Mama, Dustin Hoffman and a Little Karma

When I was younger, I would often laugh at my mom when she would call someone by the wrong name, or when she would totally screw up the ordinary day-to-day information. One morning, this mother of five was desperately trying to wrangle her chicks, and get them out the door, so they would arrive at school on time. A couple of us had bouts of the flu, so she was writing “the please excuse notes” so that we could re-enter the realms of academia. The tired and overworked mother looked at me and demanded, “Is it 1956 or 1957?” The confused looked on my face triggered another tirade of words. “I know what you’re thinking, but I am tired, so is it ’56 or ’57?”

“Um…neither…it’s 1977,” I replied before my mother and I burst into fits of laughter.

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Mom – about 1955 – Alameda, California

On another occasion, my mother had to talk to a bill collector. My father had been injured at work, and he had a long stay in the hospital. Until all the paperwork was sorted, we were struggling financially. Times were hard, and a bill collector was frequently calling, demanding that my mother cough up cash to pay an unpaid bill. His last name was Woodhouse. Undefeated, mama mustered up courage, and she called his office to make payment arrangements. Mr. Woodhouse’s secretary answered the phone. Mama, using her perfect business voice, politely asked, “May I speak to Mr. Woodshed, please.” I was in the kitchen with her when she made the call. She looked at me, and we started to giggle and through her laughter, she told his secretary, “I will have to call you back.” Once mama stopped laughing, she shared that his assistant broke out into laughter too.

I could never quite understand how she could mix things up so badly until it started happening to me. Was it some kind of curse? Was this a punishment for laughing at my own sweet mother?  It had to be karma.

Well this past week, I once again followed in my mother’s shoes. This year, a student in my class named Dustin Houston, not really his last name, but close enough, struggled to bring up his grades. It was the end of the trimester, and all my grades were finalized and entered onto the district’s online program. Report cards were printed and sent home. That week Dustin’s mom stopped by because I had made an error on his grade. He had missed school and turned in a late assignment that I forgot to enter into the computer. Horrified, I thanked his mom for catching my mistake, and I promised her that I would have it corrected the next day.

While not trying to make excuses, this time of the year has always been crazy. Teachers continued to scramble and review last bits of knowledge and wisdom before the big state test.   Our sixth grade team planned an end of the trimester party for our kiddos. Teacher evaluations and meetings took place.  An interdisciplinary unit was due, and life at school was nuttier than usual.

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But making good on my promise, Thursday morning before school started, I walked into the dean’s office to let him know I had made a mistake on a student’s report card. When he asked the name of the student, I replied Dustin Hoffman. He gave me a confused look and repeated, “Dustin Hoffman?”

Running on empty with no caffeine, I replied, “yes.”

The young dean began looking at his laptop, and he asked what class period he was in, and I replied. He was acting strangely and started smiling. For the life of me I could not understand what wrong with this man.   His grin widened, and he again he repeated, “Dustin Hoffman?”

Since I had my laptop with me, I asked him, “Do you want me to look him up for you?”

“No, I think I found him,” he chuckled. “Is this your guy?” He slowly turned his computer, and there staring me in the face was a picture of the Dustin Hoffman.

I began laughing. What could I say? The apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

 

 

 

 

 

A Bucket List

1At my age, I have started to think a lot about a bucket list. In all honesty, it all started a couple of years ago when I was teaching eighth grade. I had this young student who was an old soul. One day we were discussing Orson Well’s Animal Farm when out of left field, he asks, “How does it feel to know that your life is half over?”

That sentence has continued to echo in my head. “How does it feel to know that your life is half over?” This hasn’t necessarily been a bad thing, just something that reminds to kick up my feet every so often. For me, kicking up my feet has had certain undertakings that often get in my way. It requires movement that can sometimes be difficult and painful. A bucket list necessitates planning. Since I also must consider my back issues, coming up with a plan is challenging because I never know when or if I will have another flair up.

Sometimes I have discovered that I just have to move even if it is difficult, and yes, sometimes scary. Take my bucket list trip to San Padre Island; it was a sweet surprise from a caring son-in-law and daughter who wanted to make my birthday extra special.

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Still, even my doc warned me not to go on this one. My back pain and my old nemesis had returned with a vengeance. This time, my nurse practitioner warned that I needed a cane to get around, and rest…lots of rest. But I balked; no way was I going to miss out on this birthday adventure, nor was I going to miss out on seeing my kids and my sweet grandbabies. The dreaded cane was bad enough; canes are just NOT sexy.

On the morning I was leaving, I hobbled to my old truck and cautiously threw my gigantic suitcase on wheels in the bed. I drove to the Colorado Springs airport, about a forty-five minute drive. At this point, I was doing okay, better than okay until I tried to get on the shuttle. The kind driver loaded my massive collection of clothes and grandbaby gifts onto the vehicle. Next, I started climbing the stairs with my newly acquired cane in awkward upward movements until something novel occurred. My leg gave out, and I almost fell off the bus! “Well, this is something new,” I mumbled in embarrassment.

For the rest of the trip, I was flagged as a “granny in need.” When the shuttle arrived at the entrance of the airport, I had someone waiting for me WITH a wheelchair. Another first I wasn’t too happy about, but what was I supposed to do? Although I was still embarrassed, I was thankful for the kind staff that made sure I was on my plane on time. When I arrived in Corpus Christi, I had more offers of assistance until I finally found my family waiting for me at my last stop.

My family spotted me first, and I enjoyed their signs that welcomed me back into the fold. After lots of hugs and kisses, we went to the baggage claim, grabbed my home on wheels, and headed to the parking garage. I was so excited to see my family, and I couldn’t wait to head to the beach.

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While visiting San Padre Island, I had a great time, including a great talk with my thirteen-year old grandson who was taking self-defense classes for P.E.   The question of my cane came up as Mathew seriously asked, “Honey, how would you defend yourself if someone attacked you?”

Without missing a beat, I grabbed my cane while using a stance that Bruce Lee would have been proud of. “Aiyeee!” I mimicked Kung Fu masters from far away Asian countries. Quite impressively, I whipped my cane into almost feverish bursts of menacing power as I moved to and fro, all the while keeping my imagined enemies at bay with my impressive karate impersonations.

Mathew loudly laughed, for he enjoyed my fascinating show of self-defense and my loud guttural shouts that would make those around me question if had just recently escaped from a nearby psychiatric ward.   Our fellow beach-goers did not enjoy my self-defense display quite like Mathew.   They stared and just well, just stared. Although I do believe, our beach neighbors did quietly take leave and move farther down on the sandy shore. But I didn’t care; I was on the beach with my babies, and life was good…even with a cane.

Yeah, I even look at my old cane differently now too. On my return trip home, I will never forget what airport security asked as my bag and cane went through the scanner. “Ma’am, does your cane have some type of liquid inside it?” I froze and smiled as I envisioned all my play in the ocean with my trusty cane as it helped keep me steady and upright. “Yes, sir I do; it’s ocean water from the Gulf at San Padre Island, just one more souvenir.” Funny how perceptions change when we take a break and enjoy living.   And yes, after the water evaporated, I enjoyed all the sand that remained inside too.

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Out of Nowhere

As a child, I loved to hear the stories about my mom’s childhood.   Her exciting tales often made me laugh while some made me wonder how she survived childhood at all. She truly must have had wild angels watching over her, and my mama must have possessed just a wee bit of Irish luck. Still, one story she told made me shudder every time she told it.

At a young age, my mama, began helping with the chores on her parent’s ranch in Hotchkiss, Colorado. Since her older sister, Barbara, had allergies, mom helped with the outside work. One of her chores was to care for the cows. She would milk them in the morning, take them to the pasture to graze, and then round them up again, so she and my grandma could milk again in the evening.

This routine was something she did everyday. One evening after milking the cows, she was carrying the milk pails back to the house. The skies started to darken as a storm rolled into the valley. As she was carrying the buckets, lightning struck and hit one of the metal containers. It knocked her unconscious.

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Eugene Triguba

Later when she began to wake up from her unconscious state, she stated she couldn’t remember what had happened to her. Her parents had to explain to her that she had been hit by lightning. She did have a burn on her hand from where she had grasped the metal pail. And from that day on, she tended to have dark circles under her eyes too.

What were her odds of being struck by lightning? 1 in 960,000. And of course, it found its way to my mama! And I truly believe Someone was watching over that little girl that day, and I am forever thankful!

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One for the Road

snowOn a chilly Friday afternoon on October 24, 1997, snow began falling in Penrose, Colorado. By evening, winds blew and whistled around our home on Garden Drive. Icy temperatures dropped to the teens, but the wood stove in our home kept the place warm and cozy. With news of the impending storm, I stocked my home with groceries, stacked wood near the back door, and, of course, rented several movies to help us pass the time. My daughter and I settled in to wait out the developing storm.

Saturday morning, we awoke to a winter wonderland, and the blizzard was still going strong. It did not slow down until about 6 pm that evening, and the snow crippled the Front Range. Roads were closed and people were advised to stay indoors. In Colorado Springs, 45 miles northeast, the snow was falling so quickly, the city had to pull its snowplows because they could not keep up with the falling snow. In some places in the city, the snow was covering cars.

On Saturday, the governor declared a state of emergency. Emergency vehicles were only allowed on the eastern highways. Although we never lost power, some places in Pueblo and Colorado Springs had power outages, and some lasted as long as two days. Many people, caught in this storm, were injured; some died as a result of this blizzard. Others were stranded, and the Army and the National Guard were called into help stranded motorists and to bring hay to starving cattle. Ranchers lost upwards of 20,000 head of cattle.

By Sunday morning, snow levels in Penrose measured two feet, and cold temperatures kept everyone inside. When Monday arrived, many businesses remained closed along with many Colorado airports and schools. Later, the National Weather Service would describe it as “one of worst and deadliest blizzards of the decade.”

On Monday, while everyone was digging out of the snow, Leslie’s dad, Dave, stopped by to check on us. Because of the weather, he was not working, and Florence High School had also cancelled classes. Since he and Leslie both had the day off together, he suggested that she should go to town with him, so our sixteen-year-old teen could finally get her driver’s license. Although I was hesitant, he reassured me that she could handle it. Since she was a country kid, she started driving when she was about seven. If anyone knew she was up to the challenge, it was her dad. He tested her skills in all kinds of weather and in all kinds of terrain. I trusted his judgment. With a squeal of delight, our daughter raced to her room and grabbed her coat and boots.

Later that afternoon, she arrived home with her license in hand and a smile on her face. Her father bragged about how his sweet girl nailed the driver’s test. It was fun to watch those two interact as they discussed their day together, one more memorable moment for them to share. Still, I had to laugh and wonder; leave it to those two to do something crazy like getting a driver’s license while everyone else was still digging out of a blizzard that had shut down half the state of Colorado!

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The Adventure: Canyon de Chelly

 

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Sunrise Canyon de Chelly

The morning of my adventure, the day had dawned like all the others. Across the vast horizon, the sun slowly rose to its place of honor. The golden orb reflected rays of light that painted the desert in warm, vibrant colors. A cloudless blue sky stretched across the skyline then suddenly tipped and touched the rugged, open lands. Nearby an elderly Navaho woman shouted ancient commands to her dogs as she moved her herd of sheep and goats to precious grazing grounds. Another breathtaking morning had dawned on the Navaho Reservation in Chinle, Arizona.

Impatiently, I hurried through morning chores, so I could explore the local sites. After climbing into my old ’67 blue and white Ford pickup, I soon bounded along one dusty road after another. Living on the reservation was an experience of a lifetime. Knowing my time was limited, I did not want to waste one precious moment.

 

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Chinle Wash

While driving along the rim of the Canyon de Chelly, several outcroppings offered an amazing view of the river valley and the Chinle Wash. To my delight, mysterious ancient dwelling of the Anasazi hugged the canyon walls. My excitement mounted, yet the day had just begun. I could not even begin to imagine what the day held in store. The ancient valley held wondrous secrets. Unknowingly, I would soon step into the mysterious past of ancient people and behold the craftsmanship of long ago. My adventure would transport me back into time. My adventure would forever make me curious about the Ancient Ones and stir a passion within me to learn more about them.

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Entrance to the trail that leads to the White House Ruin

Meanwhile, by accident, I discovered a trail that promised to lead me to the White House Ruin, a long abandoned Anasazi dwelling. The journey to the site whispered of adventure. Wandering along the shelf of the ravine, the steep path pressed against the walls of the canyon. Dry, heat-scorched earth disappeared as the rich fertile valley of Canyon de Chelly came into view.

Like a brown velvet ribbon, the path wound around the canyon walls. Approaching the valley floor, I noticed doves fluttering in and out of the basin. A red-tailed hawk soared in the distance. With the rising heat, the native animals, deer, black bears, raccoons, coyotes, and mountain lions, rested in the inviting shade of the many cottonwood trees, eaves and overhangs.

Everywhere I looked, I found some new pleasure. After rounding a bend a Navaho Hogan came into view. Merrily, I laughed with delight, for a goat happily grazed on the native grasses that grew on the roof of the earth covered dwelling. Quickly, my attention soon focused on the tinkling sound of laughter as children sped past me. Beautiful copper skinned children, arms laden with inner tubes, raced to the Chinle Wash to tube along the muddy waters. Slowly, not to miss a single detail, I followed the laughing children.

Soon, I too reached the slow moving river and gaped with pleasure, for across the “wash,” the White House Ruin proudly loomed. Ancient dwellings nestled close to the canyon wall. A mysterious presence filled the canyon and surrounded me. Changing emotions flowed through me. My adventure had transported me back in time; the very presence of the Anasazi still filled the arroyo.

Swiftly, I pulled off my boots and socks. After rolling up my blue jeans, I carefully tested the water. Quietly, I waded into the water, so I would not disturb my ancient “hosts.” As I crossed over to the other side, I had entered another world.

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White House Ruins

In truth, I will never forget my journey that day; it was a day like no other. I entered in to the presence of a lost people. I walked along a sandy riverbank where the ancient ones worked and visited, and their children played. I viewed the mysterious paintings that decorated the canyon walls for many centuries. I ran my hands along primitive adobe walls that have withstood time, nature and even man. The Anasazi’s noble presence swirled around me. Feeling humbled and somewhat unnerved, I flinched at the sound of the wind whispering through the gorge. I half expected to see my mysterious hosts suddenly return to their native dwellings. Everywhere I turned, and everywhere I walked, their presence magically touched me. The mysterious people have forever teased my senses and captured my imagination. I will never know enough about them.

My time spent in Canyon de Chelly was like no other day. Time too swiftly sped by. When the time had come to return to town, I did not want to leave. Something held me there. The Ancient Ones charmed me, and I know a part of me, like the Ancient Ones, will always roam among the desert canyon and ancient structures. When I close my eyes and daydream, I once again find myself at a trail head that leads me on a timeless journey: an adventure that transports me back across the barriers of time.

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Sunset – Chinle, Arizona

April, 1982

Close to Home and Close to my Heart

This week’s challenge was to write about a story that hits close to home, so this week I wanted to write about my grandchildren. While, technically, I am not writing about an ancestor, I just could not pass this opportunity to share about each one, for they brighten my world. And it’s for them that I started this blog.

Mathew – 17

Mathew is quite the young man who warms my heart with that sweet smile. He is the one that started calling me Honey when he was about 18 months old, and the name stuck. Now, in high school, Mathew really enjoys his welding classes, so he is checking out nearby community colleges. In just a few short years, my oldest grandson will graduate from high school.

Cameron 14

Cameron is our all around athlete, and he enjoys football, baseball, wrestling, hockey, and snowboarding. He plays the guitar, and he also likes to draw. Cameron has a real heart for family, and he loves to spend time with them as often as possible. This young man is so kind-hearted.

Sierra 14

Sierra is my spirited teenage granddaughter. Her favorite sport is volleyball, and she plays for the local high school team. She is also quite creative and artistic. Recently, she painted a mural of an angel in her room, and she enjoys the inventive trends of Hollywood style make up. When she was younger, she played the violin, and the flute. Now, she is learning to play the guitar.

Jessica 12

Our sweet Jessica is our free spirit in the family. Her smile and her laughter are contagious. Like her older sister, she also enjoys volleyball and has included basketball to the mix. Jessie also plays the guitar, and she started playing the drums this year too.

Kylie 10

Kylie is our youngest girl. She has a huge heart, and she is always looking out for her family. She enjoys spending time with her older siblings. And our little go getter also plays hockey for the local team.   Her older sister is teaching her to play the flute.

Connor 6

Connor is quite an adventurous young guy. He loves to hang out with his older siblings and help his dad around the house. Cameron’s smile lights up a room. He loves super heroes, and I love his stories. This young grandson tells the best stories in the world.

Jaxon 3

Jaxon is our baby, and yes he is quite spoiled! This little guy knows that he is pretty special. He loves to play with his remote control cars and trains. He enjoys being homeschooled with his older siblings too. His ornery laugh is pretty sweet, and he makes his grandparents feel pretty special too.

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So there they are, my pride and joy!  I am so blessed to have these precious blessings in my life, and yes, I count it all joy!

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General James Cudworth: A Man of Conviction

We honor him as a lover of religious freedom, a brave and able commander, and a true patriot.

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Men of Kent Cemetery, Scituate, Massachusetts

General James Cudworth was a humble man of conviction, a man who longed for peace, and a man who longed for tolerance among all people. Because of his beliefs, his kindness towards others, and his own acts of civil disobedience, he was relieved of his civic and military duties for nearly 16 years. However, on July 4, 1673, he was once again reinstated as a freeman, and his life as a public servant and military officer once again took center stage in his life.

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St Andrews Church, Aller, Somerset, England
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James Cudworth ~ Somerset, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1531-1812

James Cudworth was born on August 2, 1612 in Aller, Somsert, England. His father was Reverend Ralph Cudworth, and his mother was Mary Machell. Both of his parents were involved with the royal family of King James I. The Reverend became a personal chaplain to the king while Mary was a nurse to the king’s oldest son, Prince Henry.

 

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Windsor Castle

James met Mary Parker who was born about 1615 in Axminster, Devon, England. On February 1, 1633, the couple married in Northam, Devonshire, England. Two days after their wedding, the newlyweds sailed to the colonies on the Charles, and arrived in Salem, Massachusetts on April 6, 1633.

In time, the couple settled in Scituate, Massachusetts. During the month of January 1634, James became a freeman, and on January 18, 1634, the two joined the Scituate Massachusetts Church. The couple had seven children: James (1635), Mary (1637), Jonathon (1638-1638), Israel (1641), Joannah (1643), a son (1644), and Jonathon (1648).

For a time, the family moved to Barnstable. During this time, James pursued his interest in raising sheep. In addition, he also became a salter. In later years, he returned to Scituate and continued his professions.

 

 

In the fall of 1636, James Cudworth and several other leading citizens were appointed by the Plymouth General Court to serve as a special committee to aid the governor and his assistants in reviewing laws. In 1649, he served as a deputy to the General Court, and in 1652, he was captain of the militia in Scituate. He also served as an assistant to the governor in 1656-1658.

While many of the Puritans left behind their old life in order to maintain religious freedom, many did not offer religious tolerance in return. The colonies handed out harsh punishments to those who did worship as they did, for they did not want other religious groups to live among them. One group in particular, the Quakers, often found themselves at odds with their Puritan neighbors. Some in the colonists pushed for religious freedom for all. My grandfather, James, also believed that religious freedom and acceptance were necessary in the colonies. As he witnessed the intolerable acts against those who did follow the Puritan form of religion, James and several other leaders of the community decided not to enforce such practices on those who worshipped in their own way. He could not tolerate the horrible treatment of the men and the women who were Quakers.

Soon word spread that James was defying the laws. True to his own convictions, he practiced charity and opened his home to the Quakers. Some in the community of Scituate complained, and a petition was sent to the Plymouth Colony Court about 1657/58. The petition stated:

Whereas this Court received a petition from sundry person of the town of Scituate, both of the military company and others, therein expressing sundry grievances relating unto some late carriages of Capt. James Cudworth, a commission officer of the military company of Scituate, in reference to entertaining of some person as are commonly called Quakers, by suffering them to meet in his house, and others with them…do order as followeth, viz: that the said Captain James Cudworth by the court is discharged of his place as captain of the military company of the town of Scituate; the said Capt. James Cudworth also desired the same (The Great Migration 252).

In letters written to England in 1658, James wrote:

The anti-christian, persecuting, spirit is very active. He that will not lash, persecute and punish men that differ in matters of religion, must not sit on the bench, nor sustain any office in the commonwealth…..I signified to the court; but told them withal, that as I was no Quaker, so I would be no persecutor…And give me leave to acquaint you a little with their sufferings, which saddens the hearts of the precious saints of God (Giddings 145).

Although he lost his military position, in 1659, the town of Scituate once again elected him as deputy to the Plymouth Courts. The courts rejected this recruitment and refused to let him serve. On June 6, 1660, my grandfather was stripped of certain freedoms. According to the history of The Great Migration,

 Captain Cudworth being found a manifest opposer of the laws of the government, as appears by sundry expressions in a letter directed by him to the Governor and otherwise, is sentenced, according to the law, to be disfranchised of his freedom of the corporation (249).

Overtime, the views of the courts softened towards my grandfather. In 1675, Major James Cudworth was in charge of the Plymouth Colony Militia, and he commanded one hundred men from Plymouth and two hundred men from the Massachusetts Bay Colonies. On October 4, 1675, he was selected as general, and he led troops in King Phillip’s War. By 1681, he served as a Deputy Governor for the Plymouth Colony.

In 1681, the governor, Thomas Hinckley, asked the general to serve again. This time, James was sent on an assignment to the King’s Court in England. The general never appeared before the court, for shortly after his arrival, James contracted smallpox.  He died in London sometime after September 15, 1681. Since he died of small pox, he was most likely buried in an unmarked mass grave. However, in the Men of Kent Cemetery in Scituate Massachusetts, a marker was placed to honor General James Cudworth. The memorial reads:

A memorial to General James Cudworth. We honor him as a lover of religious freedom, a brave and able commander, and a true patriot.

After reading about this man, I feel blessed to have him as a grandfather. What a precious legacy this man has left for the generations that follow him.

 

 

Family Tree

James Cudworth (1612 – 1681)
8th great-grandfather
James Cudworth (1635 – 1697)
son of James Cudworth
James Cudworth (1665 – 1729)
son of James Cudworth
David Cudworth (1694 – 1777)
son of James Cudworth
Jesse Cudworth (1739 – 1830)
son of David Cudworth
Amy Cudworth (1779 – 1831)
daughter of Jesse Cudworth
John Andrews (1820 – 1893)
son of Amy Cudworth
Amy Andrews (1855 – 1938)
daughter of John Andrews
Florence Katherine Knacker (1895 – 1943)
daughter of Amy Andrews
Harold LeRoy Reeder (1932 – 2004)
son of Florence Katherine Knacker
Ann Marie Reeder
daughter of Harold LeRoy Reeder

 

 Works Cited

  • Giddings, Edward J. American Christian Rulers, or, Religion and Men of Government:Comprising Sketches in American History of Men of Christian Faith and Experience, Who Have Had Connection with the National and State Governments and the Judicial Department: Embracing Colonial, Revolutionary and Later Periods: Alphabetically Arranged, with Chronological Index of Early State Governors. New York, Bromfield, 1890.
  • Shurtleff, Nathaniel Broadstreet, and David Pulsifer. Records of the Colony of New Plymouth in New England. Boston, The Legislature, 1855.
  • Stratton, Eugene Aubrey. Plymouth Colony, Its History & People, 1620-1691. Salt Lake City, UT, Ancestry Pub., 1986.
  • Walt English. Family. Lulu Press, Inc, 2015.