Thursday, October 29, 2015

Things get curiouser and couriouser....

I have been working on my girlfriend's Finnell family. It is turning into quite an adventure!

1st generation in America [Virginia] - The wife's parents turn out to be about the same age as their daughter! BUT - the parents could be a couple with the same given names. The alleged wife is supposed to be, Jane, the daughter of an English lord, but goes by Bridget in Virginia.

2nd generation: There are three kids as of 1677, but names are in question. There could be 3 boys or 2 boys and a girl.

3rd generation: Well documented from here on, but the parents are a mystery.

You gotta love genealogy!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Update on the Land Family

I recently posted that I may have a few additional generations of Land ancestors. While in Ft. Wayne, I did some research at the Allen Co. Public Library's Genealogy Center.

Most of what I found dealt with Francis, the immigrant, and his son Renatus. The Land Family of Lower Norfolk and Princess Ann Counties by Sadie Scott Kellam provided some answers and left a few questions unanswered.

Francis was the father of Renatus, this confirmed by various records. Renatus was the father of Edward and Robert according to his will. Unfortunately, the author was concerned with Edward's line and I'm concerned with Robert's.

Family trees posted on numerous sites lack documentation, but are relatively consistent with the aforementioned Edward being the father of Thomas Land, who married Anna Sumter - my line.

Edward is shown with wife Eleanor McClanahan in the vast majority of trees. A few have a Thomas Land as Eleanor's husband and still the mother of my Thomas. This line is shown going back to a series of Curtis Lands. I feel that the Curtis Land line doesn't pan out. I dealt with that tree about 15 years or so back.

Needed? Proof that Edward [Robert-Renatus-Francis] married Eleanor McClanahan [or another woman] and fathered Thomas, who married  Anna Sumter. Simple, huh?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Quirky Surname

CAWBY, easy spelling, simple to research - YEAH, RIGHT!

The Cawby surname probably holds my personal record for number of spelling variations. As I recall, before I took off to Salt Lake City to search for Cawby origins about 6-7 years ago, a fellow researcher had mentioned that he come across 80 or so spelling variations. Leaders were Cawby, Caubey, Cauvey, Cavvy, Corvey, Cawey, and Causey, mostly from Kentucky tax records.

Martin Cawby Sr.'s first marriage bond had two spellings of the name in one document.

I was extremely lucky in finding a gold mine of family info early in the week at SLC. Background information from a book on German settlers in the Catawba Valley in North Carolina and deeds provided most of the details. Those sources also upped the number of spelling variations considerably.

Most of the previous variants made an appearance along with Cabi, Cavi, Caby and similar forms. To top it off most of the new spellings also had a G-factor: Cabi = Gabi, Cauvy =Gauvy, etc.

All totaled up, I think there were over 120 spellings combining Maryland, NC, Kentucky and Indiana sources. Incredible!

Have I mentioned that when researching a surname you need to think of every possible spelling imaginable? After that, go for the unimaginable.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Quirky Quakers!

Quakers are/were expected to marry their own. Of course, my Quaker ancestors just couldn't seem to get the hang of the concept.

John Rogers married Maria Magdelene Rinker Allemong in 1787. He was a Welsh Quaker, she a Swiss Lutheran. The family eventually became Methodists.

James Prall married Quaker Deborah Whitson, who was excommunicated. Deborah's parents were condemned for allowing their daughter to marry contrary to discipline. They presented a paper at meeting condemning their own actions.

Elizabeth Prence, daughter of anti-Quaker Plymouth governor Thomas Prence, married Quaker Arthur Howland Jr. In a twist, Elizabeth became a Quaker. Papa was not a happy camper!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

#2 Quirky Ancestor

Yes, Edward Whittaker. He arrived as a soldier in the Duke of York's Brigade when the English took over New Netherland in 1664 and ended up in Kingston.

Whittaker was frequently in court over disputes with neighbors, some violent. He argued with neighbor Kit Davis and they ended up in a sword fight. He beat another man with a stick. The beating put the man in bed. There were at least two other incidents involving sword play over the years.

Several times, Whittaker and his servant, Hannah Hackleton, appeared in court. He was accussed of mistreating and beating her. Hannah held her own, telling Whittaker off on several occasions with some colorful language. In 1670, he got Hannah pregnant and was ordered to take care of her. They did eventually marry.

The Whittakers were involved in a witchcraft case in 1673.

There was seldom a dull moment where Edward and Hannah were concerned.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

#1 Quirky Ancestor

I have written about Hannah Wakeman Hackleton Whittaker in the past, but she fits right at the top of the quirky list!

Hannanh married Francis Hackleton in Hartford, CT and bore him two children by 1661. Shortly thereafter she had an affair with a man named Henry Fraser or Frost and became pregnant. Hannah was abandoned by Fraser/Frost and ended up giving birth to the child on her own. The infant died not long after birth. Hannah was too weak to care for or feed the baby. She buried the child in the woods.

Hannah was brought up on charges of murder and adultery. Not one to hold her tongue, even in court, blasphemy charges were later added. The adultery and blasphemy charges stuck and Hannah was sentenced to death. That sentence was later commuted to gaol [jail], 30 lashes and an hour on the gallows with a rope around her neck.

Hannah would find her way to New York, where she would be brought up on charges  with Elizabeth Juwell of residing in the city without a license.  Both were given 8 days to leave town or face fine and corporal punishment.

Edward Whittaker, a foul-tempered, former English soldier, was Hannah's next encounter. Whittaker took in Hannah as a servant. His temper and her temperament made for a bad mix. Edward threatened to kick her out on more than one occasion. The Kingston court intervened when Whittaker got Hannah "with child." The incident was very close to the Hartford case, but with witnesses. The court officers ordered Whittaker to take care of his servant. As fate would have it, the couple married and had two children

Friday, October 23, 2015

It's only quirky because I am!

My paternal great-grandfather was Hugh McDonald Prall. He was born in York Co., PA in 1852, the youngest of 10 children born to Isaac Rittenhouse Prall and Ann Bathia Rhodes. He married in Auglaize Co., OH in 1874 and died in Grant Co., IN in 1907. Hugh and Margaret Jane Wolary were the parents of two children. All-in-all a pretty non-descript story.

My father told me he thought we might be Scottish. McDonald screams Scotland! So I ran with it. Back in 1990, I had learned of a week-long genealogy workshop at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. I attended the workshop.

There were lectures, research opportunities, sight-seeing trips and plenty to do in town. It was a fantastic trip! No Prall links turned up during the research sessions, however.

A couple of years later, I was going back over the 1860 census for York Co., PA and came across a curious entry. A couple of pages from Isaac R. Prall's household was that of a physician, one Hugh McDonald. Had Isaac and Ann decided to name their youngest after the doctor who delivered him?
There's probably no way to find out if that was the case, but it is a possibility.

Talk about quirky researchers......

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Quirky Ancestor Stories: A Mix-up with Names?

This one nearly qualified for the Salt Lake Institute.....

Enoch Gulley was of age to have served during the Revolutionary War. Other members of the family did see action. There is no record of service for Enoch, however a George Gulley did serve with Virginia during the war. A descendant of George applied unsuccessfully to the DAR. George's wife was given as Frances Ann "Franky" Franklin, who was Enoch's wife. Descendants listed were also descendants of Enoch. Post-Revolutionary War records consistently use Enoch.

Did Enoch enlisted under the name George? Was his name Enoch George or George Enoch? To date, the answer is - I do not know!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

An Ideal Location

This story may have been posted before, but it is short, sweet and a bit quirky.

My great-grandfather, James Crail was a blacksmith in Peru, Indiana and Tipton, Indiana. Evidently, that career wasn't providing sufficiently for a growing family. James decided to become a veterinarian. Not being able to afford schools in Indiana or Chicago, he elected to take a basic veterinary course being offered at the Ontario Veterinary College in Canada. So, the family went to Ontario.

After completing his work in Ontario in 1894, James returned to Indiana. His career as a vet and federal meat inspector would begin in Shelbyville, then to Chicago and finally Indianapolis.

The "fun fact" came in Shelbyville. A local historian compiled the location of city businesses and charted them out. During the early 1900s, Dr. Crail's office was flanked by a meat market and a livery stable. Boy, talk about an ideal location!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Quirky ancestor stories: Big John

He arrived in New York City about 1750 from England, married, started a family [seven children] and operated a tavern at the corner of Wall and Nassau Streets. The tavern achieved as much notoriety as the man, John Simmons.

Simmons Tavern was a meeting place for committees in the years leading up to the Revolutionary War. It was across the street from City Hall [later Federal Hall when NYC became the nation's capital] where George Washington was sworn in as the first President. City leaders met at the tavern in 1783 to plan for the return of Gov. Clinton and Washington's Continental troops. The tavern was the site of the swearing in of Mayor James Duane in 1784.

What makes the story of the tavern and John Simmons unusual has been related in earlier posts. John topped the scales at over 400 pounds. Part of the tavern had to be dismantled to allow for the removal of John's body after his death. That doesn't happen every day!

Monday, October 19, 2015


I view my 4th great-grandfather, John Faucett, as a true pioneer.  English? Irish? Ulster Scot? I don't know where he fits as far as nationality is concerned, but the pioneering spirit was definitely there.

His family had settled in the western Virginia frontier [modern-day Greenbrier Co., WV] during the mid-1700s. Indians, probably Shawnee, raided the homestead, killed most of John's family and took him captive. John was eventually swapped back and ended up in western Pennsylvania. There, he served as a ranger and spy [ scout and guide] for the Continental troops and militia charged with protecting western PA, northern VA and the eastern Ohio territory from British and Indian raids.

At age 46, John decided to head west for Ohio. He packed his belongings and pregnant wife on a flatboat and headed down the Ohio for Cincinnati. The Faucetts spend the next quarter century in the Miami Valley [Warren Co., OH] farming and raising a family. Four of the children married and started their own families.

Then John's pioneer blood kicked in again and he decided to move the family to Indiana. He sold out to son Thomas and bought two tracts of land a few miles west of the new Hoosier capital.

Five children and their families [Thomas stayed in Ohio for a few more years] joined him on the move to Indiana. John was 73!

Quirky details:
Thanks to a somewhat odd boundary drawn by the land office officials, John's adjoining tracts ended up in different counties. John would reside in Marion County and most of the rest of the clan became Hendricks County residents.

Moving to new land at 73 has to be unusual and getting five adult children to agree to tag along? Can you say close-knit family?

John died in 1838 at age 86.

Although the kids pretty much stayed put in Indiana, a few of the grandchildren moved farther west, some to the Pacific Northwest.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Quirky, Revolutionary War style

Three of my collateral Revolutionary War ancestors  fit into the "Quirky" category when lumped together. I have three prominent RevWar collateral ancestors who were not related by blood, but had some interaction.

(1) Benedict Arnold - 4th cousin 6x removed.
(2) Nathanael Greene - 3rd cousin 7x removed
(3) Thomas Sumter - 5th great-granduncle

Arnold and Greene were both favorites of George Washington and were numbered among his most trusted generals. Both were frequently overlooked or underestimated by Congress.

Arnold was an aggressive and talented commander, as was demonstrated at Forts Ticonderoga and Stanwix, Quebec, Valcour Island and Saratoga. Arnold should have received the majority of the credit that went to Gates at Saratoga. Vanity got the better of him. While serving as military governor of Philadelphia, Arnold's business dealing drew the ire of influential Pennsylvanians, as did his marriage to Peggy Shippen, daughter of a loyalist. Arnold received a formal reprimand from Washington in lieu of a courts martial to pacify Arnold's opposition. Rather than accept the field command that he long desired, Arnold requested command of West Point. He then went about planning to turn it over to the British. The plot was foiled and Arnold turned coat to become a British officer. He was active during the Southern campaign.

Greene became the Quartermaster General under Washington, although he longed for a field command. When the war shifted to the South, Congress put Gates in command against Washington's wish for Greene to be in charge. Gates defeat an Camden opened the door for Greene's appointment to Commander of the Southern Army. His strategy in the South kept the army in the field and eventually led to Cornwallis' move to Yorktown.

One of the partisan leaders that Greene relied on was Gen. Thomas Sumter of South Carolina. Greene had to handle Sumter with kid gloves to maintain the "Gamecock's" cooperation. Greene was frequently frustrated with Sumter.

Then there was a British officer that both Greene and Sumter would have loved to have captured - Benedict Arnold.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Allen Co. Public Library Free Online Databases

A brief break from the quirky ancestor stories.....

While preparing for my Ft. Wayne trip, I checked out the ACPL databases. Their free online databases offer a wide variety of topics from family files to Indiana county databases to other state databases.

Although I didn't hit on any of my own families, I did score on one of my girlfriend's families. I may be able to take the family back another 2-3 generations.

Here are the databases the ACPL offer:

Friday, October 16, 2015

Both sides of the law

This one has been mentioned before, but bears repeating.

Henry Jerrell elected to join up with the Reno Brothers gang after the Civil War. The Renos were credited with making the train robbery a popular criminal act. The gang was based in Jackson Co., IN and pulled jobs near home and in neighboring states. Several members of the gang met violent deaths, including lynching.

In 1868, Henry wrote his girlfriend in Louisville, KY about plans and where to meet him. Being unable to read, the young woman had a friend read the letter to her. Unfortunately for all concerned, a Pinkerton agent was within earshot.

Henry and other members of the gang were arrested, but taken from law enforcement officers by vigilantes. The outlaws were lynched.

Henry's brother left Indiana and found his way to New Mexico. There he married and started a family. William dabbled in mining, ran a grocery and a saloon and billiard hall. Following the robbery of a mercantile in 1884, William was enlisted as a deputy sheriff and was sent to Texas to help bring in the thief. The stagecoach which carried him to San Angelo was held up. Jarrell and a Texas Ranger opened fire. Jerrell was shot twice and died from his wounds at the hotel in San Angelo.

One brother hanged, another killed in the line of duty.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Quirky Stories of Ancestors

I thought I'd take a shot at posting some of the more unusual stories or relationships that I've come across in my research.

Up first: An unusual jail sentence.

A few years back, I came across a WWI Draft Registration card for E.A. Crail that stated he was serving time at the Indianapolis Workhouse. I investigated and learned that he had been convicted of "child neglect" in 1916 after admitting to smoking 50 cigarettes per day. The judge ruled that this violated the child neglect statute and sentenced him to the workhouse. Wow! How many parents would serve time on that charge!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Making a check list for a research trip

I have an upcoming trip to Fort Wayne and the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center, arguably the largest genealogy library east of the Mississippi River. My first trip to the ACPL was back in the late 1990s [I think], before the new library was built.

At the time of my visit, the genealogy division was in an older building and had closed stacks. I really hate closed stacks! I'm a browser. I like to explore the shelves for my area of research to see if I can find any gems. Filling out an order slip and waiting on the book delivery just isn't the same!

The new genealogy library is a great facility.

Anyway, my focus is going to be on the possible extension of my Land family. I used the ACPL online catalog to search the surnames, locales and topics I am interested in. As I found possible hits, I wrote down the title and call number. I also added a few books that might help on my girlfriend's family.

I should keep busy. I have about two dozen books or periodicals to investigate.

I will also have my I-pad with my RootsMagic program, if needed. The last step will be collecting change to feed the copy machines.

I have mentioned the steps for going to a research facility in other posts, so consider this a review.
1) Search the online catalog
2) Make a list of sources to check
3) Gather your research materials and money
4) Go and have fun

Also: make sure the facility is open!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

More on David Nolan

Below is the picture that accompanied David Nolan's obituary from the Kansas City Times, Monday, July 26, 1937 [p. 8]. Nolan was born July 28, 1882 in Peru, Miami Co., Indiana and died July 25, 1937 at his home in Kansas City, Jackson Co., Missouri. He was survived by his two daughters, his
mother and a half-sister. [courtesy the Kansas City Library]

Monday, October 12, 2015

Family update: Treasury Agent David Nolan

First of all, apologies to my handful of regular readers for missing a few days. I neglected to keep my stockpile going!

I recently contacted the Kansas City Library [MO] to see if their newspapers archive might have a detailed obituary on David Nolan. He was my grandmother's cousin and a treasury agent. The numerous single paragraph obits from national newspapers mentioned that Agent Nolan helped gather evidence for Al Capone's income tax evasion trial. I have yet to find out what evidence.

The KC obit arrived this morning and the mystery continues! "He also aided in the collection of evidence that resulted in the conviction for income tax evasion of Al Capone of Chicago." No further details on the case.

Disappointed? Some. New information? You bet!! The obit included a picture of Nolan. Time of service with the federal government [14 years], career changes [night chief of detectives in St. Louis, department of justice narcotics division, treasury agent for internal revenue division in KC]. He was a major in the military police reserve, US Army.

The other major case mentioned was the conviction of North Side Democratic Leader John Lazia on income tax evasion charges.

Although the Capone case wasn't detailed, the obit was a good source of information. The picture alone was worth it!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Possible New Land Ancestors

As with any genealogical endeavor, there are conflicts from generation to generation and frequently a major effort in coming up with the necessary documentation to prove the line with a "reasonably exhaustive search."

Thanks to scouring available family trees, I have already come up with six sources to check.

Now the dream collection of documents would be Virginia deeds that would confirm the line.

Francis Land, the immigrant, named his sons, Renatus and Francis, in his will of 15 April 1654. This according to several trees. [Need to see the will!]

Hopefully, an examination of Renatus' probate will name his son Robert. Robert's wlll name son Edward, Edward's will name son Thomas and Thomas will name son John.

Hopefully, as well, all of these will exist!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

New Land Ancestors??

On one of my "let's see what turns up" searches, I did a search for Thomas Land to see if anything "new" turned up on his lineage. One possibility came up:
(1) Francis Land [bef. 1584 Tiverton, Devon, Eng - died same place] m. ????
(2) Francis II [c1604 Tiverton - 1656-9 Lower Norfolk, VA] m. c1638 Frances _______
(3) Renatus [1641-4 Lower Norfolk, VA - 1 Oct 1680 Prince Anne, VA m. Frances Keeling - c1665
(4) Robert [1665 VA - ????] m. ????
(5) Edward [c1710 Princess Anne, VA - aft 1785] m. Phebe Bonney
(6) Thomas [1734-1832] m. Anna Sumter

Now all I have to do is prove the line!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Lead Mining: Drawing Ancestors to the Midwest

I have covered the 13 colonies, the Northwest Territory and Kentucky in recent posts. That leaves one state that drew my ancestors, even for a brief time: Missouri. The attraction, the lead mining district of Southeast Missouri.

The region was rich in lead deposits and attracted German settlers from the east. Among these settlers were the Wagners and Laubschers, recent immigrants from Baden. John Wagner and Catherine Laubscher married in Philadelphia in 1841. The couple, along with Catherine's brothers Lewis and George, settled in the heart of the lead mining region, near Fredericktown, Madison Co., Missouri.

By the early 1850s, John Wagner was in Lafayette Co., Wisconsin part of the SW Wisconsin lead mining region. He was joined briefly by George Laubscher, who would return to Missouri.

Lead may have also attracted my Irish McHugh family. From the coal fields of Pennsylvania, they headed for Galena, Illinois during the late 1840s. Galena was lead mining territory as well. From Galena, the McHughs went to Lafayette Co., WI. Although both John and his elder brother Daniel were  stone masons and, later, farmers, both may have spent time employed by the mines.

Search for lead mining in each of the states to learn more about the industry.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Wisconsin Historical Society website

While searching for some information on lead mining in Wisconsin, I came across a new search engine on the Wisconsin Historical Society's website featuring Turning Points in Wisconsin History. Here's the url:

What led me to the page was an article on lead mining in Illinois and Wisconsin. I did a search for my McHughs and came up with entries for the vital records index on several family members both direct and collateral.

Click on the link to the home page and click on the explore our collections link from the green browse button on the left. That will take you to the WHS collections page where you can do a general search for your ancestors or search by collection.

I have used the WHS site before, but really like the new format. If you have Wisconsin people, give it a look!

Saturday, October 3, 2015


Spanish, French and English explorers were among those who ventured into the territory that would become Kentucky during the 17th and early 18th centuries. One of the key explorers was John Finley or Findley, who would introduce the region to Daniel Boone in 1769. Findley had explored the site of the last of the Shawnee villages in 1752.

The first permanent white settlement was at Harrod's Town in 1774, named for James Harrod. Daniel Boone was sent to recall Harrod for military service, who would return to stay in 1775.

Boone would begin leading settlers into Kentucky through the Cumberland Gap by way of the Wilderness Trail in 1775. He established the village of Boonesborough . Boone would serve in the Virginia militia throughout the Revolutionary War, defending Kentucky against the Shawnee and other tribes. The Shawnee defeated Boone's militia at the Battle of Blue Licks in 1782.

Bryan's Station was established about 1774-75 at the site of modern-day Lexington. Louisville was founded by George Rogers Clark in 1778.

Kentucky was a Virginia county. Distance from Virginia's capital and control over Kentucky's trade were factors leading to the desire for Kentuckians to seek statehood. Beginning in 1784, a series of conventions were called to establish a constitution. General James Wilkinson proposed secession from Virginia and the US, with Kentucky forming an alliance with Spain. In 1792 Kentucky became the 15th state.

Family connections: The Gulley, Land, Cawby, Trisler and Barlow families established themselves in Kentucky between statehood and about 1820. The Simmons and Jennison families would call the state home off and on, moving back and forth from Indiana or Ohio to northern Kentucky.


Friday, October 2, 2015

The Northwest Territory: Minnesota

Minnesota was explored by the French and British. It was primarily fur trading territory. Parts of Minnesota belonged to the Northwest, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin Territories at various times.

Fort Snelling, completed in 1826, was the first major US presence in the territory. The cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul grew up around Fort Snelling during the 1850s. The Minnesota Territory was created in 1849 and statehood was granted in 1858.

Family connections: none

Read on:

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Northwest Territory: Wisconsin

Like most of the old NW, Wisconsin was explored early on by the French. Green Bay was established as an outpost in 1634, a Jesuit mission site in 1671 and a fort was constructed in 1717. Other settlements and fur storage outposts were established during the 1600s into the mid-1700s.

The British gained control of Green Bay in 1761 and had full control of the territory by the end of the French and Indian War. Early on, the British, like the French, were primarily interested in the fur trade.

The US gained the territory in 1783, with Massachusetts and Virginia claiming the region. It became part of the NW Territory in 1787 and the Indiana Territory in 1800.

Prairie du Chien saw the only major action during the War of 1812, with the British capturing Fort Shelby in July of 1814, which had been built by the Americans.

The Winnebago War [1826] and Black Hawk War [1832] marked the major conflicts between the US and Wisconsin's natives.

Lead mining spurred the growth of the territory during the 1820s and 30s. Mineral Point, Platteville, Shullsburg, Belmont, and New Diggings sprang up was boom towns around the mines. Those towns were followed by the settlement of Milwaukee.

Wisconsin became a territory in 1836. Belmont became the first capital, but deemed too small. Madison was then built to become the first capital, with Burlington [later part of Iowa Territory] serving as capital in 1837. Wisconsin became the 30th state in 1848.

Family connections: The McHugh family moved to Wisconsin from Illinois in 1848. The Wagner/Laubscher clan also arrived from Missouri that year. Both were drawn by the lead mines. The McHugh were also attracted by the opportunities for masonry work.

WI Reading: