Sunday, October 20, 2019

the early seventeen hundreds was a rowdy era in boston; out in the hinterlands, jonathan edwards was just getting started, and andrew jackson would get elected and set the pioneer settlements abuzz with all his antics. but in boston, it was the time when cotton mather argued that people's learning how to read songs and sing them was a good method of devotion, and psalms should be printed into music to make worship more devout. the pure calvinists thought that any form of ritual was bad, kind of like the modern quakers, who feel that the rote repeating of verse out of a presbyterian program is not really authentic.

but cotton mather had other problems on his mind. the solid framework of puritan culture was beginning to crumble, and it was partly his own fault: by getting drawn in to the salem witch trials, and thus being responsible for the deaths of so many so-called "witches," he had made puritan culture look a little too stern and vindictive, harsh, cruel, violent, all of that. his reputation was tarnished. people were finding other ways to worship.

we had a relative, mary leverett, who i call ipswich mary. that's because i found a mary leverett who got married up around ipswich in 1715, to a guy who already had three children. it was common for second-time-arounders to remarry, because gender roles were so divided that, while a man could still raise money after his wife died, he badly needed help with the children at home, and similarly, for the women, if their husband died, they could take care of the kids, but had much more trouble raising the money. they tended to find each other and band together. so my feeling is that it's very possible that ipswich mary was carrying around our missing ancestor, and i've been working on that possibility.

but a little later in the century, we had another mysterious woman. this is a woman named mary ann, who has been attributed to knight the metalsmith's family in the early 1700's. she was to go on and marry a nicholas russell in new haven, connecticut, and die in childbirth. this, too, was not uncommon. somehow people attributed her to knight the metalsmith's family. knight already had four, and two more who died young, but it was believable enough that he could have had a mary ann. for one thing, there were very few other known leveretts in all of new england. < genealogists interested in their child, riverus russell, wrote in wondering if we could verify the birth of mary ann in the family of knight the metalsmith. problem is, we can't, not that i know of. and, mary ann is a kind of unusual name. you find these southern leveretts, they often have two names, or, at least a name and an initial. in the north, it's one only, generally, and even one like mary ann is very uncommon. you don't see them throwing around that middle name, although usually they have one.

so i'm looking around for this mary ann woman, just like ipswich mary. there aren't many clues. if you marry, they write your name down in the local records place. somebody gets on to your marriage and they write it down. this goes for births and deaths too. they end up being our connection to reality.

the web, on the other hand, is home of theories and misplaced conjecture. anyone can create a profile of mary ann on, or, and claim that she was a daughter of knight the metalsmith. and who knows? maybe she was. putting it in writing makes it a step more real, though. to me, sitting here googling my name over and over, it's a kind of numbers game. if enough people say she was born into knight's family, i begin to believe it. i only dive into those birth records once in a while.

and then, it brings the question, how does a single girl get from boston to new haven, back in puritan boston of the early 1700's? presumably this nicholas guy blew through town, asked for her hand, and took her home with him. that's a very sexist, kind of traditional way of looking at it, but there are actually several possibilities. and, remember, i really believe she came up from the south. mary ann? where would knight the metalsmith get that name?


Post a Comment

<< Home