I wasn’t sure if this was John Dunham Jr or his son John. At the time  of the incident
in 1665 John Dunham Sr. was still alive, so it’s possible it is the grandson who
might have been called “John Dunham the younger” to distinguish him from the
other two.But I think the names of the three men who helped pay the 40
helped me decide it.  Benajah Pratt was married to Persis Dunham, a sister of
John Jr.  Jonathan Dunham was John Jr.’s younger brother. Here’s the story from
Volume 4 of  the Plymouth Court Records:

1Aug 1665

In reference vnto John Dunham the younger, for his abusive carriage
towards his wife in contnuall tiranising ouer her, and in pticulare for his late
abusiue and vnciuill carryage in endeauoring to beate her in a deboist manor,
and for affrighting of her by drawing a sword and pretending therwith to offer
violence to his life, hee, the said Dunham, is sentanced by the Court to bee
seuerly whipt ; but through the importunitie of his wife, the execution of
the said centence was respeted for psent vntill the Court shall take furthr
notice of his furute walking, and then to doe therein as occation shall re-
quire ; and for the preuension of future euill in the like kind, the Court sees
cause to require securite for his good behauior vintill the next Generall Court,
and so fron Court to Court vntill the Court shall see cause otherwise to order.

John Dunham the younger acknowlidgeth to owe vnto our sou lord the Kinge the
sum of 20:00:00
George Bonum the sume of 6:13:04
Benajah Pratt the sume of    6:13:04
Jonathan Dunham the sume of 6:13:04
The condition, that if the said John Dunham bee of good behauior towards our sou
lord the Kinge and all his leich people, and in particulare towards his wife in reforming
his former abusiue carryage towards her both in word and deed, and appear att the
Generall Court of his matie to bee holden att Plymouth the first Tuesday in October
next, and not depart the said Court without lycence; that then, &c.”   Vol4 p103-104

I had to look up the word “deboist”. It seems to have been a synonym for the word debauched

The maiden name of John Jr.’s wife is unknown to me. She’s listed only as Dorothy
on the family tree. Frankly, I’m disappointed that she intervened to have the whipping
sentence suspended. I think John Dunham Jr. needed a good whipping for that behavior,
or at least a couple of slaps up the side of the head. 



Nothing deep in this post but it sort of ties in with two other posts this week.

As I mentioned in an earlier post about online genealogy, FamilySearch recently
added the collection of images from the Massachusetts, Land Records, 1620-1986.
There are 5,766,135 images. Now, if you are someone with Massachusetts and
New England ancestry, this is genealogical manna from heaven. On my Dad’s side
of my family, I have lines going back to the Mayflower and The Great Migration, so
I have quite a few names to search for on those records. I’ve barely scratched the
surface  and I’ve already discovered some of those ancestors bought and sold a lot
of land.

This is going to take a while to go through all of them. A long while. I’m adrift in
a sea of information.

Not that I’m complaining, mind you. I’m already learning things, such as a hitherto
unknown occupation for one ancestor and that same land record may help establish
the timeline for that person’s move from Massachusetts to New Hampshire.

I can now  couple the Massachusetts Land Records with court records, pension files
and probate files to give a really good picture in some cases of a person’s entire life.

I’m hoping that the Land Records will help me break down my John Cutter West

The only problem I have is trying to choose which ancestors to work on first. All
things considered, it’s a pretty nice problem to have, though.


There’s a scene in Monty Python & The Holy Grail where the Dead Collector
is going through a village hit by the plague with a cart. One of the villagers
 tries to put a dead man into the cart, but there’s one problem: the dead man
isn’t dead. “I’m not dead!” he insists.

I thought about that scene yesterday after reading an article on The Verge
website. It’s entitled “Who am I? Data and DNA answer one of life’s big questions”
It’s an interesting article, especially the parts with Thomas MacEntee. But I’m not
in agreement with the writer of the article. Near the beginning she makes the
following statement:

“Genealogy’s next phase, which is quickly approaching, is actually its end game.
The massive accumulation, digitization, and accessibility of data combined with
recent advances in DNA testing mean the questions we have about our families —
who they were, how they got here, and how they’re related to us — will soon be
instantly solvable. Realistically, the pursuit of family history as it exists now probably
won’t be around in 20 years: most of the mysteries are disappearing, and fast.”

Now as I mentioned a few posts back, I’m an online genealogist. I do most of my
research online. But I don’t think that every single record from every courthouse
and archive in the world is going to be online in 20 years. I think it might happen in
50 years, but even then, I don’t think that will sound the death knell for genealogy
as we know it. Nor do I think DNA testing is going to tell me how many of my
ancestors were blacksmiths. Heck, I’ve had a y-DNA test done and the only answers
were vague generalities that told me very little. It was like using a genealogical
“Eight Ball”.

Let’s say for the sake of argument they do get every document, every diary, every family
genealogy or local history scanned and online. It’s not going to be the end of genealogy
It’s just going to mean more things for us to hunt for, find, look at and analyze. It’s not
just finding all that information that’s important, it’s understanding what you are looking
at and what it means for your family’s history. Nor is having everything online going to
knock down all our brick walls. There will always be something left to find.     

I wish I could write a longer more philosophical piece about this, but I’m not that smart, and
the hour is late and my brain is turning to Swiss Cheese. There’s the effect all this is going
to have on local genealogy societies and perhaps on professional genealogists. But  I think
you can get my gist from what I have been able to say in these ramblings.

Suffice it to say, to paraphrase Monty Python, genealogy’s not dead yet, and not likely to
be for a very long time.


Whenever  I find some record or document online, I do a bit more searching
on Google to see what else I might find about it or the events around it. My
search for more details about John Dunham and Samuel Eddy’s dog led me to
Sam Behling‘s website and this poem. It’s by Eddy descendent William
Holden Eddy and originally appeared in the Eddy Family Association Bulletin
in 1934.(Issue #1 Vol XIII, April 1934). I’m reprinting it here with the permission
of the Eddy Family of America. My thanks to Lin Eddy-Hough , the Chair of the
Publications Committee for the Association.

As I mentioned in the previous post, my ancestor John Dunham Jr. and Samuel
Eddy had their differences mediated by neighbors and they seem to have gotten
on better with each other afterward, to the point that they shared the upkeep of
a cow.

Also, Zachariah, Caleb, and Obadiah were Samuel Eddy’s sons. 

          An Elegy on the Death of Samuel Eddy’s Dog

    To day no lofty strain I sing, of Pilgrims’ joy or suffering,
    No tales heroic do I bring to set your minds agog;
    An incident of daily life of bitterness, alas, and strife,
    When rumors sorrowful were rife of Samuel Eddy’s dog.

    The breed he sprang from who can name? Mastiff or bull we cannot claim.
    Or trained to seek the fleeting game, in forest or in bog;
    Lurcher or hound, or terrier keen, Spaniel or Porter, greyhound lean,
    Naught do we know of this, I ween, of Samuel Eddy’s dog.

    What that dog did we do not know, almost three centuries ago,
    Little indeed the records show, in Plymouth’s catalogue.
    But this we read, one summer day stretched cold in death the poor beast lay,
    Poisoned by some fell foe, they say, was Samuel Eddy’s dog.

    Of this in truth we may be clear, that all the settlers, far and near
    Spoke words of comfort and of cheer, in friendly dialogue;
    And soothed, as best they could, the woe that had o’ercome its master so,
    And checked the tears that would o’erflow, for Samuel Eddy’s dog.

    Think of the grief of Zachariah, of Caleb, sad as Jeremiah,
    And doubtless year-old Obadiah, though somewhat in a fog,
    Upraised his voice in wailing strong, and added to the weeping throng
    Another lamentation strong for Samuel Eddy’s dog.

    What was John Dunham’s dreadful fate? What punishment did him await?
    Who made the household desolate? What was the epilogue?
    This only, that he sureties gave, than henceforth he would well behave
    For ever after poison crave for Samuel Eddy’s dog.

    But later these two men agreed in partnership a cow to feed,
    To satisfy their households’ need with milk instead of grog;
    Thus out of evil, good somehow will often come; and so that cow
    Repentance shows and sorrow now, for Samuel Eddy’s dog.

    So let us pardon grant to him, and trust he’s with the cherubim,
    That man who gave the poison grim, and broke the Decalogue.
    And let us all assembled here in heartfelt sorry drop a tear
    Upon the long forgotten bier of Samuel Eddy’s dog.


My colonial immigrant ancestor John Dunham was a deacon of the church at
Plymouth  Colony. While the Deacon was a respectable citizen, his sons did their
share of hell-raising before settling down.

The oldest son, John Jr. first appeared in the Plymouth Court Records on criminal
charges in 1646 when he was twenty six years old, for something I personally find

4Aug 1646
In the case betwixte Samuell Eddy and John Dunham, Jun, abiyt ye said
John Dunhams giving poyson to the said  Samuell Eddy’s dogg, the Court,
having taken the same into serious consdieracon. vpon hearing what could be
said on both sides. the Courte doth order yt ye said John Dunhame sall finde
sureties for his good behavior vnto ye next Court
. Vol2p107

By that next Court session, things seemed to have calmed down considerably
between John Jr and Samuel Eddy and they’d found two neighbors to mediate
between them: 

27Oct 1646
In a case of difference twixte John Dunham, Jun, and Sam Edie, the Court orders,
& the said John Dunham agreed therevnto, that Mr Wm Paddie and John Cooke,
Jun, shall heare, end, & determine all former civill differences twixte them to
this psent day.
Vol2 110

Eventually, Deacon John Dunham passed away. John Jr became a father of a son also
named John. He was now John Senior. There are two appearances that caught my
attention. In the first, he was the victim:

Att this Court, John Dunham, Senir, came into the Court and complained against
John Dotey, that hee mett him in the high way, and did crewelly beate him, and
affeirmeth that hee goeth in danger of his life because of the said Dotey, and hath
taken an oath before the said Court for the truth of the pmises, and prayeth a
warrant of the peace against him.
John Dotey acknowlidgeth to owe vnto our sov lord the Kinge the sume of 20:00:00
John Soule the sume of                                                                                  10:00:00
Samuell Smith the sume of                                                                            10:00:00

The condition that if the said John Dotey shall and doe keep the peace towards our
sov lord the Kinge and all his leich people, and in speciall in reference vnto the
said John Dunham,and appear at the Court of his matie to be holden at Plymouth
the last Tuesday in October next, and not depart the said Court without lycence;
that then, &…”
– Volume 5 p25

The condition of John Dotey’s  release seems to be some sort of ritual phrasing that
peters off into that “&”, prpbably the equivalent of “yada yada” for that period. Also
40 pounds seems to have been the standard fine in cases like this.  The reason I think
this is becuase the exact same phrase and fine are used a year later when John was
the perpetrator. It should be noted that “carriages” does not refer to baby carriages,
but to how a person behaved or “carried” themselves.

7June 1670
John Dunham, Senr, being bound ouer to this Court to answare for his abusive
speeches and carriages towards Sarah, the wife of Benjamine Eaton,  and being
conuict thereof, was contanced to be bound to his good behauior.
John Dunham acknowlidgeth to owe vnto our sov Lord the Kinge the sume of 40.

The condition, that if the said John Dunham be of good behauior towards our
sou lord the Kinge and all his leich people, and is speciall towards Sarah. the wife
of Benjamine Eaton, and appear att the Court of his matie to be holden at Plymouth
aforesaid the last Tuesday in October next, and not depart the said Court without
lycence; that then , & e
.V ol5 p 40

As bad as my 8x great grandfather John Dunham Jr.’s behavior might have been at times,
his brothers were as bad, if not worse. I’ll didscuss them next.


Back when I first started researching my family history, I was what was labeled a
“bedroom” or “pajama” genealogist. The image conjured up by that is of someone
sitting at a computer in the corner of their bedroom, dressed in their pajamas as
they surfed the internet looking for family records and documents. And that’s pretty
much what I did.

Well, except for the pajamas. I was fully clothed.

Back then, I was working as the manager of a video store and working weird hours.
Many days I didn’t get home until well after midnight, and my one day a week off
was for buying groceries and doing laundry. There was no time to visit archives or
court houses, and even if there were, I barely knew where to begin. Some earlier
visits to those places to find information on John Cutter West had not gone beyond
looking for his birth record because I didn’t know what else I should look for. After
my friend Diana told me I could download a free PAF genealogy program I did so and
began filling in information my Aunt Dorothy had sent, and then more from Florence
O’Connor’s book about my Ellingwood and Dunham ancestors. Then I started Googling
names, and searching Rootsweb and

I started finding things: Google Books editions of the Essex County Court Files, Pension
Files on Footnotes for ancestors I didn’t know had serve4 in the American Revolution.
I found birth, death, and marriage records on FamilySearch and Federal Census Records
on When I started this blog, it brought me into contact with distant
cousins who shared pictures and documents with me. I found newspaper stories about
 fatal accidents and a journal entry from a scientist about a conversation with my 2x
great grandfather and the details about what he told the scientist.

All of this I found online.

And it keeps going on and on. FamilySearch is putting more documents online every day,
They’ve posted Probate Files for Maine and New Hampshire and recently added the
Massachusetts, Land Records, 1620-1986 collection. I’ve found more things I might never
would have found as quickly and easily as I have found them online. I’m grateful to them,, Fold3, and all the other websites that have made my search much easier.

I know there are still plenty of things out there that aren’t online and that I would have
to go see where them where they are kept. Maybe after I finally get a replacement for the
Late Great Ping The Wonder Car I’ll have the chance to do that. There is still some who
are a bit dismissive of those who research mostly online.

But for the moment, I will proudly say I am an online genealogist.

Only now I do it in the parlor, with a laptop, and still fully clothed. 


In one of my posts about John Barnes I wrote about how the Plymouth Colony
government struggled to deal with his drinking problem. At one point they even
made it a crime in 1661 to sell him any liquor.  Even that didn’t seem to work, and
I wondered how effective that strategy could have been, given that John imported
and sold liquor as part of his business as a merchant. I think this next record shows
one way he could get plenty of liquor.

Up until the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay Colonies merged most of  the towns
south of Boston, such as Yarmouth on Cape Cod  were part of Plymouth Colony. This
record from 1667 deals with how much rum and sacke(white wine from Spain) were
brought into Yarmouth during 1666m and certain discrepancies of amounts on the
invoices of the shipments. Among the people practicing what might be considered
“creative bookkeeping” were Jonathan Barnes and his brother in law, Abraham Hedges.

5Jun 1667
The Account of the Liquors brought into Yarmouth the Year last past, giuen
                                                             in by Mr Thacher.
The 15 of the first month, Elisha Hedge, one barrell of rum.
Mr Hedge, 9 gallons of sacke.
September 14, (66,) by John Barnes, for Elisha Hedge, fifty gallons of rum.
For Mr Sprague, 10 gallons of rum.
For Samuell Sturgis, 30 gallons of rum.
For Edward Sturgis, Junir, 25 gallons.
Jonathan Barnes brought sundry barrells of liquors to the towne, since which
hee did not invoyce with vs, but did after some distanceof time invoyce it
with the Treasurer.

The first weeke of Aprill, (67,) Edward Sturgis, Senir, 22 gallons of sacke, which
was invoyced, tho not in due time according to order.

Att that time, there were fiue or six barrells of rum bought of the merchant att
Satuckett, whcih was not invoyced, but concealed one barrerll ; Jonathan Barnes
had another barrell ; Joseph Ryder three more,  hee seized for the countrey,
which haue bine since condemned, viz : Samuell Sturgis, one barrell of rum ;
Edward Sturgis. Junir, one barrell of rum ; and Abraham Hedge, one barrell of rum,
which lyes responsible for his father to cleare betwixt thia and the Court in July

Boardman, halfe a barrell, or somwhat more, which hee invoced.

The first week in June, 67, Jonathan Barnes invoyced oNe barrell of rum for
John Mokancy, Abraham Hedge had about three barrells last sumer, which it is
vncertaine whether invoced or now. 
Plymouth Court Records Volume 4

I’d be willing to bet that some of the misinvoiced rum ended up in a tankard that
Jonathan’s father John drank with gusto!