Category Archives: McGowan

William Vassall, England to Massachusetts

map_england_1660-1892 (1)William Vassall was born on August 27, 1592, in Stepney, Middlesex, England. He was the son of John Vassal (the builder and owner of the Mayflower) and Anne Russell. The Vassall’s were of French descent. John Vassal who was born in Caen, Normandie, France about 1524 converted from Catholicism to Protestantism and had to flee France due to persecution.

William married Anna King in London, England in 1613. He was a merchant working for the Massachusetts Bay Company. He first came to America in 1630 on the Arabella and he returned to England in the fall of that year.

In July 1635 he brought his wife and 7 children to Massachusetts on the ship “Blessing”. ma bay colonyThey settled in Roxbury, but they moved to Scituate around November 1636. He was the first to build a home here. By 1637 they joined the local Church. He and Anna took the oath of allegiance to the Plymouth colony on February 1, 1638, and they received 150 acres of land for doing so. While living here he was on the committee to consider the division of lands, the committee to resolve orders, he was an arbiter, a deputy, he served on the Council of War and he was listed as one of the men who were able to own and bear arms. They moved to Marshfield in 1643 and William became a town officer.

William did not agree with the attitude of Mass. Bay and Plymouth governments towards persons whose opinions in politics and religion differed from the Puritan line. He used his influences for greater charity toward the Quakers, etc. The elders expressed their disapproval towards his outspokenness. The church of Plymouth sent him a message by way of John Cook, which is recorded in the book of the Second Church, Scituate, dated April 14, 1645; hoping he would desist from proceedings intended, and questioned if they would commune with him if he continued. He went to England in 1646 with a petition to Parliament for the liberty of English subjects.” (NEH&GR, Jan 1863, page 58)

barbadosmapHe returned to Scituate in 1647 however, being provoked by the persecution to which the Quakers were subjected, he returned to England with most of his family. Later he and Anna went to Barbados and he died there in 1657. William’s son, Captain John Vassall, sold the Situate estate in 1661, but the daughters married and remained in this country.

One of William’s daughters, Judith, married Resolved White who came to America aboard the Mayflower with his parents William and Susannah (Jackson) White.

William Vassall is my 10th Great Grandfather.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on History and You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter





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Filed under Ancestry, Barbados, Europe, Family History, Family Search, French Huguenot, Genealogy, History, Massachuettes, Mayflower, McGowan, Smith, Uncategorized, William Vassall

#52 Ancestors – Week #5 – John Henry McGowan: He “Plowed Through” Tradition

farmer_with_plough_horsesWith this challenge I thought it would be easy to find someone to write about. After all the majority of my Ancestors were indeed farmers. So thinking of the term “Plowing Through” I thought about something to do with farming, viola! A match made in heaven. Then I started thinking of the other uses of this term and decided to go in a little different direction.

John Henry McGowan, my maternal Great Grandfather, was born May 10 1863 in the State of Missouri. His Great Grandfather, Francis McGowan had immigrated to this country from Dublin, Ireland when he was 13 years old and became a Naturalized Citizen in 1811 at the age of 17. Francis was a farmer and he owned a considerable amount of land in Tennessee. His son James D. McGowan was born in Tennessee but he moved his family to Missouri after the Civil War. He settled near the Missouri River where he too was a farmer. John was raised on that farm in Camden Missouri. He and his seven siblings worked the farm as was the custom of families in those days. He worked there until he was 24 years old.

Miners photo

In 1887 John married Asenath “Dolly” Walt in Wellington Missouri. He immediately went to work at Harris Coal Mine near Camden. His family had hoped he would be a farmer, but it just didn’t “suit” him. John and Dolly had eight children, one son and seven daughters. They never bought property; instead they lived in rented houses their entire married lives. His wife died in 1931 and he never John McGowan HSremarried. John worked in the Coal Mines for over 45 years. When he retired he bought a small home in Lexington Missouri and he lived there until his death in 1957 at the age of 93.

John “Plowed Through” the family tradition of farming. All of his siblings either continued farming or married a farmer.  He opened up new opportunities for his own family allowing them to decide for themselves what occupation they pursued.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.


Filed under #52ancestors, Ancestry, Family History, Farming, Genealogy, McGowan, Missouri

Part 5: My Mother’s Great Grandfather was Superstitious –A Month of Tales from the Dark Side

superstition imageI thought I would spend this month leading up to Halloween telling stories of things that happened in not only my childhood, but in the lives of my Ancestors that helped form most of my Mothers superstition beliefs or were a result of her beliefs.  I will post a blog every Friday and Tuesday and I hope you will enjoy them and even get a laugh or two out of them.

James D. McGowan born in 1837 was a first Generation American. His father Francis McGowan was born and raised in Dublin County, Ireland. Francis immigrated to America in 1811 bringing with him his love of his mother land and his Irish superstitions. Growing up James and his 8 siblings heard the stories and legends of Ireland.

James married Lucy Reavis in 1856 and started a family. He didn’t realize how many of those old superstitions and Irish Fairylegends had interwoven themselves into his life or that he would unknowingly pass them on to his 8 children.  As every “good” Irishman did, James believed in Fairies. A lot of his superstitions were based on this belief. James was a farmer and he owned several hundred acres in Camden, Missouri.



He took pride in all the things he raised but he was especially proud of the Primrose bushes that he took excellent care of. Every first day of May, James would go outside early in the morning and collect the Primroses to spread around his doors and windows. This was done to keep out the malevolent fairies and to appease the Good People. This would ensure that the rest of the year his family would not be bothered by the fairies.

spilled salt

Dinnertime was always a busy time with 10 people around the table. Inevitably someone would bump the table and knock over the salt shaker. James would insist whoever spilled it would have to throw the spilled salt over their shoulder. They did this to give the fairies their share and to avoid mischief from the fairies.

fishingJames loved to go fishing, not just to put food on the table but for the peace and solitude that it gave. Remember he had 8 children! He was Superstitious about his fishing, believing it was very unlucky for someone to ask a man on his way to go fishing where he was going. Any time this happened to him he would turn back because he knew the question was an evil spell.

James out-lived his wife Lucy by 22 years. When he died in 1901 he left a small box to his son John Henry McGowan.old 4 leaf clover After the funeral, the family and friends gathered at John’s home for food and fellowship. John opened the box and pulled out an old folded piece of paper. Opening it he found 24 pressed 4 leaf shamrocks. His Uncle told him, “If you possess a four-leaf shamrock you will have good luck in gambling, good luck in racing, and witchcraft will have no power over you but, you must always carry it on you. You cannot give it away and you cannot show it to anyone.” These shamrocks had been brought to America by Francis and he had passed them on to James who in turn was now passing them on to John.

Here are some more Superstitions that my Mother had:

Itchy palmIf the palm of your right hand itches it means you will soon be getting money.

Making a wish within 5 minutes of getting out of bed on the first day of the month will come true.first of the month

walking with only one shoe onWalking with one shoe on & one shoe off will make you have some kind of leg or foot problem one day.

Do you or anyone in your family have a Superstition? I would love to hear about them.

Come back on Tuesday for the next installment of “My Mothers Superstitions – Tales from the Dark Side.”

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.


Filed under Ancestry, Family History, Genealogy, Halloween, Ireland, McGowan, Story telling, Superstitions