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Volume 10 Issue 2                                                                       February 2005



Zephaniah Wix


From a posting on the internet from Debbie Winchell; “I would like to communicate with anyone researching Natick Indian Wisers. I believe the original surname of the man I'm reseaching, Zephaniah Wix, may have been Wiser and that he was Natick.


I'm seeking information on Zephaniah Wix of Cornwall, CT. His wife was Lydia Dibble. Their children were Sarah, Ezekiek, Uriah, Betty, Lucy, Anna, Lydiah, Zadok, Deborah, Mary, Shubael, Joseph and Anne. Zephaniah fought in the Seven Years' War and the American Revolution. He died on his way home after being released from Fort Washington. I am particularly interested in his daughter Lydiah.”


Her email is not longer in service, so should she ever contact us, we would be happy to correspond with her, though I presently do not have a Zephaniah Wiser in our database.  Though we know that our ancestor, James Wiser, lived with his uncle, Zachariah Equi, after the death of his father (Zachariah is the closest name that we have to Zephaniah in the database).


Natick History


Ruth Bowman (born about 1724), mother of our Benjamin Wiser, was the daughter of Samuel and Martha Bowman.  Samuel was born about 1690 (place unknown) and died about 1747 in Worcester, Massachusetts.  He, like our Wisers, was a resident of Natick for many years.  The following is taken from A History of Natick, from its First Settlement in 1651 to the Present Time, by Oliver N. Bacon (1856) page 46:


“As far back as 1719 we find a vote “passed in general town meeting of the Proprietors, Free-holders and Inhabitants of ye town of Natick, warned and met together on Monday, ye 4th day of May. 


In order to the better stating, distinguishing, knowing and setting the proprietors and proprietee to the lands in Natick, &c.  Francis Fullum, Esq., President at said meeting.  Voted unanimously at ye above said meeting, that Abraham Speen, James Speen, Moses Speen, Josiah Speen, Isaac Speen, John Speen, Issac Manaquasin, John Wansanug’s heirs, Captain Thomas Waban, Thomas Pegan, Simon Ephraim, Benj. Tray, Samuel Bowman, Samuel W. Right, Samuel Umpertawm, Hannah Labomsug, Solomon Thomas, Israel Pomhaman, Samuel Abraham and Thomas Nehemiah, shall be henceforth allowed, held, reputed, and distinguished to be the only and true proprietors of Natick.”-(An abstract taken out of the second book of records for the town of Natick, in keeping of Honorable Francis Fullum, Esq.  Examined and attested by William Rider, proprietors’ clerk for Natick.)”


In 1719, Samuel would have been about 29 years old.  One should also note that many of the above names are recognizable as extended early family members of our Wisers including at least Solomon Thomas, Thomas Pegan, Simon Ephraim and Israel Pomhaman. 


Our family was in Natick at an early date and there were a small number of inhabitants.  From the same book above, page 26: “In 1698, Grindal Rawson and Samuel Danforth spent from May 30th to June 24th in visiting the several plantations of Indians in Massachusetts.  The following is their report respecting the Indians at Natick. 


At Natick we find a small church consisting of seven men and three women.  Their pastor (ordained by that reverend and holy man of God, John Eliot, deceased,) is Daniel Tahawampait, and is a person of good knowledge.  Here are fifty-nine [59] men, and fifty-one [51] women, and seventy children under sixteen years of age.  We find no schoolmaster here, and only one child that can read. Grindal Rawson, Samuel Danforth.  Boston, July 12, 1698.”


Sixty-six years later, although our family was most likely gone by 1764 from Natick, it is interesting to note the following excerpt from page 125 of the same book:


“The first census taken in Massachusetts was in the year 1764.  Although required by the British government, it encountered much opposition and superstitious fear.  The same results to the colony as followed the numbering of the people of Israel were predicted.  When opposition had been overcome the following form was decided upon, which I have filled out for Natick:


White people under 16 years of age,  Males, 109. Females, 120.

White people above 16, Males, 99.  Females, 122.  Total white population, 450.

Negroes and Mulattoes, Males, 11.  Females, 13.  Total, 24.

Indians, Males, 90.  Females, 95.  37 families.  Total, 185.”


Our Benjamin Wiser, was born about 1743 in Natick.  At the time of his birth, Oliver Peabody was the minister of the Church.  From the same book, page 64: “In a letter to a convention of ministers in 1743, he observes: “Among my people (I would mention it to the glory of the rich grace and the blessed Spirit of God), there have been very apparent strivings and operations of the Holy Ghost among English and Indians, young and old, male and female…During his ministry 191 Indians and 422 English were baptized.  During the same period 35 Indians and 130 white persons were admitted into his church; 256 Indians died, one of whom arrived at the age of 110 years.”  Mr. Peabody died in 1752, wouldn’t it be enlightening if his records still existed today-rgw.


Please accept our condolences to those who recently lost family members.

Bakersfield, CA Californian, 11 Dec 2004; Walter Iven Nelson (ancestry to Benjamin Wiser; mother, Hazel Lulu Butz Nelson, Addie T. Thornburg Butz, Nathan I. Thornburg, Cloe S. Wiser Thornburg, James Wiser, Benjamin Wiser). Services: Mon., Dec. 13, 11 a.m. Walter Iven Nelson went home to be with the Lord on December 7, 2004. He was 88. Walt was born September 21, 1916, in Richmond, MO. He married Nancy Elizabeth Allen in 1944 while serving during WWII as pilot in the Army Air Corps. Walt retired from his job as chief account for the Dept. of Kern County Airports in 1983 after which he & Nancy traveled extensively. Walt was active at First Presbyterian Church in Bakersfield, Ys Men and SIRS. Walt is survived by his wife, Nancy; daughter, Susie Youngs of Visalia; son, Doug and wife, Jody Nelson of Grover Beach; 4 grandchildren: Karen and husband, Troy Pace of Visalia, Luke Youngs of Fresno, Jennifer Nelson of Grover Beach, David and wife, Joscelyn Nelson also of Grover Beach; 4 great-grandchildren: Elizabeth, Benjamin and Madeline Pace; sister, Pat Boggs of Kansas, and California sister, June Moreland of Simi Valley. He was preceded in death by his great-granddaughter, Julia Pace, his brother, Axel and sister, Lee.  He enjoyed golf, camping, fishing, family, good food, good friends, and a good joke. He was a wonderful husband, father and friend and will be greatly missed.  A memorial service will be held Monday, December 13th at 11:00 a.m., at the First Presbyterian Church. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to First Presbyterian Church of Bakersfield. 


Vancouver, WA Columbian, 8 Jul 2004; Keith L. Cunningham (ancestry to Benjamin Wiser; father Emery Wiser Cunningham, Mary Olive Wiser Cunningham, John McCormick Wiser, Samuel Wiser, Benjamin Wiser).  A memorial service will begin at 11 a.m. Thursday at Vancouver Funeral Chapel for Keith L. Cunningham, who died Sunday, July 4, 2004, at Ray Hickey Hospice House. He was 84. Mr. Cunningham, a retired bus garage foreman for the Vancouver School District, retired in 1986.  He was born March 22, 1920, in Ashton, Idaho, and lived in Vancouver for 57 years.  Survivors include his wife of 56 years, Isabel, at home; three daughters, Carolyn Heininge of Canby, Ore., Marilyn Mason of Portland and Judy Cochran of West Linn, Ore.; one son, Dennis of Vancouver; one sister, Larna "Tony" Achenback of West Richland, Wash.; seven grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.  A World War II Army veteran, Mr. Cunningham was president of the local chapter of the Service Employees International Union.  He enjoyed hunting and fishing. The casket will be open from 1 to 5 p.m. today and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday at Vancouver Funeral Chapel. Private burial will be in Willamette National Cemetery in Portland.  A memorial service will begin at 11 a.m. Thursday, July 15 at the funeral home.  Memorial contributions may be made to charity of donor's choice.




Thanks for any suggestions in regards to our family newsletter. Please contact me at or at 6 Baton Rouge, Roswell, NM  88201, or at (505) 623-2534.