About Me

Growing up in a small New England town with a mother who was an antiquarian it was inevitable that I would be exposed to old things. After graduating from UMass/Amherst I lived in Connecticut, taught school, married, and raised three children in suburbia. A move to Newburyport MA renewed my interest in all things old. This background has now evolved into research, writing, consulting and all the things I love to do.

Prudence Fish

Wednesday, January 1, 2014



In a previous post I mentioned the coincidences that occur in the search for ancestors and pursuit of genealogy.  The following story is another example of something that occurred right out of the blue.  It is discoveries like this that inspire the endless searching for ancestors and their families.

One day, maybe twenty years ago, I went to a city about an hour away from home to meet a prospective real estate buyer.  Having allowed plenty of time I found myself there a little too early.  I knew that this city's library was a great place to do genealogical research so decided to kill a little time there while I waited to go to my appointment.

Browsing brought me to some magazines called "Down East Ancestry."  Knowing that "down east" refers to the state of Maine I checked the index for Richmond,one of  the names of my Maine ancestors.  There was Eliab Richmond in the index, my great great great grandfather and builder of the house that my grandmother and my father were born in.

Checking the page indicated I found a story called the "Saga of Sally Bramhall."  Who in the world was Sally Bramhall and what did she have to do with my Richmond relatives and ancestors?  Clearly, I had never heard of her.

I soon found out and it gave me goose bumps.  The story chronicles the journey of Sally Bramhall as she made her way from Plymouth, MA with her brother in 1803 to visit my ancestors, her relatives, in the same house where my father grew up.  The story was written by her great granddaughter with input (as I found out later) from my grandmother, Myra, to whom you have already been introduced.  It was submitted to the magazine many years later and here it is.  I hope you will enjoy the tale of her adventure that I will post in two parts.

(From Downeast Ancestry Magazine - 1979)
"The following story was written in 1942 by Stella King White of Houlton, Maine. She was born in 1867, was a great granddaughter of Sally (Bramhall) Richmond Worcester, wrote articles for the Lewiston Journal, and was author of a history of Caribou, Maine. We received the story from Mrs. Barbara White Morse, 93 Main St., Springvale, Maine. Her father and Stella were first cousins."

by Stella King White

To begin: Sally Bramhall was a descendant of the George Bramhall who came from England to the Plymouth Colony in 1665, went to Dover, New Hampshire in 1670, then to Casco, now Portland, Maine in 1678. Here George bought a 400 acre farm stretching from Vaughan’s Bridge up over the hill now called Bramhall Hill where the Maine General Hospital is located. Unfortunately, he was killed in a fight with Indians on the Deering place, now called Deering’s Oaks, where a small monument commemorates this fight. George Bramhall’s name is among those inscribed on this marker as one of those killed Sept. 21, 1689.

After George’s death, his widow, with three sons...George, Joseph and Joshua..and one daughter, went back, probably in 1690, to Plymouth Colony. The son, Joshua, had a son, Sylvanus, born in 1712, who had a son George, born in 1745. This last George...a great-grandson of the first George--married in 1766, Zilpha Richmond born in 1749 to Henry Richmond (and Sarah Washburn)  of Plymouth.

George Bramhall and wife, Zilpha (Richmond), had two sons and four daughters, one of whom was Sarah. She was always called Sally, except in the family Bible at her birth and on her gravestone at her death. She was born Sept. 9, 1779.
This is the only picture I have of Sally.  It was photo-
copied from the magazine story in "Down East Ancestry".
After his Revolutionary War service, Zilpha’s brother, Eliab Richmond, born in Plymouth in 1751, had emigrated in 1781 to the District of Maine. He took with him, his wife, the former Hannah Holmes of Plymouth, his three young children, and his parents, Henry and Sarah Richmond. Henry was also a Revolutionary War veteran. A man of 53 at the time, he was exceedingly worn with six years of constant service, including the winter of 1778 spent with Washington at Valley Forge.

The Richmonds were taking part in a great trek from Massachusetts to western Maine that began after the peace treaty and was encouraged by the General Court of Massachusetts, which offered Revolutionary War soldiers liberal grants of land "on the eastern frontier." Many men came on foot, followed by womenfolk and household goods in oxcarts. Miserable, indeed, were the roads just "grubbed out" through the woods; but one hundred soldiers and their families come to the Town of Hebron alone, shortly after the Revolution. Eliab had bought, a year previous to his coming, 100 acres in Hebron for "the promise of 150 bushels of wheat".. very reasonable, we should say, perhaps because he was among the "first to break ground", as the old annals say.

Plymouth home of Henry Richmond, Sally's grandfather, built in 1769.
The house is located at 125 Boot Pond Road, Plymouth, MA
As time passed on, Eliab prospered, being "noted for his industry" (quoting from the old chronicles.) Rapidly increasing population meant speedy clearing of farms and building of good homes. Eliab bought another 100 acres in 1798 for $218.00...still seems reasonable...and built for his family a large a comfortable home very nearly at the top of the hill now called Bryant’s Hill, a sightly location in what is now called East Oxford.
Eliab and his wife began to look back longingly to the old home in Plymouth and kindred left behind.

The house the Richmonds built in Maine where Sally and her brother went
 to spend the summer of 1803.  (see also post called "My Grandmother")
Considering a journey back home an impossibility with the many cares of a large family and farm, Eliab wrote his sister, Zilpha, urging her and her husband, or some of their children, to come spend a summer with them. Roads were improving and he felt they should renew old family ties broken for more than 20 years.

Zilpha and George Bramhall’s daughter, Sally, being the most courageous, was the one who most wanted to go, so she was selected to take what seemed to the rest of the family a perilous journey, for it would have to be taken on horseback, much of the way through woods likely to be infested with bears and wolves and perhaps, Indians. But Sally Bramhall feared no foe, neither man nor beast. She inherited the courage of her Pilgrim forefathers who crossed the stormy Atlantic in 1620, of those ancestors who fought the Indians at Casco in 1689, and of those two who battled six long years for American independence.

Sally’s brother Sylvanus volunteered to go with her, and, after much discussion , the journey was decided upon. They spent a few days visiting relatives in nearby towns of Taunton, Middleboro and Bridgewater to bid them goodbye. They started out one bright morning in June of 1803 after many fond farewells and assurances of their return at the end of the summer. They had been given a good horse with saddle for Sylvanus, and pillion (a cushion fastened behind the saddle) for Sally. The Bramhall were in comfortable circumstances and sent their young people away well provided for. Their mother had given them plenty of food to eat along the way and their father plenty of money to pay for lodging and meals at village taverns along the way.

The story of their three week trek through Massachusetts and Maine seeing new sights along the way will continue in the next installment to follow.

Sally's brother, Sylvanus Bramhall, was a silversmith in Plymouth.  Learning this caught my attention because I have a fondness for antique silver.  I began my search where I begin all of my searches...at Ebay.com!  On several occasions I have hit paydirt so that now I have a nice selection of coin silver spoons made by Sylvanus Bramhall in the early 19th century.  Here are my spoons marked S. Bramhall.
My collection  of coin silver spoons made by
silversmith, Sylvanus Bramhall of Plymouth
This is the touchmark on the back of the spoons; S. BRAMHALL.

The mark of Sylvanus Bramhall of Plymouth

What comes next is the real heart of this story so please check back soon.



  1. See my name!
    It wasn't my birth name but I married Colin Bramald. There aren't too many Bramalds in the the world so my FIL researched the name and found it was probably a mispelling of Bramhall by a vicar registering the name at some point. And I live in Gloucestershire in England.

    1. Hi Sally, there are several Bramhills who have now tested our Y DNA with FTDNA.com. Whoever you test with, please add your date (at least 37 markers) to ysearch.org.

      Best wishes,


  2. I love this story! Keep up the great stories! Your family has vicariously become mine!