Trask Family of Rochester, VT Genealogy Page

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by Margaret Trask, 1953

[[Notes by Laurie Dickinson Trask Mann, 1996-2021]]

Trask Family Genealogy Information: WikiTree has very useful genealogy information.

[[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 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 and they were likely cousins. At lease one line of Osmond'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 some!]]

Descendents of Osmond Trask and Elizabeth Galley

Osmond was born in England in 1622. 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 1677, before Edward was born.

Two years later, Elizabeth married John Giles and had three more children. she died in 1709.

[[Here's some speculation on Christian Trask, a woman whose name later came up in the Salem Witch Hysteria of 1692.]]

Descendents of Benjamin Trask and Tryphena Herrick

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.

Descendents of Benjamin Trask and Mary Elliott

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).

Mary Elliott Trask died in Edgartown (Martha's Vinyard), Masssachusetts on March 29, 1774. Benjamin Trask died in New Salem, Massachusetts on February 2, 1776.

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.

Descendents of Dr. Retire Trask and Dr. Mary Southwick Hemenway

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, some 35 miles north of his hometown of Brimfield. 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:

  1. Benjamin was born on November 25, 1789, died on May 20, 1838 in Montreal. He was a physician and surgeon who never married.
  2. Sophia was born on July 11, 1790, married Austin Morehouse and had eight children.
  3. Retire was born on November 5, 1791 (no further record).
  4. John was born on August 28, 1793, and died on August 25, 1854.
  5. Ezra Southwick was born on September 4, 1795, and died sometime after June 30, 1829. He married Abigail Gilbert (daughter of Daniel Gilbert) before 1824; their two children and Abigail all died by 1830.

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 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.

Descendents of John Trask and Mary Winslow

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:

  1. Mary, born September 16, 1817, married James H. Palmer on January 18, 1842 at Rochester, NY. The wedding was given by Mr. William Alling. She died of smallpox in February 1866.
  2. Martha, born April 2, 1819, married Azro B. Leonard on November 27, 1848. They had two daughters. She died on February 18, 1893.
  3. Benjamin, born April 4, 1821, died August 7, 1822, aged 1 year 4 mos.
  4. Julia Ann, born February 21, 1823, died November 11, 1823, aged 8 mos. 20 days.
  5. Julia Ann 2nd, born November 7, 1824, married Henry Lyon Terry (born March 19, 1820 - died April 23, 1885) on August 10, 1847 in Rochester. She died on June 25, 1865. They had at least two children:
    1. Henry Trask Terry (born March 1 1851 - died June 22, 1919), who married Ella Dutton (born February 25, 1855 - died January 5, 1935)
    2. Fred Edward Terry (born August 10, 1858 - died May 29, 1927)

    [[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.]]

  6. Susan Jane, born January 22, 1827, married Newell Stone on August 10, 1847 in Rochester. She died on January 24, 1884.
  7. George Winslow, born June 8, 1829, married Laura C. Woodbury in March 1854. He was the town clerk of Rochester in 1855. He was one of the three "Trask postmasters" of Rochester, the others being one of the John Trasks and Nellie Trask.
  8. Elisa Adelaide, born July 5, 1831, died May 14, 1833, aged 1 year, 10 mos.
  9. John Hemenway, born December 14, 1833, married Mary Louise Cassidy on January 14, 1861. Died on November 1, 1921.
  10. Adelaide, born May 2, 1836, married Elias Lyman, December 14, 1858.
  11. Henry, born May 18, 1839, died July 18, 1839, aged 2 mos.
  12. Henry Retire, born April 14, 1841, married Kate A. Gale, December 31, 1863, died August 18, 1890.
  13. Ellen Sophia, born October 17, 1846, died July 27, 1847, aged 9 mo. 10 days.

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.

Descendents of John Hemenway Trask and Mary Louise Cassidy

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:

  1. George Henry, born September 22, 1864, married Caroline Maud Crawford (born July 29, 1886 - died April 4, 1944) on April 26, 1893.
  2. Julia, born December 3, 1866. She married Rev. Carleton Hazen (born July 14, 1865 - died February 22, 1945) in 1900 in Rochester, VT. Julia died on November 24 (1947?).

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).

Descendents of George Henry Trask and Caroline Maud Crawford

George Henry was born on September 22, 1864 and married Caroline Maud Crawford (born on July 29, 1866) on August 26, 1893 in Boston. Rev. Edward Everett Hale officiated. They had two children:

  1. John Crawford, April 2, 1896, married Nellie Foley on December 22, 1916. (photo)
  2. Margaret, born March 3, 1898, settled in Springfield, VT where she was a secretary until her retirement. She died on November 23, 1975.

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.

Descendents of John Crawford Trask and Nellie Foley

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.

  1. John Crawford, Jr., born 1917, married Frances Jane (Jamen) Hayden on September 26, 1942 in Winchester, MA. They had five daughters (Peggy, Pat, Rusty, Jay and Sally). He died in November 1979 in Florida in a motor skooter accident. Jamen died on December 16, 2016 in Prescott, Arizona.
  2. Caroline, born 1918(?), married Larry Wright in 1948(?). They had one son, Alan Wright. Larry died in the fall of 1975, and Caroline died 1987(?) of brain cancer.
  3. George married Aline (8/14/1931-12/25/2018) in 1952. They had two sons and two daughters (George, Jr., Deborah, Robert and Pamela).
  4. Winslow, born 1928, married Natalie Crossland in 1953(?). They had two daughters (Anne and Martha). Natalie died of cancer on January 9, 1998. Winslow died of cancer on April 26, 2004.
  5. William Foley married Ruth Ann Shonyo on May 8, 1954 in Lyndonville, VT. They had two sons and two daughters (Laurie, Carrie, Jeff, and Terry). While Bill and Ruth divorced in October 1985, they remained close for the rest of their lives. They were married for 31 years, divorced for 31 years and died 8 months apart. He died on March 25, 2017. Leavetakings, Part II. Ruth died July 26, 2016, Leavetakings, Part I.

In addition to their own children, Nellie's widowed father and much younger sisters (Margaret (called Pat) and Phyllis) lived with them. John Foley was a blacksmith, who eventually owned a gas station.

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.

Descendents of William Foley Trask and Ruth Ann Shonyo

William, AKA Tuna, worked at Worcester Polytechnic Institute formally 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. Bill died on March 25, 2017.

Ruth Trask was a free lance writer who wrote and edited the WPI Journal from the 1970s through the 1990s and occasionally thereafter. She died July 26, 2016.

Laurie, Carrie, Jeff 1960 Bill, Carrie, Laurie, Jeff, Ruth, Terry, 1967
Laurie, Carrie and Jeffrey Trask,
       Circa 1960

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, 5/22/77Jim & Laurie, 8/27/15

Carrie Crawford (living) was born in Burlington, VT and lives in Auburn, MA.

Carrie, Ruth, Terry, 12/25/1995Tuna, Carrie, 2/15/2010

Jeffrey Fisher (living) was born in Worcester, MA & is living in Baltimore, MD.

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, 2/15/2009Emily 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