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So now a new generation was in charge of the destiny of this family of Fullers. Of the six children of Peter and Lydia, two had already died and the youngest, Leroy, was dead by the age of 36, leaving no children. Elana, who had married Henry Hayward, died before both of her parents leaving Henry with seven year old twin son’s. Loren and his wife, Lorena both drowned in 1920 when the youngest of their four surviving children was thirteen. Ethel married William Reynolds and had two sons, the second one after Peter and Lydia had gone.
Four of Peter’s children from his first wife, Esther, survived him but Alden, the youngest, died in California in 1924. The other three maintained quite a close relationship so the account of their lives can be combined in one story.


Leonard Gibbs Fuller came into this world on the thirteenth day of September in 1856 in the Township of East Farnham, Quebec. Preceding him three year earlier was a brother, Lemuel Smith, and three years later came a sister who was named Ida Mae. Throughout their lives those three remained quite close even though they took separate pathways.
In Leonard the spirit of adventure that had been so evident in his ancestors reappeared. He also proved to be sensitive and sentimental. With such a personality, he was hurt deeply by the death of his mother when he was only six years old. But being without a mother for more than a year strengthened the bond between him and his brothers and sisters. But then Lydia Ann came and there was a mother in the home again and new brothers and sisters joining them every few years. And so, the next ten years were pleasant times for Leonard and all the rest of the Peter Fuller family. But then, in 1875, when he was nineteen, sorrow and grief came back to haunt them again. It was in February of that year that little three year old Arlington was taken by the grim reaper. The following year death invaded this home again and snatched Myra, the first born of the family who was only four years older than Leonard. This was a shattering blow to the family but especially to Leonard and Lemuel, who were nearest to her in age. Now, once again, tragedy had tightened the bond between the remaining four older children. Early in 1882 Milon, Lydia’s first born, died at the age of six. But by this time, Leonard was gone from home and was not struck quite so hard by the loss.
As Leonard approached manhood he took jobs on nearby farms and took an interest in a few nearby girls as well. As he developed so did his desire to see what was over the next hill. His early sampling of adventure were rather tame and ordinary but always in the back of his mind were dreams of distant places with golden opportunities.
Probably his first step into adventure was to go down into Vermont where he had aunts, uncles and cousins. North of Rutland, near the little town of Goshen, his Uncle Lemuel and Aunt Mary lived on a farm and that is where he went soon after his 21st birthday. He helped out there with the chores and with cutting wood. These were happy times for him with sister, Ida, living in Goshen and Uncle Emery and Aunt Mary on a farm a short distance away, near Brandon. There was much visiting back and forth and many good times during this January in 1878. Aunt Maria and Uncle Salmon Foster also lived only ten miles away at Whiting. And, to make this good life perfect, there was Celestia. All through January and February they were together nearly every day. They went to prayer meetings together, he went to see her at her home and she came to see him. On the 25th of January he cut his foot with an axe while falling a tree. Celestia came to see him that evening and every day while he was laid up. Aunt Mary made no attempt to hide the fact that she didn’t approve so, as soon as his foot healed sufficiently, he again started going to Celestia’s to ger out from under Aunt Mary’s disapproving eye.
On the nineteenth of January a letter came from Alden saying that brother, Lemuel, had married Elizabeth Hamilton on New Years Day. Now, Lemuel was called simply Lem by most people but, for some reason that has become obscure with the passing of years, Leonard very often called him Frank.

Excerpted from WOOL TROMPERS by J. L. Fuller

Leonard will be in love several times before he marries and settles down. There is much adventure ahead.

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Half of these ten children settled in the United States. Emery settled on a farm near Brandon, Vermont. Sherman went to the United States and was wounded while serving in the Union Army during the Civil War. Phoebe went to Rhode Island as a young woman. Gibbs died shortly before his tenth birthday. Julia apparently never married and died at the age of 47. Elana lived at different times in Quebec and Vermont. Lemuel went to Vermont, eventually settling at Rutland. Maria also settled in the area of Rutland.
Damon remained in Quebec, taking up a farm neighboring his father’s. he remained there until his death, but his descendants are scattered across Ontario and the United States and even to Panama and Hawaii.
That leaves Peter, the sixth child. Peter did not inherit the adventurous spirit that had been so characteristic among the previous Fuller generations. He was quite content to live his life in the same locality where he was born, late in April, 1828. He grew up on the family farm in southeastern Quebec and, after marrying Esther Porter, settled on a farm of his own in the adjoining township. Peter was 23 years old when he married a girl from Warren, Vermont and, in the short twelve years they had together, she gave him five children. The oldest of these children, Myra Geraldine, was not quite eleven years old when death took her mother from her. Little Alden had just recently had his first birthday. It was a sad and difficult time for Peter Fuller with a baby, four young children and a farm to care for. Then, in 1864, when he was 36, he found a remedy for his heartbreak and sorrow, just a short distance away at Fordyce Corners. Lydia Ann Fordyce was a slender young lady of 23 years when she married Peter Fuller and moved in to help him put his life back together. Over the next 21 years six children were added to this family and three were taken from it. Myra Geraldine died near her 24th birthday and Lydia Ann’s first born, Milon, was only 16 when death took him. Arlington, Lydia’s third child, lived less than three and a half years. So this family, there in the southeastern corner of Quebec, had its share of suffering and sorrow. But Peter and Lydia carried on steadily to raise and provide for the other eight children.
By 1897 he had endured the heavy toll of frontier farming and the rewarding, but trying, responsibility or parenthood for 46 years. Now, with his 70th birthday coming up, he felt it was time to retire. So he sold the farm and, taking his wife and youngest son, went to Lowell, Massachusetts where his son, Loren, was living. The youngest son, Leroy, was 12 years old at this time. At first, the three of them lived there with Loren and his wife, Lorena, and their two small children. But, after a time, they found that there just wasn’t room enough under one roof for them and loren at the same time. So they moved from there to Atkinson, New Hampshire, a little community on the outskirts of Haverhill, Massachusetts. They went there to live with their daughter, Ethel, and her husband, William Reynolds. Leroy grew to manhood there and Peter and Lydia spent their few remaining years there under Ethel’s care. Death came to Peter in September, 1913 when he was 85. His body was returned to his native sod and buried in Riverside Cemetery at East Farnham, Quebec. Four years later Lydia Ann followed him.

Peter & Lydia Ann FullerPeter and Lydia Ann Fuller

Excerpted from “Wool Trompers” by J. L. Fuller

Now we are getting closer to home. Peter Fuller was the great grandfather of J. L. Fuller

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Judah, the youngest child of Sgt. Samuel, was only a month past his first birthday when his father died. He was born at Preston, Connecticut and had four older sisters and two older brothers. Judah didn’t do anything to cause his name to go down in history but he remained in Connecticut and did his share toward developing and improving this new land. In February, 1764 he married Abigail Wentworth, the daughter of Aaron and Elizabeth Wentworth. He and Abigail settled at Norwich where they raised five children.
Lemuel, the youngest child of Judah and Elizabeth, was born at Norwich, Connecticut on July 14, 1757. At the time that this young lad was growing up, important things were happening. The heavy hand of England that the Pilgrims had fled a hundred and fifty years earlier was now reaching across the ocean and plucking at the freedoms of these hardy pioneers. But these Pilgrim descendants and all the free-thinking people who had come to join them had no desire or intention of giving up the freedom and independence they had struggled so hard to secure. They began organizing a force of resistance; and, when England came at them with military force, the Revolutionary War was ignited. On November 28, 1775, at the age of 18, Lemuel Fuller enlisted to serve for one year in the military forces of the colonies. He served in Capt. Joseph Jewett’s company in the regiment of Col. Jediah Huntington. He saw service in various parts of the colonies and was discharged January 1, 1777. It may be that this tour of duty took him to Framingham, Massachusetts where he met a girl that he was attracted to and later followed her family into New Hampshire. Or it may be that he simply decided to seek his fortunes in New Hampshire as quite a number of others from Connecticut did. For whatever reason, when he was a young man in his twenties, Lemuel Fuller arrived in New Hampshire and spent the rest of his life there and in Vermont, dying at Bristol, New Hampshire in 1840. At about the age of 28 he married Eleanor Gibbs. This girl, who was commonly called Elana, was quite probably the daughter of Isaac and Lois Gibbs. This family moved from Framingham to Marlborough in 1787 when Elana was about nineteen years old.
Lemuel and Elana settled at Bradford, Vermont where they had nine children but the eighth one died in infancy. Then, just two weeks before Christmas, in 1816 Elana died. Fortunately, by this time the youngest child was thirteen years old so she did not leave any infants needing her care. About two years later Lemuel married again to a woman by the name of Polly and had two more daughters.
Several of the children of this family, when they reached adulthood, moved into southeastern Quebec. Gibbs,  Nabba and Lemuel Jr. are known to have gone to Quebec and possibly others.
When Lemuel Jr. Was 22 he married Betsy Sherman, a girl of 19 from Lisbon, New Hampshire. For about five years this young couple lived around Topsham, Vermont and Piermont, New Hampshire. Today there is still a mountain near Topsham named Fuller Mountain. Then, in about 1822, after their third child, they moved to  Abbotsford, Quebec where they lived for the next four years. Two more children, a daughter and a son, were born there. So now, they had five children; Damon, Emery, Sherman, Phoebe and Gibbs.
It was about 1826 when Lemuel and Betsy Fuller moved for the last time. This time they moved to Granby, Quebec and settled on a farm between Granby and  Cowansville. Their farm was about fifty rods west of the main highway and the last one in Granby township, next to the township of East  Farnham. Lemuel was a devoted farmer and he and Betsy lived out their lives on their farm. In their own way, they were doing their part as pioneers in settling the new world. Five more children were born and raised here. They were; Peter, Julia, Elana, Lemuel and Maria.


Excerpted from “Wool Trompers” by J. L. Fuller

History takes on new meaning when an ancestor is part of it, such as when Judah Fuller’s son, Lemuel, is involved in the revolutionary war. Join in and tell us if you have any ancestors who took part in any historical events during the building of this nation and tell it with pride.

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Matthew Fuller acquired considerable land on Sandy Neck at Barnstable. A piece of this land, he sold to his brother, Samuel, and then he and Samuel bought more land on Sandy Neck from the Secunke Indians. Jointly and individually the two of them owned nearly the entire neck.
Matthew was obviously a capable and industrious man who also had a good understanding of military and political functions. He was very outspoken and known to be unbending when he felt he was right. This got him into trouble with his superiors at times but did not appear to have done any harm to the good will between himself and others. Perhaps this is because he was usually right and his offense was only in his boldness of expression. At any rate, promotions continued to come at regular intervals and he continued to be successful in his dealings with his friends and neighbors. It has been suggested that people became so accustomed to his blustering ways that they ignored them and respected him for what he did rather than being offended at what he said. At the time of his death, in 1678 at Barnstable, Matthew Fuller was quite a wealthy man.
Matthew and Frances are known to have had five children. They were Mary, Elizabeth, Samuel. Matthew and John. John was also a doctor and earned a good reputation as such. After Frances died Matthew married a woman by the name of Hannah and they had a daughter they named Anne. Anne married her cousin, Samuel Fuller, who was the son of Matthew’s brother, Samuel.
Matthew’s own son, Samuel, contributed his share as a pioneer of early America too. This Samuel was born in England and came to America with his parents, probably when he was somewhere between 15 and 20 years old. His wife, Mary, is believed to have been Mary Eaton but no proof of that has been found. They had seven children. Like his father, Samuel was civic minded and was active in the local government and militia. He was a town officer and a member of a colony committee to inspect and assess damages done to some Indians by English cattle. By the time he received a commission to Lieutenant in the Plymouth Colony Forces many of the Indians in the area were becoming resentful of the spreading out and advancing of the white settlers. Lieutenant Samuel Fuller found himself getting involved in several Indian attacks. He survived King Phillip’s war but, when the Indians attacked Rehoboth and burned it to the ground on the 25th of March in 1675, Samuel was counted among the fatalities. At the same time, back in Barnstable, a wife and unborn child waited for a husband and father who would never return. When that child was born later the same year, he was given his father’s name. And so, there was another Samuel to carry on for the Fuller pioneers.
Now, we are coming to the time when the settlements were extending beyond Massachusetts and young people were being encouraged to go settle in Connecticut. Timothy and Samuel Jr. both moved to Connecticut. Timothy settled at East Haddam and Samuel went to live around Mansfield and Preston. After attaining the military rank of Sargent, Samuel was referred to as Sgt. Samuel. In 1696 Timothy inherited from his brother, Matthew, half of the land at Middleborough, Massachusetts that had been willed to them by their grandfather, Matthew.
Sgt. Samuel met a girl in Connecticut who impressed him quite favorably and, on the third of October of 1700, he and Elizabeth were married. Elizabeth was a girl from Duxbury, Massachusetts and daughter of Reverend Rodolphus Thatcher which made her a granddaughter of Rev. Thomas Thatcher. She was also a Harvard graduate and a learned Arabic scholar. When Sgt. Samuel died in 1716 he left his entire estate to this remarkable lady. She later married Israel Standish of Preston, Connecticut who was a grandson of Miles Standish.


Excerpted from “Wool Trompers” by J. L. Fuller

History can be boring until it involves some of  your own ancestors. Then it takes on an entirely new meaning. Have you researched your family’s history? If you have, what did you find? If you haven’t, you may find it very rewarding.

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Some of our neighbors were recently devastated by an extreme act of nature.  A sudden and unexpected gust of wind came with such force that it flipped their house upside down.  Fortunately, none of the family were in the house at the time so there were no injuries but they are left without a home and they are not capable of setting it upright or building a new one. They have no money to hire it done and are absolutely incapable of doing any part of it themselves.  They have been very pleasant and cheerful neighbors and I plan to help them in any way that I can.  I think, that in time, I can restore their home to nearly original condition and I will start on it as soon as I can.

Home that was flipped upside down by the wind.

This is a picture of the home that was destroyed by the gust of wind. None of the occupants are shown because they refused to come near it in this precarious position.


P. S.  Donations will be accepted at: Reconstruction, 768 Hwy 360, White Sulphur Springs, MT  59645

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II. Pioneers.

The Pilgrims who survived the sickness the spring of 1621 now became pioneers in the settling and development of the new land. They were soon aided by new arrivals from across the sea. Some of the new arrivals were descendants and kinfolk of the original Mayflower Pilgrims. As the population increased new colonies were established up and down the coast from Plymouth and began moving inland too. In order to insure the success of these new colonies, it became a requirement that young men from the stronger colonies relocate to one of the smaller, weaker colonies. One of these new settlements was Barnstable, which is on the south side of Cape Cod Bay and on the shore of Barnstable Harbor.
Edward Fuller’s two sons, Matthew and Samuel, were among those who settled at Barnstable and certainly contributed their share to the development of the area. Samuel was in America something like 20 years before Matthew, having come on the Mayflower with his parents. When both parents died that first spring in Plymouth he went to live withe his Uncle Samuel, the famous Pilgrim doctor, and his Aunt Bridget. In 1624, when the Plymouth Colony land was divided, Samuel was given three shares; one for himself and the two that would have gone to his parents. Then, in 1633, his uncle also died and Samuel was on his own thereafter. He became a freeman of the colony in 1634. Shortly thereafter he moved to Scituate which was up the coast about halfway to Boston. In Scituate he found the daughter of Reverend John Lothrop very appealing and he and Jane were married on the eighth of April in 1635. The following year he built the fifteenth house to be built in Scituate. He also owned twenty acres of land there. In 1644 he moved, with his family, to Barnstable where he remained until his death in 1683. Samuel was the only Mayflower passenger to settle permanently in Barnstable.
Matthew Fuller, the older son of Edward and Ann, would have been a teenage boy at the time the Mayflower sailed; and so his parents left him in England to finish his education and training. His performance in the colonies left no doubt that giving him an education had been a worthwhile investment.
When Matthew came to Plymouth in 1640 he would have been 35 years old or more. He was married and had several children. His wife’s name was Frances and it is thought that her maiden name was Iyde but there is no conclusive evidence to verify that. In 1642 he was assigned ten acres of land in Plymouth. At other times he was granted land at Falmouth and Middleboro. These lands were granted on the basis of being a “first born” child of a Mayflower passenger. He was not born in America, but in cases where the parents had died without having a child born in America, the grant of land went to their oldest living child. Some modern day historians insist that Matthew was not Edward’s son, primarily because records were found in England showing that John Fuller had a son named Matthew. However, this granting of land leaves no doubt that the officers of the Plymouth colonies knew him to be the son of Edward. Also, in certain court records, Matthew’s son, Dr. John Fuller, refers to Samuel Fuller as “Uncle.” this leaves no doubt that Matthew and Samuel were brothers.
In 1643 a military company was formed by the colony court to serve the towns of Plymouth, Duxbury and Mansfield with Miles Standish as captain and Matthew Fuller was appointed Sargent, which was and honorable position at that time. Somewhere around 1650 he moved to Barnstable and, in 1652, was elected Lieutenant of the Barnstable militia company. In 1653 he became Barnstable’s deputy to the colony court. In 1658 he was elected to the council of war and, by 1671, was chairman of that body. That same year he was Lieutenant of the forces that fought the Saconet Indians. In 1673 he was appointed Surgeon General of the colony troops and then of the Massachusetts colonies. At this time the chief of the Wampanoag Indians was Metacomet who was known by the colonists as King Phillip. In 1675 the Wampanoags became resentful of the spreading of the settlements and began trying of stop the white people by raiding, killing and burning. This was known as King Phillip’s War. Matthew served as Captain of the Plymouth forces during King Phillip’s War.



Barnstable, Mass.

Excerpted from “Wool Trompers” by J. L. Fuller

Thousand of people descend from one or more of the Mayflower Pilgrims. Do you? Do you know someone who does? Have you ever researched your ancestry? It can be fascinating.  

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So they had escaped the heavy hand of church and government and were, at last, free to shape their own destiny but winter was nearly upon them. The thing to do now was to pick a spot for a settlement and get housing and shelter built without delay. But they did not. Saturdays were spent in preparing for Sunday services and, of course, all day Sunday was spent in worship. The remaining five days of the week they mostly wandered along the cape without any real purpose. They discovered and robbed several sites where Indians had buried their stores of corn. They didn’t waste the corn, they saved it to plant in the spring, but they gave little thought to the hardship their theft might place on the Indians. When eventually they did get around to finding some possible settlement sites they wasted several more days arguing over which site to use. It was not until December 25th that they finally got to the task of building shelters against the winter that was now already upon them. If captain Jones had not taken pity on them and kept the Mayflower standing by for their use most likely none of these Pilgrims would have lived to see green grass again. The site they chose was across the bay from Cape Cod, on the mainland, and has since been known as Plymouth.



No pictures or paintings were ever found of the Mayflower but specifications indicated that it may have looked something like this.

It wasn’t until March 21st that the last of them left the Mayflower and took up residence in the brand new town. But there were no joyous celebrations. Not because of the conservative nature of the Pilgrims but because a deadly sickness had descended upon them. Part of the time there were not enough able-bodied among them to care for the sick. Death eventually took half of them and half of the ship’s crew, too. Among those who did not survive this”infectious fever” of 1621 were Edward Fuller and his wife, Ann. Their son, Samuel, was then taken in and raised by Edward’s brother, Samuel. Now it is time to take a look at this little group of people and see what made them such famous figures in history. By now, it is quite plain that they were not wealthy or politically powerful. Neither were they particularly clever or physically adept. In fact, they made practically no progress until a second ship brought tradesmen and laborers. Many people mistakenly think the Pilgrims of Plymouth Rock were the first settlers but they actually missed that title by 100 years. Spaniards had established colonies in the south a century earlier that were successful and vigorous by 1620. Younger Dutch and English colonies were also doing well in the area of Virginia. So, if they weren’t first and they weren’t best, why do they stand so tall in history? One reason is that several of them were educated and quite capable writers. They left abundant records and publications which made it easy and inviting for historians to write about them. Another reason, and a good one, is that they were first in one thing; establishing a colony without the approval or help of their homeland government. This, in turn, led to their successors being pioneers in the struggle that made the United States of America a free and independent nation. One last note on the Pilgrims, they did not dress in the precise black and white costumes with large buckles on their shoes as they are so often pictured. This style of dress was often worn by Puritans but not by Pilgrims. Rather than being a specific organization, the Pilgrims were just an odd assortment of people from various walks of life but with a common goal. Therefore, their style of dress was probably as varied as their backgrounds.

Excerpted from “Wool Trompers” by J. L. Fuller

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By this time there were already colonies established in America but, since they were “crown colonies” under the harsh rule of England, the Pilgrims had no desire to join one of them or even be near one. This caused them considerable difficulty in getting a charter from the kingdom and financial assistance. They overcame this difficulty by soliciting financial aid from private investors and by a little deception in dealing with the government. And so, early in the year of 1620, plans were taking shape for part of the Green Gate congregation to join another group in England and, from there, set sail for America.
In Leyden, Dr. Samuel Fuller and others pooled their money and bought a ship named Speedwell and hired Captain Reynolds to pilot her. Extensive repairs were made and larger masts were fitted, which later proved to be a mistake. Late in July they sailed from Delft Haven and were on their way to Southampton in England. This was a sad departure for many because they were leaving behind friends and, some of them, even families that they might never see again. The Speedwell proved to be unstable and awkward on the sea but sailed without mishap to Southampton where the Mayflower lay waiting at anchor. The Mayflower, at 180 tons, was three times the size of Speedwell. The Pilgrims had indeed chartered a fine ship which proved to be fortunate for them.
It was already disturbingly late in the season when, on the fifth of August, Captain Christopher Jones put the Mayflower out to sea with the Speedwell following close behind. At last, after months of struggle and frustration, they were on the way to a new and free land! But their excitement was soon crushed when, after only a few days at sea, the Speedwell was leaking so badly that both ships turned back. After nearly two weeks of repair work at Dartmouth, they were once more sailing westward. This time they were more than 300 miles out when the Speedwell again was taking on water at a dangerous rate. There was nothing to do but turn back again; this time putting in at Plymouth. This time it was decided that the larger masts which had been fitted to the Speedwell at Delft Haven were too large for the ship and were pulling it apart. Further delay was out of the question by this time and there was no choice but to abandon the Speedwell and proceed with the Mayflower alone. Of course, there wasn’t room on the Mayflower for everyone so some had to stay behind. At this point, some of them were eager to stay. Finally, on September 6, 1620 the Mayflower sailed away to the west with 102 passengers on board. Two of Robert Fuller’s children rode the decks of this history making ship as well as one of his grandchildren. They were Deacon/Doctor Samuel Fuller and Edward Fuller with his son, Samuel. Dr. Samuel had left behind his wife, Bridgett, who sailed to America three years later on the Anne or Little James.
This voyage should not be regarded as a pleasure cruise. Indeed, it must have been a very trying ordeal. Consider that shipboard sanitation facilities at that time were a bucket that, after being used, was carried to the rail and emptied into the ocean. Bathing was impossible because there was no fresh water for that purpose, and bathing with sea water leads to cracks and sores in the skin. Just imagine what conditions must have been on the lower decks after a couple of weeks of confinement without baths and most of the people seasick. Further into the voyage Atlantic storms struck and passengers were forced to stay below for days at a time with the ship constantly pitching and rolling. Two people died enroute, one a seaman from the ship’s crew and the other, Dr. Samuel Fuller’s servant. What a joy and relief it must have been to once again reach land after 66 days of these foul conditions and a diet of salt pork and hard bread. It was the eleventh day of November when the Mayflower dropped anchor off the tip of Cape Cod. This is where the deception of the king and his court comes to light. The Pilgrims were to sail to the Virginia Colony and settle within the land grant. They blamed navigational error for the fact they came to shore so far north of Virginia, but there is little doubt that this had been their secret intention all along. After all, this was a brand new territory without anyone to force the rules of the king and church upon them.

Excerpted from “Wool Trompers” by J.L.Fuller

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A little farther north, along the Old North Road, into the county of Yorkshire, the little village of Scrooby sat on the bank of the River Ryton. At the age of nine or ten, William Brewster came to live at Scrooby. This was in 1575 when William’s father, also named William, was appointed overseer of Scrooby manor, a position that gave him a great deal of authority and considerable income. Consequently, the younger Brewster was provided a quite thorough education which very few people were fortunate enough to have in those times. In 1589 he returned to Scrooby and succeeded his father as overseer.
During these times, England was actually ruled by the Catholic Church. Oh yes, there was a king or queen on the throne, but most authority was delegated to church officers; and they ruled with a free and heavy hand. Local congregations had no voice in the choice of their ministers and were told exactly how they should worship. Failure to attend church regularly was severely punished, as was any attempt to form congregations outside the narrow confines of the Catholic Church. Guilt of these and such other infractions as unpaid taxes, public misbehavior and lack of patriotism was decided and sentences imposed with cruel and wanton indifference, at the whim of any and all officers of the church and state. People were thrown in prison, hanged and even burned at the stake for minor offenses. A desire for religious freedom was driving more and more people to take the risk of joining together in secret congregations separate from the strict and harsh Church of England. William Brewster was one of the many around Scrooby taking this risk. Much is known about Brewster during these times because he later wrote and published a complete account of his life. His writings left a record of the progression of life and events at Scrooby and there can be little doubt that it was the same elsewhere. People over in Norfolk County were joining together in secret congregations too and, there as in Scrooby, some were caught, some were fined, some were jailed and some were executed. In fear and desperation, they began to flee the country. Holland permitted religious freedom and accepted any honest and decent refugees. So, beginning in 1593, the first Pilgrims began fleeing to Amsterdam. Here they established an new church which was called the Ancient Brethren.
At least two of Robert Fuller’s children were among these Pilgrims. Edward and Samuel were in Holland although there seems to be no record of when they fled England. This is certainly not surprising since it was forbidden to leave England without permission; and permission was denied to religious separatists. So, of course, the Fullers and most other Pilgrims, slipped away as quietly as possible and tried to leave no evidence for anyone to follow. Some, like William Brewster, later wrote of these times and so left a record of the dates and events but apparently none of the Fullers did.
Beginning in Amsterdam, however, many records were kept and books were written and published. In fact, one of the main reasons that the Pilgrims came to be so famous was because some of them were quite literary and readily used the printing press to promote their cause and their fame. From these records, it is known that the Church of the Ancient Brethren was torn by bickering and scandal; and in 1609 Samuel Fuller was the leader of a group that left that congregation and moved to Leyden. Here they bought a building known as the Green Gate. Although they themselves never adopted a name for this congregation, it has since been known as the Green Gate Congregation. Samuel was the first deacon of this congregation and, for several years, the only deacon.

These were hard times for the Pilgrims at Green Gate. In the course of fleeing England and traveling overseas and overland to Leyden most of them had spent, or been robbed of, their money. In Leyden they found it difficult to find employment because they were not Dutch citizens. In addition to that, most of them were shopkeepers, innkeepers or tradesmen and not accustomed to common labor. Being poor meant that their diets were deficient and that they had to live in a poor section of town where sanitation was lacking. They lived a miserable existence for a time and death took its toll. In time, however, one by one and little by little, they began to recover from their destitution and some of them even accumulated some wealth. Green Gate was a congregation of high morals and efficient management. This group of Pilgrims was industrious and honest and won the respect, as well as acceptance, of the Dutch. By 1620 they were back on their feet and still enjoying the freedom to worship as they pleased.
But, regardless of the improved circumstances, an uneasiness had crept in and talk had begun of relocating. Even though they were doing well now and enjoying a good relationship with the Dutch, they began to worry about their little group blending in with the Dutch and eventually disappearing. This was a valid worry because there had already been intermarriages with the Dutch and the great difference in their numbers was sure to result in them being swallowed up in the Dutch population. Also, their children were constantly picking up Dutch customs and attitudes which were considered frivolous and unchristian by the Pilgrims. So, it was decided that a group of them should go to America right away and, after they had established a colony there, the rest would follow.


Excerpted from “Wool Trompers” by J.L.Fuller


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A STORY OF PILGRIMS (First installment)

I. Pilgrims

In times long past, when people were not so numerous and they all made their living from the land, surnames were not used or needed. Since people were few and scattered: and since seldom got far from home, there was a minimum of intermingling and so Robert, John or Martha was sufficient identification.

But, as time went by and certain people became more adept at certain tasks, specialists began to appear here and there who would exchange their specialty for the product or service of someone else. Thus, as populations slowly increased, these specialists tended to gather in central locations so as to be available to as many other people as possible and so villages began to develop. With this concentrating of population and people traveling from the countryside all around to trade in the village, contact with other families and strangers was greatly increased. So now Roberts, Johns and Martins from various families and areas bega to meet and mingle and there began to be a problem with identification. At least the rulers of some countries viewed it as a problem. After all, how could they be sure that everyone had paid their taxes unless everyone had a proper name? It was for this reason that rulers began to decree that every citizen have a permanently assigned proper name.

Different parts of the world solved this problem in different ways. In Scandinavian countries the usual way was to identify a man as the son of his father. Thus, a man named Oscar, whose father was Peter, would be known as Oscar, Peter’s son. In use this became Oscar Peterson. Eventually, this practice resulted in a whole lst of surnames such as Robertson, Johnson, Davidson, etc.
In other areas people were given surnames indicative of their place of birth; and in some areas it was the type of work they did. And in some places both of these were used. From birthplaces we got such names as North, Easton and DeGaulle. From occupations came Miller, Culler, Carpenter and many others.
In England surnames developed from both birthplaces and occupations but we probably have more occupational surnames from England than from anywhere else. One of the earliest industries in England was the production of wool and processing it into clothing. From this industry, quite naturally, came the names of Shearer and Weaver. A major step in the processing of wool is the cleaning. In those long ago times in England, the wool was cleaned in large vats of lye water and people were hired to tread and agitate the wool constantly. Obviously, these people originated the name of Walker. The wool was sometimes made into a fine, smooth felt by spreading it evenly and walking on it. This was called fullering and those who worked at it were Fullers. This was the origin of the Fuller surname. A type of clay that was sometimes embedded in the felt was known as fuller’s earth.
Early records in England show that early in the 16th century a family of Fullers lived in Redenhall parish in the county of Norfolk. Norfolk county is on the eastern shore of England, east and a little south of Nottingham and Sherwood forest. The parish records show that John Fuller died in 1559. His age at the time is not known but he was probably born around 1530. The absence of other information indicates that he was not a man of fame or power. He was probably a quiet, hard-working man who would have been amazed if he could have known of the bold and lasting marks his grandchildren were going to leave on the earth and in the life of mankind. John Fuller died in obscurity, as did his son, Robert. But the next generation, strong willed idealists, would eventually become some of the most famous people in history.

Excerpted from “WOOL TROMPERS” by J. L. Fuller (and more will be coming.)

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