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Charles H. Ashley

Spouse: Emma Estella Wheelock
Marriage:

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Benjamin Buffum

Birth: 13 May 1811

Death: 12 Feb 1908, Douglas, Worcester Co, MA

Father: Benjamin Buffum
Mother: Olive Wheelock

Spouse: Rosamond Sprague
Marriage: 14 Nov 1830, Uxbridge, Worcester Co, MA

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Daniel Buffum

Birth: 27 Aug 1814

Death: 17 Mar 1894

Father: Benjamin Buffum
Mother: Olive Wheelock

Spouse: Mary Kempton
Marriage: 4 Apr 1839, Uxbridge, Worcester Co, MA

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Emeline Buffum

Birth: 4 May 1825, Douglas, Worcester Co, MA

Death: 4 Mar 1911, Uxbridge, Worcester Co, MA

Burial: Prospect Hill Cemetery, Uxbridge, Worcester Co, MA

Father: Benjamin Buffum
Mother: Sophia Wheelock

Spouse: Albert Whipple
Marriage: 18 Apr 1844

Notes:

Her Douglas birth record gives her name as Emeline Wheelock, daughter of Sophia, single.

Her Douglas marriage record to Albert Whipple identifies her last name as Wheelock, mother as Sophia Wheelock.

Her death certificate identifies her maiden name as Buffum, and lists her parents as Benjamin Buffum, born Douglas, and Sophia Wheelock, born Coventry, RI.

Her father is listed here as Benjamin Buffum. However, this relationship is uncertain, given her out-of-wedlock birth, and the potential unreliability of her death record.

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Farnum Buffum

Birth: 4 Dec 1822, Douglas, Worcester Co, MA

Death: 12 Jun 1896, Uxbridge, Worcester Co, MA

Father: Benjamin Buffum
Mother: Olive Wheelock

Spouse: Mary Jane Ray
Marriage: 27 Jun 1863, Cumberland, Providence Co, RI

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Farnum Buffum

Birth: 12 Jun 1819

Death: 8 Apr 1820

Father: Benjamin Buffum
Mother: Olive Wheelock

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Hannah M. Buffum

Birth: 14 Aug 1828, East Douglas, Worcester Co, MA

Death: 8 Apr 1898, Lincoln, Providence Co, RI

Father: Benjamin Buffum
Mother: Olive Wheelock

Spouse: Harmon Slocum
Marriage: 8 Jun 1853, Providence, Providence Co, RI

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Paul W. Buffum

Birth: 25 Jul 1812, Douglas, Worcester Co, MA

Death: 27 Jun 1896, Worcester, Worcester Co, MA

Father: Benjamin Buffum
Mother: Olive Wheelock

Spouse: Louisa L. Darling
Marriage: 2 Apr 1835, Mendon, Worcester Co, MA

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Emma Estella Wheelock

Birth: 31 Aug 1861

Death: 12 Aug 1928

Father: Sylvester Wheelock
Mother: Ann Mary Harrington

Spouse: Charles H. Ashley
Marriage:

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Sophia Wheelock

Birth: 31 Oct 1804, Coventry, Kent Co, RI

Death: 4 Oct 1901, Douglas, Worcester Co, MA

Burial: Evergreen Cemetery, Douglas, Worcester Co, MA

Father: Phyletus Wheelock
Mother: Avis Handy

Spouse: Benjamin Buffum
Marriage: 26 Nov 1849, Burrillville, Providence Co, RI

  1. Phebe Buffum, born 2 Sep 1821, Douglas, Worcester Co, MA
  2. Emeline Buffum, born 4 May 1825, Douglas, Worcester Co, MA
  3. Phyletus Buffum, born calculated 1841
  4. Loren A. Buffum, born May 1843, Douglas, Worcester Co, MA

Notes:

Benjamin Buffum (1789-1861) was of advanced age when he married Sophia Wheelock in 1849. Sophia herself was 45 years old at the time. It's unlikely the two had children after their marriage.

Yet there are records of children born to Benjamin and Sophia earlier than 1849. The first of these is for Phebe (Buffum) Young, who died in Douglas 1 Oct 1910. Her death record identifies her parents as Benjamin Buffum, no birthplace listed, and Sophia Wheelock, born Rhode Island. Her death record implies a 2 Sep 1821 birth date. The second is Emeline Buffum alias Wheelock who died in Uxbridge 4 Mar 1911. Her death certificate lists her birth date as 4 May 1825, Douglas, MA; her parents are Benjamin Buffum, born Douglas, and Sophia Wheelock, born Coventry, RI. The third child is Phyletus Buffum alias Wheelock. His 24 Aug 1863 marriage record to Ellen Humes states that Phyletus was 22 years old, son of Benjamin Buffum and Sophia Wheelock, implying an 1841 birth date. The fourth child is Loren A. Buffum, who married Ellen Maria Shove on 26 Oct 1864 in Douglas. He was 21 at the time, born in Douglas, parents listed as Benjamin and Sophia Buffum. His implied birth date is 1843.

The fifth child of Sophia is Julius Wheelock, male, born 3 May 1843 in Douglas, mother listed as Sophia Wheelock, single woman. No further record of Julius has been found. Julius may have died young, or he may be the same person as Loren Buffum, who was also born in May 1843 (per 1900 U.S. census).[1]

Benjamin and Sophia are enumerated together in the 1850 census, living in Douglas, Benjamin 62, born MA, Sophia 45, born RI, with Phyletus Wheelock, age 9, and Loren Wheelock, age 7.[2] Both Emeline and Phebe had already married by this time, explaining the absence in the household. Benjamin and Sophia are enumerated together again in the 1855 state census, living in Douglas: Benjamin 60 to 70, Sophia 40 to 50, and Loren 10 to 15.

Most online genealogies show that Benjamin Buffum (1787-1861) married Olive Wheelock, daughter of Paul Wheelock and Deborah Morse.

This raises the question: is the Benjamin Buffum who married Olive Wheelock the same person that married Sophia Wheelock?

The first thing to note: Olive died in 1848, leaving room for Benjamin to marry her half niece in 1849, Sophia Wheelock, daughter of Phyletus Wheelock and Avis Handy. The dates work.

Second, during the years 1840, 1850, 1855, and 1860, there is only one Benjamin Buffum living in Douglas. It seems plausible that the Benjamin Buffum living in Douglas in 1840, married to Olive, is the same man living in Douglas in 1850, married to Sophia.

Third, the most convincing evidence is found in the land records, which show that the two Benjamins are the same person. For details, see the research notes.

Assuming the marriage and death records of Sophia's children cited above are credible, the obvious conclusion is that Benjamin had children with Sophia while married to Olive. After Olive died, he married Sophia, who had already given birth to (at least) 4 of his children.

However, there is reason to be skeptical about the credibility of these records. All were created after Benjamin Buffum's death in 1861. Prior to that date, birth and marriage records simply omitted the name of the father. These may be records of social convenience. The four children of Sophia, born out-of-wedlock, may have identified Benjamin as their father simply because he was the one and only man that married their mother. Identifying him as their father served to socially legitimize their births.

It is also possible that the records are correct. They are all consistent, spanning more than six decades. Multiple informants agree.

Additional research may resolve the issue. For now, Benjamin is provissionally shown as the father, recognizing that there is a degree of uncertainty.

For a thorough discussion of the evidence, see "The Curious Case of Benjamin Buffum" blog article at WheelockGenealogy.com.

Sophia's husband, Benjamin, died in 1861.

Sophia remained in Douglas until her death in 1901, living with her children and grandchildren.

Her 1901 will is on file at the Worcester County probate office, case 29047. She left bequests to Phebe Young, wife of Wellington Young, Emeline Whipple, widow of Albert Whipple, Loren A. Buffum, and Loren's children.

Research Notes

Unfortunately, Sophia's death record does not identify her parents; but there are three points of evidence that support the assertion that her parents are Phyletus Wheelock and Avis Handy:

1) Sophia is identified as the daughter of Phyletus Wheelock and Avis Handy by Carlyle Capron Wheelock in his "Wheelock Genealogy" manuscript.[3] He cites Thomas S. Wheelock, Sophia's niece, as the source of this information. Thomas, Carlyle, and Sophia were contemporaries, all living at the time CCW compiled his manuscript. Furthermore, Thomas's father, Godfrey, and Sophia were twins. The information is likely reliable.

2) Sophia had a son named Phyletus, which is an unusual name.

3) The death certificate of Emeline Whipple, Sophia's daughter, identifies her mother as Sophia Wheelock, born in Coventry, RI (where Phyletus and family were living when Sophia was born).

There are multiple Benjamin Buffums living in Douglas and Uxbridge in the 1800s. It is not obvious from the vital records that the Benjamin Buffum who married Olive Wheelock is the same man that married Sophia Wheelock, and fathered children with her. There are no obvious date conflicts, but the extraordinary circumstances of her relationship with Benjamin Buffum demands more evidence.

One piece of evidence is supplied by the 1840 through 1860 U.S. census enumerations which show only one Benjamin Buffum living in Douglas. There are others in Uxbridge and Providence, Rhode Island, but only one in Douglas. This suggests that the Benjamin Buffum living in Douglas in 1840, married to Olive, is the same man living in Douglas in 1855, married to Sophia.

Another piece of evidence is found in the Worcester County land records. The crux of the argument centers on three deeds. In the first, Benjamin Buffum conveyed land to Benjamin Buffum, Jr. In the second, Benjamin Buffum, Jr. conveyed a portion of that same property back to Benjamin Buffum. In the third, Benfamin Buffum conveyed the property to James E. Simmons.[4]

Olive is identified as his wife in the first deed, Sophia in the third (ammended) deed. If the Benjamin Buffum who signed the first deed is the same man that signed the third deed, then it is proven that the same man married both women - not two different Benjamin Buffums.

The names on the first two deeds (Benjamin and Benjamin, Jr) suggest a father son relationship. The second deed confirms this. In this deed, Benjamin, Jr conveyed 40 acres in Douglas for $1 to his father "in further consideration of the love and affection I bear to my father".[5] Furthermore, this deed identifies the 40 acre parcel as a portion of that conveyed in the first deed, and identifies the Benjamin and Benjamin Jr in the second deed as the same people in the first deed.[6] Finally, the second deed refers to an earlier 1838 deed to identify the metes and bounds of the property.[7]

These first two deeds clearly establish the identify of the two Benjamins. Benjamin Jr is the son of Benjamin; he lives in Uxbridge, while his father lives in Douglas, and is married to Olive. What remains is to show that the Benjamin Buffum in the third deed is the same man in the first two deeds, the father of Benjamin Jr.

This can be shown by noting that Benjamin sold the property almost immediately after his son gave it to him. The second deed was signed 22 January 1853. Just two months later Benjamin (of Douglas) sold the same parcel to James E. Simmons, signing the third deed on 31 March 1853.[8] In this third deed, the metes and bounds of the 40 acre parcel are defined by an indirect reference to the same 1838 deed, confirming that it is the same parcel.[9] The third deed was ammended in 1857 to include Sophia's signature.[10]

No other transaction involving this 40 acre parcel was found in the short two month interval between the second and third deeds; so it is reasonably certain that the Benjamin in the second deed is the same man in the third deed.

In summary, these deeds provide direct evidence that the same Benjamin married Olive and Sophia, in time frames consistent with the marriage records. Furthermore, even though the births of Sophia's children are not recorded in Douglas, Uxbridge, or Rhode Island, their marriage and death records clearly identify Benjamin Buffum (of Douglas) as the father.

Source Citations

[1] "Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988," database with images, Ancestry.com (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=2495 : accessed 2 Feb 2019); Massachusetts Vital and Town Records, Holbrook Research Institute (Jay and Delene Holbrook).

[2] 1850 U.S. census. Sophia's first name is almost illegible. It is indexed as "Mrs." at Ancestry.com, Feb 2019.

[3] Carlyle Capron Wheelock, and Winifred (Thomson) (Argersinger) Gonseth, Wheelock Genealogy, unpublished manuscript, 1955, p. 167; New England Historical and Genealogical Society, Boston.

[4] Worcester Co., Ma., deed 421:492, Benjamin Buffum to Benjamin Buffum, Jr., 22 April 1847; also deed 507:176, Benjamin Buffum, Jr. to Benjamin Buffum, 22 January 1853; also deed 507:177, Benjamin Buffum to James E. Simmons, 31 March 1853, which was ammended by deed 588:260, Sophia Buffum to James E. Simmons, 17 October 1857; Registry of Deeds, Worcester Co, Ma.; digital images FamilySearch.org (https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/2106411 : accessed 8 February 2019).

[5] Worcester Co., Ma., deed 507:176.

[6] Worcester Co., Ma., deed 507:176, in which the reference to earlier deed 421:492 is phrased as "being a part of the land conveyed to grantor by deed of grantee in April 1847."

[7] Worcester Co., Ma., deed 507:176, in which the parcel is identify as "being the same that was conved [sic] formerly to said Benjamin Buffum by the Congregational Society in Douglas or some other persons by Chester Morse and Amos Fairbanks and which said deed is supposed to be recorded." The referenced deed is 334:383, Chester Morse and Amos Fairbanks to Benjamin Buffum, 16 July 1838.

[8] Worcester Co., Ma., deed 507:177.

[9] Worcester Co., Ma., deed 507:177, in which the property conveyed to James E. Simmons is identified "as the same tract of land quitclaimed to me [Benjamin Buffum] by Asa Thayer by deed recorded in the Registry of deed for said County Book 421, Page 490," which in turn refers to the parcel as "a tract of parcel of Real Estate formerly conveyed from Chester Morse and Amos Fairbank to Benjamin Buffum by a deed bearing date the 16th day of July A.D. 1838 and recorded in the Registry of deeds a Worcester Book 334, Page 383."

[10] Worcester Co., Ma., deed 588:260, Sophia Buffum to James E. Simmons, 17 October 1857.

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