My grandfather, at right, receives the Bronze Star from the Assistant Secretary of the Navy. My grandmother stands between them.

John Tyler’s recent blog post on Elizabeth Knapp of Groton has a personal element for me, as I am descended through my maternal grandfather from Elizabeth (Knapp or Knopp) Scripture. According to my notes, both of my mother’s parents were descendants of the Warren family of Watertown, but it was Elizabeth Knopp – the daughter of Elizabeth (Warren) Knopp – who was my grandfather’s ancestress.

In fact, this group of families makes up part of my grandfather’s matrilineal line, one that ends in a mystery. Elizabeth’s son John Scripture married Abigail Utley; their daughter Elizabeth, named for Elizabeth Knopp, married Isaac Heath of Framingham, Massachusetts, and then Tolland, Connecticut.

Isaac and Elizabeth Heath’s son Levi (1743–1818) married twice: his first wife, who is sometimes identified as Abigail ____, was my grandfather’s matrilineal ancestress, the mother of Eunice (Heath) Jeffers; the second, Abigail (Orton) Doud, was the mother of those Heath children born after 1779. The printed vital records of Berkshire County, where Levi Heath and his two wives lived, do not distinguish between the first and the second Mrs. Levi Heath, and so my grandfather’s matrilineal line ends with a tantalizing blank.

It’s interesting to see what happens to the women in these families, since the trend is ever westward. Eunice Heath (1771–1845) was probably born in Sandisfield, Massachusetts; her daughter Laura Jeffers was born in Connecticut in 1793 and living in Athens County, Ohio, in 1860.

The printed vital records of Berkshire County … do not distinguish between the first and the second Mrs. Levi Heath, and so my grandfather’s matrilineal line ends with a tantalizing blank.

Laura’s daughter Tryphena Judd (1821–1901) was born in Hadley, Saratoga County, New York, and died in the household of one of her children in Brock, Scotland County, Missouri; her daughter Rebecca Jane (Eggleston) (Jackson) Waterman (1856–1937) was born in Ward Township, Hocking County, Ohio, and died – after a restless life in Ohio, Virginia, New York, and California – in Long Beach, California. So it took (just) three generations for Eunice’s female progeny to travel from western Massachusetts to southern California!

And here the pattern shifts, becoming rather random: Jennie Waterman’s daughter Minnie Estelle (Jackson) Bell (1876–1935) was born in tiny New Straitsville in Perry County, Ohio. Raised in Jacksonville (founded by her father) and then in Columbus, Ohio, Estelle was married in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1902; she died in Pinewell, then suburban and now a section of Norfolk, but she had made at least one trip out to California to visit her mother, Mrs. Waterman, and her son (my grandfather) and her granddaughter (my mother).

My maternal grandfather was a Navy man, stationed wherever the Navy had ships, so my mother – born in Baltimore – grew up in California and Hawaii. She went to high school in Maryland and to college in New York, and she met my father at a block party in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. My parents married in Baltimore and settled in Massachusetts, not so very far from Framingham, where – two centuries before – my mother’s forebears the Heaths had once lived.

About Scott C. Steward

Scott C. Steward was the founding editor at Vita Brevis; he served as NEHGS Editor-in-Chief 2013-2022. He is the author, co-author, or editor of genealogies of the Ayer, Le Roy, Lowell, Saltonstall, Thorndike, and Winthrop families. His articles have appeared in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, NEXUS, New England Ancestors, American Ancestors, and The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, and he has written book reviews for the Register, The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, and the National Genealogical Society Quarterly.

5 thoughts on “Patterns

  1. My generation of Bowers was the first in my father’s direct line to be born outside of Massachusetts since 1650. That line began with the mystery of who was Elizabeth Worthington as a last name does not always give us an answer. The Kidder branch of that line presented another mystery which has only partly been answered. For a number of years I was unable to find a record of my 2xgreat-grandmother (Sarah A. [Todd] Kidder) after the 1866 listing in the Roxbury, MA Directory. Her husband had died in 1860 and her only remaining son in 1867. When probate records became available on-line her mother’s 1872 probate records provided an answer stating she was the wife of James Harvey and living in Camden, NJ. Mr. Harvey moved back to England after 1880 and died there before 1891. His probate papers for the property he left in NJ mentions her in England. She was still living there in 1891 as she and her granddaughter are mentioned in the 1891 English census. How did a widow living in Roxbury, MA end up marrying a widower living in Camden, NJ.? Sarah Ann Todd Kidder Harvey was the descendant of two of Elizabeth Knapp’s daughters and Simon Willard.

  2. What a handsome couple!! And what a marvelous hat…what fun we 21st century women miss by not wearing hats.

  3. I’m intrigued by another aspect of this post. It identifies the famously possessed/bewitched Elizabeth as “Knapp” and states she was the daughter of Elizabeth (Warren) Knapp. I’ve struggled for years to disentangle the knot of Knapps and Knopps of 17th century Watertown and points further west and north. I’m descended from Elizabeth (Knopp/Knapp) Philbrick and her husband Thomas Philbrick of Hampton (in present-day coastal New Hampshire) via their daughter Martha (Philbrick) Cass; Elizabeth’s family name is spelled Knopp or Knapp depending on which of the good-quality resources you reference, and their eldest son John married Anne Knopp, daughter of William “Old Knop” Knopp of Watertown; Anne and her father William appear to have been related somehow to Anne’s mother-in-law Elizabeth (Knopp/Knapp) Philbrick, but the confusion over the spelling of the last name and the lack of good primary sources makes it all very confusing. I’m wondering if the author has any insights that led him to unambiguously identify this poor unfortunate servant of Groton (and her father, implicitly) as Knapp rather than Knopp. According to my amateur efforts, the Elizabeth Knapp/Knopp of Groton, daughter of James Knapp/Knopp and his wife Elizabeth Warren, would have been descended from the same William Knopp of Bures St. Mary, Suffolk, England as my ancestor Elizabeth Knopp, who married Thomas Philbrick in Bures St. Mary and emigrated with him and their children to New England, eventually settling in Hampton sometime in the 1630s.

    1. Michael, this is a post put together from some rough notes, so I don’t have the sources I used in pulling together my AT. In general, I would say that we should not focus unduly on 17th-century spelling (Knapp vs. Knopp) as the barrier to working out a relationship — the lack of good primary sources, on the other hand! — that’s always the problem. There has probably been some work done in recent years on the Knopps of Bures St. Mary, etc., but I am afraid I can’t immediately point you to it.

      1. Thanks Scott. I agree the spelling issue seems to be more of a distraction than a problem – as is so often the case with the spelling of names from the 17th century. (The various spellings of my Philbrick ancestors’ family name being a good case in point!) I do think Elizabeth (Knapp/Knopp) Philbrick, Elizabeth Knapp/Knopp daughter of James and Elizabeth (Warren) Knapp/Knopp, and Anne Knopp and her father William “Old Knop” Knopp of Watertown all originated from the Knopps/Knapps of the area surrounding Bures St. Mary, but I’ll just have to keep beavering away for firm evidence of that. Thanks for an interesting post.

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