I have many saved searches on EBay in the hope that some documents or photos may turn up, concerning my ancestors. Every day, I receive in email any results of the saved search that might have turned up in the past 24 hours. I have searches for family names, towns, (and in the case of common names, sometimes a combination of the two) and also books I am looking for.
Recently, my search for Townsend, Massachusetts turned up some historic documents with my ancestor’s name on them. I didn’t manage to buy the documents but I did keep copies of them.
They concerned Benjamin Spaulding.
Benjamin Spaulding, 1743-1832
The Spalding Memorial: A Genealogical History of Edward Spalding of Massachusetts Bay and his Descendants (by Samuel J. Spalding. Boston: Aldred Mudge, 1872) describes Benjamin as follows :
[p. 108] Lieut. Benjamin (Isaac4, Andrew2, Andrew2, Edward1) b. Aug 14, 1743, in Townsend, Ms. ; d. May 27, 1832, aged 89, in Townsend, Ms., where he resided, and where all his children were born. He was successful in school-teaching, which occupation was followed by three of his daughters …
According to The Spalding Memorial Benjamin Spaulding had ten children: Benjamin b. 1767, Peter b. 1769, Mary b. 1771 (m. Peter Lawrence), David b. 1773, Joel b. 1775, Abel b. 1777, Isaac b. 1779, Sarah b. 1782 (m. Peter Shumway), Ephraim b. 1786, Nancy b. 1789 (m. Cushing Wilder). Only three were daughters, so according to the book all pursued teaching at some point.
“Lieut.” Benjamin Spaulding served in the Revolutionary War. Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolution, vol. XIV, p. 686 shows that he served 18 days in Col. William Prescott’s Regiment of Massachusetts Minutemen, for the Lexington Alarm. I have not discovered any further information about his service, but at some point in his life people apparently referred to him as “Lieutenant.”
I have recorded the contents of the documents, which I am transcribing here although I cannot utilize the pictures since the photographer (the eBay seller) owns those. There was no provenance indicated at all for the documents so I don’t know how they came to be placed on EBay.
1. 1787 Military List, Townsend
Common Wealth of Massachusetts Middlesex
To Josiah Burge one of the Copl of the South Company in Townshend Greetting – you are Hereby Required in the Name of the said Common Wealth forthwith to notify and warn all the men whose names are in the List herewith Committed to you that they assemble and meet at the Training field by the Meetting house in said town upon Tusday the Twenty third day of this Instant at one of the Clock in the afternoon in order to Chuse a Captain and Compleat the Company with officers agreeable to orders from Col. Wright —————-
hereof fail not and make due return of this warrant with your doings thereon as you will answer your default under the penelty of the Law in that behalf made and provided Dated at Townshend the Eleventh day of October in the year of our Lord 1787
Benjn Spaulding Lieut.
2. List of names, evidently associated with document 1. Each name has an X between the first and last name. Almost every name has a mark before it. Some names have a mark after them that looks like “Vn.” I am not sure what that is but have repeated it here.
- Timothy Fessenden
- James Giles Vn.
- Thos Sever Vn.
- Peter Adams
- Abel Adams
- Stephen Bruce
- Jonathan Bailey
- Abra Ball
- Jacob Bachelor
- Elias Boutwell
- David Bachelor
- Eliphalet Bailey
- James Clarke
- Amos W Dix
- Jabez Green
- Lotan Green
- Francis Goodridge
- Leonard Green
- Isaac Giles
- Daniel Hoult
- Jona. Hoult
- Isaac Lewis
- Silas Lawrence
- Peter Manning
- Peter Rumril
- Isaac Spaulding
- Benja. Spaulding Vn.
- Jona. Spaulding
- Nathl. Shattuck
- Joel Spaulding
- Uriah Searl
- John Searl
- Josiah Sawtell
- Azeriah Sherwin
- Solomon Stevens
- Ebenr. Tufts
- Isaac Wallis Vn.
- John Wesson
- Moses Burge
- Eliab Gowen
- James Searl
- Jonas Clarke
- [crossed out] Ada?? Hill
- Wm. Livingston
- Nathan Gepson
- Thos. Barret
- John Conant
- Ezekiel Perham
- Salome Sherwin
- Wm. Parker
- Joseph Blood
- Thos. Hindal
- Reubin Stevens
- Gardner Conant
- Abel Keys
- [the lower half of the second column repeats the first ten names from Column 1, in a sloppier hand, with “yes” written after Giles and Sever – perhaps the meaning of the Vn symbol – ???]
3. School payment list. This paper appears to be two sheets, side by side. Each had previously been folded. They appear to be similar lists, from different years.
We the Subscribers Promise and Engage to Lieut Benjn. Spaulding each of us according to the Number of Children we send to School to pay him for the School Mistress Bord for the term of Six Months at three Shillings & Eleven pence per Week to be paid in grain at Cash price ——-
April 24th 1792 ——-
Names _______________ No. Children
- Benja. Spaulding —————————2 – 0 – 7 – 1 – 1/2
- Daniel Clarke ——————————-2 – 0 – 7 – 1 – 1/2
- Ephraim Warren [Jr.??] —————–2 – 0 – 7 – 1 – 1/2
- Peter Manning —————————–1 – 0 – 3 – 6 – 1/2
- Life Baldwin ———————————2 – 0 – 7 – 1 – 1/2
- Daniel Conant —————————-2 – 0 – 7 – 1 – 1/2
- Samuel Searls ——————————-1 – 0 – 3 – 6 – 1/2
- John Conant ——————————-2 – 0 – 7 – 1 – 1/2
- Nathan Carlton ————————– 1 – 0 – 3 – 6 – 1/2
- Deborah Stary ——————————1 – 0 – 3 – 6 – 1/2
- Jonathan Peirce ————————– 1 – 0 – 3 – 6 – 1/2
- Sarah Clarke for 3 months from June 22 1 – 0 – 2 – 1 – 1/2
- Andrew Searls ——————————1 – 0 – 0 – 3/4
- Jno. Emory ———————————- 0 – 0 – 4 – 1/2
- Stevin Potter [??] —————————1 – 0 – 3 – 6 – 1/2
We the Subscribers Promise & Engage to Lieut Benjn. Spaulding Each of us according to the Number of Children we send to School provided the Sd. Spaulding bords the Mistress the above Sd Term to be paid in grain at Cash pri[??]
Sept 13th 1791
Name ———————————- No – Children [there is another number cut off at the end of each line]
- Life Baldwin — 1 —-
- Peter Manning 1 —-
- Nathan Carlton 1 —-
- Eph. Warren Jun. 3 ——
- Oliver Procter Jun 1 —-
- Daniel Clark 2 ——-
- John Conant 2 ————
- Jonathan Peirce 1 ——-
- Daniel Conant 2 ———
- Benjn. Spaulding 2 ———-
Why this is helpful
It was fun to find this evidence that Benjamin Spaulding was indeed a teacher. If the “Mistress” was a daughter of his, in 1791, that would have to be daughter Mary. It was also nice to see more evidence that Benjamin was referred to as “Lieut.”
It also occurred to me that this content would be helpful to other family researchers. I have no evidence of the provenance or authenticity of these, but they certainly look authentic in the pictures.
To get started with saved searches on EBay, start a login, and do a Search for something. Try not to limit by category, since there are many interesting categories for genealogists:
- Collectibles includes postcards, historical memorabilia, photographic images, and paper
- Books including nonfiction
- Antiques includes maps, atlases and globes
- Everything Else includes genealogy
For instance, instead of saving a general search for Townsend (which would have too many results) I have it set to search every category for Townsend Massachusetts.
To save the search, at the top of the column of results, look for a star and “Save Search”. A box comes up allowing you to name the search and showing you that by default, you are set to receive a daily email of any new results. You can turn that off if you like, and just save the search query to use now and then. But I think the emails work very well, and if you make your search specific enough, don’t have to produce lots of unwanted results. When the emails arrive, they provide a link to each listing (up to a maximum of 12).
I have many searches that produce no emails; they remain in my account on the chance that something might turn up someday.
The post you are reading is located at: https://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2013/09/02/finding-evidence-on-ebay/
The story of finding Spaulding family artifacts at the Carnegie Branch Library for Local History of the Boulder Public Library is told in my post “How to Use NUCMC to Perform a Miracle”.
Randall Spaulding’s picture courtesy of Rootsweb “Photographs & Biographies of Select School Superintendents, 1907.”
Benjamin Spaulding’s grave photographed by Diane Boumenot.