Stephen Hopkins 1581 – 1644

Stephen Hopkins was from Hampshire, England.  He married his first wife, Mary, and in the parish of Hursley, Hampshire; he and wife Mary had their children Elizabeth, Constance, and Giles all baptized there. 

Stephen Hopkins went with the ship Sea Ventureon a voyage to Jamestown, Virginia in 1609 as a minister’s clerk, but the ship wrecked in the “Isle of Devils” in the Bermudas.  Stranded on an island for ten months, the passengers and crew survived on turtles, birds, and wild pigs.  Six months into the castaway, Stephen Hopkins and several others organized a mutiny against the current governor.  The mutiny was discovered and Stephen was sentenced to death.  However, he pleaded with sorrow and tears.  “So penitent he was, and made so much moan, alleging the ruin of his wife and children in this his trespass, as it wrought in the hearts of all the better sorts of the company”.  He managed to get his sentence commuted.

Eventually the castaways built a small ship and sailed themselves to Jamestown.  How long Stephen remained in Jamestown is not known.  However, while he was gone, his wife Mary died.  She was buried in Hursley on 9 May 1613, and left behind a probate estate which mentions her children Elizabeth, Constance and Giles.

Stephen was back in England by 1617, when he married Elizabeth Fisher, but apparently had every intention of bringing his family back to Virginia.  Their first child, Damaris, was born about 1618.  In 1620, Stephen Hopkins brought his wife, and children Constance, Giles, and Damaris on the Mayflower(child Elizabeth apparently had died).  Stephen was a fairly active member of the Pilgrims shortly after arrival, perhaps a result of his being one of the few individuals who had been to Virginia previously.  He was a part of all the early exploring missions, and was used almost as an “expert” on Native Americans for the first few contacts.  While out exploring, Stephen recognized and identified an Indian deer trap.  And when Samoset walked into Plymouth and welcomed the English, he was housed in Stephen Hopkins’ house for the night.  Stephen was also sent on several of the ambassadorial missions to meet with the various Indian groups in the region.

Stephen was an assistant to the governor through 1636, and volunteered for the Pequot War of 1637 but was never called to serve.  By the late 1630s, however, Stephen began to occasionally run afoul of the Plymouth authorities, as he apparently opened up a shop and served alcohol.  In 1636 he got into a fight with John Tisdale and seriously wounded him.  In 1637, he was fined for allowing drinking and shuffleboard playing on Sunday.  Early the next year he was fined for allowing people to drink excessively in his house: guest William Reynolds was fined, but the others were acquitted.  In 1638 he was twice fined for selling beer at twice the actual value, and in 1639 he was fined for selling a looking glass for twice what it would cost if bought in the Bay Colony.  Also in 1638, Stephen Hopkins’ maidservant got pregnant from Arthur Peach, who was subsequently executed for murdering an Indian.  The Plymouth Court ruled he was financially responsible for her and her child for the next two years (the amount remaining on her term of service).  Stephen, in contempt of court, threw Dorothy out of his household and refused to provide for her, so the court committed him to custody.  John Holmes stepped in and purchased Dorothy’s remaining two years of service from him: agreeing to support her and child.

Stephen died in 1644, and made out a will, asking to be buried near his wife, and naming his surviving children.

Stephen is my 10th great grandfather.  The above biography is from http://www.mayflowerhistory.com/Passengers/StephenHopkins.php, a very nice website that includes information about all the passengers.

Francis Cooke 1573 – 1663

Francis Cooke was probably born about 1583 in England.  In July of 1603, he married Hester Le Mahieu, a young woman of French-speaking Belgian and Protestant descent.  Francis was a wool comber.  He and Hester seemed to have alternated churches, from the French Waloon church to the Pilgrims Separatist church in Leyden. 

Francis and his son John travelled on the Mayflower, leaving behind his wife and the younger children, who came in 1623 on the Anne. Francis served on a number of committees, such as the committee to lay out highways, and to survey land.  He had small land grants, and lived out his life in Plymouth.  John Alden was a witness to Francis’ will, in which he gave all his land, livestock, and movable goods to his wife Hester.  He died 7 Apr 1663 in Plymouth. 

Francis was my 10th great grandfather.  The Pilgrim Hall Museum website has an inventory of records that mention Francis and Hester, at http://www.pilgrimhall.org/cookefrancisrecords.htm

Isaac Allerton and Mary Norris

Isaac Allerton was born about 1575 in London, England.  Mary Norris was born about 1588, and was “of Newbury” England, when she married Isaac on 4 Nov 1611, in Leyden, Holland.  In 1620, Isaac and Mary came on the Mayflower to Plymouth with three children, Bartholomew, Remember, and Mary. One child died in Holland before they left, and they also had a stillborn son born on the ship in Plymouth Harbor.  Mary died during the first winter.  Four years later, Isaac married Fear Brewster, daughter of William and Mary Brewster.  She died in 1634, and Isaac married widow Joanna Swinnerton the next year in Marblehead. 

Isaac was originally a tailor, and later called himself a merchant.  He was second in authority to Bradford in the early years, being elected as assistant to Bradford’s position as governor. He was probably well educated.  Isaac was the fifth signer of the Mayflower Compact. He sailed back and forth between Plymouth and England to develop commercial relationships, but because some of these enterprises were for his personal benefit, Bradford felt that Isaac had abused the trust placed in him.    

After his first wife died, Isaac moved to Connecticut.  During the winter of 1644, he sailed from New Haven and was caught in a winter storm.  They were “cast away” at Scituate (Massachusetts) but all were saved.  Isaac continued his commercial activities in Marblehead, in Maine, and later at New Amsterdam.  When Isaac died, he left little estate except a list of debts he claimed were due him.  http://www.mayflowerfamilies.com/wills/isaac_allerton_will.htm has a transcript of his will and inventory.  He was my 10th great grandfather. 

As a Mayflower passenger, he is well known, and many descriptions and biographies can be found on the Internet.

Mary Allerton Cushman 1616 – 1699

Mary Allerton was born in June 1616 in Leyden, Holland.  Her parents were Isaac Allerton and Mary Norris.  Isaac was a tailor and merchant.   She came to Plymouth on the Mayflower in 1620, at about the age 4.  Around 1636, she married Thomas Cushman, who had come to Plymouth in 1621 on the Fortune.  Thomas and Mary had a large family, with seven of their eight children suriving to adulthood, marrying, and producing at least 50 grandchildren.  Mary and her family stayed in Plymouth for the rest of their lives and belonged to the church there.  Mary died 28 November 1699 in Plymouth, the last suriviving Mayflower passenger.  She was buried on Burial Hill in Plymouth.   She was my 9th great grandmother.

Gordon Harold Labor 1919 – 1944

Gordon Labor was born 12 July 1919 in Sutton, VT, the fourth of six children of Arthur Hayes Labor and Anna Ethel Rose Priest.  His father was a farmer.  The 1920 census lists the family in Sutton.  His older sister Doris died from colitis as a two-year-old, before he was born.  The family in 1920 included his parents, sister Eleanor, and brother Howard. 

The 1925 St Johnsbury city directory lists Gordon’s family living on Broad street, and his father worked for the Boston & Maine Rail Road.  In 1930, the census lists the family in Lyndon VT, with the same three children.  His younger sister Marion died at age two of accidental burns.  His younger brother was born after the 1930 census was taken.  Arthur worked as a blacksmith’s helper. 

Gordon’s sister Eleanor married Daniel Newton in 1936, and in 1940, Gordon lived in their household.  He worked as a salesman at a retail grocery store.  On 24 October, 1940, Gordon married Anna Mildred Drake in Barre VT.  Their first son, Gordon Harold Labor, was born 3 May 1941 in Barre, VT, but died the next day from complications of birth.  A second son was born two years later. 

Gordon enlisted in the US Army in Hartford, CT, on 28 January 1944.  His education was listed as two years of high school.  He was a machine operator.  Gordon served in the 319th Infantry 80th Division, and was killed in action on October 8, 1944.  He was buried at Lorraine, France. 

Gordon’s name is included among 14 names on a plaque at Lyndon Institute in Vermont, dedicated in 1948:  In Memoriam.  Valor brought them a common death on the land, the sea, and in the air during World War II.

James Edward Stuart Brennan 1914 – 1943

James Brennan was born about 1914 in Aylesford, Nova Scotia, the son of Herman Percy Brennan and Mabel E Cochrane.  His father was a painter.   On 30 October, 1934, James married Florence Kathleen Hodges, daughter of Herman Harold Hodges and Edith May Keddy.  The marriage license lists James’ occupation as engineer.    

During World War II, James served in the Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve.  He was an engine room artificer and worked on the ship’s engines and boilers.  He was assigned to the HMCS St. Croix.  This destroyer was originally called the USS McCook, and launched in 1919.  At the beginning of World War 2, she was exchanged to Great Britain in under the Destroyers for Bases Agreement, which just as it sounds, transferred 50 destroyers from the US Navy in exchange for land rights on British possessions.  The ship sailed to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and was immediately retransferred from the Royal Navy to the Canadian Navy.  Canadian destroyers were named after Canadian Rivers, but in recognition of the ship’s US origin, this one was named the St. Croix, for the river forming the border between New Brunswick and Maine.   

The St. Croix performed escort and patrol duties in Canadian waters, then between Newfoundland and Iceland, and eventually to Europe, sinking U-boats that were attacking the convoys.  In September, 1943, the St. Croix went to the defense of convoys being attacked by German submarines.  The St. Croix was hit three times in the stern, and sank.  The HMS Itchen picked up 81 survivors from the St. Croix, but the next day, the Itchen was torpedoed, and only three men were rescued, with one being from the St. Croix. 

James Brennan died on September 20, 1943, when the St. Croix was sunk in the Bay of Biscay.   He is listed on the Halifax Memorial in Nova Scotia.

James’ widow did not remarry.  She was active in the Royal Canadian Legion Auxiliary.  She died in 2005.  Her obituary mentions a son James and his wife living in Ontario, and a daughter-in-law in Aylesford, so James had at least one, and maybe two sons.

William Wentworth Vroom 1917 – 1942

William Vroom was born 3 December, 1917, in Melrose, MA, the only child of Frederick Keith Vroom of Nova Scotia, and Lillian Wentworth of Massachusetts. 

The 1920 census lists the family living at 98 Packard Avenue in Sumerville, MA.  Fred was the manager of a print shop.  They lived adjacent to Tufts University, and this house is now part of the campus, called Hall House, home of Bayit House, which provides a setting for students who wish to live in a Jewish communal atmosphere. 

The family moved to Worcester, MA, and in 1930 lived at 21 Franconia, a 4 bedroom house built in 1910.  Fred continued to work in the printing business.  The family lived in Exeter, NH for a while, and William attended Philips Exeter Academy, graduating in 1936.  He then attended Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH, graduating in 1940.  He was a member of Alpha Delta Phi, a fraternity founded as a literary society. 

The 1940 census lists William living with his parents at 21 Franconia, in Worcester.   His father ran a printing business.  William did not have an occupation listed but the city directory listed him as a student.  On 25 November 1940, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps as an Aviation Cadet.  His civil occupation was listed as semi-skilled painters, construction, and maintenance.  He was described as 5-10, 170 pounds.  In 1942, he was listed in the Worcester directory with his parents at 53 Elm, as a member of the US Air Corps.  He received his primary training at Albany, Georgia, and was commissioned in July 1941, at Maxwell field, Montgomery, Alabama.  He was assigned to B26’s at Langley field, Va., and March field at Riverside, Calif.  

In February of 1942, William married Susanne Cooke of Worcester, MA, at Yuma, AZ, and shortly afterwards left for service in the southwest Pacific.  Pilot of a B26 bomber serving with the 19th bomber squadron, 22nd bombardment group, Lieutenant Vroom was killed in a crash Aug 21, 1942, in Australia.   A note in what appeared to be a Philips Exeter Academy alumni magazine said:  “On a sad note, Bill Vroom was one of the first casualties of World War II, on a Pacific island. It was particularly tragic because he was an only child and left behind his mother, father and wife. Life magazine interviewed his widow for an article published in the fall of 1942.” 

In 1949, William’s body was returned from the Pacific on an army transport returning war dead for burial in the United States.  William was buried in Exeter and his gravesite is marked with a granite military headstone.