Research Results Part One: Salem Massachusetts

This is the first of many posts about my research trip to Salt Lake City. I have lots of material to digest—no stunning finds and more mysteries to solve than when I started! I will be posting more information in parts and I have relevant information on the following

  • Wheaton (various spellings) Loyalists who fled to Canada
  • Wheatons  (various spellings) and Hancocks in Devon and Somerset parishes
  • Howells in Wales
  • Baptist foundations in Neath, Wales
  • Early Salem, MA records

First off was a look at the microfilm copies of the Salem Town Records for 1636 where Robert Wheaton first appeared in 1636. Should be simple. I have photocopies of the published records with exact date and information. I have the photographed representation of the original record which appears in the Converse Genealogy. So place the microfilm on the reader and proceed to page.  Not there! So look at the transcription of said record yes there it is. In the transcript listed as the 16th of the 11th month:1636

Robt Wheato refused to be Inhabitant.”

I found what follows it in the transcription but it and what is supposed to proceed it were not on the microfilm. And I looked at the microfilm 3 times and went through several times in case it was out of place. I did however find the second and third instances of Robert appearing in the record. So not a complete loss.

In the Converse genealogy the date as shown as a reproduction of the original record shows the 6th day of the 11th month: 1636. So something is amiss. Also earlier notations as to “we have made a show of making him an inhabitant”  refer not to Robert Wheaton but rather to Edward Beachamp. And as explained in an earlier posting may have been for any number of reasons and was not an unusual occurrence in early Salem.

I am not convinced that what I was looking at were even the original records as the originals were written in the shorthand of Gov. Endecott.

So I have just got off the phone after talking to the Essex (now called Peabody Instiute) whose records are all boxed up and inaccessible for the next 1-2 years. They published the records in book format but could not tell me whether they or someone else holds the originals. So I called the Salem Room of the Salem Public Library known to house many early records and have given my problem to a reference librarian so we shall see what that turns up.

In an interesting side note what proceeds Robert Wheato in the transcription was the plight of Debora Holmes:

Debora Holmes refused land being a maid would be a bad president to keep hous alone.”

However the good men of Salem, or at least four of them, each granted her a bushel of corn. Let us not forget that a few years later the Salem Witch trials saw many women and a few men unjustly killed for alleged engagement in Witchcraft.

To be continued….

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