Packed with Packards and existing social hierarchies

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

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

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

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

Shocking gender non-diversity in major mentions of ancestors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Almost gender parity in minor mentions of ancestors?

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

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

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

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

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

Onward to a better blog! Woohoo!


Notes

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

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.

Places with ‘Packard’ in the name across the U.S.

Packard Road in Plainfield, MA. Photo taken by Bob Mills. As he described it in July or August 1980, 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.”

In my searching, I discovered a number of places across the U.S., which have Packard in the name, apart from the image above and Packard Cemetery.

Let’s start with Packard Rocks, Rhode Island. We know, as stated in Rhode Island History (Jan. 1942 edition, p 22) that the 500-acre farm that Captain Samuel Packard, the person who tried to illegally capture African to serve as his slaves, bought in 1800s, “extended from Packard’s Rocks in the Narragansett Bay to the Fish Pond at the Head of Narrow River.” This isn’t much of a surprise since this Samuel Packard was buried in Rhode Island like his wife Abigail. Other books confirm the location of Packard’s Rocks, sometimes called Packard Rocks, although none told the history of the place.  [1] Even the GNIS entry lists nothing on the origin of the name! But, based on what was stated earlier, it was likely given its name because it was once part of a farm owned by Samuel Packard. While I couldn’t find land records using an official government site, and an unofficial one, for Rhode Island, I did find its location, and a map showing a Packard Road in the region in 1900, highlighting the road with a yellow square:

This is document 99999924, a plat recorded on January 1, 1900 if the North Kingston Town Clerk website is accurate on this date.

I looked through the land evidences too (since the probate and town records cannot be accessed unless you are at a Family History Library), but since the indexes are spotty, I couldn’t find anything without going through the whole book.

With that, we move onto the next one: a historical Packard post office. It fulfilled this role in 1892, 1901, and 1902, according to the GNIS. Further information is not known at this time. The final place I’ll focus on is Packard, Michigan. It is presently a populated community place, and has some scattered mentions in books. But nothing notes its origin, unfortunately. But, we can say it had that name by at least 1901 as a railroad station was there. There is a lot of false drops in the search results, so it is hard to search for completely accurately.

That’s all for this week. Until next week!


Notes

[1] Roger B. Williams, Bedrock Geology of the Wickford Quadrangle, Rhode Island, U.S. Department of the Interior Geological Survey Bulletin 1158-C (Government Printing Office: Washington, 1964), p 24; William Richard Keefer and Max Lorain Troyer, Geology of the Shotgun Butte Area, Fremont County, Wyoming, p C-11; George Emerson Moore, Bedrock Geology of the Coventry Center Quadrangle, Rhode Island, Issue 1158, p C-11, T. Nelson Dale, “A Contribution to the Geology of Rhode Island,” The American Journal of Science, Vol. 157 (1884): 283; Newport Natural History Society, “List of Minerals and Rocks Occurring in the Vicinity of Newport,” Proceedings of the Newport Natural History Society, Issues 1-5, p 30.

The Packards in Tennessee and a research bust

On July 3rd, I noted on Twitter that I had found a number of Packards “on the indexes of the Tennessee State Library and Archives website.”

The Tennessee State Library & Archives lists four entries for the Packards.  The first of these is Noah S. Packard, with the record of his death found within the W. R. Cornelius Burial Records, noting his death in 1865 in Indiana, part of Company D, Regiment/Unit/Line 151. So, I dug a little further to learn more about this Noah Packard and T.E. Packard, who died the same year but in Wisconsin, and was in Company A and Regiment/Unit/Line 18.

Finding information about Noah was tough, because the only entry for a Noah, who died in 1865, was someone buried in Tennessee. For T.E. Packard, nothing turned up on Find A Grave either. I couldn’t find any obits for either of them, unfortunately. There was just a bunch of false drops. Searches on Family Search were also fruitless, for both of these Packards.

The next person, chronologically, was Thomas Packard. He died in 1916, as noted in the Tennessee Death Records 1914-1933 (specifically vol. 30, record #363), in Knox County, Tennessee. No results could be found on Find A Grave, sadly. He also seemed strangely mysterious, like the other Packards I had mentioned, since I couldn’t find anything on him either! I found two results for Thomas Packards, one who died in Lawrence, Tennessee and another who died in Chattanooga. Neither seemed to be the same as this man. Sadly, all that could be found was a “Thomas Parker” who died in 1916, no Thomas Packard…

Then there was Lethe Packard who died in 1928, whose record also could be found in the Tennessee Death Records 1914-1933 collection (specifically Record #: 22500), dying in Shelby County. There were no results whatsoever on newspapers.com when looking up his name. Results on Family Search seemed to lead to nothing until I stumbled upon a Tennessee Death certificate! [1] It named his parents and everything. What a great find! It could lead to further answers to who this man was.

It showed his father was E.E. Packard, who was born in Georgia and his mother was Mary Bond, although her birthplace was not known.  Although his date of birth was wrong (it shouldn’t have been 1928 but should have been 1872), it did note he was born in Arkansas and that he was single, even though he was age 56.

Until next time!


Notes

[1] “Tennessee Deaths, 1914-1966,” database with images, FamilySearch, Lethe Packard, 29 Sep 1928; Death, Memphis, Shelby, Tennessee, United States, Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville.

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!