Obituaries – A Must Read

I was beginning to think obituary writing was a lost art. Often it just gives a dry listing of birth and death, and if you are lucky, a request for donations to what may be a cause of death. But sometimes an obituary is more like a biography, listing parents, siblings, and children. Some obituaries tell where someone lived and where they worked. I was so fortunate to find an obituary for an uncle by marriage which enumerated everyone he ever knew. Not really, he’d just had a lot of siblings.

I came across my new favorite obituary just today on Twitter, of all places. TMI ALERT.


Italians to America

Salvatore Selvaggio (1868-1940) was a young man of 27 when he left his wife and two daughters back home in Sicily to try his luck in America.  He was part of the third, and largest, wave of immigration from Europe to America, the “New Immigration.”  This consisted of those who came to the United States in the late 19th century and early 20th.  the “Old Immigration” had been Germans, Irish, British, and Scandinavians.  The big difference is that these third wave immigrants were mostly unskilled laborers.  The majority of them were Italians and part of the contadine or agricultural laborers.  He is found on several census records, but other than that I have not found too much information about him.  I especially hoped to find him on a passenger list to determine if he came here to join a relative or what?  Where did he get the idea?

I do know that he worked as a longshoreman.  He lived on Degraw Street in Brooklyn, New York.  He lived at the end that went right at the docks.  Now it’s called “The Columbia Waterfront District.”  The whole neighborhood appears to have been Italian immigrants working on the docks.  His wife and daughters were soon able to join Salvatore in Brooklyn.  They went on to have several more children.


1940 Brooklyn Census


Alexandra Molnar.  “History of Italian Immigration,” From Europe to America:  Immigration Through Family Tales, 15 December 2010, <;, citing:


  • Choate, Mark I. Emigrant Nation, The Making of Italy Abroad. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008.
  • Iorizzo, Luciano J. and Salvatore Mondello. The Italian Americans. Youngstown, NY: Cambria Press, 2006.
  • Vecoli, Rudolph J., “Italian Immigrants in the United States Labor Movement from 1880 to 1929.” Gli Italiani Fuori d’Italia. Ed. Bruno Bezza. Milano, Italy: Angeli Franco Editore, 1983. 257-306.


“United States Census, 1940,” database with images, FamilySearch( : accessed 14 January 2018), Salvatore Selvaggio, Assembly District 3, Brooklyn, New York City, Kings, New York, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 24-465, sheet 3A, line 4, family 38, Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940, NARA digital publication T627. Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790 – 2007, RG 29. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012, roll 2558.






This is my first entry in 52-Ancestors-in-52-Weeks challenge.  I am participating through WikiTree (the graphic is a link).WikiTree

The Memoir of Captain Roger Clapp

Mary and John 2

Captain Roger Clapp was a Puritan who emigrated to New England in 1630, aboard the scout ship, Mary and John, as part of the Winthrop Fleet.  He left a memoir for his children which has proven to be an invaluable insight into the early settlers of New England.  His memoir was written in 1680 and first published in 1731, then again in 1844 by James Blake Jr.  The full text of his memoir can be read here.

The Mary and John was a 400-ton ship owned by Roger Ludlow of the Massachusetts Bay Company.  It left Plymouth, England with 140 passengers from the western part of England, bound for New England.  The Captain was Captain Squeb (Squibb).  It left 20 March 1630 and arrived near present-day Hull, Massachusetts about 2 months later.  These passengers founded Dorchester, Massachusetts.  They were soon followed by an 11-ship flotilla led by John Winthrop.  They departed England in April 1630 to fortify the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  The Mary and John made a similar trip in 1633 as well.

There is not a surviving passenger list for the 1630 trip.  Some have surmised that there was some subterfuge employed to prevent the powerful Church of England from knowing that these passengers were Puritans seeking religious freedom.  Also, it is known that many of Dorchester, Massachusetts’ early records were lost to a fire in the settlement.  Here are some lists gleaned from various sources that may name the passengers:

This list is of persons almost certain to have been on the Mary and John in 1630:

BRANKER, Johnathan = age 22 - Honiton, Devon
	Abigail [Searle], wife 18 Honiton, Devon
CLAPP, Roger - age 21 - Salcombe Regis, Devon
COGAN, Elizabeth [wife of John Endicott] - age 23 - Chard, Somerset
COOK, Aaron - age 14 - Dorchester, Dorset
DENSLOW, Nicholas- age 57 - Bridport, Dorset
	Elizabeth [Doling], wife - age  56 -  Bridport, Dorset
	Temperance, daughter - age 21 - Bridport, Dorse
	Joan, daughter - age 15 - Bridport, Dorset
DYER, George - age 51 - Dorchester, Dorset
	Elizabeth, wife - age 50 - Dorchester, Dorset
	Elizabeth, daughter - age 15 - Dorchester, Dorset
	Mary, daughter - age 10 - Dorchester, Dorset
FORD, Thomas - age 42 - Dorchester, Dorset
	Elizabeth [Chard], second wife - age 42 - Dorchester, Dorset
	Mary, daughter - age 17 - Dorchester, Dorset
	Joan, daughter - age 12 - Dorchester, Dorset
	Abigail, daughter - age 10 - Dorchester, Dorset
	Hepzibah, daughter - age 4 - Dorchester, Dorset
FILER, Anne [probably a widow] - age 40 - probably Dorset
	Katherine, daughter - age 12 - probably Dorset
	Walter, son - age 11 - probably Dorset
GALLOP, John - age 25 - Bridport, Dorset
GAYLORD, John - age 30 - probably Somerset
GAYLORD, William - age 39 - Crewkerne, Someset
	wife - age 37 - Crewkerne, Somerset
	Elizabeth, daughter - age 14 Crewkerne, Somerset
	William, Jr., son - age 12 Crewkerne, Somerset
	Samuel, son - age 10 Crewkerne, Somerset
GILLETTE, Jonathan - age 24 - Chaffcombe, Somerset
HOLMAN, John - age 28 - Dorchester, Dorset
HOSKINS, John - age 45 - Probably Dorset
	Thomas, son - age 10 - Probably Dorset
LOMBARD, Thomas - age 49 - Thorncombe, Dorset
	wife - age 47 - Thorncombe, Dorset
	Barnard, son - age 22 - Thorncombe, Dorset
	Thomas Jr., son - age 12 - Thorncombe, Dorset
	Joshua, son - age 9 - Thorncombe, Dorset
	Margaret, daughter - age 6 - Thorncombe, Dorset
LUDLOW, George - age 33 - Dinton, Wilts
LUDLOW, Roger - age 40 - Dinton, Wilts
MARSHFIELD, Thomas - age 30 - Exeter, Devon
	wife - age 28 - Exeter, Devon
	Sara, daughter - age 3 - Exeter, Devon
	Samuel, son - age 2 - Exeter, Devon
	Mercy, daughter - age 1 - Exeter, Devon
MAVERICK, Reverend John - age 51 - Awliscombe, Devon
	Mary [Gye], wife - age 51- Awliscombe, Devon
	Elias, son - age 26- Awliscombe, Devon
	Mary, daughter - age 24- Awliscombe, Devon
	Moses, son - age 21- Awliscombe, Devon
	Abigail, daughter - age 17 - Awliscombe, Devon
	Antipas, son - age 12 - Awliscombe, Devon
	John Jr., son - age 11 - Awliscombe, Devon
PHELPS, William - age 35 Crewkerne, Somerset
	Ann [Dover], wife - age 33 - Crewkerne, Somerset
	William Jr., son - age 11 - Crewkerne, Somerset
	Samuel, son -age 10 - Crewkerne, Somerset
	Nathaniel, son - age 5 - Crewkerne, Somerset
	Joseph, son - age 1 - Crewkerne, Somerset
ROCKWELL, William - age 39 - Dorchester, Dorset
	Susan [Capen], wife - age 28 - Dorchester, Dorset
	Joan, daughter - age 5 - Dorchester, Dorset
	John, son - age 2 - Dorchester, Dorset
ROSSITER, Edward - age 55 - Combe St. Nicholas, Somerset
	wife - age 53 - Combe St. Nicholas, Somerset
	Bray, son age - 20 - Combe St. Nicholas, Somerset
	Jane, daughter - age 16 - Combe St. Nicholas, Somerset
	Hugh, son - age 15 - Combe St. Nicholas, Somerset
	Joan, daughter - age 14 - Combe St. Nicholas, Somerset
	Nicholas, son - age 31 - Combe St. Nicholas, Somerset
	Ann, wife of Nicholas - age 29 - Combe St. Nicholas, Somerset
	child of Nicholas - age 4 - Combe St. Nicholas, Somerset
	child of Nicholas - age 2 - Combe St. Nicholas, Somerset
	possible relative or servant - Combe St. Nicholas, Somerset
	possible relative or servant - Combe St. Nicholas, Somerset
	possible relative or servant - Combe St. Nicholas, Somerset
	possible relative or servant - Combe St. Nicholas, Somerset
SANFORD, Frances, widow - age 42 - Dorchester, Dorset
	Henry Smith, son - age  20 - Dorchester, Dorset
SOUTHCOTE, Richard - age 40 - Devon
TERRY, Stephen - age 21 - Dorchester, Dorset
UPSALL, Nicholas - age 30 - Dorchester, Dorset
	Dorothy [Capen], wife - age 25 - Dorchester, Dorset
WARHAM, Reverend John - age 34 - Exeter, Devon
	Susanna [Gallop], wife - age 32 - Exeter, Devon
WAY, Henry - age 47 - Bridport, Dorset
	Elizabeth [Batchelder], second wife - age 43 - Bridport, Dorset
	Henry Jr., son - age 19 - Bridport, Dorset
	Aaron, son - age 16 - Bridport, Dorset
	George, son - age 15 - Bridport, Dorset
	Hanna, daughter - age 15 - Bridport, Dorset
	Susanna, daughter - age 9 - Bridport, Dorset
	Richard, son - age 5 - Bridport, Dorset
WILTON, David - age 21 - Beanminster, Dorset
WOLCOTT, HENRY - age 51 - Lydiard St. Lawrence, Somerset
	Elizabeth [Saunders], wife - age 44 - Lydiard St. Lawrence, Somerset
	Henry Jr., son - age 20 - Lydiard St. Lawrence, Somerset
	George, son - age 15 - Lydiard St. Lawrence, Somerset
	Christopher, son - age 12 - Lydiard St. Lawrence, Somerset


This list is probable passengers:

BARTOLE, John - age 29 - Crewkerne, Somerset
	Parnell [Hodder], wife - age 27 - Crewkerne, Somerset
CHUBB, William - age 33 - Crewkerne, Somerset
FRENCH, Stephen - age 29 - probably Misterton, Somerset
	Mary, wife - age 27 - probably Misterton, Somerset
	Sarah, daughter - age 7 - probably Misterton, Somerset
GALLOP, Humphrey - age 24 - probably Dorset
GRANT, Matthew - age 28 - probably Dorset or Somerset
	Priscilla, wife - age 28 - probably Dorset or Somerset
	Priscilla, daughter - age 3 - probably Dorset or Somerset
HOLCOMBE, Thomas - age 25 - probably Dorset or Somerset
	Elizabeth, wife - age 20 - probably West Country
HULBERT, William - age 20 - probably Chippenham, Wilts
HULL, George - age 40 - Crewkerne, Somerset
LOVELL, William - age 25 - probably Dorset or Somerset
	[Wyborough], wife - age 23 - probably Dorset or Somerset
MOORE, John - age 20 - probably Dorset or Somerset
PARKMAN, Elias - age 20 - Sidmouth, Devon
PEACH, John Sr. - age 22 - probably Symondsbury, Dorset
PEACH, John Jr. - age 17 - probably Symondsbury, Dorset
PHELPS, George - age 20 - probably Dorset or Somerset
PHELPS, Richard - age 11 - probably Dorset or Somerset
SAMWAYS, Richard - age 15 - probably Dorset
SMITH, Lucy - age 10 - probably Dorset
SILVESTER, Richard - age 22 - probably Dorset or Somerset
STRONG, John - age 20 - Chardstock, Devon
WILLIAMS, Roger - age 24 - probably Dorset or Somerset


These persons were possibly on the Mary and John:

ALLEN, Matthew [brother of Samuel] - age 38 - possibly West Country
ALLEN, Samuel [brother of Matthew] - age 42 - possibly West Country
ALSOP, Elizabeth - age 16 - Crewkerne, Somerset
ALVORD, Benedict - age 14 - Whitestaunton, Somerset
BAKER, Jeffrey - age 7 - possibly West Country
BAULSTON, William - age 29 - possibly Dorset
	Elizabeth, wife age 27 - possibly Dorset
	Elizabeth, daughter - age 3 - possibly Dorset
BIRGE, Richard - age 12 - possibly West Country
BUCKLAND, Thomas - age 16 - possibly Dorset or Somerset
BUELL, William - age 14 - possibly West Country
CARTER, Joshua - age 18 - possibly West Country
CRAB, John - age 30 - possibly Dorset
FILLY, William - age 10 - possibly West Country
FOUKS, Henry - age 30 - possibly Dorset
	Jane, wife - age 28 - possibly Dorset
FYLER, George -  possibly Dorset
FYLER, Samuel - possibly Dorset
GILLETT, Jeremiah - age 22 - Chaffcombe, Somerset
GILLETT, Nathan - age 23 - Chaffcombe, Somerset
GREENWAY, John - age 45 - possibly West Country
	Mary, wife - age 43 - possibly West Country
	Ann, daughter - age 16 - possibly West Country
	Elizabeth, daughter - age 15 - possibly West Country
	Susanna, daughter - age 14 - possibly West Country
	Katherine, daughter - age 13 - possibly West Country
GUNN, Thomas - age 18 - possibly West Country
HANNUM, William - age 18 - possibly West Country
HART, Edmund - age 17 - possibly West Country
HAYDEN, John - age 17 - possibly West Country
HAYDEN, William - age 18 - possibly West Country
JOHNSON, Davey - possibly West Country
PIERCE, John age 25 - possibly West Country
SMITH, John - possibly West Country
	Dorothy, wife - possibly West Country
	John Jr., son - possibly West Country
	Lawrence, son - possibly West Country
SOUTHCOT, Thomas - possibly Devon
THRALL, William - possibly West Country
WARHAM, Mary [daughter of Reverend John] - age 2 - Exeter, Devon
WAY, Robert - age 12 - possibly Dorset



The Perley Family

The origin of the surname “Perley” is a bit obscure, but the oldest Perley’s in America descend from Allan Perley of Wales.  I am not sure if he was actually born in Wales or was just Welsh.  I have seen sources that claim he was born in St. Albans, Hertfordshire, England and I tend to think that may be correct, only because my great-great-grandfather also claimed to be Welsh and he was also born in Hertfordshire.  It is true that he sailed from St. Albans to New England aboard the Planter in 1635.  What many people do not realize is that he previously was here in 1630.  At some point he returned to England, to what purpose we do not know.¹

One of my “favorite” Perley families was the one created when Samuel Perley (1713-1753) married Ruth Howe (1722-?).  They were kind of a tragic family.  As you can see the father died at 40.  One son died at only 26.  Another was shot dead by the British after his ship was captured immediately following the Revolutionary War.  Then, one of their daughters was poisoned by her husband and mother-in-law.  At least I think they did it!  She was all of 18. I think this is my only ancestor to have been a slave-holder.

Samuel Perley

  • born 11 March 1713, Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts
  • christened 15 March 1713, Topsfield, Essex, Massachusetts
  • died 10 April 1753, Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts

Samuel Perley was a farmer and he lived in the house his grandfather, Samuel (1640-1725), built.  His will and inventory were preserved in the Salem Registry of Deeds.  He married Ruth Howe 10 January 1741 when he was 27 and she 18.  Her parents were Lieutenant Abraham Howe and Hephzibah Andrews.

Ruth Howe

  • born 14 April 1722, Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts
  • christened in the Topsfield Church
  • no record of her death²

Their Children

Reverend Samuel Perley (1742-1831)

Reverend Samuel Perley graduated from Harvard College in 1763.  A couple of years later he married his cousin, Hepzibah Fowler.  She was the daughter of John Fowler and Mercy Howe, his mother’s sister.  They had eight children.  He studied under Reverend George Leslie.  He also led a company of Volunteers to the Battle of Bunker Hill, but arrived after the fighting had ceased.  He was pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Seabrook New Hampshire.  He also preached in Moutonborough and Groton, also in New Hampshire.  He finally settled in Gray, Maine.  He practiced medicine, as well, both while he was a preacher and after.  He was also a Justice of the Peach for twenty-one years.  He was elected to the General Court and was a member of the convention that ratified the new federal constitution.  He voted in favor of its adoption. ³

John Perley (1743-1811)

John Perley fought in the Revolutionary War under Captain Abraham Howe who was either his cousin or uncle. His company marched on Lexington, 19 April 1775. This was the first skirmish of the war and also witness to the “shot heard ’round the world,” a phrase coined by Ralph Waldo Emerson.  He was first married to Lucy Holland, daughter of Joseph and Mary Holland.  His second wife was Hannah Mighill.  She was the daughter of Nathaniel Mighill and Elizabeth Appleton.  They lived on the estate she inherited, probably from her mother’s family.  He had fourteen children in all.

Captain Nathaniel Perley (1745-1779)

Nathaniel Perley served as a minuteman under Captain Daniel Rogers during the Revolutionary War.  Their company marched from Ipswich to Lexington for the Battle of Lexington and Concord on 19 April 1775.  This was the first skirmish of the Revolutionary War and witness to “the shot heard ’round the world,” a phrase coined by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

After his military service, Nathaniel Perley became a successful privateer.  On 15 Aug 1776 he was commissioned the commander of the “Success.” This is how he earned the title of “Captain.” The ship eventually fell into British hands and all on board were captured. Captain Perley, as an officer, refused to perform menial duty and spit on the British officer. He was instantly shot dead.

Captain Perley was married to Sarah Dutch, daughter of Benjamin Dutch and Sarah Day. They had six (6) children:

  • John (abt 1770-1816)
  • Ebenezer (abt 1770-?)
  • Nathaniel (1771-?)
  • William (abt 1771-?0
  • Samuel (1775-1830)
  • Sarah (1778-?)

Abraham Perley, M.D. (1749-1776)

Dr. Abraham Perley set up his practice in New Gloucester, Maine, but was only there a short time. He died in his brother Samuel’s home, unmarried, at the age of 26.

Ruth Perley (1747-1769)

She married Jonathan Ames or Eames, son of Jonathan Eames and Elizabeth Blunt.  Apparently, her mother-in-law was not very fond of her and she was either a little senile, or she did it on purpose, but she always called Ruth the housekeeper.  In the spring of 1769, Ruth gave birth to a baby.  On June 5th, Ruth fell ill.  A neighbor came to visit, but the mother-in-law didn’t want to let her in.  The neighbor got in anyway and realized that Ruth was very seriously ill.  Within hours, she was dead.  After an investigation, which included the superstitious practice of covering the corpse with a sheet and having everyone touch it, in the belief that when the murderer touched the body, it would bleed. Both the mother-in-law and the husband refused and were promptly arrested.³  The Ames’ were represented by John Adams (he liked to take cases no one else would) and were acquitted.  However, no one really believed they were innocent, so they were practically run out of town.  I read somewhere that they went to Groton, but I could find no record.  I also would like to find out what happened to the baby.  I think he was also poisoned, but recovered.

A full account of the story was published in the Essex Antiquarian, Vol. II.  Read it here.

Martha Perley (1752-1837)

Martha Perley has been described as a woman of medium build, bright brown hair, and the most beautiful blue eyes. She was also reputed to have the manners of a gentlewoman. After she was widowed, she lived for a time with her daughter, Mrs. Hannah Preston.


  1. History and Genealogy of the Perley Family, Martin Van Buren Perley, 1906
  2. Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988, Holbrook Research Institute, Jay and Delene Holbrook, editors
  3. A Porter Pedigree, Being an Account of the Ancestry and Descendants of Samuel and Martha (Perley) Porter of Chester, N.H., compiled by Juliet Porter; Worcester, Massachusetts, 1907


Andrew J. Ream (1800?-1873)

There are a lot of Andrew J. Ream’s in my ancestry and collateral families.  Too many.  Some went to Ohio, some to Indiana, but I am sure mine stayed in Pennsylvania his entire life.  Some lines are well documented and have been published.  Mine, unfortunately has not.  This is what little I know about my 3rd Great Grandfather.

Andrew J. Ream was born somewhere between 1800 and 1830.  He was married to Barbara (?) in 1848. Her surname is hard to decipher but certainly contains and “ing”. My sister thought it was Kissinger, but it could be Kiplinger or Killinger too.  They had two sons and two daughters between 1848 and 1856.  He died in 1873.  They lived at 735 Bingaman Street (Route 222) in Reading, Pennsylvania.  As a widow, Barbara stayed in the same house until she became ill and moved into a nursing home about 1902.

1889 city directory

1889 City Directory of Reading, PA

1890 city directory

1890 City Directory of Reading, PA.

1896 city directory

1896 City Directory of Reading, PA.

1897 city directory

1897 City Directory of Reading, PA.

1880 census ream

1880 United States Federal Census, Reading, PA.

Their children were:

Clara Ream Death Certificate

Clara Ream’s Death Certificate.

Clara Ream (1850 – 1911).  She was my 2nd Great Grandmother.  She was born in Reamstown, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA on 5 April 1850.  She married a nice young Welshman, Edward Joseph Williams in 1873.  They had three children during their marriage.  By 1880, she was living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with her husband and children.  Later, they moved to East Rockhill, Pennsylvania, then to the Sellersville home of her daughter Rose, where she passed away 24 March 1911.  She was 60 years old.  Their children were Olivia Williams born in 1875, Joseph Edward Williams born 1876, and Rosalie Bertha Williams born 1883.

John H Ream (1852 – ?) worked for the Reading Railroad as a laborer.

George W Ream (1854 – ?) worked for the Reading Railroad as a tinsmith.

Susannah Ream (1856 – ?) married a Zuber.

On the 1900 census, Barbara stated that she was the mother of eight children, four of whom were living. I did find four possible daughters on the 1870 census. Two of them were later possibly married, but there is no further mention of them after 1900, so they are good candidates:

  • Emma Ream was found living in the household of the Knabb (or Knalb) family in Reading and listed as a domestic servant. It shows her age as twenty.
  • Amelia Ream, aged nineteen, is a domestic servant in the household of the Swartz family of Reading.
  • Anna Ream, aged fourteen, was a servant in the household of Muhlenberg, also in Reading.
  • Kate Ream, aged thirteen, was serving in the home of O’Brien.

It should be noted that in 1870 John and George were both living at home with their parents in Reading. Known daughters, Clara and Susan were working as domestic servants. Clara lived in a boarding house and Susan was in the household of the Rhode family.