Aunt Bolles and Her Spoons

Part of the draw of genealogy study is the desire to know your ancestors, to know where you came from.  For other researchers, it’s the desire to solve a mystery – to fill in some missing piece of a larger puzzle that motivates you to spend countless hours researching what was once known but now is lost.


For this researcher, I must admit it’s both.   I enjoy learning more about my ancestors, but when a puzzle piece falls neatly into place, I get a real feeling of accomplishment.

So it was earlier this fall when I went back and re-read the “Russell’n Through the Leaves” short story.   This story outlines the re-discovery of cousins long forgotten and the efforts of my family to re-connect.  One of the enduring mysteries of this chapter was the relationship of Aunt Bolles and James Russell.

Letter of James Russell_envelope

Letter of James Russell – 1886

In a letter dated June 19, 1886, James Russell wrote to Edward Henry9 Dickerman, my Great-Great Grandfather, and addressed him as “Dear Cousin Ed”.  In the letter James describes a family dispute “among the heirs” of an estate worth some $40,000 – a sizable fortune in those days.  James was referring to the estate of Mr. James Harrison Bolles, a wealthy resident of Pepperill, Massachusetts.  James Bolles died November 5th, 1882 and his widow, Mrs. Dorcas R. Bolles, was deemed “insane” and under the guardianship of James Russell.  The full Probate Record from Hollis, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire can be read here:




Edward9 was described as “next of kin and heir”.   My conclusion was that he was the nephew of Dorcas R. (Russell) Bolles, the sister of his mother Mary Russell Dickerman.  (Mary R. Dickerman later married Arnold Payne in Michigan.)   But how does James Russell fit into the picture?  Was he perhaps a brother of Dorcas and Mary?  After a decade of research, this author has not found any direct evidence to prove this to be true, though it seems very likely.

In my personal library, besides the 1886 letter, I have copies of several correspondences between James Russell, Edward Dickerman, and his Uncle Albert G. Russell.  Albert was a younger brother of Mary and Dorcas and a prominent citizen of Hubbardston, Michigan.  After the death of her husband, Samuel8 Dickerman in 1850, Mary R. moved to Michigan to live “in the wilderness” with her brother, A.G. Russell.  The family kept in contact with relatives back east through a series of letters and visits.  Much of our current research has been based upon the content of these letters.

Perhaps the most interesting part of James Russell’s 1886 letter is a paragraph near the end.   He states

“There are a lot of spoons at Bennett’s, which Bennett’s wife proposed to have divided among the nephews and nieces of Mrs. Bolles.  It seems to me if any interest attaches to them it would be better for one to have the set than divide them among a dozen or so”
“I think there are a dozen teaspoons and three or four table spoons.”

These were likely silver spoons which would have had an intrinsic value but certainly far more value today as a family heirloom.  It  seems they were, indeed, “divided up among the heirs.”   So this begs the question, whatever became of these spoons?  This remained a mystery until just recently.


Who was this Aunt Bolles?  She was always spoken of fondly among the letters and was undoubtedly a favorite Aunt of all the Dickerman children.   There was a bit of tragedy in her life but also a remarkable spirit that was evidenced by her actions.

Dorcas Russell and James Harrison Bolles were married January 27th, 1835 in Charleston, Massachusetts.  They had three children, James Albert (b. 1838), Julie Lorena (b. 1844) and  Lucy Mary (b. 1848).  Sadly, each died within a month of birth.  However, Mr. and Mrs. Bolles went on to adopt many children including the minor children of John Dickerman and her aunt Sally Ann Dakin.  The original Probate Records of this adoption can be seen here:




S.R. Dickerman

Portrait of Sgt. S.R. Dickerman

It turns out the Bolles would open their home to many children including an adoption of young, Dolly Ann Francena Butterfield.  Dolly was born Dec. 11, 1830, the daughter of David S. Butterfield and Catharine Hicklings.  Though I have yet to locate the original probate records of adoption, it seems that Dolly’s name was changed to Francena Ann Bolles and that she was known as “Fannie”.   A young veteran of the Mexican-American War, Samuel R.9 Dickerman, met Fannie and married her on March 12th, 1855.  Fannie gave birth to Frank Bolles10 Dickerman on June 26th of that year and tragically died July 20th, less than a month after giving birth.

Later, on December 16, 1861, S.R. Dickerman, would marry Sophia Blood and have a son George Henry Ainsworth10 Dickerman, in August 1863.  George H.A. Dickerman’s descendant is Russell12 Dickerman who still lives in the Nashua, New Hampshire area.  When visiting Russ we came across the gravestone of Fannie A. Bolles, wife of S.R. Dickerman in Pepperill, Massachusetts as described in the “Russell’n” story.  Incredibly, Russ said that a lock of red hair had been passed down with Fannie’s name attached.  Until we re-discovered her headstone at Pepperill, Russ had no idea who she was.

Fannie A. Bolles, wife of S.R. Dickerman

Fannie A. Bolles, wife of S.R. Dickerman

But what of this young lad, Frank Bolles Dickerman?  Without his mother to care for him, Sam left his son in the care of James and Dorcas Bolles.  Both Samuel and Frank were present in their home during the 1860 census.  With the outbreak of the Civil War, Samuel joined the New Hampshire Regiment and was captured late in the war.  Sadly, S.R. Dickerman died while a prisoner of war at Andersonville Prison in Georgia.  However, his name is not on any of the death rosters and his 1864 diary was lost.  Samuel’s 1862 and 1863 diaries will be the subject of another post at some time in the future.

So now, we have Frank Bolles Dickerman, less than ten years old with both Mother and Father deceased.  The Bolles raised him as their own child and applied for his guardianship.  Eventually Frank took the name Frank Dickerman Bolles as described in the Last_Will_of_James_H_Bolles-File_No_8193.  Searching the internet this year I came across an page called “The Frank Dickerman Bolles Story”, written by his grandson, Kenneth Bolles11.   The entire story is available in pdf format here:



Frank Dickerman Bolles Story, by Kenneth Bolles – Ancestry

Following up on this story, I contacted Ken’s son Richard B. Bolles12 who posted the story to and reprinted here with his permission.  Richard is a twelfth generation descendant of Thomas1 Dickerman.  Richard put me in contact with Wendelyn Bolles 13 who shared with me a photo of a spoon passed down to her through her father and grandfather.  At last, we find one of Aunt Bolles’ spoons.


Aunt Bolles spoon – courtesy Wendelyn Bolles.

Even more importantly, we’ve found new cousins and descendants of Thomas1 Dickerman.  Many thanks to Richard and Wendy for their help with this effort.

Dickerman Ancestry, Additum for Thomas[1] Dickerman

Dickerman Ancestry, Additum for Thomas (___-1657)

 by David Allen Lower  (issue December 2013)



 The “Dickerman Ancestry“, an excellent genealogical work published in 1897, chronicled many of the descendents of Thomas Dickerman (___-1657), emigrant to Dorchester, Massachusetts from England about 1635. Recently discovered archives add substantially to the birth, marriage and family record of Thomas.

This additum to the Dickerman Ancestry indicates two wives taken by Thomas in England prior to his known wife and emigrant companion Ellen (1601-1676) variously Elenor (Whittington). We find his first child,  daughter Hannah (1622-1665), born of his first wife Elizabeth Sims (abt 1597-bef1623). We confirm his first son, Thomas Jr. (1623-1685), was born of his second wife, Marie Eustaire (abt 1600-bef 1631). The last three sons, Abraham (abt 1634-1711), Isaac (1637-____) and John (1644-d.young), are then seen to be born of Elenor (1601-1711).  Hannah, not mentioned in the Dickerman Ancestry, is found first at New Haven, CT, married 1st to Captain William Ives and 2nd to Dr. William Bassett. These revelations begin to untangle a multitude of improper notations in the greater genealogical database with respect to Thomas Dickerman and his family.

Further evidence is put forward that while Thomas Dickerman was “of St. Georges Parish, Southwark, Surrey” (stated by Banks), he was married 1st (1613) at St. Georges, married 2nd (1622) and son Thomas christened (1623) at Saint Clement Danes, London (across London Bridge from St. Georges), and married 3rd at Little Missendon (1631), Buckinghamshire. He is likely the son of George Dickerman (____-abt 1615) “of Marston Morteyne, Bedfordshire”, and may have had a younger “brother” Abraham living in St. Georges, Southwark about 1620. Also, Thomas Dickerman may have been christened at the Mears Shelby School, Norwich, Norfolkshire, in 1605.

Insert- Little Missendon Marriages - pg 1 Insert- Little Missendon Marriages - pg 2


The full text of this Additum is available in PDF format here:



Hole-in-One_002Among the several goals of this website is to scan and catalog the photo and document collections of other researchers involved with the descendants of Thomas1 Dickerman.  We are assembling these “Collections” in an internet repository as part of the goal to preserve as much detail as possible from our ancestors.

A current project involves my own Grandfather, Edward Henry11 Dickerman, son of Samuel James10 Dickerman.  Grandpa’s generation was the first in my line to take casual photos so we have quite a collection to prepare.  One of my fond memories of my Grandfather was when he gave me an old twin-lens reflex camera that he no longer used.  Later, he gave me a nice Japanese SLR camera he had retired and the last was a little red point –and-shoot that I still have today.  (Admittedly, it’s a bit more difficult to find film these days than when Grandpa gave it to me.)

Here’s a photo of Edward with sons Bill (Wilford Gene12 Dickerman) and Jim (James Samuel12 Dickerman).

Wilford G., Edward H., James S. Dickerman

Wilford Gene, Edward Henry, James Samuel Dickerman

Grandpa Dickerman’s line from Thomas  is:

Edward Henry11, Samuel James10, Edward Henry9, Samuel8 ,Samuel7, Samuel6, Samuel5, John4, John3, Thomas2, Thomas1 Dickerman


While Grandpa was never much on genealogy (see “Russell’n through the Leaves”), he did like taking pictures, so this project will take some time.  However, something of interest came along I thought I should share today.

Among his many interests, Ed liked to golf.  Now, his son Jim (James Samuel11 Dickerman) was always the athlete of the family as well as the family historian.  I imagine things could get a little competitive around the Dickerman household with Jim, a tennis champion, Bill (my Dad) an avid golfer and sportsman, and Grandpa Ed.  But on one particular day, Grandpa Ed got the upper hand with a Hole-in-One at the American Legion Golf Course in Owosso, Michigan.

The shot must have frazzled Jim a bit that day. Grandpa beat him and the local paper didn’t let him off easily.  Check out the ad from the Dry Cleaners that week.  Hole-in-One_004

Origins of Thomas[1] Dickerman – Part II

Following up on my last post, I came across the Ives Family History Blog and an article written by David Allen Lower dated August 8, 2007. Blog owner and administrator Bill Ives has spent countless hours and many years tracing the family history of Williams Ives and his descendants.  A classic internet “rumor” is that Hannah Dickerman, the eldest daughter of Thomas1 Dickerman, was the wife of William Ives.  Bill takes issue with this supposition in this post:

Interestingly, Hannah was never listed in the Dickerman Genealogy by E.D. Dickerman.   It is likely that Edward was simply unaware of any records relating to Hannah, as she was older than Thomas2 and the younger brothers.  Several current researchers agree with Bill Ives that the wife of Williams Ives, referred to in the original source documents as “Goodwife Ives”, was not in fact the daughter of Thomas and Ellen Dickerman.  He leaves the possibility open, however, with a reference to the research and report of David Allen Lower.

After reading David’s two-part report with excellent source references, this author agrees that it seems Thomas1 Dickerman had actually married twice prior to his marriage to Elenor Whittington.  The full text can be reviewed here:

and Part 2 here:

To summarize, David states that Thomas Dickerman married Elizabeth Simms in the St. George the Martyr’s parish in Southwark,  England on 14 Jun 1613.   Later, in the Saint Clement Danes parish of London there was an entry of marriage on 2 Nov 1622 between Thomas Dickerman and Marie Eustaire or Eustice.  Finally the marriage to Elenor Whittington on 20 Oct 1631 in Little Missenden, Buckinghamshire, England as originally reported by Col. Charles E. Banks is also mentioned.

David suggests that because the surname Dickerman was unique at the time and because of the proximity to London, these three marriages are all of the same Thomas Dickerman – the Thomas Dickerman born about 1597 and our original immigrant ancestor referred in the Dickerman Genealogy as Thomas1.

In the interest of adding some clarity to this mystery, I spoke to David Allen Lower today by telephone.  He revealed that he personally inspected the parchment at Aylesbury for the marriage of Thomas and Elenor and confirms, without question, its authenticity.  David has a photocopy of the original document in his personal library.

Working on the assumption that David is correct regarding the first two marriages, we find that the Dickerman descendants in America may have two or possibly even three maternal lines.  Descendants of Thomas2 , who was born about 1623, would likely be descended from Marie Eustaire while the living descendants of Abraham2 and Isaac2 , both born after 1631, would be descended from Hannah Whittington.  Abraham was born in 1634 in England and Isaac in 1636/1637 in Dorchester.  Another son, John2 Dickerman was born in 1644 in Dorchester but died young without having children.

What about Hannah2 Dickerman, purported to have been born in 1622?  As noted above, there is some controversy about Hannah possibly being the wife of William Ives and after his death, the wife of William Bassett.  If the 1622 date of birth is to be believed, she may have been the daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Simms, prior to the marriage of Thomas and Marie Eustaire.  Certainly more research needs to be done.  This author offers no opinion as to the Dickerman and Ives/Bassett controversy, but will refer the reader to the sites referenced below.


The author is descended from the elder Thomas2 and his mother Marie (Eustaire) Dickerman, while David Allen Lower is descended from Abraham2 and his mother Hannah (Whittington) Dickerman.

David’s pedigree from Thomas1 is shown here:

David Allen Lower11, Mary Nell10 Dickerman (Javens), Emma9 Dickerman, Elford8 Dickerman, Edward7, Jonathan6, Johnathan5, Jonathan4, Isaac3, Abraham2, Thomas1.

And, due to the marriage of Edward7 Dickerman to Laura Hotchkiss7, daughter of Elias Hotchkiss and Esther6 Dickerman, also here:

David Allen Lower11, Mary Nell10 Dickerman (Javens), Emma9 Dickerman, Elford8 Dickerman, Laura Hotchkiss7, Esther6 (Dickerman) Hotchkiss, James5 Dickerman, Samuel4, Isaac3, Abraham2, Thomas1.

Many thanks to David for his efforts and exceptional documentation.  Thanks also to the tireless efforts of Bill Ives and his excellent weblog.  As additional source documentation is discovered and digitized, it will be made available on this site.



  1. Dickerman, Edward Dwight, & Dickerman, George Sherwood, Families of Dickerman Ancestry: Descendents of Thomas Dickerman. (Tuttle, Morehouse, & Taylor Press, 1897, updated 1922), Chapter 1, p. 385, 440.
  2. Ives Family History Blog –
  3. Report of David Allen Lower – and
  4. website –
  5. Forum –