[[The Trasks came from England and Scotland and some of them
emigrated to Massachusetts. Turns out if you go back far enough,
the Trasks were Vikings in Finland who went to Scotland to plunder
(or whatever Vikings did), but some of them never left.
R. W. Trask
compiled a huge family tree.
Lawrie J. Trask wrote an interesting history on the Trask family in England. Juel Trask's writing on early Massachusetts Trasks.]]
Originally titled "Notes on Early Trask Family in New England", from a book ??????? - Massachusetts, edited by Cutler, Vol. 1, page 231.
While Captain William and Osmond Trask were once believed to have been brothers, this is probably unlikely. Captain William's father was probably Nicholas Trask, and he died in 1589, some 35 years before Osmond was born. However, both William and Osmond came from East Coker, Somerset, England. Osmon's descendents later settled in Rochester, VT.[[In the spring of 2000, my husband and I made our long-planned trip to England, and it included a night in East Coker. We had a lovely dinner and drinks in the Helyar Arms in the center of town, and had a quiet night with a great breakfast at the Granary House, just outside of town (which appears to have closed). One of the specialties of the area is homemade raspberry jam, and knowing it was one of my father's favorite foods, I brought him back some!]]
Osmond was born in England in 1625 (or 1627 - he stated his age as 35 years in 1660, and as 38 in 1665). He was a planter in Salem, Massachusetts before 1649, and a very prominent citizen. [[There is a Trask Sq. in Salem.]] He removed to Beverly [[MA]] in the 1660s and was a constable there.
Osmond's first wife, Mary, died on January 2, 1661. He married Elizabeth Galley (dauther of John Galley) of Salem on May 22, 1663. Their children included Samuel, Benjamin (born in 1669), Joseph, Jonathan, and Edward. Osmond died in 1676, before Edward was born.
[[Here's some speculation on Christian Trask, a woman whose name later came up in the Salem Witch Hysteria of 1692.]]
Benjamin Trask was born in Beverly in 1669. He was married to Mary Shattuck, who died. He later married Tryphena, daughter of Joseph and Mary (Endicott) Herrick on May 9, 1711. Their son, Benjamin, was born April 25, 1716 in Beverly. The father died on May 8, 1753 in Beverly.
Benjamin was born April 25, 1716 in Beverly. He married Mary, daughter of William and Anna Porter Elliott on July 1, 1742. They had three children in Beverly - Benjamin (1743-1743), Israel (1745-1808) and Ruth (1748 [[probably died shortly after birth]]). They moved to Brimfield, MA. [[Brimfield was a tiny town in west-central Masschusetts - "the frontier" in those days, not too far from Springfield.]]
In Brimfield, their family increased to include Retire, who was born on February 22, 1751 (though his Army declaration says March 6) and died on November 7, 1837, William (1753-1821), Rufus Trask (1756-1757), Rufus Trask (1758-1830), Nahum (1761-1837), Molly Trask (1763-1823), and Sarah Trask (1767-1819).
Israel Trask practiced medicine in Brimfield, had a family, and had a daughter who married a Pynchon.
[[According to Medicine in New England 1790-1840 (Barnes Riznik, Old Sturbridge Village, page 13):]]
[["...widespread inoculation tended to lower the death rate when an epidemic struck. The success of the Boston experiments spread to other colonies is well as to smaller communities within the province. Dr. Israel Trask introduced smallpox inoculation in Brimfield, Massachusetts, in 1776 and in that same year John Adams wrote to Abigail Adams, "It makes me happy to hear that the Spirit of Inoculation prevails so generally.'' Adams hinusclf underwent inoculation in 1764 at the hand of Dr. Nathaniel Perkins of Boston who, with his lancet, ''divided the skin for about a quarter of an inch and just suffering the blood to appear, buried [an infected] thread about a quarter of an inch long in the channel. A little lint was then laid over the scratch and a piece of rag pressed on, and then a bandage bound over all." Smallpox pesthouses, where people were infected and confined, were constructed in many towns. They ranged in size from country farmhouses quarantined by order of the selectmen, where whole families were likely to be crowded into a single room for three weeks, to Dr. William Aspinwall's "grand inoculating hospital'' in Brookline, Massachusetts. At this veritable pox resort 150 well-to-do patients were served excellent meals and had a "variety of games and amusements." ]]
Nahum Trask also practiced medicine and settled in Windsor, VT with his family.
[[Mary Elliott Trask died in Edgartown, MA on March 29, 1774.]] Benjamin Trask died in New Salem, MA on February 2, 1776.
Retire was born on February 22, 1751 at Brimfield. He was a Revolutionary soldier who was promoted to Sargeant.
[[From Mass. Soldiers of Revolution, Vol. XVL, page 17:
Trask, Retire, Sargeant, Capt. Enock Chapin's Company
Col. Jacob Gerrish's Regt. of Guards
Engaged July 27, 1778 - Discharged December 31, 1778, 5 mos. 7 days
He moved to New Salem, Massachusetts. On April 9, 1788, he married Mary, the widow of Lt. John Hemenway and the daughter of Samuel and Abigail Warner (Burt?) Southwick. The Southwicks were a famous Quaker family who had, like the Trasks, settled in Salem Massachusetts in the mid-1600s. Mary had been born in 1765 (date baptized: November 18, 1765, New Salem). They had five children:
Additionally, Mary had two children from her marriage to Lt. John Hemenway, whom she had married on August 11, 1784. Polly was born on June 4, 1785 (married Nathanial Brown of Rochester) and John (son) was born on August 22, 1786, and died in 1789. Lt. Hemenway died on June 30, 1786, aged 34.
In 1790, (after the 1790 census was taken in New Salem), they moved to Rochester, Vermont. They practiced medicine for many years in the vicinity.
From History of Rochester, Vermont:
The first physician or physicians were Drs. Retire Trask and his wife who practiced successfully together, and indeed there were some who preferred the doctress to the doctor. Dr. Trask and family moved into town in 1790, and he afterwards built the old Webber house at the top of the hill in the south part of the village and kept a tavern for a while. They were the principal physicians in town for nearly 25 years.
From Genealogy of the Descendants of Lawrence and Cassandra Southwick of Salem, Mass. by James McCaller and Mrs. M. A. Ober, 1881, J. H. Choate & Sons., Printers 1881 (page 203):
Mary Southwick (wife of Retire Trask) was a remarkable woman of education and force of character; she showed her courage in encountering the many privations of a pioneer life. Her husband was a physician and his practice became so great and having such long journeys to attend the sick that his wife studied and became fitted to practice under her husband's instruction and became a noted physician. She and her husband were often called ten or twelve miles, and had to mark trees to find their way to and from their patients. Their hospitality was known far and wide by travellers and friends.
From "Autobiography," a privately distributed document by Willis E. Terry, Retire & Mary Trask's great-grandson:
He was quite a famous doctor in Vermont in his day, and his wife was also a doctor and probably dosed as many people with calomel as her husband. Doctoring was simple in those days. There were three things to be done for the sick. They were to be fired, cupped bled, or dosed with calomel.
Poor Aunt Matt, with troubles enough of her own, and a disposition to magnify her troubles...Her grandfather was Dr. Retire Trask, and in their library were some of his old medical books. She would study these books, the symptoms and cures for diseases, and as she lived to be a good old age, she had ample time to have all the diseases in the book...
From Rochester Town Records (Book 4, p.327):
Retire and Mary Trask deed to John Trask - they are to be taken care of in respects to food, spirits, water, fire wood and all other necessaries both in health and sickness as may be necessary for their support, to accomodate their visiting friends, furnish them or either or them with a horse and wagon or either of them as their convenience may require, to provide and keep for them one cow, to treat them in every respect with kindness and show them all necessary and proper attention, and to save said Retire harmless from all debts by him contracted. Dated 27 July 1827.
In records located in the National Archives, a letter from Carlos Coolidge (later Governor of Vermont) dated March 11, 1833:
Sir, I enclose documents to support the claim of Retire Trask to a pension.
The letter goes on to say that he'd written a number of times for a number of people and wanted an answer. At least one of the enclosed documents was a declaration Retire gave to a judge in support of his claim for a pension:
...That he entered the service of the United States...at the age of twenty seven ears at New Salem Massachusetts he enlisted in the spring of the year 1778 as an orderly sergeant for six months...
Dr. Retire Trask died on November 7, 1837, aged 86 years, 8 months, and Dr. Mary Trask died February 14, 1838 aged 74 years. Both are buried in the old cemetary in Rochester ("obelisk" marker, far left and back of the cemetary).
Interestingly, Retire Trask was born and died at almost the same time as President James Madison.
John was born on August 28, 1793 at Rochester.
From Roster of War of 1812-14 - Vermont:
John Trask, fifer of Rochester, volunteered to go to Pittsburgh, September 1814 and served 7 days. In Oliver Mason's Company. Ref. Bk. 51
He married Mary Winslow (born July 24, 1798) (photo), daughter of Hezekiah and Martha Sampson Winslow on October 24, 1816 in Barnard, VT. They had thirteen children:
[[They actually had four children only two of whom were buried in Rochester. The other two were Willis, 1855-1941 (author of "Autobiography") and Nellie, b. about 1863 and later adopted by the Clark family of Winneconna, Wisconsin.]]
David Warren lived in Brandon; he started to build the brick house at Rochester, later bought by John Trask. When partly done, John Trask bought the house. Before that, he lived on the west side of the river in what was later known as the Oscar Martin farm. He had a mill on the stream near there, grew teazles on pasture land of the farm and carded wool at the mill. Deed of the brick house from Warren is dated 3 May 1837. He was the first Trask to live in the brick house on Main St. [[in which his descendants lived until 1975 (the family sold later sold it, after holding a large estate sale in August 1980).]]
John Trask was a successful business man; was town clerk and treasurer for 28 years; State Representative 1834, 1835, 1838. He died on August 25, 1854, aged 61 years. Mary Winslow died on April 16, 1888 in Kewanee, IL. Both are buried in the old cemetary in Rochester ("obelisk" marker, far left and back of the cemetary). Family portraits of John and Mary and some of John's business ledgers survive.
J. H. Trask was born on December 14, 1833. He lived almost his entire life in the brick house. On January 14, 1861, he married Mary Louise Cassidy. They had two children:
J. H. Trask ran a general store in the center of town. In the 1990s, a restaurant and, later, a general store were opened in the same building. A sign from J. H. Trask's original store hangs on the wall, as well as old photo of J. H. in an early automobile in front of the store. A number of unidentified tintypes, likely from the Trask family, circa 1870, survive. J. H. and Mary were buried in the new cemetary in Rochester (about mid-way back, on right, beside the road).
George Henry was born on September 22, 1864 and married Caroline Maud Crawford (born on July 29, 1866) on August 26, 1893 in Boston. They had two children:
George and Caroline lived in the big brick house with their children. One of Caroline's distant relatives was Ethan Allen Crawford, surveyor of Crawford Notch in New Hampshire. Family legend has it that he fought a bear and survived. George died on May 3, 1932, and Caroline died on April 4, 1944.
John Crawford Trask was born on April 2, 1896 and lived in Rochester. He married Nellie Foley (daughter of John (photo) and Lena Foley, born July 10, 1897 in Springfield, MA) on December 22, 1916. They had five children:
Thanks to Deborah King for the color-correction.
In addition to their own children, Nellie's widowed father and much younger sisters (Pat and Phyllis) lived with them for many years. John Foley was a travelling blacksmith, who eventually settled in New Hampshire with his younger daughters.
John Trask always drove a pickup truck (an ugly green one in the early '60s) and Nellie served as postmistress of Rochester from 1945 until 1967. They lived in various houses in Rochester, settling in the brick house on Main St. after the deaths of John's parents. They used an old Franklin stove for all their cooking until the mid-'60s, when they finally bought an electric stove. John died on July 3, 1970 of emphysema. Nellie died on October 11, 1975 from complications of a stroke.
William, AKA Tuna, worked at Worcester Polytechnic Institute formallyl from 1959-1992 and informally during his retirement. WPI created an exhibit about him which was displayed in Goddard Library in late 2015 and went online in 2016.
|Laurie, Carrie, Jeff 1960||Bill, Carrie, Laurie, Jeff, Ruth, Terry, 1967|
Laurie Dickinson (living) was born in Burlington, VT and currently resides near Pittsburgh, PA with her husband, Jim Mann and daugther Leslie Mann.
|Jim & Laurie Mann, 5/22/77||Jim & Laurie, 8/27/15|
Carrie Crawford (living) was born in Burlington, VT and lives in West Boylston, MA.
|Carrie, Ruth, Terry, 12/25/1995||Tuna, Carrie, 2/15/2010|
Jeffrey Fisher (living) was born in Worcester, MA is married to Rachel and lives near Washington, DC.
|Rachel & Jeff, 10/2002||Tuna & Jeff, 9/2011|
Terry Shonyo (living) was born in Worcester, MA, married Jessica Bradford, who had a daughter named Leah (1994). Together, they had Luke (2004) and Emily (2007).
|Rachel, Jeff, Ruth, usher, Bill, Jessica, Terry, Leah, Carrie, Laurie, Leslie, Jim, 10/18/2003|
|Leah Bradford, Ruth Trask, 2/15/2009||Emily Trask, Leslie Mann, Luke Trask, 12/28/2014|
If you found this page because you're doing Trask family research, here's an info request that appeared in the September 1996 issue of Yankee magazine:
Seek info/par./anc. James Henry Trask, b. Maine, possi. N.H., ca 1854, d. 1921, m. Hannah Hawes Nov. 14 1875, Mattawamkeg, ME, lived in Lowell & Revere, MA, ch. Howard Henry, Ella, Gertrude. Barbara Lide, 309 Irwin Rd., Powell, TN 37849