Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Plymouth Anniversary

The Pilgrims of the Mayflower first dropped anchor in November 1620, and after some efforts to find a place to settle, landed in Plymouth Bay on December 21 and established their settlement there. One of my ancestors was part of that group, and another English ancestor settled in Plymouth about ten years later.


Worldwide there are about 35 million descendants of the Mayflower group.


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Among my many family roots in Fayette County, IL, the Washburns were early settlers of the area later known as Otego Township. My 3-great-grandparents, David and Esther Washburn, came to that area in about 1830 and are buried in the Pilcher Cemetery near Brownstown, IL. In this 2014 post, https://paulstroble.wordpress.com/2014/08/04/my-family-the-washburns-back-to-the-pilgrims/ , I summarized another genealogist’s research to trace the Washburns back to my 9-great-grandparents, John (1566-1624) and Martha (Stevens) Washbourne (c. 1573-1626), of St. Peter’s Parish, Bengeworth, Worcestershire, England. Their son John (1597-1671) and Margery (Moore) Washbourne (b. c. 1586) sailed to New England in 1631 or 1632 and settled in Duxbury in Plymouth Colony; John and Margery’s son John married the granddaughter of a Mayflower passenger, Francis Cooke.

img_4938.jpgThis past winter, I found some wonderful books that trace generations of the Washbournes prior to this John:

James Davenport, The Washbourne Family of Little Washbourne and Wichenford in the County of Worcester (London: Methuen & Co, 1907).

R. E. M. Peach (ed.), The Washbourne Family: Notes and Records, Historica nd Social of the Ancient Family of Washbourne of Washbourne, Wichenford and Pytchley from the 12th Century to the Present Time (Privately printed by John Bellows, Glouchester, 1896).

E. A. B. Barnard, Some Notes on the Evesham Branch of the Washbourne Family (Evesham: W. &. H. Smith Lit., 1914). [Evesham is adjacent to Bengeworth; Little Washbourne and Wichenford are villages in Glochestershire, and Stanford and Pytchley are towns in neighboring Northamptonshire.


This portrait, purportedly of Sir Roger Washbourne, was published in Davenport, but he argues (pp. 192-193) that it may be one of the later Wichenford John Washbournes, who died in 1633.

Fortunately all these books are scanned and readable online: do an internet search and you’ll easily find links to the complete texts. I encourage anyone interested in the early Washbournes to do so!

The following are just a few notes from those books, to summarize my own probable ancestry. (There were a lot of John Washbournes! I had to differentiate a few by adding their dates of death.)

* Sir Roger of Little Washbourne and Stanford, married Joan. He was living in 1299. If John Washbourne (d. 1546) below was the son of John Washbourne (d. 1517), then Sir Roger and Joan are my 18-great-grandparents, living during the reign of the Plantagenet kings Edward I and Edward II. Davenport called Sir Roger “the first authentic Washbourne” (p. 17).

Peach writes, “The Washbournes, of Washbourne, were generation after generation of Knightly degree, previous to the reign of Edward II., and ranked in point of descent with the most ancient families in the kingdom… Sir Roger Washbourne…married two wives: by the first, Joan, daughter and heir of Sir John Mustard, Knt., he had an only daughter Isolde, who became the wife of John Salwey, of Kanke, and by the second, Margaret, daughter and Heir of John Poher, or Power, a son, Norman Washburn, who retired to his mother’s estate in Wichenford, where his descendants continued to reside for several generations, enjoying the highest respectability, and intermarrying with the houses of Kynaston, Mytton, Stapylse, Tracy, Lygon, &c” (pp. 3-4).

(Here is the Find-a-Grave page for Sir Roger, with links to his descendants: https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=83958149

The next generations:

* Sir John, son of Sir Roger and Joan, and knight of the shire, died in 1319. Married Isabella Cassy. (Peach, p. 12, Davenport, pp. 3-6)

* Sir Roger, married Margaret, not later than 1316. Roger was still living in 1358. (Davenport, 7, 17; Peach, 33)

* Peter, married in 1355 to Isolde Hanley (Peach, 34).

* John, the last of Stanford and first of Wichenford; knight of shire and vicecombs (sheriff). Married Margaret Poher of Wichenford (Peach, 33, Davenport, 8-17).

* Norman, vicecomes. Married Elizabeth Kynaston. Peach gives her name as Kynaston, a daughter of the High Sheriff of County Worcester (p. 34). Davenport (p. 24) quotes a course indicating that the name is also written Knifton, Knivton, Knyveton, and Kniveton.  Here is Elizabeth’s Find-a-Grave page, with links to her family: https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=101434504

* John, born as early as 1454, died May 1517, first marriage to Joan Mitton of Weston, County Stanford (Davenport, 30-34; Peach 36ff). John is buried in Wichenford Church, although Davenport writes that the monument is gone (p. 34-35).

* John, who according to Davenport, is the ancestor of Bengeworth branch (and therefore the ancestor of the American descendants), died 1546. Married Emme, d. 1547. They are my 11-great-grandparents. 

Davenport writes, “At the time when registers became compulsory (1538) he [John] appears on the scene with his wife Emme, residing at Bengeworth, which adjoins the town of Evesham and is a few miles distant from Little Washbourne. They were then quite middle-aged persons, having four grown-up children and several grandchildren. John was buried there in 1546 and Emme in 1547. It is not difficult to imagine the reasons why and the circumstances under which John struck out from Wichenford and migrated to the neighborhood of Evesham to seek his fortune in the town, as younger sons had, and still have, to do away from the paternal roof, though the exact date of his departure can only be guessed. Perhaps he left in his father’s lifetime when his prospects cannot have seemed very rosy, inasmuch as, in addition to two younger brothers, he had an elder brother with a son destined to become the head of the family, and saw the introduction into the family home by his father of a second wife, and in due course of two more brothers, Anthony and Richard. More probably he left in 1517, when his father died. He found himself overlooked in the will, and saw his young nephew of seventeen become owner of Wichenford and Knight’s Washbourne, with the management of affairs left in the hands of a son younger than himself, viz. Walter, and the stepmother, Elizabeth Monington. At any rate, he went forth and became progenitor of the branch which flourished at Bengeworth for a long period, and from which came the famous John who went to America, sending for his wife Margery and their two sons to follow him in 1635 (pp. 35-36).

E. A. B. Barnard, however, questions that John (d. 1546) was the same John who was the son of John (d. 1517). He writes on pages 42-43: “In his excellent History of the Washbourne Family (first published in 1907) the Rev. J. H. Davenport states that the second son of John (8) of Wichenford, was identical with John Washbourne of Bengeworth, Evesham, husband of Emme, from whom he shows, by singularly complete evidence, that the American branches of he Family are descended. it must be admitted, however, that although this identification seems a reasonable probability it is by no means a certainly. Mr. Davenport give strong hypothetical reason for his statement and, with his wide knowledge of the subject any other theory may be plainly untenable, but it has still to be borne in mind that there is no direct evidence for it in the Visitation pedigrees of the Wichenford branch of the famly [sic]. Moreover, we have seen that Washbournes had lived in the neighbourhood of Evesham for at least two hundred years before John of Benegeworth had lands there, and further there is the evidence of a Fifteenth Century Washbourne tile in Evesham Abbey, to say nothing of the possibility of a somewhat later Washbourne coat-of-arms in a window in Old St. Peter’s Church, Bengeworth.” And he goes on from there.

But I found this site—-http://www.genealogy.com/forum/surnames/topics/washburn/4390/ —-that disagrees with Barnard and connects these Johns with the Wichenford line. The people who wrote the family pages on Find-a-Grave for Sir Roger and his descendants also connect the Wichenford line to the Bengeworth line.

So… from John and Emme, we have:

*John and Emme’s son, John of Bengeworth, died 1593. He married Jone Whitfield. Among their children was the son:

* John Washbourne, born August 1, 1566 in Bengeworth, Worcestershire, England, died August 3, 1624. Married Martha (Timbrell) Stevens in St. Peter’s Parish, Bengeworth. She was born there about 1573 and died May 9, 1626.

The rest of this information, which traces the family to my 3-great-grandfather in my native Fayette County, IL, can already be found at the other blog site:

* John Washbourne, baptized July 2, 1597 in St. Peter’s Parish, Bengeworth, died March 17, 1671. He married Margery Moore on Nov. 23, 1618 in St. Peter’s Parish Bengeworth. She was born about 1586. John sailed to New England in about 1631 or 1632, and settled in the town of Duxbury in Plymouth Colony, where he was a tailor. He and Margery were the immigrant ancestors, my 8-great-grandparents, although Margery apparently died not long after they arrived in Plymouth.

* John Washburn, born about Nov. 20, 1620 in Bengeworth, died Nov. 12, 1686 in Bridgewater, Pymouth Co., MA. He married Elizabeth Mitchell in Plymouth on Dec. 6, 1645. She was born about 1629 in Plymouth and died before Dec. 5, 1684 in Bridgewater, MA.

Elizabeth was the granddaughter of a Mayflower passenger. Her parents were Experience Mitchell and Jane Cooke, and Jane Cooke was the daughter of Francis Cooke, who sailed on the Mayflower and signed the Mayflower Compact. Francis Cooke and his wife Hester (who came to the colony a little later) are my 9-great-grandparents. There is much online concerning Cooke and other Mayflower passengers. 

*James Washburn (5/15/1672-6/11/1749), married Mary Bowden (about 1670-12/18/1745). They were from Bridgewater. They married Dec. 20, 1693

*Moses Washburn (9/9/1702-10/31/1765), married Hannah Cushman (12/25/1705-after 7/29/1750). They married May 23, 1727 in Kingston, MA. She was the daughter of Robert Cushman and Perusus Lewis.

* Bezaliel Washburn (about 1740-10/5/1813), married Patience Sollard, his third wife, on July 10, 1795 in Darmouth, Bristol County, MA. (What cool names! “Bezaliel and Patience, table for two…” The biblical Bezalel was one of the artisans on the Tabernacle in Exodus 31.)

*David Washburn (8/12/1785-3/13/1852), married Esther Griffith. David was born in Dartmouth. Esther was born in 1789 in New York. They both settled in Fayette County, IL in the 1830s, and died there. They are buried in the Pilcher Cemetery near Brownstown, IL.

David and Esther’s granddaughter, via their son George, was Abagail [sic] Washburn Pilcher, the mother of maternal grandma, who in turn first got me interested in genealogy.

Last fall, when we were in London, I considered taking the train to Evesham and investigate Bengesworth. I wimped out and instead visited Charles Darwin’s grave in Westminster Abbey and shared in the noon Eucharist. But I do plan to visit these towns and hopefully Wichenford, as well. When I do, I’ll blog about it!


Here is the genealogical chart included in Davenport:


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547297_10151369726078519_733469114_nHere is a series of eight pieces of mine from Springhouse magazine, published in the June 1998 through August 1999 issues. They describe the political campaigns and important legislation during the time my hometown, Vandalia, was the Illinois state capital. Editors Gary and Judy DeNeal did such a wonderful job editing the pieces and adding pictures, really bringing the narrative to life.

The introduction to the first piece explains the circumstances of the writing, and the folks whom I wanted to remember in publishing them. I also remember my parents, Paul and Mildred Stroble, whom I thanked in my 1992 book (referred there) and who helped make my research and writing possible, since I was fairly young when I undertook the project.

These pieces dovetail with my genealogical posts here, because several of my ancestors and their families lived in Vandalia during the 1819-1839 period, a fact that first inspired my interest in this subject.

Here is Illinois Politics, parts 1-4:


And here is Illinois Politics, parts 5-8:


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This post connects to my several other genealogical posts on this blog, especially those related to the Crawford, Pilcher, Gatewood, Williams, and Washburn families.

During the summer of 1974, when I was 17, I finished compiling all the information I had on the Pilcher Cemetery and Winslow Pilcher Family Cemetery, in Fayette County, IL south of Brownstown, in Otego township. The information included all the inscriptions on the tombstones in both cemeteries, locations of unmarked graves (which had been identified to me by older relatives), information about some of the people buried there, and family charts that connected many of the people.  I was not a good typist, but I did my best, and shared the information with relatives.

Here are scans of my work. I’m in the process of placing some of this material on findagrave.com, but posting it here will also make it available for family researchers. Remember that this information is current only to 1974; burials have continued in the Pilcher Cemetery, though not its smaller neighbor. Also remember that the tree, which once stood in the middle of the Pilcher (and which provides a landmark on the maps of graves) was cut down at about that same time.

Here is the Winslow Pilcher Family Cemetery:


And here is the Pilcher Cemetery:




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Vandalia in 1836, by John Matthew Heller. The mural hung in the restaurant at the Hotel Evans in Vandalia from 1954 until the hotel burned in 1969.

My first book was a history of my hometown when it was the Illinois capital, entitled High on the Okaw’s Western Bank: Vandalia, Illinois, 1819-1839 (University of Illinois Press, 1992). Mostly researched in 1975-1979, while I was in college, the book’s first draft was completed in 1983-1985. The publisher liked it but requested a reorganization of the manuscript, which I did in 1989-1991. By then I was also writing my doctoral dissertation in theology.

The following PDF file (a print-out from our old Kaypro computer on which my wife Beth and I worked back then) is a list of all the businesses I could discover that operated in Vandalia while it was state capital. This was to be an appendix to the book but, instead, I published it separately in a 1985 issue of Fayette Facts—the quarterly of Vandalia’s genealogical society—and in the book I discussed the businesses and what they reflected about the local and state economy as well as local settlement.

This material may still have importance for genealogical and historical purposes, so I’m adding the file to this blog—which has gotten quite a lot of views from genealogists during the past few years.



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Mary Burtschi (1911-2009) lived in my hometown, Vandalia, IL, for most of her life and was a beloved teacher in nearby Effingham, IL. She was also an author who wrote books about early Vandalia history and the life and career of Western author James Hall (1793-1868). My wife Beth wrote her master’s thesis at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville on Mary’s life. She got to know Mary well and conducted interviews with her on numerous occasions.  In 1997, Beth published three articles about Mary in Springhouse magazine, a periodical to which I’ve long contributed (including several posts on this blog). Here are PDF files of the articles, published in the August, October, and December 1997 issues.






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My hometown is Vandalia, IL, which is the former state capital and the terminus of the pioneer National Road. U.S. 40 follows the National Road’s pathway. About eight miles east of Vandalia, you can discover the site of the first post office in Fayette County’s Cumberland Township (later called Otego Twp.), and the site of two pumps—-one for people and one for horses—that had existed in pioneer days.

My friend Mary Burtschi (1911-2009) was a devoted local historian of Vandalia. She was one of the major reasons I became interested in local history. In her book Vandalia: Wilderness Capital of Lincoln’s Land (1963), she writes:

“In 1828 the mile stretch through the bottom land east of the Kaskaskia River [at Vandalia] was still heavily timbered. It was a tremendous undertaking clearing the sixty-six foot strip through underbrush and forest trees of such gigantic size. The roadbed itself was only thirty feet wide. Both oxen and horses were used to pull the huge stumps around which chains were fastened. The workers grumbled; it was too much physical exertion and they felt they were poorly paid. A song or rhyme that has been handed down describes the wretched condition of the pike:

“The roads are impassable—Hardly jackass able:
I think those that travel ‘em
Should turn out and gravel ‘em.

“Past the Statehouse square rolled the wheels of Conestoga wagons carrying settlers into a new life and hauling freight into a frontier territory and stagecoaches carrying travelers who would view the new land and then return home to sing its praises or to disparage the glowing accounts that had been written about it. A parade of critical visitors wanting to see the new democracy at work on the frontier cam through Vandalia. Many were convinced that the emotional religion at the camp meetings, the insolence of servants, and the free-for-alls in the grog-shops were too much for the educated man to tolerate. The impressions of the road and of the town recorded by these travelers is a part of Vandalia history.”

Mary quotes according from the German writer Frederck Gustorf, Edmund Flagg, and William Oliver, the latter noting an execrable well along the road. She continues:

“The ‘execrable well’ of which Oliver speaks was probably not the Twin Pumps on the Cumberland Road, located six miles east of Vandalia. Ezra Griffith, who came to this area in 1830, built the first frame house in Cumberland Township. The building, erected in 1835, contained the Cumberland Post Office, a store, and living quarters for the Griffith family. Across the road on the north side stood the wooden Twin Pumps with a horse trouble, hewn out of logs, at each one. The pump on the inside of the fence was used by the Griffith family for stock; the other on the outside of the fence was used by the traveler. Mr. Griffith maintained the pumps and provided a tin cup for the traveler to use. On the south side of the road for a quarter of a mile extended a line of shady locust trees. Here the traveler stopped to water his horses and to rest under the shade.” (pp. 145-146, 148)

Not long ago, I was over in my home area, Fayette County, IL, to take photos for the cover of an upcoming poetry book, and to photograph a few tombstones for the Find-a-Grave site. I visited the Pilcher Cemetery and the Griffith Cemetery, both in Otego Township; the two cemeteries represent much of my mother’s side of the family. My grandmother Crawford was a lifelong resident of Otego Twp. (and is buried in the Pilcher); she was friends with members of the Griffith family, like Chester Griffith who attended her church (and was a source for Mary’s history above). I think Ezra Griffith may have been a brother of my 3-great-grandmother Esther Washburn, but I’ve not proven that; the Griffith and Washburn families settled the area at about the same time.


Coming back out onto U.S. 40 from the Griffith Cemetery road, I took a picture of the little area that had been the site of the Twin Pumps. But I also photographed the memorial to the site had been erected across the highway on the south side. It’s been there a few years but I’d not taken the time to photograph it.


It was a beautiful, sunny summer morning, and I remembered again why the summer of 1974 was so important to me. I was a teenager and driving the seen-better-days ’63 Chevy that had been Dad’s stepfather’s. I was completing two genealogy projects: a family history of the Mom’s family, and also a record of all the tombstone inscriptions in the Pilcher Cemetery near Brownstown, IL, where much of my mom’s side of the family are buried. (I write about my hometown roots and genealogy projects in other essays on this blog.)

To do the work, I started in the morning. I put on shorts and tank top but I figured that solitary hours spent walking in the grass didn’t require shoes, so I didn’t even bring them along. A visitor to the cemetery one day didn’t expect to see a barefoot, longhaired young man examining tombstones and carrying a clipboard.

One morning, driving down IL 185, I had an emotional experience of belonging, a sureness that I would always feel a deep connection to this place: my hometown Vandalia and the surrounding Fayette County. (My main blog has a photo of the area of that highway.) During the ensuing years, my home area has been (to use Frank Zappa’s phrase) a conceptual continuity for me. All the history teaching and writing that I’ve done connect to the summers I did local genealogy projects. And all the Bible-related and religious work that I’ve done (including most of my eighteen books) relate back to my grandma Crawford (buried in that cemetery), who inspired me to do genealogy and first got me interested in the Bible and spirituality in a very preliminary way that bloomed a year or two later.

Places like Twin Pumps are important for local history and for all my own modest efforts during the past forty-some years.


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