By Andrea (Scudder) Hera, Member of the Scudder Association Foundation “Extended Family”
Dave Scudder, my dad, in Hyannis Port, MA
It all started with a phone call. What was going to be a simple outing to a car museum for my dad’s 79th birthday, turned into a deep dive into my family’s ancestry with several surprising connections along the way. The call was to Toad Hall Classic Sports Car Museum in Hyannis Port, MA, on Cape Cod. While looking up directions to the museum, the address caught my attention–it was located on Scudder Avenue. I knew my Scudder ancestors had settled in Massachusetts and wondered if there was an affiliation. After talking to the museum’s owner, Bill Putnam, I discovered there are and once were many Scudders who have lived on Cape Cod. In fact, Bill himself had Scudder heritage in his family line. After a quick online search, I found that a major ferry company called Hy-Line Cruises was owned by the Scudder family–and one of the owners was a spitting image of my first cousin! Those Scudder genes must be pretty dominant. This sparked a curiosity to uncover if my own family line was related to the Scudders on the Cape.
Another Internet search led me to this website, where I learned the Scudder Association Foundation had their own historian. Within hours, she had replied to my email and informed me that John2 Scudder (J) of Barnstable, MA had settled on Cape Cod. Now I just had to find out whether this John was related to me or not. It was at that point that I knew my day would be consumed with uncovering the truth.
It seems each family has one or two members within it that take a particular interest in discovering and preserving their family history. Those people become their own family historian. I’m thankful to those who have taken on that role, including my great aunt Marty. She handmade a family heirloom that was passed down to me–a detailed map of my Scudder heritage. The next step was to follow the link I found on scudder.org to Scudder Ancestors in America.com for my direct lineage and compare that information to the map.
With print offs of my Scudder family tree and several articles on John Scudder of Barnstable in hand, my family spent a memorable day on Cape Cod. As I walked the same beaches that my Scudder ancestors walked, I felt a deeply personal connection to my family roots. I was grateful to live in the same geographic region as my ancestors and decided in that moment to do my part to preserve my Scudder heritage for future generations.
My day on the Cape had ended, but my curiosity to unearth more family connections had grown exponentially. Conversations about our Scudder descendants had begun within my immediate family, and I soon realized other relatives had done their own family history research. It was time to connect and share our findings. Several days later, I found myself on a video chat with my sister and my cousin. It was the first time I had communicated with my cousin in decades.
Top left: Erik Scudder, my cousin, Top right: Andrea (Scudder) Hera,
Bottom center: Amy (Scudder) Olmstead, my sister
Just when I thought my genealogy journey had come to a pause, the Scudder Association Foundation historian sent me another email with new information on John Scudder of Barnstable, MA. She found records confirming John Scudder had purchased 45 acres from Reverend Lothrop’s estate near the Sturgis Library in Barnstable. Ironically, the library used to be Reverend Lothrop’s home but now serves as a primary source of Cape Cod genealogy. Constructed in 1644, it happens to be the oldest building housing a public library in the United States. Looks like another trip to the Cape is in order.
About the Author
Mark Hera and Andrea (Scudder) Hera
In my own personal experiences, I’ve come to appreciate the “true grit” that was needed to be a Scudder pioneer in New England. They immigrated from England to Massachusetts to escape religious persecution, in pursuit of true religious freedom. Enduring such a perilous journey across the ocean and then starting a colony from nothing but wilderness, those Scudders must have clung to their religious convictions for perseverance and survival.
In a small way, I now understand the determination required to transform an untouched forest into a habitable homestead. Coming full circle with my Scudder ancestors, my husband and I have started a nonprofit called Oak and Sparrow Ministries, Inc. We’re in the process of building a cabin, with our own hands, that will serve as a free spiritual retreat so others can enjoy their religious freedoms. I think my Scudder descendants would be proud.
Oak and Sparrow Ministry, Inc. cabin in Vermont
The cabin is located within the Green Mountain National Forest in southern Vermont.
If you’d like to learn more about our cabin build journey or want to connect with me, look us up at: https://www.facebook.com/OakAndSparrowMinistry/
What a great account of your first encountering the Scudder history in Barnstable. I am also a decendant of John Scudder, and we all remain in awe of what the earliest Scudder settlers must have endured.
Best of luck with your retreat. If you would ever like to join the Scudder Foundation Board, please let me know. (firstname.lastname@example.org).
President, The Scudder Association Foundation, Inc.
Andrea is my cousin and did a wonderful job of finding out more of heritage. I too want to find out more of our family.