Aunt Sarah at her Writing Desk

May 22,2022 (early draft of opening paragraphs)

Dear Grandmother Sarah,

I recently wrote a letter to your Grandfather, Henry Taber, my 3rd great grandfather and father of your mother Abby Taber.   Very recently I found some interesting information I hadn’t known about our family’s much longer-term connection to Little Compton.  You may well have known it and I will get to that soon.  But first, the naming conventions of the colonists and early Americans have long fascinated me and your name is a very good place to start, incorporating as it does pieces pointing to the extended family’s past and interconnections.

At birth, you were named Sarah Gordon Hunt, carrying the name of Sarah Gordon who was the first wife of your father John Hunt. Sarah was the the cousin of your mother. The name Gordon extends back to Alexander Gordon who was born in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1635 of the Highlands family that was loyal to the cause of the Stewarts. Taken prisoner of war in 1650, and subsequently released to Capt. John Allen of Charlestown, MA, on the condition he emigrate to North America [1]. The name Gordon echoes through our family lines, not only as a surname but also as a first or middle name. Your father, as you recall, left Little Compton as a young man, and found a position as a clerk for Henry Taber and soon admitted into a partnership with Henry and his son, William Gordon Taber. More on the family is detailed in my book on the photo album your mother compiled in the 1860s [2] and which your mother ‘read’ to your daughter Agatha, who in the early 1940s, probably soon after your death and the death of your daughter Edith, penciled in the stories Abby shared with her.  Your daughter Constance similarly named her children (first and middle names) reflecting family connections—her first-born, a son, was named after her husband, Arthur; her second-born, my mother, was named Sally Hunt, and my mother named her first born son Peter Hunt, carrying the name of my mother’s brother Peter and the Hunt name.  My middle name originally was Fay but after hearing for years from my mother that she wished she had given me the middle name of Snow, I legally changed it to that and am very pleased I did.  Many more naming conventions are carried in our extended family tree one set of which I outlined years ago—the middle names of the daughters of Loum Snow and Abby Harris Easton Mowry [3]. As a teenager studying the family tree, I found those seven names magical, and visualized them as beads on a chain. Although when I wrote the article cited, I was missing the connection of the middle name for Jennie Sherson, I later discovered that it was the maiden name of one of Abby’s brother’s wives. The two sons of Abby, Loum and Robert, the latter whom you married, were given no middle names.  For your own reasons, none of your three daughters and one son (Constance, Agatha, Edith, and Robert) were given middle names. 


[1] Weiland, Florence Black, Fifty New England Colonists and Five Virgina Families, The Boothbay Register. Available on Ancestry.com.

[2] Frozen in Time, an early carte de visite album from New Bedford, Massachusetts, Second Edition, 2021: pp. 44-46.

[3] “Starting with a Bracelet and a Family Tree: How Family Artifacts Inspired and Informed My Genealogical Search,” American Ancestors, Summer 2013: 44-46.

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