“Introduction” to my Packard family history

This is the 1st in a series of articles which serializes my family history, which I wrote in November 2017, titled “From Samuel to Cyrus: A fresh look at the History of the Packard Family.” Below is the introduction from that history:

38 years ago my grandfather wrote a genealogy. While this was published 14 years before I was born, he likely would be proud that someone else is adding to his family history all these years later. For his 50-page book, which only had a circulation of seven copies, a cousin named Tommy L. Atkins, along with other living Packard family members, gave him information to fill out the Packard part of the story. He was aiming to, as he states in his dedication, present a genealogy to help family members “gain a better appreciation of the roots of their families in American life.” His history proceeds in reverse chronological order, using “progenitors” (ancestors or forefathers in direct line), to weave the story from Samuel Packard to the 20th century.
This book aims to build upon that history. Due to the fact that he was writing the family history in the “pre-internet” days, he had to work with what he had, sometimes requesting records from appropriate state agencies and other times relying on the Packard family as a source. In the years since, numerous genealogical resources have appeared online, including scanned original records of varying towns in repositories such as the free-to-use Family Search, run by the Mormons in Utah, or the subscription-based services of Ancestry.com. Hence, the work he did can be enhanced with many primary sources, along with secondary, and some genealogical, sources as backing.
As the 12th generation that descended from Samuel Packard (my 9th great-grandfather), who lived centuries before me, I feel compelled to write this history.
Much of the information in this book comes from my own research. In August 2017, as part of a family vacation, I went across Massachusetts following in the footsteps of my grandfather. As the story goes, he 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. For me, I didn’t have the same experience. There is currently no industry in Plainfield, but I did talk with a member of the Plainfield Historical Society named Matthew Stowell who showed me a Packard family genealogy which the society had recently received. He was kind, friendly, and I’m glad I made contact with him in the process of writing this genealogy. The same was the case in Hingham. Although the archivist of the Hingham Historical Society, Michael Achille could not find anything on the Packards except something tangentially connected, it was also worth talking with him on the subject. Beyond that, I visited, with my family, graveyards in Bridgewater (First Cemetery), Cummington (Dawes Cemetery), and Plainfield (West Hill Cemetery), the latter two which were Packed with Packards. I also talked, via email and on Find A Grave with another Packard descendant, Richard Packard, who provided some helpful information. As many primary sources are
cited as possible rather than family genealogies or even transcripts of vital records that have few sources at all. [1] This history attempts to rectify the lack of primary sources in the past.
With new information available, new stories and perspectives can be discovered.  Hence, more can be learned about our collective past. The first chapter illuminates uses the best sources available at this time to tell the story of the Packard family within England before some left for the “colonies.” The second chapter focuses on the journey of Samuel and Elizabeth Packard across the ocean to the “new world.” The other chapters further tell the story of the Packard family. Chapter three tells the story of
the Packards in Bridgewater. The fourth chapter focuses specifically on Samuel Packard, while the next chapter talks about his and Elizabeth’s children. The sixth chapter tells the story of Zaccheus and Sarah Packard’s family, while the next follows the story of John and Lydia’s family. After that, chapters eight, nine, and ten follow the story of the three Barnabas Packards and their families. The following chapter, chapter 11, focuses on William and Rachel Packard’s family and the Civil War. Chapter 12
focuses on Cyrus Packard and his family. Now let us continue this journey.
[1] See, for example, pages 204 and 311 of the Vital Records of Weymouth, Massachusetts, to the year 1850, pages 237-250 of Vital Records of Bridgewater, Massachusetts, to the year 1850 Vol. 1, and pages 273-286 of Vital Records of Bridgewater, Massachusetts, to the year 1850 Vol. 2.

2 thoughts on ““Introduction” to my Packard family history

  1. Pingback: An addendum unfinished: Bob’s “sentimental journey to Massachusetts” | Packed with Packards!

  2. Pingback: Packed with Packards and existing social hierarchies | Packed with Packards!

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