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Alice Cogswell Bemis A Sketch by a Friend   By:

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The Merrymount Press ยท Boston



Alice Cogswell Bemis came from a long line of good British stock. She was in the eighth generation from John Cogswell, who was born at Westbury Leigh, Wiltshire, in 1592. He was a man of standing and of considerable inherited property. Among the latter were "The Mylls," called "Ripond," situated in the parish of Fromen, Selwood, together with the homestead and certain personal property. He married Elizabeth Thompson, a daughter of the Vicar of Westbury parish. After twenty years of married life, during which they had lived in the family homestead and he had carried on his father's prosperous business, he decided to emigrate to America, and on May 23, 1625, leaving one married daughter in England, they embarked with their eight other children on the famous ship, The Angel Gabriel . We find no mention of a special reason for their leaving England, but it was probably the same that led many others of their type to begin life afresh in the new world; here the possibilities of the country to be developed were limitless, and doubtless these offered a better outlook for their children, whose welfare must have been uppermost in their thoughts and plans.

The voyage of The Angel Gabriel and its wreck off Pemaquid, on the coast of Maine, in the frightful gale of August 15, 1625, are told in the graphic story of the Rev. Richard Mather, who was a passenger on the ship James , which sailed from England on the same day. The James lay at anchor off the Isles of Shoals while The Angel Gabriel was off Pemaquid. She was torn from her anchors and obliged to put to sea, but after two days' terrible battling with storm and wave, reached Boston harbor with "her sails rent in sunder, and split in pieces, as if they had been rotten rags." Of The Angel Gabriel , he says: "It was burst in pieces and cast away." Strong winds from the northeast and great tidal waves made it a total wreck. John Cogswell and all his family were washed ashore from the broken decks of their ship, but several others lost their lives. Some of the many valuable possessions they had brought with them never came to shore, but among the articles saved was a tent which gave good service at once; this Mr. Cogswell pitched for a temporary abiding place. As soon as possible he took passage for Boston, where he made a contract with the captain of a small bark to sail for Pemaquid and transport his family to Ipswich, Massachusetts, then a newly settled town.

The settlers of Ipswich at once appreciated these newcomers, and the municipal records show that liberal grants of land were made to John Cogswell. Among them was one spoken of as "Three hundred acres of land at the further Chebokoe," which later was incorporated as a part of Essex. Here in 1636 their permanent home was built, and here, covering a period of over two hundred and fifty years, their descendants cultivated the land. The Cogswells had brought with them several farm and household servants, as well as valuable furniture, farming implements, and considerable money. A log house was soon built, but the boxes containing their many valuables were unopened until it was practicable for Mr. Cogswell to build a frame house. A description of this remains, in which we are told that it stood back from the highway, and was approached through shrubbery and flowers. It is further said, that among the treasures which were taken into the new home from the boxes were several pieces of carved furniture, embroidered curtains, damask table linen, and much silver plate; that there was a Turkish carpet, an unusual treasure for those days, is well attested. Their descendants still treasure relics of their ancestors, such as articles of personal adornment, a quaint mirror, and an old clock... Continue reading book >>

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