Martha. Martha. Martha.

Any child of the 70's should recognize the title of this blog as a play on the old Brady Bunch lament, "Marsha. Marsha. Marsha." when poor middle child, Jan, exasperated with her old sister, Marsha,  could do nothing but sigh her name in frustration.

Sometimes I feel that way with my research into the personal history of the early Brock ancestors, as it continues to fascinate, and to a degree, exasperate and frustrate me.

The ancestral Brock men, John, the fisherman (identified as such to differentiate him from his son, grandson and great-grandson, all of whom were also named John), and his son, John, left the amateur, albeit tenacious genealogist, (read: me) little in the way of personal documents to help paint a picture of their lives in 18th century Gloucester, Massachusetts. Both, it seems, were men with little to no property, real or personal. Without the benefit of influence or prosperity, the personal history of these two men is limited to vital or Town records, and only when it was recorded or preserved. True, there's always the hope of finding the occasional mention in local history, but for these gentlemen, those references are as scarce as hen's teeth.

Much of what I’ve been able to gather about the first two John Brocks and their wives has been stitched together with a thread of assumptions, based on life in Gloucester during their lives and the scant few documents that acknowledged their existence.

Sadly, I’ve not fared much better with their wives.  Abigail Elwell, the wife of John the fisherman, was the daughter of Eleazer Elwell, a man of some means in early Gloucester. She is mentioned in a few more records than her daughter-in-law, Martha Tucker.  Martha Tucker was the daughter of John Tucker, Jr., another Gloucester resident of influence and means. In both cases, it doesn't surprise me that much more is known about the fathers than the daughters.

The only other Brock wife who is more of an enigma than Martha Tucker Brock is Susannah Crandall, the wife of the third John Brock. But that’s a blog for another day.

Martha Tucker, as mentioned, was the daughter of John Tucker, Jr. and his wife, Mary Lane. The Tucker, Lane and Riggs families were early, well-to-do residents of Gloucester.  Besides her pedigree, nothing much else is known about Martha.  Rev. Mr. Benjamin Bradstreet of Gloucester’s Fifth Parish baptized her on November 13, 1737. She and John were married in Gloucester. Their Purpose of Marriage was listed in the Town Records on November 5, 1763; the marriage, performed by Rev. Ebenezer Cleveland, was recorded on December 6 of the same year.

The Fifth Parish Church marriage, Baptism and Death records, page 538, lists the marriage of Patty Tucker and John Brock on December 6, 1763. Another entry, an index for the same marriage record, identifies Martha as Mrs. Patty Tucker. While Patty was a common nickname for Martha, this was the first time I’d seen Martha referred to as a married woman prior to her marriage to John. Was it a mistake in the records? Perhaps. It certainly wasn’t unusual.

Church records document the baptism of John and Martha’s children were baptized in the Fourth Parish. Records show dates for Martha on August 26, 1764, John, Jr. on August 31, 1766, William on March 20, 1769, and finally, Mary, child of the Widow Martha Brock, baptized on October 6, 1771. The assumption? John died before his fourth child was baptized, and perhaps even before she was born.

The acknowledgment that Martha Brock was a widow when Mary was baptized is the only record I’ve found which provides any insight into John’s death. He would have been approximately 31 years old.

Martha, aged 34, found herself a widow with 4 young children.  I don’t know how she supported herself or her children in the years after John’s death, but she remained in Gloucester until early 1777, when in March.  In March 1777, Martha, identified as “of Glocester”, along with other heirs of John Tucker, Jr., convey property to Edward Higgins.

John James Babson, in his book Notes and Additions to the History of Gloucester notes that Martha Brock and her children removed to New Gloucester in (1777). Perhaps Martha used the proceeds from the property sale to move her growing family.

Nothing more is known about daughter Mary, they youngest of Martha’s children. William, John Jr. and Martha all left New Gloucester as young adults and settled in the Buckfield, Maine.  Martha married Ebenezer Cary in 1793. William married a woman named Sarah, and John Jr. wed Susannah Crandall. 

Nothing more is known about Martha Tucker Brock. Did she remarry after she got to New Gloucester? It’s one assumption. She was still a relatively young woman in 1774, but to date, I haven’t found any records to substantiate that assumption.  

I guess, for now, she'll remain an enigma.

Oh, Martha. Martha. Martha.