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Reminiscences of Ellisville PDF Print E-mail

This text has been transcribed by the Friends of Ellisville Marsh from scanned images of the original article published in July 1972. The Friends thanks the Plymouth Historical Commission for providing a digital copy of the original print.


Editor’s Preface

As the frosting on its 150th birthday cake, the Old Colony Memorial is pleased to publish in full the original memoirs of Ernest Clifton Ellis, “Reminiscences of Ellisville”.

This is a fascinating document, rich in details of a bygone era, which will serve as a valuable addition to the annals of Ellisville, that oft neglected, southerly section of Plymouth.

Mr. Ellis is particularly qualified to write such a history as he has lived his life in this community named after his forbearers. He is not its oldest resident.

The OCM would like to thank Mr. Ellis for so graciously contributing to its birthday celebration.


 Reprinted from the Old Colony Memorial

150th Anniversary Issue

July 13, 1972

 Ernest C Ellis

 Author Ernest C. Ellis

By the death of every person something within the range of his knowledge is lost beyond recovery. This has happened in Ellisville.

In writing my memories, it is my desire to record events and recall older residents of the village, as well as those I have known during my long life, and to describe the customer and fashions which prevailed at periods within my knowledge. It is a legacy I wish to leave for those coming after me, lest it be forgotten.

I express my appreciation to my friends and neighbors who have encouraged me, helped in the preparation.

E.C. Ellis



The Ellis’ of Ellisville

 It has been suggested to me a number of times that I should write my memories of life in Ellisville. I am the oldest resident of the village and many young people are interested in the history of my own days and of those with whom I grew up. They also like to hear about the older residents of the village and life as it was lived in my Grandfather’s day.

Of course Ellisville derived its name from the fact that all the families that lived in the village in the early days were named Ellis, except the Harlow family who lived just northwesterly of the Salt Pond.

My father lived in the old homestead at the south end of the village known as the Ziba Ellis place. The land was owned by the family as follows:

1.       John Ellis Born in Kent County England in 1590 – Died Dec. 1677, Married Elizabeth Freeman – Born in England – Baptized Apr. 11, 1624 in Billinghurst County, Sussex. Died in Rochester, Mass.

2.       Mordecai Ellis – Born in Sandwich March 24, 1679, Died Oct. 25, 1716.

3.       William Ellis Born about 1694. Died in Plymouth 1768. Married Joanna Gibbs Mar. 19, 1718. She was born Mar 13, 1687.

4.       Eleazer Ellis – Born Apr. 18, 1724. Died Aug 4, 1806. Married Deborah Gibba, Jan 9, 1745-6. She was born Dec. 4, 1724.

5.       Barnabas Ellis Born Dec. 9, 1749. Died Nov 18, 1833. Married Ruth Mendall April 15, 1770. She was born 1749. Died 1821.

6.       Francis Ellis Born June 14, 1776. Married Joanne Briggs March 9, 1799. She was born 1781 Died 1853.

7.       Ziba Ellis Born 1816, Died 1907. Married 1 Betsy G. Burgess 1840. Born 1819. Died 1846. Married 2 Deborah E. Gibbs, 1848. Born 1820 Died 1871. Married 3 Anna B. Gibbs 1873. Born 1823. Died 1906.

8.       Ziba Russel Ellis Born 1853 Died 1922. Married Helen F. Ward Born 1852 Died 1946

9.       Ernest Clifton Ellis Born 1889. Married Jean Murray 1924, Born 1888.

We do not know where the first William Ellis or his son Eleazer were buried but Eleazer’s brother William was buried in the old Manomet Cemetery – called the White Horse Cemetery. Mr. Barnabas Ellis was buried in the Cedarville cemetery. On his stone is this inscription.

“Come children and look at the grave Where no your dear parent is laid, And learn that times next rolling wave, May number you with the dead.”

The inscription on his wife’s stone reads,

“Sacred to the memory of Mrs. Ruth Ellis, wife of Barnabas Ellis. Look here my friend and read your doom, For you are walking to your tomb. Like you I toiled and spent my breath, And now I sleep and rest in death.”


 Francis Ellis and his wife Joanna Briggs are buried on the Barnabas Ellis lot in the Cedarville Cemetery.

Ziba Ellis and his three wives are buried in the Sagamore Cemetery.

Ziba Russell Ellis and his wife Elen F. Ward are buried in Oak Grove Cemetery in Plymouth.

Edmund Freeman was born in England about 1590. He married Bennett Hodsall at Havery Hartforshire. She died April 1630.

He came to New England in June 1635 on the Abigail. He brought with him from England two young sons Edmund Jr. aged 15 and John aged 8. Both of whom married daughters of Governor Prince. He also brought his daughter Alice, 17 years old who married Deacon William Paddy the first treasurer of the Colony and Elizabeth aged 12 who married Mr. John Ellis of Sandwich.

In Sandwich Edmund married Elizabeth Perry, a widow. She was born in England in 1600 and died in Sandwich 1675-6.

He was one of the ten men who settle Sandwich in 1637. He purchased the land from Governor Bradforf for the price Bradford had paid the Indians.

He was a Representative to the General Court and Lt. Governor. He was assistant to the government of the Colony from 1640-1646.

Among ancient landmarks in Sandwich are the “Saddle and Pillion Rocks” which mark the resting place of Edmond and Elizabeth Freemand. He chose a round stone, like a Pillion, to mark his wife’s grave and caused his oxen to draw another stone resembling a saddle for himself from his fields. He died in 1682 at the age of 92.


Edmond Freeman's Gravestone



Elizabeth Freeman's Gravestone


 John Ellis was born in Kent County England in 1590 and probably sailed on the Mayflower our of London in March 1629, arriving in Salem about May 15, 1629.

According to the old Plymouth records John Ellis owned land in 1658 “near unto the beach” as you come from Plymouth to Sandwich. This is the land in Ellisville which has been in the Ellis family ever since that time. He probably had a cabin to live in during the growing season. The following might bear to the out (Plymouth Colony Records, Vol. 5, page 47 – August 11, 1670).

At this court an Indian called William, son-in-law of Cowistan, appeared and complained that the oxen of Lieutenant Ellis had broken into his corn at Breakheart Hill (This is the same as Black Ground Hill) and produced testimony of Elisha Hedge and John Davis to prove it, who testified that viewing the damage, they would judge it to be about six bushels and affirmed that the fence was good”.

John Ellis was one of the soldiers in King Philip’s War.  He was stationed at Chelmsford Garrison in 1675. It is probably that he was killed in that war. At any rate he was dead before March 23, 1676-77 when his widow presented an inventory of his estate to the probate court.

Elizabeth Freeman Ellis must have possessed great strength of character as well as a good physical constitution. She was fifty-three years old when her husband died and she left the comparative safety and comfort of Sandwich at the age of nearly sixty and went to live in Sepican (now Rochester, Mass). This land was part of the grant made by the general court to the veterans of Kind Philip’s War.

Mordecai Ellis was born in Sandwich March 24, 1620. He was the second child of John Ellis and Elizabeth Freeman Ellis, and the father of William, who owned most of the land in Ellisville. Like his father, Mordecai earned the military rank of Lieutenant. He probably was given Sandwich land during his father’s lifetime, and the Ellisville homestead was given to him when his father’s estate was settled. We have no record of Mordecai having lived in Ellisville.

               William Ellis was born about 1694 and he probably inherited the land John owned in Ellisville. He owned all the land from Black Ground Hill to the Harlow Farm. He was the first Ellis we know of who made his home in Ellisville.

               William deeded all his land to his two sons, William and Eleazer, May 24, 1745. Eleazer was my ancestor and William was Albert Marsh’s. In 1762 the second William and his brother Eleazer divided the property left to them by their father. The deed reads “The rest of the land and buildings lying to the Northward and East of the Division Line”. The was William’s portion of the property and the building mentioned must have been the house Albert Marsh now owns. We do not know who built it or how old it was at that time but that was over two hundred years ago.

               The land that is now cranberry bog was called “The Great Swamp” in the deed. To balance up the land for each, a field, called Betty’s Field of about three acres became William’s property. It was on Eleazer’s side of the line, a short distance southerly (on the West side of the road) from Eleazer’s house. This field had various owners, I inherited it and sold it the last time it changed hands.


Map of Ellisville 1890