Sunday, May 6, 2012

Hodges and Skinner and Freeman, oh my!

Norton Common Cemetery, Norton, MA
Over the last month or so, I've been going through all the photos I took last summer at Norton Common Cemetery in Norton, Massachusetts of Hodges, Skinner, and Freeman tombstones. I was not sure how they all linked up at the time I took the photos and since then, I've researched a lot of the names I found.

I have ancestors with all these surnames and I assumed that they were siblings and close cousins of my ancestors. What has surprised me though, is how distant most of these cousins are to each other. It seems that many of these family lines stayed in Norton (and nearby Mansfield) for several hundred years.

Zophar Skinner and Bethiah Freeman Skinner
Norton Common Cemetery,
My 4th great grandparents, the first (of three) Zophar Skinner along with his wife, Bethiah Freeman are buried in this cemetery. However, none of their descendants are buried here, and I did not find gravestones for Zophar's parents, Elijah Skinner and Abigail Hawes. However, I did find other Skinner tombstones. The closest relation to Zophar was a third cousin, once removed. This Skinner, Josephus A Skinner (1821-1853) was the 2nd in the line of three generations of Josephus Skinners. His wife was Ellen D. Hodges (1822-1893) who was at least a third cousin to the Hodges in my line.

Bethiah Hodges Freeman, Norton Common Cemetery

The oldest tombstone I photographed in my direct Hodges line appears to be Zophar's mother-in-law, Bethiah Hodges (1744-1829) - She was married to Nathanial Freeman (1744 -1829). Nathaniel's tombstone was pictured here in a previous post. Bethiah's father, Jonathan Hodge's tombstone is probably also in Norton Common Cemetery, but it is too lichen covered to be sure. It was photographed by a distant cousin and is pictured here at FindaGrave.

It's been interesting trying to see how all these Hodges, Freeman and Skinner tombstones tie into my direct line of ancestors. In most cases, I've had to extend the names I've found both forward and backwards in time to find the common ancestors. My database now contains many more distant relatives with these surnames than it did before I started this project! And it's fun to see how each of these names on tombstones links into my family tree, albeit distantly.  I've used a variety of online sources to find names in vital records. The records at,, and especially have been invaluable.

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