09 February 2014

Proving Lineage to Miles Standish

From the Buffalo Courrier Express, Buffalo, N. Y., Sunday Morning, May 8, 1927:
"Standish Genealogy Recorded on Historic Quilt
Gives Vital Statistics on Progeny of Famous Miles
"Patches are from dresses belonging to descendants of character celebrated in song and glory.
"Albion, May 7 - Mrs. George W. Shourds is the proud possessor of an old family quilt, the story of which is stranger than fiction.  To tell its story one must go back a the settlement in Orleans County of the settlement in Orleans county of Asa Standish, Mrs. Shourd's great grandfather, for the history of the quilt is Standish history.
"In 1816 Asa Standish journeyed from his home at Benson, Vt., to Orleans.  With him came his wife and seven children.  A number of the children were married and had youngsters of their own, so it was quite a caravan that made the long journey by ox team.  Gaines was at that time the most thriving community in the county and along with many other pioneers Asa Standish took up land in that village.  He and his family settled upon a farm of 365 acrea, the site of which was near the present Transit church.
"Asa Standish was the great grandson of Miles Standish of Colonial fame.  He was born at Norwich, Conn., in 1763.  At the age of ten he moved with his parents to Williamstown, Mass., and later to Benson, Vt., where he lived many years before settling in Orleans county.
"Now it happened that some of Asa's descendants had migrated to California and one of them became desirous of joining the Society of the Mayflower, which she could not do without definite proof that the Asa Standish, whose birth was recorded at Norwich, and the one who settled in Orleans county were one and the same.  Therefore, she employed a renowned geneologist, Mrs. Idah Stowbridge of Los Angeles to assist in the search.  Mrs. Stowbridge wrote Mrs. George W. Shourds of Albion, whom she knew was of Standish descent, asking her help.
"Mrs. Shourds set about her task with a hopeless feeling.  She had been told from childhood of how Electa burned the family records and she felt sure that there was no written proof in all Orleans county that the Asa of Vermont and the Asa of Gaines were the same.
"Finally Mrs. Shourds called upon Mrs. George Mitchell, whose husband was a great grandson of Asa Standish.  Mrs. Mitchell, like all the other members of the family knew of the Miles Standish ancestry, but said that she had no proof.  As Mrs. Shourds was leaving the house she suddenly asked, "Wouldn't you like to see Mother Mitchell's old album quilt?"
"The quilt is a quaint and gay affair with a white background, orange stripes and squares of bright colored calico, pieced in the friendship pattern.  Sewed into each square is a piece of white material with the record of some member of the Standish family written in ink upon it.  It is supposed that the squares are made out of dresses belonging to members of the family and that each one's particular block is made out of her own garment.  The names Standish, Stacy and Mitchell predominate.  Charlotte Standish, daughter of Asa, who married William Stacy, is said to have started the quilt, and her daughter, Maria, who married Azuriel Mitchell, a Baptist minister of Riches Corners, completed it.
"The instant that Mrs. Shourds saw the quilt her eye caught the blocks, "Asa Standish.  Died Sept. 1, 1828.  Aged 65 years."  "Rebecca Standish.  Died April 30th, A. D. 1839.  Aged 74 years."  Inasmuch as the records at Norwich, Ct., gave the date of Asa Standish's birth as 1763, which would have made him 65 years old in 1828, Mrs. Shourds felt sure that here at last was positive proof that the two Asas were the same person.  Furtherwore, although the family had always understood that his wife had been Rebecca Sherwood, there was no record to that effect.  Photographs of the two blocks were taken and sent to Mrs. Stowbridge and these with the necessary affidavits, were accepted as the missing links in the Standish chain of proof.
"Mrs. Mitchell died in 1924.  Before her death she presented the quilt to Mrs. Shourds, giving as her reason the fact she had no children, while Mrs. Shourds has both a son and a daughter to carry on the family traditions.
"Asa Standish is buried in the old Standish burying ground, near the Transit Church at Gaines.  There is no marker for his grave.  If there were, the long search for proof would have been unnecessary.  He was at one time justice of the peace of Gaines, as a time-worn subpoena signed by him shows.  This subpoena was discovered between the leaves of an old justice book of the town of Gaines.  He served in the Revolutionary War, as did his father, Thomas.  Thomas was the son of Samuel, Samuel of Josua and Josua's father was the celebrated Miles of song and story."