Showing posts with label Nantucket. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nantucket. Show all posts

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Abbie A Coffin

Abby/Abbie Ann Coffin, daughter of Enoch Coffin and Abigail Worth Coffin Enoch son of Hezekiah and Anna Hale
Hezekiah son of Eliphalet and Lydia Emery
Eliphalet son of  son of John and Hannah Cheney
John son of Stephen and Sarah Atkinson
Stephen son Tristram, JR and Judith Greenleaf
Tristram, Jr. son of Tristram, SR and Dionius Stevens
Abby was born September 2, 1839 in Newbury MA she lived to be 94 according to her obit, however the September article states the prior year she was 94 so someone had it wrong. If you do the math she was 95. She passed on March 16, 1934

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Captain Roland Folger Coffin's Funeral

                                                    Grave: From Prospect Hill Cemetery 

                                          From the New York Times July 21 1888

Captain Coffin---journalist, was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., March 8. 1826. He spent his youth at Nantucket, Mass., and became a sailor. He was captain of the ship Senator, 1850-60, and in the latter year joined the U.S. navy as acting master, serving in the North Atlantic blockading squadron. 1861-63. In 1869 he published .1n Old Sailor's Yarns. He became a reporter of marine news and yachting and was a contributor to the daily New York journals. He published Straws (1859); The America's Cup: How it was Won by the Yacht America in 1851 and has Since been Defended (1885); History of American Yachting (1886). He died on Shelter island. Suffolk county, N.Y.. July 17, 1888 See More "Proceedings of the Nantucket Historical Association," Volumes 21-25

From  Outing: Sport, Adventure, Travel, Fiction, Volume 12
As we go to press, we learn with profound sorrow of the death of Capt. Roland Folger Coffin, our highly esteemed yachting editor. Captain Coffin died in harness; he was at the time fulfilling his duties as yachting reporter to the World and Outing.

Alas ! the pen of Captain Coffin lies silent now. Little did we think then that the articles he brought us, three days before the end came, would be the last precious gifts of this prolific marine writer, and that OUTING inherited in these contributions the most mature thought of Roland Folger Coffin.
In this and the remaining numbers of this year's OUTING these valuable articles will appear, and no one who ever " broke the unknown sea " and trusted his life "to the licentious winds" will pass these pages by. The closing article will be enriched by a short but exhaustive sketch of Captain Cofiin-a man who was born near the sea and.....

 July 18, 1888 New York Times

Grave Lot 136  Captain Roland Folger Coffin. March 8, 1826 - July 17, 1888.
Roland was the son of Hezediah Coffin and Sally Bunker Coffin. He married Elizabeth Starbuck the daughter of Captain Obed Starbuck. He was master of the ship Senator. During the Civil War, he served in the U.S. Navy in the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron. He was a reporter for The New York World and a yachting reporter for the sports journal Outing. Captain Coffin was the author of  An Old Sailor's Yarns published by Funk and Wagnells, New York in 1884 and The America's Cup. How It Was Won By The Yacht America In 1851 And Has Been Since Defended published by Charles Scribner's Sons, New York in 1885. In the preface of the later book ,Captain Coffin writes of his ambition:
"Retire to Nantucket, and become a happy owner of a twenty-foot cat-boat, the fastest in the harbor".
Captain Roland Coffin's co-workers at The New York World purchased his memorial at Prospect Hill as a tribute to their departed friend.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Thomas Macy and George Peaslee Powow preacher spats with Puritans

My story in Newburyport News with added news clips and pictures

Powow preacher spats with Puritans
During preparations for a visit to the Macy-Colby house in Amesbury next month, research led to some intriguing court documents that divulge the spiritual squabbles surrounding Thomas Macy, the first to occupy the dwelling in 1649.

Although listed in early deeds as a “merchant” and “Clothier,” Macy’s “great energy and determined will” earned him multiple positions of rank including that of town clerk, deputy to the General Court, and overseer of highways and schools. Macy also received a grant for a sawmill on “the west side of the Powow, with the privilege of using all the timber on the common.”

By all accounts, Macy appeared to be a golden boy with the Puritan power heads, except on matters of prayer. In fact, he openly defied them by preaching with Joseph Peaslee in separate assembly from the authorized Sabbath. This did not go over well with Puritan officials, who deemed it “unfit preaching” and charged the two provocateurs with “exhorting the people on the Sabbath in the absence of an ordained minister.” The General Court had passed a law in prohibiting preaching “except by leave of the authorities.”

Since Master Macy was not the sort of fellow to be trifled with, he made it very clear that his faith would not be dictated to him and “Brother Peaslee, brave confessor” was not about to rob followers of “gifted” sermons. This surge of passion animated another pet of the Puritan fold, Robert Pike, who held high public offices.  Picture of Pike below

Pike spoke out against “restraining unfit persons from constant preaching” and engaged on a crusade against the civil tribunal, asserting they “had violated their oaths as freeman; that their act was against the liberty of the country, both civil and ecclesiastical, and that he stood ready to make his declaration good.”

The provoked court arraigned the “culprit who thus dared to insult their majesty.” A series of petitions were filed to release Pike from his charges. Notables from several towns signed, and the court ordered commissioners to gather “incorrigibles” to give reason on why they were “induced to subscribe” to such a defiance. Pike waged on, accusing the leaders of “assailing magisterial authority and dignity.”

Certain commissioners who sided with Pike, such as Thomas Bradbury and William Gerrish, retracted to avoid trouble with the boss-men magistrates. Most became “refractory spirits” and were fined for turning on God’s chosen officials, but 15 men stood their ground after the officials finished their hunt.

Here are a few of the loyal souls who held up their conviction to the court: John Bishop “desired to go to the meeting house and turned his back and went away” (QC 1:367). John Emery and John Bond refusing to comply and did so in “a bold, flouting manner.” Benjamin Swett replied, “Every free subject hath liberty to petition for any that had been in esteem, without offence to any; and the petition itself hath answer in itself sufficient.” John Wolott agreed if he “be called to [a higher] power to answer, he will then answer and so went away very highly” (368).

In 1657, Macy found himself in further turmoil for sheltering traveling Quakers in his barn during a fierce rain storm. For this brief hour of gracious harbor he was ordered to appear in court, but he sent the officials a letter instead.

In 1658, “certain inhabitants” (Macy and Peaslee) filed a petition to break off from the official church of Reverend Worcester, but it was denied. The court demanded attendance to the true fellowship, and fines were issued to the flock of dissenters for “slighting and neglecting the order” and “disorderly practices.” However, Peaslee preached on as the “Come-outer,” and Pike, “the moral and fearless hero of New England,” fought injustice against Quakers and accused witches.

Macy sought religious refuge on a voyage recalled in Whittier’s poem, “The Exiles.” Macy legend states that his wife, Sarah, pleaded with him above the cries of their five tots to curtail his warrior spirit and sail away from an evil storm brewing, but he just replied, “Woman, go below and seek thy God. I fear not the witches on earth, nor the devils in hell.”

The crew made it to safety to Nantucket, where Macy took an active role in negotiating the purchase of the island.

Thomas Mayhew sold it for 30 pounds sterling and two beaver hats.

Although Macy was accused of skirting the Mass Bay despots, this sturdy pioneer preacher consciously chose not to accept laws that openly engaged in religious persecution.

With that said, no one could accuse this pulpiteer of missing his true calling where “charity and freedom dwell,” so “Let the dim shadows of the past” be a reminder for today.

Links and sources to check out
History of Essex County, Massachusetts: With Biographical Sketches, Volume 1 edited by Duane Hamilton
Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Nantucket Historical Association 
Thoughts and Experiences in and Out of School By John Bradley Peaslee
The New England Magazine, Volume 22Genealogy of the Maulsby Family for Five Generations, 1699-1902: Compiled by Careful Research Among Quaker, Government and Family Records by Patty Payne
The Essex Antiquarian, Volume 8 edited by Sidney Perley
Genealogy of the Macy Family from 1635-1868 By Silvanus J. Macy
Away Off Shore: Nantucket Island and Its People, 1602-1890 By Nathaniel Philbrick
The Successful American, Volume 1, Part 1 - Volume 2, Part 1
The Coffin Family: The Life of Tristram Coffyn, of Nantucket, Mass., Founder of the Family Line in America; Together with Reminiscences and Anecdotes of Some of His Numerous Descendants, and Some Historical Information Concerning the Ancient Families Named Coffyn
Nantucket Genealogies By Alexander Starbuck
The New Puritan: New England Two Hundred Years Ago: Some Account of the Life By James Shepherd Pike
Early Settlers of Nantucket: Their Associates and Descendants edited by Lydia Swain Mitchell HinchmanGenealogical and Personal Memoirs
The Old Families of Salisbury and Amesbury, Massachusetts By David Webster Hoyt
The Churchman, Volume 39
Nantucket Historical Commission
Miner Descent 
Pike Family
Coffin Family Story
Coffin Family History
Lucrtia Mott Coffin


The Settlement Of Nantucket

Date: Saturday, December 31, 1831
Paper: Nantucket Inquirer (Nantucket, MA)
Page: 2 


200 Years Old but Nantucket Celebrates Its Centennial Only Island T Own En Fete a Notable Program of Addresses

Date: Wednesday, July 10, 1895
Paper: Worcester Daily Spy (Worcester, MA)
Page: 3, 1 

Nantucket Island
Date: Monday, August 4, 1873 Paper: Public Ledger (Philadelphia, PA)
Volume: LXXV    Issue: 113 Page: 2

From Saturday, July 9, 1836 Paper: Norfolk Advertiser (Dedham, MA)
Volume: VI   Issue: 28 Page: 1

The First White Settler in Nantucket

Date: Tuesday, August 23, 1842
Paper: Boston Evening Transcript (Boston, MA)
Volume: XIII   Issue: 3705 Page: 2 


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Lucretia Coffin Mott

by John M. Switlik of  Thomas Gardner Society
Melissa Berry added pictures and credit to sources 

Thomas' descendants list contains many social reformers. Lucretia (Coffin) Mott (January 3, 1793 – November 11, 1880) stands out for her activism activities, such as co-founding the Pennsylvania Anti-slavery Society and the American Equal Rights Association. Picture from  Yesterday Island

She spoke at the International Anti-Slavery Convention that was held in London, England in 1840. She, along with other women attendees such as Baroness Byron, was included in the commemorative painting of the convention.

                                                             Lucretia and James Mott

 Lucretia was a descendant of Thomas and Margaret through son Richard. Both of her parents Thomas Coffin and Anna Folger were from families who arrived early to New England.
Anna Folger b. 25 March 1771, d. 26 March 1844 daughter of William Folger b. 24 Jul 1728, d. 4 Jun 1815 and Ruth Coffin b. 9 Apr 1733, d. 11 Mar 1814
Thomas Coffin, son of Benjamin Coffin and Deborah Macy, in 1789; (m. in 12-1789). Anna Folger died on 26 March 1844 at Philadelphia at age 73.  Nantucket Historical Full Genealogy
She grew up on Nantucket Island and then attended a Quaker School in New York (Nine Partners Meeting House and Cemetery). After graduating, she also taught at the school which is where she met her husband James Mott (20 June 1788 – 26 January 1868). Lucretia, in 1864, helped found Swarthmore College.
Credit: Courtesy of Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College.
"Roadside" – residence of Lucretia Mott,1319 Chestnut St., Philadelphia Old York Road (now Fairmont Park) Lucretia Mott is in the chair in the foreground.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Mary Coffin Strarbuck, Daughter of the Light

Some information on Mary Coffin/Coffyn Starbuck (1645-1717) and family. Plus some old articles published in newspapers on Coffin line.

Mary's father, Tristram Coffin
Mary Coffin Starbuck was born Feb. 20, 1645 in Haverhill, Massachusetts. She was the daughter of Tristram Coffin (1605-1681) and Dionis Stevens Coffin (1610-1659) 

Cortlandt V. D. Hubbard, Photographer

In 1662, Mary married Nathaniel Starbuck (born in Dover, NH  February 20, 1634) son of Edward Starbuck and Katherine Reynolds. (Note: Nathaniel's sister Abigail Starbuck married Peter Coffin, Mary's brother) Mary and Nathaniel were the first couple to marry on the Island from the new settlement created by these families. The couple also became the leaders in introducing the Quaker faith to the island. Mary was the first woman Quaker minister. She was also called "The Great Merchant" an industrious, clever, and powerful woman. In 1702, John Richardson, a Quaker minister, was speaking at her home and she received a witness that manifested into a deep spiritual driving force of Light that never extinguished. It was in this moment Nathaniel Philbrick asserts that "established a unique fusion of spirituality and covetousness that would make possible Nantucket's rise as a whaling port." Several generations prosper in this industry as well as others.

Mary was a leader--a woman of "strong character and exceptional intelligence." Edward R. Snow Women of the Sea   "The islanders esteemed [Mary Starbuck] as a judge among them, for little was done without her, as I understood...the great woman," 1701 journal entry of John Richardson

She is also known for "Account Book with the Indians," a ledger tracking the credits and debits of 200 Indians, laborers, and whales-men who patronized Mary Coffin Starbuck's store and her later generations, it is a "treasure trove of data about Indian life on Nantucket...covering the years 1662 to1764..."

John Greenleaf Whittier, (1807-1892) the poet, is a 7th generation Coffin, descended from Tristram Coffin, Jr.
 [Manuscript deed of sale (November 14, 1685) of Nashowamoiasuk, now Neck Point of the Edgartown Great Pond, by "Mr. Harrie, Indian of Nantucket" to John Coffin (Mary's brother) for six pounds.From Mr. Larry @4dtraveler]

Below is from The Springfield Daily Republican September 1929

Our Boston Literary Letter. Good Folks and Persecutors. Covenanters, Quakers and Martyrs Andrew Lang's New March 17, 1909 Springfield Republican (Springfield, MA) A larger PDF version can be sent if you post a request or email me

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Quakers in Newbury MA

By Melissa Berry @ Newburyport News

---- — “The tale is one of an evil time,
When souls were fettered and thought was crime.
And heresy’s whisper above its breath
Meant shameful scourging, and bonds and death.”
— John Greenleaf Whittier

As we enjoy this season of good food and drink, as well as the liberty to choose which local house of the Lord we fancy, we can be thankful that Puritan tyrants no longer patrol our pastures as they did in our ancestors’ day.  

In Newbury, the early settlers ran into conflict with Puritan authority over ecclesiastical differences. Quakers especially were in the hot bed, and anyone that harbored the “cursed sect” would feel the fiery fury of local officials. These aggressively “bloodthirsty” and “extremely fanatical” men were not open to compromise. When dealing with dissenters, in the words of John Proctor, Puritan “justice would freeze beer.”

When the Quakers came to the Colonies, they brought with them a spiritual democracy that threatened the Puritan aristocratic system. Their simplistic faith had an absence of clergy, creed and sacrament; moreover, they gave women equality. The head honchos like Endicott and Hawthorne labeled them “dangerous intruders invading our borders” and “wandering vagabonds.” Despite the tenacious efforts of the magistrates who wanted to eliminate the “vile heretics,” which included branding, whipping and cropping, the Quakers just kept coming, and the good folk of Newbury were more than willing to board and support them.

Phelps Farm

In the summer months of 1658, the farm of Robert Adams played host to two Quaker missionaries, William Brend and William Leddra. The Phelps family of Salem held a secret Quaker meeting, and Adams escorted the guest speakers to the gathering. See Hannah (Baskel) Phelps Phelps Hill - A Quaker Woman and Her Offspring Unfortunately, word got out and the constables came to break up the assembly and haul in all the “quaking heretics.”

When the law boys arrived, chaos broke out, and perhaps the distraction of finding their wives in the midst of this devil’s den allowed Adams to sneak his guests out and bring them back to Newbury. However, it would not be long before the authorities would track them down. Captain Gerrish and the minister paid a call on their buddy Adams, and despite their best efforts to resolve things amicably, Brend and Leddra were turned over to Salem Court. Adams paid the fines, but his friends faced a different fate.
Picture of Quaker Trial from Laura George

The tragic events that followed were nothing short of extreme cruelty. Confined to the Boston jail, Brend and Leddra were starved and repeatedly beaten with a three-pitched rope until they were on the brink of death. The disapproving sentiment of the public reached Endicott. Knowing he had to intervene, Endicott sent in a surgeon. Russell L. Jackson asserts that the aged Brend, with help from an “unseen Healer,” rose from his sick cot as he still had more light to spread and preach about in New England.

In August 1659, Thomas Macy (see Powow Preacher Spats with Puritans) was prosecuted and fined 30 shillings for hosting four Quakers. Two of his guests, William Robinson and Marmaduke Stephenson, would later be executed upon the gallows on Dec. 27, 1659. (Visit The Thomas Macy Home-Colby House

Fed up with the Puritan government, Macy “shook the dust from off his feet” and departed to Nantucket, where the iron hand of these despots did not reach. Thomas left “because he could not in justice to the dictates of his own conscience longer submit to the tyranny of the clergy and those in authority” (Macy Papers). His journey was a spiritual sign of deliverance as he, his family, Isaac Coleman and Edward Starbuck survived a fierce storm that raged like the Furies on their open boat.

Others like Coffin, Swain, Pike and Folger joined Macy on Nantucket. Allen Coffin noted that, while it was not an Elysium, the island was indeed blessed with “plenty’s golden smile” and “a refuge of the free.” Thanks to these brave, forward-thinking men, Nantucket became the first settlement to enjoy complete separation of Church and State.

On March 16, 1663, John Emery was presented to the court at Ipswich and charged with entertaining Quakers. The whole ordeal caused quite a buzz, and Rev. Parker showed up with a posse, demanding some answers. Sarah Emery asserts: “At this period one can scarcely depict the commotion such an incident must have caused in the secluded and quiet settlement of Quascacunquen, on the banks of the winding Parker, or appreciate the courage evinced by John Emery and his wife in thus rising above popular prejudice, and fanatical bigotry, and intolerance.” For this offence, the court fined Emery four pounds, plus costs and fees.

While we are grateful to live with religious freedom, we must also be grateful that our ancestors’ spirit, courage and light was not extinguished despite the tyrannical terror of dark Puritanical forces.
Happy Thanksgiving! Thank You to the Port Library Archives and Cheryl Follansbee.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Rare Antique Photo of Jethro Coffin House, Oldest on Nantucket

Mickey Shemin and Henry W. Royster  1973
                        Every once in awhile, a really special antique photo comes my way, like this rare cabinet card of the oldest house in Nantucket, the Jethro Coffin House. The photo was taken just prior to its first renovation in the early 1880s, but the house was built 200 years earlier, in 1686! It’s truly amazing that this little home survived.
Oldest House on Nantucket, Jethro Coffin Horseshoe House
       A saltbox house, this structure is the only surviving structure from the island’s 17th Century English settlement. On the bottom right of this photo, there’s an imprint by the most prominent early Nantucket photographers, Henry S. Wyer, who was also an artist, writer and passionate about keeping Nantuckets’ history alive.
Built as a wedding gift for Jethro Coffin, grandson of Tristram Coffin (c. 1605-1681) , one of the earliest founders of Nantucket,  and his bride Mary Gardner, granddaughter of the first Governor of Massachusetts, Thomas Gardner (c. 1592 – 1674).
   Portrait of  Mary Gardner Coffin (1670-1767)
                 The Jethro Coffin house is also known as the Horseshoe House, due to the distinctive horseshoe brick motif on its chimney. The horseshoe was then, as it is now, a sign of good luck.

The house was abandoned by its owners during the Civil War, and fell into a state of disrepair. The photo shown in this article was taken in the 1880s, at which time it would have been uninhabited for about 20 years. The Nantucket Historical Association purchased the home in 1923, which restored it beautifully and declared a National Historic Landmark listed in 1968 on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1987, the Jethro Coffin House was struck by lightning and almost destroyed. Clearly, its lucky horseshoe protected this architectural treasure through about 320 years of American history.

Ada River at Jethro Coffin House, Nantucket Island Ada River at Jethro Coffin House

According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, “African slaves on Nantucket were freed in 1773, a decade before Massachusetts as a whole followed suit”. The Museum of African American History has an excellent article on the The African Meeting House, built in about 1827, is about a 14 minute walk from the Jethro Coffin House.

Antique Image of the Nantucket African Meeting House
This is what the renovated Jethro Coffin House looks like today, and it’s open to Visit Nantucket. Nantucket’s Jethro Coffin House, Renovated