THE AMERICAN PROGENITORS OF JOSEPH GRAFTON HOVEY
by his 2nd Great Grandson,
Steven James Hovey
During much of 1997 and the early part of 1998 I was instrumental in gathering
personal histories and life stories written by many of my relatives for the purpose of
compiling them in an electronic format. This task seemed prudent because the
originals which I used as a source were in various stages of disrepair, many being old
mimeograph copies which had become quite faded through the years since they were
originally written for family reunions. My final efforts included the transcription of the
works performed by my grandfather, Merlin Ross Hovey, to record the lives of his father
and grandfather, respectively, James Alma Hovey and Joseph Grafton Hovey.
In September of 1934, M. R. Hovey wrote his biographical sketch of James Alma
Hovey. During that same month, he donated the original hand-written Biography and
Journal of Joseph Grafton Hovey to the Church Historian's Department of the Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for its archives. Prior to making this submission, he
made a transcript of this record for his posterity. Finally, my grandfather arranged in
1952 to have this transcript re-typed by Fern Maxine Smith Hovey, my mother, prior to
its publication and binding. Since 1952, this bound version has been photocopied and
passed around repeatedly. In the early 1990's I obtained a copy of the Biography and
Journal of Joseph Grafton Hovey in electronic format from another distant cousin. This
copy was fragmented into four files. I have since reformatted the files, merged them,
and translated them into a more up-to-date version for word processing. It was then
that I discovered that the final 40 pages of text had never been typed. Now the work is
complete and restored to the format in which it was typed on a typewriter back in 1952
-- only this time it is in a word processor.
My grandfather's work was not limited to the exact words that Joseph Grafton
Hovey wrote. Among other things he included was an introduction to the book -- a
section containing information from The Hovey Book. The Hovey Book describes the
English Ancestry and American Descendants of Daniel Hovey of Ipswich,
Massachusetts. The book was compiled and published in 1914 under the auspices of
the Daniel Hovey Association, which is now defunct. M. R. Hovey's introduction only
included a brief 2-page sketch outlining Joseph Grafton Hovey's ancestry.
Over the past few years I have obtained a copy of The Hovey Book, which has
been out of print for decades. Following the completion of the work described above, I
felt that it would be a valuable addition to what has already been completed to pick up
where my grandfather left off and share with readers more detail regarding Joseph
Grafton Hovey's ancestry, as supplied by the Hovey Book. Rather than transcribe the
text of the Hovey Book, word-for-word, I have attempted to soften the prose which was
used in the writing of the Hovey Book and add definitions to terms which were still in
use at the turn of the 19th Century when the Hovey Book was being written, but which is
lost to common use today as we near the beginning of the 21st Century.
I feel that some observations which I have made during all of this research is
important to mention. Families often have their own petty jealousies, prejudices,
disputes and biases. Usually these are only considered to be a problem of immediate
or near-immediate families. However, in my study of the Hovey Book, I have found that
certain prejudices can carry over through many generations and often color the
objectivity of researchers doing the work on their own family lines. (Perhaps this
speaks for the value of having researchers who are not family members and have no
vested interest in perpetuating prejudices.) I have found that the accuracy and
thoroughness of the records presented is often limited to New England descendants of
Daniel Hovey. As his descendants began moving west, the records often become very
limited in providing accurate or complete information about these children. In the
instance of those who chose to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and
migrate west, mention of this fact is conspicuously absent from the record. (Keep in
mind that Joseph Grafton Hovey was not the only sibling of his immediate family to join
the LDS Church. No doubt there were also others from other Hovey families who may
have joined since then, as well.) With this observation, it is also important to note two
facts relevant to the context of the time of the writing of The Hovey Book. First, it was
prepared by Hoveys who were the elite of Boston society, many of whom were clergy in
Protestant churches. Finally, the feeling among the general public relating to the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at the time the Hovey Book was written
was still quite low. The collective memory of the national debates on the Church's
former practice of Polygamy was still very current in the minds of the public at large.
Nevertheless, there is still much of value from this book.
I have chosen to begin the narrative with the family of Joseph Grafton Hovey as a child, his father being Deacon Thomas Hovey.
By Julia Nelson
Someday I will be letters on a sheet
That you have found and you will print me in
Along the numbered line. As you begin
To note the land, the burial, feel the beat
Of my heart's blood still in you, warm and sweet
From knowing, love, that you are mine -- my kin.
I seldom looked so far that I could win
Your image from the future; could we meet
Beside my humble name upon this page?
For it can speak of more than place or year;
Oh, let it be a cord to draw you near
And tie us to each other. Mine to give --
A slender ribbon record -- birth and age;
For you, the Spirit's whisper that I live.