John Parsons, Jr. & The Hartford – Albany Turnpike
By Don Taylor
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.
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….