John Parsons, Jr. & The Family Search Wiki

John Parsons, Jr. & The Hartford – Albany Turnpike

By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.Sometimes, the obvious eludes me. After my first pass on an individual searching Family Search, Ancestry, and drafting up a basic sketch for an individual, I like to go to my “stage 2” activities. That is to go through my hundreds of bookmarks looking for other potential sources. Virtually every ancestor I have came from somewhere different.  For example, my eight great-grandparents were born in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Likewise, they died in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, and “unknown.” Many of my ancestors began on the East Coast and migrated west every other generation or so, to Western New York, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, the Dakotas, Minnesota, and so on to me who was born in Oregon. That results in many places for me to learn how to research. It gets exhausting and overwhelming.

The Family Search Wiki

I’ve long advocated using the FamilySearch (FS) Wiki to help find specific things. I even manage the page for Scarborough, Cumberland County, Maine Genealogy. But, I never thought about using the FamilySearch Wiki as the basis for my “stage 2” research. Then, I watched a Roots Tech 2020 talk on “Unlocking the Power of the FamilySearch Wiki” and reconsidered my lists of links. I thought I’d give it a try. To start, I’d use the FS Wiki and look at the entries for the towns my ancestor of interest lived in. My current work relates to John Parsons, Jr. He was born in 1764 in Sandisfield, Berkshire County, Massachusetts. He lived and married there. Then in 1802 moved west to Windham, Greene County, New York where he died and was buried.

This file is attributed to DiltsGD and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.

The FS Wiki page for Sandisfield had this really cool little map showing the “Routes and Turnpikes” that people used to migrate to and from Sandisfield. One of those routes was the Massachusetts 10th Turnpike dated 1800. References indicated to see the map between pages 56 and 57 and to see pages 76 to 78 of The Turnpikes of New England and the Evolution of the Same Through England, Virginia, and Maryland by  Frederic J. Wood(Boston: Marshall Jones, 1919), and provided a link to the Internet Archive version online.

Besides a nice map of the area showing the pikes, the accompanying article on pages 76 to 78 provided a lot of information. The 10th Mass Turnpike Corporation was created by an act passed in 1800. It began at the Connecticut line and ran thirty-six miles. It was known locally as the “Hartford and Albany turnpike.” The date the 10th Mass. Turnpike went into service isn’t given, however, I suspect that opening up the road helped John Parsons and his family locate west to Windham, Green County, New York in 1802.

Update to John Parsons, Jr.’s Ancestry sketch:

In 1800, the Tenth Massachusetts Turnpike Corporation was created to form a link in the turnpike system connecting Hartford with Albany. Known locally as the “Hartford and Albany turnpike” the road commenced at the Connecticut line and followed the Farmington River up the valley through Sandisfield, Tolland, Otis, and Becket, thence through Lee, Lenox, Richmond, and Hancock, to the New York Line. The new pike probably played a role in John Parsons, Jr. and his family’s relocation to Windham, Greene County, New York in 1802.

There wasn’t anything else in the FS Wiki Page of interest on the Sandisfield page. I wonder if there is something of interest on the Windham page….

Ancestor Sketch – John Parsons, Jr.

Brown/Sanford/Parsons Line
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.One of my processes is to tentatively accept conflicting data regarding an individual. As I continue my research, I look for info to help corroborate either fact. When I finally do my ancestor sketch, I analyze the conflicting facts and make a decision as to what I think is correct and provide my analysis bout what I think is incorrect and why.  In the case of John Parsons, Junior, I have conflicting facts regarding both John’s birth and his death.  But, more about that in a bit.

Roberts/Brown – Ancestor #204

List of Grandparents

  • 6 – Grandfather: Clifford Brown| aka Richard Earl Durand | aka Richard Earl Brown (1903-1990)
  • 12 – 1st Great-grandfather: Arthur Durwood Brown(1869-1928)
  • 25 – 2nd Great-grandmother: Marion Sanford(1846- c. 1895)
  • 51 – 3rd Great-grandmother: Mary E Parsons(1828-1888)
  • 102 – 4th Great-grandfather: Chester Parsons (1799-1887)
  • 204 – 5th Great-grandfather: John Parsons, Jr. (1764-1813)
  • 408 – 6th Great-grandfather: John Parsons, Sr.
  • 816 – 7th Great-grandfather: Timothy Parsons*[i]
  • 1632 – 8th Great-grandfather: Samuel Parsons*
  • 3264 – 9th Great-grandfather: Joseph Parsons*
  • 6528 – 10th Great-grandfather: William Parsons*

John Parsons (1764-1813)

Birth

John Parsons, Jr., was born on 18 November 1764, the third child of John and Hannah (Wadsworth) Parsons. Some researchers have suggested he was born in Windham, Greene County, New York[ii]; however, I’m sure he was born in Sandisfield, Berkshire County, Massachusetts. Five of John’s siblings were all born in Sandisfield, including siblings both older and younger.  John moved to Windham in 1802, so it is easy to understand how someone could have make a mistake and entered the wrong place.

It must have been exciting times that John grew up in. His father was a lieutenant in the Massachusetts Militia during the Revolution. Samuel Wolcott’s. Living in far western Massachusetts, I suspect that young John was eager for the latest in news of the Revolution.

Sadness did strike in 1777, when John was 12 years old, and his mother died.

There is probably a romantic story to find about John’s courting of Mary Wolcott, the daughter of his father’s Captain during the Revolution. In any event, although it is not clear when John and Mary married. The birth of their first child, Samuel, in April 1789 suggests John and Mary likely married in 1788. John and Mary had seven children:

Children of John & Mary (Wolcott) Parsons, Jr.

Child Born
Samuel 1789 – Sandisfield, MA
Polly 1792 – Sandisfield, MA
Orrin 1794 – Sandisfield, MA
John 1796 – Sandisfield, MA
Chester 1799 – Sandisfield, MA
Parmelia 1805 – Windham, NY
Prudence 1808  – Windham, NY

1790 Census

John and his father were both enumerated as heads of households next to each other in the 1790 Census.

Parsons, John, Jr. 1 1 1

The John Parsons, Jr. household consisted of:

  • One male 16 & older, who has to be the head of the household, John Jr.
  • One male under age 16, who apears to be Samuel who was born in born 1789.
  • One female who appears to be John’s wife, Mary.

1800 Census

By 1800, the John Parsons, Jr. household had grown.

John Parsons, Jr.  3 1 – 1 – | 1 – – 1 –

Three males under 10:   Likely Orrin (Age 5), John (Age 4), & Chester (Age 0)

One male, age 10-16:     Likely Samuel (Age 13)

One male, age 26-45:     Obviously, John Jr. (Age 36) who is the head of the household.

One female under 10:     Likely Mary/Polly (Age 8)

One female 26-45:       Clearly Mary (age 33) his wife.

In 1802 John and his family moved from Sandisfield to Windham, Greene County, New York.

1810 Census

I have searched at length for John in the 1810 Census. I have not been successful in discovering John Parsons (Jr.) in the 1810 Census. I believe he is probably living with one of his children in Greene County, New York. As such, if I research each of his wife and all of his children, I may well find John living in someone else’s household.

Death

John Parsons died on 7 April 1813 in Windham, Greene County, New York. He was buried in section 1 at the Pleasant Valley Cemetery (also known as the Ashland Cemetery), about 2 and a half miles west of Windham. He was survived by hie wife, Mary, all seven of his children, and his father.

Events by Location


Massachusetts, Berkshire County, Sandisfield Town – 1764 thru 1801 – Birth, childhood, marriage, and birth of his first five children.

New York, Greene County, Windham – 1802-1813 – births of his two youngest children and his death.

New York, Green County, Ashland – 1813 – Burial at Pleasant Valley (aka Ashland) Cemetery.

Further Actions / Follow-up

  • Research each of John’s children and both his and his wife’s siblings for their location during the 1810 Census. Were John and Mary with them.

Continue reading “Ancestor Sketch – John Parsons, Jr.”

John Parsons, AGBI, and the 1790 Census

Census Sunday
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.Sometimes you encounter sources that don’t make sense. Recently, I encounter several trees that identified John Parsons being in the American Genealogical-Biographical Index (AGBI), Volume 131, Page 462, and that the AGBI was the source. The AGBI isn’t really a source, rather, it is a finding aid. It is an index that points to actual sources. In this case, it directed the researcher to “Heads of fams. at the first U.S. census. Ms. By U.s. Bureau of the Census. Washington, 1908. (363p.): 34.”

Heads of Families – 1790 Census – Massachusetts:

Page 34, Column 1, Persons 3 & 4 show John Parsons, Jr. & John Parsons (Sr.) in Sandisfield Town, Berkshire County, Massachusetts.[i]

Parsons, John, Jr. 1 1 1

1 Male 16 & Older        John Jr. (Head of Household)
1 Male < 16                   Appears to be Samuel born 1789
1 Female                       Apparently Mary, John’s wife.


Parsons, John [Sr.] 2 2 5

2 Males 16 & Older

  • John (Head of Household)
  • Possibly Simon (17), Timothy (21), or Ashbel (24)

(Note: Frederick died before 1790)
(Note: John, Jr., was enumerated above.)

2 Males < 16

  • Apparently Gibson (age 8)
  • Apparently, Frederick (age 6)

5 Females

  • Clearly John’s 2nd wife, Mercy
  • Apparently daughter Sally (age 2)
  • Apparently daughter Mercy (age 12)
  • Apparently daughter Martha (age 15)
  • Possibly Roxey (age 23), or Mary (age 29)

(Note: John’s daughter, Hanna, died before 1790.)

Analysis

John Junior’s household exactly fits expectations for his household in 1790.

John (Senior’s) household fits expectations for John with his second wife (Mercy) and their children. Plus, there are several individuals in the household The only household individuals of question are several of his children from his first marriage. Which were still at home and which had either moved out or had died.

Neither Simon, Timothy, nor Ashbel appear to be enumerated elsewhere. So, the second male over 16 could be any of them.

Likewise, I haven’t found any records for marriages or deaths for John’s daughters, Roxey or Mary, so the fifth female could be either of them. 

Follow-up:

  1. Search for Simon, Timothy, and Ashbell in other records for 1790 to eliminate them from being in the household of John Parsons, Senior.
  2. Search for marriage records for Roxey and Mary. If married before 1790, verify if they might be in the census record of their husband(s).
  3. Search for evidence of death for Roxey, Mary, Simon, Timothy, or Ashbell prior to 1790. Eliminate them as being in John Parsons Senior’s household in 1790.

 Endnotes:

[i] 1790 Census – John Parsons, Jr. & John Parsons (Sr.) – Sandisfield Town, Berkshire County, Massachusetts. “Heads of Families – 1790 Census – Massachusetts – Page 34, Column 1, Persons 3 & 4. – Accessed 2 August 2020. https://www.census.gov/library/publications/1907/dec/heads-of-families.html.

John Parsons (Jr. & Sr.) in the Sandisfield Town Records

Amanuensis[i] Monday
Brown-Sanford-Parsons
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.Microfilm, 1728095, microfilmed by the Genealogical Society, Salt Lake City, Utah at the Town Hall, Sandisfield, Massachusetts provide a treasure of information regarding the various families of Sandisfield. Image 377, (Page 335) provides two entries regarding my Parsons ancestors. Although Family Search provides a great index to the pages, they don’t really come to life until you can look at entries directly and see the patterns of these people’s lives.

Highways, Births, Deaths, Marriages, Town Records, Miscellaneous Records of Sandisfield, Berkshire, Massachusetts[ii]

PAGE 335 – MANLEY – CRANE – SPELMAN – PARSONS – PARSONS – SMITH – KILBORN  – GRANGER – PRATT

[John Parsons, Jr.]

Samuel son to John Parsons Junior & Mary his wife was born 5 April 1789
Polly Daughter to Do [iii] was born 17 January 1792. Orrin son to Do was born 6 March
1794 John son to Do was born 5 May 1796 Charles son to Do was born 1 Dec 1799
PARSONS


PAGE 335 – MANLEY – CRANE – SPELMAN – PARSONS – PARSONS – SMITH – KILBORN  – GRANGER – PRATT

[Lt. John Parsons, Sr.]

Mary Daughter to Lt John Parsons & Hannah his wife was born 28 September 1761.
Hannah Daughter to Lt. John Parsons & Hannah his wife was born 5 May 1763.
John son to Do was born 18 November 1764 Ashbel born  to Do was born 19 April 1766.
Boney Daughter to Do was born 18 Aug 1867 Timothy son to Do was born 1 September 1769.
Frederick son to Do was born 1st May 1771 (Frederick Died 23 August 1777. Simeon son to Do
was born 26 April 1773 Martha Daughter to Do was born 29 Mar 1775 | Hannah wife
to Lt John Parsons Died 26 May 1777 Mercy Daughter to Lt. John Parson & Mary his wife was
born 24 October 1778 Gibson son to Do was born 26 March 1782 Joseph son to Do was born
23 April 1784 | Joseph died 17 September 1786 Frederick son to Do was born 22 July 1786
Sally, Daughter to Do was born 21 August 1788 Sally died 20 January 1793

PARSONS – Lt. John Parsons died March AD 1821 age 84.

Conclusion

These entries provide for the clear understanding of the two John Parsons families,

Children of John Parsons, Jr & Mary his wife

  • Samuel          son                 born 5 April 1789
  • Polly               daughter     born 17 January 1792
  • Orrin               son                born 6 March 1794
  • John               son                 born 5 May 1796
  • Charles          son                born 1 Dec 1799

Children of Lt. John Parsons & Hannah, his wife.

  • Mary               daughter        born 28 September 1761.
  • Hannah          daughter        born 5 May 1763.
  • John               son                     born 18 November 1764
  • Ashbel            son                    born 19 April 1766.
  • Boney             daughter        born 18 Aug 1867
  • Timothy          son                 born 1 September 1769.
  • Frederick       son                  born 1st May 1771               Died 23 August 1777.
  • Simeon           son                  born 26 April 1773
  • Martha           daughter        born 29 Mar 1775

                                    Hannah died 26 May 1777

Children of Lt. John Parsons and Mary, his wife.

  • Mercy             Daughter       born 24 October 1778
  • Gibson           son                   born 26 March 1782
  • Joseph           son                   born 23 April 1784               Died 17 September 1786
  • Frederick       son                 born 22 July 1786
  • Sally               Daughter       born 21 August 1788           Died 20 January 1793

Endnotes

[i] John Newmark started the “Amanuensis Monday” category in 2009 on his Blog,  Transylvanian Dutch  and many bloggers have followed suit using the tag. Google provides the following meaning for amanuensis: “A literary or artistic assistant, in particular one who takes dictation or copies manuscripts.”

[ii] “Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1626-2001,” FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:Q29L-DWB6 : 18 February 2020), citing Birth, Sandisfield, Berkshire, Massachusetts, United States, Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth, Boston; FHL microfilm 004267208.

[iii] “Do” is used throughout the original document to signify “Ditto,” In this case “John Parsons Junior and Mary his wife.”

 

“Chin Chin” – Colonial Theatre – Pittsfield, MA – 15 May 1920.

Donna Montran and “Chin Chin” play at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA, on 15 May 1920.

Vaudeville
Chin Chin
Donna Montran

“Chin Chin” played at the Bennington, Vermont, Opera House on May 13th and the Empire Theater in North Adams on the 14th. Then the show moved the 20 miles south to play at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA on Saturday, the 15th.

Advertising for the show began on the 8th of May with an ad showing “Chin Chin” would be coming for “One Night Only” on May 15th. On the 10th, a quick little note said, “’Chin Chin’ at Colonial – Manager Raymond has booked Charles Dillingham’s ‘Chin Chin,’ with Walter Wills and Ray Binder for the Colonial Saturday night.”

The Berkshire Eagle reported Monday, after the show:

The Berkshire Eagle – May 17, 1920

“Chin Chin” with Walter Wills and Roy Binder in the leading roles played to a good-sized audience at the Colonial theatre Saturday evening. It was the second one night stand in two days despite this that there was a large attendance. Like other Dillingham shows it was a wonderful production.

The play is a modern version of the famous old Arabian Nights tale of “Aladdin, or the Wonderful Lamp.” Messrs. Wills and Binder become a couple of Chinamen who have more or less adventures in the pursuit of the lamp which brought its possessor all kinds of happiness. The musical numbers were very sweet and catchy.

Among the many features in this gigantic show are the Teddy Bear dance, Tom Brown’s Saxophone band, a real circus tent with an honest-to-goodness big white circus horse circling around the ring, while Mlle. Falloffski performs the most daring and screamingly funny bareback stunts. Tom Brown’s band was one of the big hits of the evening.

Theater

Colonial Theatre, Pittsfield, MA – (Photo courtesy of Granola via Cinema Treasures)

The Colonial Theatre was built in 1903 but burned in 1912. It underwent extensive renovation and reopened with state-of-the-art theatrical technology, in 1912.

The 1921 Julius Cahn-Gus Hill Theatrical Guide and Moving Picture Directory indicated that the Pittsfield Colonial Theatre was operated by the Goldstein Bros. Amusement Co. and managed by L. H. Raymond. The theater played legitimate theater, stock, and picture attractions.[i] It had a seating capacity of 487 on the main floor, 309 in the balcony, 350 in the gallery, and 72 in the Box seats for a total capacity of 1218.

Specifications for the Colonial Theatre

Proscenium opening: 32 ft
Front to back wall: 45 ft
Between side walls: 58 ft
Apron 5 ft
Between fly girders: 46 ft
To rigging loft: 64 ft
Between fly galleries: 40 ft
The theatre had 8 Dressing rooms

Photo courtesy: Massachusetts Office Of Travel & Tourism via Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/masstravel/ (CC BY-ND 2.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/
Photo courtesy: Massachusetts Office Of Travel & Tourism via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0).

The theatre operated until 1934 when it closed due to the Depression. It reopened in 1937 as a movie theater with occasional community performances. It closed in 1952 and became a paint and art supply business. In 1998, the theatre was designated a National Historic Treasure. In 2001, the Colonial Theatre Association began a restoration of the building. In 2006, the theatre reopened to the public with its vaulted gilded enterence, elaborately decorated boxes and balcony, and exquisite ornamental detail.[ii]

Today

The Colonial Theatre of Pittsfield, MA, is a beautifully renovated facility.

Disclaimer

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Endnotes

[i] (1921). The Julius Cahn-Gus Hill theatrical guide and moving picture directory. New York, N.Y.: Julius Cahn-Gus Hill via Hathi Trust – https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=coo.31924063709764&view=1up&seq=7 – Accessed 21 July 2020.

[ii] Internet: Berkshire Theatre Group website, “History of the Colonial Theatre” https://www.berkshiretheatregroup.org/berkshire-theatre-group/history-of-the-colonial-theatre/ – Accessed 21 July 2020.