Category Archives: Forrest

Alexander Gordon (1635-1697)

I was reminded of this story tonight, so wanted to throw a short version on my blog where it’s easier for me to find things.  The inability to search through text stories on my tree can be problematic at times.  There is information here from the biography of my 10x great-grandfather Alexander Gordon from the book “Fifty New England colonists and five Virginia families” by Florence Black Weiland (1965).  There is also information here from Alexander’s Wikipedia Entry, and a few other sources.

“The Gordon name is one of the most ancient in Great Britain and is now represented In the Peerage by the Earl of Aberdeen. The family is of Norman origin and dates back to very early times. In 1150 Richard de Gordon, Knight Baronet, granted to the Monks at Kelso, land at Gordon near Huntley Strather.  Haddo House is the seat of the Earl of Aberdeen and is in the County of Aberdeenshire in the Highlands of Scotland.” – Weiland, p 105.

My 10x great-grandfather Alexander Gordon [an ancestor of my Nason, Cairns, and Forrest lines] was born in the Highlands of Aberdeen, Scotland in 1635.  His family was loyal to the cause of the Stuarts, and Alexander became a soldier in the Scottish Army that supported the claim of King Charles II to the throne of England.  He was taken a prisoner of war by Oliver Cromwell at the battle of Worchester on 3 Sept 1651.  Other accounts claim he was captured at the battle of Dunbar exactly one year earlier.  In either case, he was released to an American, Captain John Allen of Chartestown, Massachusetts, on the condition that he emigrate to America.

The Battle of Worchester, 3 Sept 1651

The Battle of Worchester, 3 Sept 1651

In 1651 Alexander was taken aboard the “Liberty”, commanded by the same Capt. John Allen, to Boston, Massachusetts and was held as a prisoner of war in the city of Watertown, Massachusetts.  He stayed with John Cloyes, a boatswain, or mate, on the “Liberty” who lived in Cambridge on the road to Watertown at a place near the site of Cambridge Hospital today.

Accounts vary about what happened next.  By some accounts Alexander signed an agreement on 25 April 1653 with Samuel Stratton of Watertown to be his apprentice for six years, and to learn the trade of farming.  In other accounts he was sold by John Cloyes essentially as a slave to Mr. Stratton.  In either case, it was unfortunately true that such “apprentices” were routinely abused by their masters for the purposes of keeping cheap labor.  It is generally agreed that Alexander was mistreated by Mr. Stratton.

On 23 May 1655, a number of these apprentices, including Alexander, petitioned the General Court of Massachusetts for freedom, but their request was refused.  On 3 Nov 1663, Alexander appealed again to the court in Massachusetts and was finally released from his contract.  His six-year contract with Samuel Stratton ended on paper in 1659, but Alexander had been forced to work for ten years before he won his freedom.

Alexander and a number of other Scottish ex-prisoners-of-war made their way to New Hampshire.  As early as 1660 Alexander Gordon was at Exeter, the town he helped found, where he was involved in lumbering.  He had a saw mill located on Little River at a point about one mile West of Exeter Village.

In 1663 he married Mary, the daughter of mill-owner Nicholas Lisson and his wife Alice Jane Wise.  Alexander and Mary had the following children:

Elizabeth b. 1664, Nicholas b 1666, Mary b. 1668, John b. 1670, James b. 1673, Alexander b. 1675

Thomas (20 Nov 1678 – 27 May 1761), my 9x great-grandfather married Elizabeth Harriman (1675 – 1720)

Daniel b, 1678

Alexander died on 15 Aug 1697 in Walleigh Falls, Rockingham, New Hampshire.   Administration of his estate was granted to his son John Gordon on August 25, 1697.

More information on his life can be found in the following references:

  • “History of the Town of Exeter, New Hampshire” 1888 by Charles H. Bell
  • “Alexander Gordon and His Descendants” 1999 by Marion Otis
  • “The Gordon family of Maine and New Hampshire” 1946 by Blanche Gordon Cobb.

Dr. Alexander Forrest

Dr. Alexander Forrest, c1870

Preface: My cousin Pat Forrest Collins recently sent me some old historic family documents.  Among them were three separate accounts of the life of my 3x great-grandfather Dr. Alexander Forrest about whom I have written before.  These documents have some conflicting details, and some mistakes, but generally they provide the kind of human details that are only passed down through a family and cannot be learned from census, birth, and death record.  One of the versions was written by his grand-daughter Jean Fairbanks Forrest [1880 – 1962, daughter of my 2x great-grandfather Rev. John Forrest], and as such is quite valuable in terms of it being a version of his life as told by his own children.  I’ve amalgamated, augmented, and edited these three accounts to create this version of his life story.

The Forrest family is Scottish in lineage, but family legend says that the family originally came from France and were called “de Foret”.  It is said that the de Foret family came to Scotland with William the Conqueror in 1066.

My 3x great-grandfather Dr. Alexander Forrest was born in Cambusnethan, Lanarkshire, Scotland on 25 Feb 1806 on the family property, which was called Redmire Mill.  It was in the southwest corner of Cambusnethan Parish, and can be seen on this map from the 1860’s:

Redmire Mill, the Forrest Family Property

Redmire Mill, the Forrest Family Property

He was baptized on the 21st of April.  His father, also named Alexander Forrest [b 1760], had married Catherine Young in Cambusnethan on 13 June 1790.

Alexander Forrest Sr. was a mill-owner, and his wife Catherine helped with the family business.  Alexander was the sixth of seven children born to Alexander Forrest Sr. and Catherine.  They were:  James [1791 – 1809], Gavin [1792 – 1848], Unknown [b ~1794], John [b 1796], Mary [b 1800], Alexander [1806-1875], and Helen [b 1808].  Most of the children’s birth/baptism records were helpfully noted with, for example, “their 4th child”, so we know there weren’t other children born in between.  Gavin was their 2nd, and John their 4th, so there is one unknown child born about 1794.

Alexander Forrest Birth 1806

Alexander Forrest Birth 1806

Birth and Baptism record: “Alexr Forrest son to Alexr Forrest at Redmyre Mill & Catherine Young, his spouse, was born 25th Feb & bapt. 21st April”

Alexander’s father died on 12 April 1815 when Alexander was only 9 years old.  His mother Catherine and possibly another son took over the family business.  It’s not explained exactly how, but after her husband’s death Catherine had been left “in comfortable circumstances” and Alexander was sent to school in Lanark at an early age.  His teacher there was renowned in that region of Scotland as an instructor in Latin and young Alexander was one of his best pupils.  He became almost as fluent in Latin as in English, and in later years would gather a large personal library of Latin literature.  He read Latin texts as a recreation until his death.

Alexander began his studies of medicine at the University of Glasgow in 1823 at the remarkable age of 17, studying with Drs. James Jeffrey [Anatomy] and Thomas Lyle [Pharmacy].  When he completed his courses in 1825 he was too young to graduate, so his mother offered him a choice of spending a year in Paris or a year in Edinburgh.  He chose the latter and studied at the University of Edinburgh from 1826-1827.  When that year was completed he received both his M.D.C.M. (Medicinae Doctorem et Chirurgiae Magistrum, or Doctor of Medicine and Master of Surgery) from Glasgow and his L.R.C.S.E. (Licentiate of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh).

It was Alexander’s intention to go into the Royal Navy and receive his commission after he graduated, but while he was on the reserve list he was appointed as physician to the Carron Iron Works at Falkirk in Stirlingshire, Scotland, which was the largest iron works in Europe.  The cannon for the Royal Navy were made there.  Dr. Forrest was quickly able to grow his practice to the point that it gave him a “respectable income”.  Several accounts mention that he did work as a surgeon in the Royal Navy about 1830.

About this time, many people were leaving Scotland for the promise of the New World.  Dr. Forrest gave up his navy commission and his practice and set sail for Nova Scotia in late 1831, leaving from Glasgow and sailing out the River Clyde aboard the brig “Charlotte Carr”.  While on the Atlantic, a large storm rose up, ravaging the ship and snapping her masts with its fierce winds.  With no sails to propel her, the wreck drifted with the current for weeks, eventually ending up on the island of Mull, Scotland where it remained for four months while being refitted to complete its journey to Nova Scotia.  [Various reports of this incident conflict in the details.  One says the ship had almost reached Newfoundland when the story hit, but it is highly unlikely a ship set adrift near Newfoundland would drift back to Scotland.  Another account says that they were adrift for “months”, which also seems unlikely due to the lack of fresh water and food.]

Reports conflict on another key part of this story, namely, how exactly Alexander Forrest met his wife Barbara Ross McKenzie.  However, all three versions of the story maintain that this time period during the sea voyage and immediately after the shipwreck was when they met and fell in love.  Barbara was born in Nigg Parish of Rosshire, Ross and Cromarty, Scotland on 3 Jun 1805 to John McKenzie, a weaver, and his wife Isobella Ross.  It is generally agreed that Barbara McKenzie and her brother Rev. Hugh McKenzie were passengers on the same ship. One version mentions that they were traveling from Scotland to Newfoundland “to be missionaries to the Indians”, however, Hugh was, in fact, appointed to be minister to Wallace, Cumberland, Nova Scotia by the Glasgow Colonial Society.]  Alexander and Barbara fell in love during the voyage and subsequent long period adrift on the sea.  Most version also agree that they were married on the Island of Mull while repairs were being made to their ship. However, mention was also made that Alexander returned to Scotland after the accident and married Barbara just before heading out for a second voyage to Nova Scotia.

The text of William Gregg’s “History of the Presbyterian Church in Canada” indicates that Rev. Hugh McKenzie set sail for Nova Scotia in September of 1831 and “was driven back by a severe storm, and he remained in the winter months with his friends in Scotland.  He left the next spring, and arrived in Nova Scotia in May, 1832”.  So it’s possible that Alexander and Barbara did not wait in Mull while the ship was refitted, but rather returned home and set out again in the Spring after they were married.

Further complicating this story is the fact that a letter exists from Barbara’s father John MacKenzie, written in March, 1831, where Barbara is described as being at Harthill, Lanarkshire, Scotland. This could be how Barbara and Alexander met, since it’s so close to Alexander’s home town, or could indicate that they were staying there together. It’s hard to say just from this one line.

Whatever the facts of their meeting, Barbara Ross McKenzie and Alexander Forrest were married on 3 Jan 1832 when the groom was 25 and the bride was 26, and by October of the same year they had settled into their new home in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, Canada.  By all accounts it was a hard life for the young doctor in his new homeland.  Dr. Forrest’s practice covered a great deal of territory, “[it] extended over the eastern half of Pictou County as far as St. Mary’s in Guysboro, and almost down to Antigonish.  The roads were terrible.”  You can imagine his travels far and wide on muddy, rutted roads on horseback.  In addition to his medical practice, Alexander taught at the New Sabbath School.

While in New Glasgow, Dr. Forrest and Barbara had nine children:

Isabella "Bella" Forrest [1832 – 1905]
Catherine Forrest [1834 – 1912]
Mary Forrest I [1835 – 1836]
Mary Forrest II [1838 – 1838]
Alexander Forrest Jr. [1839 – 1919]
Helen Forrest [1840 – 1926]
Rev. John Forrest [1842 – 1920]
Barbara Forrest [1844 – 1844]
James Forrest [1847 – 1901]

After more than two decades of hard work, Alexander finally made the decision to move his family to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia in 1853.  The citizens of New Glasgow were saddened to see such a beloved figure leave, and they presented Dr. Forrest with a gold watch with matching gold rings for his family as a gesture of their gratitude for his faithful service.

It was in Lunenburg that his son (and my great-great-grandfather) John Forrest would meet his future wife, Annie Prescott Duff, whose father, the renowned Rev. William Duff, was the minister of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church there.  In 1854 Alexander became one of the founders of the Medical Society of Nova Scotia.  The family remained in Lunenberg for six years, then left for Halifax in 1860, where they are listed in the 1861 census.

Forrest Family in Halifax Census, 1861

Forrest Family in Halifax Census, 1861

While in Halifax he served as the President of the Medical Society of Nova Scotia and as a member of the Board of Governors for Dalhousie College from 1869-1875.  The family is seen again in the 1871 census for Halifax with listed occupations of Physician, Broker, Minister, and Student:

Forrest Family in Halifax Census, 1871

Forrest Family in Halifax Census, 1871

Dr. Alexander Forrest died early on a Tuesday morning on 22 June 1875 at the age of 69 after a “long and trying illness”.  One of his obituaries said “[he died] as the result of doing about three men’s work with all the trials and fatigues of life in a new country”.  Another described him thusly:

“In every sphere of life and action, wherever he was known, he commanded the highest respect and the fullest confidence.  He was a man of profound and extensive learning, and his reading in the whole field of literature was immense.  In his profession he was never behind the foremost.  He was one of the most hospitable, kind-hearted, and benevolent of men.  There was no taint of the mercenary or the mean about him.  His death will be regretted and his memory gratefully cherished.  The wonders of his skill, his patience, and his self-sacrificing benevolence are related from year to year by parents to children and children’s children.  He was widely known and wherever known he was justly regarded as a true man, an accomplished physician, and a genuine Christian.”

Dr. Forrest was buried in the Forrest Family plot at Camp Hill Cemetery in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  His wife Barbara Ross McKenzie died on 21 April 1880 in Halifax, and was buried next to him.

Forrest Grave

Forrest Grave

The Parents of Jonathan Judkins (b 1781)

As I wrote about recently here:

Who Are the Parents of Jonathan Judkins?

One of my roadblocks had been my inability to discover the parents of my 5x great-grandfather Jonathan Judkins and his wife Dolly Smith.  I detailed the manner in which I combed through the census records for the town of Fayette, Kennebec, Maine to discover that it was fairly likely that his father was “John Judkins” listed in the 1800 Census for Fayette.

The other pieces of the puzzle fell into place when I did a similar detailed analysis of the 1810 Census for Fayette, cross-referencing what I found there with the birth, death, and marriage records for Fayette.  I was able to determine that my 5x great-grandfather’s parents were Jonathan Judkins Jr. (actually making my grandfather Jonathan Judkins III, despite his being listed as “Jr.” in the 1800 Census).  His mother was Elizabeth Batchelder.

Jonathan Judkins Jr. and Elizabeth Batchelder were married in South Hampton, Rockingham, New Hampshire on 23 Jan 1777:

Judkins Batchelder Marriage, 1777

Judkins Batchelder Marriage, 1777

They moved to Fayette, Maine only a couple of months later, and their first child, Elizabeth Judkins, was born in Fayette on 25 Aug 1777.    She died seven months later on 7 Mar 1778.  Other children followed: Stephen Batchelder Judkins was born 6 Jul 1779, my grandfather Jonathan Judkins was born on 9 Aug 1781, a daughter Esther was born on 10 May 1784, a son Elisha on 26 May 1787, a son Jesse born on 4 Jan 1793 [died 17 Sept 1793], and finally a daughter Mehitable born on 9 Mar 1795.

I was also able to determine the entire immediate family of my 5x great grandfather.  Siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc.  And I traced his line back to the original Judkins immigrant ancestor, Job Judkins, who arrived in Boston in the 1630’s from England and was a sawyer there.  His son Joel, my 9x great-grandfather, moved to Exeter, New Hampshire, likely to pursue the logging trade there.

The link from ol’ Job Judkins to me is as follows:

Job Judkins (1606 – 1657)
Joel Judkins (1643 – 1714)
Samuel Judkins (1686 – 1741)
Capt Jonathan Judkins (1719 – 1791)
Jonathan Judkins II (1753 – 1830)
Jonathan Judkins III (1781 – )
Elizabeth E Judkins (1808 – 1886)
Lucy Gilman Folsom (1835 – 1916)
Helen Maria Nason (1863 – 1912)
Lulu Maria Cairns (1888 – 1978)
Mildred Jean Forrest (1915 – 2006)
Frederick Clifford Thomas III (1941 – )

Grandpa Has a Book

I’ve found probably a dozen or so books, perhaps more, that each deal with a certain branch of my family tree.  These books are usually helpful, usually incomplete, and usually written in the late 1800’s by someone related to the family who was also a genealogist.  They are dry, and written in a very matter-of-fact style, but I love them.  They have their own unique charm.

For example, here is one on the Pond family written in 1873 by Edward Doubleday Harris entitled “A Genealogical History of Daniel Pond and His Descendants”  which chronicles the history of the family of my 3x great-grandmother Louisa Pond.

Last night, however, a helpful person on Ancestry pointed me to a book on my 12x great-grandfather Stephen Hopkins [ancestor of my great-great-grandmother Helen Maria Nason].  He, along with members of his family [including his daughter Constance Hopkins, my 11x great-grandmother], came to America in 1620 aboard the Mayflower and was one of the principle founders of the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts.  Stephen worked with Myles Standish and Squanto to keep the colony alive.  But before that he was shipwrecked in Bermuda, visited the fledgling Virginia Colony [which predated the Pilgrims by a generation], and generally had a pretty incredible life.

Fortunately, a talented writer named Caleb Johnson has put his story into book form using a narrative style backed up by an  impressive amount of both genealogical and general historical research.  The book is called “Here Shall I Die Ashore”, and I’ve already ordered two copies after reading the first couple of chapters online.  You can check out a nice sampling of the book here:

“Here Shall I Die Ashore” by Caleb Johnson on GoogleBooks

It’s really impressive.  I aspire to his level of writing when it comes to making family history engaging and interesting to read.


Father’s Day – 2013

As I did on Mother’s Day this year, I put together a collection of photographs of all the fathers in my family tree who contributed to making me the person I am.

Happy Father’s Day, my ancestors!


Mother’s Day – 2013

For Mother’s Day this year I decided to pay tribute to all the mothers in my Family Tree who contributed to making me who I am.  Of course there are tens or hundreds of thousands of women in my direct line of ancestry, if you go back to the beginning of our species.  My family tree goes back to the 1500’s in some places, to my 11x or 12x great grandparents.  As I’ve said before, that’s about 20,000 grandparents in your entire family tree to that depth.  Obviously there’s no way I can pay meaningful tribute to 10,000 women, so I decided to put together a collection of all the mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers that I have photos of in my tree.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


Happy Mother’s Day, my beloved ancestors!

The women who made me who I am.

The women who made me who I am.

Archie Forrest & Family

I have been in contact with a couple of new cousins recently: Don Forrest and Bruce Morse. They are both the grandchildren of Archibald Alexander Forrest (1875-1946), the brother of my great-grandfather John Prescott Forrest.  My hope in contacting them was to get to know my great-grandfather’s brother and his family a bit better.

[Interestingly, I am related to Bruce twice.  Once because his mother was a Forrest, and once because his father was John Harleigh Morse, who has the same Morse ancestor, Ensign Anthony Morse (1662-1710) as I do.]

Archie was born into the powerful family of Rev. John Forrest and Annie Prescott Duff in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  He arrived in the US in December of 1895 at the age of 20.  Archie Forrest was a hockey player in his younger years, and one day the very wealthy business tycoon and famed art collector Henry Harper Benedict attended a match with his daughter Helen Elizabeth Benedict (1879 – 1961).  Apparently she liked what she saw in young Archie and asked to meet him.

[Incidentally, Henry Benedict’s personal fortune was not only vast, but also the subject of the most ridiculous, over-the-top, tawdry tale of intrigue you could imagine. Since it’s not really my story to tell, I will link to a version that writes it up as well as I ever could:

The Curse of the Remington Typewriter Fortune

It’s really well researched and documented, so please take the time to check it out if you can.  You won’t be disappointed.  If you made it up people would accuse you of being too “soap opera” and not believable.  Gold-digging nurses, suicides, runaway heiresses, lost fortunes, evil stepmothers… it’s got it all.]

A few years later Archie and Helen were married at St. George’s Church in London, England on 11 Oct 1904.  Archie was a real-estate agent at the time he got married, but soon he was given a lucrative job as a vice-president of his father-in-law’s company, Remington Rand.  The family seems to agree that hard work was not Archie’s forte.  He seemed to prefer hunting and fishing.  His grandsons remember fly-fishing trips to Canada and other extravagances that kept him away from his office.  Archie’s brothers George Munro Forrest and John Prescott Forrest would also work as executives for Remington Rand.

Three children followed for Archie and Helen: Marie Alexendra (1907 – 1982), John Benedict (1909 – 1976), and Henry Harper (1911 – 1970).

Marie Forrest & Henery Benedict, 1880.

Marie Forrest & Henry Benedict, 1908.

According to Don Forrest (John Benedict’s son), the upbringing was rather unusual to most of us, although it was probably not unusual at all to those in the upper classes of that time period.  He described his grandparents’ “Anglophilic” style of child raising.  That is, most of the child-rearing was handled by a nanny.  The only meal that the children shared with their parents was on Sunday afternoon and no talking was permitted at the table.  As soon as was practicable, the children were sent away to boarding school in substantial wealth.  All of this had an effect on the children, and all of them would go on to have complicated family lives themselves.  It was Don’s opinion that all three of Archie’s and Helen’s children turned out to be “wonderful people”, despite those issues.

The Archie Forrest Summer home was on Old Post Road in Rye, New York, although it was only one of their homes.  They also “wintered” in New York City, where they lived in a town house at #5 East 75th Steet in Manhattan.  The property was owned by the Benedict family, and was described as being “the size of a small Swiss hotel”.


Archie was a village Trustee in Rye, and was briefly the Mayor of that town in 1930.  He and his family took trips abroad and generally lived the life of the upper class in New York.  There were cruises, in-home servants, fine clothes, and all the trappings of that lifestyle.

So with all this in mind, tonight I got my first glimpse of Archie and his family in this photo sent to me by Bruce Morse, Archie’s grandson:

Archie Forrest & Family, c1929.

Archie Forrest & Family, c1929.

I just adore this photo.  It’s so.. “New Century Explorer and his perfect family”.  The reality, of course, was much more complex, but if you give it some scrutiny, this photo captures all that complexity so perfectly.  John so handsome and charming, but with just a hint of mischief.  Henry sort of angsty and brooding.  Marie looking strong and resigned.  Archie, the distant, stylish, trendy father.  Everyone wearing their best clothes, impeccably dressed while the waves crash behind them.  This is the perfect photo for how I imagined this family to be.  I’m so grateful to have it.