The Nebraska‐Mayflower Connection

Here’s something I wrote a few years ago, and that website is now being closed down. Thought I’d post that info here…quite a long post.


The Nebraska‐Mayflower Connection

My Genealogical Field Trip to the Hopewell Presbyterian Church Cemetery

Mark Allen Cross

January 2014

It was a little over a year ago that I discovered I have ancestors that trace back to the Mayflower. I made this discovery by finding a photo of the gravestone for Ruth Ann Smith Reed in Nebraska, my 3rd great grandmother. Ruth Ann Smith Reed is the great grandmother of Thelma Reed Rosemarynoski, who we call Grandma Rose.

Her Find A Grave memorial is here

I was fortunate to be able to make a road trip to the gravesite in December 2013. Jena and I travelled to Omaha, Nebraska to visit her family for the holidays. The cemetery is about a one hour drive from Omaha. It was windy and cold at 12°F that day, so very chilly! A good coat and scarf with gloves was necessary, but the trip was well worth it!

Cemetery information, including directions and a map, are here

In the above link, you can do a search for the surname Reed or Smith and see everyone with that last name that is buried there.

I drove the rental car to Unadilla, Nebraska, which was all main highways to that point. I drove through the small town of Unadilla, thinking I would follow directions and drive 1 mile west then 5 miles south. I drove the 1 mile west, and once I turned to head south, there was a large sign that said the bridge was out ahead. So, I backtracked to the town, and decided to try 5 miles south, then 1 mile west. That route worked fine. I crossed a small one lane bridge that

went over a creek. Although the creek is small, over the years it has carved a deep enough ravine in the earth that a bridge is quite necessary.

The roads once I left town were all gravel farm roads, spaced one mile apart like a patchwork grid. Driving a mile is easy, it’s just the next road a mile away. I set the tripmeter to make sure I was following directions. The roads travel through farmland, surrounded by lots of cornfields and other crops in Nebraska. It’s rarely travelled; in the 12 mile roundtrip and the 1½ hours or so including time and photos at the cemetery, I only saw one other vehicle, a pickup truck driven by a farmer.

Just as the directions indicated, the church and cemetery are on the SE corner of the intersection. The photo of the Hopewell gate on the Find A Grave website is the entrance to the cemetery. The gate was closed but unlocked. You drive down a slight incline, over a ditch, to get there and just open the gate. I parked inside the cemetery on the grass to avoid parking on the side of the road and maybe blocking traffic. A needless concern, as it turned out. But I felt safer parking off the road.

The Hopewell sign over the gate indicates the cemetery was founded in 1880. Ruth Ann died in 1881 so is one of the first graves in the entire cemetery. Her grave and the group she is in is near the top of a small hill.

The photos on Find A Grave do not paint a clear picture of how the graves are arranged. Each photo is of an individual grave. There is actually a group of graves together, all near a tall granite memorial marked M. G. Reed, the husband of Ruth Ann. Other family members are buried together.

There are several other Reed and Smith graves that are not part of the group, and can be found using the surname search mentioned above. This PDF is mostly photos of the MG Reed group, including his wife Ruth Ann Smith.

The photos that follow paint the picture of those graves in a more clear manner, and also show photos of the church and surrounding countryside. I share these photos in this PDF document because I was fortunate to travel there, and not everyone will be able to see it in person.

This PDF is online as part of my website, but can also be downloaded or printed as you see fit. Enjoy!


Figure 1 ‐ The 6 Graves together in a group; the tall memorial is not a marker for an individual grave.


Figure 2 ‐ The 1st two graves on the left Dwight died as an infant. His Find A Grave memorial is here

Walter died as a young boy. His Find A Grave memorial is here


Figure 3 ‐ The 3rd grave from the left, Ruth Ann (Smith) Reed

Ruth Ann Smith is our connection to the Mayflower. Her Find A Grave memorial is here

The Find A Grave memorial includes a close‐up of the Mayflower stone, which was added a few years ago by another distant relative.


Figure 4 ‐ The 4th grave from the left, Matthew Gooding Reed, husband of Ruth Ann Matthew Gooding Reed is named “father” on his gravestone. His Find A Grave memorial is here


Figure 5 ‐ The memorial stone for M. G. Reed

This large memorial stone does not mark an individual grave, but rather the Reed/Smith group that is buried together.


Figure 6 ‐ The 1st stone to the right of the MG Reed memorial, Ellen Smith.

Ellen Smith is the sister of Ruth Ann, and sister‐in‐law of Matthew Gooding Reed. There is no record that she ever married or had children. Her Find A Grave memorial is here


Figure 7 ‐ The last grave on the far right, John Smith

John Smith is the father of Ruth Ann and father‐in‐law of Matthew Gooding Reed. His Find A Grave memorial is here

John’s wife, and mother of Ruth Ann, is Rebecca Mendenhall. She is buried in Kansas. Her Find A Grave memorial is here

There is currently no photo of Rebecca’s actual gravestone and it is not yet confirmed she is actually buried there. A Photo Request for her gravestone has been submitted to Find A Grave, and volunteers in the area usually do a pretty good job of taking photos if they live close by. This Photo Request was submitted by me some time ago and has not yet been fulfilled.


Figure 8 ‐ The Reed/Smith group from the side, with church in background


Figure 9 ‐ another view of group, church is on the left in background, near the trees


Figure 10 – inside, looking from the back of the church


Figure 11 – inside, looking from the front of the church towards the entrance


Figure 12 ‐ the NW corner of the church; the lower roof appears to be a living space “apartment” area that may or may not be inhabited


Figure 13 ‐ from the NW corner, with garages, sheds, and other outbuildings nearby, and cemetery in the distance


Figure 14 ‐ a view just to the right of previous Figure 13, rental car I drove is just inside cemetery gate near road


Figure 15 ‐ another view of the living space “apartment” that was possibly a Pastor’s living quarters at one time. Note concrete mound with iron lid; close‐up in next photo.


Figure 16 ‐ Have no idea what the Machinery Co. is or where it was located. Year of 1762 is quite fascinating! Probably this lid was brought to Nebraska from one of the original colonies back east.


Figure 17 ‐ another view of the gate and my rental car


Figure 18 ‐ SE corner of intersection, looking straight north

This was quite a fun little field trip! Other than the cold and the wind, it was very enjoyable!

If you ever get a chance to travel there yourself, the driving directions online are quite simple. Hope you had a nice little trip from the comfort of your own home!


Mayflower 2020 – Rose Parade

The Mayflower sailed to Plymouth Colony in 1620. So the year 2020 marks the 400th Anniversary of the Mayflower voyage. There will be many different types of celebrations all year.

The Rose Bowl Parade is on January 1 of every year. So on January 1, 2020, some local California chapters of the Mayflower Society are banding together to build a float for the parade. Also, in commemoration of the passengers that survived that first winter, Mayflower descendants dressed in attire from the day will be on or walk with the float!

For more information, go to the California Mayflower Society website here.

Stephen Bachiler

Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m a member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Their magazine American Ancestors, Fall 2018, has an interesting article by Robert Charles Anderson starting on page 29. They have been publishing books by Mr. Anderson called The Great Migration series, which gives information on the many people that left England for the American colonies, including the Mayflower passengers, and for the great migration of people about 50 years after the Mayflower. I have access to their online database, which includes some data from their Great Migration books.

They are coming out with a new book soon, to be released in December 2018, called Puritan Pedigrees: The Deep Roots of the Great Migration to New England. It outlines the growth of the Puritan network, and the reasons why many of the pilgrims came to America.

Stephen Bachiler is my 11th great grandfather.  This lineage includes Matthew Gooding Reed and Ruth Anne Smith, which leads me to both American Patriot John Lecky (DAR and SAR) and to George Soule, Mayflower passenger. But another branch of that lineage leads to Stephen Bachiler.

Stephen Bachiler was not a Mayflower passenger, but is mentioned by name in the magazine article, and mentioned in more detail in the book, to be published soon. He was a great influence on the Great Migration, leaving England and coming to Massachusetts. He left mainly due to religious persecution.

According to the magazine article, Stephen Bachiler was born about 1561 in England, was a radical Puritan in his university days, and in the early 1600s was deprived of earning a living as a minister because he disagreed with English royalty on some points. He was vicar of Wherwill, Hampshire in England until 1605 when he was deprived of his job by the government. He was being punished because he disagreed with the English crown.

If you will recall, Henry VIII was a Catholic, wanted to divorce his wife to marry another, the pope refused, and so Henry started the Church of England, so he could basically be his own pope and make his own religious decisions. Every Protestant English monarch since then has been the head of the Church of England.  The king or queen rules their country and their church. They do not have separation of church and state there. (A basic American belief.)

Stephen Bachiler sailed to New England in 1631, mainly to escape persecution and government policies. He was an independent thinker and wanted freedom.

For more information, consult American Ancestors magazine, Fall 2018, pp. 29-34, or the upcoming book Puritan Pedigrees: The Deep Roots of the Great Migration to New England, releasing next month (late December 2018) and available here.

American_Ancestor_fall2018    Puritan_Pedigrees

It is fascinating to know that my ancestor is one of the big movers and shakers on why so many people left England for the Americas. Stephen Bachiler was an influence to be reckoned with, and was well respected in his time for challenging royalty and escaping England to come to the Americas.

And on this Thanksgiving, I’m thankful that we live in America, where these ideas of freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and the freedom to think any way you wish are not only allowed, but encouraged. And many of these ideas of freedom were promoted by my ancestors!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Lucky Find: Find A Grave to American Patriot and Mayflower

Earlier, I wrote about Find A Grave and the problem with unsourced facts that are so common online. This does not mean that we don’t do research online, however! I want to tell you about a Lucky Find for me, which started with Find A Grave.

Ruth Ann Smith is my 3rd great grandmother. She was born in 1842 and died in 1881. She married Matthew Gooding Reed. My maternal grandmother’s maiden name is Reed. Several years ago, I didn’t know a lot about her, and was not having any luck with the wide net search of ancestry, and was getting frustrated. I decided to check out Find A Grave for clues. I use the clues on Find A Grave as a hint to find other sources and facts. (I have since learned a lot more about specific, targeted search tactics online.)

However, when I found the Find A Grave memorial for Ruth Ann Smith, I was greeted with this photo of a stone monument at her gravesite:


(Find A Grave memorial # 46871009 for Ruth Ann Smith,, accessed in 2012 by Mark Cross)

I backed up, hit the reload button, and checked again. Wow! I had never heard of George Soule, but the Mayflower was exciting!

Thus began a long road of research, that I am so glad I took steps on. I found a couple of distant cousins who placed the stone monument at her gravesite. The monument itself is not acceptable as proof for the Mayflower Society, but evidence behind it is. The cousins shared with me some newspaper articles about their placing the monument in Nebraska, and two cousins shared with me a copy of their accepted application for the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, with membership numbers, that I could use.

From Ruth Ann Smith, I am descended from Solon Reed, and my cousins were descended from siblings of Solon. But I found out I do not need to prove the entire line to George Soule; from Ruth Ann Smith up to George Soule has already been proven, assisted with the copy of the approved membership applications my distant cousins sent me. All I had to do was prove from Ruth Ann Smith down to me! Once I did so, I was accepted into the General Society of Mayflower Descendants! My mom and my sisters have also joined, and some cousins on mom’s side as well. George Soule, Mayflower pilgrim, is my 10th great grandfather. We are looking forward to the 400 Anniversary in 2020!

One cousin also sent me a copy of her DAR application as well. It seems our ancestors had a rather fortuitous marriage; the ancestors of Ruth Ann Smith lead to George Soule, a Mayflower passenger, and the ancestors of her husband Matthew Gooding Reed lead to John Lecky, who fought in the American Revolutionary War! John Lecky is my 6th great grandfather, born in 1744 in Scotland, and since he fought for American Independence, he is a Patriot that qualifies his descendants for membership in either the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) or the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR).

I sent the documents to my mom so she could work with the historians of her local DAR chapter to join, and once she was in, I started my application for the SAR, and was accepted.

So, if there are any other cousins out there that are descendants of Matthew Gooding Reed and Ruth Ann Smith, you qualify for membership in BOTH the DAR/SAR and the Mayflower Society! If this is you, contact me and I can help you get started. Similarly, if you are descended from one of the ancestors of either Matthew or Ruth Ann, you may still be related and qualify for membership in one of these lineage societies. If you have questions, let me know.

I want to point out that the stone monument photo on Find A Grave is not the proof I needed. But it was definitely a clue that I could use to proceed! A Lucky Find for sure!