52 Ancestors: Descended from Pilgrim: Two William Bassetts, #42 and #43

William L. Bassett 1694- 1782

William Bassett Tombstone

Gravestone William Bassett 1726-1776, Norton Center Cemetery, MA. Photo by Scott Holman.

Unlike the next William’s short life, William L. Bassett lived ninety years. He took three wives along the way, making me speculate that the “L” stands for “lusty.” If the dates are correct, he had an interesting third marriage, indeed.

First Marriage and Losses

On March 18, 1718, when they were 24, William Bassett of Norton married his first wife, Mary Crosman of Taunton. Mary’s next 19 years was full of woe.

Their first son Gideon, born in October 1719, lived to adulthood, as did William, Jr. (as you will see below). But three other children died in infancy or childhood–Sarah at birth in 1721. Ruth died at ten years old in 1733, and Solomon died at five years of age in 1735. Their may have been other stillborn children, as there is a 3-year gap between Ruth and William, and a 4-year gap between William and Solomon.

A Younger Bride

Mary died in July, 1737 and William married Thankful Briggs  the next month.  Clearly, he was a man who needed to have a woman around, and preferably a younger one. He was 43 and Thankful was 21.  Without pausing to mourn Mary, William fathered two more children: Jotham in 1738 and Abigail in 1741. Both lived to adulthood, but not much more.  Joatham died at 23 and Abigail was 37 when she passed away.

A Child Bride

After ten years of marriage, Thankful died in 1747.  Once again, William did not let any grass grow under his feet. He had a six-year-old and nine-year-old that needed tending to. That summer he married Penelope Brintal.  According to “Norton Vital Records”, Penelope was born July 28, 1732, which means that she was 15 and he was 53 when they married. What did Gideon (28) and William Jr. (21) think of their father’s marriage? All I know is that William Jr. married the following year. In a hurry to get out of the house?

I have not found a record to tell me how long Penelope lived, and have seen no record of any more children. However, Lusty William lived to the ripe old age of 90.

William Bassett Jr. (1726-1776)

As we have seen above, of William Bassett Jr.’s siblings, 3 of 5 “dyed” according to Massachusetts Town Records at birth or in childhood. He later had two half-siblings by his father’s 2nd marriage.

WHEW! Thank goodness William Bassett Jr., born June 5, 1726, lived to marry Lydia Fisher and become my 5th Great-Grandfather, or else where would I be?

Lydia and William Jr. married in 1748 and had eleven children in the twenty-nine years before his death.  Lydia and William, Jr. were much more fortunate than William’s parents. I believe that one of these children, Mary (b. 1761), died as an infant, but ten survived to marry.

William and Lydia’s Children:

  • William (1749)
  • Jedidiah (1751)
  • Samuel (1754)
  • Isaac (1755)
  • Lydia (1757) [Newcomb]
  • Massa (1759)
  • Mary (1761)
  • David (1763)
  • James (1765)
  • Sela (1767) [Wetherill]
  • Nathan (1769)

Four Brothers Fight for Independence

Fourth in their brood was Samuel Bassett, the Revolutionary War Fifer whom I wrote about previously.  During the war, mother Lydia must have been fretting because the men folk, including teen-aged Massa, signed up to fight. Jedidiah, Samuel, Isaac and Massa all served in the Continental Army.I am mystified as to why this generation’s William–(born 1749) did not fight.  I cannot find any information about his wife, Anne Lane, or whether they had children.  A couple of sources say he died in 1838, but otherwise, he is a mystery.

Tragically, Massa died at seventeen years old at the Battle of White Plains, New York, according to a descendent’s records on Ancestry.com. And Lydia’s husband, William, died two months later without seeing what his brave family had helped accomplish.

An interesting note from a Bassett family history*, suggests that the father, William Jr., also served in the war, but apparently he did not die in battle.  He died soon after the war began, however, in 1776,  at age 50 in Norton, Massachusetts, where he had spent his life. In fact, his father outlived him by many years.


*Buell Burdett Bassette, “One Bassett Family in America” (Springfield, Mass, The F. A. Bassette Co., 1926) p. 20; PDF digital document

“1776, Dec. 13. G S R: William Bassett Jun’r dies at fifty, before his father, at Norton. He died intestate in these early days of the war. A stone three feet high marks his grave in the Centre Cemetery at Norton, in the same lot as his father, third lot from the entrance.”

“The Revolutionary War was raging. That William had had a short service in this war is vouched for by the careful historian John McIlvene.”

How I am Related

  • Vera Marie Badertscher, the daughter of
  • Harriette Anderson Kaser, the daughter of
  • Vera Stout Anderson, the daughter of
  • Hattie Stout Morgan, the daughter of
  • Mary Bassett Platt Morgan, the daughter of
  • William Bassett the son of
  • Samuel Bassett, the son of
  • William Bassett, Jr., the son of
  • William L. Bassett, great-grandson of
  • William Bassett, the Pilgrim father

Ancestors of Oatmeal Cookies: Oatcakes

Scottish old house

My Scottish ancestors would have lived in this kind of house before immigrating to the United States. A sod-roofed stone house from old Scotland at Highlands Village, Nova Scotia

Visiting Nova Scotia, I was immersed in the Scottish culture of my ancestors, and of course that included FOOD.  In Pictou, at the McCulloch Heritage Center, I picked up a cookbook that shows recipes in both English and Gaelic.

I couldn’t wait to get home to try the most typical cookie/biscuit of Scotland–Oatcakes.  When we attended a ceilidh–a musical gathering–in Baddeck, there was a break during which audience members could buy a cup of tea and an oatcake.

tea cups and oatcakes

Baddeck Gathering Ceilidh intermission–tea cups and oatcakes

One of the musicians remarked that the Baddeck Gathering is the only place he knows of where the audience members are served tea in real cups rather than cardboard or Styrofoam! That makes it memorable, but it is the music and the oatcakes that I remember. I suspect that I will never again have an oatcake without thinking of the joyful, friendly weekly musical event in Baddeck on Cape Breton.

Baddeck Ceilidh

Baddeck Ceilidh

Have you seen the Gaelic language?  As I mentioned in my article about making a kilt, we tried a short class, just enough to convince us we would never have MacBeth’s ghost of a chance to speak the musical language! But we certainly enjoyed listening to the music that comes from that language.

By the way, the Gaelic cookbook from Pictou County, Nova Scotia, categorizes this recipe as “Bread”, but I think of it more as a cookie, or the ancestor of oatOatmeal Cookies.

Here’s what the oatcake recipe looks like in Gaelic:

Oatcake recipe in Gaelic.

Oatcake recipe in Gaelic. From Ás an Abhainn Mhóir: English-Gaelic Recipes from Pictou County

Have fun baking an oatcake using that recipe.

No? Okay, here’s the English version from the from the same cookbook, Ás an Abhainn Mhóir: English-Gaelic Recipes from Pictou County.

Scottish Oatcakes

Serves 18-24
Prep time 1 hour, 25 minutes
Cook time 12 minutes
Total time 1 hour, 37 minutes
Allergy Wheat
Meal type Bread
Misc Child Friendly, Freezable, Pre-preparable, Serve Cold
From book English-Gaelic Recipes from Pictou County


  • 2 cups oatmeal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup butter (softened)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup boiling water


1. Combine all dry ingredients and add butter.
2. Cut butter into dry ingredients.
3. Dissolve baking soda in boiling water and mix and cut in with knife, adding more water if needed.
4. Mold with hands and roll into long wedge.
5. Chill dough.
6. Slice chilled dough about 1/2 inch thick
7. Place cakes on ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes.


Preparation time includes an hour in refrigerator to cool.

I cheated and added 1/2 tsp vanilla for additional flavor.

I shaped the dough before chilling into a log approximately eight inches long and two inches high.  It flattened on the bottom as it cooled, and I did not try to make it round.  I don't know what size cookie the cookbook writers had in mind, but that made a fairly large cookie, so you could easily make the log longer and narrower for more cookies.

I placed the cookies a little too close together, because they did spread a little bit.

(As you see, I'm calling it a cookie, even though they call it a bread.  Anything with a cup of brown sugar is a cookie in my book!)

Did you know that other than the Scots and some other far-northern peoples, oats were not regularly used for food until the 19th century? The oatmeal cookie, that seems so traditional, is actually a newcomer in the United States. Unless you count oatcakes, which were surely baked by early Scottish settlers like my Anderson and Fife and McCabe ancestors. Read about how recently oatmeal cookies emerged as a favorite in the U.S., and get a couple more recipes at Revolutionary Pie.

oats for oatcakes

Oats drying by a stone house in Highland Village, Nova Scotia


All photos used here are my own. Please ask before reusing.


Killed in Indian Wars: 52 Ancestors, #41: Sarah Howe Joslin

In 1692, Elizabeth Howe Keyes, grand daughter of the pioneering John Howe, and daughter of his son John Jr., decided to leave her home in Marlborough and visit her sister Sarah Howe Joslin, who lived in Lancaster, Massachusetts with her husband and children.

As the sisters visited, Sarah’s four children playing around the cabin, the family story says that Elizabeth was singing. Sarah’s husband would have been working in the fields. The women were interrupted, apparently without warning, by a war party of Indians.  Imagine the chaos and terror as the warriors killed Sarah and three of her children on the spot. Then they disappeared back into the woods, taking one of the children and Elizabeth Howe Keyes with them.

The child was killed soon after, but as the story goes, the Indians were charmed by Elizabeth’s singing, and they kept her with them as they fled to Canada.  She was held captive for three years, but finally released.  Her husband had become a recluse when Elizabeth was captured, and swore never to marry.  When she returned to him, the family moved to a new town, but he said that she never fully recovered from the trauma. So she was a different kind of victim of the Indian Wars.

The struggles between early settlers in the United States and the indigenous people is difficult to discuss calmly, even today. An estimate in 1894 by the census bureau estimated that 19,000 “white” people died and 30,000 Indians in the various Indian Wars.  Of course even before the most deadly battles, Indians had died in another war–attacked by viruses they were unable to fight off. Some think at least 80% died of smallpox caught from the newcomers to the continent.  So they were greatly reduced in numbers by the time the European population increase incited conflict over land.

I have great sympathy with the indigenous people. However, I also sympathize with the Puritan settlers. To understand historic events, it is essential to look at events of the past through the lens of their own time–not imposing our own different points of view. Our culture and mores are as different from the Puritans of New England as the Puritans were from the people they called savages. And I dare say that people of Native American heritage today are also far removed from the worldview of their ancestors, even though they may be working to keep their culture and religion alive.

Indian Wars Monument

Marker in honor of settlers and veterans of Indian Wars, Sudbury Cemetery

Indian Wars Monument

Inscription on Indian Wars Monument in Sudbury, MA

Glance through diaries and histories written in the 18th and 19th centuries, and you get a one-sided view–all anti-Indian. Look at the lives of the settlers and you may begin to realize why they held the views they did.

When you visit the graveyards of Puritan New England you will see many people who died at the hands of Indians. Some of those were militia members who set out to chase the native tribes from the lands wanted by the settlers.  But many were women and children, like Sarah Howe Joslin and her children, victims of terror raids staged by hostile bands who believed they could frighten the interlopers into returning to Europe.

The Howe family suffered an extraordinary number of losses, both in lives and property, in battles and in surprise raids on families.

The following is not an exhaustive list of Howe family members affected, and other ancestors in other lines also died or lost property.

In addition to the 1692 death of Sarah Howe Joslin and capture of Elizabeth:

April 20, 1676 saw the most vicious fight of the King Phillip War–an attack on Sudbury by 1000 Indian fighters and a day-long battle leaving hundreds dead and houses and barns burned to the ground.

  • John Howe, Jr., a member of the militia, killed at thirty-six years old and his house destroyed in the battle of Sudbury.
  • Samuel Howe, a member of the militia, his house and other property burned in the battle of Sudbury.
  • The people of Sudbury were so destitute that they wrote to the Irish Charities for donations to help people who had lost their homes and livelihoods.

Nehemiah Howe, a son of Samuel Howe, was captured by Indians in 1747 and held in Canada, where he wrote a journal before he died–never returning home.

Israel Howe, a member of the militia, killed in a raid on the town of Rutland at thirty-six years old in 1748. Israel Howe was my 5th great-grandfather and the son of Samuel Howe.

Other relatives in Rutland, MA, some other Howes, some Stones, some Hubbards, were also in harms way during the Indian Wars and a memorial in the old Cemetery in Rutland commemorates them.

Indian Wars

Memorial to first settlers and veterans of the French-Indian and Revolutionary Wars, Rutland MA Old Cemetery.

How I am Related

  • My maternal grandmother, Vera Stout (Anderson), was the daughter of
  • Hattie Morgan (Stout), the daughter of
  • Mary Bassett (Morgan),the daughter of
  • Elizabeth Stone (Bassett) the daughter of
  • Elizabeth Howe (Stone), the daughter of
  • Israel Howe, the son of
  • David How, the son of
  • Samuel How, and John Jr. (My 7th Great Grand Uncle), the son of
  • John How
  • Sarah How (Joslin) and Elizabeth How (Keyes), daughters of John Howe, Jr. (My first cousins, 8 x removed.)

Notes on Research

As Ancient Is This Hostelry: The Story of the Wayside Inn, by Curtis F. Garfield and Alison R. Ridley(1988)
A History of Longfellow’s Wayside Inn by Brian E. Plumb (2011)
Howe Genealogies by Daniel Wait Howe (1929), Massachusetts Historical and Genealogical Society. This is said to be the best of the several genealogies of the family. Although I do not have a copy of the entire book, portions of it are available on the Internet.
Middlesex County records found on Ancestry.com. Birth, death and marriage.
Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs of Worcester County Massachusetts Vol. 1, ed by Ellery Bicknell Crane (1907) Available as a Google Books e-book.

FindaGrave.com and personal visits to cemeteries of Sudbury and Rutland.