Bu author, Donna Gawell:

Meet Hazelelponah, one of the characters in her book The Redemption of Mehitabel Braybrooke

Hazelelponah, Haselelponah or Haselepony?  How did Haselelponah really spell her name or did she even care? She is the bearer of a remarkable and unique name and has an equally amazing life story in the early years of  New England.


Her unique name is shared by a woman in the Old Testament in the genealogies of Judah. You can find it in 1 Chronicles 4:”These were the sons of Etam:Jezreel, Ishma and Idbash. Their sister was named Hazzelelponi.” Feel free to use her name to quiz your pastor or rabbi.

Hazelelponah is a minor character in the novel The Redemption of Mehitabel Braybrooke, but her real story needs to be told. Hazelelponah was born in 1636 in Exeter, NH and was the oldest daughter of Balthazar and Hannah Willix. In 1648, her mother was attacked on the road leading from Dover to Exeter and was robbed and murdered. Her body was thrown into the river. Balthazar became despondent and moved the family to Salisbury. Hazelelponah was sent into service, as did many young women of that time.  She met and married John Gee.

John Gee was a fisherman but was lost at sea on December 27, 1669.  He left his widow Hazelelponah with their five children and she moved to Boston for several years.  Hazelelponah met Obadiah Wood, a widower with ten children who lived on East Street in Ipswich and was a “biskett baker”.

Obadiah and Hazelelponah married and were proprietors of an ordinary in Ipswich. They added another ten children during their years of marriage.

This impressive woman survived her second husband and died in Ipswich in 1714 at the age of 79.  Her grave can be found in the Old North Burying Ground in Ipswich, MA.

Hazelelponah experienced so much tragedy in her early life, and we can only hope she was revered by her twenty-five children or stepchildren!