Saturday, January 5, 2013


My mother’s maiden surname was “Carpenter.”  She is a direct descendant of the founder of the Rehoboth Carpenters, William Carpenter, who came to Rehoboth, Massachusetts in 1638.  

Several years ago I was gifted what is now one of my most cherished genealogical artifacts.  My mother’s brother inherited an original copy of A Genealogical History of the Rehoboth Branch of the Carpenter Family in America Brought Down From Their English Ancestor, John Carpenter, 1303, With Many Biographical Notes of Descendants and Allied Families.  It was given to me by my aunt after my uncle’s death.  The monumental genealogy was copyrighted in 1896 by the author/compiler Amos B. Carpenter of West Waterford, Vermont. 

Amos Bugbee Carpenter, No. 3010 in The ABC

The voluminous genealogy, known as “The Carpenter Memorial” or “The ABC” because of the inscription on the outer front cover [Carpenter Memorial OUR FAMILY 1303-1638-1898 Amos B. Carpenter], was published by the Press of Carpenter & Morehouse in Amherst, Massachusetts in 1898.  My great grandfather, Samuel Eber Carpenter (1853 – 1929), was one of the 345 named individual subscribers to the original publication. 

Samuel Eber Carpenter
The subscription roster in the back of the ABC lists all the individual subscribers and the number of copies they ordered if more than one.  The list also indicates that there were only seven libraries that originally subscribed to The ABC: 

New Hampshire State Library            Philadelphia Historical Library
Minnesota Historical Society                        Vermont State Library
New England Historic Genealogical Society Library
Library at Washington [perhaps the Library of Congress?]
Yale University Library 

Each of the named libraries bought a single copy of the Carpenter Genealogy, except for the “Library at Washington,” which bought two.  In total, there were 399 copies produced for the original subscription list – 391 copies by 345 individuals and the eight copies purchased by the named libraries.  The published book was leather bound and consisted of some 908 pages not including the title pages, Introduction, Preface, Contents and List of Illustrations.

Unfortunately, when I received this very generous gift from my aunt, the book was 108 years old and in damaged condition.

About a year after receiving The ABC, when I realized fully what a rare, classic work it was, I decided to have it restored.  I also decided to have a clam-shell box constructed to properly house and protect it.  [The wonderful bindery resource I used will be the subject of a future posting.]  The result of the restoration is pictured below.

There is probably no such thing as a perfectly accurate genealogy -- and the larger the scope and ambition of a family history, the greater the room and likelihood for errors.  The sweeping scope of The ABC certainly made it vulnerable to inaccuracies and, over the years, many have been discovered.  Nevertheless, the monumental effort represented by The ABC makes it an extremely useful resource for any member of the greater Rehoboth Carpenter family.  The ABC also has an “Index of Persons Connected with the Family by Marriage” so it provides a convenient and valuable tool for researching other surnames.

And the good news is . . .  a scanned version of the entire ABC is available on line at courtesy of the Boston Public Library -- which was not one of the original subscribing libraries, but contributed the book to the scanning project.  The ABC has apparently been available at since on or around the published scan date of March 19, 2008, but I only became aware of it a maybe two years ago.  I can report that the on-line scanned version is completely faithful to the original right down to the aged tinge to the pages.  Many of you have obviously known of this on-line resource for some time because as of today it has been downloaded 1,004 times! Nevertheless, it is always good to remind folks that a resource like The ABC is there and to let others hear about it for the first time.  If you have any possible connection to Carpenters in New England try using the on-line ABC (carefully).  Even if you do not know of any Carpenter connections, if you have New England roots between 1638 and 1898 remember the index of surnames in The ABC of folks who married into the Carpenter family.  You might just find a missing link in there.  The ABC can be read on line or, if you have 69.4 MB of space, you can download a .pdf version.  It is not in copyright.

Generation 1:    William Carpenter m. Abigail Briant
Generation 2:    Samuel Carpenter m. Sarah Readaway
Generation 3:    Abiah Carpenter m. Mehitable Read
Generation 4:    Thomas Carpenter m. Mary Barstow
Generation 5:    Thomas Carpenter m. Elizabeth Moulton
Generation 6:    James Carpenter m. Lucy Bliss
Generation 7:    Joseph Carpenter m. Nancy Mason Bullock
Generation 8:    Samuel Carpenter m. Ruth Ann Miller
Generation 9:    Samuel Eber Carpenter m. Sarah Etta Freeman
Generation 10:  Everett Shearman Carpenter m. Ruth Eaton Cooke (my grandparents)

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Copyright 2013,  John D. Tew
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  1. Replies
    1. Thank you Jim! I have heard from a few other bloggers such as yourself with kind words of encouragement. I also now have some new blogs to check out. :-)

  2. Welcome to Geneabloggers. Just noticed the Carpenter name. I have been researching a Mary A Carpenter who was born in Indiana and moved to Iowa with her family. She married John Sherwood and is in Tuolumne County, California by the 1860 Census. John Sherwood died in 1867 and she married Nelson Rolfe in 1870.

    1. Thank you Grant!

      There are at least 42 Mary A. Carpenters indexed in The ABC in addition to 164 Mary Carpenters. Using the Index of Person Connected with the Family by Marriage, there is one John Sherwood mentioned [See page 152 of The ABC on line] BUT the John Sherwood listed married Abigail Carpenter (b. August 21, 1787). They had a son named Sands. It also notes that John Sherwood was called Judge Sherwood and that he or his son (not clear which) was "a lumber manufacturer." There is no one with the surname Rolfe indexed in The ABC. Looks like this is of no help to you unless you want to try to plow through all the Mary Carpenters in The ABC. She might be in there but not cross indexed with a husband if she was not known to be married or had not yet married.

  3. What a heritage you have there in that book, John--and in many others you've mentioned in your posts, to be sure. I remember when Heather Rojo mentioned finding out about your connection to Thomas Tew and your guest post on her blog.

    Looking forward to reading more about the book binding aspect--and any other preservation posts here. I think that is a timely subject for all of us.

    Found your blog today, thanks to GeneaBloggers. Welcome!

    1. Thank you Jacqi! I hope to blog on the book bindery sometime this week.

  4. Thanks for sharing the before and after photos of your ABC Book. It's a treasure, and I can't wait to read more about your bindery. I have a very damaged family Bible that needs work, although I am unsure if it is even salvageable.