Chasing the Mayflower

I am fascinated by what I call “my tribe.”  Meg and I are part of a great family and I have always wanted to know more about it: countries of origin, religious affiliations, and all the factors that influence a family through the generations.  When mom and dad moved out of our long time family home, I came upon family records and photographs about which I had no previous knowledge.  Among the records was a copy of my grandmother’s family tree tracing her Lewis family back to Westerly, Rhode Island in the late 1660’s.  I began researching the Lewis and Mesle families and was hooked.  My brother-in-law gave me a subscription to a genealogy research site for Christmas that fed my interest.

Grandmom considered joining the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), but disagreed with its refusal to allow Marion Anderson sing in Constitution Hall in 1939.  Knowing we had ancestors who served in the revolutionary army spurred my interest even further.  Many months of painstaking research established in my mind the accuracy of grandmom’s family tree and helped me locate proof that Elnathan Terry had served in the Revolution.  Researching his family led me to Sprague Project, a wonderful internet source, Sprague Project Database. Through the Sprague Project, I traced Elnathan Terry back to Thomas Rogers, John Rogers, Richard Warren and Francis Cooke.  The book, Revolutionary War Veterans, Chenango Co. NY, provided significant information, confirmed Elnathan’s service and  confirmed his relationship to my Lewis family.

With evidence in hand sufficient to establish for me the Mayflower connection, I decided to apply for membership in the Mayflower Society, one of the many historical organizations focused on the Mayflower and its passengers.  The proof necessary to join the society is far more rigorous than the proof necessary to satisfy me.  (Once I found my great-grandfather, Horatio Lewis was buried in the family plot with Elnathan Terry, my questions were answered).  But it required 6 months or more contacting libraries, genealogy societies and researching on-line records to find the proof that should satisfy the Mayflower Society.  Some members of the family were easy to trace, because of grandmom’s family tree, but others eluded proof.  One ancestor, Freeborn Lewis, who married Esther Terry, died very young, leaving his widow and their children.  She married again and moved to Iowa, where she died.  Records related to Freeborn and Esther and their son, Lorenzo Lewis, were the hardest to trace.  The last piece of the proof came from Myra Shattuck’s Bible, located in the Guernsey Memorial Library in Norwich, NY.

Six years after beginning my family research, I am ready to finally submit my Mayflower Society application.  Relying heavily on Mayflower histories, DAR records, family records, and the wonderful assistance of staff in genealogical libraries, I have found and copied my records, completed the Mayflower Society application and am ready to submit it.  Wish me luck.

For those interested in genealogy, my direct lineage, through Rogers’ Mayflower family to the present, in chronological order: Thomas Rogers, John Rogers, Hanna Rogers, Benjamin Terry, Benjamin Terry, Private Elnathan Terry, (who married Mary Kenyon, a Mayflower descendant from the Warren/Cooke families), Esther Terry, Lorenzo Lewis, Horatio Daniel Lewis, Mary Ocelia Lewis, Frank Carl Mesle, Catharine Ann Mesle, Meghan Ann (Meg) McCollister.


8 responses to “Chasing the Mayflower

  1. Best of luck with the Mayflower Society. I’m just at the start of my application and research to join as a descendent of John Howland. So far my only genealogy tools are my own family records and some documentation found via Hopefully I’ll figure out where to go to fill in the puzzle pieces.

    • Genealogy libraries and the family history sections of local libraries are a wonderful source of information. DAR records can also be extremely helpful. Don’t forget that the Mayflower Society also has records on the histories of the individuals who are admitted into the society. I wish you the best of luck. It is a fun adventure

  2. Good luck on your Mayflower application! I am interested in hearing how that goes. And I may piggyback off your application in filing ours. We are also descended from Esther Terry — but through her second husband Joseph Maxson Barber and their daughter Altana Barber Hoag. (I found this post accidentally — when googling “Elnathan Terry” and “Mayflower.”) I second your praise of the Sprague Database. Dick Weber is a delight to work with. I believe that I submitted some of the information regarding Elnathan Terry and his Mayflower descendancy. I received information about the Revolutionary War Vets of Chenango Co, NY from the Mayflower Soc’y. And my great great aunt Grace Alda Smith Irwin referenced the bible records of her second cousin (once removed), Myra Shattuck, when she submitted her DAR application in the 1930’s. Unfortunately, the DAR seems to have lost the documentation for Myra Shattuck’s own application that contained that record. Only Myra’s application is available to order. However, I also obtained copies of part of the bible record from the Guernsey library. I also got pages from a DAR descendancy that is based on Myra’s research in Norwich. (And I got another DAR book based on Myra’s research from the LDS’ Family History Library. I think that the former is from the Sherburne DAR chapter, while the latter is from the Norwich DAR chapter.) It’s tough to find other documentation for the early 1800s generation. They were pioneers in central New York (and western Iowa). Again, Good Luck to you!

    • Oh, my. It is exciting to know someone else is looking at the Terry connection. First, my understanding is that Myra’s original Bible still exists and is located at a university library. I will have to check my records to determine which library. Second, I was excited to go to the cemetery in Norwich where so many of my ancestors are buried. While it is not proof of the connections, it is certainly pertinent.

      I never filed the application with the Mayflower Society, though I absolutely am convinced that I have proof of the connection. Unfortunately, Myra’s Bible is part of that proof. My dad was ill and I was in the midst of other priorities.

      I will get out the application, read through it to make sure my documents are all in order, and get it filed.

      I would be happy to let you know when it is find or to send any documents you want.

      Thanks for writing.

  3. I’m guessing the Bible may be at Vassar which has the collections of Ruth Fulton Benedict, an anthropologist and Myra Shattuck’s niece or great niece?

    • Thank you. I believe the Bible is at Vassar. I do not know why the Mayflower Society seems not to accept the Bible as proof of lineage. I need to review the issue to see whether the information I received is accurate.

  4. We are convinced of our descendancy, too. Our great great aunt got DAR membership through Elnathan Terry — though she only had to document (not prove) her parents and grandparents. And they were in Central NY and IA when those were just being settled. So records are difficult to obtain for about 50 years.
    My dad’s DNA was tested, including his mom’s mtDNA (which he inherited but can’t pass). Our Mayflower descendancy chain is all female from Sarah Warren Cooke to my grandma. So her mtDNA should — and does — match others whose descendancy chain from Sarah Warren Cooke is all female. One of the matches was a woman who was an officer in the Massachusetts chapter of the Mayflower Society.

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