Sunday, March 15, 2015

Alfred Woollacott III The Immigrant: One from My Four Legged Stool

Please visit Amazon to purchase The Immigrant: One from My Four Legged Stool In 2011, Alfred Woollacott, III published a two – part, six generational, registered format article in MASSOG on his seven-greats grandfather entitled, “John Law of Acton, Massachusetts and Reuben Law of Acton, Massachusetts, and Sharon, New Hampshire

The opening narrative on John Law before the generational summary reads: JOHN LAW may have arrived in the colonies as a Scottish prisoner of war. The Scots fought Cromwell at Dunbar on 3 September 1650, and a year later, at Worcester. The results of both Battles were similar – the Scots were decimated. Prisoners from the Battle at Dunbar arrived in Boston on the Unity December 1650; and from the Battle of Worcester later on the John and Sara. No passenger list exists for the Unity, but a partial one exists for the John and Sara. John Law or any name that might remotely be considered Law (e.g., Lawson, Lawrence) does not appear on the John and Sara’s list.
In 1655 Concord was granted 2,000 acres for public grazing. The land west of Concord Center was referred to as New Grant or Concord Village. John Law settled there soon after the grant. New Grant was eventually incorporated as Acton in 1735. While John Law may have been Acton’s first settler, John Shepard, who received a grant in 1661, is the first documented settler there.
John Law built his shelter on what is now known as Laws Brook Road in Acton near its intersection with School Street. John Shepard settled just to the north of John Law. For the ensuing forty years controversy surrounded John Law’s claim to his land. Houghton, in her article “Acton’s Forgotten Man – Its First Settler”, says, “We know he was stubborn, proud and held himself aloof from outsiders, but he was brave, hardworking, and devoted to his family.”
Like his father, John’s son Stephen had disagreements with the Concord selectmen who called the proprietors together “to decide what to do about Jno. Law & his son Stephen who do neglect & refuse to agree and hire land & meadow that they do now improve in ye village.”
From the accounts of a 3 September 1700 meeting: “To empower the selectmen to use such methods with Stephen Law as may effect some absolute conclusion as to his eregular improvements of ye premises. Also voted to empower selectmen to set bounds to lands, which Jno. Law doth improve, to prevent him from encroaching fa[r]ther upon the Townes New Grant.”
John’s will dated 13 December 1707 was dictated to Samuel Buttrick and signed with a flourish. While he referred to “my beloved wife” and the children’s “honored mother,” he gave her no name. He gave sons Steven, Thomas, and Samuel land and movables in the house, with Steven and Thomas caring for their mother. Daughter Mary was to have only “my great brass kettle” and to pay her sister Elizabeth twenty shillings as her share of the kettle. It was proved on 7 March 1707/8.
After publishing the article, Al continued researching, hoping to prove definitively whether John Law was a Scottish Prisoner of War (POW) or not. He located a Unity passenger list and read through it; read a book on the Saugus Ironworks and records supporting the Scottish POWs that worked at the Ironworks; read the Middlesex court records, and in particular those records dealing with Scottish immigrants; and corresponded with other ancestors of Scottish POW via a dedicated yahoo group and their robust website, among other things. While his research was meticulous and exhaustive, he still could not prove whether John Law was a POW or not. As Al researched, he began to theorize about John Law’s life and times. Armed with his considerable knowledge, he decided to write a novel, a fictional account of the life of John Law.
“The Immigrant: One From My Four Legged Stool” was published on Amazon, November 30, 2014. Currently, Amazon has 22 reviews, 20 of which are five stars. The comments have been consistently positives. Many comments note the historical accuracy of the novel. While “The Immigrant” is fiction, it is deeply rooted in fact, and provides a view of what life was like for many of our ancestors, in general, and for the 300 to 400, Scottish POWs, in particular. The Immigrant has a mix of several historic characters – The Reverend Peter Bulkeley, John Hoare, Esquire Mary Rowlandson, and fictional – John Law’s close friend, Nagoglancit, a native from the Nashobah tribe.
“The Immigrant” opens with John Law at 3 September 1650 Battle of Dunbar, where he is captured and endures an eleven day ‘death march’ with 5,000 Scots to Durham, England. There, the Scots remain for six weeks in intolerable conditions – more Scots died on the ‘death march’ and while at Durham Cathedral than on the battle field. He leaves Gravesend, England on 11 November 1650 aboard the Unity and arrives at Charlestown several weeks later. In shackles he walks down the gangplank to begin his life anew as a Scottish Prisoner of War in a Puritan Theocracy. He is first indentured to the Saugus Ironworks, before serving his remaining indenture, tending sheep in West Concord. He befriends a Native American who would be a friend until his tragic death, marries Lydia Draper and has seven children, endures King Philip’s War, living in West Concord and not the relative safety of Concord Center, and when a further tragic event occurs, he finds solace from an unlikely source. Throughout all of John Law’s ordeals he wonders if God truly hears him. One day God does.

Captain Isaac Davis leading his men from his home to Concord's North Bridge 19 April 1775

Reuben Law, my four greats grandfather, and John Law's great grandson. Reuben was with the Acton Militia at the Concord Bridge on 19 April 1775 and Bunker Hill two months later. See History of Middlesex County, Massachusetts: With Biographical Sketches of Many of Its Pioneers and Prominent Men, Volume 1 page 269

John and Nora (Newcombe) Woollacott and 10 of their still living 11 children, taken on a Sunday June 1909 in front of their Philips Street house in Fitchburg, MA after church. My great grandparents, grandfather and grand aunts and uncles. (no direct line to John Law)

George Washington Taggart--John Law's three great grandson

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