James and Nancy Wallace – the Original Family Settlers in Monson, Massachusetts

We recently celebrated Memorial Day. Although Memorial Day was established to honor those who died in American wars, for our family it is also a time to visit the graveyards and remember our departed loved ones. We clean the gravestones, and leave flowers as a tribute to those who were close to us. We hope that our children and grandchildren will continue this tradition when we are no longer able to do so.


James and Ruth DeBoise

In the last post I finished the story of SAMUEL and EMILY WALLACE and their fifteen children. This week we are visiting with JAMES and NANCY, Samuel’s parents.


In one of my early trips to Monson town hall, long before records were on the Internet and you had to search for information the old fashion way spending hours looking through the original records, I was going through all of Monson’s vital records looking for information on anyone named Wallis or Wallace. Thankfully Monson is not a large town and this task was manageable. The staff working at the Town Hall was really nice and let me have access to the records. Not all places that I have visited in my genealogy research have been so helpful.

I found a card in the death index for JAMES WALLACE who died January 23, 1823. All it said about him, besides his date of death, was male and Black. In 1823 Monson, there were very few black families. JAMES WALLACE was listed in the 1820 Monson Federal Census, with one male over 45 years of age, and nine free black persons in the family. Until 1850, only the name of the Head of Household was listed in the census, making the connection of early families more difficult.

Was James the grandfather of the James who served in the Civil War and was married to Anna Gibbons? Naming a child after one’s father is a common naming practice. How was the “Widow Wallace”, a free black in the 1830 Federal Census, related to this James?

After many years of not finding answers to my questions, I began building “family trees” for all the old Wallace/Wallis families and I began to find the connections. I found the given name of “Widow” Wallace (Nancy), where she and her first husband James were from, and the children who were born after they moved to Massachusetts. Their story is not complete, but it is no longer silent.

The Wallace family is one of the earliest black families to settle in Monson. The JAMES WALLACE family, the first Wallace family found in the records for Monson, is from New York. They are first listed in the 1820 Federal Census as living in Monson, but might have been living in Palmer as early as 1801 when one of their children was born. They were not found living as an independent household in the 1800 or 1810 census for Palmer. However, only heads of households were listed, and if they lived with another family they would be listed as a number of free persons of color in that household.

So why would they move to Massachusetts from New York around the turn of the century? We don’t know if they were free people of color when living in New York. Slavery had not ended in New York, and did not end until 1827. In 1799, New York passed a gradual emancipation law that freed children born after July 4, 1799, but they were indentured until they were young adults. In 1817 a new law was passed freeing all slaves but not until 1827.

Massachusetts and Vermont had both abolished slavery before 1800. Blacks in Massachusetts could vote, and could move within the state without legal restrictions. Although I will never know for certain, James and Nancy probably moved to Massachusetts from New York because they knew they could raise their family without the threat of slavery.

The family is listed under James Wallace in the 1820 Federal Census with nine in the family, and as a free family of color. The family is listed in the 1830 Federal Census in Monson as Widow Wallace with seven in the family, again as a free family of color. Dolly Wallace (James and Nancy’s daughter) is listed as head of a separate household. I believe that all of the early Wallace families from Monson are related to James and Nancy. Birth records in Monson for this time period are very incomplete. Marriage, death, and census records were very helpful in trying to tie these relationships together.

JAMES WALLACE was born between 1755 and 1770 in New York. This is an estimated date of birth, based on various dates of birth given for his wife Nancy. Men were generally, but not always, a few years older than their wife. He died on January 23, 1823 in Monson. James probably worked as a laborer on the farms in Monson.

NANCY (last name unknown) was born between 1757 and 1775 in Staten Island, New York. She was listed as the head of house in the 1830 census in Monson, with seven living in the household, including one female between 36 and 55 years of age. On April 10, 1841 she filed intentions to marry (2) HENRY MILLER. He was born about 1797 in New York. She is listed in the 1850 census as Nancy Miller in the household of Henry Miller. She is 80 years old and he is 57 years old and a laborer. Neither Henry nor Nancy can read or write. Her son Dickerson is also living in the household.

In the 1855 Massachusetts State Census she is living in the household of her son Henry, is 91 years old and blind. Her husband is no longer living. She died February 13, 1860. Her death record states she was widowed and 103 years of age. I think she was old, but not that old. The 1850 census indicates that she was 80, and the 1830 census indicates that there was one female 36 – 55 years old in the household, both placing her birth around 1770 or 1775. Her youngest child was born in 1816. It is very unlikely a woman is having a baby when she is 60 years old!

I found records on five of their children. They might have had more. Children of James and Nancy are:


The families of Dolly, Henry, Roxanna and Dickerson will be discussed in the next blog.

Have a great week!


The Last Will and Testament of Samuel Wallace

Will Samuel Wallace

Before I move on to Samuel’s parents, James and Nancy, I want to share Samuel’s will. Not often am I fortunate enough to find a will from one of the early ancestors. When Samuel was mentioned as having a will in the book “Black Families in Hampden County, Massachusetts, 1650-1855” by Joseph Carvalho, I had to try to get a copy. I wrote to the Probate Court in Springfield, and they not only sent me a copy of the will, but also everything that they had in his file for settling his estate. I was thrilled! Not only did this information tell me which of his children were alive at the time of his death, but it also gave me more information on his property – real and personal. I will do my best in transcribing the documents for you.

Be it remembered that I, Samuel Wallace of Monson County of Hampden in the State of Massachusetts being of sound mind and memory, but knowing the uncertainty of this life, do make this my last will and testament.
After the payment of my just debts and funeral charges, I bequeath and devise as follows:
I give bequeath and devise to my beloved wife Emily Wallace all of my estate both real and personal of which I may die seized to her sole use forever.
I appoint my wife Emily Wallace to be executrix of the my last will and testament and request the Judge of Probate to require of her no surety or sureties on her official Bond.
In testimony whereof, I hereunto set my hand, and in the presence of three witnesses declare this to be my last Will, this Twelfth day of March in the year one thousand eight hundred and Eighty-Eight.
                                                       Samuel X Wallace
On this Twelfth day of March A.D. 1888 Samuel Wallace of Monson Mass has made his mark signed the foregoing instrument in our presence, declaring it to be his last Will, and as witnesses thereof we three do now, at his request, in his presence, and in the presence of each other, hereto subscribe our names.
                                                             Geo Hunter
                                                            Geo E. Fuller
                                                         Tha L Cushman

George Fuller was a physician, Thaddeus L Cushman was President of the Bank, and they both lived in Monson. I found a George Hunter from Holyoke who worked in a silk mill. This might have been the third witness.

Samuel died March 14, 1888, two days after completing his will. He knew he was dying and, because he had property, wanted to make sure that his wife would inherit his estate.

On February 8, 1889 Edwin R. King petitioned the court to be named administrator of the will, in that Emily Wallace had died after her husband, and before this date. Although I was never able to find the date of death of Emily, I know that it occurred between March 1888 and February 1889. Edwin R. King is the husband of Nancy Wallace.

To the Honorable the Judge of the Probate Court in and for the County of Hampden:

Respectfully represents Edwin R. King of Palmer in the County of Hampden that Samuel Wallace who last dwelt in Monson in said County of Hampden, died on the Fourteenth day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and Eighty-Eight possessed of goods and estates remaining to be administered, leaving a widow. Whose name was Emily Wallace (since deceased) and as his only heirs-at-law and next of kin, the persons whose names, residence, and relationship to the deceased are as follows:

Sarah Law, wife of George P. Law – of New Bedford, Mass, daughter.
James Wallace of Monson, Mass – son.
Alanson Wallace of New Bedford, Mass – son.
Betsey Wallace Thompson of Palmer, Mass – daughter.
Rosanna Kelsey of Palmer, Mass. – wife of Sidney Kelsey, Palmer, daughter.
Emily Mason of Palmer, Mass wife of Wm Mason – daughter.
Nancy King wife of E.R. King of Palmer, Mass – daughter.
Mary Wallace of Monson, Mass – daughter.
Julia Wallace of Monson, Mass – daughter.

That said deceased left a WILL herewith presented, wherein his widow was named executrix but she having since died the heirs at law request your petition to act.

Wherefore your petitioner prays that said will may be proved and allowed, and letters of administration with the will annexed issued to him.

Dated the Eight day of February A.D. 1889.
Edwin R. King

The undersigned being all the heirs-at-law and next of kin, and the only parties interested in the foregoing petition, request that the prayer thereof be granted, without further notice.”

The Court responded by setting a date Edwin King was to appear in court – March 1, 1889 – and he was to give public notice by publishing in the Palmer Journal once a week for three weeks his request to be named executor of the estate to ensure that no one else wanted this job.
On the Sixth of March, 1889 Edwin R. King was appointed executor of the estate.

Edwin presented to the court, on this same date, the debts of the estate.

Dr. W. H. Stowe Medical attendance 23.00
Dr. Wilkins 8.50
John Monyhair 2 caskets etc. 89.00
Taxes due town of Monson 6.40
Teams to Funeral J.T. Stevens 3.75
Teams to Funeral L. G. Cushman 2.50
Geo H. Newton’s account 3.00
Frank Warren – mortgage 32.80
W. N. Flynt Co. – Robes etc. 3.10
George E. Fuller medical attendance 47.00
Total debts – $229.05

On March 7, 1889, the value of the amount of Real Estate was appraised at $400 for the home place of about 15 acres with buildings. The amount of Personal Estate was appraised at $5.00 for household effects and stone tools.

Samuel must have been a stone mason since he had stone tools, and probably taught his two sons, James and Alanson, the trade since they also became stone masons.

To be appointed as executor of the estate, Edwin had to put up eight hundred dollars in bond. He got the help of his father, Sylvannus King of Monson, and his brother, Albert King of Palmer, in pledging the money for the bond. The order of appointment was signed March 8, 1889. No wonder none of the other family members wanted this job!

On March 17, 1889, Edwin presented an accounting of the estate. Debts totaled $229.05. A charge for administration was $45.00, increasing debts to $274.05. Personal estate amounted to $5, which did not cover the debts. Real estate was appraised at $400, and must be sold to satisfy the debts.

“Home place of the late Samuel Wallace situated northerly of the farm of Rev. James Tufts containing Fifteen acres more or less together with the buildings thereon.”

Edwin was licensed to sell the real estate in order to pay the debts and settle the estate.

You would think that the land would be sold, the debts paid off, the remainder split among the heirs, and that would be the end of it. Well, think again!

I found two small pieces of property auctioned off in 1891 because of nonpayment of 1890 taxes by the heirs of Samuel Wallace. Thirty-nine and one-half cents was owed on 1¼ acres near the Rock House. This was purchased by Truman Watross at public auction for nine dollars.

On another one acre lot of land near Rock House, fifteen and one-half cents was owed for taxes. This land was purchased by David J. Anderson of Monson at public auction for twenty dollars.

Some of Samuel and Emily’s ancestors might be ambitious enough to figure out how to use new technology to discover exactly where their land was located. I found land records for Massachusetts on FamilySearch.org. You can also visit http://www.masslandrecords.com/ for Massachusetts Land Records. I have not used this site before, so it might be fun to see what you can find on the Wallace family, other relatives, or other property you are interested in.

Until the next time….

The Children of Samuel and Emily Wallace, continued

Wallace_Hillside Cemetery_Monson
Hillside Cemetery, Monson, Massachusetts

In the last post, I shared information on Samuel and Emily (Green)Wallace, and four of their fifteen children: Samuel Jr., Baby Boy, Sarah, and James. I will continue with their children. All of the children were born in Monson.

5. ALANSON was born about 1842. He was living with his parents when he followed his brother James and enlisted as a Private in Company A, Massachusetts 54th Regiment during the Civil War. He was mustered in at Camp Meigs, Massachusetts on March 30, 1863 at the same time as his brother James. Alanson was wounded at the assault on Fort Wagner on July 18, 1863. A ball passed through the flesh under his right arm and across his stomach. In spite of the injury, he was present for all muster rolls until his discharge on August 20, 1865.
Following his discharge he returned to Monson.

On November 30, 1871 he married Alice Cutter in Monson. I do not know if they had any children, but the marriage did not last long. By 1879 Alanson had moved to New Bedford and was living with his sister Sarah and her husband George Law. Alice died August 27, 1892 in Springfield.

Alanson married (2) Laura Stevens on July 21, 1896 in New Bedford. They had two daughters, Emily born in 1893, and Mary born in 1896. Alanson died October 16, 1896 in New Bedford of heart disease, almost three months after his marriage to Laura. He was 54 years old. Laura died August 11, 1897 of typhoid fever. She was 36 years old and left two orphan daughters.

Alanson applied for an invalid pension three times between 1891 and 1894 – all times denied. He claimed disability due to a wound received during the War. He also received a cut on the underside of the left ankle which he incurred while mowing with a scythe following the War. He claimed to have chronic diarrhea which was contracted at Morris Island, South Carolina in the summer of 1863. A later application also indicated he had heart disease and rheumatism. Medical examinations found him to be emaciated and poorly nourished. He also walked with a limp. Significant disability was not found and he was not awarded a pension.

Alanson’s occupation was a mason’s helper and a laborer.

6. BETSEY E. was born in June 1844. In 1870, Betsey was keeping house for Wayne Coles and his young son in Monson. In 1880 she was a servant in the home of the Sanford family in Palmer. On February 14, 1885 she married Enos Thompson in Amherst, Massachusetts. Enos died in 1889, leaving Betsey a widow at 45. By 1889 she was living in Springfield where she lived for the rest of her life. She worked both as a domestic servant and as a laundress. The 1900 census indicated that she had one child who was still living, but no other records were found of any children. Betsey was 78 years old when she died in 1922.

7. ROSANNA was born in May 1846. As early as fourteen years of age she was working as a domestic servant, while still attending school. In October 1863 she had a baby, who died four months later. The name of the father was not identified on the birth record. As early as 1866 she had established a relationship with Sidney Kelson and began having children with him. Sidney was a Civil War Veteran. He was born in 1828 and was 18 years older than Rosanna. According to Rosanna’s widow application for a pension based on his military service, they had nine children together. However, by 1900 only three of those children were living. Rosanna and Sidney married April 15, 1889. They married because Palmer authorities gave them the ultimatum to marry or move out of town. Sidney had been married to another woman. The other woman did remarry and died shortly before his marriage to Rosanna. Rosanna moved to Springfield shortly before Sidney’s death in 1901, and Sidney moved to the “almshouse” for care.

Sidney Kelson Co.1_29thConnInf
Oak Knoll Cemetery, Palmer, Mass.

Comments on her application for a widow’s pension by those who reviewed her case stated that Sidney had stomach cancer and other ailments, and when he could no longer work Rosanna “practically” deserted him and moved to Springfield. He did not want to go with her, but did go to her house one day before his death. Her application for a widow’s pension was denied, largely because the investigators did not feel she was of good “moral” character. She was seeing other men before and after her husband’s death. While in Springfield, she worked as a laundress. Rosanna was 61 years old when she died on December 19, 1907 in Springfield from apoplexy (stroke).

8. EMILY M. was born in about 1849. On June 6, 1868, when she was 19 years old, she married William Mason. William was born in Maryland and was also 19 at the time of his marriage. Emily kept house for her family, while her husband farmed his own farm, and his sons, as they got older, worked on farms in the town. The Masons lived in Palmer. Emily died sometime between 1889 and 1891. Her husband remarried and moved to Worcester in 1891. The Mason’s had at least nine children, seven who were living at the time of Emily’s death. They were: William Jr., Samuel, Harry, Robert, Charles who died at three months from diphtheria, Harriet Elizabeth, Katherine Louisa who was adopted by her aunt and uncle, Sarah Wallace and George Pascal, Betsey, and Moses Aaron who was 20 months old when he died in 1889 from consumption.

9. INFANT BOY was born on July 20, 1849 and died before the 1850 Federal Census was taken.

10. NANCY M was born on August 31, 1851. In 1870, when she was 19 years old, she was working as a domestic servant. She had a son, Albert Wallis Smith, son of John Smith, who was born that year. Nancy and John were not married. Albert was 7 years old when he died in 1877 from diphtheria.

On November 24, 1880, Nancy married Edwin Russell King. Nancy was 29 and Edwin was 37. Edwin was from Monson and was a farmer and stonemason. He was also white. Edwin and Nancy had two children, Albert and Frank Edward; however both died very young and before 1900. Sadly, none of her children lived to adulthood. Nancy was 51 when she died on September 5, 1902 in Palmer from acute endocarditis (inflammation of the heart values). By 1910 Edwin was living in the Alms House in Palmer, and he died the following year.

11. FRANKLIN was born in November 1852. When he was 18 he was working in a grist mill. He died on May 13, 1873 from consumption (tuberculosis). He was 19 years old. He did not marry.

12. N was a baby girl born on October 23, 1853 and she died before 1855. Nothing else is known about her, and her name, found in birth records, was only referred to by an initial.

13. BABY BOY was born early in 1854 or 1855 and died on July 13, 1855 from cholera. A birth record was not found.

14. MARY MARILLA was born on August 24, 1855. In 1877, when she was 22, she had a daughter, Elizabeth. Her father is unknown. Elizabeth died the following year from diphtheria. In 1880 she was a live-in servant in the Samuel Cushman house. By 1892 she was living in Palmer. In 1900 she rented her home, and had three male boarders. One of those boarders was Adin Ryder, who was married at the time. She would later marry him.

Mary worked as a housekeeper. In 1903, her daughter Beatrice Madeline Wallace was born. Adin was her father. Beatrice married Ralph Johnson. Her son, Kenny Johnson, married Barbara Rose DeBoise, daughter of James and Ruth.

By 1910, Adin was no longer living in her home. The Federal Census said Mary had three children, but only one was living. By 1920, Adin is again living with her. By 1930, Adin and Mary have married. She stated in the Census that she was 57 at her first marriage. Mary died April 25, 1936, and is buried in Hillside Cemetery in Monson.

15. JULIA ANN was born on June 14, 1859. She lived her early years in Monson, but had moved to Palmer by 1886. She moved to Palmer about the same time her brother James moved. They both lived on Dublin Street during the same time period. Julia worked as a housekeeper and laundress. She never married. However, she had four children. The fathers of the children are not known. The children were: Otis, Horatio, Agnes and Mary. Julia was 53 years old when she died on July 12, 1912 from chronic nephritis (inflammation of the kidneys). She is buried in Hillside Cemetery in Monson.

With such a large family, Samuel and Emily have many, many descendants.

The next post will be on Samuel’s parents, James and Nancy Wallace, and his brothers and sisters that I have identified. James and Nancy were the first of the Wallace family to live in Monson.

Sunday is Mother’s Day. Happy Mother’s Day to all who are mothers, step mothers, and foster mothers.

Enjoy the beautiful weather that we are having. Memorial Day is in a few weeks. Don’t forget to visit the grave sites of your loved ones, and those who may have been forgotten. Let’s remember what they gave us that helps to make us who we are.

Until next time, as we continue to climb this branch of the tree…….

Samuel and Emily (Green) Wallace of Monson, Massachusetts, Part 1

SAMUEL WALLACE was born about 1811 in Monson, the son of James and Nancy Wallace. Samuel was the second generation of Wallace’s living in Monson. There were 31 black individuals in Monson when Samuel was born, a small number for this rural community. Samuel had at least two sisters and two brothers, and he was the second oldest.

When Samuel was born, James Madison was President, and was elected to his second term in 1812. Our relationship with Great Britain was strained as Britain had seized over 4,000 American sailors, and trade between the two countries came to a halt. By 1812, we were once again fighting Great Britain. The War lasted for two years, and the United States was clearly established as an independent country upon its conclusion.

Indian chiefs Tecumseh and his brother, The Prophet, were trying to unite various tribes of Indians to fight the whites and maintain their lands. They were defeated at the Battle of Tippecanoe (Lafayette, Indiana) by William Henry Harrison, then the Governor of Indiana and a future President.

Samuel married EMILY A. GREEN on March 7, 1838 in Monson. She was born about 1811 in Ashford, Connecticut. Although no record of her birth was found, Ashford was referred to as her place of birth on multiple records related to her children as they stated the place of birth of their mother. I could not find information on her parents, but there was one black household by the name of “Green” in Ashford – Major Green. I have not been able to determine their relationship.

Samuel was a lifelong resident of Monson, and was listed in the all the federal and state censuses from 1840 until his death. His occupation was listed as a laborer or farmer, and records list him as black. He and his wife purchased and sold property in Monson. He first purchased land in September 1832, and he and his wife continued to purchase small plots of land, or sell land, or use land as collateral for loans for themselves. In March 1887 Samuel and Emily sold 7 ¾ acres to the town of Monson for $150 reserving the right to live in the premises as long as they were living. They still owned land at the time of their death.

Samuel died on March 14, 1888 from paralysis. He was 77 years of age. He is buried in Hillside Cemetery in Monson in an unmarked grave.

Samuel’s will was prepared and signed two days before his death. Samuel left all his property and estate to his wife Emily, who was to be sole executor. However, Emily died shortly after Samuel. Edwin R. King, Samuel’s son-in-law, was appointed administrator February 8, 1889. Assessment of the property was valued at $400 real estate – 15 acres plus building, and $5 personal effects. Debts amounted to $229.05 – mostly medical and funeral expenses. The property was sold to satisfy debts and the balance was divided among living children.

Emily was able to purchase real estate in her own name in 1848 and 1867, somewhat unusual for a married woman. The land purchases were small plots adjoining their current home. The pension records for her son James stated that she worked for the parents of George H. Norcross for years. George H. Norcross’s father was said to be a prominent man and manufacturer in Monson. Census records indicated that she worked as a “washerwoman” or laundress. She owned a plot at Hillside Cemetery with her daughter, but there is no record of burial there. It is possible that there was a relationship between Emily and Prince Powers or his wife, Betsy Damon. Prince and Betsy were both living in Ashford when Emily was living there, and were listed in the 1840 Monson census living adjacent to Samuel Wallace. Samuel was involved in selling the Power’s property following his death in 1863. Records list Emily as black.

Emily died between March 14, 1888 and February 7, 1889. There is no record of her death and her place of burial has not been located. Her parents, or other family members, have not been identified.

Samuel Wallace and Emily A. Green had at least 15 children:

1. SAMUEL WALLACE JR. was born in 1833 in Monson. On February 19, 1855 he married Sarah Jane Porter. They had at least three children: Isabella who died shortly after birth, Lyman who also died as a child, and Harriett who lived to adulthood.

By 1860 Samuel Jr. and Sarah were living in Palmer. In 1870 they were living in Springfield, and owned real estate valued at $1,000 and personal property valued at $500. They were living in the same house as William Mason and his wife Jane, and had three white boarders. Samuel Jr. and William were both couriers, and Sarah worked as a domestic servant. By 1873 Samuel Jr. and Sarah had moved back to Palmer.

Samuel Jr. served in the Civil War. He enlisted July 26, 1864 after being drafted to fill a quota for the Palmer 10th congregational district. He originally enrolled as a private in the Massachusetts 54th, and was then assigned to I Company, Massachusetts 55th Regiment on October 23, 1864. These were both all black regiments. He was mustered in at Boston and mustered out on August 29, 1965 at Charlestown, South Carolina. Samuel’s occupation at enlistment was a courier, and he was 32 years old. Military papers described Samuel Jr. as 5’11” tall, with dark hair, dark eyes, and dark complexion. He received a $300 bounty for enlisting – $100 received at enlistment and $200 at discharge.

Prior to his work as a courier, he worked as a farmer and laborer. In 1873, Samuel Jr. was working as a brakeman on the railroad. Samuel Jr. was 43 years old when he died on March 5, 1876 from consumption (tuberculosis). Samuel Jr. is buried in the Palmer Cemetery and his grave is marked by a gravestone. His wife received a widow’s pension of $8/month beginning August 19, 1890. By 1912 that had increased to $12 per month.
Sarah owned her home at 17 Pine Street in Palmer. She was 81 years old when she died January 27, 1913 from an intestinal obstruction, and is buried in the Oak Knoll Cemetery in Palmer.

2. BABY BOY WALLACE was born in 1835 and died on 22 Oct 1839 in Monson at four years of age.

3. SARAH M. WALLACE was born November 4, 1837. Her tombstone says that she was born November 4, 1840; however, her younger brother James was born June 11, 1840 so that cannot be correct. Her marriage record states that she was 24 at the time of her marriage in 1861, and the 1900 Federal Census states that she was born in 1837.

In the 1855 Massachusetts State Census, Sarah was found living in Northampton with other single individuals, and “convict” was indicated for those individuals. Her brother James was found in the House of Corrections in Springfield for the same year. I have found since I wrote about James last week that the term does not necessarily mean they were incarcerated, but might have been receiving housing and services because they were indigent. Terms used in 1855 were not always used the way we would use them today.

Sarah married George Pascal Law on September 14, 1861 in Palmer. George was a porter at the time of his marriage. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy on July 16, 1863 as a sailor during the Civil War,  and was discharged August 15, 1864. He served as a waiter on the ships Wabash and Augusta Dinsmore.

Following the Civil War Sarah and her husband moved to New Bedford, Massachusetts. In New Bedford George worked as a shoemaker, a shirt cutter, a foreman in a laundry, and a clerk. He also received a pension from the Navy for his Civil War Service.

George died January 31, 1899 in Wareham, Massachusetts from inflammation of the bowels. He was 58 years old. Following George’s death, Sarah moved to Wareham where she purchased a house. Sarah was 90 years old when she died on June 26, 1928 in Wareham. They are buried in Centre Cemetery in Wareham.

George and Sarah Law
George P. Law Sarah M. Law

George and Sarah did not have children of their own. However, they adopted her sister Emily’s daughter, Katherine Louisa Mason, and Katherine was known by her adoptive parents’ name of Law.

probably Catherine Law
Probably Catherine Law

4. JAMES WALLACE was discussed in a previous blog.

Since this is such a large family, the next blog will continue with the stories of the children of Samuel and Emily.

The daffodils are finally blooming at our home in Massachusetts, and it is really feeling like Spring! Have a wonderful week.

Until next time….

James Wallace: A Stonemason, Farmer, Laborer and Civil War Veteran

Ancestors of James Wallace
When James Wallace was born June 11, 1840 he was the fourth child, of fifteen, and third son of his parents Samuel and Emily (Green) Wallace. One of his brothers had died before his birth, so he was greeted by his older brother Samuel and sister Sarah.

Both Wallace and Wallis are used in the records as the surname of this family. I will refer to the family as Wallace, which was more frequently used in latter generations.

When James was born in 1840, Martin Van Buren was the 8th President of the United States. Two years earlier the Cherokee Indians were forced off their farms and homes in the Southeast, and sent to Oklahoma, many dying along the way. In 1839, United States authorities took custody of the slave trading ship Amistad, and in 1841 the Supreme Court ruled that kidnapping and transporting Africans were against International treaties regarding the slave trade. and the Africans must be freed. The United States was in a major recession, which began during the Panic of 1837 and lasted until the mid-1840s. The Presidential election of 1840 saw Martin van Buren defeated by William Henry Harrison.

The Wallace family was one of the earliest black families to settle in Monson, Massachusetts. Monson is located is southwestern Massachusetts. It was incorporated in 1775, when it was separated from Brimfield. Monson was primarily a farming community in the 18th and early 19th centuries. In the 19th and 20th centuries, and particularly with the addition of a railroad through the town in the mid-1800s, industry began to develop. Major industry included woolen mills and a granite quarry. Palmer borders Monson on the north, Brimfield and Wales on the east, Stafford, Connecticut on the south, and Hampden and Wilbraham on the west.

In 1840, 3,146 individuals lived in Monson. This included 26 individuals of color. There were three black families – the Wallis, Powers and Johnson families. Twenty-one of the persons of color lived in these three families. The other five non-white individuals lived in white households. By 1850 the number of blacks in the town had increased to 65.

James’ parents owned their own small farm, which was located near the other black families in town. His father, as well as his brothers, worked for other farmers in the area, in addition to farming their own land. His mother, and probably his sisters, worked for other families in town, doing laundry and housekeeping.

James grew up working on the local farms, and hanging out with his neighbors and friends. However, when he was 15 he was living in the House of Corrections in Springfield as an inmate. I have not found information on why he was incarcerated, or for how long. By 1860 he was once again at home living with his parents.

On March 3, 1863 James enlisted in the Army as a Private, and served in the Massachusetts 54th Infantry, Company A during the remainder of the Civil War. The Massachusetts 54th was the first troop of black soldiers organized in the North, and in Massachusetts. His enlistment records say that he was 5’7” tall, with brown complexion and dark eyes and hair.

He proudly served his country. He participated in the siege of Fort Wagner in South Carolina. The 54th suffered a large number of casualties in this battle, his brother was wounded, and one of his friends from Monson was killed. During his service, he saw battle, marched throughout the South, including South Carolina and Florida, and suffered many of the illnesses soldiers encountered in the Southern climates, including malaria and smallpox. He was mustered out of service on August 20, 1865 in Charleston, South Carolina.

After discharge from the Army, he returned to his parents’ home and spent the next three months in bed. It appeared that he had malaria and he was treated by a local doctor. It was about two years before he could begin working again, but he was never able to work at the same level that he worked before the War. He worked as a farmer, laborer and a stone mason.

There were at least three women in his life in the late 1860s, as indicated by birth records in which he was listed as the father. I’m sure that got a little complicated in such a small town!

Johanna Murphy, white and born in Ireland, and James had a baby girl born March 6, 1868. The baby died April 29, 1868 from inflammation of the bowels. In 1870, Johanna was living in the home of Henry Wallace, uncle of James, and Henry’s son Henry C., cousin of James. No additional information was found on Johanna.

James and Anna Marie Gibbons began their relationship about this time, and their daughter, Martha H. was born May 2, 1869. James and Anna would not marry until January 10, 1895.

His first marriage was to Mary Longto. Although there is no documentation of the marriage in the town records, the clerk stated in James’ affidavit for his pension that the records were incomplete, with many missing. James indicated he had been married previously when he and Anna applied for a marriage license.

Mary Longto was born about 1848 in Canada (Some records say she was born in Malone, New York which is on the Canadian border), and was white. They probably married between 1869 and 1870. In 1870, they were living together and he was working on a farm and she was home taking care of the house. James and Mary had at least five children.

  1. Ellen “Ella” Louisa was born in December 1870. She married Walter E. Brooks on May 12, 1897 in Boston. Walter worked as a waiter in Boston hotel restaurants. They had one son, Earl Henry Brooks. Earl served in the Army during World War II. I haven’t found a record of Ella’s death, but believe it was between 1930 and 1932.
  2. Baby girl was born, and died, December 19, 1871.
  3.  Henry Frank was born December 25, 1874, and died October 13, 1880 from the croup.
  4. Edwin was born in March 1877, and died October 24, 1878 from typhoid fever.
  5. Alice C. was born December 21, 1879, and died before 1918. She is not listed as a surviving child in her father’s obituary.

There might be one additional child. The 1880 census lists Frank, 6 years old, and Henry, 5 years old. I cannot find additional information on both boys. How heartbreaking it must be to lose so many of your children at such an early age. I can only find records of one child living to adulthood – Ella Louisa.

No death records have been found for Mary. She probably died before 1895, and James and Anna’s marriage.

James first applied for a disability pension as a result of his military service in 1888. He claimed rheumatism, varioloid (mild form of smallpox), fever and ague (malaria, resulting in fevers, sweating) as the reason for disability. In his application, he began having problems with rheumatism beginning in January 1864 during a march from Jacksonville, Florida toward Lake City. The cause was sleeping on the ground and exposure. In April 1865 he had varioloid and was sent to the hospital in Charleston, South Carolina. He was hospitalized about 12 days. He received light duty at that time until the close of war. He had his first attack of fever and ague at Gallops Island near Boston about three days before discharge. His application was denied.

He again applied for a disability pension in 1901, 1903, 1904 and it was finally approved in 1905 because he was over 62 years of age. All examinations said he was not sufficiently disabled in order to collect a pension. However, the final physical in the pension records stated there were significant effects and limitations because of rheumatism and other conditions caused by aging and the type of work he did. Later applications also stated that he had consumption (tuberculosis).

James was unable to write his name at the time he joined the army. He learned how to write after his discharge. However, according to affidavits included in the pension records, he did attend school. He does not say how many years he completed.

By 1901 he and his wife Anna were renting their home in Palmer on Dublin Street near the railroad road tracks. He and Anna continued to live in various residences on Dublin Street until his death. James was 78 years old when he died on May 19, 1918 from chronic intestinal nephritis, which would have resulted in kidney failure. He had been ill for two years.

Death of James Wallis

James Wallis, 77, died Tuesday morning at 2:45 at his home on Dublin street. He was a veteran of the Civil war, serving in Co. A of the 34th (54th) Massachusetts regiment, and a well known Negro resident of the town for years. Besides his widow he leaves three sisters, Miss Mary Wallis of Palmer, Mrs. Sarah Lawtor of Onset and Mrs. Betsey Thompson of Springfield, and two daughters, Mrs. Louise Brooks of Boston and Mrs. Charles Andrews of Palmer. The funeral was held from Phillips’ undertaking rooms this afternoon at 2 o’clock, with burial in Monson.
The Palmer Journal, Friday, May 31, 1918

James is buried at Hillside Cemetery, Monson in a lot owned by the Marcus Keep Post G.A.R. Lot 115, Section 9. This lot and grave is in the center section of the graveyard near the road.

Jas Wallis

The next story will be on Samuel Wallace and Emily Green, the parents of James.

Sunny today and the temperature has hit 60 degrees! Flowers are beginning to bloom and Spring is on its way. Have a great week.


James Wallace – Great Grandfather of Ruth Martha Andrews

March 3, 1863. JAMES WALLACE and his friend and neighbor HARRISON PIERCE leave their parents’ farms in Monson, Massachusetts and travel 14 miles to Springfield. Lieutenant John W.M. Appleton is recruiting soldiers for the Massachusetts 54th Infantry. About a month ago, Appleton opened the first recruiting office for the 54th in Boston. There were speakers at the stations who excited and inspired potential recruits to join the fight for freedom.

Young, single, and having spent their lives in rural Monson, James and Harrison are among the early recruits to the Massachusetts 54th. Going to war has the promise of adventure, and a steady pay check. They return home and share their excitement with their families.

The next day ALANSON WALLACE, the younger brother of James, travels to Springfield and enlists so that he can join James and Harrison on this adventure. They muster in at the end of March 1863, and less than four months later, are in a fierce battle attacking the confederate Fort Wagner on Morris Island, South Carolina. Harrison is killed and Alanson is wounded.Regiment.1isabelledmcfarland1.wikispaces.com

These men are the first of the family to join the Civil War effort. Many others will follow.

The Civil War had a tremendous impact on this family and their neighbors. We cannot tell the story of James Wallace without talking about this period of history. The men in the family went off to fight once they were welcomed into the Army. This included his brothers, Alanson and Samuel, cousins, in-laws and friends. Families were left to fend for themselves once their loved ones enlisted and left with their troops. The horrors of the War did not stop at the end of the War. The men came home injured and ill, which continued to affect them the rest of their lives.

In 1860 Abraham Lincoln was elected the 16th president of United States. Our country was torn between the right to own slaves, and the right of all men to be free. The North was in the midst of an industrial revolution, and the South was a largely agrarian society very dependent upon enslaved labor. The Republican Party, and their presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln, were opposed to the expansion of slavery. Upon Lincoln’s election, seven of the southern states succeeded from the Union to form the Confederate States of America (CSA). They were later joined by six other slaveholding states. In April 1861, with the attack on Fort Sumter by the CSA, our country was at war.

Although blacks were free in the New England states they were not considered equal. Massachusetts allowed Blacks to vote, but they were disenfranchised in Connecticut and Rhode Island. New England was the heart of the Industrial Revolution. However, Blacks were commonly found employed as laborers, domestics and servants, and laundresses or washerwomen. Rarely were they found working in the factories.

As the North began to enlist men to fight in the Civil War, Blacks who wanted to serve in the Army were prohibited from joining. Allowing Blacks to join the military was very controversial, with opponents arguing that Black men would not make good soldiers. Although African-Americans had served honorably in every major conflict, including the American Revolution, a 1792 federal law prohibited Blacks from serving in the Army. [1] Needing additional men, Congress passed acts in July 1862 allowing Blacks to join the Army.

Recruitment of Black soldiers began in the fall of 1862, with the first regiments of free Blacks organized in Louisiana, South Carolina, and Kansas. [2] President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863, freeing slaves in the states that had succeeded from the Union. Massachusetts was the first Northern state to organize a Black militia, the Massachusetts 54th Infantry Regiment. The history of this regiment was portrayed in the movie Glory. The Regiment began recruiting soldiers in mid-February 1863; advertising $13 per month, a $100 bounty at the end of the War, and aid for the soldier’s families. [3]

To Colored Men. 54th Regiment of African Descent
Massachusetts Historical Society Collections Online

“Not equal” for these new recruits continued. Once enlisted Black soldiers were paid less than their White counterparts; $10 per month, with an optional deduction from their pay of $3.00 for clothing, while white soldiers were paid $13 per month, and received a $3.50 clothing allowance. [4] Federal legislation limited the amount that Black soldiers could be paid, and it was to be less than that received by White soldiers.

The Black soldiers of the Massachusetts 54th Infantry, along with their White officers, refused to accept pay that was less than what their White counterparts received, even though Massachusetts was willing to make up the difference. It was a matter of principle. Black soldiers were not paid in a timely manner, creating additional hardships for families who depended upon their breadwinners to send money home. There was “near mutiny” in the Massachusetts 54th and 55th because of lack of and the inequality of pay, and more than twenty men of the 14th Rhode Island Heavy Artillery (Calvin Dexter and Martin Philip Andrews serviced in this Regiment) were thrown into jail because of the soldiers discontent with the pay issue.

In June 1864, Congress enacted legislation allowing equal pay to Black soldiers retroactive to January 1, 1864, and retroactive to the time of enlistment for those who had been free on April 1, 1861. [5] Many soldiers had gone for over a year without receiving a paycheck by the time the rate of pay issue was settled.

Black soldiers faced additional risks of death if captured by Confederate soldiers. In spite of the long period without pay, the increased risks, and the hardships incurred in fighting the War, the soldiers served with valor and courage. One of the more notable battles occurred at Fort Wagner, a strategic confederate defense for the port of Charlestown, which involved the Massachusetts 54th. The Massachusetts 54th sustained heavy losses in this fight, but proved their bravery in combat by leading the attack on the Fort.

Black men composed over 10 percent of the Union Army and Navy, and over 40,000 died during the Civil War, with three-quarters of the deaths resulting from disease and infection. [6] Upon the end of the Civil War, the former soldiers returned home. With them, they brought the effects of the War, including disease and illnesses that often plagued them throughout the rest of their lives.

I have the pension and military records of James Wallace, his brothers, and his brother-in-law’s. The records help to understand the stories of these men and their families, and what life was like for the families both before and after the Civil War.

During the week, watch the movie Glory. It is a well-done movie, with a very good cast. I’m a big fan of Denzel Washington! It can be downloaded or rented from several on-line sources, and might be available for loan at your local library. The movie has new meaning when you are watching it knowing that members of your family served in this regiment.

The next blog will continue the story of James Wallace.

Have a great week….


[1] United States History: Racial Segregation in the U.S. Military, http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h3982.html
[2] Luis F. Emilio, A Brave Black Regiment: The History of the 54th Massachusetts, 1863-1865 (DeCapo Press:www.decapopress.com, 1995), 1-2.
[3] Ibid, 8-9.
[4] Racism against African Americans in the U.S. Military, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racism_against_African_Americans_in_the_U.S._military
[5] James M. McPherson, The Negro’s Civil War: How American Blacks Felt and Acted During the War for the Union (New York: Vintage Civil War Library, 1993), 197-207.
[6] Teaching with Documents: The Fight for Equal Rights: Black Soldiers in the Civil War, http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/blacks-civil-war/

Anna Marie Gibbons Wallace – Great-grandmother of Ruth Andrews DeBoise

We are going to travel back to our family in Palmer and Monson, Massachusetts. One of the early posts on January 28, 2018 was on Charles “Charlie” Henry Andrews and Martha “Mattie” Gibbons. Charlie and Mattie were the parents of Blanche Louise Andrews, and the grandparents of Ruth Martha Andrews. We have reviewed the ancestors of Charlie. Now we are going to look at the ancestors of Mattie, climbing her family tree.  Anna Marie Gibbons Wallace is sharing her story with you.

Martha Gibbons Ancestors
Maternal ancestors of Martha Gibbons

Mattie was the daughter of James Wallace and Anna Marie Gibbons. Anna Marie was born April 1, 1845 in New York City. Per her death certificate and information given by her daughter, Mattie, her parents were Charles Gibbons and Martha A. Washington, and they were born in the “South”. The 1900 Federal Census for Anna indicates they were born in Virginia. No other information is known about them.

I first found Anna when she was five years old. In the 1850 Federal Census she was living at the Catholic Orphan Asylum in New York City. In 1855, when she was ten years old, she resided in Lee, Massachusetts, located in Western Massachusetts in the Berkshires, with Henry M. and Ann M. Carty. Henry was a farmer, they were both born in New York, and Henry and Ann were black. Henry and Ann had no other children. Around this time orphanages had started a system of “placing out” of their charges with families in the community. This is similar to our current foster care system, and might explain how Anna came to live with the Carty’s. Her home with the Carty’s was short lived. In 1860, when she was 15 years old, she was a servant in the home of Alexander and Emily Chapin in Springfield, Massachusetts. Alexander was a goldsmith and spectacle maker. She was still living with them five years later in 1865.

Anna probably met James Wallace after he returned from his service in the Civil War. James and his family lived in Monson. It appears that James was involved with several women at the time, which we will discuss when we look at his story. Anna got pregnant and they did not marry until many years later.

Between 1865 and 1870, Anna moved to Brookfield, Massachusetts. This might have been where she met James, since his great aunt, Dolly Wallace Hazard, and her children lived in Brookfield, and it is close to Monson. There were few black families living in the town, so it is likely that they knew and socialized with each other.

In 1870 Anna, a single mother, and her daughter Martha, who was born in 1869, were living with Rodney and Mary Howard in Brookfield. Rodney was a minister and Mary was a school teacher. Anna worked as their housekeeper. In 1880, Anna and Mattie are living with Roxanne Forbes and Anna was working as a domestic servant.

The romance and friendship between James Wallace and Anna continued. James married, became a widower, and then he and Anna married. On April 15, 1891 James and Anna were married by Reverend C. Martin in Monson. Anna was 46 and James was 50, and they remained together for the rest of their lives.

In 1900, Anna and her husband were living in Monson, but they moved to Palmer by 1901 where they remained. Between 1901 and 1918, when James died, they lived at 29 Dublin Street near the railroad. In 1910, Anna was working as a laundress in her own home. By 1920 she had moved in with her daughter and son-in-law on 20 Dublin Street. They were all living at 11 Pine Street at the time of her death.

On April 10, 1926, shortly after her 81st birthday, Anna Marie Gibbons Wallace died from cardio-vascular disease. She had been ill for at least two years. She is buried in the Oak Knoll Cemetery in Palmer.

(Note: Anna’s age given in the obituary does not match any of the other records for her.)

April 12, 1926 The Journal-Register, Palmer, Mass.
Mrs. Anna M. Wallace

Palmer – The funeral of Mrs. Anna Maria Wallace, aged 79, widow of James Wallace of Pine Street was held Tuesday afternoon at 2 o’clock at the home of Bert L. Beers of North Main Street. Rev. C.A.S. Howe, pastor of the Second Baptist Church officiated and internment was in Oak Knoll Cemetery.

Mrs. Wallace leaves a daughter, Mrs. Charles Andrews with whom she lived and a great granddaughter Martha Ruth Andrews, also of Palmer. Mrs. Wallace was born in New York and has been a resident of Palmer for the past 50 years.

The next story will be on James Wallace, husband of Anna and great grandfather of Ruth Andrews DeBoise.

Until next time….