Mathe the force be with thee

Some people follow their maternal and paternal genealogical lines.  Other’s follow one or the other.  Then there are the allied lines.  Some of us even follow the shirt tail lines.

Then there is my husband who follows his father’s lines, his mother’s adoptive lines and most recently, his mother’s birth lines.

On his mother’s adoptive line and his father’s line, the Husband can go back rather far into 17th century Colonial history.

But because we don’t live in New England, a lot of the digging about happens online, using databases, ebooks, etc. and so on.

On his mother’s adoptive line – the Flagg family, Husband found himself looking inside of Ancestry’s copy of (1) Watertown, Massachusetts Records of Births, Deaths, and Marriages, 1630-1693.  There, he found some information and he comes across the entry for a person that he has never come across, and which we see hash marked below:

mathe001Mathe?  There was another child?  What kind of name is “Mathe”?

He showed it to me and know it all me said “Maybe they meant Meave?”  Smug in my certainty, I moved on.

However, my husband is an honest, New England sort.  He reads books, back to front. Watches TV series from the first episode, in sequence.  He is the perfect compliment to my reckless abandon.  So he stayed with Mathe, and tried to make some logical sense of it.

He dug about for more information on Mathe; no such luck.  He looked, he questioned, and he tried to solve it.

Then he calls me back.

“You remember ‘Mathe'”?


“Try sounding it out,” sayeth he.


“We’re looking at it wrong. Where did this happen?”

Massachusetts, outside of Boston.

“Now try sounding it out.”

So I start with “Mathe, long “a”, as in one word.  Then I move onto a short “a”.

“Maythee?” I am all around the town on this, and the husband is like “Nope, Nope, Nope.”

“Well what is the blasted thing?” demands I.

“You are stressing the wrong part of her first name.  Imagine, someone hears the parents, and their accents and records the name based on what they are hearing, which is ‘MA-the’,”  He says it again, and again and then the light clicks on.

I am not always the sharpest pencil in the box, but when it made sense, boy, did I feel like fredallen2an idiot.

The name wasn’t Mathe.  It was Ma-the.  Now, add on the Boston “AH” and you get

MAH-the, MAH-the, MAH-THA.

Her name was MARTHA!

And if I would have paid attention to the last name, spelled “Bigulah” and worked it through as well, it would have come to me as well.  Bigulah -> Bigelow.


One brick wall down, so many more to knock down.

And there you go.  Work it through people.  Work it through.



(1) Watertown, Massachusetts Records of Births, Deaths, and Marriages, 1630-1693 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2002. Original data: Watertown records: comprising the first and second books of town proceedings with the lands grants and possessions, also the proprietors’ book and the first book and supplement of births and deaths and marriages Historical Society of Watertown (Mass.). Watertown, MA, USA: Fred G. Baker, 1894.