THE genealogy of the Ingalls family in
America, or rather the genealogy of the descendants of Edmund
Ingalls, has been compiled by Dr. Charles Burleigh (published
in 1903). His was an experienced hand and he performed this
work in a painstaking way. In it there are errors, as
in such an effort there is bound to be, but they are not so
numerous as to induce a general revision of his work.
purpose of my present work is to be
historical, reviewing what our forefathers did, how they
lived, and how they migrated, and with that in mind I have
abstained from entering into the genealogical except in
respect of a few lines or into the
biographical except in respect of our immigrant ancestor and
his brother and his sons.
I have been necessarily genealogical in making three important
corrections, or perhaps I should say contradictions, of Dr.
Burleigh's work. I show (1) that contemporaneous with Edmund
and Francis Ingalls there were other male adults of the name
residing in Boston, from whom there are present descendants;
(2) that the Ingalls family of Charlestown did not descend
from Robert 3 Robert 2, who probably had no male
posterity; and (3) that the Rehoboth branch of our family
probably descended from John3 Robert 2 and
not from John 2 Edmund1,
inasmuch as the former is known to have removed from Lynn to
Rehoboth, while there is no evidence that the latter did so.
referring to individuals in my text I have adopted the system
indicated in the paragraph immediately hereinbefore, the
superior figures representing the generation counting from
Edmund 1 and
the succession of names showing ancestry, e.g. Robert 3 Robert
2 means Robert, who was the son
of Robert who was the son of Edmund.
A principal part of my study is with reference to the lands and houses of the family in Lynn and Andover. In this I have obtained some help from men older than I am, but such memories seldom have gone back more than 70 years, while my own memory of things in Lynn 50 years ago is clear and generally superior. However, while memory may improve the perspective, the writing of the history of a family like that of a nation is done truly only by reference to documentary records and by personal examination of them. I feel that much of what I have put into this history of the Ingalls family would have been lost if I had not collected it and made it of record in this way.
study has revealed some interesting things in respect of the
tracing of the details of a family history. We may in
general follow the history of a piece of land from the deeds
of record, but we experience embarrassment when we find that
there must have been transfers that were not recorded. The
descent of property by will or by deed of gift is followed
quite simply when the inheritance is by one person, or when
several heirs subsequently convey their interests to a single
person, but when the division is made by will the areas
and boundaries are seldom described in any but the most
general terms, and commonly not even so. My text in respect of
the Ingalls family will illustrate how the searcher of titles
must inevitably run into many blind alleys.
The tracing of the history of a house
is even more difficult. It is rare that any New England house
has an authentic inscription or a documentary record. We are
therefore in general
reduced to inference
and tradition; the former may be more reliable than the latter.
Unfortunately we have now passed beyond the time of the
survival of tradition, or nearly have passed it. The historian
is bound to experience repeatedly the feeling that his
inquiries might have been answered by some old man who died
50 years ago, whose descendants never asked the questions that
they might have done.
I am conscious of my own derelictions
in not conversing 50 years ago with men of the family who were
then old; in not seeing to it that the family documents, then
extending back through 200 years, were preserved; in failing
to make a careful record of the old homestead of Nathaniel
Ingalls, which as a boy I used to pass almost daily; and in
short neglecting to do many things.
writing this history of the Ingalls family I have touched
lightly upon numerous political, economic and legal conditions.
In the formal histories it is rather obscured that the
beginning of the colonization of Massachusetts Bay was of
commercial inspiration and that many of our forefathers came
hither primarily to better themselves rather than to obtain
religious freedom. I like to think of them in that way. It is
not without interest, therefore, to review how fared an
inconspicuous family, which is doubtless typical of many