Week 16: Negative

‘nuf said

I decided to write this week about two ancestors (father and son) that I don’t like very much.  I think you’ll understand why when you read about them.

This is the story first of my 9th great-grandfather) Robert Cross (1612-1693).  Robert married Anna Jordan (1617-1677) in Ipswich, Massachusetts Bay Colony, in 1635.  Anna had come to Ipswich that year with her parents Stephen Jordan (1589-1670) and Susannah Merril (1585-1673) on the ship Mary and John. 

I don’t know when Robert came to Ipswich. 

Robert and Anna had 11 children in Ipswich, including my 8th great-grandfather Robert Cross II (1642-1710), who was their third child.  Robert 1642 married Martha Treadwell (1643-1738) in Ipswich in 1665, and they had eight children there, including my 7th great-grandmother Mary Ann Cross (1675-1710), who was their fourth child.  Martha’s parents, Thomas Treadwell (1605-1671) and Mary Wilson (1605-1685), had married in England in 1633 and come to Massachusetts Bay in 1635 on the ship Hopewell

Robert Cross (both 1613 and 1642) were – shall we say – colorful residents of Ipswich.   Things started out reasonably well for Robert 1613.  He owned six acres of land with a house on it before 1638.  After the spring of 1637, when he and 16 other young men of Ipswich saw service in the local Pequot War, he received additional land.  By 1649/50 he owned 40 acres of land in Ipswich.  But he was a difficult man; according to one source, he had “developed an idea that the magistrates . . . were prejudiced against him.”  He was in court several times for apparent altercations with his neighbors.  He also apparently threw his daughter (also named Martha) out of the house for consorting with a man in the village. He continued to challenge the authority of the magistrates, comparing them at one point to the Spanish Inquisition.

Martha’s parents (who were apparently upstanding citizens of Ipswich) could not have been happy when Martha decided to marry Robert 1642, the son of the town reprobate.  Things did not go any better for Robert 1642.  After a day of military training in 1667, after he and some of his friends had too much to drink, they committed what the court described as a “barbarous and inhuman act” – they tore open the grave of Masconomet, who was the sagamore (chief) of local Agawam tribe.  Masconomet is remembered as the Indian leader who boarded Winthrop’s ship Arbella after the fleet landed in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1630. He subsequently ceded a lot of tribal land to the Puritans who settled under Winthrop, and he pursued a path of assimilation for his people.  Masconomet himself took on the name “John the Sagamore,” lived on farmland adjacent to where the English settlers lived, and gave his children English names. 

So this is the grave that Robert 1642 and his drunken buddies decided to desecrate.  They scattered Masconomet’s bones and carried his head around on a pole.  Robert 1642 was identified as the ringleader of this group, and for these actions he was jailed until the next “lecture day” (religious observance or a day of rest).  On the appointed day he was sentenced to sit in the stocks for one hour and to remain in jail until he could pay a fine of six pounds.  After he was released from jail, he was required to re-inter the bones of the Indian chief and erect a cover of stones two feet high over the grave.  According to the same source, alcohol was Robert’s curse; court records reveal that he was “much in drink” on several occasions over the next several years.  He continued the pattern set by his father, apparently feuding with (and sometimes assaulting) his neighbors.

Some people are just like that.

Author: iseekdeadpeopleblog

I am a retired high school history and government teacher. I've been doing genealogy research since I retired in 2012. I define what I do as "constructing a plausible narrative about the past." I don't claim to know everything about the ancestors whose stories I tell, but I try to imagine myself in their lives. I sometimes call it "creative non-fiction." I try to differentiate between what I know for sure and what I "think" I know.

3 thoughts on “Week 16: Negative”

  1. Oh dear – the demon drink. I am pleased to hear that such desecration was met with great censure. Good for your for sharing. Sometimes our ancestors are not all that we would love them to be. But then we probably aren’t perfect either. I think honesty is better than painting a rosy hue or “ignoring” the past. Better to acknowledge it and reflect on the probably cause of such behaviour.

    Liked by 1 person

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