Read Family of Salem Massachusetts
Author: Richard H. Benson
Thomas Read was in Salem by 1636. His life and the lives of five generations of his descendants surnamed Read and Reed are covered, including the families of the Read daughters. The book is meticulously researched with every fact documented using vital records, deeds, probate records, court records and church records. It corrects errors in early genealogies caused by the fact that there were two Thomas Reads in early Salem. Thomas’s first several years were difficult. He experienced a violent earthquake in 1637, severe snow in the winter of 1637/8 followed by a dry summer, an extremely cold winter in 1642, food shortages in 1643, an invasion of caterpillars in 1646, an influenza epidemic in 1647 and smallpox in 1649. Early court records add human interest to the stories, demonstrating that not all “Puritans” were pure. Court records for 1668, one year after Thomas died, show that teenage son Isaac and friends were charged with “dancing and singing in the streets to the disturbance of several neighbors.” Daughter Mary became pregnant and was brought to court for fornication. Daughter Susanna claimed that Ephraim Herrick assaulted her “when his wife was in Salem.” One grandson moved to Rhode Island, became a Quaker and had a large family. Quaker records provide interesting details and stories that supplement the genealogical data, particularly in subsequent generations when some family members strayed temporarily from or left the Society of Friends. Other branches of the family moved to southern Maine and eventually Upstate New York. A chapter on the Sheridan, New York, line includes six Reeds who were ship captains on the Great Lakes as early as the 1820s. Daniel Alden Reed of Sheridan who served in the United States House of Representatives from 1919 to his death in 1959 was part of this family.