Casting a Wide Web

Rummaging through correspondence from a few years past with Lovewell cousins reminded me that I had delved only lightly into the history of Col. Nehemiah Lovewell, the youngest son of Captain John Lovewell, born eight months after his father fell prey to an Abenaki ambush.  The rank we know him by dates from his service in the American Revolution, but Nehemiah also commanded a company of rangers in the French and Indian War, the North American branch of the Seven Years’ War between France and England, waged from 1756 to 1763.

One of the great strengths of the web is that its fund of resources grows exponentially.  If nothing turns up on a certain subject today, try again a week from today.  An amusingly quirky characteristic of searching its riches is that a very slight modification of terms can produce completely different outcomes.  Since I’ve been reading about Robert Rogers and the expedition against the French stronghold on Lake Champlain, I searched for “Col. Nehemiah Lovewell” and “Lake Champlain,” and got exactly one, quite unexpected but fascinating result.    

An ancestry prepared for a descendant of Col. Nehemiah Lovewell's named Timothy John Berners-Lee, a document that is posted online at, makes for an enlightening read on several levels.

I’m heartened that the work of first-rate genealogical researchers Michael J. Wood and John Blythe Dobson seems to bolster one of my own recent conclusions.  I wish I had run across their findings earlier.  Wood and Dobson make no attempt to connect the grandfather of Captain John Lovewell with Robert Lovell, the man who brought his family to Massachusetts aboard the Marygould in 1635.  The first Lovewell to appear in their genealogy is the John Lovewell who was born at Bristol about 1629 and married Elizabeth Sylvester at Scituate, Massachusetts, in 1658.  Much of the genealogical chart that follows is familiar territory, right through the children of Col. Nehemiah Lovewell and Rachel Farwell.

Nehemiah and Rachel’s children are the ones who played a game of Twister with the children of John and Hepzibah Taplin.  Five Lovewell offspring chose husbands and wives from the same generation of the Taplin family.  Zaccheus Lovewell and Hepsibah Taplin married, eventually becoming grandparents of Kansas frontiersman Thomas Lovewell.  As mentioned in an earlier posting, “When Cousins Marry,” instead of another Taplin, Nehemiah and Rachel’s daughter Vodica Lovewell picked as a mate a fellow Lovewell, her cousin John, her father’s nephew.  John and Vodica Lovewell were grandparents of Prof. Joseph Taplin Lovewell, an associate of Alexander Graham Bell, and the man who brought prototypes of the telephone to Kansas, giving his fellow Kansans their first peek at the coming revolution in communication.  The first man to place a call across the Mississippi River, he also knew what it really means to beg the question, and thought dowsing for water and valuable minerals was a load of bunk.

Nehemiah and Rachel’s eldest child Catherine (Listed in Gloria Lovewell’s The Lovewell Family as “Katherine"), upheld her family’s tradition by marrying Major John Taplin.  Michael J. Wood and John Blythe Dobson note that there’s some hemming and hawing about the date of his parents’ wedding, leading them to suspect that John Taplin may have been born out of wedlock.

The ancestry takes some interesting geographical twists and turns, running through Canada and India before returning to England and landing in University Hospital, London, in 1955.  John and Catherine Taplin turn out to be ancestors of Timothy “Tim” Berners-Lee, a name that may have a familiar ring to it.  He’s the man who invented the World Wide Web in 1991.

Joseph Taplin Lovewell would beam with pride.

© Dale Switzer 2023