Happy 208th Birthday!! to Alice Cogswell (1805-1830)

The Gallaudet Building dominates the campus of the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Connecticut. Alice was the first pupil enrolled.

The Gallaudet Building dominates the campus of the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Connecticut. Alice was the first pupil enrolled.

Today is the 208th birthday of Alice Cogswell (follow the link for more), my 2nd cousin 6x removed through the Cogswell line, and to whom I’m also related through the Haven, Newhall, Mason, Peck, Fitch and Whitfield lines.  She was the inspiration to Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet for the creation of what is now the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Connecticut.  Her father was Dr. Mason Fitch Cogswell (1761-1830).  Mason Cogswell was adopted by Samuel Huntington (my 2nd cousin 7x removed), president of the Continental Congress and governor of Connecticut, after his mother died in 1772.  He eventually became one of the best known surgeons in the country at the time and was the first in the US to remove a cataract from the eye and to tie the carotid artery.  Mainly through his influence the first permanent school for the deaf in North America was founded in Hartford, and his daughter Alice was its first pupil.

The founding of the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Connecticut in 1817 was a crucial milestone in the way society related to people with disabilities.  The time and place are significant because it was a unique conjunction of different currents which led to the school’s establishment.  Many threads in developing U.S. society coalesced in Hartford in the early nineteenth century.  The importance attached to universal literacy (by no means common in the world at the time) and the particular missionary religious doctrines of the prevalent Protestant sects provided both means and motive for the attempt to educate deaf people.  The concept of self-reliance and the belief that religious salvation is possible through understanding the Bible determined the methods and purposes of the founders.  Literacy, salvation and the skills needed to earn a living were the goals.  Achieving these required clarity and fluidity of communication, which is why the school was based on sign language from the start.  The experiment aroused great interest.  Governor Oliver Wolcott, in an 1818 proclamation, asked the public, “to aid . . . in elevating the condition of a class of mankind, who have been heretofore considered as incapable of mental improvement, but who are now found to be susceptible of instruction in the various arts and sciences, and of extensive attainments in moral and religious truth.”  His words express the great change in attitude toward deaf people which had only just occurred.  The school’s founders were well aware of the groundbreaking importance of their project, and they and their successors saved a great many letters, teaching aids, illustrations, books and other objects.  These materials remained in the school’s possession and now form a rich collection.  They document not only the history of deaf education, but also the study of educational techniques, the history of religion and the history of Hartford, of Connecticut and of the United States.

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Cogswell Alice & Mason Fitch

Alice Cogswell (1805–1830), 2nd cousin 6x removed Dr. Mason Fitch Cogswell (1761–1830), 1st cousin 7x removed Alice Cogswell was the inspiration to Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet for the creation of the what is now known as the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Connecticut.  At the age of two, she became ill with “spotted fever” (cerebra-spinal meningitis).  This illness took her hearing […]

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Henry Lake and his wife, Alice, who was hanged as a witch in Boston in about 1650

1876 illustration of a "witch" trial at Salem, Massachusetts - There were at least 12 persons executed in New England for "witchcraft" prior to the hysteria that swept Salem in 1692, including my 11th g-grandmother, Alice Lake (hanged on Boston Common in about 1650).

1876 illustration of a “witch” trial at Salem, Massachusetts – There were at least 12 persons executed in New England for “witchcraft” prior to the hysteria that swept Salem in 1692, including my 11th g-grandmother, Alice Lake (hanged on Boston Common in about 1650).

Very little is recorded of the life of Alice Lake of Dorchester, Massachusetts.  Her existence is only known through her reputation as a “witch”, but the actual records of her trial (if there was one) are lost.  Alice’s life can be seen only in traces and reflections, and the only existing records are from after her execution, when the townsmen were trying to figure out what to do with Alice’s children, since she was dead and her husband had fled.  I have added a page where you can learn more about Henry Lake (1611-1678) and Alice [surname unknown] (1616-1650), who was hanged for witchcraft on Boston Common in about 1650.  In addition to Alice, I have at least one other ancestor, Mary (Barrett) Dyer (1607-1660), who was hanged on Boston Common (in Mary’s case for being a Quaker).

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Borden Lizzie

Lizzie Borden (1860-1927), 7th cousin 3x removed Lizzie Andrew Borden was an American woman who was tried and acquitted in 1893 for the 1892 axe murders of her father and stepmother in Fall River, Massachusetts. Lizzie and her sister, Emma, lived with their father, Andrew Borden, and stepmother, Abby (Durfee Gray) Borden, into adulthood.  On 4 Aug 1892, Andrew and […]

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Seabrook #7474

Robert Seabrook (1563-1650) Born in England.  Arrived in _______ in _______ and Alice Goodspeede (1576-1638) Born in England. [Keep checking back… More information will be posted as it becomes available].   Research Notes: I am descended from two daughters of Robert & Alice: Mary (born 1601?) and Emma (or Faith?) (born before 1620?).  Lots of family connections among the families […]

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Will of William Mullins

MADE:  Apparently on 21 February 1620/1 at PlymouthDATED: 2 April 1621 at PlymouthPROVED: 23 July 1621 at Dorking, Surrey, England In the name of God Amen: I comit my soule to God that gave it and my bodie to the earth from whence it came. Alsoe I give my goodes as followeth That fforty poundes in the hand of goodman […]

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Alden House Historic Site – Duxbury, Massachusetts

This short history of the Alden property was written by Curator James W. Baker, and is a revised version of that was published in Alden House History: A Work in Progress (Duxbury, 2006). It appears on the website of the Alden House Historic Site. The original link is — > HERE.   The events associated with the Mayflower voyage and […]

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Chase Salmon P

Salmon P. Chase (1808-1873), 5th cousin 6x removed Salmon Chase was born in 1808 in New Hampshire.  His family could trace its American origins to the early years of Massachusetts settlement in the seventeenth century.  The eighth of eleven children of a tavern-keeper and local officeholder, Chase received his early education in a local district school and a private institution. When […]

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Spinning #1800

Humphrey Spinning (1630-1689) Born in England. Arrived in Connecticut by 1639 and later settled in New Jersey and Abigail Hubbard (1640-1689) Born in Connecticut and later settled in New Jersey. Humphrey Spinning is also my 8th g-grandfather through his son Edward[1]. Not much is known of Humphrey Spinning and his wife Abigail Hubbard.  Most of information I have found comes from […]

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Sampson Deborah Bradford

Deborah Bradford Sampson (1760-1827), 4th cousin 7x removed The following article was published on the website of the National Women’s History Museum (with photos from various sources): Deborah Sampson rebelled against the British and society by dressing as a man and fighting in the Revolutionary War for eighteen months under the guise of “Robert Shurtlif” or “Shirtlieff.” Deborah Sampson was born […]

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Many Cogswell photos have been added to the site

Edward & Alice Cogswell home in Westbury Leigh (photo credit: Danette Percifield Cogswell, May 2013)

Edward & Alice Cogswell home in Westbury Leigh (photo credit: Danette Percifield Cogswell, May 2013)

Last month, Danette Percifield Cogswell (a Facebook acquaintance) and her family returned from a trip to Westbury, England with some wonderful pictures, which I have posted here with her permission —> Cogswell photos.  They were fortunate to visit with Peter & Mary Jones, who showed them the home of Edward and Alice Cogswell (my 11th g-grandparents).  They have restored the home to it’s original state.  The All Saints Church in Westbury was locked, but they heard some music from the inside.  After knocking several times a lady came to the door and was kind enough to let them view the inside of the church and take some photos.  There are no headstones of the Cogswell’s in the churchyard, as there was a flood some time ago that swept most of them away.   The Old Dilton (St. Mary’s) Church is where the Cogswell family worshiped, not too far from the Cogswell home.  Danette reports that it was well worth a trip to this area of England, only a 2 hour train ride from London.  I’ve also added many more photos of Westbury, Pemaquid and Ipswich to the main Cogswell page, including some of Pemaquid Lighthouse taken last month by my friend and sometimes Bridge partner, Steve Anderson.  I have also learned that Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1841-1935), the American jurist who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1902-1932, is my 6th cousin 5x removed on his father’s side through John Cogswell (1592-1669).  I had already known that Holmes is my 8th cousin 3x removed on his mother’s side through William Hutchinson (1586-1641), and his wife, Anne (Marbury) Hutchinson.

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Cogswell photos

In May 2013, Danette Percifield Cogswell and her family returned from a trip to Westbury, England with some wonderful pictures, which I have published below with her permission.  On the trip, they were fortunate to visit with Peter & Mary Jones, who showed them the home of Edward and Alice Cogswell (my 11th g-grandparents).  They have restored the home to […]

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