Tag: Sophia Bagg

The Elusive Pamela Stanley

This is the eighth in a series of posts about four generations of my ancestors in colonial Massachusetts and Connecticut. It includes the Bagg, Burt, Phelps, Moseley, Stanley and other related families between 1635 and 1795.

When I first started to research my ancestors some 10 years ago, one of my goals was to find out what happened to my four-times great-grandmother Pamela Stanley, wife of Phineas Bagg (c. 1750-1823). As is the case for many women in colonial America, there were few traces of her, and I was curious. I knew Phineas and the children had moved from Massachusetts to Canada around 1795 and I wondered whether she had accompanied them on this journey.

Another reason Pamela intrigued me was because her last name, Stanley, was given to three generations of my direct ancestors: her son, Montreal merchant Stanley Bagg (1788-1853), his son Stanley Clark Bagg (1820-1873) and grandson Robert Stanley Bagg (1848-1912).

There is a record of Pamela’s birth. Born in of Litchfield, Connecticut in 1760,1 she was the fourth of eight children of Timothy Stanley Jr., originally of Hartford, and his wife Mary Hopkins, who was from Harwinton, CT.2

Pamela’s father probably owned a small business as a clothier in Litchfield, a village in northern Connecticut. When the American Revolution broke out, he enlisted. He was captured by the British and died aboard a prison ship in New York harbour in 1776. I do not know who supported Pamela and her siblings after that since their mother had died around 1770 and their father did not leave a will.

On March 29, 1780, Pamela Stanley and Phineas Bagg, both of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, announced their intention to marry.3 Phineas was a farmer in the remote Berkshire hills, about 90 kilometers (60 miles) from Litchfield. How they met was a mystery until I discovered that Pamela’s uncle Caleb Stanley lived in Pittsfield for many years and was town clerk there from 1777 until his death in 1781.4 In addition, Pamela’s brother Frederick and Phineas’ brother Martin served in the same militia unit in 1777.

The herb garden, early spring, Old Deerfield, MA

Pamela’s life as a young wife would have been busy. Women helped their husbands in the fields at planting and harvesting times and spent a great deal of time working in their gardens and in their kitchens. Many women bartered goods they made with their neighbours. They often had strong attachments with the other women in their communities, charity was important, and they tended to be more religious than their husbands. Pamela was no doubt a loving mother, although motherhood was sometimes seen as “a kind of travail, an unavoidable though potentially rewarding labor ordained by God.” 5

There are no surviving records of the baptisms of the Bagg children, and most published records list only two sons, Stanley and Abner. My research, however, revealed that Pamela and Phineas had four children who grew to adulthood: Polly (1785-1856), Stanley (1788-1853), Abner (c. 1790-1852) and Sophia (c. 1791-1860).6

Phineas Bagg’s household was listed in a local census of Pittsfield in 1786, and it was counted in the 1790 U.S. federal census, but Phineas was the only family member personally identified.  

As for Pamela’s date of death, it remains a mystery. The minister of the First (Congregational) Church of Pittsfield kept detailed records of the births and deaths of his parishioners, and in many instances he listed the cause of death. But in 1792 the community lost about 30 people, in 1793 26 people died, and 36 people, 14 of them adults, died in 1794.7 The minister must have been exhausted and overwhelmed by so much sickness and sorrow and he did not list any of their names. My guess is that Pamela died during this period. I have found no trace of her grave. Perhaps Phineas could not afford a stone, or perhaps it deteriorated long ago.

Between 1794 and 1797, Phineas found himself deeply in debt, and he lost almost all of his farmland, his barn and half his house to repay his creditors.8 A widower with four children to raise, he must have decided to start a new life in Canada. He became an inn-keeper in La Prairie, near Montreal, and had two more children (one of whom died as an infant) with Ruth Langworthy there.


Pamela’s Sister Abigail Stanley

I received an email in 2017 from a man named Jim Lautenberger who is trying to prove that he is descended from Pamela’s sister Abigail. He says that Abigail Stanley married David Martin, a Revolutionary War soldier, but her family disapproved of the marriage so she lost contact with them. In 1801, after David had died, Abigail married Asa Goodrich in West Haven, Rutland County, Vermont, the same village where Pamela’s and Phineas’ daughter Polly (Bagg) Bush lived much of her life. He adds that, according to a family story, ancestors living near Whitehall, NY, were visited by wealthy relatives from Montreal (Stanley Bagg and family?) in the early 1800s. Abigail died in 1834 at age 72. Jim is looking for someone who is also descended from Abigail in order to compare DNA. Contact lautenbergerj@gmail.com

See also:

“An Economic Emigrant,” Writing Up The Ancestors, Oct. 16, 2013, https://www.writinguptheancestors.ca/2013/10/an-economic-emigrant.html,.

“Timothy Stanley Jr., Revolutionary Martyr,” Writing Up The Ancestors, Nov. 15, 2013, https://www.writinguptheancestors.ca/2013/11/timothy-stanley-jr-revolutionary-martyr.html.

“Polly Bagg Bush: a Surprise Sister,” Writing Up The Ancestors, May 23, 2014, https://www.writinguptheancestors.ca/2014/05/polly-bagg-bush-surprise-sister.html

“Abner Bagg: Black Sheep of the Family?” Writing Up The Ancestors, April 9, 2015, https://www.writinguptheancestors.ca/2015/04/abner-bagg-black-sheep-of-family.html

“The Life and Times of Stanley Bagg, 1788-1853,” Writing Up The Ancestors, Oct. 5, 2016, https://www.writinguptheancestors.ca/2016/10/the-life-and-times-of-stanley-bagg-1788.html


  1. Connecticut: Vital Records (The Barbour Collection), 1630-1870 (Online Database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2011.) From original typescripts, Lucius Barnes Barbour Collection, 1928.  https://www.americanancestors.org/DB414/i/13218/203/234906257
  2. The children of Timothy Stanley Jr. and Mary Hopkins were:
    Timothy, b. 1754, m. Lucy Woodruff
    Mary, b. 1756, m. Amasa Castle
    Frederick, b. 1758, m. 1. M.S. Bishop; 2. M.K. Grosvenor
    Pamela, b. 1760, m. Phineas Bagg
    Abigail, b. 1762
    Eunice, m 1764
    Huldah, b. 1766, m. Levi DeWolf
    Rufus, b. 1767, m. Lydia Collins
    Source:  Israel P. Warren, The Stanley Families of America, as descended from John, Timothy and Thomas Stanley of Hartford, CT.  1636. Timothy Stanley, #74, p. 24, Portland, Maine: B. Thurston & Co, 1887, https://archive.org/details/stanleyfamilieso00byuwarr
  3. Early Vital Records of Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden & Hampshire Counties, Mass. to about 1850 (electronic resource) Wheat Ridge, CO: Search and Research Publ Corp. c2000, p. 22 of sheet 99, F94/p6/M37.
  4. Warren, Ibid. #81, p. 245.
  5. Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Good Wives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England, 1650-1750, p. 239. 
  6. According to date of birth calculated from age as listed on her tombstone, Polly Bagg Bush was born April 22, 1785 and died Jan 9, 1856. She lived much of her life in West Haven, Vermont and is buried near her son Phineas in a rural graveyard in southern Illinois. See www.findagrave.com, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/65952231/polly-bush.
    Stanley Bagg and his brother Abner were both baptized as adults in Christ Church (Anglican) Montreal in 1831. At that time Stanley gave his date of birth as June 27, 1788. “Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1968” [database on-line].  Ancestry.com, (www.ancestry.ca, accessed 2 Oct. 2016), entry for Stanley Bagg, 2 April, 1831; citing Gabriel Drouin, comp. Drouin Collection. Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Institut Généalogique Drouin.
    The same source gives Abner’s date of birth as August 5, 1790, however, this date does not make sense in light of his sister Sopha’s calculated birthdate. At his death in 1852, Abner’s age was recorded as 64, which would have meant he was born in 1788, the year brother Stanley was supposed to have been born. When he was married in 1814, Abner gave his age as 25, which would have meant he was born in 1789.
    Sophia was probably the youngest of Pamela’s children. Dame Sophia Bagg, veuve (widow) Gabriel Roy died Nov. 12, 1860, and at the time was said to have been 69 years, eight months of age. (“Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1968” [database on-line]. Ancestry.com.) Calculating her date of birth from that, she would have been born around February 20, 1791.
  7. Records of the First Church, Pittsfield, Rollins H. Cooke Collection, Berkshire County, vols 26 and 27, reel #2. 8. Massachusetts Land Records 1620-1986, Berkshire, Deeds, 1792-1813, vol 31-32, images 438- 442. www.familysearch.org, Accessed Sept. 26, 2018.

Polly Bagg Bush and Her Family

When Sophia Bagg (c 1791-1860) left bequests in her will1to the children of her sister Polly, she also left a legacy to me. Thanks to Sophia’s will and the 1861 inventory of her possessions made following her death2, I have been able to trace the lives of Polly and her family.

Sophia, Polly, Stanley and Abner Bagg were the children of Phineas Bagg and Pamela Stanley of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, my four-times great-grandparents through Stanley. In this post I’m going to look at Polly, the eldest, and her children and grandchildren. 

An exerpt from the will of Sophia Bagg, veuve Gabriel Roy

Polly Bagg was born in Connecticut on April 22, 1785.3 She married Massachusetts-born William Bush and they settled in West Haven, Vermont, not far from the southern tip of Lake Champlain. Perhaps Polly and William Bush had difficulty making ends meet in the early years of their marriage. A letter written in August 1824 by her brother Abner indicated that he was sending Polly a barrel of wool, “a present to a poor unfortunate sister.” 4  

She also appears to have had help from her brother Stanley. He owned a share of the Bush family farm in Vermont and he left his share to Polly in his 1851 will. He died in 1853, but by that time the Bush family appears to have moved to the Midwest. According to the 1850 U.S. census, Phineas Bush, farmer, 28, was living with Mary Bush, 52 (Polly is a nickname for Mary) and William Bush, 53, farmer, in Clinton County, Illinois. 

A photo posted on www.findagrave.com of Polly’s gravestone in Harrison Cemetery, Marion County, a rural area of southern Illinois, shows that she died there on Jan 9, 1856. Son Phineas is buried nearby, but I have not yet found a record of William Bush’s death.  Polly’s and William’s four children were Pamelia Ann, Mary Sophia, William Stanley and Phineas Bagg.5

The two Bush daughters led very different lives, with Mary Sophia living in Quebec as a French-speaking Catholic and Pamelia Ann settling in Oregon. Neither was able to attend the 1861 inventory of their aunt’s will: Mary Sophia was already dead, and Pamelia lived too far away. Phineas Bagg Bush represented Pamelia at this family gathering. Sophia had left her 200 pounds, about $5,400 U.S. in today’s currency.

Sophia and her husband, Montreal-area landowner Gabriel Roy,6 adopted Polly’s daughter Mary Sophia Bush (c. 1815-1841) and brought her up in their St. Laurent home. In 1835, Mary Sophia Roy Bush married Louis Charles Lambert Dumont (1806-1841), the seigneur of Milles-Îles. He was the owner of a vast territory of forests, mountains, rivers and farms in what was basically a feudal system of land ownership in Quebec prior to 1854. 

Both Mary Sophia and her husband died suddenly, on separate dates, in 1841. Their only child, Marguerite Virginie Lambert Dumont (1838-1874), who was just three years old at the time, became heir to the seigneurie. She was brought up by a notary in the town of Saint-Eustache, north of Montreal. When she was 15, she married her cousin, Charles Auguste Maximilien (CAM) Globensky (1830-1906). Virginie had eight children and died at age 36.

Polly’s other daughter, Pamelia Ann (1812-1880),7had a much longer life, but no children. The inventory of Sophia’s will identified her as the wife of John W. York, a Methodist Episcopal minister in Oregon.

The 1840 U.S. Federal Census showed that Pamelia was no longer living in Vermont with her parents at that time. The Early Oregonian8 indicates that Pamelia had a first husband, George Quinton, but I have so far been unable to find a marriage record, place of residence or his date of death.

In 1847, she married clergyman John W. York in Marion, Illinois. Born in Georgia in 1801, John W. York had previously lived in Missouri and he had been married twice before.9 According to the 1850 census, he had three teenage daughters.10

In 1852, Pamelia and John moved to Oregon, settling in Corvallis, Benton County. Corvallis was located on busy transportation route and was a growing town.11 John was admitted to the Oregon Conference and worked as a Methodist Episcopal minister there for many years, travelling the area circuits and overseeing the construction of a new church.

In the 1880 census, Pamelia was listed as an invalid and she died that December. John died in 1884. Both are buried in Mount Union Cemetery, Philomath, Benton County, Oregon.12

As for son Phineas (1820-1867), I have not completed my research on him and his family, but according to www.findagrave.com, he died in Marion County, Illinois on Jan. 4, 1867. His widow, Louise M. Bush, was listed in a city directory in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1905.

Three young daughters are buried in the same Illinois graveyard as Phineas, but two other daughters appear to have accompanied the widowed Louise to Tennessee.   I have written about son William Stanley Bush (c. 1816-1892) in a separate article.  (This article was revised Oct. 2, 2016)

See also:

Janice Hamilton, “William S. Bush, Baptist Preacher,” Writing Up the Ancestors, May 19, 2016 https://www.writinguptheancestors.ca/2016/05/william-s-bush-baptist-preacher.html

Janice Hamilton, “Polly Bagg Bush: A Surprise Sister,” Writing Up the Ancestors, May 23, 2014 https://www.writinguptheancestors.ca/2014/05/polly-bagg-bush-surprise-sister.html

Janice Hamilton, “The Doomed Marriage of Mary Sophia Roy Bush and Louis Charles Lambert Dumont,” Writing Up the Ancestors, Jan. 27, 2015, https://www.writinguptheancestors.ca/2015/01/sophia-mary-roy-bush-and-louis-charles.html

Janice Hamilton, “Marguerite Virginie Globensky,” Writing Up the Ancestors, Jan. 27, 2015, https://www.writinguptheancestors.ca/2015/01/the-story-of-marguerite-virginie.html

Notes and Footnotes

  1. Notary J.A. Labadie, 18 mai, 1856, #14278, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec
  2. Notary Leo Labadie, 28 January, 1861, #6248, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec
  3. I previously believed that Polly (Mary was her real name) was born in Pittsfield, MA, however, Pamelia told the census-takers in 1880 that her mother was born in Connecticut. This makes sense because Polly’s mother, Pamela Stanley, was from Litchfield, CT, and the two towns are not far apart. I have not found any record of Polly’s birth or marriage, only census records and a photo of her gravestone. Her date of birth is calculated from age at death, as recorded on her gravestone.
  4. This letter is in Abner Bagg’s letterbook, PO70/B1, the Bagg Family Fonds, held at the McCord Museum in Montreal.
  5. Searches on www.ancestry.ca for William Bush in the 1820, 1830 and 1840 United States Federal Census show the family living in West Haven, Rutland, Vermont. In 1830, there were only five people in this household rather than the expected two adults and four children; Mary Sophia had already gone to live with her aunt in Lower Canada.
  6. I have yet to find photographs or portraits of any of these individuals except for Virginie. Sophia and Gabriel Roy must have had their portraits done, so if you come across images of any of these people, please contact me at janhamilton66@gmail.com.
  7. Pamelia appears in records and censuses as Pamelia Ann Bush (most likely her correct name at birth), Amelia Bush, Permilia Duinton, Pamelia Ann Bush York, Parmelia York, P.A. York and Pamelia A. York. In her will, Sophia referred to her as Ann, so perhaps that is the name she usually used.
  8. Oregon Secretary of State, “Pamelia Ann Bush,” Early Oregonian Search, https://secure.sos.state.or.us/prs/profile.do?ancRecordNumber=100338, accessed April 23, 2016.
  9. “Oregon Conference,” Minutes of the Annual Conferences of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Spring Conferences of 1884. New York: Phillips and Hunt, 1884, p. 334, https://googlebooks.ca, accessed April 24, 2013.
  10. The 1850 U.S. Federal Census on Ancestry.ca showed John W. York, 48, farmer, and Parmelia York, 38, living in District 68, Clinton, Illinois. With them were Martha York, 19, Ann York, 17, and Emily York, 15. Also with them were Nathan Dougherty, 22 and Andrew Carr, 20. I don’t know who these young men were, perhaps farm workers. 
  11. For more information about the history of Corvallis, Oregon, see the website of the Benton County Historical Society, http://www.bentoncountymuseum.org/index.php/research/benton-county-history/
  12. Pamelia Ann Bush York, Find a Grave, http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=25056543&ref=acom, accessed April 23 2016.