Master Surname Index

Gene Roddenberry

Ancestry of
Gene Roddenberry

Creator of Star Trek

    Elizabeth Stearns

    View famous kin of Elizabeth Stearns

    • 4th Great-grandmother of Gene Roddenberry — 7th Generation
    • Ahnentafel No:
    • 91 
    • Birth Date:
    • 12 Feb 1725/1726 
    • Birth Location:
    • Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts 
    • Christening Date:
    • Christening Location:
    • Death Date:
    • 29 Jan 1803 
    • Death Location:
    • Burial Date:
    • Burial Location:
    • Bourn Cemetery, Somerset, Bristol, Massachusetts 
    • Marriage Date:
    • 2 Nov 1755 
    • Marriage Location:
    • Salem, Essex, Massachusetts 
    • Notes: 
    • Elizabeth Stearns was probably the daughter of Isaac and Mehitable Stearns who was born in Boston on 12 FEB 1725/6. However, other published sources, as well as her current tombstone, place her birth in Salem on 20 MAY 1726. Although circumstantial, there is some evidence to believe that the Boston birth is correct, and that the Salem birth is not.

      There is a 12 FEB 1725/6 Boston birth record for Elizabeth, daughter of Isaac and Mehitable Stearns, listed in the Boston vital records. A 20 MAY 1726 birth record for Elizabeth Stearns has not been found in any of the area's vital records, including those for Salem.

      A number of tombstones in the Bourn Cemetery appear to be replacements of the originals including those for Elizabeth (Stearns) Bourn, her husband Francis, their nephew Stephen Bourn Jr., son of Stephen Bourn (Francis's brother) and Charity Chase, and Stephen Bourn Jr.'s second wife Deborah Bourn. There are a number of other tombstones that also appear to be replacements. All these tombstones are identical in their concrete construction and shape. They stand out considerably from those tombstones where there is no doubt that they are the originals. One of the items most notable is that the original tombstones usually don't have a birthdate, but instead give the age at time of death in years, months, and days. The replacement tombstones give the actual birthdate with no age at time of death.

      Ages that are inscripted at the time of death are notorious for being incorrect. I believe the death date of 20 MAY 1726 on Elizabeth's tombstone to have been calculated from the age on the original tombstone that was probably replaced. Support of Elizabeth's birthdate on her tombstone having been calculated from an age on an original tombstone comes from Augustus Bourn's 1875 book A Sketch of the Descendants of Jared Bourn Who Settled in Boston About the Year 1630. The entry for Francis Bourn and Elizabeth Sterns [sic] on page 15 gives the vital statistics for Elizabeth as follows:

      “She was born May 20, 1726, and died January 29, 1803, aged 76 years, 8 months, 9 days.”

      She is the only entry on the page where her birth is given both as a date, and as the age at the time of her death in the form as it would appear on a tombstone. This age at time of death does not appear on the current tombstone, but it does calculate exactly to the date the does appear. It seems highly unlikely that Augustus Bourn would have included Elizabeth's age this way if it had not appeared on her tombstone.

      So it would appear that a birthdate for Elizabeth that appears on her tombstone was calculated from an age inscripted on an earlier tombstone and should therefore not be taken as correct without a supporting birth record. Since Elizabeth Stearns, daughter of Isaac and Mehitable Stearns, had a birthdate of only a couple of months earlier, and is the only available Elizabeth Stearns in the area of the right age and is not known to have married, it seems probable that these two Elizabeth Stearns are actually one and the same.

      Henry Bond in his 1860 book Genealogies of the Families and Descendants of the Early Settlers of Watertown, Massachusetts appears to have come to the same conclusion. In his book on page 939, he lists Elizabeth Stearns, daughter of Isaac and Mehitable Stearns, as the wife of Francis Bourn, Jr.

Scroll down to see sources.

  • Sources for Elizabeth Stearns

    • 4 Representative Men and Old Families of Rhode Island, Vol. 1, Chicago: J. H. Beers and Co. (1908), 363.
    • 5 Bond, Henry, Genealogies of the Families and Descendants of the Early Settlers of Watertown, Massachusetts . . ., 2nd ed., Boston, Massachusetts: New England Historic-Genealogical Society (1860), 457, 939.
    • 6 Van Wagenen, Mrs. Avis Stearns, Genealogy and Memoirs of Isaac Stearns and His Descendants, Syracuse, New York: Courier Printing Co. (1901), 38.

Gene Roddenberry photo by NASA on the Commons