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  • When You Answer Your Own Query

    Stanley E. Shaw

    In our searches for elusive, often frustrating forebears many of us have submitted queries to NEXUS and other publications, carefully counting our words to specify what we need and what we have already seen. A long-since published query can be the best (or only) source for some obscure lines - even if it was never answered. Imagine the delight, then, when our own further research brings a solution! Sometimes answers lie in published works now seen from a new angle; at other times, proof emerges from documents. However readers solve their own queries, the editors wish them the pleasure of many such discoveries. -JHO

    Rebecca (Estey) Tucker (1708-1777), Wife of Matthias Puffer (10:85)

    My ancestor Matthias Puffer, son of Eleazer and Elizabeth (Talbot) Puffer, married Rebecca Tucker in Stoughton, Mass., 7 April 1743 and had six children, all baptized in Stoughton between 11 March 1744 and 9 Sept. 1753. Rebecca died in Sharon, Mass., 22 Feb. 1777, “in her 68th year.” One could thus conclude that Rebecca was born ca. 1709/10, and was about 33 years old when she married Matthias Puffer. Knowing that age at death is often exaggerated, I assumed that Rebecca must have been born closer to 1720 to 1710. This assumption cost me dearly in time and effort.

    Neither Charles Null, Descendants of George Puffer of Braintree, Massachusetts, 1639-1915(1915) nor published VRs gave me any clue to Rebecca Tucker’s ancestry. Ephraim Tucker, Genealogy of the Tucker Family (1895) showed that the immigrant Robert1 Tucker of Weymouth and Milton had many descendants in the Stoughton-Sharon-Milton-Canton area, derived from the original Dorchester. An unnamed daughter was born to Joseph3 Tucker (Joseph2, Robert1) and first wife Judith Clapp, possibly ca. 1710. Stoughton, Dorchester and Milton VRs include eight children born to Joseph and Judith - but no Rebecca.

    Two local Rebecca Tuckers were born closer to ca. 1720: a daughter of Samuel and Rebecca (Leeds) Tucker, born at Milton 27 Nov. 1722; and a daughter of Ebenezer and Jemima (Daniels) Tucker, born at Malden 19 Sept. 1720. One of these Rebeccas (probably the second) married (int.) Leicester, Mass. 25 Sept. 1737 William Green, Jr.

    I next wrote the Mass. State Archives for copies of the probate file (Suffolk Probate ~8414) of Joseph3 Tucker (d. Stoughton 25 Sept. 1745). These papers finally led me to an answer. One of Joseph’s sons by Judith Clapp, Preserved Tucker, married at Topsfield, Mass., 12 Nov. 1729, Rebecca Estey, daughter of Isaac and Abigail (Kimball) Estey. Preserved predeceased his father (who died intestate). Because Joseph had earlier granted property to his son, Preserved’s heirs were given nothing in the estate division. However, on the listing of accounts filed by the widow, the name of Matthias Puffer appears three times: “on a Note of hand,” for £6; “for Nurseing my child,” £1 13s.; and £77 8s 6d “to Matthias Puffer, Guardian for two of ye heirs of ye sd Preserved.” Thus Rebecca Tucker, wife of Matthias Puffer, was possibly the widow of Preserved Tucker, who must have died ante 7Apri1 1743 (when Matthias married Rebecca). Topsfield VRs showed a Rebecca Estey, daughter of Isaac and Abigail (Kimball) Estey, baptized there 8 Aug. 1708 - a date in agreement with her age at death. In addition L.A. Munson and S.P. Sharples, History of the Kimball Family in America (1897), p. 31, gives Rebecca Estey’s two marriages. Matthias and Rebecca’s fourth and fifth children were Abigail and Isaac, undoubtedly named for their maternal grandparents. Rebecca Estey’s paternal grandmother, moreover, was convicted “witch” Mary (Towne) Estey, wife of Isaac Estey, Sr. Mary and sister Rebecca (Towne) Nurse were both hanged at Salem 22 Sept. 1692. For other Towne family connections and sources see NEXUS 9[1992]:108-11.

    In sum, never assume that a bride’s surname is her maiden name, especially if she seems to marry late in life!

    Stanley E. Shaw, 26 Trowbridge Rd., Keene, NH 03431

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