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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”.