Nielsen Hayden genealogy

James Maker

Male Abt 1650 - 1731  (~ 81 years)

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  • Name James Maker  [1, 2
    Birth Abt 1650  [3
    Gender Male 
    Death 8 Jul 1731  Harwich, Barnstable, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    Alternate death 8 Jul 1732  Harwich, Barnstable, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Alternate death 8 Jul 1732  Eastham, Barnstable, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location  [4
    Person ID I20422  Ancestry of PNH, TNH, and others | Ancestor of LDN
    Last Modified 12 Sep 2020 

    Family Rachel,   b. Abt 1664   d. Bef 1703 (Age ~ 38 years) 
    +1. Lydia Maker,   b. Abt 1683, Eastham, Barnstable, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this locationd. Aft 1765, Harwich, Barnstable, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location (Age ~ 83 years)
    Family ID F12156  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart
    Last Modified 5 May 2024 

  • Notes 
    • Abstracted by PNH from Judith Brister, "The Maker/Macors and Hopkins", citation details below:

      James Maker first appears in Plymouth colony records 29 Oct 1668 when he and Edward Crowell, probably still minors, were accused by Samuel Worden of Yarmouth of breaking into Worden's home in his absence and "attempting the chastity of his wife and sister, by many laciuous carriages, and affrighting of his children." Maker and Crowell were sentenced to be "severally whipt" or, alternately, to pay fines of ten pounds and to cover Worden's legal costs. They chose the latter. Not long after, on 2 Mar 1669 James Maker, Richard Berry, and the brothers Benjamin and Jedediah Lumbert, were charged for smoking tobacco at the Yarmouth meeting house on the Sabbath, for which they were fined five shillings.

      By 1673 James Maker was a landowner in Yarmouth; subsequent records show him as holding small patches of property up and down the lower Cape. He fought in the "Great Swamp Fight" in King Philip's War, 19 Dec 1675. By the end of his life he was respectable enough to have served as constable of Harwich for a year, from March 1720 to March 1721.

      In 1970, Clinton Elwood Nickerson and Vernon Roscoe Nickerson published From Pilgrims and Indians to Kings and Indentured Servants: An Ancestry of the Brothers Clinton Elwood Nickerson and Vernon Roscoe Nickerson, and their Cousins, the Brothers James Elwin Nickerson and Leighton Ainsworth Nickerson, which made a case, more strenuous than convincing, that James Maker was himself a Native American and that this accounted for the distinctly Native American-ish facial features of various Nickerson descendants of James Maker and his wife Rachel, in particular Capt. Hezekiah Eldridge Nickerson (1816-1871) and his wife Mehitable Crosby (presumably herself a Nickerson descendant?) (1816-1892). In 2000, Nickerson Family Association member, historian, and genealogist Burton N. Derick published a counter-argument, "James Maker, Non-Indian," (Cape Cod Genealogical Society Bulletin, Volume XXVI, Number 2, Issue No. 88, Summer 2000), pointing out that James Maker's life was replete with events that would have turned out differently had he been a Native American. As a minor, he certainly would not have been let off with a mere fine for "attempting the chastity" of the wife and daughter of Edward Crowell. And it is impossible to believe that Harwich would have appointed him a constable in 1720 if there had been the slightest sense that he was of native ancestry. As Derick explains, these are things that simply didn't happen.

      But the fact remains that James Maker and his wife Rachel were entangled all their lives with the Nickerson family and the Hopkins family, chancers all. The Nickerson family in particular were constantly in trouble with the law for doing expansive against-the-rules real-estate deals with natives. They and their closely-allied families, absolutely including the Makers and various Hopkins kin, were deeply comfortable with native people, and quite prepared to fight their fellow white people who wanted to put a halt to that sort of thing. The same Burton N. Derick who demolished the claim that James Maker was himself a Native American also maintained that James's wife Rachel most probably was a native -- citing, among other evidences, the fact that James and Rachel lived "on or bordering" the Indian reserve in Monomoit/Chatham, and then on the Potonumecot reserve in East Brewster.

      In a different but eye-opening bit of collateral evidence, John Maker, born about 1692, son of James and Rachel Maker, married, on 5 Nov 1714, a Mary Hopkins of Harwich, Massachusetts. The General Society of Mayflower Descendants' "Silver Book" on Stephen Hopkins carefully notes that no direct proof has been found that the Mary Hopkins who married John Maker was the same Mary Hopkins who was a daughter of Stephen Hopkins and Mary Merrick, granddaughter of Giles Hopkins and Catherine Whelden, great-granddaughter of Stephen Hopkins of the Mayflower. But with equal prudence, they note that no other Mary Hopkins, single or widowed, has been found in that region in 1714; and secondly, that Bursel Maker, a son of Mary Hopkins and John Maker, witnessed the 20 Jan 1747 will of Judah Hopkins, a proven descendant of the Mayflower passenger.

      Mary (Hopkins) Maker and her husband John Maker had a daughter named Elizabeth (b. 22 Jun 1722). The Hopkins "Silver Book" states that she was "undoubtably not the Elizabeth Maker who m. Harwich 16 Apr 1759 Downing Cahoon." The "Silver Book" gives no proof for this assertion, although it's notable that Downing Cahoon, b. 1738, was sixteen years younger than Elizabeth Maker. What is noteworthy, though, about the Elizabeth Maker who married Downing Cahoon -- whether or not she was a daughter of Mary Hopkins and John Maker -- is that historian Josiah Paine, in his personal genealogical notes archived at the Boston headquarters of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, states that Downing Cahoon, presumably with wife Elizabeth and children, lived in East a wigwam.

      From 1491 by Charles C. Mann:

      In a letter to Thomas Jefferson, the aging John Adams recalled the Massachusetts of his youth as a multiracial society. "Aaron Pomham the Priest and Moses Pomham the King of the Punkapaug and Neponsit Tribes were frequent Visitors at my Father's House," he wrote nostalgically. "There was a numerous Family in this Town [Quincy, Mass., where Adams grew up], whose Wigwam was within a Mile of this House." They frequently visited Adams, "and I in my boyish Rambles used to call at their Wigwam, where I never failed to be treated with Whortle Berries, Blackberries, Strawberries or Apples, Plumbs, Peaches, etc." Colonist Susanna Johnson described eighteenth-century New Hampshire as "such a mix—of savages and settlers, without established laws to govern them, that the state of society cannot easily be described." In Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin was equally familiar with Native American life. As a diplomat, he negotiated with the confederacy of Five Nations in 1744; in those days, knowledge of Indian ways was an essential part of the statesman's toolkit. Among his closest friends was Conrad Weiser, an adopted Mohawk, and the Indians' unofficial host at the talks. And one of the mainstays of Franklin's printing business was the publication of Indian treaties, viewed then as critical state documents. [...]

      In the most direct way, Indian liberty made indigenous villages into competitors for colonists’ allegiance. Colonial societies could not become too oppressive, because their members—surrounded by examples of free life—always had the option to vote with their feet. It is likely that the first British villages in North America, thousands of miles from the House of Lords, would have lost some of the brutally graded social hierarchy that characterized European life. But it is also clear that they were infused by the democratic, informal brashness of Native American culture. That spirit alarmed and discomfited many Europeans, toff and peasant alike. But many others found it a deeply attractive vision of human possibility.

  • Sources 
    1. [S5174] Massachusetts, U.S., Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988, on

    2. [S2654] The Nickerson Family: The Descendants of William Nickerson, 1604-1689, First Settler of Chatham, Massachusetts, Parts I, II & III: The First Six Generations with Vital Statistics of the Seventh Generation, The Combined 2nd Edition With Corrections by Pauline Wixon Derrick with Gertrude James and Barbara E. Goward. Cape Cod, Massachusetts: The Nickerson Family Association, 1997.

    3. [S2593] Judith Brister, "The Maker/Macors and Hopkins." Atlantic Crossings, newsletter of the Pilgrim Hopkins Heritage Society, volume 7, issue 2, December 2013, page 1.

    4. [S4384] George Eldridge, Hydrographer, and Eliza Jane His Wife: Their Ancestors and Their Descendants by Henry James Young. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: 1982.