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!

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.

The story behind the Packard Cemetery in Cameron, Missouri

Photograph of the Packard Cemetery on Jul 29, 2005 by DonZas, a late contributor on Find A Grave. If you’d like to see where it is on a map, please go here.

In the past, on this blog I have mentioned the Packard Cemetery, in the “wonderful little town” of Cameron, Missouri, sitting within Clinton County, in passing. I have noted it is the place where Martha Packard (child of Charles E. Packard and Arminta Utter) was buried in 1957, and the final resting place of Ruth Snow (in 1879) and Barnabas Packard III (in 1868). As I told one fellow Packard researcher last year, “I still want to go to the Packard Cemetery in Cameron, Missouri (where Barnabas III died), but haven’t got a chance yet.” The cemetery, on the outskirts of Cameron, still exists to this day. It is an active cemetery, with someone buried there as recently as 2016 from what I could find. [1] In terms of historical significance, the cemetery is famous for its enduring 28-foot-tall Tuggle Monuments which were “manufactured in 1887 by Italian artisans in Vermont, shipped by rail to Cameron, and hauled to the cemetery in a log wagon pulled by a steam engine.” There have been scattered mentions by genealogical societies (like the one in Northwest Missouri or in Caldwell), those looking into their own genealogy of their ancestors, and varied others, but nothing that talks about the history of the place itself. [2]

We know that Packards are evidently buried there, one of the many “uniquely beautiful” cemeteries in the region. It is also clear that with a person named Kim Packard on the Missouri Veterans Commission and an existing road in Cameron named Packard Lane that there likely still Packard descendants living in the area. I first looked at an old issue of Packard’s Progress, specifically Volume 32, which, as I noted on this blog, has an “article is about the Packards of Cameron, Missouri by Lester O. Packard.” This article notes that “in the spring of 1865…Ossmus Chalmer Packard and Sophia Hodges (Dean) Packard arrived in Cameron, Clinton County, Missouri,” both of whom were Massachusetts natives, with Ossmus born in Plainfield and Sophia in Savoy. They were tired, as Lester O. Packard tells it, of trying to “farm in the rock-infested soil of Massachusetts.” They were part of, he explains a great movement westward with cheap land and better possibility for successful farming out West. He also notes that Ossmus had two brothers: a younger one named Charles Edwin  Packard, who would become a railroad station agent in the area, and an older brother named Roswell Clifford (R.C.) Packard, the latter who came to Cameron about the same time, starting a flour mill, with both buying land so they could be full-time farmers. Both of these brothers were also Civil War veterans. [3] Lester goes onto say that Ossmus and Sophia seemingly came to Cameron by train, to an area where it was rough to establish a homestead. The rest of the article goes talks more about his grandparents (Ossmus and Sophia) and his parents Herbert Melvin Packard and Mary Frances Witt. However, at the very end he does talk about the Packard Cemetery, writing:

…the Packard name and the Packard strain should be in the Cameron area for years to come…along with our grandparents and parents, on both sides, the Packard cemetery has a lot of Packard buried there. This includes our great grandparents Barnabas III and his wife Ruth (Snow) Packard…Uncle Charles Edwin, his wife Armiinta [sic] (Utter) Packard and three of his daughters are there beside his parents. Uncle Roswell Clifford and two great-uncles Milton and Lyman Packard, are buried nearby.

A search for the term “Packard Cemetery” brings up 1,040 results on In order to prevent incorrect results (called false drops), I narrowed it to Missouri, which gave me 746 matches. Since most of these results would be of burials, I narrowed it to 1879 to 1889, the earliest set of newspaper articles mentioning the term. From this, it is clear that the Packard Cemetery had interment as early as November 13, 1879, with large youth groups gathering there to honor those who had died, a decoration ceremony, and other services were held there in the years to come. One article described the cemetery as near the city of Cameron, while another talked about the construction of the Tuggle Monument in the cemetery, with one in 1974 reviewing the same topic, giving a history of the monument’s creation.

Since these results were disappointing, I did find a clue to the reason why it is called the Packard Cemetery on page 394 of a local history titled History of Clinton and Caldwell Counties, Missouri, published in 1923, which notes that

The Packard Cemetery was originally owned by C.E. [Charles Edward] Packard, and an effort is now being made to raise an endowment fund to take care of the cemetery. Herbert Melvin Packard is at the head of this plan. He is the only member of the Packard family now living in the community.

This leads me to 1881 local history titled The History of Clinton County, Missouri: Containing a History of the County, Its Cities, Towns, Etc., Biographical Sketches of Its Citizens, Clinton County in the Late War, General and Local Statistics, Portraits of Early Settlers and Prominent Men, History of Missouri, Map of Clinton County, Etc., Etc. [4] In this book, on page 251 it is noted that:

…many years subsequent, a cemetery was laid out about a mile and half southeast of the town site of Cameron, by Charles Packard. In this cemetery the Masonic fraternity own a large lot, set apart for the burial of the deceased indigent brethren of the order

I found a number of other books, some that call it the “old Packard cemetery.” This makes logical sense considering the number of Packards buried there. There was even a court case that involved an individual whom directed his remains to “be placed in my lot in the Packard Cemetery near the City of Cameron, Missouri” and it is mentioned within the USGS’s Geographical Names Information System (GNIS). And with that, this post concludes, but sets the groundwork for others exploring the lives of the Packards who lived in Cameron, Missouri.


[1] “James Ford 1956-2009,” The North Missourian, accessed Feb 22, 2019; “Hubert Burnett Jr.,” The North Missourian, accessed Feb 22, 2019; “Robert Miles,” Trenton Republican Times, accessed Feb 22, 2019; “Myrtle “Dee” Free 1933-2016” within “Obituaries March 25-26,” St. Joseph Post, Mar 28, 2016.

[2] For scattered mentions, please see page 240 of “Ancestors and Family of Steven Harn Redman“, a webpage titled “Warmoth Family“,  a webpage titled “Harriman, Alvin“, a webpage titled “Jacobus Family“; page 833 of “Field, Wagoner, Hoover & Curtis Genealogy“; page 834 of “Field, Wagoner, Hoover & Curtis Genealogy“; a website called Land Of The Buckeye; an entry for a Joshua Jackson buried there in 1982; a webpage titled “Missouri Cemetery Burial Plots or Lots for Sale and Grave Sites for Sale Offers“; a mention on the “Cameron Genealogy (in Clinton County, MO)” webpage; a mention on the “Cameron, MO Cemeteries” webpage, a mention on the House of Proctor Genealogy website, and the obituary of Lydia McKee who was buried in the cemetery in 1884.

[3] As I noted in a footnote of my article about William Henry Packard and the Civil War, “Nahum, Osamus, Harrison E.,& Charles E. Packard also fought in the war.” This is also supported by the fact that pages 272, 317, and 364 of different parts of the The War of the Rebellion: Official Records of the Civil War lists a “C.E. Packard” in Missouri, which merits further investigation. I also noted in my post about the Packards in Cameron, Missouri that:

From 1831 to 1840, Barnabas and Ruth had 4 more children. They were Roswell Clifford, born February 4, 1831, who married Elnora G. Vining on February 25, 1869, Ossmus Chalmer, born July 27, 1834, who married Sophia Dean on April 1, 1863, Charles Edwin, born on March 19, 1838, who married Araminta Utter in 1867, and Harrison “Clark” Clark, born February 20, 1840 who married Melona C. Dawes on June 4, 1865. Roswell would die in 1919 in Cameron, Missouri, while Ossmus would die in the same place but on January 28, 1907. Clark would die, reportedly, in Windsor in 1899, and Charles would die in Kansas City, Missouri in 1933…Reportedly, Charles Edwin spent time in Ohio as a mathematics teacher before moving to Cameron, Missouri while his brother, Ossmus lived in Mendota, Illinois before moving to Cameron in 1865. The family lore goes that Roswell moved to Cameron in 1866 (and reportedly moved to Ft. Smith Arkansas in 1895) and that Patty (and her husband Charles Ira Ford) moved from Nauseous, Ohio to Cameron the same year.

[4] Sadly, only volume 2 of this book is currently on the Internet Archive, not volume 1, from which this text comes from.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some of Bob’s other photos in July 1980:

Dividing town line between Cummington and Plainfield

Presumably Maple Street, or another wooded street.

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

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

West Cummington

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

Packard gravestones in West Hill Cemetery

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

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

My August 2017 family history tour

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Courtesy of the Town of Cummington

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

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

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


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

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

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

Cyrus W. Packard and Joseph Beals

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

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

Here is the original photo:

Mable/Mabel and Olive Packard

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

Mabel Hattie Packard

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

Cyrus and Dora’s family

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

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

Mabel and Giles Whitley

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

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

Also posted here.

The crusader: E.P.W. Packard

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

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

Bertha Bell Gurney

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

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

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

Continuing the story of Plainfield, a “small hill town” in the Berkshire Highlands

Courtesy of the Facebook page of The Old Brick Store in Plainfield. It is captioned on Facebook as: “This may be the oldest picture of the Brick Store. Note that the porch is not there and the windows are 12 over 12 and 15 over 15. The sign in the front referrs to the scales that were used to weigh wagon loads of goods. You can also see two openings: the basement window on the right and the entrance to the cellar on the left. Through the door in the barn you would have found the outhouse for the place. I’m guessing this picture was taken c.1870.”

After writing my last post, I looked a little more about Plainfield. What I found further amazed me. For one, the Shaw Memorial Library, within Plainfield I found that while it serves a small number of residents, its collection size is over 13,000 volumes and has an annual circulation of more than 7,000! That’s not all. I found the websites of a ” well-maintained horse boarding facility” in the Plainfield area, called Back Acres Farm, a volunteer church group called Concerts at 7 which “sponsors a summer series of classical music concerts” and a farm which raises “rare heritage breed pigs and cattle on rotating pastures” and a mention of “Ed Stockman’s Summit Farm in Plainfield, MA.” This is no surprise based on the geographic location of Plainfield in Western Massachusetts, part of the “Hidden Hills”:

Plainfield is where the Hidden Hills touch the Berkshires proper. The village sits at the base of West Mountain, with Mt. Greylock towering beyond it to the west. The meeting of the Deerfield and Westfield Rivers serve to give the place a cool and refreshing feel, particularly in the autumn and spring seasons. The 1953 National Book Award winner Ralph Ellison made Plainfield his home, until the novelist’s house tragically burned down in 1967. The author claimed that the fire destroyed 300 pages from his follow-up novel to the successful Invisible Man, which was never published in his lifetime.

Interestingly, I know that Ellison wrote Tom Packard, a son of Cyrus Winfield Packard and Clementina Cheney, since Tom was one of the founders of the Plainfield Historical Society and a well-known local personality!

One website writing about  Plainfield proves the assertions by Bob Mills in The Packard/Mills Family History about maple sugar trees:

The town of Plainfield, Massachusetts was first settled in 1770. Plainfield is a small hill town in the scenic Berkshire Highlands with 589 residents. This may sound small, but keep in mind that over the past 20 years this little town’s population has doubled. Began as an agricultural community, it now is home to a wider range of people than in the early years, including farmers and trades people, writers and artists, singers and musicians, loggers and welders, teachers and students, builders and homemakers. The landscape in Plainfield is a mix of high sweeping fields and mixed hardwood forests. In abundance are moose, bear, deer and the usual New England wildlife. It’s safe to say that the maple trees in Plainfield far outnumber the residents, and the Fournier Sugarhouse operation has set about 1,500 taps in the trees on and around our location on South Central. There are about two miles of tubing running the sap to the holding tanks along with 300 buckets. We are a little concerned that the moose that seem to frequent our land may end up wandering into our tap lines, but we are hopeful that Wally, our Beagle, will dissuade the moose from coming too close. Many of the trees we tap are more than 200 years old. All in all, they provide us with the best quality sap available.

This brings us to the Packard legacy, if you want to call it that, in that part of Massachusetts. In Northampton there is a “Packard’s bar” although it is not owned by a Packard, but a man named Robert “Bob” McGovern. [1] There’s also a man named Michael Rice Packard who served as the Highland Ambulance Town Representative for Plainfield from 2015 to 2016 and was on the Plainfield Energy Committee, trying to bring green energy to the town. There was also a representative named Sherman Packard, a bunch of Packards in Franklin County,  Massachusetts (Matthew H. Packard, John Packard, and Ellynn Packard), and an Esther Packard mentioned on a rug in Deerfield. Other articles noted a Debra L. Packard in Florence, MA, a Brandi Packard from Massachusetts, a Larry Packard in the Hilltown region, and an Elizabeth  Packard who works at the Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary in Massachusetts. Recently, the Old Brick Store commented that Mary Bowker Connell stopped by, who was “the granddaughter of Harold Packard, the last person who ran the brick store as a general store. Mary is celebrating her 92nd birthday today!!! She used to come up here in the summer time to stay with her grandparents when she was young. We had a wonderful visit on the porch!” Additionally, there’s the Packard-Chilson House in Goshen, photo of a house once owned by Col John Packard, along with mentions of the name Packard on forums, GEDCOM, along with mentions in varied books (here, here, and here). But, most interesting of all was the auction of the former “Old Packard store” as mentioned in an article last year:

Town officials will hold a third auction for a home at 345-347 Main St., Plainfield, in the hopes of finding a successful bidder for the property that was taken by the town in 2015 due to non-payment of taxes…Located across from the Town Hall and the Plainfield Congregational Church, the property was once an important part of everyday life, serving as the town’s general store…in the early 1900s the building was known as “Gurney’s Store” and in the 1950s it was called the “Packard Store.” Many in town still refer to the home as “the old Packard Store.” According to Bronstein, the property has been used as housing for many. [2]

There may be more on the webpages of the Old Brick Store (which notes the passing of Cummington historian Bill Streeter), Hilltown Families, and Plainfield Historical Society, but I believe this is a good start for now.

Until next time!


[1] Chad Dunn and Bob Dunn, “Tuesday hearing in Northampton to discuss possible happy hour revival,” Daily Hampshire Gazette, Sept 24, 2012; Dan Crowley, “Gazebo bra shop owner sells to 2 employees,” Daily Hampshire Gazette, Mar 22, 2016; Michael Majchrowicz, “Northampton police, bar owner stand by practices in light of ‘place of last drink’ report,” Daily Hampshire Gazette, Jan 6, 2017; Fred Contrada, “Walter Colby of Northampton sues Packard’s restaurant, assailants, bouncer, World War II Club following fight outside bar,” masslive, Oct 26, 2010; “AREA PROPERTY DEED TRANSFERS,” Daily Hampshire Gazette, Feb 12, 2017; Scott  Merzbach, “Report: Vacancies down, sales up in downtown Northampton,” Daily Hampshire Gazette, Feb 4, 2017; Lisa Spear, “A church is home for Bob and Kimi McGovern of Hatfield,” Daily Hampshire Gazette, Oct 20, 2016; Amanda Drane, “Liquor license goes to Mulino’s as bar owners debate need for more,” Daily Hampshire Gazette, Jun 8, 2017. The Feb 12, 2017 article in the Daily Hampshire Gazette says “Tracey McNeill to Michael Rice Packard, Greene St., 8 East Greene St., Easthampton, $228,000.” Also see a source talking about newspapers in Massachusetts .

[2] Fran Ryan, “Hilltown Voices: Plainfield hopes the third time is a charm for successful home auction,” Daily Hampshire Gazette, Apr 22, 2017.