An addendum unfinished: Bob’s “sentimental journey to Massachusetts”

Bob Mills’s caption: This was Uncle Tom Packard’s home in Plainfield on Maple Street. It is a shingled shack on a deserted gravel road in the country. The barn has been converted to a modernistic solar home by a young couple. West Hill Cemetery is adjoining.

Editor’s note: This  is an essay, titled “Addenum” at the end of Bob’s original version of his family history booklet, seemingly written in a tone that it was meant to be read by his siblings (Helen and Carol), along with other relatives perhaps, The Packard/Mills Family History, which was sent to relatives in December 1979 as a Christmas present. However, this essay was likely written in July or August 1980. This text, in this post was assembled by this editor almost 38 years after Bob went there, as an interest coincidence. The text is printed below, with only additions of the photos he mentions. My family history trip is recounted  at the end of this post.

In July, 1980 I made a sentimental journey to Massachusetts to visit the grave-sites described in this book, and to learn more about the family. In the Berkshires, I visited West Cummington, Cummington, and Plainfield. I did not visit Shelburne Falls, or Heath. South of Boston, I visited Hingham, drove along Hingham Bay, and visited West Bridgewater and Bridgewater. I will report these adventures in the order in which they occurred. The Berkshires are extremely beautiful, and I had lunch in Pittsfield, a busy town which hosts the Tanglewood Musical Festival nearby. However, all the little towns in which the Packards have lived are nothing more than wide spots in the road. Everybody is friendly, and almost anyone I  asked knew about the Packard family in astonishing detail. Considering the exotic nature of my purpose, I was quite dependent upon asking directions to the obscure little cemeteries scattered around on the hillsides, and got good information from passerby and general stores.

Having found a few recent Packard graves at a roadside cemetery in West Cummington, I drove a few miles further to a general store which marked the center of Cummington. Incidentally, West Cummington boasts the Berkshire Snow Basin, which is ski tow alongside the main highway. It looks about 1000′ feet through wooded slopes. Anyway, a pleasant lady gave me some rather complex instructions to the Dawes Cemetery, and to ask for a Rev. McEwen. Apparently, almost nothing in New England has proper signs, so that one proceeds carefully searching for local landmarks described by residents.  I found Rev. McEwen cutting the grass, and he allowed as he didn’t know the cemetery well enough to point out Packard markers, but there was an old lady next door to the cemetery, etc. Again, I found this several times, there is usually an elderly woman living next to the cemetery who knows the place, and is a kind of guide and carekeeper. There was one row of Packards. Families are usually planned in rows, with plots running either East or West, or North and South. Often later residents are uniformly buried in a given direction, with the early gravesites running at 90 degrees contrary to the rest of the cemetery. It turned out that William Henry Packard and Rachel Bartlett Tilson, and some of their children, are buried here, a fact which had not been discovered by Tommy Adkins, who had compiled much of the family history. Since this couple’s third child was Cyrus Winfield Packard (our grandfather), much more information was added to the family history.

I then went over a gravel road which was quite hilly, strewn with rocks and ferns. This is Packard Road, the original connection between Cummington and Plainfield, about five miles apart. Plainfield is basically an intersection with a few old houses and a few rundown businesses. Everything else is widely scattered and one-family farms marked by stone walls and trees which are beginning to reclaim the whole place. So-called Maple Street, my own guidepost, is not a street at all, but an unpaved dirt road between rural mailboxes and farms. Without a lot of persistence and the extremely solicitous assistance of neighbors who seemed to know everything about Tom Packard and the West Hill Cemetery, I would have missed the place entirely. So far as I could tell, the local population is either retired gentleman farmers or young couples who work in the cities, with occasional vegetable gardens in the side yards. By Midwestern standards, the soil looks terrible for farming.

I finally found Tom Packard’s farm, which is now owned by a young couple whose Italian name escapes me. They weren’t home, so after snooping around I went next door to an ultra-modern solar-type house which it turns out had been constructed from Tom Packard’s former barn. There an extremely pleasant woman, whose name I never learned,  told me of the subdivision of the farm by Atty. Doris Alden from Springfield, and directed me to the West Hill Cemetery next door. Incidentally, Tom Packard’s house is little more than a tar shingle shack without central heating, and was constructed in 1946 after the old home much further up the hill had burned to the ground. The main product of the farm  appears to be maple syrup.

West Hill Cemetery must have originally been a family-owned cemetery, since it seems to contain virtually nothing but Packard names. It was tended throughout Tom  Packard’s life by him personally, and a $30,000 bequest was used to maintain the cemetery, which appeared to be well-kept. Uncle Tom is buried here, and he was 73 at the time of his death in 1975. Bert’s father, Cyrus Winfield Packard, was buried here with Clementina Cheney, his 3rd wife. Also there is a marker for Joseph Winfield Packard, who was killed while working on the railroad in 1910. The grave of Bert’s younger sister, Mabel Hattie Packard Whitley Landstrom, is also here, as shown in the photo.

Reposted from Find A Grave, where I uploaded Bob’s photo.

While I was photographing these stones, a battered van drove up, disgorging a middle-aged woman, a somewhat larger man with a huge beer belly, and rather impassive son. I was never introduced to the men, but she turned out to be Mabel Landstrom‘s daughter, Frances M. Rae, who lives in Shelburne Falls nearby. She was rather surprised to discover who I was (Does that make her my cousin?), and regaled me with tales about Uncle Rob, who seems to be the reigning success figure in the family. She was bitter about not getting part of “Uncle Rob’s” estate, and also bitter about not getting a bigger share of “Tom’s” estate. She was bitter about Douglas Packard getting 20%, claiming he was adopted, and not entitled to such a large share. She also noted that she had been married twice, “but never again”. In the midst of this harangue, which was carried out in front of her beer-bellied boyfriend, who offered me a beer from a case in the van, a 4th figure suddenly emerged from the van, almost knocking me down in the process. He was introduced as her mentally retarded son, almost 30 years of age, and after shaking hands, he retired again to the van.

I excused myself from this scene, and sped on to Boston. The next day I went to Hingham, seeking information about Samuel and Elizabeth Stream Packard, the original settlers. Hingham is a rather exclusive little town, with large houses set back from the street, and it proved impossible to locate anything easily there in the general rush through Hingham to get to the beaches beyond Hingham Bay. I drove to the beaches and Hull, and had a delightful lunch on top of an abandoned artillery form which had a splendid view of the whole bay. Afterward, I took the Interstate down to West Bridgewater, and searched through three graveyards in this busy little community without success, except that I found a clutch of Haywards in a very old pioneer cemetery. However, driving five miles into Bridgewater, which is a really charming  old community, I found the old cemetery in the heart of town which contained most of  the original Packards. The oldest was the gravestone of Judith Willis Packard, married to the son of Samuel and Elizabeth Packard, whose name was John Packard. She was born in 1681, and died in 1761 at the age of 90. Most fascinating was Deliverance Packard, whose second marriage was to Capt. Abiel Packard after her first husband, Capt. Joseph Washburn, died. However, she was buried with her first husband! I noted three marriages between the Washburns and the Packards in those early days, as well as a possible marriage between Abigail Hayward, as the second wife of Jonathan Packard. Abigail died in 1760. The Bridgewater Cemetery is well-tended, and is a fascinating treasure trove of the old families of Massachusetts.

Some of Bob’s other photos in July 1980:

Dividing town line between Cummington and Plainfield

Presumably Maple Street, or another wooded street.

Bob’s caption: Packard Road connects Cummington to Plainfield over steep hills. It is mostly a gravel road with lots of ferns, rocks, and trees, but nothing else but a few random farmhouses. Only Plainfield has a few restored old homes – the area is rather poverty-stricken.

West Cummington, Mass. A ski tow (Berkshire Snow Basin) is located here. The mountains and streams are beautiful, but the soil, rocks, and growing conditions seem very marginal for farming.

West Cummington

Gravestones of Barnabas I and Mary his wife in West Hill Cemetery. As Bob writes, the cemetery was tended by Tom Packard “until his death in 1975, and actually on his property, now sold and subdivided.”

Packard gravestones in West Hill Cemetery

Dawes Cemetery, Cummington. “A row of Packards” as Bob described it. It is not like Bridgewater’s First Cemetery where “most of the early Packards are buried” as Bob wrote in his book

Dawes Cemetery, Cummington. Wm. Henry Packard (father of Cyrus Winfield Packard) died on Aug 21, 1898, at the age of 74 years. His wife, Rachel, nee Tilson, died Jan. 30, 1881, at age 56. This marriage produced 10 children.

My August 2017 family history tour

Plainfield Town Hall, photo  taken in August 2017. Originally posted in my “From Samuel to Cyrus: A fresh look at the History of the Packard Family” post.

This expands on what I wrote in my ““Introduction” to my Packard family history“, while also drawing from “Chapter IX: Barnabas, Mary, and Plainfield.” [1] These are my reflections almost a year after this trip occurred.

In August 2017, like Bob, me, my dad, and my mom went on a family history trip across Massachusetts. I will tell this story in the order in which it occurred. Unlike him, since he was driving from Cincinnati, we started in the eastern part of the state, after staying in Cape Cod for a few days, hitting Hingham first. While there, I talked to the archivist of the Hingham Historical Society Michael Achille, which Bob, according  to his above story, did not get to do at the time. While he was not able to find anything about the Packards in their database, except for some tangential connections, he was very nice, friendly, and was about my age, going to graduate school which was a bit of an inspiration for me to pursue the same path. We also walked around one of the worst parks in the world, World’s End. The scenery was nice, but there were passenger jetliners flying above almost all the time. Despite this, I did take a few pictures which I used to represent Bear’s Cove, where the first settlers of Hingham landed. The town of Hingham was relatively well-off, with many small shops and was bustling, filled with history. It would be different from what was to come.

Mapping places visited in Hingham. 1.3 miles  between the two locations.

From Hingham, we went to Bridgewater. The town itself was a little-run down and not as well-off as Hingham. While there, we didn’t visit the historical society but we went to the First Cemetery and took some photos. Looking around, we counted how many Packard graves there were in this cemetery, which sat behind a Unitarian church. Some gravestones were sinking into the ground more than others. Others were leaned up against a fence. No person who would tend the grave was there. The gravesite sits near the corner of two streets. However, it was, if I remember correctly, protected by a sort of stone wall around it. Oh, I almost forgot. Later on that day we ate in a restaurant and I told the waitress what I was doing in Bridgewater and she said she knew a friend whose last name was Packard! So the Packards are everywhere!

Hingham Historical Society to Bridgewater’s First Cemetery, 18.4 miles away from each other

Moving on from Bridgewater, we went to Western Massachusetts, where Cummington and Plainfield resided. Before going into Plainfield, I went into a local post office in Cummington, where I asked a postal worker to help us find the Dawes Cemetery. I don’t think I asked for the Dawes Cemetery exactly, but maybe for a local landmark, but regardless she gave directions to the cemetery. It is at the top of a hill, where people zoom along in their cars since its some type of thoroughfare. There’s only a few nearby houses. There’s a nearby creamery nearby called Grace Hill Dairy, which sits at, as I looked up later, on 47 Potash Hill Road. This may help those who read this find it in the future. While there, we took some pictures, and my mom drove the car through a path going through the cemetery, something Bob seems to have done as well. We did not meet any overseer of the cemetery or anything, but it seemed somewhat well-tended, much more than the cemetery in Bridgewater! There was a marker across the street where someone was buried, but I’m not exactly recalling who it was exactly.

Cummington locations visited are mapped above. The Kingman Tavern Museum will be talked about later in this story, for obvious reasons as you’ll see later

After visiting that cemetery, we went back down the road and stopped at the Old Creamery Grocery which has a big cow on top if my memory serves me right. They had some local music act playing a guitar. It seemed like a bit of a community meeting area. We ate our packed lunch there at some picnic tables they had set up and then moved on to another cemetery: West Hill Cemetery. Like Dawes, this cemetery has a sign, and even though it has less Packards than Dawes (20  in West Hill, 33 or 34 in Dawes). While there, we put some flowers in front of graves of Packards and looked at the Packards as a whole. There were a few houses around, but its generally wooded there, with not much activity around.

Locations in Plainfield visited. The Plainfield Historical Society does not have a fixed location, but this is about where I met Matthew Stowell

With that, Plainfield was the next stop. I was set for a meeting with the archivist Matthew Stowell of the Plainfield Historical Society. He was not a permanent resident of the area, working and living somewhere else during the year and was a teacher. I won’t go into his political affiliation here, but he was very friendly, as he met us on the street, walking his dog, before my appointment was set to occur. His house was a bit of a mess inside because of renovations. His dog kept trying to lick me, as dogs always go to those who dislike them the most! Anyway, he had some local history books such as Only One Cummington (vol 1 and 2), and Vital Records of Cummington. He also had a genealogy of someone related to the Packards which had been recently given to the Plainfield Historical Society. I looked through that and found many photographs, pictures, and other documents I hadn’t seen previously! After talking to him, we walked around a bit more of Plainfield. The town almost seemed deserted. There seemed to be no visible industry in Plainfield. There are historic houses, sure, but its basically a one street town, at a crossroads, literally. They were debating medical marijuana in the town hall from what I could see.

Courtesy of the Town of Cummington

Mr. Stowell recommended that we visit Cummington to find out more. We went into Cummington and lo and behold, a place called the Kingman Tavern Museum was open, which is run by the Cummington Historical Society. People were dressed in period costumes of the 19th century, I believe. One local girl, whose ancestors were a wealthy family known as Tillsons (Rachel Bartlett Tillson, the wife of William Henry Packard, was part of this family) if I remember correctly, was a tour guide inside the museum, dressed in clothing that  women would have worn at the time, showing visitors around. Everything inside could be photographed. My phone wasn’t working that well at the time, but I still got to take photographs. Most amazing of all was a room in the tavern called the “Packard room.” I was so overjoyed by this as I wasn’t expecting it whatsoever. Later on, an older man who seemed to know Tom Packard showed me to their family files,which were in a building across the street, one of which, of course, they had on the Packards. I took some photographs and notes, but felt a bit shortchanged. We had to go onto another destination and I had to say goodbye. Still, it was worth it.

It was then that the family history tour ended. After staying at a friend’s house for the night, we went into a bit of Western New York, visiting Olana and other sites along the Hudson River. We then took Interstate 90 back home, back into Maryland.

While this family history trip was great, after doing much research since then, I know so much more than I knew then. Sometime in the future I’d like to go back and visit Hingham, Plainfield, and Cummington once again. Until next time!


[1] In the first post I added a family story: “as the story goes, he [Bob] entered a store in Plainfield, and friendly town residents asked him why he was there. He said he was researching family genealogy of the Packard family. One person responded saying “I’m a Packard, he’s a Packard, she’s a Packard, we’re all Packards here.” Another one of his cousins had a similar experience but slightly different in Pittsfield, asking about the Packards at a local library and they had a whole section dedicated to the family.”


Analyzing ‘Packard’s Progress’

Volume II of Packard’s Progress, summer issue 1987, via Internet Archive. This was not found on Mr. Cook’s website, as I have no need to take the PDFs from there.

Some time ago, I wrote about, in my family history, briefly, Packard’s Progress, a family newsletter once issued by the Packard family, specifically talking about volumes 6 and 17, while adding that the “Packard’s Progress publication from 1987 to 1998, both of whom used certain primary sources.” [1] Starting in 2011, genealogist Dale H Cook began posting volumes of this publication online, even though he does not have the complete collection as of yet. In years since then, Cook proposed creating a new version of the publication, but, according to the message boards for the Packard surname, there has been no progress on this front. He has since, indexed all the available volumes of Packard’s Progress on his website.

Looking at this publication is important because it has been broadly cited, apart from  its presence on Worldcat, the Southern California Genealogical Society, and Historical Society of Pennsylvania websites, by varied genealogies online. [2] As the late Richard Packard described it in 2009, on a link which is now dead, Packard’s Progress was a publication of the Packard and Allied Families Association (PAFA), noting that it was published from 1987 to 1998, with Cook, not surprisingly, as one of the editors. With the newsletter’s demise, the PAFA also well apart, as he writes:

In the spring of 1987, Mrs. Jeri Packard Schlerf began privately  publishing “Packard’s Progress,” a family newsletter for anyone interested in Packard and allied family history, genealogy, and  activity. She and interested readers organized a reunion at Eureka Springs, Missouri, to celebrate the 350th anniversary on Aug 10, 1988 of the arrival of Samuel Packard and his wife and one daughter. I attended with my brother and our wives and 100 or more others. The Packard and Allied Families Assoc. (PAFA) was formed, elected officers, and established by-laws. It was an informal organization and was not registered in any state…The editorship of “Packard’s Progress” was taken over by Alan D. Packard in 1991 until the fall of 1994 when Dale Cook became editor. I became editor in 1997 until September of 1999 when I announced my resignation and appealed for a volunteer to continue it. There were a few possible volunteers at the August 2000 reunion but medical problems occurred, no one took over the editorship and newsletter  publication ended. Meanwhile, the popularity of the internet, especially for the exchange of genealogical information, has grown tremendously and supplanted much of the interest in a family newsletter. Without a newsletter the PAFA organization has in effect ceased to exist and no further reunions are being planned.

That brings us to the electronic copies posted by Cook, provided “for personal non-commercial use only.” He described the Packard’s Progress newsletter as containing “much useful information for Packard researchers” which is difficult “to find other than in some Massachusetts libraries and the Library of Congress,” posting the volumes, except for Volume 16. He further added that “the reliability of any article depends upon the person submitting it,” saying that the articles of Karle S. Packard and Alan D. Packard are of “high” or “excellent” quality. [3]

With this, it is worth looking at each Volume of Packard’s Progress. We’ll start with Volume II since that is the only version of Packard’s Progress available apart from Cook’s website. The 2nd page of this volume has a number of dated photographs of Packards and gives a summary of the family line from Samuel Packard onward, but provides no sources for this information. The next few pages focus on an immigration depot in America called Castle Garden. Past a host of pages outlining another family listing, there is an insert from Alan D. Packard. Apart from the letters, the next to last page has a map of the town of Easton, taking from an original drawn in 1750. And that’s about it.

With this, we can move back to Volume 1, with Jeri Packard as the editor. It begins with a similar front page to Volume II, but tried to get people involved in the PAFA, with later pages reprinting a Packard ancestry from the Library of Congress, and maps of Suffolk, England. Others summarize Packard genealogy from other books, include letters from Packard family members in California, Arizona, Ohio, along with a calendar. That’s about it.

As such, this comes onto Volume 3. The first page of this volume puts some doubt in who found and assigned the surname of “Stream” to Samuel Packard’s wife, Elizabeth, saying “cite your source and reference.” After telling a story of Amynander Packard, with another about the Packard Car (and Packard Brothers), another summary of the Packard family line, and an article about problems in copying photographs. The newsletter also lists varied other books on Packard genealogy, more summaries of listed family genealogy, noting that Packard is sometimes spelled Packer, a sketch of Coleman’s (home of George and Mary, Samuel Packard’s parents), and reprinting the passengers on The Diligent. There’s also a map of varied counties (Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex). That’s  about it.

Following this is Volume 4. After messages from the editor, Jodi, some other Packards, summaries of Packard family lines, the effort of one Packard to find her roots, and varied letters. Other pages note the Packard coat of arms (with an article later on in the publication), photos of Coleman’s, more family charts and summaries, including one of the “Streame” family, a list of surnames, and a map of North Easton. There’s a bit more than this, but not much.

After this is Volume 5 of Packard’s Progress. There are summaries of related family records, a map of Yorkshire, England, more family charts, and summaries from past genealogies. After more family listings and letters from Packard relatives, the genealogy of Samuel and Abel Packard I wrote about and put on the Internet Archive! Then there was a summary of all the Packard generations from Samuel Packard who came on the Diligent to Deliverance Packard Washburn. Following some letters from more Packard relatives, there is an agenda for the upcoming Packard reunion, a map of Newbury, Essex County, Massachusetts, and that’s about it!

The next issue is Volume 6. This volume begins with talk about David Packard, a new genealogy by Brigadier General John G. Packard, a Packard in Monterrey, California. Then there’s the rector of the Stonham Aspal Church signing a document saying that Samuel Packard is listed within church records, stories about Stonham Aspal, Packard family mentions from 1311 to 1612 which are mainly in Suffolk County, England, along with short stories about “troublesome” Packards in England in the 14th century. Other parts have family genealogical listings, stories about David Packard, corrections to past errors and letters from readers. This is also the volume with, I believe, the first article by Karle S. Packard, aiming to correct issues in the Packard family lineage.

Then there’s Volume 6, the annual reunion edition. It begins with photos of the recent Packard family reunion, focuses on the PAFA, and lists all those who tried to get Brigadier General John G. Packard’s recent genealogy. It also noted those who attended and other aspects of the reunion.

Following this is the next edition of Volume 7. Apart from scattered family stories, there’s an article by Brig. J. John Packard of London titled “Why Did Samuel Packard Emigrate in 1638?” He concludes that Samuel was like typical emigrants of the time, wanting land. Not much else to it. Other parts of the magazine again reprint family genealogical listings, getting a letter and photos from the occupants of the Red House Farm, even giving it address. There are also quotes from original documents, including Samuel Packard’s last will and testament (only extracts). Other sections note a John Bruce Packard who served in the Civil War, some articles about Packards, and a map showing colonial roads.

Afterwards is Volume 8, focusing on William Cullen Bryant (related to this Bryant), and his home in Cummington, with a number of pictures. Later pages have letters from readers, research into Samuel Packard’s parents, Packard books, a map of Connecticut and New Haven colonies, and a number of other holiday pleasantries.

Volume 9 is an interesting issue. After talking about Horatio Alger, they are summarizes of original records, family genealogical lines, and reprinting a biography of Samuel Ware Packard from The National Cyclopedia of American Biography. There’s also the history of the Packard House Bed & Breakfast Inn in Bath, Maine, a Civil War document for Edmund Packard, articles about Brockton, and the reprinting of an early New England map.

Volume 10 is a bit odd since “pages 41-42 are missing” and they “appear to have been omitted by Jeri and never published.” Apart from the letters from Brigadier J. John Packard, there’s a number of stories about other Packards, family genealogical listings, a map of Maine, a map showing areas of settlement from 1620-1770.

Volume 11 isn’t as odd, of course, as there are no missing pages. There is mention of the 351 years the Packards had been in America at that point (in 1989), letters from Brigadier J. John Packard in London, extracts from original documents, and letters from readers. There was also a short piece about Abigail Adams writing a Packard, collections of Packard family data, other reprinted articles about varied Packards, and a map of Cape Cod.

Volume 12 has a number of responses from Packard family members, winter greetings, a reprinted biography of Henry Kingman, and family genealogical charts. Later pages had a listing of Massachusetts Counties and Townships, along with photos of Jeri Packard Schlerf, still the editor, who died in 2009.

Volume 13 is similar to Volume 12. It begins with a  poem about the Packards, which apparently makes all sorts of errors. One woman, named Sally Packard, in Huntington, NY, is listed as a Packard archivist. One article from Karle S. Packard talks about William Cullen Bryant, listing common names in 1638. Other parts of the publication reprint an article about Packards, family listings, reprint a map of New England in 1675, and note a “National Registry of Living Packards” published at the time (Spring 1990).

Volume 14 is a bit different. It doesn’t begin with a poem. Instead, it begins with an article about E.P.W. Packard, and says what they contribute to: Library of Congress, Family History Library in Utah, Old Bridgewater Historical Society, Packard House in Maine, Historical Society of Wisconsin, Red House Farm in England, General Library in Bennington, Vermont, and a few others. They also print a letter from Brig. John Packard, family  listings, letter A of families allied by marriage to the Packards through the male line, and other materials. Upcoming, the newsletter reports, is a meeting in Bridgewater of cousins. The newsletter also mentions previous Packard publications (New Packard Commercial Arithmetic, Packard Commercial Arithmetic, Packard Method of Teaching Bookeeping, Packard’s Bookeeping, Packard’s Commission, Packard’s Progressive Business Practice, and Packard’s Lessons in Munson Photography), reprints letters from a Robert D. Packard in Pittsburgh, and a representative named Ron Packard. And there’s a lot of drawings of cats!

Volume 15 is a bit different. In talking about a group of cars, they call it a “Pack of Packards” which funny enough, is pretty close to the name of this website! After some beginning pleasantries, the newsletter reprints a passage by G. Bailey, Jr. about “Puritan Namegiving,” messages from Packard relatives, and a way of numbering Packard ancestors, with only two of the three Barnabases listed, weirdly. So, the listing of Packards is not  complete. In this publication, all families allied by marriage to the Packards through the male line, with the letter B, are printed, family charts, and much more, like a map of Hingham Harbor.

Missing Volume 16. Cook says “according to the Preface to Photocopied Reprint of Packard’s Progress, Vols. 1-32, Volume 16 had limited distribution, and was apparently published much later than Volume 15 – it was not included in the reprint.” So, good luck finding that!

Volume 17 is the volume which some have cited as having an article by Karle S. Packard which some title “Samuel Packard and the English Origins of the Packard Family” and others erroneously title “Samuel Packard of Bridgewater, Massachusetts and His Family.” As such, this volume has a degree of importance. Beginning this newsletter is a photo of one Packard named Harding (born in 1892) and his ancestry back to Samuel. The first article is about Icabod Packard and his family. Then we get to Karle S. Packard’s article. She says that Samuel Packard has been long considered the progenitor of most Packards in the U.S., works to correct Mitchell’s errors in a History of the Early Settlement of Bridgewater, builds upon Brig J. John Packard’s research, and says Samuel died in November 7, 1684 although the actual record, as noted on this blog, does not say this. She gives a number assumptions. She cites a number of sources:

  • Stoham Aspal Parish Register Transcript, LDS film 991989
  • “Daniel Cushing’s Record” NEHGR XV,  p 25
  • C.E. Banks, The Planters of the Commonwealth, 1930, p 194
  • NEHGR XVI,  187
  • E.W. Pierce’s Civil, Military and Professional Lists of Plymouth and Rhode Island Colonies, Boston, 40 et seq.
  • Town Records Of Bridgewater, Massachusetts 1656-1683, 1988, p 31
  • G.E. Bowman, “Samuel Packard’s Will,” The Mayflower Descendant, XV, p 253
  • “The Hobart Journal,” NEHGR, CXXI, p 19, 24-25
  • NEHGR, XII, p 349
  • NEHGR, IX, p 314
  • Vital Records of Taunton, Massachusetts to the year 1850, Boston, 1928-29, Vol. II, p 349, 356
  • Nahum Mitchell, History of…Bridgewater…Massachusetts,…(1840), Baltimore, 1970, p 40

I’ve looked at most of these sources already. Other articles in this newsletter focus on early settlers in north Auburn, obituaries of varied Packards, Packards in Lenawee County, Michigan in 1897, Packards in Lucas County, Ohio marriage records from 1895 to 1928, and an another article from Karle S. Packard “solving” the mystery of Levi Packard. That’s it.

Volume 18 is a bit different, of course. Two photos of an 19th century Packard couple begins the newsletter. Following it is a family record, more photos, and other family records. Then there are reprinting of marriage indexes in Lenawee County, Michigan, abstracts of Packards buried in Tecumseh, Michigan’s Brookside Cemetery, and other Packards in Lenawee County, Michigan records. The publication also notes Packards in the records of the New Bedford, Massachusetts Whaling Museum, some more family records, more photos, obituaries, and material received.

Volume 19 is also a bit different. It begins with a photograph of the Benjamin F. Packard (a sailing ship) and the story of this boat. Then there is another article from Karle S. Packard, noting more errors in Mitchell’s 1840 History of the Early Settlement of Bridgewater, when it comes to the Packards. There are more listings of Packards, allied families with similar surnames, death notices, ancestry of specific Packards (Hosea S. Packard), with Alan D. Packard either the editor at this point or within the publication’s high-level staff.

Volume 20 begins with photos of the three Packard brothers: Warren Packard, James Ward Packard, and William Doud Packard. Other varied articles, family record sheets, photos, biographies, and much more, are noted. There is another article of Karle S. Packard titled the “Diligent of Ipswitch.” It tries to arrive at some tentative conclusions, claims Samuel Packard was called Samuel Packer, but only has four sources:

  • R.C. Anderson, “A Mayflower Model,” Mariner’s Mirror, Vol XII (1926), p 260
  • Charles Edward Banks, The Planters of the Commonwealth, Boston, 1930, p 191-4
  • Brian Dietz, “The Royal Bounty and English Merchant Shipping in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries,” Mariner’s Mirror, Vol. 77, No. 1 (Feb. 1991), p. 19
  • R.C. Anderson, Seventeenth Century Rigging, Hemel Hampstead, Hertfordshire: Model and Allied Publications, Ltd., 1955.

After this, in the publication, there were more family sheets, photographs, obituaries, articles, having a book review on The Private War of Mrs. Packard, and that’s about it!

Volume 21 of Packard’s Progress begins with a history of Tonto basin, Packards as ranchers,  and family records. It also has instructions on where the 1992 Packard gathering will be held and some other messages.

Volume 22 is a bit different. It begins with a summary of Packardville, Lance Packard, and family charts. It also reprints a publication by the Packard Memorial Association in 1888, family charts, obituaries, and other news clippings.

Volume 23 starts with a summary of a Packard business (Shear, Packard & Co.) in Albany, New York, a number of family charts and old photographs. There were also newspaper clippings, family charts, obituaries, and messages from the PAFA leadership (President Karle S. Packard, First Vice President Norman A. Packard, Jr., Second Vice President Christine Y. Packard, Treasurer Charles Packard III, Secretary Barbara Millirons, Editor of Packard’s Progress and Trustee Alan D. Packard, Trustee Robert S. Johnson, and Trustee Richard F. Packard, Sr. And that’s it.

Volume 24 begins with a photo of a Packard family in Kansas, along with a story by a Kansas pioneer, with photos of related Packard ancestors. This issue also has Packard obituaries, family charts, and other information.

Volume 25 begins with a  story of Benjamin Packard, M.D. who was one of Albion College’s founders. There are also family charts, photographs, other family stories, images, and obituaries. Apart from this, there are further family charts, family photographs, and a message from the PAFA officers.

Volume 26 begins with a photograph of varied Packards, followed by family charts, and a story about an Edmund Packard. After a number of family charts, there are varied obituaries, and other charts. There is also an article about a Packard car,  along with messages from PAFA leadership.

Volume 27 begins with a story of civil war general Abner B. Packard. It is followed by family charts, a biography of Frank Packard, a letter, some articles, and obituaries. It ends with messages from from PAFA leadership.

Volume 28 begins with a newspaper page, followed by a family chart, and a biography of Arthur D. Packard. Following this is another family chart, memorial of Jasper Packard in 1900, and obituaries of varied Packards, including one of Brigadier J. John Packard whom contributed to Packard’s Progress information about the English origins of the Packard family. There was also a message from PAFA leadership once again.

Volume 29 begins with paintings (I think) of 18th century Packards such as Chester William Packard (1799-1863), John Chester Packard (1827-1905), and William John Packard (1822-1868), followed by the story of John Chester Packard as a “pill-pusher.” There were also stories about Chester W. Packard, recipes from varied Packards, a Packard family  tree courtesy of C W (Cyrus Winfield?) Packard III, and a story of Col. Burdett A. Packard. Following it was a family chart, 1851 obituary of Ashley Burdett Packard, a  family chart, and notations about the upcoming Packard reunion.

Volume 30 begins with a biography of Butler Packard who designed 19th century postage stamps. After this are family charts, a story about Charles G. Packard by Harry G. Woodworth, and some other related family stories. Alan Packard announced, on the last page, that this would be next-to-last issue.

Volume 31 begins with a photograph of the Jackson Farm in Spring Creek, Pennsylvania, circa 1889, along with photographs of a number of related Packards for pages upon pages. One of these is of a Packard family farm in Helena, Oklahoma in circa 1914. Apart from family charts is an article about Packards in New Hampshire, further photographs, obituaries, and other information. It is in this publication that Alan Packard says he is retiring as editor.

Volume 32 begins with a photo of the Isaac S. Packard homestead in Brockton, MA. The publication has a new look, much smoother. The first article is about the Packards of Cameron, Missouri by Lester O. Packard. The second article is reprinted from the Brockton newspaper, The Enterprise.  Other articles are reprinted from varying newspapers across the country. It is also in this issue that we get the first article by Dale H. Cook, specifically focusing on the Packards in The Rich Men of Massachusetts book. Other articles focus on a Packard who served in a Confederate Prison. There are also family charts, a notation of Packards in the 1790 census of Bridgewater, a family album of Isaac S. Packard of Brockton, and the new desktop publishing format of the publication. This is all thanks to the new editor, Dale H. Cook, with Alan Packard now just the family historian. Also, “keeper cards” (or keeper kards) begin this issue, listing those descendants who have a certain genealogy so others can contact them.

Volume 33 begins with a postcard of Pike’s Peak Auto Highway with a Packard stamp. In this issue, Dale is no longer editor but Richard S. Packard, Sr. is, with emails for Richard, Peggy (coordinator of the 1997 Packard reunion), Charles (Treasurer) listed at the time. The main focus of this publication is the upcoming reunion, but there’s also an obituary of Vance Packard, the conclusion of a Packard account of a confederate prison, family charts, missing links in the Packard genealogy, and some corrections to Brig. J. John Packard’s 1987 book, The Packards in article by Karle S. Packard, described as a “long-time student and researcher of Packard genealogy.” There are also a family charts, and summaries of the publication in the past.

Volume 34 begins with a photograph of a 1908 Packard Roadster. There is promotion of the upcoming Packard reunion in Colorado Springs, a story about the architect Lambert Packard, a further note about Stephen Burnett Packard, further missing links in the Packard chain, family charts, and other information. There is even floated the idea of a Packard reunion in England in  2000.

Volume 35 begins with a photograph of whales. This connects to the first story about Packard whaling captains Alpheus and Prince. The next article focuses on the 1997 Packard reunion. Articles following were on Noah Packard II (1796-1859) of Plainfield, Massachusetts. There was another post about missing links in the Packard genealogy, family charts, and an update on the George and Mary Packard family. There is also an article on Rev. Abel Kingman Packard (1823-ca. 1903), and a number of obituaries, along with the idea floated for reunions in 2000 in the U.S. and England.

Volume 36 begins with a photo of Bill Packard’s go-kart, called the Diligent. The emails of Karle S. Packard, treasurer Charles E. Packard III, trustee Robert F. Bovee, and editor Richard F. Packard, Sr. are listed. First is an address before the Packard reunion in August 1997 (originally given in August 1938 in Warren, Ohio), second are historic and personal events in Samuel Packard, an article about the Joseph Packards, and an article about Frank Edward Packard (1872-1961). Another article is about William Dunlap Packard (b. 1861), along with scattered Packard news, more missing links in Packard genealogy, and varied obituaries.

Volume 37 begins with a departure of emigrants from Ispwitch Hamlet in Massachusetts for the Ohio in 1787. Then there are articles on the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, Ohio counties, Packard who are within Ohio county histories, Milton Packard, and more missing links in the Packard chain.There are also blank Packard chains as well.

Volume 38 begins with sketches from Winthrop Packard and his story, including stories about Packard bird houses. There were also printed letters from readers, along with varied obituaries, family charts, and other information.

Volume 39, the last issue, began with a photo of the Packard motor car company plant in Detroit. At this time, Richard “Dick” Packard was stepping aside as editor, but as we know, no one would take his place. It is the only issue to ever have a complete and total table of contents. There are stories about the Packard plant  demolition in Detroit, usual references for Packard genealogy, a purposed trip to England in 2000 and a reunion in Massachusetts. There were also stories about women changing their names, a letter from a union soldier in the battle of Chancellorville in 1863, a Packard musician (Jimmie Packard), the story of Harvey Packard in Maine, the Packard family of Peru, Maine, and varied poems. There was also a story involving Silas Packard (and John Anderson Draper) going from Illinois to California’s gold fields, Edmund Packard and Susan McGovern whom were Decatur, Illinois pioneers, the Johnson Wax company, and Cyrus Snell Packard (1810-1891) of Maine which includes a letter to him. Additionally, there are family charts, a call for volunteers, varied obituaries. The editor, Dick Packard, was upbeat, but another issue would not happen.

To reprint what Dick Packard wrote, as quoted earlier in  this article,

There were a few possible volunteers at the August 2000 reunion but medical problems occurred, no one took over the editorship and newsletter  publication ended. Meanwhile, the popularity of the internet, especially for the exchange of genealogical information, has grown tremendously and supplanted much of the interest in a family newsletter. Without a newsletter the PAFA organization has in effect ceased to exist and no further reunions are being planned.

It is my hope that this blog serves as a sort of successor to Packard’s Progress. There seems to be some indications that could come in the future.


[1] This article fulfills my earlier promise on this blog, back in April of 2018, to write on this subject. In “Chapter I: The Packards in good ‘ole England” I wrote that “some say her name is Elizabeth, but Samuel and Elizabeth did not have a child of that name until 1664, with that date in question. The only person with a date before their arrival was Mary. There is a delayed baptismal certificate noted in one issue of Packard’s Progress which shows a “Samuel Packard” born in a Hingham church. However, this is indirect evidence as it was created many years after the event occurred. In another issue of Packard’s Progress, Karle Packard admits that saying that Samuel was born in Stonham Aspal, Suffolk, England is “presumptive” and is only a “probable” conclusion.” In “Chapter IV: Samuel, the Bridgewater yeoman” I wrote that “the current basis for Samuel Packard’s life, as manifested in this Find A Grave entry (for example) is shaky at best. This does not take away from the work done by Mr. Cook and by Karle S. Packard, who died two years ago, among others who wrote for the short-lived Packard’s Progress publication from 1987 to 1998, both of whom used certain primary sources. A lack of primary sources, rather relying with citations of transcriptions, abstracts, and other derivative documents, or those documents which are not in the original form they were created, creates a number of problems…Some chronicling the Packard genealogy cite an article titled “Samuel Packard and the English Origins of the Packard Family” by Karle S. Packard. However, no article of that name exists within the scanned issues by Packard’s Progress by Mr. Cook.”

[2] Ed Sanders, Sources, within “Descendants of John Sr. Johnson”; Art Packard on forums in 2000; Wikitree entry for Samuel Packard; Samuel Packard, Find A Grave, accessed May 14, 2018; “Descendants of John Alden. Notes,” accessed May 14, 2018; “Packard, Jael,” Michael & Deborah’s Genealogy Pages, accessed May 14, 2018; “Samuel Packard,” Our Northern Roots, accessed May 14, 2018; “Ens. Samuel Packard,”, Apr 29, 2018; Margaret Odrowaz Sypniewski, “The Packard Family,” The New England Colonists Web, Oct 2005; “Samuel Packard,” MyAncestralLegacy, accessed May 14, 2018; V. W. Hartnett, Jr, “Deliverance Packard,” accessed May 14, 2018; “Mary Edson,” Genealogy Pages, accessed May 14, 2018; “Ancestors of EastMill,” accessed May 14, 2018; Elizabeth Washburn, Find A Grave, accessed May 14, 2018; Richard F. Packard, “Re: Gil(l)mores in NY,” forums, Aug 22, 2018.

[3] One genealogist, Valerie A. Thomas, who wrote “Do You Own Old Family Photos?” in September 1987 in  Published in Packard’s Progress, Vol. III, Autumn Issue 1987, p.39-40, is still a living and breathing genealogist.

Zachariah Packard: the slaveowner

On this blog before, I’ve written about Zachariah Packard, my ancestor, whom married “Abigail, daughter of Richard Davenport [link to Chapter VII: The family of John and Lydia], of South Bridgewater, in 1724,” and had “three sons and one daughter…Elijah, Abigail, Nathaniel, and Nathan, all of whom had families.” He was one of the few Packards whom was a slaveowner, unlike others.I noted exactly this last August [link to Chapter VI: Zaccheus and Sarah’s family] when I wrote that “while the Packards did not own enslaved people…they participated in the system of slavery in British America through interconnected trade networks,” while others were stout abolitionists [link to Chapter VIII: Barnabas and Sarah’s family]! Getting back to Zachariah, he did not, however, go as far as Captain Samuel Packard whom “sailed a ship to the coast of Africa looking for Black Africans to enslave in 1797 contrary to Rhode Island law”! It is worth quoting what I wrote about Zachariah exclusively this past July [link to Chapter III: The Packards in Bridgewater]:

The following year, Nathaniel, one of Samuel [Packard Sr]’s sons, would marry a woman named Lydia Smith, if existing genealogical records are right. Nathaniel and Lydia would have two children before each of them died in the 18th century: Zachariah (1697-1771) and Mary (1695-1770)…As for Zachariah, he would marry a woman named Abigail Davenport, and have four children: Elijah (b. 1725), Nathan (1733-1798) who was a captain in the Revolutionary War, Abigail (1728-1768) and Nathaniel (1730-1814). When Zachariah died in 1771, he would have a will and inventory that were in keeping with the agricultural lifestyle of many of the Packards. Within his will, he would give his sons Nathan and Nathaniel a “servant” named Peter, his daughter Abigail a “servant boy” named America, and said that a “servant maid” named Ann would be given to his wife Abigail, only set free after her death. The reality of this will seems evident: he is a Christian with “sound and deposing mind” who divides his “quick stock” between his wife and two sons which are above mentioned, along with giving his son Nathaniel his “Smith’s shop” with related tools, cider mill, and his gun, and his wife Abigail his personal estate after debt with funeral charges and legacies subtracted. In his inventory, he is listed as owning 214 pounds, 17 shillings, 2 pence of property, which includes a bed & furniture, roundtable, a wooden box, six chairs, warming pan, 3 wash tubs, 12 tinning sheets, old casks, a cheese press, 13 barrels and two hogshead. He also owns an iron kettle, skillet, eight swine (pigs), nine sheep, three cows, tobacco, Indian corn, a gun, cart rope, old scythes, side saddle, and hand saw. This seems to be “normal” by the standards of the Packard family until you get to the last three items…Hence, he is clearly a slaveowner which was not explicitly stated in his will, except for calling the enslaved people listed above “servants” who are “worth” to him (as “quick stock”) a total of 69 pounds, 4 shillings, 9 pence. Using this measurement, it means that these people constitute almost 33% or one-third of his total property! Through his distribution of enslaved people to his sons Nathan and Nathaniel, daughter Abigail, and wife of the same name, it makes all of these individuals slaveowners as well. No other enslaved people are believed to be owned by other members of the Packard family noted in this book. It is worth discussing this issue at length since stands against the religious convictions which brought over the Packards to New England in the first place…The British government stood behind slaveowners, like Zachariah Packard, refusing to engage in any measures that would impede the slave trade, while courts slowly moved toward granting freedom to enslaved laborers…To sum up this information, with Zachariah as a slaveowner, he was part of a well-off White minority that owned human beings in Massachusetts.

Last year, Michael on Find A Grave noted, in Zachariah’s will, there is a word: Mistress (undoubtedly referring to his wife Abigail), which comes from the cursive writing style of the time, when lower-case “s” were written “almost the way we would today write “f” except in the final position or after another “s.” Hence “history” would look a bit like “hiftory” and “mistress” would look a bit like “miftrefs.” Compare the German letter “ß” (Eszett), which is a ligature double “s.” The line [then] reads, “The Service of the Negro woman Ann during her Mistress [sic, should be Mistress’s] Life.”” This brings us to an improved image from the Massachusetts probate showing Zachariah’s enslaved Blacks.

First is the whole two pages, showing Zachariah’s complete inventory:

Courtesy of Probate records, 1686-1903; with index and docket, 1685-1967, Probates v. 21-23 1771-1778

Next is the specific focus on enslaved Blacks:

Most interesting is what I discovered when I wrote about Abiel Packard [link to The story of Capt. Abiel Packard]: a page from original records showing the division of Zachariah’s probate:

Yellow underlining is my emphasis. This page shows that Deliverance, Abiel’s wife, gave him the estate on which he currently lives! It also names his son, Josiah.

Let’s focus on the page on the left, specifically a line relating to “America Pierce,” as he is called, an enslaved Black of Zachariah Packard:

Not sure why he is now described as a “man” instead of “boy” It is not known whom “Pierce” is.

Now, he is the only one of the three enslaved individuals (the others being Ann and Peter) whom is paid money. This may seem great, but consider that it does NOT say he was freed. Not at all. So we know that “America” was, after Zachariah’s death, enslaved to his daughter Abigail, “Peter” was enslaved to his sons Nathan (1733-1798) and Nathaniel (d. 1721), and “Ann” enslaved to his wife Abigail, only set free after her death, which was some time after 1771.

Let’s start with America. On Find A Grave, the following dates of death of Zachariah and Abigail’s children is listed:

1.Elijah Packard-23 Mar 1726-Rev. War Veteran-Mary Rider
2.Abigail Packard-1728-1768-Daniel Snell Jr.
3.Nathaniel Packard-2 Aug 1730-1814-Sarah Snow/Anna Sloan
4.Nathan Packard-17 Jun 1733-17 Feb 1798-Rev War Veteran-Lydia Jackson

However, we know that the date of Abigail’s death is off based on Zachariah’s will.

Looking in the probate, there is one entry for Abigail:

It makes it clear that this Abigail, Zachariah’s wife, was born in at least 1694 (belaying her Find A Grave entry), is incapable of improving her estate, meaning that a guardian will be appointed, in 1774:

Courtesy of Probate records, 1686-1903; with index and docket, 1685-1967, Probates v. 21-23 1771-1778. The word “superannuated” used in this document means “retired because of age or infirmity,” “too old for use, work, service, or a position” or “antiquated or obsolete” as noted by

What does this mean for America, you may ask? Well, from volume 22 of the probate, it is clear that Nathaniel Packard is her guardian. This would seem to mean that all two of the three enslaved Blacks owned by Zachariah (“Peter” and “Ann”) are now under Nathaniel’s control. Nathan is mentioned in the document too, but he is not the guardian. This brings us to “America” again. Clearly, in Zachariah’s will, “America” was given to the daughter, Abigail, not to the wife, Abigail. But, interestingly, Nathaniel is the executor of Zachariah’s estate:

Courtesy of Probate records, 1686-1903; with index and docket, 1685-1967, Probates v. 21-23 1771-1778.

There is a Nathaniel, but only one in 1721, nine years before Nathaniel (son of Zachariah and Abigail) is born. However, I did find a entry for Nathan Packard in 1798 which aligns with the dates on Find A Grave:

Using this as a guide. I found Nathan’s four-page will, written on June 5, 1794, despite what the index says above. The will begins:

Courtesy of Probate records, 1686-1903; with index and docket, 1685-1967, Probates v. 36-37 1796-1802.

Then there’s the next two pages, he lists his wife Lydia, sons Nathan, Ransum, Perez, Sullivan, Elijah, and Oliver, along with daughters Olive and Roxey (a derivative of “Roxana”),  but no mention of enslaved peoples:

The next page mentions his sons Jonas, executor (his son Nathan), his daughter Sarah (who had then married the late Zepheniah Lathrop), his daughter Abigail (who had married Jonas Howard), and his daughter Lydia (who had married Bernard Clapp). Again, enslaved peoples are not mentioned:

Then, later on, is report of Nathan, whom was executor of his father’s estate:

Then we get to pages 376 and 377:

No enslaved people are mentioned. That means we don’t know what happened to “Peter”, “Ann” or “America,” whom vanished from the records.  It should by obvious why this happened: after 1781, slavery was phased out in the state. So by 1798, it was gone. Hence, all of these enslaved Blacks were set free! The Massachusetts Historical Society writes about this:

Freed slaves in Massachusetts continued in an inferior social position, legally free but with fewer civil rights than whites.  They were treated equally by the legal system, but they could not serve on juries.  They paid taxes, but could not vote, and, in most cases, their children did not attend public schools, prohibited at least by custom and tradition, if not by law.  It was sometimes more difficult to find work as freedmen than as slaves, since slaves were provided the means of employment by their masters.  Domestic service remained a viable employment, along with common labor and the professions associated with the sea.  However, fear of kidnapping (and a forced return to slavery elsewhere) was a bar to working on the waterfront or at sea.  Indentured servitude also remained in force after the abolition of slavery, and African American children such as Dick Morey were commonly indentured out until they reached the age of 21.  Free blacks in the north were continually organizing their communities in hopes of winning freedom for slaves elsewhere, and for bringing the benefits of full citizenship to all African Americans.  They built community associations that provided mutual support and a foundation for political action, such as the African Society  in Boston, and the African Lodge of Masons.

While the Massachusetts Historical Society’s collections cannot help us here, I did find entries for an “America Pierce” in Bridgewater, Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1790, who could be the same as the “America” [1] mentioned in this article:

Courtesy of “United States Census, 1790,” database with images, FamilySearch, America Pierce, Bridgewater, Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States; citing p. 75, NARA microfilm publication M637, (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 4; FHL microfilm 568,144. Note how they are NOT considered White here.

Peter is also mentioned above, who could be the “Peter” mentioned earlier in this article. There is an “Ann Freeman” I found as well, but I can’t find much for her, other than an entry of a woman also living in Massachusetts at the time, an “Anne Pierce.” So, her residence is a bit shaky, at best.

Even with this disappointing conclusion, we learned a good deal about the Packard family along the way!


[1] I also found an “America Pierce” in Bridgewater in 1800, Plymouth in 1820, 1830, and 1840.

The story of Capt. Abiel Packard

Screenshot of my profile for Capt. Abiel Packard on I call him Abiel Packard Sr. to distinguish from his son, also named Abiel.

On this blog, I have briefly written about Capt. Abiel Packard, but mostly in passing. Pages 25 and 26 of Moses Cary’s book, A Genealogy of the Families Who Have Settled in the North Parish of Bridgewater, which Mr. Dale Cook put online, describes him as follows:

[Abiel] lived where Captain Nathaniel Wales now lives; he m[arried]. an Ames, was a Captain in the militia, had eight s[on]s. Abiel [who died in his youth], Josiah [a militia captain who died in 1793 at age 70], Joshua [moved to the state of Maine], Thomas [had varying children], Timothy [died in 1780, age 48], Daniel [moved westward], Eliab [moved westward], and Benjamin [died 1808, aged 59]; and two d[aughter]s. Sarah, and Betsey.   Sarah m[arries] Deacon Ebenezer Snell.   Betsey m. Jacob Edson. Captain Abiel Packard was the greatest land-holder in the North Parish; he owned a thousand acres of land in one body, aud [sic] settled seven of his sons on the same. Captain Abiel Packard died 1776, aged 76.

However, there are some problems with this description. For one, his gravestone clearly lists him as dying in 1774, two years before the Revolutionary War began. Secondly, he is described on Find A Grave as “the son of Zaccheus and Sarah (Howard) Packard” and as marrying “Sarah Ames on January 11, 1722/23 in Bridgewater, Plymouth Co., Massachusetts.” Only seven of his children are listed on Find A Grave, apart from his son Abiel, not the ten that Cary claims were the children of Abiel and Sarah. [1] One article in Access Genealogy, which misstates hid death date as 1776 adds to this narrative by noting that

Capt. Abiel Packard, the youngest child of Zaccheus and Sarah (Howard) Packard, was born April 29, 1699, in West Bridgewater, and later became one of the first settlers of the North Parish of Bridgewater, where he was engaged in farming, owning the land afterward known as the Capt. Nathaniel Wales place. He was the largest land owner in the neighborhood, having over one thousand acres in one tract, upon which he settled seven of his sons. He was a captain in the militia. He married Jan. 11, 1723, Sarah Ames, daughter of John and Sarah (Washburn) Ames, and they became the parents of ten children…[Abiel’s] wife died in Bridgewater, in 1790, aged eighty-three years.

His birth date on Apr 25, 1699 is definitely confirmed, as I noted in a previous post.

With this, I looked at my entry for Abiel Packard, in which I said at the end that “due to the date of his death, he was NOT a famous captain in the Revolutionary War as some sources claim.” I found, from this profile that Abiel, age 37,  on December 31, 1736, signed a petition to the Massachusetts legislature (General Court), as an inhabitant of the Northern section of Bridgewater’s “West Precinct,” requesting to be a distinct township. [2] This shows where he was living at the time, along with the other nine Packards who signed the petition: David, David Jr., James, John, Jonathan, Seth, Solomon, William, and Zaccheus. Also, in that profile I cited Massachusetts, Marriages, 1633-1850 showing that Abiel married Deliverance Washburn on November 16, 1771 in Bridgewater, using the same resource to show he married Sarah Ames on January 11, 1723 in Bridgewater. I extracted information from Bradford Kingman’s 1866 book, History of North Bridgewater, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, From its First Settlement to the Present Time with Family Registers, showing that he was a militia captain (originally he was ensign in 1762) with Issac Packard (pp 94, 201, 292-293 at most). [3] In the same book, I found that in 1750/51 he was a selectman (p 203), that he voted to furnish the meeting house and fund school on 15 Aug 1748 (pp 88, 113), with a number of votes concerning him in 1747 (p 112). I also found that for many years he was on the committee of the North Parish (p. 206), specifically 1746-1748, 1750, 1752, 1754, 1756-1758, 1760-1761, 1763-1769, that he sold pews in 1744 (pp 88, 113), and the same year paid a higher tax than David, Solomon, Deacon, Zachariah, Seth, William, Lydia (Widow), and Jacob Packard, possibly indicating that he owned more land than them (pp 211-212). Finally, the book also said that he helped, from 1739 to 1740, along with his brothers David and Solomon, to approve certain preachers, sell of pews, and other improvements to the local church (pp 20, 85), and that he was a treasurer of the North Parish from 1738-1743 and in 1762 (p 206).

If Kingman is right in his assessment than Abiel was an active churchgoer. Clearly he lived in Bridgewater for all of his life. Most importantly, were the original sources I cited on the profile. At age 24, he was mentioned in the dividing up of the estate of his father, Zaccheus Packard, who had died that year (1723). [4] Furthermore, he was mentioned in the inventory and division of his father’s estate (all the people who sign it were Zaccheus’s children) in May 1725, noting that Zaccheus died on August 3, 1723. He was also mentioned in the settling of the estate the same month, which was signed in the presence of Joseph Edson and Nathaniel Brett. The original documents, linked above, are posted below. Specifically focus on pages 74, 75, and 76, which have the information relating to Zaccheus Packard and his children surviving.

Yellow underlines are my emphasis of the inventory. This showing that Abiel has 7 siblings: Jonathan Packard, David Packard, Solomon Packard, James Packard, John Packard, Sarah Packard (wife of Josiah Edson), and Israel Packard. There is a later picture just focusing on what Abiel got.

Focus on Abiel within the division of the estate. It shows him granted some land, specifically a part of “undivided lands” of Cedar Swamp and twenty aces. Not much, but something!

Yellow underlines are my emphasis. A “Sarah Packard” is mentioned at the top, who is obviously Sarah Howard, who married Zaccheus. All the other children, and the husband (Josiah Edson) of Sarah Packard, signed the document at the time. A whole group of Packards!

I also uploaded Abiel Packard’s will which he wrote on June 19, 1773, saying he is weak in body, giving his wife one cow, 30 pounds, and estate while his son Josiah gets his lands in Bridgewater. The original documents of that will are reprinted below. Interestingly, one of the pages mentions another Packard, we’ve written about on here before, Zachariah Packard!

Yellow underlining is my emphasis. This page shows that Deliverance, Abiel’s wife, gave him the estate on which he currently lives! It also names his son, Josiah.

Yellow underlining is my emphasis. This lists his other children, including his sons Joshua, Thomas, Timothy, Daniel, Eliab, and Benjamin, daughters Sarah (widow of then-dead Ebenezer Snell) and Betty (wife of James Edson), to name all of them. I missed some areas to underline, but I got most of them.

This shows he had nine children, not ten children as others claimed.

Later on, Massachusetts, Wills and Probate Records, 1635-1991 lists him as dying in 1774, and was buried in Brockton.

And that’s all I’m writing on Abiel for now.


[1] This was also noted by other sites (also see here), including another local historian. and a genealogical database, but they are wrong on his death date as being 1776. For other similar mistakes in genealogical accounts, see here. For other accounts, see here, and here.

[2] 1736 petition, “Archives Collection (1629 – 1799) ,” Vol 114, p 212.

[3] I also said that “other militia captains included: David Packard in 1780, Robert and Lennel Packard in 1783 (Robert again in 1796), Adin Packard (1817), Abiel Packard (1819) & Charles T. Packard (1862).” I added that “Kingman claims that Abiel served until the revolutionary war but this is not true as the war began, by claims of most historians, in 1775. If one uses Ray Raphael’s claim that the war began in 1774, this is true. Likely Kingman is not referring to this however.”

[4] The pages I cited on an note titled “Dividing up real estate pages” are here, here, here, and here.

Direct vs. indirect descent in the Packard line

Some time ago, a Packard descendant told me they are only “indirectly” related to the Packards. What does this mean?

For one, it shouldn’t be confused with direct lineage, that is, yourself, your parents, your grandparents, your great-grandparents, and so on, not counting uncles, aunts, and cousins as direct ancestors, but rather part of an extended family line.  That comes with terms like direct line, meaning a relationship of one person to another in a direct line (parent-to-child, grandparent, great-grandparent), which differs from a collateral line, describing family relationships not n the direct line of descent like siblings, spouses, children of siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. Secondly, reading some online forums (Stack Exchange and The Straight Dope), it seems the distinction between direct and indirect descent  is this:

Direct descendant means those who are biologically descended from a person, while an indirect descendant means someone who is of a blood relation, but not a biological descendant. The latter includes those who have to go through a cousin or a marriage in order to find the desired ancestor.

In my case, then, I would would indirectly descended from Samuel Packard, who came over on the Diligent in 1638 to what we now call New England, since I have to go through Dora Mills’s marriage to Cyrus W. Packard to be connected into the Packard line. Now, if I was a child whose parents where the children of Cyrus and his third wife, Clementina, and still retained the Packard last name, then I would be directly descended. However, due to my connection to Dora Mills, I am directly descended from her father, John Rand Mills, which I try to expand on my sister blog, Milling ’round Ireland. What I’m talking about is charted below:

Example of direct descent in my Mills family line. He was called Robert Mills because he was adopted by Dora’s brother, also named Robert Mills. His original name was Robert Barnabas Packard before adoption.

Example of indirect descent in my Packard family line. The yellow indicates where the indirect line begins, and my connection to the Packard line.

That’s all for now. Until next time!

Colorized photos of this Packard, this Packard, every Packard!

Recently, I was messing around with some tools online and learned how to colorize some images. Of those, almost half were Packard family photos which I’ve posted on Find A Grave in the past. This post shows those photos for the first time! They tell more of the story behind these individuals.

Cyrus W. Packard and Joseph Beals

This picture, which comes from the Plainfield Historical Society, at Camp 55, shows Cyrus [on he right] (along with Joseph Beals Jr. [on the left]), listed as a member of the Plainfield chapter of the Sons of Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW). At first, this image may not make sense because Cyrus did not fight in the Civil War. However, SUVCW are direct descendants from those who were “regularly mustered and served honorably in, was honorably discharged from, or died in the service of…regiments called to active service…between April 12, 1861 and April 9, 1865.” This means that Cyrus is wearing his father’s uniform, hat, and pants, with two medals either on the uniform or given as a part of his membership in the SUVCW.

While the colors of Cyrus does not reveal much, apart from black leather shoes, it is clear that Joseph is wearing blue pants. Perhaps Cyrus is as well? The above shows more of the created background behind them than the original.

Here is the original photo:

Mable/Mabel and Olive Packard

This colorized image doesn’t add much information from the original other than the background and their faces. Here’s the original:

Mabel Hattie Packard

This has to be so many times better than the original! Showing Mabel in 1950, courtesy of DGVallender on ancestry, this image brings color to the life of Mabel, a daughter of Dora Mills and Cyrus W. Packard and sister of Robert Barnabas Packard, later called Robert B. Mills or RBM II. He is the original:

Cyrus and Dora’s family

Cyrus, Dora Mills, and family. Originally posted by dawnbrick on ancestry. Mabel is the baby that Mom Dora is holding. Dora did not survive Mabel’s infancy, and Mabel was then adopted by the Cosgroves. As she grew older, Mabel kept up with her Packard siblings.

Other than accentuating the colors of the image, this doesn’t add much detail. Sadly, this version cuts out Joseph Packard, unlike a clearer image, which is available. Here is the original image:

Mabel and Giles Whitley

This photo is about 1916, in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. From Left to Right on the first row is: Margaret E. Whitley, Harold Woodrow Whitley on Giles’s knee, and Giles Thomas Whitley (son). In the second row is Giles Thomas Whitley and Mabel Hattie Packard (Cosgrove).

This shows Mabel in her earlier years, unlike other images shown in this post. The new colors show that Mabel was wearing a darker color dress and white blouse, while Giles (in the back) is wearing a black suit coat with a tie and white collared shirt. Everyone except Mabel, to our knowledge, is wearing boots! Here is the original:

Also posted here.

The crusader: E.PW. Packard

Photograph of Elizabeth Packard within her 1866 book, Marital Power Exemplified in Mrs. Packard’s Trial.

While this is not the best image in the world, it does tell something about E.P.W. Packard, that she was a learned, but a woman who lived simply, not with much flourish. Perhaps, she even had brown hair, as it seems here. Here is the original image:

Bertha Bell Gurney

“Bertha Gurney Packard (Mother of William A.).” Comes from the Plainfield Historical Society. William A. was William Albert Packard.

Again, Bertha clearly had style, no doubt about it. The colors aren’t as great as one might hope, but they do seem to imply that what she is wearing is deep blue in color. Here is the original image:

I hope you enjoyed this photo series! Until next time.

Unlocking the origin of the Library of Congress’s “Packard Campus” in Culpeper

Courtesy of Wikimedia

As a person interested in library and archival science, I sometimes get email alerts from the Library of Congress. One of them mentioned the “Packard Campus.” I looked it up briefly, and found a Library of Congress page describing it as a ” state-of-the-art facility where the Library of Congress acquires, preserves and provides access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of films, television programs, radio broadcasts, and sound recordings,” with the campus covering “415,000 square feet, more than 90 miles of shelving for collections storage, 35 climate controlled vaults for sound recording, safety film, and videotape, 124 individual vaults for more flammable nitrate film” and even having a “206 seat theater” which began in 2007. But the origin of how this facility got the name of Packard was absent. I then proceeded to put it on the back burner, until I looked into it further and recognized  the origin of  the name.

Mount Pony, as it was apparently called, was opened in December 1969, coming about as “a result of fear during the cold war that a nuclear war would destroy the economy of the United States,” housing enough “U.S. currency to replenish the cash supply east of the Mississippi River following a catastrophic event,” a bunker of the Federal Reserve. In 1993, the bunker was decommissioned, sitting abandoned for four years, while the Library of Congress faced a storage crisis. It was then that David Francis, a top individual in the Library of Congress, “heard about the empty bunker in Culpeper and saw a chance to consolidate the audiovisual collection under one roof,” seeing it as an opportunity to “start fresh.” In order to acquire the building, the investment came from David Woodley Packard, the “son of Hewlett-Packard cofounder David Packard” whom had bought the property in 1997 on behalf of the Library of Congress, spending millions building a “state-of-the-art facility.” [1] In July 2007 it was fully donated to the Library of Congress, being the “second-largest private-sector gift to the federal government” other than Wolf Trap and the Smithsonian Institution is the biggest. In addition to the $160 million spent by David Woodley Packard, Congress appropriated about $100 million from 2007 to 2011.

Today, the facility, officially called the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center, located in Culpeper, Virginia, it serves as “the nation’s premiere storage and preservation facility for audio, visual and recorded sound,” with wonderful efforts going on to this day. Over 1,100 of their items are available on the Internet Archive for public viewing. This connects with its massive digital storage capability. It also serves a sort of tourist attraction now.

This facility is one important for U.S. history, since it is “equipped with technology old and new that will be used to preserve and duplicate America’s creative history of film, video and sound recordings, and make it accessible to the public.” [2] Additionally, this trove of information is “available to anyone, free” but access is “because of the complexities of copyright law…restricted to the library’s reading rooms in Washington and Culpeper.” In an interesting feature, the Packard campus even has a green roof!

And that’s it about the Packard campus. Until next time, adieu!


[1] Also, the Packard Humanities Institute (originally funded by the Packard Foundation) pitched in.

[2] Andrea Hsu, “Library of Congress Adds Audio-Visual Campus,” NPR, Aug 23, 2007; Randy Lewis, “Library of Congress builds the record collection of the century,” LA Times, May 8, 2011; Allison Brophy Champion, “‘The ultimate library for our nation’s treasures’,” Culpeper Star Exponent, Feb 20, 2018; Anthony McCartney, “Library of Congress vaults preserve, protect movies,” AP, Aug 25, 2012; Jason Daley, “The Library of Congress Needs Your Help to Identify These Silent Movies,” Smithsonian, Jun 10, 2016; Michael Anderson, “Music Diary Notes: Library of Congress and Sony Music team for ‘National Jukebox’ Archives,” May 12, 2011; Rob Beschizza, “Digitizing the past and present at the Library of Congress,” Boing Boing, Jun 9, 2010; “UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP DONATES OVER 200,000 MASTER RECORDINGS TO THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS,”, Jan 10, 2010.