By John M. Hunt, Jr.
After the stirring service we took to the evening air (mild for Fall) in historic Gulph Mills, and motored a mile to the Gulph Mills Golf Club. All was cheerful in the finely appointed clubhouse, the turkey dinner was supremely good, and the Society was, and remains, most grateful to Capt. Edward Biddle for his kindness in arranging the occasion.
Following grace, said by Elder Meier, Governor Ted Parker took the floor to present the Society's Distinguished Pilgrim Award. The name of the recipient, it was hoped, would come as a surprise. It did. Only when Governor Parker ticked off the particulars did the mystery vanish: the honoree was Lois E. (Mrs. Frank) Masterson.
Lois Masterson joined our Society in 1964. As her qualifying ancestor Myles Standish, eighth signer of the Mayflower Compact, captain of the militia, was indispensable to the success of Plymouth Colony, so Lois has been crucially instrumental to the running of our Society. She has served as Secretary, Assistant Secretary, Membership Chairman, and member at large of the Board of Assistants. Her knowledge of our Society and of the Pilgrims who form its basis, both historically and genealogically, she has put at the disposal of the many who have sought it. When Alice Teal, editor of the Mayflower Quarterly, printed in May 1998 Lois' article "Samuel Standish, Descendant of Myles Standish," she valued it for what it was: a breakthrough in methodology. Lois had recognized that Mayflower descendants have a right to their history, as they made it, for example, during the Revolutionary War (Caleb Johnson's Mayflower web page now carries a list of those who so served), and she had seen that military pension applications give extraordinary historical and genealogical detail. Hence she brought Samuel Standish, soldier of the Revolution, convincingly before us, in his own words.
Lois Masterson's work is notable in other hereditary societies. Her fellow members of DAR, Jeptha Abbott Chapter, when she speaks to them on such topics as Deborah Sampson, woman participant in the Revolution, regularly urge her to publish her talks in article form. For the Pennsylvania Society of New England Women, of which she is registrar, she literally wrote the book—an exemplary history of that society for its centennial year in 1999.
Lois' husband Frank, a devotee of the Scottish Society, supports her in all of these endeavors, and is a good friend of the SMDPA. Who can forget the two of them single-handedly setting up booths with silver and pink five/four generation volumes at genealogical fairs as far away as Doylestown?
SMDPA Board of Assistants member Edward F. Ripley, in grand colonial costume, entertained us after dessert. He spoke of his ancestor Peter Hobart (1604-c. 1679), a minister, Cambridge-trained, who led the second migration (John Winthrop led the first) to the Hingham plantation. Hingham is midway between Boston and Plymouth.) Hobart left his mark there, having designed the meetinghouse; and his progeny were quite numerous—eighteen. But the handwriting of his journal, the most reprehensible scrawl, has proved daunting to all potential biographers but one. We look forward to Edward Ripley's book on Peter Hobart, then man who dared to tell John Winthrop he was an autocrat, when it is published next year.