Sunday, March 26, 2017

Henry Tufts was a villian

This is a guest story by Daniel Allie who recently has published the complete second edition of Henry Tufts' The Narrative of Henry Tufts.
My first story on Henry Tufts can be seen here. 

Henry Tufts was a villain.

He stole, he cheated, he lied.

He was a bad father, husband, soldier, citizen.

Wherever he went, and whatever he was doing, he was probably doing something bad.

Every honest person bearing the name of Tufts (and readers of this blog will know, undoubtedly, there were many!) since then has cringed, at least somewhat, at the sound of his name. Others have tried to make his book disappear altogether.

But I'm glad they failed.

If you are one who wishes such a man as Henry had never lived, or at least never written about his life, step back a second. Imagine Henry was someone else's ancestor or far-removed cousin, and hear me out.

That Henry was a Tufts is not what's important (though one can certainly wonder how such a bad seed came from the line of a Harvard Divinity graduate!). He didn't intentionally disgrace his family name. He was merely who he was.

He could have been better, but that's what's so important about him, and that's why I have published The Narrative of Henry Tufts: Second Complete Edition. Henry Tufts' perspective is completely unlike any of his contemporaries, and his book is all the better for it.

The book is rife with anecdotes of jailbreaks, horse thefts, quack doctoring and so much more, all of which—though part of the experience of the time—are little discussed in contemporary literature of the time.

Where else than Henry Tufts can you read of prison life in “The Castle” in Boston Harbor, and even find a glossary of the prisoners' dialect? Here we can learn all manner of odd terms not recorded anywhere else, such as “evening sneak” meaning “Going into a house by night the doors being open,” and “going to the nipping jig to be topt” meaning “He is going to the gallows to be hanged.”

Here we also gain a more nuanced perspective on how at least some ordinary Americans regarded fighting in the War for Independence—we see Henry enlist for the wrong reasons, that “a soldier in fact, may be a thief,” and then shortly thereafter desert the army altogether. His actions are damnable, of course, but reading this helps us understand better that the cause of George Washington and the Continental Congress were not at the forefront of every person's mind. We could dismiss Henry as an aberration in this case, but I think it teaches an important lesson: actually living in a historical period can be quite different from how it is represented later. For some, mere self-interested survival was of the greatest importance, far outweighing any higher cause.

The point is, history is complicated. There are as many perspectives as there are people, and we should not take it lightly that we can read the perspective of a man as bad as Henry Tufts. The continued existence of his book is necessary so that we can understand that not everyone in the past fit into the box of whatever common perception imagines. One may object that his is a book of lies (See Pearson's The Six Silver Spoons on my website), but outside of factual accuracy, there is a truth to Henry Tufts: the truth of how he presents himself and his outlook on his life and times. The very existence of this account—even if it were to be found that not a single event in it ever occurred—shows us a side to early America that was never well known. Not that of the good and pious, but of the lawless, who, bad as they were, still need to be understood for a more complete—and therefore true—picture of history.

The Narrative of Henry Tufts: Second Complete Edition, the first reprint edition of Henry Tufts' book ever to contain the complete text and original illustrations, is now on sale at Amazon here Visit for more information. Daniel Allie is not believed to be in any way related to the Tufts family.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Rogers Rangers and “The Fight on snow shoes”

Today’s soldiers of Mountain Infantry or Special Forces train today at Camp Ethan Allen in Vermont and I can’t help but think of the soldiers who fought in those woods 250 years ago. Not far from here along the New York side of Lake George in 1758 Rogers Rangers fought “The Battle on Snowshoes”. They had gone out to scout from Fort Edward and were ambushed by more numerous French and Indian forces resulting in tremendous loss. It was reported that Robert Rogers himself only escaped by sliding 400 feet down what is now called Roger’s Rock. There is a lot written about the French and Indian conflicts and the woodsman’s style of war, and some of today’s soldiers are still taught similar “Rules of Ranging” as outlined by Rogers. I just hope they give them better equipment and clothes.
  Wikipedia is a good start but I trust the references better. 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Who is John Tufts (again!)

Why does it always seem to be a John Tufts that gets confusing for researchers? I am still unsure of the ancestry of John Tuffts/Tufts of Ireland in 1723 who shipwrecked on Sable Island in 1737. I am hopeful more people in the McMillan line have tested DNA and compare with our other Tufts lines or contact me if they have tested. There should be some other Ulster Scot family names in these lines as well.

Now I am stuck on Reverend Joshua Tufts’ son John Tufts of Halifax, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and his son George. Maybe someone can look at it and straighten them out or has new records to be discovered to prove these guys. John Tufts born in Litchfield, New Hampshire in 1743 went to Fort Cumberland, Nova Scotia with the family, was a ship’s Captain and had a family in Halifax, Nova Scotia and Saint Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada. His full story is told in Chapter 5.

John Tufts story is debated among researchers but I think he grew up in Halifax and was either at sea in 1767 when his parents died or charged with the care of his younger siblings there. At some point he married and the family moved to Saint Andrews, New Brunswick. The only marriage record found for him is from Boston, MA (John TUFFS to Mary Ready). Some records and genealogies state he died in Westbrook, Maine and there is a record of a John Tufts there, but It seems unlikely.

 The question about George Tufts is that some researchers have placed him as a son of John (1743) and some as a son of his son John born in 1775 who also married a Mary (Daley?) (Some online trees have Mary Ready and Mary Daley confused as few records can be found of either.) I use Tufts Kinsmen by Herbert Adams and Tufts Kinsmen Association as my first reference and quote them here with credit to their great work.  I have found the following records on line for George:
1827 marriage record, New Brunswick
1851 Census of Canada
            1865 US Census Acton MA
            1870 US Census Acton, MA
            1873 Death Record Acton, MA

There are some other miscellaneous records for his family but none show the details of which John and Mary were his parents. Perhaps someone with a DNA result on ancestry can find some family members that match these:
GEORGE TUFTS, (1800-1873) New Brunswick, died in Acton, MA, (Massachusetts vital records)Married RUTH DOLLIVER (1803-1883) They had 1) John, 2) George, 3) William, 4) Catherine, 5) Sarah M., 6) Sarah A., 7) Henrietta. 8) Mary L, 9) Caroline M., 10) Robert J., 11) Amelia A., 12) Adeline D. Tufts. The first 2 or 3 children were born in Saint Stephens NB then the family records are in Calais Maine.
             John Tufts 1828 married Amelia Katteau in Boston and had Erena, Georgianna (2), remarried Mary Barney. (Erena married and had a daughter Florence?)
            George Tufts (1830) Married Julia Coombs of Rochester NH?
            William Tufts (1831) no info
Catherine Tufts (1832) married John Burns and had a family in Calais, Maine and moved to Massachusetts.
Sarah Ann Tufts (1835) married Gilbert Thornton Webber and had 4 children, passing in Chelsea, MA
Henrietta Tufts (1839) married Martin (Van) Buren Moore moved to MA and had a family. She remarried Bishop(?).
Caroline Matilda Tufts (1841) married George Clark moved to MA and had 5 children
Robert Joseph Tufts (1843) Married first Lucy Jane Hinckley and had 1) Ruth, 2) John T, 3) Mary, 4) Rollins D. (?) He enlisted in the Navy in June 1861 and is listed at the Naval Hospital in Philadelphia in 1862. Some trees on line list his service in the Civil War but I believe these are for a Robert Tufts of Hingham. Lucy is with the Hinckley family in the 1880 census in Norfolk, MA (including 3-year-old John Thomas Tufts) and she died in 1882 in Ashland (findagrave link). It’s unclear whether they divorced. He remarried Sarah (Latham) James in Ontario and passed in Vancouver, Canada if Kinsmen is correct.

So, If anyone has any information on these John Tufts families, please pass it along. I am writing the full chapter of Joshua's later children and will include everything I have as of now. Contact