I just returned from a 2 1/2 day roadtrip, with my sister, to Becket Massachusetts and environs. This was another of our short trips intended to get my sister out of town and away for a short time, and to get me another short shot at some genealogical research. This trip turned out to have a number of results as I learned more about the resources that are available in this small town.
Becket was incorporated in 1765 out of Township #4. My Snow relatives migrated north and west to Becket from Ashford Conneticut in about 1770. So far I haven’t pinned the date down any closer than that. I do know that Oliver Snow, my ancestor, married Rebecca Wadsworth in Becket in the summer of 1771. Since it seems likely that they had known each other for at least a few months, 1770 seems like a reasonable guesstimate of when Oliver got to Becket. There is no family tale of when or why Oliver moved north.
Oliver is one of my Revolutionary War ancestors. He served 2 times as a private in Captain Peter Porter’s Company, in 1777. Oliver and Rebecca lived in Becket until Rebecca died, in 1784. Oliver remarried pretty quickly, to Roxylena Taylor, and the family moved to Tyringham at some point after the federal census in 1800. Oliver’s half brother, Amaziah Snow and his family also lived in Tyringham. Both Oliver and Amaziah were in Tyringham by the time of the 1810 federal census, and Amaziah and his wife Sarah died there and are buried in the Tyringham Cemetery.
In about 1805 or so, Oliver and Rebecca’s oldest son, also named Oliver, moved his wife and children to northern Ohio to a site in the Connecticut Western Reserve. This is the Snow line that eventually continued west and joined the Church of the Latter Day Saints (Oliver, Junior’s children Lorenzo and Eliza notably). That’s a post for another time. Several other of Oliver Senior’s children migrated west to Ohio to the same area in northern Ohio in the early 1800′s. My direct ancestor, Franklin, was one of these. By 1822 Oliver (about 73 years old) and his second wife Roxylena, followed and settled in Auburn Corners in Geauga County.
Having learned a little bit about doing genealogy trips like this one, I went somewhat more prepared than I had been the first time (see this post for my description of that trip). I had a list of several cemeteries in surrounding towns that listed Snows as buried in them. I hadn’t listed the Becket cemeteries, thinking we’d naturally see and walk them. I had two specific goals: I wanted to see the Snow “Genealogical Records of Inhabitants of the Town of Becket” and I wanted to find the burial site (and hopefully the gravestone) for Oliver’s first wife, Rebecca. I had been told that the original of the Genealogical Records was in the Becket Athenaeum and to check their hours before I went. So I did, and also called there to ask about seeing this old document and whether I could take digital pictures. A very helpful librarian named Zina answered all my questions and offered to get out the other resources she could find in the library on the Snows.
Our first stop (after walking two cemeteries on Sunday afternoon) was at the Becket Town Hall to talk with the Town Clerk. I hoped for help with the cemetery records and locations, and maybe with land records. The Town Clerk was very helpful, although he wasn’t able to find a listing for Rebecca Snow in his database of deaths and burials. He eventually pointed us to the Becket Room in the Town Hall, which is full of the Historical Commission’s pictures, etc. It also possesses a copy of the Snow Genealogical Records, spiral bound so the 2 volumes open flat. He made me copies of all of the pages with Snows on them, and greedily I wish I had asked for Wadsworths too. I had not known that there was a copy of this resource in Town Hall (which was good to know since the hours the Hall is open are longer than the library). The Clerk also asked others in Town Hall about cemeteries and came back with a report of a family cemetery on private land, somewhere in the vicinity of the intersection of two roads. We could go looking to see if we could find anything.
The Clerk also told us about the “cattle pen” just up the road, that dated back to the earliest days. Apparently if your animals
were found wandering in town, they would be penned in this central location so you could come find them and nothing would happen to them. You can see how close to the present-day road this pen is. According to “An Historic Tour of Becket, Massachusetts”, a small booklet done for the Becket Historical Commission, this Pound dates to 1768. We spent the rest of that day looking at cemeteries and looking for the family one.
We went the next day to the Athenaeum and were welcomed by Zina and not only a copy of the Genealogical Records but also a number of boxes containing other resources about Snows. Unfortunately, the original of the Genealogical Records is too fragile for public use any more, so I didn’t get to see it.
But this is a picture I took of part of one page. You can see how clear and legible Miss Snow’s handwriting was. (She taught school for 50 years, so it makes sense that she would have had a nice hand.) Much of the other resources were more recent scrapbooks containing newsclippings which were interesting but hard to take pictures of. I tried a number of them but getting a sharp focus was not possible with my camera and no tripod (and the plastic encasing the pages).
So the end of this story, so far, is that I haven’t yet found Rebecca Snow’s burial site or stone but I’m not giving up. I hope to get permission to go see the family cemetery, and hope that she might be there. I am also more and more curious about the land that Oliver might have owned. This will require a trip to Pittsfield Massachusetts where the county registry is. In Massachusetts the land records are kept at the county level (sometimes divided into 2 or more different registries depending on size). And while recent records have been digitized and are available online, the old ones haven’t been. I should have known this but didn’t really think about it. I had such wonderful luck in Connecticut with the Town Clerk having the old records that I wishfully thought the same might be true in Massachusetts.