Packed with Packards and existing social hierarchies

A photograph of E.P.W. Packard from one her books.

In Jackie Hogan’s book, Roots Quest: Inside America’s Genealogy Boom, she writes about how in the U.S. roots work can encourage conformity to social values and norms, since genealogists make choices on what ancestors they focus on, resulting existing social hierarchies to be legitimized, all while “patriarchal bias” runs rampant with more focus on men, rather than women. She also notes, however, that even though roots work can maintain the status quo, it can also challenge existing social arrangements and hierarchies, as it can contest “long-standing hierarchies” and make demands for more “equitable arrangements,” serving as a “pathway toward social change.” This brought me to the realization that I should do a survey of my genealogy blogposts on Packed with Packards! and moving to other blogs. This analysis will focus the gender of the ancestors I have written about and what I can do to ensure that my posts work to challenge rather than maintain the status quo. Use the categories of “male” and “female” while having a full realization that these are not the only two genders out there, as there many other genders. I sadly doubt there few, if any ancestors, which fall into this category. I would also like to write more posts about ancestors who pushed progressive causes and had a role in making society better, but that also needs to be squared with gender diversity as well.

In this analysis, I’m not going to consider a number of posts, although most on blogs are fair game. [1] I realize that a good number of my early posts, especially in 2017 and 2018 , are absolutely awful, either due to a lack of content or something else entirely. I apologize for that. I think I was so desperate to post content that I decided to value quantity over quality, leading to a degradation of the blog itself. To read the original data I used for this analysis, which shows the raw data and breaks it down by gender, which I threw into ChartGo Stock Charts, for the below visualizations, go here. While there is the possibility I may have forgotten some ancestors I wrote about this blog by accident, I believe my analysis is relatively comprehensive.

I recommend others do a similar analysis on their blogs, looking at their “major” and “minor” mentions of ancestors. Major means an ancestor is a central part of the post, and/or the post focused specifically on them. It can also include whose are named  at least two times in a post, although this is rare. For instance, a post on my badass ancestor, E.P.W. (Elizabeth Parsons Ware) Packard, which talks about her role in mental health reform would be considered a major mention, like the one I published back in August. Contrasting this is a minor mention, which is more common. These ancestors are either mentioned only once or so, usually referring to children of an ancestor and their wife or husband, depending on the gender of the ancestor. I’m not going to focus on the race of my ancestors, because they are all White, apart from enslaved blacks. Specifically, Zachariah Packard owned enslaved blacks and Captain Samuel Packard tried to steal Africans from the Western African coast, which was illegal at the time. Luckily, there were other ancestors who were anti-slavery. Also, I’m not going to focus on sexual orientation, as I probably will never know about the true sexual orientation of most of my ancestors, although I could probably reasonably say that most of them are straight. That doesn’t seem to be an overreach to say the least. With that, let’s dive on in this analysis!

Shocking gender non-diversity in major mentions of ancestors

Even if I overstated those ancestors who had a major focus on my blog, y results were not pretty. For every woman in this category, there were three men I focused on! To put this in other terms, I focused on almost 300% more men than women. Specifically, of the 157 ancestors who had a major focus on this blog, 40 were female (25.5%) and 117 were male (74.5%). This is appalling and shameful. Clearly, I need to write more posts about female ancestors. As such, this is something to work on in the future. This is why I refuse to write about people like Samuel Packard anymore, although people like Dale Cook think its “important” enough to literally troll my blog and look for “errors” I made. Its interesting he NEVER does this for any of my female ancestors. Isn’t that convenient! I mean, Mr. Cook has done some good work, I’m just a bit annoyed with him. I would like to focus on more formidable females.

Due to the over-abundance of men, am I supporting existing hierarchies and does the blog have a “patriarchal bias”? I sure hope not, but I will say that I likely focused on male ancestors because that is where the records are…and due to the fact that my Packard lineage is patrilineal rather than matrilineal. This is on my grandfather’s side (my mom’s dad) and he wrote the history in a patrilineal manner, talking about “progenitors” meaning a forefather or a person’s direct ancestors, to summarize from Wikitionary. That is funny because my ancestry through the Packards is actually indirect as I’ve written about before. As such, I can’t break away from focusing on the patrilineal connections in that sense. However, I can still focus on more women within my family tree. Fictional Princess Bonnibel “Bonnie” Bubblegum was right when she said that, “families are tricky.” This is definitely the case with the Packards!

Sure, I used maiden names for women whenever I had them available, but what Kimberly Powell writes here is worth quoting, as she has some good points about writing about tracing women in your family tree:

The individual identities of women who lived prior to the twentieth century are often very tangled in those of their husbands, both by law and by custom…[as such] female ancestors are often neglected in family histories and genealogies—listed with only a first name and approximate dates for birth and death. They are our “invisible ancestors”…This neglect, while understandable, is still inexcusable. Half of all of our ancestors were women. Each female in our family tree provides us with a new surname to research and an entire branch of new ancestors to discover. Women were the ones who bore the children, carried on family traditions, and ran the household. They were teachers, nurses, mothers, wives, neighbors and friends. They deserve to have their stories told – to be more than just a name on a family tree…Tracing the female side of your family tree can be a bit difficult and frustrating, but is also one of the most rewarding challenges of genealogy research…Generally, the single best place to locate a maiden name for a female ancestor is on her marriage record…If you find a record of the marriage for your female ancestor, then be sure to take note of all pertinent information, including the names of the bride and groom, places of residence, ages, occupations, date of the marriage, the person who performed the marriage, witnesses, etc. Every little detail can lead to new information…However, a maiden name can usually be ascertained from the father’s surname…Prior the the 20th century divorces were often difficult (and expensive) to obtain, especially for women. They can, however, sometimes provide clues to maiden names when no other sources exist…The cemetery may be the only place where you will find proof of the existence of a female ancestor. This is especially true if she died young and had little time to leave official records of her existence…While at the cemetery, make note of the exact spelling of your female ancestor’s name, the dates of her birth and death, and her spouse’s name, if listed. Be cautious, however, when jumping to conclusions based on this information as tombstone inscriptions are often incorrect…Once you locate your female ancestor in the census, be sure to copy the entire page on which she is listed. To be on the safe side you may even want to copy the page directly before and after hers as well. Neighbors may be relatives and you will want to keep an eye on them. Make a note of the names of your female ancestor’s children. Women often named their children after their mother, father, or favorite brothers & sisters…Pay close attention to the people listed in the household with your ancestor, especially if they are listed with a different surname…Land records are some of the earliest available genealogical records in the United States…A woman’s legal rights varied depending on whether she lived in an area governed by civil or common law…When a couple sold land in the nineteenth century, the woman is often identified due to her right of dower…When you are examining deed indexes for your surnames, look for the Latin phrases “et ux.” (and wife) and “et al.” (and others)…This will often occur when land is divided upon someone’s death, and can lead you to a will or probate record.

I knew some of this from a class I took in college, Women in the Law, but this still was a good refresher, to say the least.

While it is often difficult to find any reference to women in history, looking at female ancestors is important because they are ones that give us new family line lines, which can help “explode myths and challenge stereotypes.” That’s more reason than any to focus on these ancestors, without a doubt! You can write about Beck Kobel’s post, where she spotlights young women who married too young, who were part of polygamous relationships, or tombstones of female ancestors, to give two examples.

There’s one more point I’d like to make in this section. If we are writing about men, can you focus on people who have beautiful hair? Generally the answer is NO. Just look at my favorite cartoon characters as way to show this as true. For instance, 28 in this listing are women. All have beautiful, pretty and/or cute hair:

  • Carmen Sandiego in the new series
  • Marceline Abadeer the Vampire Queen
  • Princess Bubblegum (PB)
  • Huntara
  • Adora (especially when She-Ra)
  • Rainbow Quartz
  • Opal
  • Glimmer
  • Spinnerella
  • Netossa
  • Rose Quartz
  • Lapis Lazuli
  • Bismuth
  • Sadie Miller
  • Carmen Sandiego from the 1990s show
  • Anthy Himemiya
  • Utena Tenjou
  • Turanga Leela
  • Amethyst
  • Connie Maheswaran
  • Peridot
  • Pearl
  • Mermista
  • Perfuma
  • Entrapta
  • Phebe the Flame Princess (FP)
  • Marshmaline the Campfire Queen
  • Sapphire (half of Garnet)

Steg, a male fusion, Greg Universe, Stevonnie (non-binary and intersex), Samurai Jack are some exceptions, however.

Almost gender parity in minor mentions of ancestors?

The results from this category did make me feel better, although I also have some work to do. Men still outnumber women out of the 501 mentions I counted. 273 were men (54.5%), 227 were female (45.3%), and 1 had a gender I couldn’t determine (.2%). This brings to me what Gena Philibert-Ortega writes on Genealogy Bank:

There’s no doubt that tracing female ancestors can be difficult and sometimes near impossible. Unlike men who were documented via different types of transactions throughout their lives, women can seemingly disappear just by marrying an unknown-to-you spouse or spouses…A non-married woman will be listed by her given name and surname (a.k.a. maiden name), while a married woman might be listed as Mrs. [insert husband’s first name or initials and surname]. A widow may revert back to using her given name, so that Mrs. John Smith or Mrs. J. W. Smith becomes Mrs. Grace Smith after his death…make sure that you are searching all variations of a female ancestor’s name…As you research, use a timeline of dates and places to help you find newspaper articles that you may miss just searching by a name, due to misspellings or name variations. Find the corresponding newspaper articles for your timeline that document the major events in her life: birth, engagement, wedding, children’s births, major anniversary milestones, and death…Stay away from making assumptions about your ancestor’s life. Don’t fall into the old “she was just a housewife” syndrome. You might be surprised to find what she was involved in during her lifetime.

There are also a host of other articles I found, like “Tracing Female Ancestors Through A Child’s Records” where Lisa Lisson notes that tracking down female ancestors requires thinking “outside the box”, suggesting looking through the records of a child instead. Another good one is Donna Przecha’s “Finding Female Ancestors and Maiden Names” where she notes that there should be a focus on maiden names, so-called “non-productive sources,” the existing laws on the books referring to women, divorce, and various federal and state information sources. Mary Harrell-Sesniak’s “8 Genealogy Tips for Tracing Female Ancestry” also seems like a helpful source. Her seven tips (she miscounted, as its seven, not eight) are simple:

  1. Know All of Your Ancestor’s Identities (like nicknames and alternate names)
  2. Search All of Your Ancestor’s Titles
  3. Search for Pseudonyms
  4. Search by Her Initials
  5. Incorporate Cultural Considerations in Searches
  6. Search Multiple Sources for Marriage Records
  7. Enter “Maiden Name” as a Search Engine Keyword

There’s a bunch of other resources, like those noted by Cyndi’s List, Linda Clyde’s “Ever Wonder Why It’s So Hard to Trace Your Female Ancestry?,” Amy Johnson Crow’s “Unusual Sources for Finding Female Ancestors,” and “The Tapestry of our Female Ancestors’ Lives,” to give a few examples.

Onward to a better blog! Woohoo!


[1] This includes my “From Samuel to Cyrus: A fresh look at the History of the Packard Family” (as its mostly a bunch of pictures) post, welcome post, the two posts (here and here) on the unreliable Packard family history book, the “Packards in parish registers” post, the “Samuel Packard and generations after: the pages compiled by Dale Cook” post, the “Examining the sources of the Plymouth Colony Pages” post, “The UK’s National Archives outlines varying Packards” post, the ““Introduction” to my Packard family history” post, the “Family tree chart for reference” post, “Concluding remarks and photographs” post, “Red House Farm” post, “Packard Poem” post, “Selected content about the Packards from Grandpa Don Plefka (Harry Ronald Cecora)” post, “Seminar on the Packard family in Ohio” post, “Plainfield, Massachusetts today” post, “Continuing the story of Plainfield, a “small hill town” in the Berkshire Highlands” post, “Emails from two former Packard researchers” post, “Packard descendants out there!” post, “Original documents for Packard and related families” post, “Unlocking the origin of the Library of Congress’s “Packard Campus” in Culpeper” post, “Direct vs. indirect descent in the Packard line” post, “Analyzing ‘Packard’s Progress’” post, “An addendum unfinished: Bob’s “sentimental journey to Massachusetts”” post, “A break well-deserved” post, “The story behind the Packard Cemetery in Cameron, Missouri” post, “Visiting Abigail and Capt Samuel Packard’s gravesites in Rhode Island” post, “The story of Packardsville, MA” post, “The UK’s National Archives are ‘packed with Packards’” post, and the “Places with ‘Packard’ in the name across the U.S.” post.

“A transcript of my own individuality”: Elizabeth speaks in her own words

A colorized photograph of Elizabeth from one her books, I believe from this book.

Continuing from where we left off in the last article of this series, in 1864, Elizabeth (often called E.P.W. Packard) wrote a book telling her personal experience inside the Jacksonsville State Hospital titled The exposure on board the Atlantic & Pacific car of emancipation for the slaves of old Columbia, engineered by the lightning express; or, Christianity & Calvinism compared. With an appeal to the government to emancipate the slaves of the marriage union. Volume I. Ed. by a slave, now imprisoned in Jacksonville insane asylum, making the powerful claim she was enslaved by her marriage to Theophilus. I can’t thank Stephany enough for sharing the excerpts from Jeffrey L. Geller and Maxine Harris’s Women in the Asylum: Voices from Behind the Walls: 1840-1945. Originally I planned to reprint extracts of her book, but since its so long, its perhaps better to summarize it, to the best of my ability, in this post.

In the Dedication to this 1864 book, which is to her children, she first lays out some important genealogical information on her children:

  1. Theophilus Packard, Jr., her first child, born on Mar 17, 1842
  2. Issac Ware Packard, her second child, born Jun 24, 1844
  3. Samuel Packard, her third child, born Nov 2, 1847
  4. Elizabeth Ware Packard, her fourth child, born May 10, 1850
  5. George Hastings Packard, her fifth child, born Jul 18, 1853
  6. Arthur Dwight Packard, her sixth child, born Dec 18, 1858

As the dedication goes on, she ties in her Christian imagery, but also argues that she has been “deserted by my father, cast off by my husband, uncared for by my brothers” but says that these six children have stood by her, saying that their ” tender, loving hearts have writhed in secret agony over your mother’s sorrows.” She especially thanks her son Theophilus, who, despite the fact he was “threatened with disinheritance from our family and home,” whom visited her four times in prison, and the one secret visit of her son Isaac. She also notes that her cousin, Angeline S. Field, of Granville,  Ill., visited her “once, and has written me once,” a possible further connection to explore on this blog in the future.

When we get to the book’s Preface, the importance of the book it clear. Not only does she “assume the entire responsibility of the statements and opinions it contains” but it is, as noted in the title of this post, “a transcript of my own individuality upon paper.” She further says that while she is called “crazy, or insane” is because those who call her that cannot “see the reasonableness of the positions and opinions I assume to advocate and defend,” and further says they have a lack of “Christian charity.” She goes onto say that she has endured “a long and wearisome persecution and false imprisonment of three years for conscience sake,” and that truth is her only “weapon…defense…[and] refuge” to make her argument. She further points out that her ” benevolent regard for the insane party tempts me to give them some occasion for believing me insane by giving utterance to what, to them, will be insane opinions.” She ends by saying that she will pack her “thoughts into the form of cannon balls to shoot Calvinism with…by giving my reasons for my opinions” and says that the book, is effectively, “God’s work.”

Then, we get to the Introduction (written in October 1862), which is a bit different from the preface. She argues that book will be 12 distinct parts, and she wants to get to her children, to her family, to go home, saying she is presenting this book at the suggestion of Dr. Andrew McFarland (a Universalist and Spiritualist) of the asylum. She adds that she has had to confront the asylum’s trustees for falsely imprisoning her for  three years, condemns the “treacherous sister” of her husband, Sybil, the cousin of her husband, Sophia Porter Smith (calling her a “Calvin sycophant or parasite”), and her father, Rev. Samuel Ware (“defender of total depravity”) while she praises the wife of her brother (Samuel) named Mary and her brother Austin Ware, whom she calls kind, but halting. Connected to this is the Birth of the Book section where she justifies the necessity for publishing this book. She also admits that Dr. McFarland did not keep his promise to lend her money to publish my book, but instead tried to prevent its publication! Yikes!

After that is the My Passport section, which is a sort of preface to her statement to the Trustees of the Jacksonville Insane Asylum, at their September meeting in 1862, through the kindness of Dr. McFarland. She notes how she pleaded her case to the trustees, with the support of Dr. McFarland, and the correspondence with Mrs. Maria Chapman, also confined in the same asylum “on the charge of insanity, based on her embracing Swedenborgian views, while her friends remain Presbyterians” but is in a different ward, so the letters between they are carried by Dr. Tenny the mail-carrier. In the Statement Before the Trustees, she argues that Christianity and Calvinism are antagonistic to each other, saying that Calvinism is treasonous,and making further religious arguments saying that Jesus and Calvin’s ideas are in conflict. But then she makes her stronger arguments: her imprisonment and the attempt to chain her thoughts is “a crime against the constitution of this free government, and also a crime against civilization and human progress,” that the law through which she is imprisoned, “is a Calvinistic law” and immoral, that the Calvinistic law of marriage “enslaves the wife” and only cured by emancipation, and that Calvinism is inherently wrong in and of itself. She finally makes the request that the trustees give her paper to write her thoughts down in print,that her husband is effectively abusing her and should be taken from his “position in society, his family, and from all his constitutional rights as an American citizen, and imprison[ed]…in this Insane Asylum, for life, or until I can remove his children out of the reach of his influence”!

With that, we get to the Correspondence with Mrs. [Maria] Chapman. In response to her statement, Chapman tells her that she is anxious to know of the success of her pleading of case, saying that Elizabeth has “been so brave in fighting your own battles” but hopes it “will not be in vain.” In reply on Sept 8, Elizabeth, after making a religious argument, notes that she talked as fast as she could, but she spent 50 minutes making her case, with the trustees willing to do what she asked, and says that she prefers to “stand self-reliant and alone, depending upon my own intrinsic character, capacities, qualifications and deserts” for her own support. However, she does say that none of the trustees believe her to “be an insane person,” arguing that the “tide has turned.” Sadly, Elizabeth did not publish the reply by Maria, perhaps because it was personal in some way, although she did say that Elizabeth should have “spiritual freedom.” In another letter to Maria on Sept 12, Elizabeth noted the visit of her husband to the asylum, and in a way admitted her intelligence, although he still felt she was “insane,” which she followed by calling him “not a man…but only a personified demon”! Some in the hospital, like Mrs. Grapes (superintendent of the sewing room), Ms. Mary Segal (the chambermaid of Dr. McFarland), and Ms. Haslet (a Manteno gentleman) seemed to agree with her assessment! She then goes on in her religious argument. Following this is yet another letter to Maria, undated, saying that she has lost confidence in her husband and father as her spiritual guides. She also notes how her father placed in the Worchester Asylum at age 18 to cure her of a “derangement which followed a severe brain fever, the result of malign medical treatment” as she puts it, remaining there for five weeks. She also says that she sees the trustees as her friends, that don’t want to keep her imprisoned any longer. It is there that the letters end, with a P.S. note on the last letter, signed E.P.W.P. (Elizabeth Parsons Ware Packard).

With that, we get to the next part of her book, titled Seeing Eye to Eye. In this section, she tells what can be considered a religious fable, basically saying that those of different religious sects within Christianity are working together, while arguing that practical Christians are alike, “not the creeds or sects.” Following this is another section titled Analogy: Between the Rebellion in Our Family and In Our Country. She compares the marital division between her and her husband as analogous to the Civil War itself, writing about the “insolent, intolerent spirit of the South,” and how she is not the one who should repent, but rather it should be her husband! She further argues that she has “suffered the most…having never retaliated an injury in my life,” adding that the North “Are the greatest sufferers in the spiritual plane” because they are, in her viewpoint, “keenly alive to justice and humanity, and love of country and kindred,” saying that the South are “hardened their sensibility by injustice and inhumanity so long.” She goes on to make further comparisons between the Civil War and marital strife with her husband, basically saying that the latter is analogous to the South! There’s so much in this section, I really can’t summarize all 33 points, but each one is powerful in their own way.

After this is a chapter titled Transmigration of Souls. She starts to go into some spiritual beliefs (“souls do inhabit different bodies, at different periods of their existence, as really as vegetable and animal life exist in different forms or bodies”), says that everyone can be “traced” and makes generally religious arguments, and talks about “twenty-one years of her spirit martyrdom” she has suffered under marriage to the “great red dragon” which could be either the devil or her husband (or a combination of both). Its really hard to tell!

One of the books more interesting letters is a letter she sent Dorothea Dix, in the Letter to Miss Dix section, for which she never got a reply. She wrote to Dix, on Mar 4, 1860, that “insane asylums must be destroyed, to be constructed anew on a righteous basis,” due to their cruelty and inhumane nature, along with her typical Christian religious arguments. What follows this is a sub-section titled “Defense of Miss Dix” which seems to be a defense, but also seems to say Dix is helping maintain the “present system of Insane Asylums”? This section is a bit confusing to say the least, and she seems to go with idea that Jews “persecuted Christ” (an anti-Semetic belief) when the historical record shows the opposite: that Christians persecuted Jews for centuries!

There are many other parts of her book, like chapters such as Not A Prison, A Record of IncidentsQuestions for Dr. McFarland’s Consideration, A Dream, With its Interpretation, December 1860, A Dream, Without An Interpretation, September, 1862, A Defense, A Note of Explanation, and The Great Trial of Mr.s Elizabeth Elizabeth P.W. Packard (full report by her attorney Stephen R. Moore). She also wrote a number of other books, including one in 1866 (also see here) with a possible update in 1860, 1868, 1871, 1873 (also see here and here), 1878-1879, and 1886. I think what has been mentioned is sufficient enough to explain Elizabeth’s thoughts and her convictions, although the full book itself gives a complete account. And with that, I’m going to end this post. See you next crime!

The Nebraskan Man of Mystery: The Story of Joseph Winfield Packard

Close up of an 1897 map of Nebraska on the website of Hall County, Nebraska

On the morning of Sunday, March 13, 1910, three boys from South Sioux City, Nebraska, who were on a duck hunt, found a horrifying sight near Coburn Junction. [1] A man, said to be 27 years old, was lying beside a train track, his body mangled with a deep gash in his forehead, a broken hip, and numerous contusions and bruises across his body. He had been dead for several hours. On his person was five dollars of change, a “quart bottle of whiskey” (a fifth of a gallon or about 26 ounces), a raffle ticket, and a receipt belonging to a saloon (Duggan and Heffernan) in nearby Hubbard, Nebraska. He also had a letter on him, dated at West Cummington, Massachusetts, on an inside coat pocket addressed to “B.F. Packard” (likely an error) and signed “father.” He was, as local papers reported, killed instantly by a passing freight train that morning by accident and was dragged by the train, furthering his injuries. These same papers said he was suspected of robbery at the Duggan and Heffernan saloon on Saturday night, not an uncommon occurrence for the saloon (which had been robbed and burglarized in 1902, 1904, and 1906). [2] They also supposed that he walked down the Omaha railroad northeast toward the Coburn Junction, on his way to Sioux City, Iowa, across the Missouri River, but was overtaken by a train. His body was held “awaiting some word from his relatives.” This man was named Joseph Winfield Packard.

Joseph was the third child of Cyrus Winfield Packard (1852-1924) and Dorothy “Dora” Ann Mills (1849-1895). He was born on June 17, 1885 in the small town of Plainfield, Massachusetts. [3] His fellow siblings included 3 brothers, John Henry (1882-1950), and Charles Edward (1887-1960), Robert (1891-1956) [adopted in 1895 by the Mills family], and 3 sisters, Margaret (1884-1976), Marion Estelle (1889-1965), and Mabel Hattie (1892-1961).

Little is known about his life, how he got out to Nebraska, what his occupation was, or where he lived. He may have been a boarder with the locally-known Streeter family in Cummington, Massachusetts in 1900 due the fact that it correctly lists his father’s birth place (Massachusetts) and mother’s birthplace (New York), while saying he was born in May 1885. [4] However, since census record lists a “Joseph M Packard” rather than a “Joseph W Packard,” it cannot be confirmed that they are the same person.

Further complicating matters is his gravestone in Plainfield’s West Hill Cemetery, which his father Cyrus once oversaw. It correctly notes his dates of birth and death (1885-1910). However, it also states that he was “buried at Sioux City Nebraska” even though no such place exists! On his Find A Grave page, a family bible entry, sent to me by second cousin once removed, is attached, stating that his death date was March 10th even though it was actually March 13th. This raises the question of who provided this faulty information, which went into the family bible, and who provided the incorrect burial place which was carved into the stone.

We know from local newspaper reports that Joseph was buried in a cemetery in Dakota City on March 19, 1910. Unfortunately searches on the page for Dakota City Cemetery, the only cemetery listed for this town on Find A Grave, have been fruitless. Joseph’s remains were taken there by coroner B.F Sawyer. The county paid the funeral expenses as his father, Cyrus, said he was a “poor man” but he would like to know “the particulars of his son[’]s death.” This charge may have had some validity. The 1910 U.S. Federal census, enumerated about a month after Joseph’s death, showed Cyrus as a farmer who mortgaged a farm in Plainfield, married to his third wife, Clementina Cheney, and having five children in the household (Olive, Herbert, Rachel, Thomas, and Harold), none of whom had any occupation listing. [5]

Despite the lingering mystery of many of the particulars of Joseph’s life beyond his birth and death, there is something we can say for certain: Joseph lived in a small town environment, with Hubbard numbering in the hundreds of people, tied into the train system to nearby towns like South Sioux City and Dakota City, which are four miles apart, both to the Northeast of the town itself. [6] When authorities attempted to bring law and order to the Dakota County, ordering the closing of “remaining gambling houses,” there is no doubt that they were thinking of places like Hubbard, which had at least one saloon. These areas, within Dakota County, were also highly influenced by the railroad and agriculture, the latter due to the fact that the county was “originally vegetated with oak prairie savannas” and lies within confluence of the major rivers draining from Minnesota (Missouri, Minnesota, Mississippi, and St. Croix). [7]

The horrific death of Joseph was not unusual for those times. During the 19th century, railroads in the U.S. were “comparatively dangerous” to workers and their passengers, especially for freight trains. [8] In 1910, Joseph was one of the 314 people killed in railroad-related deaths and over 12,000 were injured, which was even a decrease from previous years.

In the end, while there are many remaining questions about Joseph’s life, there is no question that he was, to put it mildly, the Nebraskan Man of Mystery.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally slated to be published in an upcoming issue of Packard’s Progress, led by Dale Cook and pushed by others, which I submitted for consideration back in January of this year. I felt that it was wrong to let this article linger without further publication, so it seemed right to publish it at this time.


[1] “Mangled Body of Man Found Near Coburn Junction,” Norfolk Weekly News-Journal, Mar 18, 1910, p 8, Death of Joseph W. Packard, Daily Deadwood Pioneer-Times, 16 Mar 1910, p. 1; “The body of a man…,” Dakota County Herald, Mar 18, 1910, p 5; “Joseph Packard, the man who…,” Dakota County Herald, Mar 25, 1910, p 5; “B F Sawyer took the remains…,” Dakota County Herald, Mar 25, 1910, p 5; “Surviving Nebraska Railroad Stations,”; M.M. Warner, Warner’s History of Dakota County, Nebraska: From the Days of the Pioneers and First Settlers to the Present Time, with Biograpical Sketches, and Anecdotes of Ye Olden Times, (Dakota City, Neb.: Lyons Mirror Job Office, 1893), p 97. A 1915 railroad map assists in locating where Coburn Junction was at the time. Coburn Junction is near South Sioux City, Nebraska and is “five miles due west of Dakota City…there is neither a settlement nor post office at this point” as M.M. Warner put it in 1893.

[2] “Hold Up [at] Hubbard Saloon,” Omaha Daily Bee, Dec 24, 1902, p 1; “Nels Anderson Disappeared,” The Lincoln Star, Dec. 15, 1902, p 3; “Notorious Robber is Convicted of Murder,” Lincoln Journal Star, Feb. 22, 1904, p 7; “U S Senator Norris Brown on County Option,” Dakota County Herald, Oct 14, 1910, p 4; “Former Negro Politician Dies in Insane Hospital,” Lincoln Journal Star, Nov 5, 1907, p 1; F.B. Tipton, “Anti-Saloon Legislation,” Nebraska State Journal, Jan 4, 1907, p 8; “A Question of Point of View,” Beatrice Daily Express, Apr 2, 1903, p 1; “Law and Order League,” Lincoln Journal Star, Apr 20, 1904, p 5; “Changes in the Mulct Law,” Omaha Daily Bee, Oct 18, 1903, p 6; “The Duggan and Heffernan saloon…,” Dakota County Herald, Apr 23, 1909, p 4; “The Dugan and Heffernan saloon…,” Dakota County Herald, Nov 30, 1906, p 4. The saloon was part of the local community, like other saloons in the area, leading to debates as to whether saloons should lawfully exist in the county. This was manifested by one writer in 1903 saying saloons “serve the devil,” F.B Tipton calling for limits on Saloons in Jan 1907, Norris Brown writing in October 1910 that “the county government polices and protects the saloons,” and a Law and Order League established in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1904, calling for “the union of all temperance people, the proper enforcement of the laws and the abolition of the saloon.”

[3] “Massachusetts Births, 1841-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch, Packard, 17 Jun 1885, Windsor, Berkshire, Massachusetts; citing reference ID #90, Massachusetts Archives, Boston; FHL microfilm 1,428,207. His Family Search page, which I have contributed to, like other ancestral pages, is a work in progress like all good family history. It is used for rough information on his fellow siblings, the accuracy of which I can vouch for.

[4] “United States Census, 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch, accessed 4 January 2019, Joseph M Packard in household of Edward B Streeter, Cummington Town, Hampshire, Massachusetts, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 618, sheet 2A, family 31, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,240,653.

[5] “United States Census, 1910,” database with images, FamilySearch, Cyrus W Packard, Plainfield, Hampshire, Massachusetts, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 712, sheet 1A, family 20, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 594; FHL microfilm 1,374,607.

[6] Charlene Jenson, “Hubbard,” Virtual Nebraska, 2005; Lori Steenhoven, “South Sioux City,” Virtual Nebraska, 2005; Shirley Sides, “Dakota City,” Virtual Nebraska, 2005; “Trains,” Sioux City History, accessed Jan 4, 2019.

[7] “A Premier County,” Dakota County Historical Society, accessed Jan 4, 2019; “Hastings Downtown District Added to National Register of Historic Places,” History Nebraska, Jan 3, 2019.

[8] Charles W. McDonald, “100 Years of Safer Railroads,” Aug 1993, p 14; March Aldrich, “History of Workplace Safety in the United States, 1880-1970,” accessed Jan 4, 2019.

From slaveowners to liberators: the Packard family and slavery

Prof. Farnsworth describes how Fry is his uncle, branching off an ugly and filthy branch in the Futurama episode “All the President’s Heads” (S8, e10). This is how I could feel about my ancestors who participated in enslaving other human beings, but I do not feel that way in the slightest.

Recently on Twitter, I said that  Zachariah Packard, my great-great-great-great-great-great-great grand uncle was the “only connection to slavery I have found so far other than Theophilus Packard, husband of famed E.P.W. Packard, seeming to support slavery,” responding to a tweet linking to my article on this blog about how Zachariah was a slaveowner. This was fact was also clear from the 1771 Massachusetts tax inventory, which was only recently made available. However, what I said is only partially accurate, as I had forgotten, that not only was Zachariah a slaveowner but so were his sons Nathan and Nathaniel, his daughter Abigail, and his wife Abigail, due to the stipulations outlined in his last will and testament, along with other parts of his probate like his inventory! These enslaved peoples (named “America Pierce,” “Peter,” and “Ann”) went from person to person, then disappeared from the record as none are listed in Nathaniel’s will in 1794, except for a 1790 census for Bridgewater listing an “America Pierce” and a “Peter Pierce.”

However, Zachariah was not the only one involved. For one, Captain Samuel Packard (my great-great-great-great-great grand uncle) sailed a ship to the coast of the African continent in 1797, “looking for Black Africans to enslave…contrary to Rhode Island law,” forced to sign a pledge he would leave the slave trade behind, which he seems to have honored. Secondly, Charles Chilion Packard, my great-great-great-great-great grand uncle, of Charleston, South Carolina (but born in Plainfield) “had the ten slaves from the estate of his wife’s deceased first husband” in 1820. Indirectly, the Packards that lived in New England, specifically in Massachusetts, were involved in that the region depended on a “trading system that serviced the wealthier slave-based economy of the West Indies,” which constituted an interconnected trade network.

At the same time, there were those who were directly opposed to slavery, like my great-great-great-great-great grand uncle, William Packard, organizing “a petition asking the United States Congress to abolish slavery and the slave trade in DC.” He also not only attended “several abolition meetings in Northampton through the 1830s and 1840s, likely starting the Cummington abolitionist society. His strong sentiments for abolitionism were shared by his uncle,  Rev. Theophilus Packard (my great-great-great-great-great grand uncle). This Theophilus, was “vice president of the antislavery society in Massachusetts, in the 1830s” and would be a dedicated anti-slavery crusader for years and years. This differed from his son, Theophilus (my great-great-great-great grand uncle) and his wife, E.P.W. (Elizabeth Parsons Ware) Packard (my great-great-great-great aunt in-law), who seemed to scowl at her sentiments that slavery was a sin. She also compared marriage to slavery, a comparison many made at the time despite the fact it was deeply problematic and carried with it horrible connotations. You could also say that William Henry Packard (my great-great-great grandfather), who fought in Louisiana during the Civil War (along with a host of other Packard ancestors), was effectively on the side against slavery, along with another distant ancestor, my great-great-great grandfather Lawrence Weber (not a Packard), who fought in a gunboat to stop Confederate blockade runners. [1]

There were other Packards I found, including one Reverend E. N. Packard (whose full name is Edward Newman Packard and lived in Dorchester, MA), who is my great-great-great uncle, and Adelpus Spring Packard (my great-great-great-great uncle), a professor of Bowdoin College, both in opposition to slavery rather than in favor. After all, there were two Packards in Topeka, Kansas (Cyrus and Sarah Burrows) who sheltered “runaway slaves” time and time again.

Until next time, as this post opens up a lot of avenues for further exploration on this blog, without a doubt!

The story of Packardsville, MA

Newspaper clipping from the Brandon Times in Brandon Wisconsin on page 2 of the paper’s January 4, 1883 edition that mentions Packardsville, MA. This same article was also printed in the National Tribune of Washington, D.C. on December 28, 1882, along with other newspapers in Kansas, Wilmington, DE, and Lancaster, PA

In the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS), run by the USGS, there are a number of places with “Packard” in the name. One of those is Packardsville, Massachusetts, still listed on a Wikipedia page of “list of villages in Massachusetts” but not citing any sources. The GNIS entry on this place says it is “0.8 mi SE of Knights Corner and 3.2 mi SSE of Pelham; Town of Pelham.” [1] There is evidence certain Packards lived there. There was some talk about this on the message boards of Ancestry, with some mentioning the existence of the town of Packardsville, with one user, named Debbe, writing that “the documentation shows Samuel Packard born 1794, Packardsville, Mass. died 1826 at Enfield, Mass. was in the war of 1812.” Another user on a related forum writes that they are “looking for any information on Theodore L. Gold” whom they state “resided in Packardville, MA or Palmer, MA during late 1800’s.” Apart from this, other users note that: Freelove Packard, who married Cyrus Clark Miner of Leyden, Massachusetts, lived in Packardsville, that two people (George Myron Gamwell and Charlotte Adelia Hanks) married there. This raises the question of whether the defunct Packardsville Cemetery in Enfield, Massachusetts is connected? As such, there needs to be some further investigation.

In 1788, the southern district of Packardsville was annexed by Pelham. By the early 19th century, Packardsville had developed into a “craft village.” [2] By the 1830s, a man with the last name of Packard and Thurston were making carriages within the village, a business that continued into the 1840s, generating thousands of dollars, until the firm left and moved to Belchertown. By the 1860s, there was apparently a congregational Church in the village. By 1874, Packardsville was still within the town of Pelham with one church, while sitting nearby the Jabish River and adjacent to Belchertown. It was, at the time, manufacturing village. Eleven years later, there were two villages listed as “Packardsville” in Massachusetts, one in Pelham and another in Pittsfield. By 1906, Packardsville was still as village within Pelham. A later survey ten years later said that Cadwell Creek goes through Packardsville. And, in 1932, any further burials in the Packardsville Cemetery by the Packardsville Church in Enfield, MA was prohibited. In the years that followed, before WWII, the Quabin Reservoir was constructed which flooded part of Packardsville, including a Baptist Church which was founded in 1831 (with the church building constructed in 1835). Undoubtedly this led to displacement of some individuals within the village, itself.

But how did it get its name? Well, page 11 of Carlene Riccelli’s “Place-Names of Pelham, Massachusetts Above and Below* Water” has the answer to that, noting that there was even a Packardsville Road that led into the town:

Named for Joel Packard sho[wed up] in the year 1840 [and] built a wagon manufacturing shop with a Mr. Thruston at the south end of town. Since that time the hamlet was call ed Packardsville .

Otherwise, there really wasn’t much else I could find about Packardsville, even from the Pelham Historical Society as of yet. If you have any stories about this village, hamlet, or whatever you want to call it, I’d love to hear them.


[1] They cite a source for this information: U.S. Geological Survey. Geographic Names Phase I data compilation (1976-1981). 31-Dec-1981. Primarily from U.S. Geological Survey 1:24,000-scale topographic maps (or 1:25K, Puerto Rico 1:20K) and from U.S. Board on Geographic Names files. In some instances, from 1:62,500 scale or 1:250,000 scale maps. There was also a Packardsville, Missouri as well, apparently.

[2] Massachusetts Historical Commission, “MHC Reconnaissance Survey Town Report PELHAM,” October 1982, pp 1, 2, 5, 8, 9;  Elias Nason, A Gazetteer of the State of Massachusetts (B. B. Russell, 1874), p 402; Massachusetts Bureau of Statistics of Labor, Census of Massachusetts: 1885, Volume 1, Part 1 (Wright & Potter Print. Company, state printers, 1887), p 24, 32, 35; Public Documents of Massachusetts: Being the Annual Reports of Various Public Officers and Institutions …, Volume 11 (State Printers, 1906), p 231; Charles Henry Pierce and Henry Jennings Dean, Surface Waters of Massachusetts, Issues 413-415 (U.S. Government Printing Office, 1916), p 318. There was also a mention of a merchant, Jacob Gould, in Packardsville, likely in the 19th century.

Settling the estate of Tom Packard: letters from 1976 to 1979

On May 24, 1976, Doris F. Alden, an attorney from Rogers, Reppucci, Alden, Turner & Burgess, sent a letter to Bob Mills about the estate of Tom Packard. Apart from enclosing a legal notice about  the selling of the land “beyond  the cemetery,” the  West Hills Cemetery, to help “met demands for estate taxes.” The letter went onto say that the sale of the remainder of the old farm, “including the remains of the sugar house and acreage having little or no frontage on the highway is pending.”

Three  days later, on May 27, Bob thanked Doris for the letter, as it summarized the “estate of my late uncle, Thomas Packard,” hoping to continue to be informed on the estate’s progress. He also added that he may be passing through Springfield on a vacation that summer and if so he would contact her in order to “meet with you briefly at  that time.”

The following month, on June 7th, Doris sent another legal letter, this one with a citation to sell the other parts of Tom’s estate she had mentioned in her original letter  to Bob. She also added that Tom, during his lifetime sold various parcels, but that this sale will “include the largest portion of such back acreage which, under the zoning by-laws of the Town of Plainfield, does not meet current building requirements.” After ending this legalistic letter by saying that he will receive additional notices as time went on, she wrote in script,  “thank you for your letter,” clearly glad Bob had posed that he go to vacation in Springfield.

Later that month, on June 14th, Doris wrote Bob once again, whom she had talked with, especially regarding his “possible interest in the property,” even enclosing a photograph of  the house itself and describing what was within it. The photo of the house she refers to is at the beginning of this post. She sells the area as a great ski country and a “delightful place for retirement.” The letter is ended by her saying that it would “please me, as well as the  community, to keep a member of the Packard family on  West Hill, as that area is called” and that she is looking forward to meeting  him.

Notes by Bob about Tom Packard’s estate

The next month, on July 27th, Doris wrote Bob once again, talking about further division of Tom Packard’s estate, even attaching a new citation of selling more of the state, saying she will keep him informed. She added, in script, at the bottom of the letter, that “the 5 and 10 acre parcels referred to in my last  letter are still available.”

Then there was a gap of time, which even  surprised Bob. He wrote, in the next letter on October 2, 1977, that since the last exchange of letters and a call in July 1976, there had been “no word of progress on the Thomas Packard estate.” He further noted that while he was considering a trip to Massachusetts, it “did not prove  possible because of other commitments.” With that, h asked if it would be possible to obtain a progress report, noting that “my sister, Carol Mills Sieck, and I were discussing this matter last night, and realized that a good deal of time had elapsed since our last report on the  status  of the estate.”

Four days  later, on October 6, Doris wrote that a short report on Tom Packard’s estate was prepared not only for him but for all “heirs or their legal representatives.” This report noted that sale of a small parcel of real estate which was owned by Tom was pending since August 1977, with delay in a progress report hoping that “the sale would take place so that amended estate tax returns may be completed. The rest of the report noted that taxes were filed, with moving toward closing the estate soon, saying that once the “remaining parcel of land is sold, a final accounting will be prepared with a request that distribution of all assets in the estate be allowed.”

Three was again another gap. On July 20, 1978, Doris wrote Bob again about the estate, enclosing a new decree, which closed the estate, allowing, if there is no appeal within thirty days of July 12, then the estate’s funds will be distributed. The end was finally in sight, although  Bob did not, clearly, seem interested in purchasing Tom’s land or the property on which he lived as he had previously.

On August 25, there was another letter from Doris to Bob, which is a bit wrinkled. The letter itself enclosed a check  of $5,610.69 as his share of Tom Packard’s estate. The phrase, in this letter was  likely underlined by Bob: “all taxes, estate, inheritance and income, will have been paid for all funds received by you.”

The final letter, from Doris on January 25, 1979, was for one final check which represented a final payment from Tom Packard’s state, the amount of $117.54. The estate was finally closed.

We do not know from here what happened to Doris (although she could be the woman of the same name whom died in 2000), but we know that Bob died on May 2, 1981 from a brain tumor. But where one story ends, another can begin, another can be discovered, new stories unearthed.

Description of sources of this post

Probate Court citation for Thomas T. Packard of Plainfield, Hampshire County, Massachusetts, May 21, 1976, within Family Records folder and black binder for family records. This also notes that the citation will be printed in a Northampton newspaper, Daily Hampshire Gazette.

Typescript letter of Doris F. Alden to Bob Mills, May 24, 1976, within Family Records folder and black binder for family records.

Typescript letter of Bob Mills to Doris F. Alden, May 27, 1976, within Family Records folder and black binder for family records.

Probate Court citation for Thomas T. Packard of Plainfield, Hampshire County, Massachusetts, June 16, 1976, within Family Records folder and black binder for family records. This also notes that the citation will be printed in a Northampton newspaper, Daily Hampshire Gazette.

Typescript letter of Doris F. Alden to Bob Mills, June 7, 1976, within Family Records folder and black binder for family records.

Typescript letter of Doris F. Alden to Bob Mills, June 14, 1976, within Family Records folder and black binder for family records.

Probate Court citation for Thomas T. Packard of Plainfield, Hampshire County, Massachusetts, July 20, 1976, within Family Records folder and black binder for family records. This also notes that the citation will be printed in a Northampton newspaper, Daily Hampshire Gazette.

Typescript letter of Doris F. Alden to Bob Mills, July 27, 1976, within Family Records folder and black binder for family records.

Typescript letter of Bob Mills to Doris F. Alden, October 2, 1977, within Family Records folder and black binder for family records.

Typescript letter of Doris F. Alden to Bob Mills, October 6, 1977, within Family Records folder and black binder for family records. Includes a “status report” of the estate of Tom Packard.

Typescript letter of Doris F. Alden to Bob Mills, July 20, 1978, within Family Records folder and black binder for family records.

Typescript letter of Doris F. Alden to Bob Mills, August 25, 1978, within Family Records folder and black binder for family records. Letter is unfortunately crinkled, unless other letters.

Typescript letter of Doris F. Alden to Bob Mills, January 25, 1979, within Family Records folder and black binder for family records. Letter is unfortunately crinkled, unless other letters.

Bob Mills’s quest to learn more about his family lineage

As I was going through some papers  yesterday, I came across letters between my grandfather, Bob Mills and his uncle Theodore “Tom” Packard in 1970. Unfortunately, the letters I have are incomplete so I cannot tell the full story, but I’ll do the best I can.

On September 6th, 1970, Tom Packard, living on Summit Street in Plainfield, MA wrote Bob  Mills with familiarity, glad that Bob had written him as he had misplaced Bob’s letter. He said he remembered Bob’s father, Robert “Bert” Byron Mills II, whom had come to visit Tom’s father, Cyrus W. Packard at the farm. He even recalled that Bert and another one of his friends drove the first “Interstate” car he had ever seen and remembered that Bert had “lost some fingers  in an ensilage cutter.” Tom even mentioned Bert’s foster father, Robert “Uncle Rob” Byron Mills I, whom was in Heath with Charles Packard before he died, even coming to Plainfield to stay with Tom and his family. It was here that Bob would get a photo of Charles, Bob, Hattie, and others together, along with photos of John and Margaret Bibby, although the latter two were not within future family history Bob would write, The Packard-Mills Family History.

Likely the photo of John, Charles, and RBM II that Bob referred to.

Colorized photo of Margaret Bibby, the wife of John Mills, courtesy of my sister blog, Milling ’round Ireland. This could be one of the photos Tom sent to Bob.

Photograph of John Mills, courtesy of my sister blog, Milling ’round Ireland. This could be one of the photos Tom sent to Bob.

Photograph of RBM I and Stanley, courtesy of my sister blog, Milling ’round Ireland. This could be one of the photos Tom sent to Bob.

There are varied other pictures of RBM and Hattie, so I’m not sure exactly to which ones Tom is referring to, but he clearly was more than willing to share information.

As his letter goes on, he says that his father, Cyrus, married three times, first to Nellie Mason who “died in childbirth in 1789 [sic, should be 1889] of german measles,” noting that with Dora Mills he had various children, which included: John Henry (born Oct 15, 1882, died Oct 28, 1950), Margaret Alice (born Jan. 27, 1884) whom was still living by Sept 1970 and had married Kenneth Brown of Melrose, Massachusetts on September 2, 1913, having 1 daughter and 2 sons, with Kenneth  dying on April 7, 1947, and Joseph Winfield (born June 17, 1885) whom was said to be “killed on railroad in Nebraska Mar. 9 1910” and was buried in Sioux City, Nebraska (a place that does not exist!). Other children of Dora and  Cyrus were, he recounted, Charles Edward (born May 6, 1887 and died on Nov 4, 1960) whom married Bertha Churchill in 1919 and lived at a farm in Heath, where he and her were buried, and Marian Estelle (born Feb. 13, 1889, died June 13, 1965) whom married Edward Dean on March 23, 1908 with both living in Bridgeport, Connecticut until his death in 1954, after which she married John Nocker and was buried in West Hill cemetery. He goes onto name a number of other children of Dora and Cyrus: Robert Byron (born Jan. 9, 1891) whom was “adopted by Uncle Robert Mills” and married Miriam Hirst on June 5, 1921, correctly noting he had Bob as his son but incorrectly said Stanley was his son (he was actually the son of Rob and Hattie), and Mable Hattie (born July 19, 1892) who married Giles Whitley (whom died in 1920) and had 2 sons and 2 daughters, later marrying Joseph Landstrom (whom died in May 1962)  with whom she had five daughters, dying on December 1, 1961. He also notes that Charles married a second time after Bertha’s death to Pearl Gleason in Heath, a woman whom died on  Feb 1, 1956, and they had one  son named Douglas E. whom lived in Shelburne Falls and they  had 2 daughters, one of whom was married. For Margaret, he noted that she, at the time of the letter’s writing, living with her son at 2113 Pepper Street in Burbank, California. Apart from noting that  Mable Hattie, John, and Marian are buried in West Hill Cemetery, he notes there  is a “stone for Joseph who was buried in Nebraska.”

In the last part of his letter, he  talks about the  five children Cyrus, his father, had with Clementina Cheney. These are: Olive Martha (Oct. 23, 1896-Jan. 20, 1969), Herbert Miles (Oct 6, 1898-Aug. 30,  1966), Rachel May (Apr 13, 1900-Sept.22,1933), himself on May 2, 1902, and Harold Cyrus (Aug 24, 1907).  The letter  ends with him noting that his father died  on April 2, 1924, his brother on June 27, 1923, saying he would be willing to provide  further information, giving a quick sketch of the line of descent which can be visualized as: Cyrus-William Henry-Barnabas  III-Barnabas II-Barnabas I-John-Zaccheus-Samuel, then saying that the Packards are “supposed to be from the Norman Family in France of Picard” and came to England with William the Conqueror in 1066. After hoping Bob would visit and write in the meantime, he ends,after his signature, by saying “I can supply adresses [sic] of other branches of the  Packard Family if you wish.”

On September 17th, Bob wrote back Tom with delight, saying that “both I and everyone in the family were delighted to re-establish contact with the Packards,” with information Tom  provided  used  to construct a chart of family history and fills in a lot of gaps,  although he hoped any errors could be corrected.

This is the family chart Bob created

Bob’s biggest question was the early life of his father, Robert “Bert” Mills (originally Packard) with his birth father, Cyrus, and mother, Dora, saying he only had vague recollections. He said that his father was apparently named after Dora’s sister, Robert, and says he has “a picture of Dora and Cyrus Winfield Packard, as well as two pictures of the farm at Plainfield and these are in a family album.” I don’t think pictures of that farm in Plainfield and am not sure if the photos of Dora and Cyrus he references have fully survived to the present. After this he highlights how his father died on April 11, 1956 in his sleep as a victim of a stroke, had been a Fire Chief of Cheviot for almost 30 years (1926-1956?), with his mother as Miriam Esther Hirst (born on June 4, 1899), further noting that the “Hirst family were early settlers in the U.S. from England, and this family goes way back in English history.” He even says that his aunt, Marjorie Hirst (Frame) was inspired by his family chart on the Packards, then setting about “trying to  reconstruct a similar history of  the Hirst family.”

Bob continues in his letter by talking about his mother and other matters. On his mother, he notes that she died on June 18, 1961, dying from an illness of years which was “complicated by diabetes and  cancer,” noting that she, like RBM II, Hattie, and Stanley  were all buried in Cincinnati’s Spring Grove Cemetery. Interestingly, he notes that Stanlet, the “only natural son of Uncle Rob and Hattie, did in 1934 at the age of 33 years from causes which have never been clear to anybody,” suspecting the death from drugs, and that he never married at all.  He goes onto note the three children of his parents, including himself, who was born on June 5, 1924, marrying Florence Louise “F.L.” Schaefer (born August 17, 1926), meeting at Antioch College, with F.L.’s family coming from Nutley, New Jersey. He also notes his own two children of his own, which he was proud of, but I will not name them at this time as both are currently living. After this, he outlines the two other children of his mother and father, his siblings. One  is Helen Eileen Mills (born August 5, 1929) who married Alex Efthim (born November 29 1916), the latter being a “large  Albanian family from St. Louis,” with Alex being a professor of Social Work  at Detroit’s Wayne State University, with them having one child. He then goes to list his sister, Carol Ruth Mills (born August 19, 1930), noting that she married Paul Edward Sieck in 1951, whom he describes as the “Vice-President of a local manufacturing concern,” and have four children, two of which were adopted.

He ends his letter by writing that he and his sister Carol had been discussing possibly visiting Plainfield within the next year, possibly while skiing at nearby Berkshires. He then asks to tell more about Douglas Packard and his respective family in Shelburne Falls, along with Tom’s brother, Harold Cyrus. The letter ends with “Thank you so much for your thoughtfulness.”

On September 27th, Tom Packard sent a response to Bob. He doesn’t have much to say about the death of Dora, saying she “did before my day” and only knows family lore, recommending that Bob write to Margaret Packard (Brown) in Burbank, California since sh was “about 11 years old when her mother died [and] she had a good memory of those matters.” He adds, about Dora, that she married his father,Cyrus, in Glens Falls, New York, and that she “did here of consumption on Feb. 5, 1895.” His letter goes onto note that there  are various areas in the Berkshires Hills for skiiing, and adds that he owns the old farm (which “burned out in 1946”) which was owned by his father, along with adjoining land. As he describes it, “the old plave [sic] still had many pleasant memories, and all the brothers and sisters always enjoyed getting  back for a visit.”

He concludes his letter by hoping to see Bob and his family the coming winter, and thinks they should write to Margaret. He also enclosed a photo of his father “taken a few months before he died,” which he notes was from a brain tumor, and that he “was  in much pain for a few weeks before he sank into a merciful comer [coma?]” while his mother “died of heart  trouble the year before.”

The image on the far right is from the one that Tom sent, with the others I found from other records. The full image is reprinted in The Packard Mills Family History.

Photograph of Cyrus Packard in the Packard-Mills Family History

There are many questions from this exchange of letters? Did Carol and Bob visit Plainfield and meet with Tom? That is never known,  as the next letters pick up in 1976. Further discussion of some of this topics will resume on my sister blog, Milling ’round Ireland, while others will be on this blog. Until next time!

Sources of information for this post:

Typescript letter of Tom T. Packard to Bob Mills, Sept, 6, 1970, within Family Records folder and black binder for family records.

Typescript letter of Bob Mills to Tom T. Packard, Sept.  17, 1970, within Family Records folder and black binder for family records.

Typescript letter of Tom T. Packard to Bob Mills, Sept. 27, 1970, within Family Records folder and black binder for family records.