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  • The Tale of Bathsehba Woods Moore and Bathsheba Moore Woods

    Joy F. Peach

    Published Date : February-March 1988
    According to Henry Ernest Woods’s excellent article on “The Woods Family of Groton, Massachusetts,” in the Register, vol. 64, the parentage of the wife of Ephraim Woods is unknown; only her given name, Bathsheba, is listed (Register 64(1910):34,145). I propose that Ephraim married his first cousin. Bathsheba Moore, born at Oxford, Massachusetts, 10 February 1731/2, the daughter of Collins and Bathsheba (Woods) Moore.

    This conclusion is based on two pieces of evidence: (1) marriage intentions published in Oxford between Bathsheba Moore and Ephraim Wood “of Woodstock” in February of 1750/1 (Vital Records of Oxford to 1850, p. 209) and (2) mention in the will of Bathsheba Phillips, proved 26 April 1773, of daughter Bathsheba, wife of Benjamin Wilson of Townsend (George F. Daniels, History of the Town of Oxford, Massachusetts H 892], p. 642). If this sounds like a great many Bathshebas, the explanation lies in the triple marriages of both mother and daughter.

    Bathsheba Woods the elder was born in Groton, Massachusetts, in 1702, the fifth child and first daughter of Nathaniel (Woods, op.cit., p. 35). Her next oldest sibling was a brother Isaac (ibid., p. 38), father of the Ephraim whose wife is in question. In 1722 Bathsheba married Collins Moore of Sudbury and the couple moved to Oxford, Massachusetts, where 10 children were born to them in the years between 1723 and 1738, with Bathsheba the younger being the sixth child. Collins Moore died sometime previous to 1743, as his widow married (2) 11 August 1743 Samuel Town, also of Oxford. Therefore, the above-mentioned marriage intentions must refer to Bathsheba the younger, since Bathsheba the elder was not entitled to the surname “Moore” in 1750/1.

    The next question is whether Ephraim Wood “of Woodstock” is actually Ephraim, son of Isaac Woods of Groton. I can find no mention of any Ephraim and/or Bathsheba Wood(s) in the eight volume History of Woodstock, Connecticut, by Clarence Winthrop Bowen (1926-43), and the information concerning Ephraim and Bathsheba Woods contained in the Woods genealogy and the published vital records of Groton and Peppereil fits this couple nicely. Perhaps, since Ephraim’s father and Bathsheba the younger’s mother were close in age, they were also close in affection, and members of the two families may have visited between Groton and Oxford. Ephraim and Bathsheba must have returned to Groton soon after their marriage, since their daughter Sybell was born there in 1752, followed by Rebekah, born in Pepperell in 1754, and twin daughters, a second Rebekah and Lovina, born 26 March 1757, less than five months before Ephraim’s death 12 August 1757. Bathsheba the younger elected to remain in the Pepperell area and married 7 November 1761 John Petts, Jr., of Townsend. John had lost his wife (possibly in childbirth) just five months previous to his second marriage and presumably needed a stepmother for his brood of young children. John and Bathsheba had at least one child, Hannah, before John’s death 23 November 1767. Eventually, on 20 August 1772, Bathsheba Petts married (3) Benjamin Wilson of Townsend, also a widower.

    Meanwhile, back in Oxford, Bathsheba Town had been widowed for the second time and married (3) Joseph Phillips in December of 1760, just slightly less than a year prior to her daughter’s second marriage in Townsend. Bathsheba the elder probably outlived her third husband also, because the history of Oxford states that she died at the home of her daughter Alice in Charlton. The date of her will is only a few months after the third marriage of her daughter, Bathsheba, and the wording clearly indicates that she was aware of the event, it would be interesting to know what mother and daughter thought of each other’s serial marriages, and whether either attended any of the ceremonies for the other.

    My interest in the two Bathshebas stems from my descent from Lovina Woods, daughter of Ephraim and Bathsheba the younger. Lovina married circa 1780 Joel Porter somewhere in the Marlboro/Dublin, New Hampshire area. Joel Porter was born in Weymouth in 1755, the son of Ezra and Hannah (Lovel) Porter. His mother died when he was quite young and his father married Patience Barber. A few years after this event the entire family moved to the Groton area, as is shown by the births of several daughters to Ezra and Patience (VRs of Groton) as well as Joel’s participation in the march on the alarm of April 19, 1775, when he is listed as being from Groton (Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War [1904], vol. 12, p. 592). It may have been while living in this area that he met Lovina [16] and they decided to seek their fortunes in New Hampshire, where they raised 10 children. This information is not included in either the Woods genealogy or that of the descendants of Richard Porter by Joseph W. Porter (1878), but much of it can be found in the History of the Town of Marlborough, Cheshire County New Hampshire, by Charles Bemis (1881, rep. 1974).

    Until I began doing genealogical research I had thought that marriages between cousins were verboten, but my mother’s ancestry certainly disproves that comfortable assumption. The story of the two Bathshebas, whose lives parallelled each other’s in so many respects, has intrigued me more than any other, and I would be glad to share information on descendants with others. By one of those strange genealogical coincidences, I also claim descent on my father’s side from Bathsheba the younger’s second husband John Petts, Jr., via a child of his first wife Abigail.

    The author may be reached by mail at 74 Beach Point Road, Lancaster, MA 01523.

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