52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – week 3

Unusual Name – that is the meme for Amy Johnson Crow’s  52 week writing challenge. When I first saw this back in the beginning of January I immediately knew who I should write about. There really was no question and then I began to think about what is in a name really which then prompted me to do a bit of research into the  meaning of unusual names.

My ancestor and 6th great grandfather the subject of this post, is Bezaleel Flagg born 23 Mar 1710 in Waltham, Middlesex, Massachusetts Bay Colony. Bezaleel? Seriously what kind of moniker is that for anyone.  Interesting enough the name has a biblical meaning: In the shadow of God.  Knowing that makes so much sense in his naming. Religion was such an important part of the lives of the puritans in the Massachusetts Bay Colony that naming a child based on individual from the Bible would be much more common in the 1600s. Bezaleel is found in several chapters of the Book of Exodus as the chief artisan of the Tabernacle, so kind of an important biblical figure.

My Bezaleel married Susanna Warren on 14 Jan 1729. He was nineteen years old and Susanna was twenty-two years old based on the vital records of Middlesex County. Susanna was the 2nd great granddaughter of Richard Warren through her mother Rebecca Church which makes me a descendant of a Mayflower passenger, again. (Maybe this will be a meme sometime during the year?)

Bezaleel was the son of Michael Flagg and his second wife Mary Earl and grandson of Thomas Flagg or Flegg as he was known, the immigrant ancestor  to Massachusetts. Thomas is thought to have arrived by about 1641. He emigrated from Whinburgh or Hardingham, Norfolk, England.

I have learned quite a bit more about Bezaleel because of writing this post.  Before, all I knew about him were dates. His birth, marriage and death. I knew from those bits and pieces that he died quite young, not even forty years old. He left five children, three of them minors under the age of eighteen and he buried one wife and left the second a widow.

However, utilizing the absolutely wonderful databases available as a member of the New England Historic1 and Genealogical Society and their website AmericanAncestors I was able to locate his digitized estate papers. Eighteen pages of estate papers which included the full inventory of his personal property as well as a complete description of his land holdings. Six different parcels of land with descriptions of basic location and neighbors. The total acreage of the six parcels was 84 acres and the value was 3267 pounds, 10 shillings.

Beginning of the inventory

His personal estate was valued at 1567 pounds, 10 shillings and included numerous household items, clothing, livestock, sheep wool, and really interesting – shoemaker tools. He was a shoemaker! What a wonderful piece of information.

end of first page of inventory

There is so much more to be gleaned from the inventory. Bedding items are described as being in the “great room” and others in the “back room.” I have some work ahead of me to transcribe and note all of this new information. Oh joy! I love finding new pieces of information. And just think this is from 1749, two hundred and seventy years ago and by finding this, by continuing to look I now have a very clear view into his life as well as his wife and children.

The estate papers go into further detail describing exactly what Sarah his widow would receive which was one-third of the estate since he died intestate meaning without a will.  She received portions of each of the six parcels of land including the “home lot” where portions of the barn were specifically given to her and right of way to get her cattle into the barn. No mention of any division of the house was made. The remainder of the land, the two-thirds was settled upon Bezaleel Jr., the eldest son with provisions for him to pay to his siblings their one-sixth share. There were five children of Bezaleel Sr. listed: Bezaleel Jr., eldest son, Susanna Bemis wife of Joseph Bemis, William and Timothy, minors with Samuel Livermore as their guardian, and Mary Flagg youngest whose guardian was Sarah her mother.

Settlement of the remaining two-thirds to the heirs.

Bezaleel was a very successful farmer and businessman. His estate, including personal property and real estate was valued at over 4000 pounds after his debts were paid. Even though his life was cut short, likely through illness or injury as there are payments made to several doctors in the estate papers, just through my direct line and the siblings of those ancestors he has fifty-three descendants.  As the family historian I will continue to document his brief life and am so excited to have found this additional information to be able to add “meat to the bones” of his story. Thank you to 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. I might very well have missed this information if I hadn’t embarked on writing Bezaleel’s story.

Footnote TitleFootnote Description
1HistoricPhoto found on ebay at https://i.ebayimg.com/thumbs/images/g/c64AAOSwl9RZ6ouW/s-l225.jpg

1 thought on “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – week 3”

  1. I have done several indexing projects for the Greene County Historical Society in Virginia. It seems like every Tom, Dick, and Harry was named “Bezaleel.” I wonder what made the name so popular in that place and at that time.

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