FALL 2010 CHANDLER NEWS by Carol May

News from the Edmund Chandler Family Association www.edmundchandler.com

This month we have a story about Rev. Abel Chandler’s children, “haunted” places including Duxbury’s own haunted places, research sources and tips, Vermont pictures, and more.

Usually we focus on Thanksgiving this time of year because in addition to being a national holiday, it is special to us because of our Pilgrim connection.  However, fall also has Halloween, so this time for fun you can check out a few “haunted” places instead.

Our member Billie made another trip east, but not to her “adopted hometown, Duxbury” so no Duxbury news, but Billie did write that she is still on the Joseph and Capt. John research project.  She wants to rework parts of it and then submit it to the Alden Kindred, which I think includes the Mayflower people, and to the powers that in Duxbury who have the authority to authorize the plaque.

Billie took the pictures these Chandler sites in Vermont.  We will feature her Minot, Maine pictures in a future issue. I also want to do a story on Elisha Otis, descendant of Lucy Chandler for the next issue which will be our winter issue which should be out sometime in January.

Happy Thanksgiving and a very early Merry Christmas and we should see you in January!


Old Wells Farm

View back of the barn, Wells farm, Halifax, VT

Most Vermont Edmund Chandler descendants descend from his son Benjamin. However, we have found Galen who descends from “mystery” Zebedee descendant, and two daughters of Nathaniel Chandler, who we believe descend from Edmund’s son, Joseph, who also lived in Vermont.  The two daughters were Zerviah Chandler (proven), who married Hubble Wells and Lucy Chandler, through compelling circumstantial evidence, who married Stephen Otis.

Vermont is a real challenge to navigate. Fortunately, Billie and husband had directions and the newly bought Garmin GPS or her vacation may have been greatly extended by getting lost in the maze of back country roads.  When we think of towns, we think of stores, restaurants, etc., but in Vermont some of those old “towns” are just very old farm houses scattered amongst the big trees with maybe one or two old buildings marking the “center” of town. So with a warning to look out for bears, Billie and husband set out and took these pictures and wrote:

Gravestones for Deacon Jonathan Wells (son of Hubbel Wells and Zerviah Chandler) and wife, Catherine. If you look between these two gravestones, the Elisha Otis marker is visible in the background

“Next we visited the Whitneyville Cemetery, north of Halifax Center, searching for the grave of Lucy (Chandler) Otis and her husband, Stephen. Constance told me that they were buried here, not in the Center Cemetery as town records indicate. She recalled that all that was left was a small footstone marked “L.O.,” and another marked “S.O.,” but we couldn’t find them. She assured me that they were by the Waters family gravestones…and we located all of those…so maybe we were at her gravesite after all (albeit with no visible stone).

“In the Halifax Center Cemetery we found the grave of Jonathan Wells (son of Hubbel Wells and Zerviah Chandler), and the large marker commemorating Elisha Otis (inventor of the elevator), the grandson of Lucy Chandler Otis. We drove up Collins Road in Halifax and I photographed the original Wells farm. It was another beautiful Vermont farm, just north of what would have been the village center in the old days. It is labeled Halifax West on a map, but today there is not much here. The old meeting house where Hubbel Wells held forth as Town clerk and moderator is currently the elementary school and historical society”


This source was passed onto James then to me by someone who enjoyed our website and used as it as a teaching aid in the classroom: http://www.usa-people-search.com/content-big-list-of-genealogy-links.aspx

Another great source that I came upon while researching is a free Massachusetts vital records link from 1600 to1850.


For those of you searching Illinois records, many free vital records can be found at this site, contributed by Barb:


Do you think that you may have a Loyalist in your family tree?  As far as I know there were no Edmund descendants that were Loyalists; however, there were several William and Annis Chandler descendants who were Loyalists. Contributed by Barb.


Avoiding a Research Pitfall

Not all ancestors were named after a family member or a friend, some were named after then famous people, whose names we wouldn’t recognize now.  A simple Google search will help you determine if your ancestor was named after a famous person.

It became popular during the 19th century to name children after famous people.  Several of us got tripped up by Elbridge Gerry Chandler.  No, he wasn’t related to the Elbridge Gerry who was the governor of Massachusetts and who inspired the term gerrymandering, but he was named after him.  Many parents named their children after Elbridge Gerry during that era and then their children were often named after the parent who was named after Elbridge Gerry so it can get complicated.

I recently came across the name Adoniram Judson (also spelled Judgson) Chandler and then I came across Adoniram Judson Merrill.  Related! A Eureka moment! No, they were both named after the first American foreign missionary, Adoniram Judson.  After more research it turned out that Adoniram Judson (or Judgson) Chandler wasn’t an Edmund descendant, but I did learn to do a Google search on names from the experience. The tip off should have been that the whole name was used.

More Census Search Tips

Are you checking more than one census source when you hit a brick wall?  You should. Because not all censuses contain the same information as they were transcribed by different people and also the different census sources allow different ways of searching – first name, last name, age, birthplace, county, location and more.

Due to modern technology, previously unreadable censuses have been cleaned up so now you can read them.  Ancestry has cleaned censuses. If you couldn’t find your guy in the census, go back again and check all of the census sources that you can. Go to the census images and don’t just rely on the transcriptions!

I use Heritage Quest, which I get free at home on line from my local library, Familysearch, Familysearch pilot, and Familysearch beta which are also free and online for everyone to use. Don’t forget that many states also have censuses and many of those are now available.   You can also get a little free info from the paid site, Ancestry.com. Utilize each census site’s different research capabilities. The Familysearch sites and Ancestry use Soundex, but Heritage Quest does not.  Due to transcriber errors, your ancestor may show up on one of these sites, but not another.

The three main ways that people are “lost” in the censuses that I have found are:

1. Part of the family is listed on one page of the census image and your guy is on the next page and he just got left off the transcription.  So go to the next image page and find out if he is there.

2. Transcribers occasionally are unable to decipher a first name or last name correctly or a name may have been misspelled, or just initial were used, or nicknames, or first and middle names were transposed. For first names, search by last name, age and place and then start scanning the names.  Misspelled last names are trickier. On Heritage Quest you can narrow your search to a small area and one census year and just scan everyone listed, or narrow your search further by scanning for first names in that small area, hoping to come across your ancestor’s misspelled or incorrectly transcribed last name. Heritage Quest is literal and does not use Soundex, so using a broad search method works well there.

3. If you found your ancestor in an earlier census, but he or she seems to disappear, check the census records for the children as an older person may have gone to live with one of his or her children.  Transcribers often will record the family of say, Smith, but will leave Grandma or Grandpa Chandler out as the surname is different. Go to the census image.


I am hoping to work on the databases with the guru that I have lined up in November.  That’s the plan.  We were recently contacted by our sister group, The Chandler Family Association www.thecfa.org about the databases. The CFA  started out with just the descendants of John Chandler of 1610 Jamestown, Virginia, but have since expanded to include all Chandlers (we take care of the Edmund descendants) because many southern Chandlers turned out not to have been descended from John Chandler of Jamestown.

They have access to our databases that are online now, but in the future after our databases are updated we are talking about sharing access of our updated databases with their lead genealogists.  It would not be accessible by more than 2 or 3 people in their group.  We, and they, are sensitive about our respective databases as we don’t want them misused or taken over by some company for their use.  In return, I would like to have access to their New England section as they plan to enlarge their area of Chandler research worldwide!  It should make Chandler research easier in the future as time won’t be lost researching a person who turns out not to descend from our Duxbury Chandlers.  I have researched a lot of those!  I will keep you posted. If you have comments or suggestions about this, send them to us.


If you missed episodes of the genealogy TV show “Who Do You Think You Are?” hosted by “Friends” star, Lisa Kudrow, you can now catch them on line until January 10, 2011 at: http://www.nbc.com/who-do-you-think-you-are/video/categories/season-1/1197290/

This is NBC’s site.  As the show has been renewed, new episodes should most likely appear on NBC early next year.


As this is the time of year for haunted, spooky places, you might want to check this website out to see if your town has a haunted place. Our founder, James, found this site.


Duxbury’s Haunted Places

Duxbury has its share of stories about “haunted” houses and “haunted” places.  You can read about a couple of them below.  The then new occupants of the Isaac Chandler house on Powder Point Rd. spent the first few days worried if their house was haunted, Isaac maybe? (You can read about that house in a past issue of the Courier.)

The Sun Tavern

One place in Duxbury revels in its “ghost” year round. That is the Sun Tavern (found on the Shadowlands site) on 500 Congress Street.  Its full service bar may contribute to keeping the story going.  It was built as a residence in 1741.  The last full time resident was a hermit named Lysander Walker who unfortunately killed himself in the house in 1928.  It became a summer home of the Rev. Francis Keegan and then in the early 1930s Mary  Hackett turned the home into a restaurant.  Over the years several subsequent owners of the restaurant noted disturbances and strange occurrences supposedly caused by the spirit of Lysander Walker.

If you go to the restaurant, you will get the whole ghost story on your place mat.  Some of the ghostly disturbances that have been reported are cold spots and tables turned over. Wonder if that happens more on the full bar side than on the restaurant side?

The Alden House

Every October the Alden house presents its annual haunted house and haunted trail at the historic Alden house. The Alden house is just north of the old Chandler neighborhood at 105 Alden St. in  Duxbury.   It is family friendly event , so if you plan a trip to Duxbury, the kids can visit the haunted house without being overly scared.  Check the Alden site for the date. During the warm months, the house is open to the public for tours and you can visit Aunt Polly’s gift shop.

As the Alden house’s origins date back to the 17th century, it has had ample opportunity to generate ghost stories.  John and Priscilla Alden (of the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem, The Courtship of Myles Standish) settled on the property in 1632.  It was home to generations of Aldens. Apparently, the head ghost is Aunt Polly, who died at age 93 in 1882. However, for the purpose of the haunted house, they have several ghosts to choose from.


The Weston House

“King Caesar” Weston’s house, 120 King Caesar Rd. Duxbury,  has had its share of tragic deaths which gave rise to stories that the place was haunted. Eerie noises and shrieks were reported, so apparently not like the more family friendly ghosts of the Alden house. King Caesar was actually Ezra Weston and was a Duxbury ship builder during its ship building heyday. At one time he was the largest shipowner in America. The house is now a museum dedicated to early shipbuilding and is owned by the Duxbury Rural Historical Society.


The Spookiest of the Spooky Massachusetts Places

Two really scary looking places, haunted or not, are the old Monson State Hospital in Palmer, Massachusetts and especially the Danvers State Hospital in Danvers, Massachusetts. I came across Monson and then Danvers while doing some research a while back. If there is an architectural style called “haunted aslyum” Danvers is it with Monson second. Danvers with its elaborate Victorian Gothic style, and Monson with its abandoned buildings and houses surrounded by trees give one the creeps especially if you imagine what they must look like during a storm at night.  Danvers was built on the Kirkbride plan, which was once described as laid out like a flying bat, with the main section its body and head. Leaving the scary architecture aside, thousands of people went through the doors of those old hospitals, some were cured and some poor unfortunates spent their lives there and were buried in the back with only a number on their grave.

There were so many wild stories about Monson that I set about trying to find the real story and got an unexpected short history of Massachusetts health care as well.

Only one part of Monson  is still being used and that is for mentally disabled children. It is, from all reports, a fine institution located across the road from the abandoned section. The entire site contains 46 buildings and 7 major structures all scattered amongst the trees on 6,710 acres of land. That is not a typo.

Monson started out in the 19th century as an almshouse (poorhouse) then became a hospital.  Part became a general hospital, part a TB ward, part an epileptic ward, part was a home for the severely disabled, and part was an insane asylum. There are remnants from its days as an insane asylum — straight jackets, tubs for water treatments, iron rings for restraints which have all fallen into creepy, abandoned disrepair scattered about.  The state of Massachusetts owns it and dilengently patrols it keep people from venturing into the abandoned grounds.

Danvers served as a psychiatric hospital, or lunatic asylum to use the words of the time, until 1992. The original and noble intent was for the mentally ill to live in the country and work in the fields in order to recover. There was some resentment by the locals at the time of the hospital’s elaborate buildings. For some reason, the 19th century became the great age of the asylum.

Unfortunately, in the early 20th century Danvers became very overcrowded, understaffed with all of the attendant ills that those conditions cause and was the site of now abandoned medical procedures. However, in modern times according to a someone who worked there for many years until it closed, it had entertainment, a movie theatre, dancing, and arts and crafts, a farm, the place was a self-contained city. It was not perfect, but not the place of some of the wild stories told about it  Sadly when it closed some of the patients ended up on the street.  He said it was the mystique and architecture that  fostered many of the stories.

Afterclosing it was used as a movie site, it figures, and then part of it was torn down and the rest has been turned into cheery apartments and condos, complete with recreational facilities.  A little too creepily cheery for me. Living there now would certainly be a conversation starter, or stopper.




History of Danvers including an interview of a former employee


Danvers now restored as the spiffy Avalon apartments



A glimpse of Monson’s early days:


Monson now abandoned:


As I added the last word to the article, the word being “Danvers” I was notified of a computer malfunction, but the work was saved. True and a little spooky.  Happy belated Halloween!


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Filed under Chandler Ancestors, Chandler News, General Geneology

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