The Shumways begin with Peter Shumway or Shamway of Boxford, Massachusetts. Peter was apparently born Pierre Chamoix (pronounced Sham-wah) in the region of La Rochelle, France, a center of Huguenot activity. The Edict of Nantes had protected the rights of Huguenots (Calvinist Protestants in France) in a largely Catholic nation. Though the Edict was not fully repealed until 1685, many Huguenots, presumably including Peter Shumway, fled to North America in the two of three decades before the final repeal.
Peter Shumway’s eldest child, also Peter, was born in Boxford in 1678, and it is from him that all Shumways are descended.
Peter-Shumway-the-younger would be startled by how many descendants he has. About 1715 he, his wife, and their first six children moved to Oxford, Massachusetts. Of their nine known offspring, seven – six sons and a daughter – had children, and for more than 100 years after most remained in the Worcester Co. area. So fruitful were they that in 1909 Asahel Shumway wrote his “Genealogy of the Shumway family in the United States of America.” a big thick book, which is still quite useful.
Peter begat Jeremiah, Jeremiah begat Peter, and Peter begat Noah from whom we are descended. And that is where I will begin.
Noah was born in 1770 and married three times; first to Lucy Dike, who gave him several children; second to Millicent Pratt who died without children; and third to Parmelia or Pamela Aldrich Hayward. Parmelia was married first to Billings Hayward, and was widowed quite young, in 1826, leaving her with 4 small children. She married Noah in the next year; and they had 5 children who survived to maturity; Jeremiah, born 4 months after their 1827 marriage; Nancy born in 1829; Rufus (pronounced ruff-us) in 1833; Ruth in 1835; and George in 1840; all were born in Oxford. However, by the 1840 US Census Noah and his family seem to have been on the move.
In that year Noah’s family is enumerated both in Oxford, Massachusetts and in Burrillville, (probably the town of Pascoag) Rhode Island – not too difficult considering that much of the year the towns were an easy day’s walk apart. Burrillville was at that time both a town and a township, in an area that was dense with small farms and also factories and workshops engaged in light industry – textiles, nail making, shoe manufacture and so on. The factories used water both for power and for transport, and were a source of cash in an agrarian economy which was short of ready money. People who are interested in the American Industrial Revolution might check this link.
Jeremiah Shumway was enumerated in 1850 both in Burrillville, with his family, and in Webster, boarding with the Eddy family, and he was a carpenter. Noah (in 1850) was still a farmer, but Rufus was working in a woolen factory, and in 1854, just before the family moved to Minnesota, he was working as a clerk in a store.
The photograph shows a young Jeremiah in his finest clothes, and he is quite handsome. But he was to meet a demure Burrillville miss, Mary Maria Paine, who became his life partner.
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Boxford, Massachusetts (Map)