Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Gardner's Beacon, Vol. II, No. 6

See Vol. II, No. 6 of Gardner's Beacon for a look at the legacy of Thomas and Margaret () Gardner using an Annals format and being accompanied by a bibliography (with links to digitized versions of references).


In 1995, the Great Migration series had its first publication. Over the next few years, the early settlers (1620-1633) were covered in three volumes. If we take the first three "governors" and their coverage, we have this: Thomas Gardner (six pages), Roger Conant (eight pages), John Endicott (seven pages). This publication covers what is known about the settlers at this time.

As such, though, there is a lot of material that is not referenced. Too, a look back, such as the Great Migration one, can cover 1000s of people and cannot get into as much detail as we might want. We have to go elsewhere, and, frankly, the sum total of information that I have seen can be less than clear, for many reasons. One such controversy is how many wives that Thomas had. There are others.

For instance, on March 20, 1999, a talk at the ESOG (Essex Society of Genealogists) by David Goss looked at the Old Planters of Beverly (TEG, Vol. 19, pg. 123 -- our earlier take on the subject in 2011). He described how the term came about and to whom it applied. From the Beverly-group's perspective, the names are familiar as they've been used in many papers and books (Conant, Balch, Trask, Woodbury, Palfray). These were, in other words, the stalwarts of John White or the group led by Roger Conant (Reminder: the Beverly group did not get their land until 1635 - we need to talk about the time from 1624 up til then, more or less).

Along this same theme, we saw, in 1899, the founding of an Old Planters Society whose membership included those who had ancestors who came before 1630. That effort was led, in part, by Dr. Frank. A. Gardner. Dr. Frank A. is noted for his books on Thomas Gardner and his descendants using material that he had gleaned through a lifetime of research. It is of interest, that in the early 1900s, the group seemed to be a Balch/Gardner reunion (Benjamin Balch's/Sarah Gardner's descendants). The latest events have a flavor of the History of Beverly. The 1899 group talked about the injustice of history overlooking these early planters and wanted to correct the matter, ostensibly before the 300th anniversary. We're preparing now for the 400th.


David's paper, which I ran across recently, was the latest find during a three-year search and review, by the blogger, of all material related to the Cape Ann group. This long effort, essentially, looked in all corners and created a huge pile of material (searched with a very-wide net). Now, the task is sifting through the huge pile, developing a bibliography, laying out a timeline, and building a view that can go further as support for future research. That motive of this work is to honor Dr. Frank's work and to present a coherent, and as complete as we can, view of Thomas.

Too, many conjectures have been presented which do not fit the bill, otherwise there would not be the controversy (unless one expects that these types of things are not resolvable).


The current issue presents the material in a timeline by year, up until the present. In doing so, it hopes to show a view that makes sense. The timeline is not complete; rather, think of it as an outline from which we can define research projects that will clarify, fill in, information. If done correctly, this type of timeline would become more and more strong such that future people with interests in Thomas and Margaret can use it as a launch point.

That brings up a new view though. Thomas' crew put together a house their first year. Too, they did come prepared and were successful in establishing themselves. The only failure was not having sufficient output to send back to the capitalists in England. What White may have wanted was for them to send what they needed to sustain themselves, but reasonable folks do not do that without the threats of the taxman or strong arm (those who came here were not serfs, in other words).

When Conant showed up, he didn't find starving people. He found a boisterous group. The use of insubordinate shows White's failure (hey, the descendant of Thomas has White on the tree more than once). The effort was not a military expedition. It was a plantation building effort.

Here is the thing, though. When Conant and his group went down to Naumkeag, it was not an all-in-one trip. Whoever thought that has not had to deal with the real world. We're talking a trip that could be taken by a good man in a day. By water, the trip could be less in the right conditions (look at the image which shows an entry from Winthrop's diary - courtesy of Judy Jacobson - in which he talks of going to Salem, eating, then going to Cape Ann, for dessert, so to speak). Too, Thomas' group had established themselves at Cape Ann (which is a real nice place, by the way). There was the house and other dwellings. They had gardens. They had cattle. They could fish. There was game. Who the heck sees this as failure?

The movement over to Naumkeag took time and many trips. What ought to be considered is that Thomas had a presence at both places, but he was principally in Cape Ann. He could take care of (and feed) himself and his family very well. Now, when Endicott showed up and pushed Conant aside, he saw Thomas in the Cape Ann house. He liked the house and had it moved to Naumkeag.

Too, though, Endicott knew that Thomas was of the "Mr" variety. Hence, Endicott wrote about him (the 1629 meeting mention). Due to the lack of "press coverage" as we expect nowadays, Thomas might be considered peripheral by some, but so what? He was taking care of his own. Most likely, he helped other people, too. And, why would he follow Conant? Too, as said before, Thomas' proof of being is his progeny. And, being, folks, is still the reality (we have seen plenty examples, of late, of effective people who do not announce their deeds prior, or even ex post facto, to accomplishment).

Thomas was not a freeman (as if he needed someone to set him free) until 1637. He joined the Church the year before. But, he was signing things, like land grants, before this. In other words, he and Endicott got along, so Endicott gave him some responsibility. But, as we know how people are, the Church people noted that Thomas hadn't shown up (in modern parlance, took a boondoggle to Cape Ann to look at the crops when service time came around - okay?) so they had to rope him in. Also, Thomas knew that his kids would have to be of the social element in order to have any success. So, he deigned to join.

Not long afterwards, though, he married a Quaker. Do we hear of anyone threatening Thomas (Endicott would know better!) on this? We have not seen such documented. And, this type of thing would have been recorded. Also, it was not that Thomas was a bully causing people to fear him. Rather, his stature (I would presume from what I know of Gardners) was above normal; he have a solid, and large, character; and he was a man's man of the peaceful type (the Natives loved him).

In other words, the preeminent individual so loved by Emerson (in his mind - by the time of Ralph Waldo, too many of the elite had ruined things for the rest - that is part of the Thomas story) was here within the first generation (actually was the first generation).


That first group, all of them, had remarkable characters. They did not fail at Cape Ann. When Endicott got here, he did not find starving, helpless people. But, guess what? Not long after Endicott arrived, here came boats of people (too many) who swamped resources. At this time, Thomas would still have been house-sitting where they were well-provisioned. He probably helped move the great house (1628/1629) from Cape Ann to Naumkeag (at least, he probably was able to do this - of the many that we read about, they would be about as effective as a slug for any useful purpose -- unfortunately, history's details are about such and not those who can get, know how to get, things done).

The winters of 1628 and 1629 were dire due to the influx of the unprepared, and the results were catastrophic. We'll have to touch on this in our research. By the time Winthrop arrived, though, things were going great again, though, due to efforts of people like Thomas.


Aside: Salem, the wallflower? This little city ought to be as beloved as is San Francisco, for many reasons. Why is it not?

References:  see Sources and Bibliography (further delineation, soon)  


03/27/2019 -- Image added to the index on our portal to truth.

06/15/2013 -- John Farmer wrote that Thomas was from Scotland. Origins are, and will be, a focus.

01/25/2013 -- By the way, we're going to document this more thoroughly on Wikipedia - Great House (Cape Ann). We have John Goff's expertise available to assist us. This house was the first of its kind in New England.

.01/08/2013 -- Added a forum to facilitate discussion, etc.

12/30/2012 -- 2nd edition, with changes, published today (see Afterthoughts & Modifications for this volume).

12/29/2012 -- In Afterthoughts & Modifications, mentioned the David Goss talk in 1999.

12/29/2012 -- Beacon issue uploaded with the start of a Bibliography with links to digitized versions of reference material.

12/26/2012 -- Someone else had the same idea: Balch Leaflets (1896): That Cape Ann was left utterly deserted at this time is very improbable; it could be plainly seen from their new abode and was distant but a few hours coast-wise by boat or canoe. ... There was a frame building there of considerable size and other property that demanded care. (This particular leaflet is dated 1877)

12/25/2012 -- The issue will be completed this week; this advance notice is a Christmas gift to Thomas descendants, and friends, who wondered about the times after Cape Ann.

Modified: 03/27/2019

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