Sunday, May 24, 2015

Massachusetts Family History Trek

I have a work conference in Boston this week and came early to spend Memorial Day weekend tracing family roots in western Massachusetts.

After picking up my rental car, I drove two hours west to the town of Hadley in Hampshire County.

Over the past couple months, I've been researching when and why my 4th great-grandfather George Henry's last name was changed from Jucket to Hawks. It seems his mother, Lucy (Hawks) Jucket, passed away young and his father, Daniel Jucket, was unable to care for him. George was taken in by a maternal aunt and she raised him with her surname.

The ongoing mystery drew me to the cemeteries where this cast of characters - my ancestors - are buried.

Hawks Ancestry
First stop was the Sugarloaf Street Cemetery in South Deerfield, Franklin County. The cemetery is a small wedge of green surrounded by buildings and a busy street. I quickly found the stone obelisk that has the infamous L.H.J. inscription, which I believe is Lucy Hawks Jucket (my 5th great-grandmother). Her initials are inscribed below those of her parents, Silas Hawks and Mary (Blodgett) Hawks (my 6th great-grandparents).

Silas and Mary (Blodgett) Hawks and daugher Lucy Hawks Jucket

Sugarloaf is also the final resting place of Mary (Blodgett) Hawks' parents Timothy and Melicent (Perry) Blodgett - my 7th great-grandparents.

Timothy and Melicent (Perry) Blodgett

Silas Hawks' father Waitstill Hawks, my 7th great-grandfather, is also buried on the grounds.

Waitstill Hawks

A short drive from the Sugarloaf Cemetery is the old burying ground in historic Deerfield. My 8th great-grandparents Eleazer and Abigail (Wells) Hawks rest beneath a conjoined stone whose faint inscription is faded by the years.

Stone's Inscription:


Here Lies Intered the Body of Dean ELEAZER HAWKS Who Died May ye 14th 1774 Aged 80 years.

Here lies inter'd the Body of Mrs ABIGAIL the Wife of Dean ELEAZER HAWKS who died March ye 7th 1768 Aged 71 years.

By Virtue & Religion their lives they led and in Peace they made the Grave their Bed 

Eleazer and Abigail (Wells) Hawks

A few steps away are Eleazer's parents, Deacon Eleazer and Judith (Smead) Hawks, my 9th great-grandparents.

Stone's Inscription:

Here Lyes Ye Body of Deacon Eleazer Hawks Dyed March Ye 27th 1727 in Ye 72d Year of His Age

And Also Mrs Judeth Hawks Wife to Deacon Eleazer Hawks Decd Jany Ye 27 1718 In Ye 54th Year of Her Age.

Eleazer and Judith (Smead) Hawks

Historic Deerfield includes a handful of buildings dating from the mid 18th century. One of the town's guides was excited to hear of my Hawks family connection. 


She told me I had to see the Sheldon Hawks home. The house was built in the mid-1700s and was representative of how my Hawks ancestors would have lived. It also belonged, at one time, to a distant Hawks cousin.

Sheldon Hawks House
The home's interiors were flush with wood paneling. Wood walls, wood floors, wood ceilings. It smelled warm and earthy. Light a cozy fire in the brick fireplace and it's ready for me to move in. When I walked into the house, I told the docent I was a Hawks descendant. She waved aside the standard guestbook, pulled open a drawer, and lifted out a book for descendants to sign. It was the equivalent of rolling out the red carpet.

Back in Hadley, only 10 minutes from my hotel, my journey down the Hawks ancestral line continued to John Hawks, my 10th great-grandfather (tenth!). He's the immigrant ancestor who came to the new world from England. His descendants erected a stone marker in his honor.

John Hawks

But Where's the Jucket?
I tried to locate a grave for Daniel Jucket - the husband of Lucy Hawks. According to his death record, he was buried in Enfield. However, Enfield - the entire town, including its cemetery - was moved to make way for a man-made reservoir in the early 20th century. More than 7,600 burials from 34 cemeteries across eight towns were disinterred and most were moved to Quabbin Park Cemetery. 

Unfortunately, there's no exhumation record for Daniel. A cemetery official told me that all reburials should have this record. The lack of a record suggests that he was either not disinterred (perhaps there was no stone denoting his burial) or he was buried elsewhere. 

I spent time trawling through Quabbin Park with some success. I found the burial for Daniel's son Charles who was a half-brother to my George Henry Jucket Hawks.

Charles Jucket

Despite this find, Daniel was nowhere to be found. I drove to Quabbin Reservoir and walked along the shoreline. It's eerie to imagine the remnants of a town beneath the surface. It's unrealistic, I know, but I had hoped to uncover a clue that would lead me to Daniel Jucket. 

I drove away empty handed. Pulling out from the reservoir, I turned past a street sign that made me do a quick double-take. The name! Daniel was taunting me, yet inspiring the search to go on. No exit sign is going to stop my sleuth work! 

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