ostend.  In my route the finest collections of pictures in the world were through open to me, the most magnificent buildings, even the palaces and private apartments of their royal family was thrown open.  I had an opportunity of seeing many very interesting objects.  The trip on the whole was pleasant, but given missing home and I envy not others all the enjoyment of ___ the Dutch.  I found a different people from what I expected.  They

have made great improvement in the arts and sciences and surprising advances in the different manufactures.  Their houses and furniture are magnificent and their towns excefsively clean and neat.  The canals which run through their streets lined with nobel trees which offer a delightful shade in summer, give to their cities an appearance totally different from anything of the kind in England.  But I must defer a further account of my visit till we meet.  I came over to London from Ostend in a steam boat.  We had a heavy gale of wind all the way which kept us 28 hours on the passage instead of 15 which is normal.  I remained a week in London after my return and then came here by boat in 28 hours.  I had a pleasant ride, but was a little engaged, as at home, nursing young children – a widow lady in great distress was a fellow pafsenger.  She had just returned from India where she had lost her husband.  Brother and sister the poor creature was very sick and you may suppose very much fatigued with the care of the children.  On her arrival she went immediately to Ireland where her friends are.  I saw Edwin Collins in the same boat and requested him to take care of them which I am sure he would do.  It is difficult to conceive how much wretchedness and misery the world contains.  I have in the

course of my visit been a witness to some heart-rending scenes.  They are calculated, my dear, to make us more properly estimate the blessings we are pofsefsed of.  No country pofsefses a greater accumulation of all the advantages of civilization than this.  Freedom and education are universally diffused, but perhaps in no country do you see so great a number of the wretched victims of crime and misfortune laboring under all the accumulated ills of poverty and want.  Such, unhappily, is the fallibility of man that civilized society has never yet made him in practice what we ought to expect him to be if we only look to the advantages of improvement and cultivation in theory.  Since I have returned here I have been much at Faircloughs and my esteem for them both I afsure you increases the more I become acquainted with them.   She is indeed a charming woman.  She wishes much to become acquainted with you.  It would afford me much pleasure could I accomplish it by bringing you together.  I am sure you would find her quite to your mind, they live very retired.  F. was much from home as I am.  She only sees him at meal times and is of course much alone as the distance of the Docks is considerable.  Their child is in the country.  I fear it is not a very promising one but hope it may improve.

The time the packet should leave Falmouth is about the 11th Sept. but they are very irregular in sailing.  I hope I may not be detained there long.  I am told it is a wretched place to stop at.  Mathew Almon and his wife are to be fellow pafsengers and I have just heard that Robin has returned to London.  He may take it unto his head to accompany us but I for one can well spare him.  I am obliged to have all my luggage here to go in the Pandora.  Edwin Collins and fear I shall have to ___ at Falmouth.  Let me now beg of you dear Nancy not to look for the Packet before the 20th October.  By making up your mind to this you may save yourself some uneasinefs.  We generally look out too soon for our friends on board ships and anxiety prevents us making sufficient allowances for headwinds, detention, etc.  With best love to all friends, and once more commending you and my children to the protection of the Almighty.  I set out for home.  Yours ever, J.E. Fairbanks



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A Letter from John Fairbanks to Nancy Prescott, 13 Aug 1822

Letter written by John Eleazer Fairbanks [son of Rufus Fairbanks] to his wife Nancy Prescott [daughter of John Prescott], Maroon Hall, Preston, Nova Scotia, Canada.  “Lydia” was Nancy’s sister who later married William DeWolfe.  This letter was written when John was on a trip to the old country on business.

Envelope & Tallies

Envelope & Tallies

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Mrs. John Fairbanks, Halifax, Nova Scotia

2/3d Mr. John Fairbanks
Liverpool, 13th Augt. 1822

My Dear Nancy,
I have great pleasure in acquainting of my safe arrival here last evening after, a pafsage of 29 days – We had fair winds all the time except 5 or 6 days, 3 of which it blew a small summer Gale to the Eastward – our pafsengers were at first very sick but every fine day reunited them.  They desire their best respects to you – I was very well all the pafsage and I shall be satisfied to have as good a time out.  Our speculation does not promise to be very profitable but I am not discouraged about it.  I hope it will yet do better than I now anticipate.

I hope our dear little girls are well and that you are enjoying yourself during the summer.  Remember me to Lydia and tell her Mifs Julia Bell is just like her.  I am sorry they did not see more of each other. Mifs Bell is also a pleasant companion but sea sicknefs deprived us more of her society.  The parson got on very well in fine weather and indeed our party on the whole was very agreeable – have much to say but the Post waits for no one and I must run with this immediately – You may expect to hear again very soon.  God bless you, my dear Girl, and may we soon see each other again is the wish of your affection husband,

John E. Fairbanks

Remember me to all friends
[Down the right end left margin of the page which carries the address, is a tabulation of goods (tables, carpets, chairs, silverware, blankets, etc).  It’s not clear if this is an inventory of goods that John has purchased, or is selling.  It totals to about 300 British pounds, which makes me believe it is goods he has purchased to take home with him for his household.]

John Prescott Forrest – Found At Last

As I have written about in a previous blog (John Prescott Forrest (1884-1947)), my great-grandfather John Prescott Forrest left his family (or was told to leave by his wife Lulu Cairns) sometime between 1926 and 1930.  To my knowledge, none of his four children ever heard from him again.  No cards, no visits, no phone calls, no word of his death.  Nothing.  His fate was a mystery.  My grandmother died not knowing what had become of her father.

John Prescott Forrest, about 1913.

John Prescott Forrest, about 1913.

At the start of my family research I was able to determine that he had remained in New Jersey and eventually was working as the partner of a Gerald Liebow and living in Vineland, NJ in 1942.  Another clue came about a week ago when I received the obituary of his brother Archibald Alexander “Archie” Forrest.  It said that Jack was still living in Vineland in 1946.  Other family documents I had received from the Halifax National Archives noted the year of his death as 1947, but that could have been a guess.  I decided to ask the Cumberland County vital records office (the county where Vineland, NJ is located) if they could look for his death certificate.  They informed me they couldn’t do it.  I had to either have the exact date of his death or be in the office in person.

So, I did what anyone would do.  I hired a stranger on the Internet to go get it for me.  And, to my surprise… that plan totally worked!

My great-grandfather, John Prescott Forrest, died on 4 May 1947 in the town of Elmer, New Jersey, just a mile or two outside of Vineland where he had been living since 1942.  He was listed as a “retired salesman”, living at “R.D. #1, Elmer, Pittsgrove Township, Salem County, New Jersey”.  His cause of death was listed as “possible coronary occlusion”, so a likely heart-attack.  He was only 62 years old.

John Forrest Death Certificate

John Forrest Death Certificate

John Prescott Forrest, d. 4 May 1947; Place of death, Pittsgrove Twp., Salem Co. [New Jersey]; Residence, R.D. #1 Elmer, Pittsgrove Twp., Salem Co. [New Jersey]; SS 155-18-3559; Divorced; b. 4 September 1884; Birthplace, Nova Scotia; Occupation, Retired Salesman; Father, John Forrest, b. Nova Scotia; Mother, Annie Duff, b. Nova Scotia; Cause of death, Possible Coronary Occlusion; Burial, Silver Brook Crematory, Wil. Del. [Wilmington, Delaware]; Informant, George M. Forrest, 250 Post Rd., Rye, NY.  Source:  1947 NJ Death Certificates, Microfilm 972 (Trenton, NJ:  State Archives)

It says his remains were taken to Silver Brook Crematory in Wilmington, Delaware.  I have no idea why.  As far as I know no member of my family has ever even been to Delaware.  They say he is not there, so it’s likely that Jack’s brother George was given his ashes.

It is emotional and exciting to finally know what happened to my great-grandfather.  It does raise a huge number of new questions, but there’s time now to find the answers.

Jonathan Prescott Family Bible Pages

Five pages of important family history from the bible of Jonathan Prescott (1760-1820).

John Prescott (1760 - 1820)

John Prescott (1760 – 1820)

This was in the archives of Nancy Prescott Forrest. There is information here for Duff, Fairbanks, Mott, and other related families.

As always, you can click on the images to enlarge or download them.

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Jonathan Prescott Esquire & Ann Blackden  11th Oct. 1759

John Prescott Esquire & Catharine Cleverly 21 Aug. 1785

Jonathan Prescott & Sarah Collins 26th Sept. 1816

John Eleazar Fairbanks & Ann Prescott 9th Nov. 1816

Henry Yeomans Mott & Elizabeth Prescott 27 Nov. 1819

Christian Conrad Katzmann & Martha Prescott 6th April 1822

Wiliam DeWolf & Lydia Norris Prescott Nov 14 1841

James William Johnston & Catharine Prescott Fairbanks 26 August 1846

William Duff & Jane Elizabeth Fairbanks January 1847

John Prescott Mott & Isabel Lawson Creighton 13th January 1848

George Elkanah Morton & Martha Elizabeth Katzmann 26th May 1849

Rev. George Sutherland & Charlotte Lydia Mott 24th Jun 1857

William Lawson & Mary Jane Katzmann 31st December 1868

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Jonathan Prescott Esq’r 24th May 1725 (Mafsachusetts)
Ann [Blagden] Prescott 25 March 1742 (Great Britain)

John Prescott Esq’r 20th Novem’r. 1760 (Nova Scotia)
Catharine Cleverly 9th Jan’r. 1761 (Mafsachusetts)

Anne Prescott 29th Septem’r 1786
Charlotte Prescott 26th Nov’r 1788
Martha Prescott 26th Apr’l 1791
Jonathan Precott 5th Sep’r 1793
Elizabeth Prescott 27th Oct’r 1795
Lydia Norris Prescott 8th Oct’r 1797

Robert John Prescott 29th Jan’y 1820 [son of John Prescott & Sarah Collins]

John Prescott Mott 8th Oct. 1820
Catharine Ann Mott 23 Dec 1822
William Mott Sept 22 Sept 1824
Henry Yeomans Mott Aug 11 1826
Thomas Mott June 12 1828
Elizabeth Jane Mott 25 Dec 1830
Charles Fairbanks Mott 18th April 1832
Charlotte Lydia Mott 17 March 1835
Sarah Elizabeth Mott [18] June 1837
Deborah Baker Mott May 16 1839

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Births [Cont.]:

[Children of Ann Prescott & John Eleazar Fairbanks]

Catherine Prescott Fairbanks 4th Dec’r 1820
Ann Blagden Fairbanks 23rd Feb’r 1822
Jane Elizabeth Fairbanks 19 Dec 1823

[Children of Martha Prescott & Christian Conrad Katzmann]

Martha Elizabeth Katzmann 2nd April 1823
Mary Jane Katzmann 15 Jan’y 1818
Anna Prescott Katzmann 25 Sept 1832


Jonathan Prescott Esq. 21st Jan’y 1807
John Prescott Esq. 23rd Aug 1820
William Mott 11 May 1840
Christian Conrad Katzmann 15 Dec 1843

Deborah Baker Mott May 28 1844
Henry Yeomans Mott 4th Apr 1846
Jonathan Prescott [husband of Sarah Collins] 19 Mar 1848
William DeWolfe 10th April 1849
Charlotte Prescott 25 Sept 1850
Catharine [Cleverly] Prescott 12th Feb 1851
Ann [Prescott] Fairbanks 18th April 1854
Charlotte [Mott] Sutherland 21st Oct 1862
Sarah [Collins] Prescott 27th Feb 1869
Henry Yeomans Mott 31 Jan 1866
John Eleazar Fairbanks 27 Dec 1860
Jane Elizabeth [Fairbanks] Duff 31st Aug 1856
Martha [Prescott] Katzmann Nov’r 17th 1871
Anne Prescott Katzmann 31st May 1876
Elizabeth [Prescott] Mott 30 August 1882

Rev. William Duff May 4th 1888
John Prescott Mott Feb’r 12th 1890
Mary Jane [Katzmann] Lawson March 23 1890
Lydia [Norris Prescott] DeWolfe June 28th 1891
George E Morton March 12th 1892

Mary [Ann Fairbanks] Allison 2 Apr 1896
Harriet Fairbanks Allison 8 Sept 1898

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Marsha Elizabeth Morton 26th April 1899

A Letter From John Fairbanks to Nancy Prescott, 7 Sept 1822

This letter, also sent to me by the Halifax National Archives, was written by my 4x great-grandfather John Eleazer Fairbanks to Ann “Nancy” Prescott, his wife, in September of 1822.  John was on a business trip to Liverpool, England and missing home quite a bit.  In this letter “Lydia” is Lydia Prescott, the sister of Nancy Prescott Fairbanks.  The “little girls” are his daughters Catherine Prescott Fairbanks ( b 1820) and Ann Blagden Fairbanks (b 1822).  I think John’s penmanship and his sentiments are both rather lovely.

[Note: The “McNab” mentioned in the letter is almost certainly a relation of Ebenezer McNab who married my 3x great-aunt Margaret MacKenzie.]

To: Mrs. John Fairbanks, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Per Aurora [the ship which carried the letter]

Liverpool 7th Sept. 1822
Dear Nancy,

I have already written you twice since my arrival, once by the August Packet and on Saturday last by the Packet ship Panthea which sail’d for New York on Sunday – The Aurora, Capt. Nelson, now furnishes another opportunity and although I have nothing either new or interesting to communicate, I cannot allow her to sail without letting you hear from me.  In my letter to McNab per packet was the history of my mercantile proceedings thus far and must refer you to that letter for any information you may wish on the subject – but for fear that my letter may by any chance not reach him I ______ a statement of the sales of our property here which in that case you can snow him.  It is my intention to go to Glasgow on Monday next in one of the Steam Packets.  I wish this journey was over and I was once more sailing on my voyage homewards as I find my disposition for wandering considerably abated.  My happy and comfortable house with you and our dear little children seems now to have charms for me that no other scenes can possibly pofsefs and it is only in the hurry and bustle of businefs and the ever varying changes of a large commercial city that I can feel my thoughts for a moment diverted from my home.  The retirement of my own feelings and reflections on my pillow will make me feel comparatively unhappy until I again join you.  A Mr. LePage of P. E. [Prince Edward] Island is frequently my companion and in our rambles about this town notwithstanding all the beauty, variety, and novelty of objects which surround us, we have finally made up our minds that either Halifax or Charlotte Town [Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island] are either far pleasanter places and both heartily wish ourselves safe home again – I long to hear from you but shall feel cruelly disappointed if the Packet does not bring me letters – she is daily expected at Falmouth – I am enjoying very good health and notwithstanding a heavy cold and cough, the roast beef of Old England and a moderate supply of good ale seems to agree well with me. I only hope you are in as good health as well as our little girls.  Give my love to Lydia and all other friends –

And believe Dear Nancy

Your affectionate husband

John E Fairbanks
Net Sales of Cargo L 601.19.7
” “” Brjg.                      460. 0.0


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Fairbanks Family History as Told by Rufus Fairbanks

Among the materials I had sent to me by the Halifax National Archives is a document that seems to have been written in 1863 by Rufus Fairbanks, Esquire, an attorney in Halifax, Nova Scotia, very shortly before his death in 1864.  [I don’t know yet how he is connected to my family, but he seems to be a descendant of Rufus Fairbanks (1759-1842), my 5x great grandfather.  I found his estate notice published in the 12 Apr 1864 edition of the Halifax “Morning Chronicle”.]

It’s rather unique document, being a recounting of Fairbanks Family history as understood by the Fairbanks Family in the mid-1800’s.  It should be noted that there are errors and omissions here, a couple of which I may note, but mostly I just wanted to post the document as it exists:

Memoranda respecting the Fairbanks family communicated by the late Rufus Fairbanks Esq. of Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Three brothers of the name, immigrated from Great Britain to new England at the early settlement of that country. One of them settled in Framingham [Massachusetts] one in Natick [Massachusetts] and the other in Sherborn 20 miles south of Boston and adjoining Natick. The latter, named Eleazer, had three sons: Eleazer, Joseph, and Ebenezer.

Eleazer married in Plainfield, Prudence Creary, her father immigrated from Ireland and acted as Justice of the Peace in Plainfield.

Joseph was a lieutenant in the New England Corps and served in the expedition which resulted in the capture of Louisburg. Subsequently he settled in Halifax, Nova Scotia when he acquired a longer property. He was twice married but died without issue in 1790. His second wife was Lydia, the daughter of Samuel and and Ann Blackden and sister of Col. Samuel Blackden of the American Revolutionary Service.

Ebenezer moved from Sherborn to western New Hampshire.

The descendents of Eleazer who subsequently died in Munson, Massachusetts were:

Eleazer, a clergymen of the Congregationalist church, educated at Providence College, settled in North Shrewsbury and about 1800 moved to Niagra [Palmyra, NY].

Able who resided in Cornish, Vermont.

Martha married to Darius Leavens of Killingsly.

Prudence, who was twice married: first husband Gilbert, second Billings.

Betsy married to a man of the name of Packard [Dorchard], they lived in Munson and Wilmington.

Sarah married to Jude Fay who resided in Munson.

Rufus, the youngest son, came to Nova Scotia in 1785 upon the invitation of his uncle Joseph above-named.  He was a graduate of Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and upon the death of his uncle came into possession of his estate. He married on the 17 November 1785, Ann, the daughter of Jonathan and Anne Prescott of Chester, Nova Scotia.

Rufus Fairbanks was born at Killingsly in Connecticut on the 20 October 1759 and died at Halifax on 7 July 1842 aged 83 years.  Ann [Prescott] Fairbanks was born in Halifax 12th of October 1766 and and died on the 28 September 1850 aged 85 years.

Their children were as follows:

Joseph Fairbanks born the 8th February 1787, drowned at the age of two years.

Joseph Prescott Fairbanks born 15th of October 1788 died in infancy.

Charles Rufus Fairbanks born 25th of March 1798, barrister, member of the House of Assembly, and subsequently master of the rolls (Chancery) and judge for the Court of Vice Admiralty, he died in 1841 leaving two sons and daughters.

John Eleazer, a merchant, now retired, a member of the Legislature Council of Nova Scotia, he has two daughters living.  A third, now deceased, was married to the Rev. William Duff of the Presbyterian Church.  He was born on the 27th June 1793.

Samuel Prescott, a barrister, for many years a member of the Legislative Assembly of Nova Scotia, sometime the treasurer, and at present commissioner for Brown Lands of the Province. He has two sons and three daughters living.  He was born on the 31 January 1795.

William Blackden Fairbanks, merchant, he has four sons and five daughters.  Was born on the 17 April 1796 and died 4 May 1873.

George Edward Fairbanks, a physician, he removed an early period of his life from Nova Scotia to the Brazils where he practiced his profession for many years.  He was born on the 18th July 1798 and died about two years ago [died at sea, 1859, on a trip to Rio] leaving several children.

Mary Ann, married to David Allison, merchant, a gentleman of high standing and respectability, deceased.  She was born 23rd March 1800 and has one daughter living.

Francis Elizabeth married to the Rev. John Scott, Minister of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, she was born on 22 February 1803 is now deceased having left no children.

Joseph Fairbanks, merchant, born 19 August 1805 has three daughters surviving.  Died Saturday the 12th [1863].

Weird Coincidences – Plymouth Colony Edition

Genealogy is full of weird coincidences.  Like the fact that, in the 1930 census, the family of my great-aunt Emilie Schmidt was living directly next door to my great-grandfather Oscar Krueger in Wausau, Wisconsin (213 and 215 Weston Ave).  The two families wouldn’t actually be related until 1945, so it was just a strange coincidence.

For about six years I dated a girl whose last name was Howland.  Her father always told me that their family had come over on the Mayflower in 1620.  Recently I found out that my 12x great-grandfather Stephen Hopkins (1581-1644) also came over on the Mayflower.  Then I read this passage in the book “Here Shall I Die Ashore” by Caleb Johnson:

“Leiden Street, Plymouth, Massachusetts.  This is the street where the Pilgrim original houses were located.  Stephen [Hopkins]’s plot was located where the shorter, two-story building is, at the left side of the image.  The three-story house [directly adjacent] is sitting approximately on John Howland’s plot”.

So it’s a fact that the home where my 12x great-grandfather (and also my 11x great-grandparents Constance Hopkins and Nicholas Snow) lived was directly next door to my ex-girlfriends’ grandparents’ home.

That’s weird.

A Letter from John MacKenzie – 1831

Among the collection of Nancy Prescott Forrest is a copy of a letter from my 4x great-grandfather John MacKenzie to his daughter Margaret MacKenzie McNab.  It’s rather heavy with quotations from scripture.  It’s clear that the MacKenzies were very religious people.  John’s son Hugh became a minister.  His daughter Margaret had a son who was a minister.  Another grandson, John Forrest, was one of the foremost Presbyterian ministers in Nova Scotia.

The letter tells of the death of Isobella Ross, my 4x great grandmother.

Culnauld [Nigg Parish, Scotland], 5 March 1831
My dear daughter,

With a heavy and sorrowful heart I have sat down to inform you that your dear mother is no more in this world.  She departed this life the 28th last at 2 o’clock afternoon and was interred 2nd last in the church yard of Nigg aside her father and mother.  She was poorly long ago, only that she was getting little a little, now and then, she was since days in a great strait with a severe pain in her bowels, always throwing up, nothing would remain on her stomach – at first she took it to be the last message – all the means that was used in subservience to him who hath appointed them and can only give success to them – was of no avail for it was death – her feeling and speech remained until the last minute and she could take the drink with her own hand.

Dear daughter, I am now as a Pelican in the wilderness – it is a speaking and trying Providence and I have much need of grace and counsel from God to carry aright under it – to be submissive to his will – if any of my fellow creatures would do me any hurt – I would both ask who did it, and why did he do so – but when God doth anything to us we must remember – he is the potter and we are his clay vessels – yea break them in pieces at his pleasure – and there is none can stay his hand or say to him what dost thou – the gardener gathers at his pleasure the flowers and fruits of his garden – sometimes he cuts of the buds sometimes he suffers them to bloom, sometimes he gathers the green fruit, sometimes he stays till they are ripe – and every body thinks he may do with his own what he pleaseth and shall not the Almighty God have liberty much more to dispose of all that grows in his territories at his pleasure – we ought to guard against immoderate grief and excessive sorrow for this (is) sinful and offensive to God – Now grief is sinful and immoderate when it makes us grudge at God’s dispensation or murmur at his will – I do not mean to make light or to be unconcerned for the death of parents or dear and near friends – God will have us neither to despise his load not to faint under it – Heb. 12C, 5V, – God is displeased with those that are stupid and insensible under such afflictions – why they despise his rod and make light of his corrections – hence he complains of these – Jer 5C, 3V – “I have smitten them but they have not grieved” – he wills however – to feel his hand to induce into the meaning of God – for our grief will not be to no avail to the dead – we must bewail our dead hearts while it is day and strive to make our call and election sure.

I wrote today to Harthill – if Barbara will not come home I do not know what to do – as I am always poorly.   My foolish thoughts were going before your dear mother but the great ruler thought otherwise – your Aunt had a fever and she could not go to see her sister but she recovered a little a few days ago – but not able to travel but Sabbath last when she heard from them that were at the church that her sister was mentioned in the church – she came here at the glooming of the night, tender as she was – I am afraid this travel will be against her – your uncle had not much rest in one place – back and forward – I ordered Hugh to write to your Sister – you will direct to your Uncles – make offer my compt’s [compliments] to Mr. MacNab and children. Your uncle and aunt joins me here with their compt’s to Mr. MacNab – not forgetting yourself and the children.

I remain, my dear daughter, your afflicted Father

John MacKenzie