Sunday, March 24, 2019

Historical Fiction Review: Acre's Bastard by Wayne Turmel

Acre's Bastard by Wayne Turmel. Published by Achis Press 2018 (2nd Ed.) 298 pages. I purchased this book from in e-book format. It is also available in paperback. The opinions contained in this review are my own. 

The Plot in brief:
Acre's Bastard is the tale of 10 year old Lucca Le Pou, an orphan boy who lives with a foot in two worlds. His father was a Frankish knight, his mother a Syrian Muslim. The year is 1187 and the Christian's have a tenuous hold on the Holy Land. Lucca is cared for by the monastic military order known as the Order of the Knights of St. John, or the Hospitallers for short. A spunky mischievous boy, he leads a band of like-minded ragamuffins through the raucous streets of Acre. Lucca's life takes a dramatic turn when he is taken in by a mysterious man he knows as Marco, a knight from the Order of St. Lazarus. Together their adventure's take a serious turn as Saladin the great Muslim leader threatens the Christians hold on Acre and Jerusalem. 

The Characters:
I don't normally read books whose main character is a child. I have to admit, Lucca sucked me in within a few pages. Lucca is smart, plucky, observant, brave and a survivor, but at his core he is still a child with a child's need for love and protection. His character is well drawn and believable. He remains true to character throughout the book. Lucca's buddies are multi-dimensional and endearing each in their own way. Marco, the mysterious Knight of Lazarus remained a mystery to me, I am still not sure of his motives, but I found myself cheering him on. 

The History
It is clear from the start that Wayne Turmel knows his history. I felt completely immersed in the 12th century. From the dusty hot streets of Acre to the luxurious tent of Count Raymond of Tripoli to the desert scene of the Battle of Hattin, I felt I was present in the book, looking through Lucca's eyes at his chaotic world. I never felt that anything was off or had one of those 'that never happened' moments. As a lover of history, it was a joy to read. 

The Writing
I thought the book was very well written; kudos to his proof readers and editor. The pacing fit the story perfectly, zipping along, never dragging. The action was almost nonstop and I was never bored or tempted to skip ahead. The dialogue was believable, written without a forced vernacular. 

The book is a great read for lovers of history, lovers of action stories and those who enjoy a more youthful main character. No previous knowledge of the Crusades required! I highly recommend Acre's Bastard and give it five stars! I look forward to reading Part 2 of Lucca's story, Acre's Orphans also available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Chapters. I rate this book a rare 5 stars!

My Ratings: 

1  Star: Not good at all, do not read!

2  Stars: Read only as a last resort, no other books available

3 Stars: Good, enjoyed it, will recommend with reservations

4 Stars: Really good, read this book!

5 Stars: So good, I might read it again sometime! Highly recommend

Authors/Publishers want your book reviewed here? See my how to on my home page.

Who was Peter Pemberton of Seldovia, Alaska?

Photo by Skitterphoto from Pexels

Are you missing a Great Uncle named 'Dirty' Pete?

I was contacted by a genealogy researcher in the tiny town of Seldovia, Alaska, pop. about 260 or so. The town is located on the coast but is accessible only by boat or plane. Seldovia resident Ginny Moore and her husband are working to repair the long neglected local cemetery. Ginny, who has traced her own ancestors, is attempting to trace some of the people buried there, including Peter Pemberton.

Here is what Ginny has found on Peter:

Alaska, Vital Records, 1818 -1963

Name:     Pete Pemberton

Gender:   Male

Death Age:              81

Record Type:          Death

Birth Date:               1859

Death Date:             26 Dec 1940

Death Place:           Seldovia, Alaska, USA


1910 United States Federal Census

Name:     Peter Pemberton

Age in 1910:            55

Birth Year:               abt 1855

[abt 1854]

Birthplace:              Massachusetts

Home in 1910:        Fort Gibbon, Division 2, Alaska Territory

Race:      White

Gender:   Male

Relation to Head of House:    Head

Marital Status:        Single

Father's Birthplace:                Massachusetts

Mother's Birthplace:               Canada


Household Members:           

Name      Age

Peter Pemberton     55

John E Pinkham     50


1920 United States Federal Census

Name:     Peter Pemberton

Age:         61

Birth Year:               abt 1859

Birthplace:              Massachusetts

Home in 1920:        Nenana, Fourth Judicial District, Alaska Territory

Residence Date:     1920

Race:      White

Gender:   Male

Relation to Head of House:    Head

Marital Status:        Single

Father's Birthplace:                Massachusetts

Mother's Birthplace:               USA

Home Owned or Rented:        Rent

Able to Read:          Yes

Able to Write:          Yes


Household Members:           

Name      Age

Peter Pemberton     61


1930 United States Federal Census

Name:     Peter Pemberton

Birth Year:               abt 1862

Gender:   Male

Race:      White

Birthplace:              Massachusetts

Marital Status:        Single

Relation to Head of House:    Head

Home in 1930:        Anchorage, Third Judicial District, Alaska Territory, USA

Map of Home:         View Map

Radio Set:               No

Able to Read and Write:         No

Father's Birthplace:                Massachusetts

Mother's Birthplace:               Massachusetts

Household Members:           

Name      Age

Peter Pemberton     68


Peter's birth year varies from 1854 to 1862. Ginny cannot find him in Massachusetts or anywhere else prior to the 1910 census. According to the three census he was single, no family is mentioned.  In 1910, aged 55-60, he was prospecting for gold. This makes me think he might have been in Alaska for some time. I can't see many 60 year old men moving to the wilderness to look for gold. 

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to trace Peter? His death certificate lists no known relatives.

I found a Peter Pemberton in the Iditarod newspaper in 1910, he had letters at the post office, but that was it. In a Bureau of Land Management booklet I found the following reference:

Skookum Creek is a tributary of Rosy Creek. Pete Pemberton held claim No.2 above as of 17 February 1909. (Fort Gibbon, Mining Locations, 1: 34.)

In this History of Denali he is call "Dirty" Pete Pemberton. (Maybe that explains the lack of wife).

If you have any ideas on finding Peter Pemberton's orgins and family please pass them on. You can either comment on this article or email me through the contact section. I'll pass any hints or info onto Ginny. Thanks everyone!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Great Blogs: Boston 1775 and Nutfield Genealogy

I thought I'd write about some of my favorite blogs that I go to for information or just to see what everyone else is up too. Here are two great blogs, one history and one genealogy. 

Nutfield Genealogy by Heather Wilkinson Rojo. 

Nutfield was the original name of Londonderry, New Hampshire. It was settled by Scots-Irish immigrants in the 1700s. My ancestors lived there so I enjoy this blog a lot. Heather and I have some common ancestors which is fun. She writes about the early inhabitants of the town, history, current genealogy events, such at the 400th anniversary of Plymouth and other great topics. Blog posts are well labeled and easy to search. She does not advertise on her blog so it is clutter-free which makes for very easy reading. I have posted comments on her blog and gotten swift replies. The research is sound and reliable. 

If you are researching ancestors in New Hampshire this is a great place to look for information. You can find Nutfield Genealogy here.

Boston 1775

Boston 1775 is the work of author and historian J. L. Bell. The blog has a very narrow focus: the start of the American Revolution and Boston. Bell is a prolific blogger, posting almost daily. The site is well laid out and easy to navigate. Subject range from people, place, politics and gossip. The list of labels is massive. Bell also lists a great list of his favorite blogs such as 18th c. American Woman and other websites for historical places such as the Old North Church in Boston. Along the left hand side of the blog is a lengthy list of resources with links. This is a great help for those looking to expand their research. He has links to the National Archives, The British National Archives, lots of historical societies and genealogy research sites such as American Ancestors. 

My only complain about his site is that the print is very small and squished together, otherwise it's the bomb. You can find Boston 1775 here.  J. L. Bell is also a contributing author to the great site Journal of the American Revolution. A fantastic website that is all things American Revolution, written by top notch experts. You can find the Journal of the American Revolution  here. 

I have read one of Bell's books: The Road to Concord and found it highly entertaining and very informative. 

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Historical Fiction Review: The Swan's Road by Garth Pettersen

The Swan's Road by Garth Pettersen Book #1 in a series called The Atheling Chronicles, published by Tirgearr Publishing in 2017. I recieved a free copy of this book from the author. I was not paid to write this review. All opinions good or bad are my own. 

My Review

The plot in brief: The Swan's Road is the story of Harold, son of King Canute of England and Denmark. After securing his hold on England, Canute travels to Rome to attend the coronation of Conrad, Holy Roman Emperor. He is accompanied by his son Prince Harold. Their journey follows the Rhine River and at one point Harold rescues a damsel in distress, Selia,  and he becomes separated from his father and his retinue. Canute, concerned for his son's safety sends Harold's friends to look for him. Together this group makes its way along the Rhine, and over the Alps, eventually arriving in Rome where they must foil a plot to kill King Canute. Along the way they meet various rouges and like minded wanderers.

The book reads like a Three Musketeers meets Robin Hood and his Merry Men. The good guys are good, they bad guys are bad. All that is missing are white and black hats. The women are beautiful, feisty, and can fight like a man when needed. Various 'providential' meetings occur throughout the book which aid the travelers in their most dire moments. No coincidence is too unlikely and the result is a predictable ending. Which I won't spoil for you.

The Characters: Harold and his band of friends are one dimensional, they are the good guys. Harold can be a little moody and at times jealous, but he is loyal to his lady. Selia is a strong, defiant woman with her own ideas about who she should marry. She is brave, inventive and a born leader. Their enemy is Duke Robert of Normandy and he is a very bad man, who surrounds himself with other knaves and blackguards. King Canute is one of the good guys, of course. Harold collects friends along the way, instantly recognizing the good in his potential friends.

The History: Pettersen has done his research and has a firm grasp on the history and terminology of the era. But the setting of the story is a superficial one. The 11th century was a dirty gritty place full of pain and suffering. Pettersen glosses over the ugliness as Harold encounters happy serfs, jovial inn keepers serving laughing customers. Everywhere he goes, Harold manages to speak or understand the language, despite the fact that Europe was awash with regional dialects.

The Writing: For a story about youthful abandon and high adventure the writing is heavy, formal and pedantic. I felt like I was reading my way through a thesaurus. There were times when I felt his use of archaic words ruined the scene. Ex. : waves laving the beach. His use of the dialogue tag, 'said I' drove me to distraction. I often had to stop and reread sentences to decipher his meaning.

In conclusion: If you are looking for a  rollicking adventure this is the book for you. Aside from the stiff language it's a predictable fun read.

If you are interested in Viking/Anglo Saxons I would also recommend Bernard Cornwell's Anglo Saxon Series called The Saxon Tales of which I believe there are now eleven. Below is the first one called The Last Kingdom. I read it several years ago and it is very good. I have not read all eleven!

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Thornton, Wasson and Clyde Families in the Mohawk Valley, New York during the American Revolution

In 1753, my ancestor William Thornton, born 1713 in Ireland, left his New Hampshire home and headed about 125 miles west to Schenectady, in the Mohawk Valley of  New York. Today it's a scenic three hour drive, then it was an arduous journey that might have taken weeks. Little did William know that in less than 25 years this remote, fertile valley would be the site of some of the bloodiest fighting of the American Revolution. The combatants were English Loyalist, Native Americans, American Patriots of Dutch, English and Scots-Irish descent.

Traveling with William was his wife Dorcas Little Thornton and their children; William, Matthew, James, Mary, and Thomas, all under the age of 10. More children would be born in their new home. Also making the trek to the Mohawk Valley was Thomas Little, father of Dorcas, and William's sister, Agnes Thornton Wasson, and her husband, John Wasson Sr. and  their children; Catherine Wasson Clyde wife of Samuel Clyde, John Wasson Jr. who married Dorothy Little, Thomas Wasson, Thornton Wasson and George Wasson. These families were intimately bound to each other through the bonds of marriage. In fact, William Thornton's son John, born in 1753 in Schenectady, married Anne Clyde, daughter of Catherine and Samuel Clyde. She was born in 1764.

So, why did they go and what was life like in the Mohawk Valley? And how did they survive living in one of the most dangerous places to be during the American Revolution? Let's start with some background on the area.

The Dutch
Arriving in 1661, the Dutch were the first European people to permanently settle in the Mohawk River Valley. You only have to look at a map of the area to see the Dutch influence. Towns such as Amsterdam and Rotterdam, revel their Dutch origins in their names. The Dutch, of course, established Dutch Reform Churches in their new settlements. After the French and Indian Wars, English and Scots-Irish settlers began to move into the fertile valley to establish farms. These groups intermarried, forming new bonds. During the American Revolution many men of Dutch descent fought for the American cause.  [ 1 ] 

The Natives
The Mohawk Valley takes it's name from it's original inhabitants, the Mohawk Indians. The Mohawk was one of five Iroquois tribes that inhabited a vast area of New York and Canada. One Native American in particular played a key role in the response of the people of the Mohawk Valley to the American Revolution. That man was Joseph Brant, a member of the Mohawk tribe whose Indian name was Thayendanega. He was born in March of 1743 in Ohio, during a hunting trip. He was raised at Canajoharie on the Mohawk River in New York. His father was not a chief, but was a member of some standing in his tribe. [2]

Sir William Johnston, Superintendent of the Northern Indians, made Joseph a protegee of sorts. Joseph's sister Molly was Johnston's mistress, whom he married after the death of his wife Catherine in 1759. Sir William recommended him to the Moor Charity School for Indians, at which he studied Western history among other subjects. The school is now known as Dartmouth College, in Lebanon, Connecticut.  After completing his education he went to work for Sir William and was his assistant during the French and Indian Wars. [3]

Joseph married and settled on a farm in Canajoharie. He converted to Christianity and became a member of the Anglican church. He translated parts of the bible into his own language. Brant was also a Freemason. When the war came, he was a Loyalist. [4]

In 1776 Joseph Brant was chosen as Principal Chief of the Confederacy of the Six Nations and a Captain in the British Army. He would wage bloody brutal war on his rebellious friends and neighbors, and was responsible for the destruction of their property and the death of hundreds. [5]

The English
The major players for the Loyalist side of the American Revolution were the Johnsons and the Butlers. Sir William Johnson, who so influenced the life of Joseph Brant, was succeeded in his lands by his son, Sir John Johnson and his position as Superintendent by his son in law, Colonel Guy Johnson, upon his death in 1774. John Johnson lived at Fort Johnson, his father founded Johnstown. Guy Johnson was a nephew of William's and he married his first cousin Mary, William's daughter. [6] Guy and Mary lived in a mansion called Guy Park in the city of Amsterdam.

The Butler family, like the Johnsons, were wealthy and held positions of power in the Mohawk Valley. John Butler and his son Walter were loyalist who formed their own militia company; Butlers Rangers. Walter Butler was among the most hated of the loyalist, following the massacre at Cherry Valley, for which he was blamed. [7]

The Thorntons
The Thornton's left New Hampshire and settled in the fertile river valley near the town of Schenectady in a place called Curries Bush. There is no town there now, only a road called the Curry Bush Road, but it was near modern day Princetown. Thomas Little and his family also settled near Princetown. The records are thin for this era so there is not much in the way of documentation for them. But we do know a few things about the family.

In his bible, James Thornton, son of William and Dorcas wrote that his mother died in Curry Bush in 1763. James who recorded her death in his bible was nineteen at the time, William's  youngest was John, age ten. [8] Dorcas is said to have buried on her father's father, which eventually came into the hands of the Wasson Family, through the marriage of Dorcas's sister Dorothy to  John Wasson. [9]

As the older boys grew to manhood they began to take on the duties of adult life, including military duties. In 1767 the local militia was headed by Captain Daniel Campbell. On his muster roll dated 12 May 1767 are the names William Little, Thomas Little Jr., William Thorenton, James Thornton, and Matthew Thornton. Also on the list, but I think misspelled, is John Wasson Sr. and his son Thomas Wasson. [10] I have two questions concerning the list. The first is why was William's surname spelled differently and second was William the 54 year old father or the 22 year old son?

Matthew was the first of the boys to get married. On 30 March 1768 he married Mary Crawford. [11] James married Antje Schermerhorn in the Dutch Reform church on 19 February 1769. [12] Both couples had a daughter born in June of 1770 and both girls were called Dorcas. [13]

This is confirmed by a land deed in which William sold land in New Hampshire, the deed places him in Curries Bush in 1771.

The Wassons
William's sister Agnes married John Wasson. Like William they immigrated with their family to Schenectady, leaving Chester, NH in about 1753. John Wasson found work in Schenectady as a butcher. Eventually he too moved to Curries Bush.

His only daughter married Samuel Clyde, also from New Hampshire, they moved to Cherry Valley in 1761.  The remainder of the children, all boys, stuck close to home, now Curries Bush.


[b] William Maxwell Reid, The Mohawk Valley, it's legends and it's history, (New York, NY : GP Putman and Sons, 1902).

[1] Jonathan Pearson, Contributions for the genealogies of the descendants of the first settlers of the patent and city of Schenectady, from 1662 to 1800, (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Pub. Co., 1976).

[2] George L. Marshall Jr. "Chief Joseph Brant: Mohawk, Loyalist and Freemason," Varsity Tutors ( : accessed 5 November 2016).

[3] Richard Berleth, Bloody Mohawk,

[4] Ibid.

[5] Reid, The Mohawk Valley.

[6] Berleth, Bloody Mohawk

[7] Ibid.

[8] James Thornton's Bible

[9] Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Dorcas Little Thornton (1725-1763), Find A Grave Memorial no. 95382890, citing Wasson Family Cemetery, ; this is a private cemetery on the old farm owned by Thomas Little. Many Wasson's are said to be buried there, but the headstones are degraded and cannot be read.

[10] New York State Historian, New York Colonial Muster Rolls, 1664-1775, Vol 2, (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2000) 824.

[11] Thornton book

[12] Ibid

[13] Ibid


[i] "U.S. Dutch Reformed Church in Selected States, 1639-1989," database with images, Ancestry ( : accessed 9 Novemeber 2016) citing Schenectady Baptisms, Vol. 2, Book 42, entry for Dorcas Thoornton.

Monday, March 4, 2019

James Philbrick (1619-1674) Bures St Mary, Suffolk, England to Hampton, New Hampshire

english origins
The Philbrick Family of Hampton, New Hampshire has been traced to their English home in Bures St. Mary, County Suffolk. There they lived in a world of Manor Courts and rolls, a way of life which evolved over hundreds, if not thousands of years. James was born into this life and christened at St Marys on  2 December 1619. [1] At some time after the 1631 christening of a daughter, [2] Thomas Philbrick and his family sailed to New England and a newly invented way of life. 

After a few brief stops in Massachusetts the Philbrick family settled in the New Hampshire town of Hampton.  James was  a mariner by trade. The waters of coastal New Hampshire were akin to today's highways, bringing exports, especially wood products such as pipe staves and masts for ships, to the larger ports in exchange for English imports of cloth and other goods. In addition to working on the water, James farmed, buying marsh land in 1650 with his brother Thomas Jr. The rich marsh salt grass was cut and used as fodder for cattle.

12 : 10 mo : 1650, James ffilbrooke and Tho: ffilbrooke jr bought of Edward Colcord marsh in Hampton, bounded by Jno Wedgwood, Will: Cole and Willi ffifield, way to landing place.

12 : 10 mo : 1650 Edward Colcord mortgages to James ffilbrick and Tho: ffilbrick jr marsh which was formerly possessed by Walter Roper, adjoining Rob: Page and the beach.

On 12 Feb. 1667/8 James Philbrick of Hampton, mariner, sold to Nathaniel Batcheller of Hampton, five acres of pasture in Hampton, bounded by the highway against land of John Huggins, and Moses Coxe, called the hop land, 6 Feb. 1667. Witnessed by Henry Down, Judith Philbrick. James' wife Anne signed and released her dower. James' brother Thomas had sold to Moses Cox a similar five acres at "ye old hop ground" bounded by the highway, Nathaniel Bacheller and James ffilbrick on 1 Mar. 1663/4. [3] 

In 1670 he was chosen to run the line between Exeter and Hampton and in 1671 he was granted lot no. 52 of 40 acres in the south of the town called “The new plantation” which became Seabrook.

James married Anna Roberts, daughter of Thomas and Rebecca Unknown Roberts of Dover by 1650.  According to Torrey, he had married in 1644 a Jane? Roberts, but nothing more is known about her. [4] Their first child was born July 1651. More children followed and by 1668 they had eight children. [5]

1. James PHILBRICK b: 13 JUL 1651
2. Apphia PHILBRICK b: 19 Mar 1654/55         
3. Esther PHILBRICK b: 1 Mar 1656/57 m. Sylvanus Nock and James Beard
4. Thomas PHILBRICK b: 14 Mar 1658/59
5. Sarah PHILBRICK b: 14 Feb 1660/61 d. young
6. Joseph PHILBRICK b: 1 OCT 1663
7. Elizabeth PHILBRICK b: 24 JUL 1666 (This Elizabeth may have been the Elizabeth PHILBROOK who married Nathaniel BERRY, son of Joseph, on 2 July 1691.
8. Mehitabel PHILBRICK b: 19 JUL 1668 died young

It was once believed that Bethia Philbrick who married Caleb Perkins in 1677 was also a child of James and Anna. [6] The Hampton Lane Memorial Library genealogy site does not include her as a child. Her profile on the genealogy site WikiTree also disputes her parentage and lays out a compelling case for her to be the daughter of Thomas Jr. [7] Thomas and his wife are recorded as being the parents of Bathia Philbrick how was born on 15 December 1654.

James died on 16 November 1674, he drowned along with another man in the Hampton River. [6] His widow Anna probated his estate. The following year she married widower William Marston on 5 July 1675. Between them they had 15 children.



[3] Old Dover Records

[4] New England Marriages to 1700. (Online database. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2008.) Originally published as: New England Marriages Prior to 1700. Boston, Mass.: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2015.
[5] The New England Historical and Genealogical Register. Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1847-. (Online database:, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2018.)

[6] The New England Historical and Genealogical Register. Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1847-. (Online database:, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2018.)


[8]Sanborn, George Freeman, Jr., and Sanborn, Melinde Lutz. Vital records of Hampton, New Hampshire : to the end of the year 1900. Boston, Massachusetts: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1992. (Online database., New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2016)

*Moriarty, G. Andrews, "The English Connections of Thomas Felbrigge or Philbrick of Hampton, N.H.," (NEH&GR, Oct. 1954), v. 108, p. 258

*Noyes/Libby/Davis, "Genealogical Dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire," (1939), p. 545.

Roles of Men, Women and Children in 17th Century Puritan Massachusetts

In 17 th century pur itan Massachusetts , the roles of men , women and children were very clearly defined . Men were the ...