Saturday, December 17, 2016

Who knew . . . but is it true? (December 17, 2016) : The Mayflower; Benjamin Church; King Phillip's War; Anawan Rock; and Me??

Several years ago I was finally able to complete the research and documentation necessary to prove the family lore that held we were Mayflower descendants through my mother's line. The problem had been that while my maternal grandmother maintained that we were descended from Richard Warren of the Mayflower, I was never clear about whether it was through her Cooke line or through the line of her husband, my grandfather Everett Carpenter. [I have blogged previously about how I finally had the "Eureka Moment" when all the pieces of the centuries-old puzzle fell into place and I was accepted by the General Society of Mayflower Descendants. You can see that post from May 23, 2013 here.] As it happens, there are actually two known lines of descent from Richard Warren to me and they both pass through my mother's mother and her Cooke line. 

Tracing in reverse order one of the meandering lines of connection from me to Richard Warren, the path eventually comes to the marriage of Richard Warren's fourth daughter Elizabeth Warren (1616 - 1669) to one Richard Church (1608 - 1668). Richard and Elizabeth Church are my 9th great grandparents.

               Shirley Carpenter m. Arnold G. Tew, Jr.
               Ruth Eaton Cooke (1897 - 1979) m. Everett Shearman Carpenter (1891 - 1962)
               Walter W. Cooke (1869 - 1944) m. Florence L. Flagg (1870 - 1904)
               George H. Cooke (1843 - 1872) m. Susannah C. Appell (1844 - 1906)
               Russell Cook (1810 - 1884) m. Mary Vinal Otis (1806 - 1881)
               Benjamin Cook (1768 - 1846) m. Abigail Church (1771 - 1845)
               Ebenezer Church (1726 - 1825) m. Hannah Wood (1734 - 1815)
               Caleb Church (1701 - 1769) m. Deborah Woolworth (1703 - 1733)
               Joseph Church Jr. (1663 - 1715) m. Grace Shaw (1666 - 1737)
               Joseph Church Sr. (1637 - 1711) m. Mary Tucker (1641 - 1710)
               Richard Church (1608 - 1668) m. Elizabeth Warren* (1616 - 1669) 

               * Elizabeth Warren was the fourth child and fourth daughter of 
                     Richard Warren and Elizabeth Walker, his wife.
Elizabeth Warren and Richard Church had at least ten children according to the Mayflower Families series. The second son of Elizabeth and Richard Church was Benjamin Church (1639 - 1718), the immediate younger brother and sibling of my 8th great grandfather, Joseph Church Sr.

Benjamin Church is my 9th great uncle. He was a very interesting character and Nathaniel Philbrick, author of Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War (New York: Penguin Group, 2006), devotes considerable space in his book to the person and character of Benjamin Church. According to Mr. Philbrick, Benjamin was a thirty-three-year-old carpenter who became "the first Englishman to settle in the southeastern tip of Narragansett Bay at a place called Sakonnet [Little Compton, Rhode Island today], home to the female sachem Awashonks and several hundred of her people." Benjamin was a man who wanted to create his own home from scratch out of what was then wilderness in Indian territory. As Philbrick put it, "Church was a throwback to his maternal grandfather, Mayflower passenger Richard Warren. By Moving to Sakonnet, he was leaving his past behind and beginning anew in Indian country." (Mayflower, p. 233)

It took Benjamin Church little time to realize that his dream of establishing a home at Sakonnet for himself, his wife Alice Southworth, and their two-year-old son Thomas (who were left behind in Duxbury) depended on establishing a good relationship, if not a friendship, with the sachem Awashonks. In time he succeeded in establishing such a friendship with Awashonks that at some point in June 1675 she warned Church that Metacomet, the second son of Massasoit of the Wampanoag's (by then known by his adopted English name of Phillip), was about to start a war with the English colonists. Philip wanted her Sakonnets to join him, and Awashonks wanted Church's advice first. Church advised that she and her people look to Plymouth Colony for protection and promised her he would go to Plymouth to warn the governor and return with instructions. Before he could do so, the predicted war broke out and eventually spread throughout New England. The war -- known today as "King Philip's War -- lasted from 1675 to 1678. More than half of New England towns were at one time or another attacked by Native American warriors and in southern New England more than 1,000 colonists and 3,000 Native Americans were dead.

Benjamin Church became a captain for the first Ranger [1] force in America in 1676 when he was commissioned by Josiah Winslow, the Governor of Plymouth Colony, to form a ranger company during King Philip's War. He was one of the principal leaders among the settlers. Today he is considered the "Father of American Rangers." [See, "United States Army Rangers" at Wikipedia] Church played an active and leading role in the war that Philbrick (Mayflower, p. 357) summarizes as follows . . . 

               [N]o matter how desperately our nation's mythologizers might wish
               it had never happened, King Philip's War will not go away. The
               fourteen bloody months between June 1675 and August 1676 had a
               vast, disturbing impact on the development of New England and,
               with it, all of America.

On August 12, 1676, Church's company of rangers conducted an operation that resulted in the killing of King Philip by one of Captain Benjamin Church's allies -- a Native American named John Alderman. Philip's body was "then butchered in a manner standard with English punishment for treason."[2] The body was drawn and quartered. The war effectively ended soon after the death of King Philip though skirmishes continued in far northern New England into 1678. In the greater part of the war theater in southern New England, the war ended on August 28, 1676 when Captain Benjamin Church succeeded in capturing one of King Philip's chief captains, Anawan, the war chief of the Pocasset people at the site of what is now known as "Anawan Rock" in Rehoboth, Massachusetts. Philbrick tells the full story of the capture of Anawan in Mayflower at pages 338 - 344 and it does not end well for Anawan for he was beheaded while Church was away discussing the possibility of his taking a company to Maine to assist in hostilities against the Abenakis. Church had hoped to turn Anawan to his side as an ally in the fight against the Abenakis, but that was not to be.

Philbrick's closing words about Benjamin Church are as follows (Mayflower, 357-58) . . .

               Out of the annealing flame of one of the most horrendous wars ever fought
               in North America, [Church] forged an identity that was part Pilgrim, part
               mariner, part Indian, and altogether his own. That so many characters 
               from American history and literature resemble him -- from Daniel Boone to
               Davy Crockett to Natty Bumppo to Rambo -- does nothing to diminish the
               stunning originality of the persona he creates in [his] Entertaining Passages
               Relating to Philip's War. That Church according to Church is too brave, too
               cunning, and too good to be true is beside the point. America was destined
               to become a nation of self-fashioned and self-promoting men. What makes
               his story so special, I believe, is that he shows us how the nightmare of
               wilderness warfare might one day give rise to a society that promises liberty
               and justice for all.

*     *     *

There is another interesting line of descent that passes through my mother to me, but this one comes via my mother's father, Everett S. Carpenter. Tracing this somewhat less meandering line of descent to a 4th great grandmother and her father and grandfather onto the farm they owned at the time of the American Revolution, the line is as follows . . .

               Shirley Carpenter m. Arnold G. Tew, Jr.
               Everett Shearman Carpenter (1891 - 1962) m. Ruth Eaton Cooke (1897 - 1979) 
               Samuel Eber Carpenter (1853 - 1929) m. Sarah Etta Freeman (1858 - 1945)
               Samuel Carpenter (1828 - 1904) m. Ruth Ann Miller (1828 - 1893)
               Joseph Carpenter (1789 - 1880) m. Nancy Mason Bullock (1793 - 1880)
               James Carpenter (1767 - 1812) m. Lucy Bliss (1769 - 1817) -- my 4th great
               Jonathan Bliss (1739 - 1800) m. Lydia Wheeler (1737 - 1803)
               Ephraim Bliss (1699 - 1778) m. Rachel Carpenter (1699 - 1784) -- my 6th great

As the descent line above indicates, Ephraim and Rachel Bliss had a son named Jonathan who married Lydia Wheeler. One of the numerous children of Jonathan and Lydia Bliss was Lucy Bliss who married James Carpenter in Rehoboth, Massachusetts on March 6, 1789. Their son Joseph Carpenter married Nancy Mason Bullock and they had 14 children, one of whom was my great great grandfather Samuel Carpenter. Another of their children was Lucy Bliss Carpenter who was named after Joseph's mother Lucy Bliss. Lucy Bliss Carpenter (my 3rd great aunt) married Everett Leprilete Sweet on March 6, 1851.

I posted recently about Lucy Bliss [Carpenter] Sweet and the written Memorial to her compiled by Mrs George St. John Sheffield sometime after Lucy's death on December 13, 1910.  A copy of the Memorial was kindly provided to me recently by my 4th cousin, Neysa [Carpenter] Garrett.  [See, my post of December 13, 2016 here.] It was a portion of the Memorial to Lucy that provided the inspiration for some research that led to this post of previously undiscovered historical connections in my genealogy . . . as will now be revealed below.

On page 2 of the Memorial to Lucy Bliss [Carpenter] Sweet, her lineage to the Bliss family of Rehoboth was summarized and the fact that she got her name from her grandmother, Lucy Bliss, was explained. In the summary of Lucy Sweet's Bliss lineage, it was stated that Lucy's grandmother, Lucy Bliss, was the daughter of Captain Jonathan Bliss; and, in turn, Lucy Bliss [Carpenter] Sweet was the great great granddaughter of Lieut. Ephraim Bliss -- both Jonathan and Ephraim served during the "War of the Revolution."

Most of this Bliss connection through my Carpenter line was previously known to me, but it was the following passages from page 2 of the Memorial (shown and highlighted below) that really caught my attention . . . 

               [Lucy Bliss] was the granddaughter of Lieut. Ephraim Bliss, who, when the
               War of the Revolution broke out, "though seventy-five years old, shouldered
               his musket, and with his two married sons," -- one of them Captain Jonathan
               Bliss, the father of Lucy, -- "marched away, and joined the Continental Army."
               After a year, [Ephraim] was compelled to return home, but a grandson took his place
               to keep the family number intact. His own services were not ended, however,
               for, one day, when working in a distant field, he heard the note of danger sounded
               from the horn always kept on the bench beside the kitchen door, and, leaving his
               plough in the furrow he hastened on his horse to the house, to learn that a 
               messenger had brought news that the enemy were burning a nearby town . . . At
               once [his saddle bags] were thrown over the horse . . . and the horse was turned
               toward the enemy. *  *  * On this Bliss farm was the celebrated Annawan Rock,
               around which cluster Indian legends. It was the lodge of the chieftain of that name,
               who was under-chieftain to the famous King Philip, and the story of his capture is
               one of the thrilling tales of Philip's War. This romantic spot, -- the rock and some land
               surrounding it, -- was deeded to the Antiquarian Society of Rehoboth, by a
               descendant of Lieut. Bliss, "after it had been in the family over two hundred years."  

Who knew that there was a historical and genealogical connection between my Cooke/Church line through my maternal grandmother and my Carpenter/Bliss line through my maternal grandfather . . . and that it involved the famous Anawan Rock in Rehoboth, Massachusetts too? The only thing that  remains is definite proof of the Bliss ownership of a farm that once included the land on which Anawan Rock sits and its transfer by deed to the Antiquarian Society of Rehoboth.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

[1]   Rangers were men who were hired by colonial governments on a full-time basis to do reconnaissance and to patrol the boundaries of the colonies to provide early warning of troubles.

[2]  See, Wikipedia, "Benjamin Church (ranger),"

Photograph of the Mayflower II underway from WikiTree at

The image of an engraving of Benjamin Church from a 19th Century edition of his narrative, Entertaining Passages Relating to Philip's War, is from the author's copy of Nathaniel Philbrick's book Mayflower (p. 234).

The image of Captain Benjamin Church by unknown artist circa 1675 -- New York Public Library,  Stephen Schwarzian Building -- is in the public domain. It was obtained from Wikipedia at 

The image of a 19th Century engraving depicting the capture of Chief Anawan ("Annawon") is from the author's copy of Nathaniel Philbrick's book Mayflower (p. 341).

The photo of the entrance to Anawan Rock is from the website SGC (SouthCoast Ghost): Investigating the Paranormal in Southeast Massachusetts

The fall photo of Anawan Rock in Rehoboth, MA is from the blog Wicked Yankee at
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Copyright, John D. Tew
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  1. It appears we have a cousin connection. I'm descended from Richard Warren's daughter Mary who married Robert Bartlett.

    Interesting post!

  2. Congratulations! I hope you apply to the GSMD. We can meetup at one of the events, and next year is the Congress in Plymouth!

    1. Thanks Heather! I have been a GSMD member since 2008. I had forgotten that the next Congress is 2017 in Plymouth. Now that I am retired I just might be there and would love to finally meet you -- and Bill West if he is there too.

  3. John, congratulations on getting a good conclusion from your research and also for making Randy Seaver's one of Best Blogs of the Week. I have many Churches, and a few of your other names, but none are the correct ones, we aren't related. (I'm sending you a short private message.)