French In Name Only

A Genealogical Blog about the French and Grace Families

Month: October 2014


In Celebration of All Hallows’ Eve

This blog post encourages you to take a brief walk through a small corner of my genealogical family graveyard (names listed below).  I encourage you to click on the stunning photographs from the Farber Gravestone Collection and take a closer look at the carvings.  The Danforth and French gravestones  are located in the South Burying Ground in Billerica, Simonds in Lexington, and the Bissell gravestone is located at the Old Burying Ground (information on gravestone iconography) in Windsor, Connecticut.Go ahead - dig a little deeper!!

  • Joshua Simonds, Lexington, MA. 1686-1768 (my 6th ggf) (winged face on gravestone) At dawn on April 19, 1775 some 700 British troops arrived in Lexington and came upon 77 militiamen gathered on the town green. Between the British column and the provincial lines stood Lexington’s meetinghouse, which served as a gunpowder repository for the town.  According to testimony, with British troops approaching the  entrance of meetinghouse Joshua Simonds was in the upper galley with an open cask of powder standing near him.  Simonds was said to have cocked his gun and placed the muzzle of it close to the cask of powder, and (in his words) was determined to “touch it off,” in case the troops had come into the gallery.  For a full and scholarly account of Joshua’s heroic act read:  Boston 1775: Joshua Simonds: Potential Suicide Bomber
  • Jonathan Danforth – 1628-1712 (my 8th ggf) (hourglass, winged skull on gravestone) The youngest of the family, became surveyor and was known as “Father of Billerica” where he had emigrated from Cambridge in about 1654 along with the first settlers, and built what may have been the first house in the Indian village of Sawshin. His skill as a surveyor had given him continual employment and his survey descriptions are said to have filled 200 pages of land grants, penned in very clear and handsome handwriting – the contents of which have been preserved in the state archives of New Hampshire. Check out his English roots at Danforth’s Farm – PDP Roots and Branches Blog
  • Elizabeth Poulter Danforth – 1633-1689 (my 8th ggm) (close up of winged skull on gravestone) – Elizabeth had 11 children by Jonathan.
  • Elizabeth Hill French – 1710-1786 (my 6th ggm) and Ebenezer French – 1707-1791 – (Elaborate, dual gravestone)
  • John Bissell – 1591-1677 – (my 5th ggf of wife of 3ggf) – (plain sandstone gravestone with lettering only)

The Farber Gravestone Collection/The American Antiquarian Society is an unusual resource documenting the sculpture on over 9,000 gravestones most of which were made prior to 1800.  These early stones are both a significant form of artistic creation and precious records of biographical information, now subject to vandalism and to deterioration from the environment. The data accompanying the photographs include the name and death date of the deceased, the location of the stone, and information concerning the stone material, the iconography, the inscription, and (when known) the carver. Some carvers whose work is known but who have not been identified by name are entered by stylistic groupings, rather than by name.

© David R. French and French in Name Only, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David French and French in Name Only with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Fowler’s Postcards

IMG_1902IMG_1899(From my Grandmother Gladys (Spencer), I have a stack of postcards handed down from her mother, Minnie May Fowler.  The colorful cards often only consist of a line or two to wish a happy birthday or simply offer best wishes at a particular holiday.  In my research, I came across a photograph (inserted below) from the Connecticut State Library of E.G. Fowler standing with two horses in front of his farm and house. If you look closely there is a woman standing behind him, to the right along the fence, my guess is that is his wife, Ellen Jane (Thompson).  Edward and Ellen Fowler are my 2nd great grandparents in my father’s line.)

The story below was originally published in a Biographical Record of Hartford County, I have made minor edits, including adding historical data specific to Bildad Fowler.

EDWARD G. FOWLER, a respected citizen and a resident of Bloomfield since 1874, was born in Suffield, Connecticut on July 15, 1840.  He was a son of Gamaliel and Elizabeth (Humiston) Fowler. Gamaliel was born in the town of Suffield, where he passed his life in agricultural pursuits. He first married Sallie Noble, of Southwick, Conn., who bore him three children—Newton, Gamaliel and Cordelia, all of whom have passed away—and to his second marriage, with Elizabeth Humiston, of West Springfield, MA., were born two children, Elizabeth Latham, deceased, and Edward G., the subject of this sketch.  Mr. Gamaliel Fowler was a man of considerable influence in Suffield, where he taught school, was a chorister and deacon in the Baptist Church, and died, a sincere Christian, in July 1865, at the age of sixty-eight years. Read on to learn more about the Fowler's!

Edwards grandfather, Bildad Fowler, was a Lieutenant in the Revolutionary War serving in Captain Levi Ely’s Company. During his service, he was part of a company sent to Fort Paris (New York) to protect settlers in the Mohawk Valley from threatened attacks by Tories and Canadian Indians led by Mohawk Chief Joseph Bryant. On October 19, 1780, while attempting to join the forces of General Robert Van Rensselaer, Tories and Indians ambushed his company. Captain Ely and about one-third of the company were killed during this fight referred to as the Battle of Stone Arabia.

Edward G. FowlEGFowlerer passed his boyhood years and early manhood in his native town, working on the home farm, and he also worked for fifteen years in Pratt & Whitney’s shop at Hartford. In February 1866, he married, at East Cornwall, Litchfield Co., Conn., Miss Ellen Jane Thompson, a daughter of Richard Thompson, D. D., a native of England and a Baptist clergyman. To this marriage have been born six children, in the following order: George Thompson, born June 17, 1867, and married to Eugenia C. Thrall, of Hartford, has a family of three children, Ernest, Henry and Oliver; Minnie May, born Oct. 5, 1868, is married to Samuel E. Spencer, and is the mother of Ethel, Orrin, Gladys and Earle Fowler (family line); Maria Louise, born March 28, 1870, is the wife of Charles Chaffee, of Hartford, and has a son, Ralph Gilbert; Albert Lewis was born March 4, 1872; Edward Clarence, July 15, 1874, and Elizabeth Ellen, Dec. 2, 1876. In 1874, Mr. Fowler settled in Bloomfield, and here engaged in farming, the vocation with which he became so thoroughly familiar in early manhood, and which, since living in Bloomfield, he has profitably followed. Mr. Fowler is a Baptist in his religious faith, and a highly respected member of the church at Bloomfield.

© David R. French and French in Name Only, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David French and French in Name Only with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Father Dies at Battle of Trafalgar – An Orphans Life in Cape Breton

(Note – Dennis Maloney, who died at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, is my 5th G-Grandfather on my father’s side. His son George (4thGG), ended up living/working for a general store owner in Mabou, Nova Scotia (William McKeen). On a trip to Mabou in 2013, I was informed that in 1831 George is noted in the general store ledger “as having left Mabou with an account owing.”  George, at 18, was obviously itching to get out of town and make his way in the rugged northern region of Cape Breton.  Below is a story written by Jim St. Clair, a Connecticut Yankee, former teacher and noted historian, who has long resided in Mabou, Cape Breton. In addition, there are two supporting pieces.)

Then and Now – The Heritage of Inverness County
The Inverness Oran
by Jim St. Clair

Dent de Lion en Francais – taking its name from the similarity of the shape of the leaf to the appearance of the teeth of a lion – everywhere around our countryside as the first crop turns into the second crop as seeds blow in the wind. Welcomed by those who enjoy the young first leaves, perhaps with butter and vinegar as a side dish to lobster! Resented by those who wish to grow pristine lawns free of weeds!Read on to discover the Maloney connection!

The dandelion indeed is omnipresent and once established rejoices in its offspring from year to year – as some delight in their dandelion wine. But it has not always been in North America. It came across the Atlantic as seed at some time not known. With its origins in the area where Asia and Europe join, the yellow weed has spread around the world. Each flower head indeed may have as many as two hundred seeds.

Just as the seeds of plants and trees go where the wind carries them and germinate where conditions are suitable, so too do “rumors of wars” travel – by immigrants bringing news of conflicts in their old countries; by sailors on merchant ships who learn much in waterfront taverns in seaports or along wharves in faraway places. Even in the days before telegraphy or radio or e-mail, the reports of “wars and rumors of wars” traveled rapidly from place to place. Two hundred years ago as dandelions bloomed in the meadows of England and the fields of Ireland and the dent de lion raised yellow heads in cultivated grain lands of France, so too did the new initiatives of Napoleon find their way through the rumor mill and the print publications to remote parts of Scotland and Ireland and to Nova Scotia as well. Proclaimed and crowned as Emperor of France in December of 1804 and as King of Italy in May of 1805, Bonaparte was putting together in the early summer of 1805 a grand plan to defeat the British navy and invade England. His alliances with Italy and Spain would provide him with a suitable fleet, or so he thought.

The accounts of wars and the rumors of new battles were in the mouths of people everywhere. On the western coast of Scotland, young men were encouraged or in some cases forced to enter the British navy. Among these was young Donald MacKenzie of Kintail area. Today in 2005, two hundred years later, he lies buried in the quiet cemetery along the shores of the Bras d’Or Lakes in Malagawatch. A veteran of the Battle of the Nile in 1798 when he was in his teens, MacKenzie in 1805 was also going to be present at the Battle of Trafalgar where Nelson lost his life, but on the victory which established Great Britain as the ruler of the seas in one of history’s major naval battles.

In Nova Scotia as well, the threats posed by the build-up of Napoleon’s fleet were the talk of the waterfront communities. A recent immigrant from the North of Ireland, Dennis Maloney, lived not far from Halifax with his wife, Sarah Ransome, and their two sons, James and George.

As a member of the British Navy, Maloney was also at the October 1805 Battle of Trafalgar, a cape on the southwestern tip of Spain, not far from Gibraltar. Unlike Donald MacKenzie, however, Maloney drowned during the battle and did not live to return to Nova Scotia. Soon after the Battle of Trafalgar was in the news and the victory (and death) of Horatio Nelson reported in local papers, Sarah Ransome died. The two boys were thus left as orphans. Young George Maloney, a young victim of a war across the Atlantic, lived for a time in Musquodoboit but came to Inverness County to work for William McKeen at his store at the Mouth of Mabou Harbour.

As a young man living and working in those pioneering days of the second and third decades of the 1800s, he participated in the development of a community as mills were put up, stores and ships built, and land cleared. His name appears on the 1821 letter sent to the Presbytery of Pictou as people of the area sought to have the Rev. William Millar, newly arrived from Scotland, settled in the Mabou-Port Hood area as a Presbyterian minister. It would seem as though this young man had found a place to settle.

Perhaps he displeased McKeen; perhaps he had an argument with somebody else; or maybe he was just footloose and interested in a new settlement. Whatever the reason, Maloney traveled across Inverness County until he reached the tip of the Island of Cape Breton. He is to be found in the 1830s at Cape North. There, far from Halifax and Cape Trafalgar, he took up residence.

Since he married Mary MacLeod whose family lived for a time at Lake Ainslie before they too moved on to Cape North, it is possible that he left central Inverness County in order to be near his future wife and her family. Several other families from the Lake Ainslie-Broad Cove-Margaree and Mabou areas as well went north to live at the same time. Whether or not young George Maloney, a little boy at the time his father died at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, ever got to speak with another Inverness County person, Donald MacKenzie who had been at the same battle, is unknown. But what tales he could have told of the people of that great battle!


United KingdomHMS-Conqueror
National Archives – Battle of Trafalgar

Dennis Maloney – aged 27, born Limerick, Ireland
Ship: HMS Conqueror
Rating/Rank: Ordinary Seaman
Ships Paybook number: SB 369
Catalogue reference: ADM 36/16250
Died: 26 October 1805


HMS Conqueror was a 74-gun 3rd rate ship of the line which fought at Trafalgar under the command of Captain Israel Pellew. Pellew’s captain of marines took the surrender of the overall commander of the French-Spanish fleet.


Mabou Pioneers by K. MacKinnon – Facts on Dennis Maloney and descendents gleaned from Family Notes from the North Highlands Community Museum.

Dennis Maloney was born in Ulster Province, Ireland and married Sarah Ransome of Scotland, both Presbyterian, and lived in Preston, NS. He may already have been an enlisted man as he soon left Nova Scotia to serve in the Napoleonic Wars. He was drowned at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The Maloney’s had two sons, Jim and George. When the mother died shortly after Trafalgar, Jim was taken to live with Lieutenant Green and George was taken to live in Musquodoboit with David Bradley. The last heard from Jim was that he was running a grocery business in London, England.

George left the Bradley’s and came to Mabou where he lived for some time with Hon. William MacKeen, and here he signed the call to Rev. William Millar, the first call signed, in 1821, by any Presbyterian congregation on the Island of Cape Breton. From Mabou he came to Cape North and married Effie MacLeod, the daughter of pioneer Robert and Effie MacPherson, his wife. George was a farmer with one hundred acres of land. In 1871, he had the following possessions: a house and barn, a wagon, plow, one horse, three cows, one ox, twelve sheep and one pig.

In the line of produce, they had 180 lbs. of butter, cut twenty-four cords of wood, forty-five yards of home-made cloth, approximately three thousand lbs. of cod and two barrels of mackerel. He killed two pigs for his own use and caught one seal. James, son of George and Mary, married twice and from the two marriages had twenty-two children. He was a farmer /fisherman. By the year 1871 he owned one hundred acres of land of which fifteen acres were used for pasture.

His holdings included one house, one barn, one wagon, one horse, three cows, one ox, eleven sheep and one pig. He killed two sheep and two pigs for his own use. He also grew barley, oats, one acre of potatoes and one hundred bushels of hay. Along with other holdings, he had one boat, twenty-three fathoms of nets, approximately six thousand lbs. of cod and three barrels of mackerel. James was also a Justice of the Peace and a collector of Customs for many years. He died at the age of eighty-eight years at his old home in Dingwall, once the site of St. Joseph’s convent, but now known as the Inlet Bed and Breakfast.

The first Maloney property has passed trough many hands and is now owned by several families in Dingwall. Gradually through the years, the Maloney name has died out in the area. The daughter of John Shepherd Maloney (a great grandson of Pioneer Dennis) Mrs. Hattie Maloney MacDonald, still lives in the area with her family.

© David R. French and French in Name Only, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David French and French in Name Only with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Leading Citizen – Abram French

(Note – This story was originally published in a History of Lowell, Massachusetts and has been edited for length and clarity.  Abram French is my 3rd G-Grandfather on my father’s side, he also has the distinction of having been a member of the Locofoco political party (fodder for a future story!)

Among the men who were prominently identified with the early history of Lowell, few are more entitled to be held in respectful remembrance than Mr. Abram French. Mr. French was the fifth in a family of eleven children. He was born in Billerica, Mass., Dec. 13, 1803, and died at Lowell, April 11, 1879. He was descended from Lieut. William French, who was born in England in 1604. He married in England, came to this country in the “Defense” in 1635, and died Nov. 20, 1681.  Read on to learn more about Abram!

From this ancestor the line of descent runs as follows:

• Jacob French was born Jan. 16, 1639-40, married Mary Champney, Sept. 20, 1665, and died May 20, 1713.
• William French was born July, 1668, married Sarah Danforth, May 22, 1695, and died Sept. 30, 1723.
• Ebenezer French was born Aug. 5, 1707, married Elizabeth Hill, Aug. 27, 1729, and died Dec. 31, 1791.
• Jesse French was born April 6, 1739, and married Abigail Jaquith, April 14, 1761.
• Luther French was born in Fitchburg, Sept. 25, 1767, married in Billerica Sarah Bowers, Aug. 28, 1796, and died in Lowell, March 15, 1846.

Mr. (Abram) French received his education in the public schools of his native town, and went out of school assisted his father in the work of the farm. At the age of 17, he went to Lexington, Mass., where he was employed in a general country store for a few years, after which he went into the dry goods business in East Lexington for himself. In 1835, he came to Lowell and was identified with business interests here for the greater part of his life.  Mr. French, in early manhood was a stanch Democrat, became a member of the Free Soil Party during the struggle between the north and south, and attended the Free Soil Convention at Buffalo in 1848. On the formation of the Republican Party he joined that party and remained a Republican till his death.  During the anti-slavery agitation he was active in the movement in Lowell, and was strongly in favor of abolition, and so deep was the impression of those trying times that his sympathy for the colored race remained always true and steadfast.  Though taking an active interest in public affairs, he never sought office. He was a member of the Common Council in 1852 and 1853, and afterward of the School Board for a number of years. He early joined the Free Masons, and was a member of Pilgrim Commandery of Knights Templar. He filled various positions of trust and was a Trustee of the City Institution for Savings, and a Director of the Lowell Mutual Fire Insurance Company for many years.

In religious belief he was a Unitarian from boyhood, and was a constant attendant at the Church of the First Unitarian Society of Lowell. Mr. French was twice married; first, on July 21, 1831, to Elizabeth Simonds, of Lexington, Mass., and second, on Nov. 20, 1855, to Alice Dean of Providence, R.I.  By his first wife he had: Charles A., born April 18, 1832; who married Elizabeth M. Holbrook, of Boston; Elizabeth, born July 7, 1834, who married Charles Darrow, of Boston; James O., born Jan. 5, 1838, who died in childhood; George W., born March 8, 1840, who married Jennie S. Hall, of Boston; and Horace E., born Feb. 24, 1843, who married Laura M. Foster, of Medford. By his second wife he had: Alice, born Sept. 3, 1856, who married Frederic P. Spalding, of Lowell; Gertrude, born Nov. 29, 1857; and Anna, born Sept. 20, 1859, both of whom died in childhood.

For many years he was a merchant tailor, occupying a building on Central Street, which he purchased from the Middlesex Mills Company in 1841. During his ownership the Appleton Bank was one of his tenants, several prominent professional men occupied offices in the building, and Mr. French’s store was a rendezvous for many men who afterwards rose to distinction in the Democratic Party. In 1849, he sold the building to the Appleton Bank, intending to remain as a tenant, but a long delay in rebuilding caused him to change his plans, and later he went into the retail clothing business, under the American House Hotel, from which he retired in 1868.

© David R. French and French in Name Only, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David French and French in Name Only with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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