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signature from Ezekiel's will when he was 76

Ezekiel moved to Worcester from Marlborough about 1742. Although all his children were probably baptized, there wasn't an established minister at Worcester. Son Ebenezer's baptism, which took place at Worcester, appears in the records of the minister at Weston, MA (and is included in the town's published vital records), who travelled in the region to perform those rites. Ezekiel was a representative of Worcester to the Massachusetts State legislature in 1777.1 Elizabeth died there and was buried in the cemetery formerly in the town common, and she is included in an epitaph transcription of the yard. Interments and surviving gravestones there (they were laid flat and buried in 1853) were transferred to Hope Cemetery in the 1960s, but there was no record of Elizabeth by then. About 1791 Ezekial brought his second wife Sarah and her daughters Elizabeth and Sarah to Shrewsbury. He had a farm about a mile north of the village sold to him by and adjacent to Maj. Jonah How's homestead. A distant relative of Ezekiel, he was the father of one of his stepdaughter's husbands, Dennis How. Ezekiel sold his farm to Dennis in 1796. Why isn't obvious, but he and Sarah were probably the older couple living in Dennis' household in 1800, which was likely the farm Ezekiel sold to him. It may have been an informal agreement to take care of them in their old age. Sarah died six years after Ezekiel.

Ezekiel How's will:

In the name of God amen, this nineteenth day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety six, I Ezekiel How of Shrewsbury in the County of Worcester and Commonwealth of Massachusetts, considering the uncertainty of this mortal life but being now of sound and perfect mind and memory, blessed by almighty God for the same, do make and publish this my last will and testament in manner and form following that is to say

1st I give to Sarah my beloved wife the whole of what household furniture she brought with her when I married her with one half of the linen and other articles that we have made and procured for household use since we lived together to be at her disposal. I also give her the use of the crane, andirons, shovel and tongs so long as she remains my widow. I also give her half the interest of a state note, the principal of which is two hundred dollars, to be paid her by my executor every half year so long as she remains my widow

Item, I give to my four sons, Ebenezer, Joel, Jotham and Ezekiel or their heirs the whole of my wearing apparel to be equally divided betwixt them. I also give to my thee sons Ebenezer, Jotham and Ezekiel the whole of my farming utensils to be equally divided betwixt them

Item, I give to my three daughters, Patience Gleason, Elizabeth Bartlet and Rebecca Temple the whole of what household furniture I have not given to my wife, with those articles I have given her the use of so long as she remains my widow to equally divided between them or their heirs

Item, I give to my two grandchildren Jonathan Hunt and Joel Hunt one dollar to be paid in one year after my decease

Item, I give to my three daughters above named viz; Patience, Elizabeth and Rebecca or their heirs the State note above mentioned, that is to say, one half the interest during the life of my wife to be paid them every half year by my executor and at her decease, the whole of the principal to be equally divided betwixt them or their heirs

All the remainder of my estate in money or due upon note, bond or execution at the time of my decease, my will is that it be equally divided among all my children above named or their heirs, excepting a note of sixty dollars due from Demis How, which note I give to my son Jotham to defray the expense of settling my estate and for the purpose of erecting decent monuments at my grave and at the grave of my wife after her decease. And I hereby constitute and appoint my son Jotham How sole executor of this my last will and testament, hereby revoking all former wills by me made or executed by me appointed.

In witness whereof I hereunto put my hand sand seal the day and year above written

Signed, sealed, published, pronounced and declared by the above named Ezekiel How to be his last will and testament in presence of us who have hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses

Joseph Sumner, Junr.
Job Cushing
Joseph Sumner

Ezekiel How

     Although not included in the transcription of the will in the county's probate libers, the original has a very important postscript of sorts that says "Wee the subcribars are willing to hav this will proved and setteled....Jonas Bartlet, Rebaca Temple, Elisabeth Bartlet, Patianc Glesan, Daniel Glesan." This is the only proof, in addition to good circumstantial evidence, that Elizabeth married Jonas Bartlett.2

Ezekiel's gravestone in the cemetery behind the Congregational Church in Shrewsbury

children of Ezekiel How and Elizabeth Rice:3

i. Patience b. 10 June 1742
ii. Elizabeth b. 12 February 1743/1744
iii. Ebenezer b. 4 November 1746
iv. Joel b. 2 November 1748
v. Jotham b. 17 June 1750
vi. Lucy b. 20 April 1752 (m. Jonathan Hunt, not Abner Shumway)4
vii. Rebecca b. 3 April 1754
viii. Ezekiel b. 20 March 1756

vital records sources: Ezekiel's birth is included is from the Marlborough vital records. His first marriage is found in Vital Records of Sudbury, Massachusetts to the Year 1850 (Boston:1903), p. 219 ("Ezekiel of Marlborough"). His death is from the Shrewsbury vital records and can be found on his gravestone there, "in his 81st year," meaning he was 80.

1. William Lincoln, History of Worcester, etc. (Worcester:1862), 359.
2. Worcester County Surrogate Court, probate file #31641.
3. Marlborough town vital records.
4. Lucy m. Jonathan Hunt 15 Sep 1769, Worcester, Worcester Co., MA (Worcester Births, Marriages and Deaths, compiled by Franklin P. Rice (Worcester, MA:1894), p. 366). Her sons Joel and Jonathan are in her father's will with no mention of their parents, indicating Lucy and very likely Jonathan had died by then. Another Lucy How, of Oxford, MA, m. Abner Shumway in 1770 in Oxford (see the Oxford and Sutton, MA, vital records). Census and probably other records show that they had children into the later 1790s. Combined with their year of marriage, this places her birth very close to that of Lucy, dau. of Ezekiel. Genealogy of the Shumway Family in the United States of America, comp. by Asahel A. Shumway (New York:1909), pp. 39-40, actually says Lucy ("Howe") Shumway was born about 1752, with no explanation or source for it, and this likely has led to assumptions that she was the dau. of Ezekiel.

all text and photographs © 1998-2020 by Doug Sinclair unless where otherwise noted