The first in a line of Packards: the story of Elizabeth

Building off the last post in this blog, where I pledged to write about more female ancestors, countering past gender imbalances, I’d like to focus on Elizabeth, the wife of Samuel Packard, who came over with a child, likely Mary, in 1638 from Hingham, a town in Norfolk County, England, to Hingham, a settlement in Plymouth County, Massachusetts. Many aspects of her life are an utter mystery. Her surname, long speculated to be Stream, is unknown, and is often given second billing, when it comes to efforts by Packard descendants to remember the past, elevating Samuel Packard above her, even by those than communicated with my grandfather, Bob Mills, or those that communicated with me in the past. The same is the case in contemporary records during the time her husband, Samuel, was alive, already implying was a second-class citizen. But, who was she, and why does she matter?

As I’ve written in the past, Elizabeth seems to have met Samuel when he moved to Norfolk County, which was north of Suffolk County, where he was born, reportedly in the Red House Farm. I am, to be clear, indirectly descended from both people. Apart from that, she had, at least nine children with Samuel, along with five grandchildren. [1] I tied to break this down into a listing so its much easier for you (and me) to understand those mentioned in Samuel’s will:

  1. Elizabeth X, wife of Samuel
  2. Samuel, son of Samuel and Elizabeth, eldest son
  3. Zaccheus, son of Samuel and Elizabeth
  4. John, son of Samuel and Elizabeth
  5. Nathaniel, son of Samuel and Elizabeth
  6. Mary, daughter of Samuel and Elizabeth, wife of Richard Phillips
  7. Hannah, daughter of Samuel and Elizabeth, wife of Thomas Randall
  8. Jaell, daughter of Samuel and Elizabeth, wife of John Smith
  9. Deborah, daughter of Samuel and Elizabeth, wife of Thomas Washburn
  10. Grandchild Israel Augur, son of ???
  11. Grandchild Caleb Philips, son of Richard? Phillips
  12. Grandchild Israel Packard, son of Zaccheus
  13. Grandchild Samuel Packard, son of Samuel
  14. Grandchild Daniel Packard, son of Samuel

In his will on October 29, 1684, Elizabeth received some money from her husband and much, much more. This included gobs and jobs of land, including:

  • his farm in the town of Bridgewater (36 acres), along with lands and meadows connected to the farm
  • share of meadow called Bullshole for life
  • all his goods and cattle
  • 40 pounds for life
  • 20 acres of land lying in Bridgewater between lands owned by James Keith and Joseph Hayward near Satuckett Pond
  • all money and chattle shall be divided equally among his children and grandchildren after she dies
  • a feather bed, which shall be given to his grandchild Deliverance Augur after her death
  • one of the joint executors of his estate along with her son Samuel

That’s a sizable amount!

After Samuel died, she married a man, likely in late 1684 or perhaps in early 1685, by the name of John Washburn, a long-time Bridgewater resident. He would die sometime after October 30, 1686, outlining the following in his will [2]:

to my Wife Elizabeth Washbourne one Bed one Boulster one Pillow two pair of sheets one Blanket one Coverlet two chests Six bushels of Indian Corne one bushell of Barley. ffarther with Respect to money which was my wives part whereof I have already laid out for her we are agreed that I should Returne to her two pounds and ten shillings which I have already done.

Of course, she is not mentioned at all in his inventory. [3]

Over ten years after Samuel’s death, on October 27, 1694, Elizabeth sold land given to her by Samuel: a 20-acre tract called “Satuckett Pond” or “Sehucket Pond,” selling the  the land to “an Indian” living in Bridgewater named Sam James for five pounds. [4] This agreement would be signed by Samuel’s son of the same name, Samuel Packard, Jr., along with two others, while identifying her as “Elizabeth Washburn Widow of the Town of Bridgewater”:

Most importantly, in this agreement she explicitly noted herself as married to Samuel, calling him her “first husband”:

“…by these presents convent with the said Sam James his heirs & assigners I…at the lime of making over and passing away said Land unto the said Sam James stood truley & lawfully peired and processed with the same & every part and parcel thereof of a good lure, lawfully & absolute Estate of Inheritance, by virtual of my first Husband, vis: Samuel Packard his will, and therefor, I have full power to Bargain, Sell, Grant, alienate, and pass away the piece onto said Sam James.

It goes on from there in legalise, basically saying she has the right to give Sam James the land. This transcription may not be completely correct, so I’d recommend you read the full page below, as I could have made errors:

Many years later, in April 1702, Elizabeth, still a “widow,” would sign a document about John Washburn’s heirs, receiving some rights. I came to the conclusion this is her as she is called “Elizabeth Solo” (widow):

“Massachusetts Land Records, 1620-1986,” images, FamilySearch, Bristol, Deeds 1699-1709 vol 3-5, image 304 of 806, page 83, county courthouses and offices, Massachusetts.

That is the last record we have of her. What I have posed here goes far beyond what I wrote in the past. Further recommendations for how I can find more about Elizabeth are appreciated, as I’m planning to focus on later Packard ancestors in the future.


Notes

[1] Last Will and Testament of Samuell Packer, Oct. 29, 1684, Plymouth Colony Records, Wills Vol. 3, Part 2, Plymouth Registry of Deeds, Massachusetts, Plymouth County, Probate Records, Plymouth, p. 96-98, images 585586 of 616.

[2] “Massachusetts, Plymouth County, Probate Records, 1633-1967,” images, FamilySearch, Probate records 1686-1702 and 1849-1867 vol 1-1F, image 49 of 490, pages 84-85; State Archives, Boston.

[3] “Massachusetts, Plymouth County, Probate Records, 1633-1967,” images, FamilySearch, Probate records 1686-1702 and 1849-1867 vol 1-1F, image 50 of 490, pages 86; State Archives, Boston.

[4] “Massachusetts Land Records, 1620-1986,” images, FamilySearch, Plymouth, Deeds 1712-1714 vol 10, images 183-184 of 651, page 333, 334-5; county courthouses and offices, Massachusetts.

More than Zachariah Packard’s property: the story of America, Peter, and Ann

Back in May, I wrote about how my great-great-great-great-great-great-great grand uncle, Zachariah Packard was a slaveowner in Massachusetts in the 1770s. In this article, I aim to tell the story of the three enslaved people, Ann, America, and Peter listed in his last will and testament building upon what I have written on this post in the past. While it is hard to trace enslaved people before 1870, I do my best to tell their stories to the best extent possible.

In 1771, Zachariah (whose name was also spelled Zechariah) had one dwelling house, 5 acres of pasture for 6 cows, “6 tilled acres, 4 acres of upland mowed land, 3.8. acres of fresh meadow, while producing 71 bushels of grain, 2 tons of hay from his upland mowed land, and 8 tons of hay from his fresh meadow land.” He also had “1 horse, 4 oxen, 6 goats & sheep, and 3 swine, along with one servant “for life”” (an enslaved person), “with his real estate worth 14 pounds, and owned “18.8. acres compared to Barnabas’s 18.” While the record does not outline who this enslaved person was, his inventory, outlined the same year gives more detail: it notes that he bequeathed a “servant boy” named Peter to his sons Nathaniel and Nathan, a “servant boy” named America to his daughter Abigail, and a “servant maid” named Ann to his wife Abigail, only to be set free after she died. [1] Here is what he says, exactly in his will about them, just to be clear:

I give and bequeath to my wife Abigail the improvement of my servant maid Ann (who is a servant for life) during the life of my said wife…I give and bequeath to my sons…Nathaniel and Nathan my servant boy named Peter (who is a servant for life)…I give and bequeath to my said daughter Abigail my servant boy named America, who is a servant for life…my will is that my said servant maid Ann (after the decease of my said wife) should be set at liberty with regard to service, and that my heirs, executors & administrators should not exercise any authority over her or control her in any way whatsoever, she having proved herself a very faithful servant & merited her freedom

This executed on November 2, 1772 with his death.

His inventory, on December 17, 1772, we find is how his son, Nathan, valued Peter as the highest (over 33 pounds), America as second-highest (33 pounds), and Ann as the lowest (9 pounds). [2] You could say that this “proves” that Ann was the oldest, Peter was second oldest, and America was the youngest.

One record on April 23, 1774 puts that all into question, outlining payments from Zachariah’s estate. [3] It lists an amount of 25 pounds, 5 shillings given to “America Peirce,” saying he was “hired”? owned? by the “said Zachariah Packard.”

This raises a number of questions. Who was “Peirce” (or Pierce)? And, what happened after 1774? What was the fate of America, Peter, and Ann?

We know that on March 4, 1774, Nathaniel Packard, Nathan Packard, Edward Poivers?, James Howard, Nathaniel Perkins, Benjamin Cantril?,  and Josiah Williams petitioned the court to appoint a guardian for Zachariah’s wife, Abigail. [4] They argued she was “insane or superannuated,” saying it made her incapable of improving the small estate bequeathed to her by Zachariah. The judge, Daniel Cushing, and several selectmen of Bridgewater (Shepard Frisk, Ephraim Carey, and Simeon Cary) agreed with this sentiment, and a guardian was appointed. It seems that Nathaniel became her guardian, although his 1794 will does not mention any enslaved people, as I noted in my previous post because slavery was phased out in Massachusetts after 1781, resulting in Peter, Ann, and America vanishing from the records, from what I could tell at the time. As the Museum of African American History puts it on their online timeline, slavery was abolished in Massachusetts in 1783.

We know, also, as I noted there, that there is an “America Pierce” and “Peter Pierce” living in Bridgewater, Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1790, who could be the same as as those mentioned in this article. [5]

But, looking at the entries for America Peirce and Ann Freeman, this is thrown into question, as is this record which seems to prove the marriage. I was unable to find any records here, although we know that those whom were freed after 1783, like America, Peter, and Ann had a tough time, as they paid taxes and were treated equally by the legal system, but they couldn’t serve on juries, attend public schools (by tradition and custom), and had a harder time finding work than they did as enslaved people. As such, domestic service was often seen as viable, along with “common labor” and those professions associated with the sea, although fear of being kidnapped or forced to return to slavery elsewhere in the U.S. was a bar “to working on the waterfront or at sea.” As the Massachusetts Historical Society added, “freed slaves in Massachusetts continued in an inferior social position, legally free but with fewer civil rights than whites.” Even so, finding records for them is hard to do.

So, I throw it out to all of you. What places should I look next for records to complete this story? Because the list of records by FamilySearch is clearly inadequate.

Update:

Matthew Stowell has made some great comments on here, inspiring me to do some more research onto this going forward! A wonderful series to say the least!


Notes

[1] Will of Zachariah Packard, Apr. 17, 1771, Probate Records 1771-1778 vol. 21-23, Massachusetts, Plymouth County, Probate Records, 1663-1967, p. 200-201, images 130-131 of 627. Courtesy of FamilySearch.

[2] Inventory of Zachariah Packard, December 17, 1772, Probate Records 1771-1778 vol. 21-23, Massachusetts, Plymouth County, Probate Records, p. 622, image 298 of 697. Courtesy of FamilySearch.

[3] Payments from Zachariah Packard’s estate to subscribers, Probate Records 1771-1778 vol. 21-23, Massachusetts, Plymouth County, Probate Records, p. 623, image 299 of 627. Courtesy of FamilySearch.

[4] Petition for guardian for Abigail Packard and Response, Probate Records 1771-1778 vol. 21-23, Massachusetts, Plymouth County, Probate Records, p. 603, image 289 of 627. Courtesy of FamilySearch.

[5] “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.

This means she did not die in 1758 as her Find A Grave entry, cited in the previous footnote, asserts. He gives his grandchildren, the children of his son Elijah, named Abigail, Benjamin, Elijah, and Mary four shillings a piece. John Washburn, Josiah Edson, Jr., and William Hooper are witnesses. They note in a letter in Nov. 1772 that Nathaniel is executor of the estate, with further accounts. His estate is not settled until June 6, 1774 as noted by other documents.

Inventory of Zachariah Packard, Dec. 17, 1772, Probate Records 1771-1778 vol. 21-23, Massachusetts, Plymouth County, Probate Records, 1663-1967, p. 621-622, image 298 of 627. Courtesy of Family Search.

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.

Notes

[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,” American-Rails.com; 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.

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.


Notes

[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.

Tommy Adkins, Bob Mills, and the wonders of genealogy

Genealogy chart in Tommy Adkins’ letter to Bob Mills

On October 17, 1979, ten months after the estate of Tom Packard had been closed, Tommy L. Adkins (of 4825 Roscommon Drive in Lansing, Michigan) wrote Bob Mills, asking for help in gathering the history of his family, using a  genealogy pedigree chart. Following this form letter, he notes that “after your  grandmother [Mable Hattie Packard?] past the family just sort of lost track of your grandmothers side of the family,” asking for any assistance, noting he has “records, documents and such on the packard side going back as far as 1636 to Samuel Packard.” He further claimed he had “verified many times over this info every step of the way” and also has the “names of a good many of the brothers & sisters, aunts and uncles etc.” That may be a bit optimistic, because looking back at the claims now, a number of them are clearly faulty.

On October 21st, Bob wrote Tommy Adkins a letter of response, saying that he was  thrilled because “Mabel [sic, should be Mable] Hattie Packard and the Landstroms were household words in my father and grandfather’s  houses.” He further noted that while  he  never met Mable, that his family, and himself, “made several trips to Shelburne Falls and Heath, and exchanged visits with Charlie Packard, John Packard, and Margaret Packard during my youth.” He also added that Tommy’s interest in family history was interesting, since he added information “from a  family chart I made up in 1970 which hangs on our wall at home.”

This is the family chart Bob created

He then hilariously, before accounting  the children of Cyrus Winfield Packard with Dora Mills and Clementina Cheney, calls him “the  prolific old goat that started much of the recent family history with three  wives producing 12  children.” After that, he notes that his grandfather, RBM I (“Uncle Rob”)  “managed hotels in Cincinnati and elsewhere,” dying in 1950, with his wife Hattie E. Mills dying in 1949, also in Cincinnati, with his grandparents  and parents buried in a family plot in Spring Grove Cemetery.

He goes on in his letter by noting that Uncle Rob and Hattie “adopted my father and changed his name to Mills when he was very young,” and that they had a “child of their own, Stanley Sterling Mills, born in 1901 who died in 1934 in some bizarre manner.” He then outlines his own two children, those of his sister Helen, and those  of his sister  Carol. He ends by saying that he is “fascinated with your chart going back to Samuel Packard in 1636,”  adding that he believes “migrated from Hingham, England,” asking  “since my records are very sketchy, could you send me a copy of your history? I would appreciate it very much.” That is how family histories were conducted then and are done much differently now, without a doubt.

The letter ends by him noting his role as a professor of psychology and criminal justice  at the University of Cincinnati, “where I direct our graduate program in criminal justice,” noting that he would be glad to give more details if Tommy would like.

Following this is the response from Tommy, which reveals much about him and his life. The letter, mostly in blue pen ink on hole-punched paper, is undated, but I would say it would have to be written in either late October 1979 or early November 1979. Of course, Tommy was, as he notes in his letter,  delighted to hear fro Bob, adding that they are “cousins through my wife Janet Elizabeth (Hall) Adkins,  who by the way sends her regards  and best wishes.” He  then gladly remarked that it was a  pleasure to be “finally contacted [by] someone in the family who wants to  know the families[‘] history.” He then buffs out the Packards  by declaring it “one of the oldest families in this country,” saying members served in King Philips’ War in 1675-6,  adding that “I feel we all need  to know where we come from so that we can better understand who we are,” which is often a motto for genealogists!

He prefaces his list of family information  by  saying that Bob should bar with him including with his handwriting because “the only time I actually have to keep up with my correspondence is late in  the  evening.” He then lists the generations, which can be visualized as follows, showing 10 generations: RBM  III-RBM II-Cyrus W.-William H.-Barnabas III-Barnabas II-Barnabas I-John-Zaccheus-Samuel. He adds to this that “there were  three Barnabas’s in a row each of the last  two [were] the son of the former.” After that, he was apparently tired, as he  says “that’s about all the energy left in me” as he switches to pencil for some reason (maybe because its easier than writing in pen? He notes that  Harold Packard died one year after Tom Packard which was “a great shame,” and that he has “a great amount of history  on  other members of the family not in our direct  line” which he would send if he had  time.

He closes his letter by talking about himself and his wife Janet  or “Jan.” He notes he is an auditor for HEW, saying that he and Jan moved to Lansing, Michigan from Massachusetts in June of that year Additionally they have three children, he notes, who are as  follows: Thomas A. Adkins (born Feb 17, 1967 in the Panama Canal Zone), Heathe  Jo  Adkins (born June 29, 1970 at Walter Reed), and Sarah Christen Adkins (born September 11, 1971 in Shirley, Massachusetts). The letter ends by  saying he became interested in genealogy three years before (in 1976) and has, since then, “some remarkable  success, [and] also  some setbacks,” while also asking for the birthdays and places of birth of Bob’s children, as it likely seemed like a fair trad to him, perhaps.

What happened to Tommy Adkins?  I don’t know, as I could only find, with  a quick search a person of the same name in Georgia, but not one in Michigan. Searches for the others have been, at this time, unsuccessful, even when looking at who lives at that current address at the present time.

That’s all. Until next time!

Sources used  for this post

Genealogy-letter pedigree form letter and short letter on back from Tommy Adkins to Bob Mills, October 17, 1979

Typescript letter of Bob Mills to Tommy Adkins, October 21, 1979, within Family Records folder and black binder for family records.

Handwritten letter of Tommy Adkins  to Bob Mills, likely late October 1979 or early November 1979, within Family Records folder and black binder for family records.

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.