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News from OBBG Team

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There has been and continues to be a lot going on at OBBG in the 2016 winter.

Fall cleanup– The Local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution held a clean-up day in October at OBBG. They did a fine job raking up brush, leaves, etc. Thank you folks.

Maintenance – Our Angel, Eric, continues to maintain OBBG. He is doing a fine job keeping OBBG mowed, trimmed and tidy. As usual, he is doing more than expected, repairing some of the headstones damaged by the falling trees and limbs. Thank you Eric.

Brightside – We have reestablished our relationship with Brightside. They are under new management, and have an enthusiastic leader. I have attended one meeting so far, and the small team seems to have excellent focus. They have arranged for fallen tree removal, and have obtained a quote for other tree removal. They have also worked with the Director of Community Development, to fund the National Historic Register (NHR) sign for OBBG.

Bradford Historical Commission – We have established a working relationship with the Bradford Historical Commission. While OBBG does not currently fall under their jurisdiction, we keep them informed of our plans and activities just in case we need their assistance at some point. We have arranged for a FCC Bradford church member to be appointed to this commission.

Friends of OBBG – We started an ad-hoc group in support of OBBG. We call ourselves “Friends of OBBG”. With this group, we hope to become more focused on OBBG for the future. Allied Families are invited to join us.

Grant application for tree removal – We have written and submitted, with Brightside, a grant application for tree removal to the Methuen Festival of Trees. A lot of work, but it is done. Now we await their decision. The grant application was based on the hard work of John and Melinde in their NHR submission. Thanks guys!

Spring celebration – We are coordinating various events such that we might have a celebration of the NHR recognition in Spring, 2016. We are presently determining the sign design, have made arrangements with Atwood Memorial to handle the production of the sign, and have obtained approval of the Mayor’s planned attendance. Date TBD.

NHR plaque design – John has proposed a NHR design, which is currently being reviewed. Brightside is looking for an appropriate stone for the sign. We hope to finalize the design soon.

That’s it from cold, snowy, New England.

Blessings to all my cousins,
B. Tenney

Tree cutting and removal that was done October 26th 2015.


TENNEY TIMES – Summer, 2010


The TFA has contributed again to the clean-up and maintenance costs for the OBBG cemetery. Earlier in the year a relationship was established with Haverhill’s Brightside, a local 501 (c)3 organization that is working on various community projects around Haverhill.

An additional amount was sent to Peterson Landscaping to replace a trimmer that was ruined while doing volunteer work at the OBBG. Mr. Peterson and other members of the community have pooled their resources, with support of the Mayors’s office, to preserve the Pentucket Burial Ground in Haverhill. The Mayor’s office has also asked Brightside to help maintain the city-owned Bradford Burial Ground located on Salem Street.

An article in The Eagle-Tribune states, “For the last four years, Peterson has been caring for the cemetery. He often brings his wife and children to help, along with a crew of employees from his landscaping business. He pays them out of his pocket and said taking care of the place is ‘good karma.’” He does similar work at the Old Bradford Burial Grounds. For more information about Erik’s unselfish volunteer efforts go to:             http://www.epetersonlandscaping.com/about/eagle_tribune.htm


The GPR flags are the locations of grave sites without stones.  These red flags were replaced with round metal markers which were nailed into the ground showing areas of missing stones.  R. Perry is the gentleman that did the Ground penetrating radar study – John.


Today is one of the most exciting times in the history of research at the Bradford Burial Ground. For this year began the Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) Survey of the BBG. The survey is being conducted by R. Perry, owner of Topographix. Robert specializes in cemetery mapping and is currently creating a detailed map of the BBG. When completed it will be the most accurate and informative map of the burial ground.

Robert is using a ground radar unit to scan the burial ground and is recording the information. Whenever Robert gets a reading on the radar unit indicating a possible burial site, he marks the spot with a metal ring and spike. These markers (right) are flush with the ground enabling volunteers to mow right over them, avoiding any tripping hazards. They are made of metal for durability and can be easily located, using a metal detector, when covered with grass or leaves. (Courtesy of Chris, 2009)



Over the years, many people have photographed the stones at the Bradford Burial Ground. Unfortunately, those photos are scattered. Today, John and Chris have been slowly photographing all of the headstones missing from the Bradford Burial Ground website. Hopefully this will give researchers a one stop source for stone photos. Sadly, many stones are missing or broken. If anyone has photos of BBG gravestones, please check to see if those stones are missing from the website. If they are, or if you have a better photo than any on display, please send them to John, care of the website www.bradfordburialground.com. (Courtesy of Chris, 2009)


John, using a mirror to make the engravings more visible, photographs the BBG gravestones.


2013 Reunion – Bradford, Mass

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Thomas Tenney Monument 2013 Rededication to Add Family


TENNEY TIMES – Fall 2013

Weather or not – Tenney’s take on MASS-ive Adventures

Many of us arrived in Boston on one of the hottest days of the week! Yep…97 degrees plus humidity – ugh. Add to that, Wednesday was not the best day to be flying, especially into Boston – Officials decided 9/11 was a good day to schedule an “Emergency Preparedness Drill” closing Logan Airport to incoming traffic – for up to 3 hours! Yep…a major “oops” that the Bostonians and media sure let’em know about!

We gathered in Braintree to register and pick up our really neat 2013 Reunion T-Shirts (Great job Jen!) Following a quick lunch, we were on the bus and off to OBBG (Old Bradford Burial Grounds) for the Tenney Monument Re-dedication.

It was another pretty hot day, and “heavy showers and thunderstorms” were in the forecast – we just hoped the weather would hold off until 6:00. We were joined at OBBG by many honored guests.

OBBG looked GREAT! Once again Barron, Chris and Eric had worked their magic. And once again Atwood Memorial had worked magic to modify the Monument – it looked Awesome! Great job guys – thanks SO much!

President Kay opened the ceremonies with a welcome to OBBG and thanking those in attendance.  Representatives from Peterson Landscaping and Bradford Swim Cub were presented with donations in recognition of their contributions. Certificates of Appreciation were presented to Eric, Barron and Chris.

President Kay’s opening welcome & presentations were followed by the “arrival” of some very special (and eerily familiar) ladies: Sarah Tenney Atwood, Abigail Bailey Tenney, Sarah Boynton Tenney, Rose Chandler Tenney, Mercy Tenney Hardy and Susanna Woodbury Tenney. Each lady stood upon her eternal resting place and spoke of her stone’s story – who we were, our families, where we came from and whom we wed in “Every Stone Has A Story”. (Watch for each of our complete presentations in upcoming Tenney Times!). Pastor Orvalle led the closing Blessing and the Memorial Monument was revealed to the appreciation of everyone. All in attendance agreed “Every Stone Has A Story” was pretty interesting – Thanks Debby!

With a bit of extra time on our hands, we headed over to First Congregational Church of Bradford (the very church our Tenney Ancestors began over 300 years ago! – OK, so this one is only since 1685…. but even so…), where Pastor Orvalle, Harriet and Barron opened the church doors and provided an impromptu tour for those of us visiting for the first time; for those of us familiar with the Church – it was a nice “home coming”. The church continues to look great!

Heading off to Haverhill Country Club for dinner, relieved the anticipated weather had held off…so far…. we arrived for some well deserved cold refreshments and a chance to check out the Merchandise, Tenney Genealogy and reminisce on the OBBG visitations. It was wonderful having Rev. Jim and Anne Tinney (VA) join us, both having recovered from their ordeals over the last year. An all American buffet of Baked Ham and Beans and Roasted Turkey with all the “fixin’s” made for an early Thanksgiving–yummie! And the rain started (did anyone else notice the time? -6:00).

Our guest speaker began her presentation “Investigating the Dash” – Marcia started with a poem about the dates on our stones and mused with us as she inquired what our “dashes” would be. She provided forms and a list of questions then lead us on a path that showed where to look, how to discover and leaving no lead (or stone) unturned.

She showed us her method of creating a timeline as information is obtained, shared her adventures as she determined her own family “dashes”. Marcia also resides in Rowley on, you guessed it, Tenney land and has long been acquainted with the Mehaffey family. It really is a small world. Marcia’s presentation was energetic, interesting, entertaining and informative – all enjoyed it very much! Perhaps we will see Marcia again next year. Thanks to Debby for sponsoring such a great speaker!!!

Apparently the weather was not pleased that our evening was concluding as the rain strengthened and the lighting flashed – it was a cold and stormy night as we headed home.

Barron and Jeannie escorted Nancy and Emma out to the highway, while the rest of us boarded the bus….high spirits flowed as all on board chatted and reflected on the days events, while the rain pelted down, the lightening flashed, the thunder roared and the windshield wipers went back and forth…until they didn’t and we found ourselves on the side of the road waiting to be rescued by the mechanic – an hour later, fuses replaced, wipers on, we are on the road again…but, wait – what’s that sheet of water? It’s rain, it’s wet and it’s inside the bus! The walls and seats are soaked – only a few miles down the road from where we last were stopped and this time, off the highway, our “rescue” bus arrives – OK, everyone off this bus and onto that bus…once resettled, we’re off again and reach our destination 3 hours delayed. Just confirmation to us all that whenever “things happen” (and they usually do!), the Tenney’s “go with the flow” making Sangria from Grapes! Thanks to all aboard Thursday night for your patience, understanding

and adventurous sense of fun! (FYI – The Bus Service was VERY apologetic and compensated for our “adventure”).

Our late night created a late start Friday morning, but soon we are on the Trolley and off to NEHGS (New England Historical and Genealogical Society) in Boston where we had an introduction presentation and tour by NEHGS staff member Judy of the 7 floors. By 11:30 we were on our own to delve into the riches of records available to us (after lunch, of course!).

For those of you unfamiliar with NEHGS – (1) They are located 1 block away from Copley Square and the finish line of the Boston Marathon. There is still much construction repairing the damage, and (2) They have a LOT of “stuff” – it’s a researcher’s Mecca! Although a bit trying at times (some of us just could not “find” what we were looking for) – eventually everyone found some nugget to take home (Marcia’s forms came in pretty handy). A satisfactory day of researching concluded, we were back on the Trolley heading “home” and…the rain came…not as bad as the previous evening, but the Trolley was dripping, then “raining” over our heads – solution 1: open the umbrellas and tilt them “just so”, diverting the water; solution 2: relocate to another seat while sliding head first “gracefully” down the aisle (good thing Nancy  is light on her feet!).

Saturday brought beautiful weather, a true Fall day in New England – no rain, no heat, no humidity – absolutely gorgeous! We were off again on the Trolley into Boston where a few of us “hard core” researchers returned to NEHGS while the rest of us headed down to Boston Harbor for a day of sight-seeing, tours and Harbor cruise. It was mutually agreed that everyone enjoyed their day’s activities.


Every Stone Has A Story

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Readings from our Female Ancestors

Tenney Times – Fall 2013, Winter 2015 & Spring 2015

My name was Abigail Bailey Tenney

My grandfather, Richard Bailey, was a 15 year old servant when he came from England to Massachusetts in 1638 aboard the boat, the Bevis of Hampton. He settled in Lynn, then Newbury, then Rowley. He became a tailor’s apprentice. He married my grandmother, Edna Halstead, also from England; and they gave birth to my father, Joseph, in 1647. It is sad that my father never knew his own father, since Richard died at age 26, the same year that my father was born. But, my grandmother’s 2nd husband, Ezekiel Northend, was made Joseph’s guardian the next year; and they went on to give him 7 siblings.

When he was 24, my father, and my mother, Abigail Trumball, were married. My mother was born in Rowley in 1651, the daughter of English immigrants, John and Ann Trumball. My father became a Deacon and settled in the East Parish of Bradford. I was proud that he was a Deacon of the Church and selectman of the town for twenty three years. I was the first born in 1671 in Bradford; named after my lovely mother Abigail. My parents had 7 more children after me, all born in Bradford.

Samuel Tenney and I were married in November, 1688 in Bradford. Samuel was easy to love, with his ability to help people in the church, and to lead them in song for many years. He used to write shorthand notes on the sermons and then share them with people who missed them. Being an early settler of Bradford, he owned the ninth lot beginning at the East end of town.


My husband, Samuel, was to become a respected Elder, Lieutenant in the Continental army, a member of the Colonial Assembly, and, generally, one of the most distinguished men in town. We were pleased to have a child on Nov 22, 1689. She was named after my mother and I, Abigail. So sad it was that I, in my 18th year, died November 28, 1689, just 10 days after she was born. My daughter, the bearer of my name, would never know me, just as my father never knew his father.

Samuel would marry again 1 year later, to Sarah Boynton. My daughter, young Abigail, would marry Nathaniel Haseltine of Haverhill, Massachusetts, and go on to have 11 children of her own, including her own little “Abigail.”

My name was Sarah Boynton Tenney

Sarah Boynton 1672-1709

My name is Sarah Boynton, and I was born in Rowley, Essex, Massachusetts, on January 11, 1672. My father was Capt. Joseph Boynton, Sr, and my mother was Sarah Swan. My father was born in Rowley Mass in 1644, and married my mother in Rowley, Mass in 1669. My father and mother were both 25 years old when they married.

My Grandparents were John Boynton and Eleanor Pell. Grandfather came to this place from England, aboard the ship “John of London”. They arrived at Salem, Massachusetts in 1638. I have the highest admiration for those who endured months at sea to make a life free from those who were determined to dictate how we should live and think.

Through the course of my father’s life, he served as the town clerk at Rowley from 1679-1691 and then again from 1697 thru 1700, making a total of 17 years. He was a Pinder of the Northeast field, which is a Pound Keeper. He served as the constable in 1685. My father was a Captain in Col. Francis Wainwright’s First Regiment during “Queen Anne’s War. He was part of the expedition that went to Port Royal in 1706 by way of fleets that left from Boston. Port Royal was on the western shore of what we now call Nova Scotia. Many attempts were made against this major port by the British Colonist’s, with defeat each time. This was a part of the Border Wars also called the Queen Anne’s War. My father was also a Representative to the General Court for many years.

I was the 2nd of 10 children born to my family, and the oldest girl. According to family tradition, the Boynton’s are related to royalty. I heard it whispered once that our line was traced all the way back to Charlemagne! Perhaps my family’s strength comes from not only God, but from our ancestor’s noble accomplishments

On December 18, 1690, I married my husband at the Congregational Church in Rowley. His first wife, Abigail Bailey, died only six days after giving birth to their daughter, little Abigail. She lies here near me.

My husband was a good man, well respected by those at church and in the surrounding towns.  As a young man, he lived with his great-uncle, Deacon William Tenney, and stayed with his aunt after the Deacon’s death. In the Deacon’s will, my husband was given “20 pounds paid out of my estate if his carriage be pleasing to his aunt” when he turned 21.


We were part of the congregation at the First Church in Bradford, where I was “admitted to the degree of full communion desired” in 1691.  In 1712, “while the town worshipped together,” my husband was appointed Deacon in the church, though I did not live to see this.

During my husband’s life in service to God, he led the service of song for 25 years.  I can still hear his voice, as he was a fine singer.

My dearest husband would be remembered as a man who “…lived a long, honest and useful life, holding every office of trust that the church and town could confer upon him.”

1690- 1709

My first child, a lovely daughter we named “Mercy,” was born in 1691. Knowing of my husband’s first wife’s death so soon after childbirth, I was fearful at first. I wanted to bring a healthy child into the world, and wanted to be their mother. My dear husband reminded me I had to rely on the Lord, and pray for the birth and the baby. In a total of 15 years, I gave birth to 11 healthy children, in addition to little Abigail.  We were very blessed, indeed. I did not live to see my many grandchildren, as I died at age 38.

I was buried here, at the Old Bradford Burial Ground, surrounded by people I knew and loved while here on this earth. I knew I would be reunited with my dear husband and all of my precious children someday in heaven.

As my story started, my name is Sarah Boynton. I was married to my beloved Deacon Samuel Tenney for 19 years.

My name was Rose Chandler Tenney


My name was Mercy Tenney Hardy


My name was Susanna Woodbury

My name is Susanna Woodbury and I was born on Feb 4, 1648 in Beverly, Massachusetts Bay Colony. However, Beverly, was called SALEM at the time.

I was the 6th of 10 children born to my parents, Humphrey and Elizabeth (HUNTER) Woodbury. Their FIRST born daughter!

My father, Humphrey Woodbury, was born in Somerset Shire, England, which is in the Southwestern part of England. When he was about 18 years old, he came to this new world with his father, John Woodbury, in the year 1628. THAT was only 8 years after the Mayflower had landed in Plymouth, then known as Plymouth Colony.

My mother was Elizabeth (HUNTER) and she came in 1635, when she was 18 years old, with 3 of her siblings, on the ship “Blessing”. It took almost 3 months for her to get here.

My mother’s sister, Aunt Christian, married a man named Richard More. If you’ve never heard of him, he came to this new world on the Mayflower when he was 6 years old. He returned to England only to come again in 1635 on the ship “Blessing”. The same ship that my mother and Auntie came on. This is how they met. Aunt Christian and Richard More married the following spring. I guess I could be a member of today’s Mayflower Society!!

My grandfather was John Woodbury. He actually was one of the so called” Old Planters” and was co-founder of Salem and Cape Ann. Grandfather Woodbury died in 1641, 6 years before I was born. But, because he is the PROGENITOR of the Woodbury family, along with his brother William, much has been written about him.

You can read more about him in several books and articles, many being published by the NEHGS on the “Great Migration”, a book called “Genealogy Sketches of the Woodbury Family, a book called “The Old Planters of Beverly” and books written about the Mass Bay and Dorchester Companies.

Grandfather Woodbury originally came to New England in 1624, 4 years after the Mayflower, however he returned to England, about 3 years later. He remarried, and once again returned to New England in 1628 on the ship “Abigail” with my dad, who I mentioned before, was 18. He knew and worked closely with Roger Conant, the First Governor of Salem and John Endicott, the first Governor of the Mass Bay Colony.

Yes, sir, my grandfather was a pretty famous person, as he did much in helping to colonize this part, of what you now call, Essex County.

My father Humphrey and my mother Elizabeth were married in Salem in 1638! This was the same year that Reverend. Ezekiel Rogers and his group of families, including my future father-in -law, came from England. They landed in Salem that winter and stayed in the homes of my parents friends and neighbors, before going on to Colonize Roger’s Plantation the next spring. BUT, you all know the rest of THAT story.

My dad was the Deacon of the First Church of Beverly for many years, he was a fisherman by trade. I know this is a lot of names and dates to remember, but the fact is that my Grandfather John Woodbury and my dad Humphrey, were all here before Governor Winthrop’s GREAT MIGRATTION began in 1630. If you stop at the King’s Chapel Burial Ground in Boston this weekend, you can see Governor’s Winthrop’s burial place there.

1668 was a VERY eventfully year for me!   …. I was 20 years old, married my beloved husband right here in Bradford, which was still a part of Rowley back then. I was his 2nd wife, his first, having died only 13 months prior. He had 2 children, Sarah, age 3and Samuel, age 13 months.

Rev. Symmes was our minister, however I was still “bound” to my church in Beverly, until 1682, until our church here was built. It stood right there upon the hill.

ALSO, in 1668, our beloved town, which was called MERIIMACK LANDS and sometimes ROWLEY on the MERRIMACK, was granted permission, by the General Court, to have our own church and minister, separating us from our mother church of Rowley.

Our minister Rev. Zechariah Symmes was ordained here, even though he had been our minister for 14 years prior. His father and Rev. Ezekiel Rogers had been close friends for many years.   Rev. Symmes is buried over there…(point)

As a woman, I had no role in my church nor government, though many of the meetings to set up and establish our town and church, took place in my home. My husband was a Deacon of our church, a town selectman, a fence viewer and constable It was very exciting for us to be such a major part of this town and church history!


I had a younger brother whose name was Peter Woodbury. He was 5 years younger than I. On Sept 18, 1675, at the age of 22 years old, he died. He is buried in a mass grave in Deerfield, Mass with 75 other men and boys that also included his Capt. Thomas Lothrop.

Their company of soldiers were call “The Flower of Essex County”. My bother and the others, were brutally killed and slaughtered that day, being mutilated and scalped, by about 700 Indians. It is thus called, the Battle of Bloody Brook, which took place during the King’s Philip War.

9 years later, when I was 39 years old, my dad Humphrey died in Beverly at the age of 75. In his Will, he left me…” All my land in Bradford that I bought for her— 50 acres of upland and 3 meadow” He was a good father and a very religious man.

I also had a younger sister, Christian. She was named after my Aunt Christian that I told you about before. She was the baby of the family. When she was 18, she married John Trask in Beverly, in 1679. They had 5 children, her youngest being only 6 months old when she died, at the age of 28.

Her death record from Beverly, reads as follows: quote unquote

“Christian Trask, being violently assaulted by the temptations of Satan, cut her own throat with a pair of scissors to the astonishment and grief of all….especially, her most near relations.”

Oh yes, we were all very saddened……However, 2 years after she died, a woman by the name of Bridgett Bishop, was on trial in Salem. And during this trial, there was a testimony that said that she had “bewitched” my sister. They were often seen feuding. My sister didn’t think this woman attended church enough. Anyhow, this woman was hung, she being the first official execution of the Salem Witch Trials, for being a Witch.

In November 1689, a few months after my sister died, my mother Elizabeth died. In her Will she stated “I give to my two daughters, Susanna Tinee and Christian Trask….to each of them I give 20 L (Pounds) apiece, in money, to be laid out in two Gold rings and kept by them, in remembrance of me”. Back in my day, we often took items of the deceased loved ones, and made necklaces from the gold that we were left or had lockets made with their hair inside.

It is now the year 1716, and I am 68 years old. I find my body weak and frail. As etched in this stone of mine, I closed my eyes for the last time on April 9th. I lived a wonderful and joyous life with my husband of 48years. He died 6 years later. We never had any children of our own, but my heart was filled with love for my two step children.

Sweet Sarah ended up marrying Phillip Atwood and gave us 4 wonderful grandchildren. She is buried over there….(point to marker). Samuel, he was a good son. He gave us 12 grandchildren. Many of them are buried here with their families. He tended to his father and I in our older years. He was a Deacon and a well-respected citizen. He married 3 times, his first wife Abigail (Bailey) lies next to me and then to Sarah (Boynton), who lies here. These are my step son’s first two wives.

As a Goodwife, I took care of those in my community that needed help. We prayed and recited psalms every day. Our lives were devoted to God, and the bible was the TRUE law and we believed strongly in educating our children. I took care of my father in law, in his elder years, and helped with my many grandchildren.

So as my story started, my name is Susanna Woodbury, and if you haven’t guessed by now….I was married for 48 years, to your beloved Deacon John Tenney…..who is buried here.

Now, won’t you come and join me, as we make a visit with Sweet Sarah over here…..

Thank You

My name was Sarah Tenney Atwood

My father, Deacon John Tenney was the first born son of my grandparents, Thomas and Ann Tenney, the English immigrants of our Tenney family. My mother was the daughter of Francis and Elizabeth Parrat of Rowley. In 1640, about 9 months after they arrived in America, my father, was born.

My father, and my mother, Mercy Parrat, were married in Bradford, in February, 1663. I was born in Rowley, Massachusetts, 17 Oct 1665. Sadly, when I was 2 years old, and my brother, Samuel was just 7 days old, our mother died. One year later, we had a new mother, named Suzanne Woodbury.

I lived most of my life in Bradford, though Philip Atwood and his siblings were born in Malden. I married Philip Atwood on July 23, 1684, at the age of 19. Philip was a yeoman, and a weaver; and was addressed as Captain Philip Atwood. He also owned two slaves: Essex and Jebina.

We lived in Malden, where 3 of our daughters, Suzanne, Sarah, and Rachel, were born; though Elizabeth was born in Bradford. They all married: Susanna, to Robert Kimball of Bradford with 9 children, Sarah to James Head, of Bradford with 3 children, Rachel to James Frey with 3 children, secondly to Abraham Haseltime, and thirdly to Captain Christopher Bartlett; Elizabeth married Nathaniel Fares with 6 children. Sadly, Sarah and Elizabeth died before me.

When we moved to Bradford, we were accepted into First Congregational Church of Bradford in 1699 with a letter from the church in Malden. That year Philip’s father, age 84, moved to Bradford from Worcester where there were said to be Indian difficulties starting.  He died soon after and is buried here. Philip served on the church committee with my father, to discuss the salary of the Rev. Symmes. He also served on a committee to settle with the surviving heirs of Musquonomonit, an Indian chief.


My Philip was buried in his 64th year. If you peer at his grave, you will see a skull with massive wings at the top of the gravestone. Robert Mulligan, a weaver from Bradford, who became a professional stone carver later in life, designed this symbol on only 2 gravestones ever, and one of them was Philip’s. Both stones were of Captains, and he said it symbolized social status. It reads:

Here lies buries ye body of Captain Philip Atwood who died April ye 13 1722 & in the 64th year. Christ to himself he taken near, his faithful that do him fear

I died 17 years later, Philips widow. I never remarried.

My gravestone reads: “Here lies buried Body of Mrs. Sarah Attwood who died April 2, 1739 , Ye wife of Captain Attwood and in the 74th year of her age”.


Storm Damage & Clean-Ups

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Peterson-LandscapingOBBG Update – TENNEY TIMES, Fall 2013

Maintenance – Our ANGELS, Peterson Landscaping, continue to keep the grounds looking good. They did a clean-up In May and June whereby brush was cut and stacked and the grass near headstones was trimmed.

Although they wish they could do more, they are only able to mow and clean up about once a month, as they are unable to absorb the cost since they are doing the same for Pentucket Cemetery in Haverhill.  They are performing both these services gratis.

City – The Peterson’s presented a proposal to the Mayor. The Mayor is bringing it to the DPW for review.  Writing a grant for such monies was discussed with the Mayor as well.

Brightside – They are also sending a request to Brightside for the 2013 maintenance of both burial grounds.

fallen-treeThe Peterson’s request that any TFA thoughts, funds, advice, help, ideas, advice or leads for funding be forwarded to them. They thank TFA for our past help.

These Peterson folks are truly ANGELS. Is there any way TFA and Allied Families can help out?


Early Issues & Clean-Up at OBBG 2006 – 2008

The cleanup, preservation and research being done at the Bradford Burial Ground have been the work of many different people and groups over the years. It would be impossible for anyone to name all of the volunteers and benefactors throughout the years but we would still like to thank all of those unnamed heroes and say thank you! (Courtesy of Chris, 2009)  



Broken Stones



The next few photos are devoted to some of the problems currently facing the Bradford Burial Ground. As you can see, in the two photos above, there are still parts of the grounds that need to be attended to. But don’t lose heart. As you can see in the before and after photos, clean-up is well under way! (photos courtesy of Chris, 2009)

Some before & after photos……. 2006-2008 (Courtesy of Chris, 2009)







One of the first Clean-Up missions by TFA members – 2007

Volunteers seeking location of Thomas Tenney’s stone begin preliminary clearing measures which caused a neighbor to call the local authorities. As the photographs show, the team and local police were quite amicable at the end.








Thomas Tenney Monument Dedication – Bradford Burial Ground, Bradford, MA – 2009

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President’s Message – Tenney Times, Fall 2009

2009-reunion“We were blessed with cooler than expected temperatures and beautiful weather for our reunion in Haverhill, Massachusetts in August.  I am sure that all in attendance were favorably impressed with the new headstone that was placed to honor Thomas Tenney!  Our common progenitor’s grave has now been suitably honored by all of us in his family.  The work does not stop here, however.   It is the association’s intent to insure that the grave and cemetery continue to be maintained in the manner they were for the reunion.  We by no means intend to bear this burden alone however.  We must keep the Mayor and the city actively involved in maintaining the treasure they have in Haverhill.  We must continue to work with allied family groups toward this goal as well.

Barron and his reunion committee deserve our heartiest thanks and congratulations in this endeavor and the successful conclusion of this project”. – Roger

OBBG-Dedication-Ceremony-CommitteeCeremony Speeches (reprinted with permission)

Good morning my cousins and friends. I would like to welcome you to the City of Haverhill, the section of Bradford, and the Old Bradford Burial Ground. It is truly a glorious morning that God has given us this day.

I was originally asked to make a speech about the TFA Cemetery Project. I accepted the challenge of executing the project but I declined making the speech. I recommended that someone else on the Project Team do that. Well, unfortunately, our chosen person had to perform a more important activity this day. Although not a great speechmaker, I knew I just had to fill the gap. So, bear with me as I struggle through these few words I am about to say.

And now, maybe we can help Joe and his family today. I would like to ask all of you, my Tenney cousins and friends, to join me in the Lord’s Prayer.

Thomas-Tenney-Stone-Lord’s Prayer

And God, please bless Joe and his family and keep them safe.
And Lord, please bless this gathering of Tenney cousins and their friends.
Thank you. And now for the speech.

I will try to make this speech short. Like pastoral sermons those are the best.

It was back in early 2007 when President Roger and the TFA put out a request in the Tenney Times, our quarterly newsletter, for someone to take the lead in this cemetery project. When I read it I just knew it had to be me. I looked on this venture as a labor of love, love for the ancestors that preceded me, love for my family, and love for my Tenney cousins and all the wonderful people in my world.

Fortunately, the TFA and President Roger assigned a Project Team.

We had our first project meeting on a cold November day in 2007. It was held in Haverhill. After we outlined what we were going to, in the project, it was suggested that we adjourn to the Bradford Burial Ground for a little “exploration”. You see, the reason we are here today is because we cannot locate the headstone of our progenitor, Ensign Thomas Tenney in the burial ground. Records indicate his black Slate headstone was here in 1890, but there is no mention of it in 1894. So, it sort of went missing during those years and had never been found.

Well, to make a short story shorter, we brought our “implements of destruction”, shovel, rake, etc, with the intent of exploring and finding that headstone. After a little “exploring”, we noticed some visitors coming over the brow of the hill back there. They were the Haverhill Police Department and they were responding to a report from a neighbor of people digging up bodies in the burial ground.

This was before we knew Chris, neighbor to OBBG. Unfortunately, Chris could not be here today, but those attending the banquet will see him tonight. Well, even though Chris won’t admit it, we think he was performing his neighborly duty by keeping a weathered eye on OBBG. We now call him the OBBG Ambassador.

Well, back to the story.

We knew we were in trouble, as the police officer explained to us that digging up bodies was a felony. Felony? Holy Mackerel! What did we get ourselves into? The police were very nice and after we explained ourselves and our intentions (and after Debby sidled up to and smoozed the officer (she’s so cute), they decided to let us go, recommending that we proceed with this project by going through the Mayor’s office. And we did it right after that.

After obtaining permission from the Haverhill City Counsel, we proceeded. Now, if you could have seen OBBG in 2007, you would be amazed at the difference today. Back then, it was a literal jungle with bushes, fallen tree limbs, un-mowed grass and tall brush.

Without going into all the boring detail of how it got to its present condition, suffice it to say that we had a lot of help by a lot of good people to get this historical gem in its present condition.

I would like to mention a few of them.

First of all, our Angel, Mr. Hardy.

Mr. Hardy’s progenitor is suspected of being buried here at OBBG and he decided that it would be a good thing to help clean OBBG and locate Thomas Hardy’s headstone. Mr. Hardy, our angel, decided to apply resources to the project. TFA had been trying to obtain funding for this project from the get-go, and we did a pretty good job, but we were no Mr. Hardy. He arranged to have a landscaper come in for the clean-up. He also arranged to have Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) performed to locate headstones. Although we have located many potential headstone hits and many actual gravesites, we never located Thomas Hardy or Thomas Tenney’s headstones, but we gave it a good effort.

Mr. Hardy, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for your help. We could never have done this without you.

Secondly, the folks that Mr. Hardy hired to help us.

Peterson Landscaping. Mr. Peterson not only took this paying gig, but, due to his love of rocks and old things, he donated his and his  company’s time to make OBBG as it appears today. Thank you Mr. Peterson.

Thirdly, Bob, owner of Topographix, GPR guy. He also did a lot of gratis work. Thank you Bob.

And, of course Ambassador Chris.

And Ms. Hodge.

The Mayor and Andrew, Chief of Staff, who, by the way, gave all their help on their own time.

Peter, Haverhill DPW Foreman, along with the Essex County Sheriff’s Cousin’s Department and all their guests.

Thomas, Theresa and Bill of the Pentucket Cemetery Restoration and Preservation Group.

Robert, the round up man.

The Tenney Family Association and its Cemetery Project Team – Debby, Joe, Melanie, Roger P., Paul and of course President Roger who orchestrated the project from afar.

Rick who worked with us to design and locate the headstone.

The First Church of Christ, Bradford and all my brothers and sisters there who have been very supportive both physically and spiritually.

And lastly, my wonderful family Jeannie for her patience and understanding  (not to mention her anthropologic skills), Rachel (who designed and executed the Headstone Dedication coins you will see later) and  Thomas (whose assistance these last few days I could not have done without).

And many, many more too numerous to mention.

Thank you one and all

  1. And now it is time to close.

There are a couple things that I want you all to take away from today’s dedication.

The first is that the OBBG is cleaned up pretty well right now. However, this is not going to last forever. In a few weeks Mother Nature will begin to take over again and in another year it will be back to jungle.

There needs to be perpetual care. The City I know will do what it can, but we are in tough economic times. We need all of us to think about what we can do to keep this historical gem in the proper condition.

Secondly, I want everyone to really understand what this burial ground represents.

This area was settled 352 years ago by people who sought religious freedom. They experienced daily hardships that we only dream and read about today, and yet they not only survived, but prospered. The people from this area migrated west and eventually, after many struggles, became the United States of America. You can look around you today and see the results of that. All this from people who are buried in this hallowed ground and many others like it. If not for these people, who in their small way, one day at a time, observing the right values ad making the right decisions, making daily sacrifices, even sacrificing their lives for their beliefs in freedom and Liberty, America would not be what it is today, the sought after and powerful nation of peoples in the world. As modern day Americans, we need to continue our fight for Freedom and Liberty.

The granite of this headstone we are about to dedicate was quarried as a rough block.  It was then cut and polished and its reflective surface now commemorates our ancestry.

Let us use this monument as a touchstone to test the commitment of present and future generations as we face the challenges to the principals that past generations held dear.

Thank you for this opportunity. Barron




Bringing a cemetery back to life

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A story by Debby

I’ve been an avid genealogist for several years now, my journey having begun in 1992 at the age of 40. It was only natural that my interests in town histories, our national history, people, customs and “old ways” easily developed. I loved going into libraries and sitting in their research rooms with my pad and pencil in hand. In fact, I loved all the hours. I spent in front of the microfilm machines, cranking away at the images and the names of people in the long ago past. I was truly bitten by the genealogy bug and it consumed every spare minute of my life. I’d leave after a full day of researching with a stiff neck, starving stomach and red eyes. While I never gave up, it only fueled the fire for the next research trip.

How lucky I was, after only a couple of months of this new genealogy disease, to find my Tenney ancestry all neatly typed and bound in a book called “The Tenney Family” or the “Descendants of Thomas Tenney of Rowley 1638-1890” by M. J. Tenney, published 1891, in the basement Library archives in Newburyport, Massachusetts. Still luckier was I that my Grandfather, George Sumner Tenney, born November 22, 1871 was actually listed in the last generations of the book. I felt my eyes bulging with surprise. So it didn’t take me long to track down a publisher who mailed me a photographic reprint. It was not the greatest format in which to receive this “priceless” book, but it was all mine, with all my ancestors so neatly cataloged.

cemetery1The book was Martha Jane Tenney’s first one published, dated 1891. It was before she had met with Prof. Jonathan Tenney of Albany, NY whose work was incorporated into her second edition, republished in 1904. In this first edition Martha Jane states on page 11 about Thomas Tenney, Sr., “He died in Bradford 20 February, 1699-1700, and is buried in the Old Cemetery, where his grave is marked by a dark slatestone”. * How nice it was to know where Thomas Tenney was buried I thought, I must make a trip there some day.

As I wrote, I’d been bitten by the bug, and obtaining M. J. Tenney’s book was all fine, but I began to wonder about my mother’s ancestors. So to satisfy my genealogy itch, I began researching my mother’s family, the Norton’s. We were all from Maine, so how hard could that be, such a sparsely populated state. I thought that I would go to the town hall in the place where my great grandfather was born. This surely would not take long at all. I’m sure you are all chuckling by now, but seriously, I did not expect that I would spend the next 18 years of my life hitting the not so famous “brick walls”.

Many of Maine’s Town records have disappeared over the years, either because of fires or through neglect. So going to the town cemeteries where my Norton ancestors had lived was a last resort in finding my ancestors. It was during my summer trips to Maine that I developed my passion for cemeteries. My first experience with cemeteries was with the search for my mother’s great-grandfather, who did not have a stone on his grave, but rather had only 3 lumps. (Thank goodness the town clerk had a sexton record that was written on the back of an envelope stating g-g-grandfather was buried there, with his wife and daughter, and with the comment “NO STONE”. No dates where on the envelope either, nothing in town vitals, so to this day I still don’t when he died nor exactly when he was born. I was thinking that this was unusual, and that everyone had a stone.

So I moved on because the town records noted that he moved there from New Portland, Maine. Now, there is only one Norton family in New Portland of which “No Stone Norton” could have been the son. I checked back one more generation to find that “No Stone” was the son of Curtis Norton. Of course Curtis moved out of New Portland and I finally found him in a cemetery in his new town, his real name being John C. Norton, with dates. So through a process of elimination, I could now be pretty sure that John, or Curtis, or as he sometimes was referred to in Census records, Corliss, was the son of Peter Norton of New Portland, ME. Peter had moved from Massachusetts in 1792 to the wilds of Maine, with all kinds of deeds referring to his living there.

There were no town records because “They were thrown out years ago to make room in town hall” according to the town clerk. So, I hooked up with the town historian who took me around to all the town cemeteries. We were sure to find him, I thought, because he lived there for many years – even before it was a town. So, it was on this sunny summer day in 1999, on the back roads of Maine, that the historian and I searched. Searching several old cemeteries. The story ended the same way every time. Peter seemed not to have been there.

Finally we arrived at the last and oldest cemetery, near the place Peter Norton would have lived. It seems like a lost cause. Those poor old stones, in most cases, were made of old slate, splitting, tilting, snapped off at ground level, and laying face down in holes of long ago sunken graves. Trees swallowed some stones that somehow had survived the falling broken limbs. Here were lying men, women and children, who left their homes of comfort in Massachusetts to etch out new lives, build schools and churches, cut down acres of forest, burn the stomps to scratch out fields so they could feed their families, roll rocks out of the fields and build fences and roads. And here they all were forgotten. I fell to my knees and cried my heart out. How could a town let this happen? They gave so much, asked nothing in return of future generations, other than to tend the cemeteries where they lay.

cemetery4Surely maintaining cemeteries is such a simple aspect of living. Are we so busy, that we over look our prior generations because we didn’t know them? They were fathers and mothers, and spent their lives working hard so that our now world is a better one. We live everyday with the results of their hard work but we have let them down. These cemeteries of my g-g-grandparents, whom I never knew, don’t look like the one whose graves my mother dragged me to every Memorial Day as a child – cemeteries with perfectly cut grass and rows and rows of neatly standing granite stones. No, these were my several times great-grandparents and their families – people I never knew yet I am of their blood. How they lived their lives directly influenced how I live mine today. Family traits, traditions, their outlook on life, have all filtered down to how I look, live and think today. So, on my knees in this ancient cemetery, I cried a river of tears for those that lived and died before me and promised that all I would do everything I could to right this wrong. I hope too, my several times great-grandchildren will do the same for me, when they find my stone in that old cemetery that once was.

So, with summer gone, and several old Maine family plots that were buried in the back woods of once majestic farms having been cleared, documented and with papers submitted to the town clerks, I headed back to Massachusetts. Now was the time for me to visit Thomas Tenney.

My arrival at Bradford’s Old Cemetery on Salem St. was pleasant enough. There were pretty white stones, a nice sign and even a gentleman mowing the lawn. How nice to know that I didn’t have to hike in the woods. I was in a city. So, I strolled up to the gentleman mowing and told him of my mission, that is to look at Thomas Tenney’s stone. He led me to the back edge of this nicely cut grass section of the cemetery. From there I could see the landscaping changed from flat to a steep hill that sloped toward a lower section which could not seen from the street. As my eyes followed down the slope, I saw that there were rows and rows of old slate stones, entombed in trees, brush, vines and poison ivy, right in the middle of a city! The same horrors of the back roads of Maine pioneer cemeteries washed over my mind. It was happening right here where scores of our ancestors lay, long forgotten.

Where is Thomas’ stone? Martha Jane Tenney, said he was buried here and yet no one knew where!

So, for the next three years, beginning in the fall of 2000, most of my spring and fall weekends were busy with my new mission, to right this wrong. I researched with a vengeance the local library to find old records, tried contacting the local historical society, contacted other Tenney members that had seen the cemetery, and even took a week long seminar called Preserving and Restoring Cemeteries. I previously mentioned the “brick walls” that all genealogist run into, but that is nothing compared to the brick walls one hits when trying to get help from a City Hall. So, my mission was to clean up this long forgotten and neglected final resting place of Thomas Tenney and his family members.

I had help from a few New England Tenney volunteers and considerable help from the kindly volunteer Bill Rogers from Bright Side in Haverhill, the gentleman that was mowing the lawn on my first visit. He spent the winter of 2000 with his chain saw cutting down hundreds of sapling trees in the back neglected section. My mission from here was to haul these trees up the hill and pile them along the road so that the Haverhill DPW would haul them away. Cutting down yards and yards of bittersweet vines, waist high bushes and trees and yes, oceans of poison ivy. I spent 3 years doing this, and yet saw no end was in site. I just couldn’t bring this poor old resting site back to its glory by myself, as I had thought I could. Members of the Tenney Family Association gave all kinds of financial support, but I needed man power and lots of it. By chance one day, a TFA member named Barron Tenney** who lived in the next town over, stopped by. He was my savior, and lent me many days of his time with back breaking work, despite his many physical problems.

In the spring of 2004, my body told me that I could not do this anymore. I was so badly infected with poison ivy and with every visit to the cemetery, I had developed a lack of tolerance for the vine. I can’t even be within a few feet of it without breaking out in hives, so my days and dreams of bringing that old forgotten cemetery back to its majestic beauty had ended. Barron Tenney then rose to the ranks and accomplished what I could not. He will always be my hero, as well as that of the Tenney Family Assoc., because they had made this all possible. We can now visit the final rest place of our Thomas Tenney, and be proud.

cemetery2What does it take to bring a cemetery back to life? It’s the passion to “right a wrong”, respect for those that went before us and community involvement. May we never forget our ancestors, and always find a way to preserve that last bit of evidence of their existence by preserving their stones and the cemetery where they rest.

* In MJ Tenney’s 1904 second edition: This old burying ground was used in the first settlement of the town and remained the only cemetery until 1723….The oldest stone now standing and decipherable bears the date of 1681 (L.A. Woodbury, Essex Antiquarian, Feb. 1901)

** Barron has written many articles in the Tenney Times Newsletter of his step by step progress and his invaluable group of volunteers or cemetery angels as I like to refer to them. Please help him, and a very dedicated group of volunteers and the Tenney Family Association continue the “right the wrong” with your support. (His articles mention specifically all those that helped restore and maintain the Bradford Old Burial Grounds and I extent my much gratitude to them all).