Fred Bennett’s DNA Success Story
Alfred Weston Bennett was Y-DNA tested in 2008, and found an exact Y-DNA match on all 25 markers tested in comparison with Lee Bickford Bennett. Later in the year seven other presumed Bennett cousins were tested, and six of those have also matched exactly.
The Boothbay Register, at Boothbay, Maine, published Fred Bennett’s DNA article on September 11, 2008. Please read Fred’s article to learn how DNA testing helped him find his immigrant ancestor:
IN THIS 1898 PHOTO, Alfred R. Bennett, born 1828, sits on his stoop on School Street in East Boothbay with his future daughter-in-law Sarah. Alfred, who captained coasting schooners and brigs from 1851 to 1893, was shipwrecked twice. In March of 1862, a waterspout near Cuba struck his 79-foot schooner, Dancing Wave, killing his brother and setting the remaining men adrift for eight days with little food or water. Four of his vessels were built in town at Ovens Mouth and East Boothbay. Photo courtesy of Fred Bennett
Boothbay Region Historical Society
Out of Our Past
The Bennett Family of Boothbay—Lost and Found with DNA
by Alfred W. “Fred” Bennett
I am a direct descendant of Benjamin5 Bennett of Boothbay, Maine, through his son Daniel6, grandson Alfred R. Sr.7, great-grandson Alfred R. Jr.8 and great-great-grandson Weston T. Bennett9, my father. I currently live in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, a first-generation Canadian of this New England family. My parents came to Canada in 1928 when my father was transferred to Gatineau, Quebec with Canadian International Paper.
There are five generations of Benjamin Bennetts and many Lakins in this family. In reading this story, keeping track of the superscript numbers will help to determine the generation of the person discussed, with 1 being my immigrant ancestor to New England. I would be generation 10 in this lineage.
The Bennetts and Grimes Families
In Greene’s 1906 local history, he states on page 499, “Benjamin Bennett, first of that family in Boothbay, came from Salem, Mass., in 1781, and located at the southwesterly extremity of Linekin Neck, building his house nearly opposite Negro Island. He lived there until his decease, Feb. 11, 1804. No publishment is found and it is thought he was married when he came to Boothbay. His wife’s name is unknown and the exact birth of his children apparently unobtainable.” Then on page 474, Greene states “John Grimes came from Salem, Mass., in 1781, in company with Benjamin Bennett and settled at Ocean Point. He married Abigail, sister to Benjamin Bennett.”
These statements formed the beginning of a 20-year quest to establish where Benjamin5 and his sister Abigail5 Bennett originated and to identify their parents. Records in Boothbay added nothing except confirmation of the death of Benjamin5 on Feb. 11, 1804, drowning off Ocean Point with Jotham Grimes, the son of Benjamin’s5 brother-in-law John Grimes. Abigail5 died on May 13, 1830. Calculation and census records produced a time frame of 1750 to 1755 for the two Bennett births. After the death of Benjamin5 in 1804, a Mrs. Sarah Bennett married Solomon Trask of Edgecomb in 1806 and disappeared from the Boothbay records—perhaps she was Benjamin’s5 widow.
The task was to find Benjamin5 and Abigail5 Bennett (Grimes) as children of a New England family in the mid-1700s. A bonus would be to find the origin of John Grimes and confirm Mrs. Sarah Bennett Trask as the widow of Benjamin5 Bennett.
Barbara Rumsey’s Comments
“Upon starting his search in Salem for his roots outside Boothbay, as indicated by Greene, Fred found no Bennetts or Grimeses there who fit the Boothbay family branches. Not only that, but between his and my exhaustive searching in Boothbay 1700s primary records, no Bennetts showed up until 1799 and no Grimeses until 1800. It’s unlikely they could have gone unnoticed for almost 20 years. I’m not aware of any other men or families who consistently evaded the surviving tax records and town books.”
“So Greene was certainly wrong about their origin and was probably wrong about their arrival date. Greene generally has a poor record for accuracy on local 1600s and 1700s matters. So Fred was determined to get to the bottom of the mystery and track his elusive family roots. The way he finally solved his family dead ends is a good lesson for all stumped researchers. Besides his long personal project which benefitted Boothbay families, he’s given immeasurable help to Boothbay researchers with his great compilations of marriage and other family records.”
(by Barbara Rumsey, Director, Boothbay Region Historical Society, Boothbay, Maine)
Fred Trolls Massachusetts
Over a period of 15 years, camping trips were made to all of the following locations for a grueling search of the records in the Maine Archives at Augusta; Salem, Massachusetts City Hall and Library and Massachusetts State Archives in Boston; New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston, Mass., and any other source, as well as about a dozen other likely towns, that might prove useful—but they all provided no new information of value. My wife is to be admired for tolerating my search.
A tip from fellow researcher Linda Lemay in 2002 led me to Groton, Massachusetts, some distance inland from Salem. The records of Groton showed a family of Benjamin4 Bennett and Sarah Lakin with, among others, children Abigail5, born July 21, 1751 and Benjamin5, born October 25, 1753—that fit my criteria. The parents of Benjamin4 Bennett were Benjamin3Bennett and Mary Lakin. Thus, two generations of the Bennett family in Groton were reconstructed.
As the families developed, it became apparent that two Benjamin Bennetts married two Sarah Lakins, who were first cousins once removed. These two men were Benjamin4 Bennett and Benjamin5 Bennett, father and son. Now it looked good that Benjamin5 born in Groton, who married Sarah Lakin on April 7, 1778, could be the same as Benjamin Bennett of Boothbay, but no proof of his migration could be found. Benjamin5 Bennett, while living in Groton before his 1778 marriage, served in the Revolutionary War.
DNA Matches with a Michigan Descendant
Benjamin5 Bennett had a brother Samuel5 that descended to Lee Bennett, of Troy, Michigan, a fellow researcher, with his line proven by records. This relationship suggested that Lee and I were distant cousins. Fast forward to January 2008 when Lee Bennett and I did a DNA test with Family Tree – DNA to see if we were in fact cousins. These Y-DNA tests can be done on direct male ancestral lines of a shared surname, such as our Bennett one. Our 25 marker tests were a perfect match confirming with 100% certainty that Benjamin5 of Groton and Boothbay were one and the same.
DNA Matches with a Texas Descendant
Records and supposition showed that Benjamin5 Bennett (1753-1804) of Groton and Boothbay descends from Benjamin4 (1724-after 1790) of Groton, Benjamin3 (about 1700-1757) of Ipswich and Groton, Benjamin2 (about 1699-1722) of Ipswich and Henry1 Bennett (about 1629-1707) of Ipswich, Mass. Henry was the immigrant Bennett ancestor to New England. The connection between Benjamin3 Bennett and Benjamin2 Bennett can not currently be proven by records. However, Robert Bennett of Houston, Texas, another supposed cousin, who can trace his ancestry by records from Henry1 of Ipswich, also took a DNA test. His results were a perfect match on 24 of 25 markers, showing that Robert Bennett, Lee Bennett, and I are cousins. The one point difference on marker 25 was of no consequence to the overall results, as it is considered a fast-moving mutation, that could occur on any generation. Family Tree DNA concluded that the three of us belonged to Haplogroup R1b1b2.
DNA Matches with a Kansas Descendant
When Benjamin3 Bennett moved to Groton, Mass, from Ipswich, Mass., he came with a supposed brother Moses3 Bennett (1698-1756). Both Benjamin3 and Moses bought land on the same day, June 14, 1718. No records have been found to confirm the brother theory, but the same date land purchase gave strength to the brother connection. Randy Bennett, of Wichita, Kansas, who descends from Moses Bennett took the DNA test. He was a perfect 25 marker match with Lee Bennett and I, which confirmed that Moses3 Bennett and Benjamin3 Bennett were brothers and that Moses’s grandfather was Henry1 Bennett.
Brick Walls Broken by the DNA Matches
Lee Bennett sent his Bennett information to the National Geographic Society which is conducting a Genographic project to determine the migration routes of our ancient ancestors. The R1b1 group, know as Eurasian Adam, of 31,000 or more years ago, originated in east Africa. Over lengthy time his descendants migrated and meandered through western Asia and Europe, eventually ending up in England. In summary, 20 years of research has conclusively established my ancestry to my 7th great-grandfather Henry Bennett of London, England and Ipswich, Massachusetts. The use of DNA to test four persons has broken three brick walls that could not be proven by records.
Mrs. Sarah Bennett, who married Solomon Trask, is probably Sarah Lakin, wife and widow of Benjamin5 Bennett. John Grimes, unfortunately at this time, is still a lost soul.
Alfred Weston Bennett (1939-2014)