Saturday, December 31, 2016

Favorite Ancestors: Wrap!

This ends the favorite ancestors posts. I picked over two dozen ancestors to write about. Many others could have been included. All were pioneers in a new land, be it New England, the Middle or Southern colonies. They later helped settle Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin and other states. Mostly they were farmers, millers and mechanics with a few merchants mixed in.

What makes my story unique is that all of them were in the Colonies/States by the mid-1850s. At least that's my viewpoint. So many Americans have their roots in Eastern Europe or from migrations that took place after the Civil War or the start of the 20th century from Asia and other parts of the world.

My ancestors came from England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Germany, The Netherlands and a few from Switzerland, Sweden and what became Northern France and Belgium [Walloon and Huguenot territory]. It's a good lineage.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Favorite Ancestors: Aaron & Cornelius Prall

Aaron Prall, Edward's father, was my direct ancestor. Unraveling his story took five years of old-style research - phone calls, letter writing and ordering records. [This was pre-computers!] There were three of us checking and cross-checking documents and ideas.

Early research on Aaron's line was scattered and numerous incorrect assumptions were made about his family. Aaron's widow named 4 children in her will, so only James, Benjamin, Elizabeth and Jemima were credited to the family.

Edward and Cornelius Sr. were eventually confirmed as children, as we suspected. Edward, already a successful merchant, wrote his mother's [Mary] will. Cornelius was deeded his share of the estate prior to Aaron's death.

Edward had been assigned a wife and children, partly based on his Bounty Land Warrant file. The heirs were primarily nieces and nephews.

Cornelius was married three times. He died in 1813, but the estate was settled in 1819. So Cornelius became two men, one dying in 1813, the other in 1819. Each was assigned children and spouse or spouses. Cornelius' estate settlement was located and his children identified.

Of the former "two Corneliuses," some of the children were correct and some previously unknown were added to the mix.

All along we suspected Cornelius belonged to Aaron and Mary. One court document sealed the deal, "Cornelius Praalle, son of Aaron."

Five years of work lands Aaron and his son Cornelius on the favorites list

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Favorite Ancestors: Edward Prall

Edward Prall, son of Aaron Prall and Mary Whittaker, was a native of Hunterdon Co., NJ. After his trading partnership with Richard Reading dissolved over political alliances, Edward moved to Harford Co., MD. [Reading was a loyalist and went to Canada.]

Edward started a new business and became involved with local patriotic activities during the 1760s and early 1770s. Harford Countians smuggled supplies to Boston after the port was closed by the British. A very well-trained militia group was formed. On 22 March 1775, the Harford Resolves were signed by the Harford Committee in support of the actions of the Continental Congress.

Prall and other local patriots joined Col. William Smallwood's regiment and marched to New York to support Washington's army. The Marylanders, along with the Delaware Regiment, held off British and Hessian troops while the Continental Army withdrew from Long Island. Of the 400 men involved in the delaying action, over 250 were captured or killed, Lt. Edward Prall among them. He would spend approximately 20 months as a prisoner of war.

Washington would rely on the Marylanders frequently throughout the war. He assigned them to General Gates' Southern Army, where they were decimated at Camden.

Captain Edward Prall saw some additional action after his exchange, but spent time recruiting replacements for his regiment. After the war, he returned home to take an active role in local politics.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Favorite Ancestors: Arent Jansen van Naarden or Heerde? [Prall]

Early Prall records are inconsistent at best. We know from his will that he was a wheelwright. His marriage took place in Kingston in 1670. The baptisms of most of his children are recorded in the Dutch Church records.

The biggest problem in researching the family is the Dutch patronymic naming system. Arent Jansen was the son of Jan [Jan's son = Jansen]. Also the individual's town of origin or residence prior to immigration was given. [van Amsterdam = from Amsterdam]

Arent Jansen Prall appeared in records as Arent Rademaker, Arent Jansen, Arent Jansen Prast, Arent and Jansen Ramaker. Not until 1676 was the Prall surname associated with Arent Jansen, at the baptism of daughter Francyna.

There were others of the same name in the Kingston records during the time Arent was there. Sorting them out was some guess work. Arent's birth was estimated at 1645/6, so only dates post 1666/7 [21 years of age] were probably referencing my Arent.

There were others in the NY records with the Prall [Pral, Praul, Praal, Prael] surname. Marritje, Magdelena and Wolfert were believed to have been Arent's siblings.

Then there's Arent's "hometown." His marriage shows him as "van Naarden. " Marritje's hometown was given as "van Heerde," as was the hometown of others believed to be Arent's siblings.

Larry van der Laan, a Dutch born researcher working on the survivors of the 1655 Staten Island Massacre, offered the idea that the clerk copying Arent's name for the marriage spoke a different dialect and misunderstood "van Heerden," writing "van Naerden" instead.

Larry believes that Arent's family arrived on Staten Island about 1650 and was one of those surviving families. He was the son of Jan Arentsen van Heerde and Baetje Jans van Heerde and was one of eight children. Further research tended to support Larry's research and theories. In fact very early research tended to support the concept.

Quite an adventure!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Favorite Ancestors: Zachariah Rhodes

Holden Rhodes' son Zachariah became a mariner. He moved from Rhode Island to Baltimore, Maryland. There he married Harriet Cunningham, also from a seafaring family. They had one child, a daughter, Ann Bathia.

Zachariah's story had been related in a brief genealogy of the family composed by Isaac Prall [my gggf's brother]. Isaac wrote that Zachariah was lost at sea aboard the "Polix & Castor." No year was given.

This time it would take a trip to Boston's NEHGS library to discover the truth to Zachariah's fate.
I had already learned that Zachariah had been lost at sea in 1815, with his brother Perry.

According to The Holden Family in America, Zachariah was captain of the schooner "Hannah" which left the port of Baltimore bound for Puerto Rico on 14 August 1815 and "was never again heard from." Brother Perry Rhodes was the first mate.

Isaac Prall undoubtedly confused the name of Zachariah's schooner with that of a ship sailed by Uncle Ralph Porter, who had married Bathia Cunningham, Harriet's sister.

Curiously enough, the Holden Genealogy cited the same source as other books that gave bits and pieces of Zachariah's story. That source, The Life and Times of Samuel Gorton, had the least amount of detail on the fate of Captain Rhodes!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Favorite Ancestors: Holden Rhodes

The sea was not necessarily kind to my Rhodes family. Immigrant Zachariah Rhodes drowned. His great-great-grandson, Holden Rhodes was a prize master [officer in charge of a captured vessel]aboard a privateer sloop during the American Revolution. The privateers were essentially the American navy during the war. Holden's sloop "Satisfaction" was captured by the British in July 1778. The prisoners were sent to Forten Prison in England and were released in December of 1779.

Holden remained a mariner after the war. Four of his sons would be lost at sea.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Post

Merry Christmas to my ancestors and my blog readers and your ancestors. [Happy Hanukah, as well, where it applies.] May the day be a pleasant and joyous one for you!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Favorite Ancestors: John Cawby, or whatever his name was!

My Cawby family hailed from Kentucky and settled in Indiana during the mid-1800s. But before that? Determining the origin of the Cawby family was another Salt Lake adventure. I found John Cawby in North Carolina, where he settled after immigrating from Germany and apparently spending a few years in Maryland.

The trick in discovering the Cawby story was accepting the fact that Johannis [John] Cawby was recorded under well over 150 spelling variations [Cabi, Gabi, Cauvey, with a mix of an initial 'C' or 'G.']

The Cawby records ended in North Carolina about the time they began in Kentucky.  

Friday, December 23, 2016

Favorite Ancestors: Wilhelm Rittenhouse

Wilhelm Rittenhouse was a native of Mulheim in what is now Germany. He learned the paper-making trade, possibly from his brother-in-law, in Arnheim, The Netherlands. In 1688, Wilhelm and his three children settled in the Philadelphia suburb of Germantown, where Rittenhouse became the first papermaker in British America. He would also become the first Mennonite Bishop in the colonies.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Favorite Ancestors: Rebecca Towne Nurse

I have never really been a big fan of wearing neckties. Hannah Wakeman may be part of the reason. [See earlier post.] Rebecca Towne Nurse may be another reason.

Rebecca was born in Yarmouth, England about 1620/1 and arrived in New England in 1640. The Townes settled in Salem, where Rebecca married Francis Nurse in 1644. The Nurses became well-respected members of the community. They moved to Salem Village in 1678.

The Nurses were involved in boundary disputes and several court cases over the next 14 years. They were also among the village citizenry who opposed Rev. Samuel Parris. Parris was backed by the influential Putnam family and their supporters.

In 1692, teenaged girls from the Parris and Putnam families feigned possession by the devil and accused neighbors - all Parris opponents - of being witches. The witch scare quickly got out of hand and several villagers were tried and convicted of witchcraft. Among those were 71 year-old Rebecca Nurse and her sisters Sarah Cloyce and Mary Esty. Rebecca and Mary would be sentenced to death and hanged.

The governor of Massachusetts Bay eventually intervened and ended the debacle. Convicted witches were pardoned and released. Those already executed were posthumously pardoned. The Nurses and others managed to get Parris removed as pastor.

Salem has become a tourist destination for those curious about the 1692 witch trials. Salem Village, where the story unfolded, is now Danvers.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Favorite Ancestors: The Tierney Family

Pansy Nell Crail was my grandmother's sister. She married James Tierney in 1907. They had two sons, James and Gene. The family lived in Shelbyville, IN, Mobile, AL and Drummerton, VT, Winston-Salem, NC and Treasure Island, FL.

Aunt Pansy lived with James and his family after her husband died. The Tierneys had a vacation house on Baden Lake near Winston-Salem. Mom and I would fly out early in the week for visits and Pop would drive out on the weekend. [He didn't fly commercial.]

Boating, swimming and fishing would fill most of the time. I did some "bar huntin" in the woods near the house as well. I had to be watched like a hawk near the water. I apparently thought I could walk across the lake. I couldn't.

Aunt Pansy was a wonderful, sweet lady with a knack for whatever card game she and her neighbor ladies played in a side room of the house. James was a big jovial, good natured guy. He and Mom were 1st cousins, but James was 13 years older. James' wife, Katherine, was from Mobile. She could make the phrase 'Mrs. Tierney' lyrical. Phyllis was James and Katherine's daughter. She was quite artistic and insisted on calling me "Ter, the Terrible Turk." Gene and his wife often visited. Their son Eddie and I hung out some, even though he was older.

Our last visit to NC was about 1967. I did get a chance to visit them after James retired to Treasure Island near St. Pete, FL. One of my college roommates and I spent part of Christmas vacation in FL in 1970. We were invited to the Tierneys for dinner one evening. My roomie was not prepared for the experience; especially when Phyllis arrived asking, "Where's Ter, the Terrible Turk?" She remembered!

Those were great times! I miss the Tierney clan.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Favorite Ancestors: Jacob Crousore & Ama Jimima Smith

John Crousore's son, Jacob, was another longtime mystery and a favorite ancestor. Basically, his spouse and death were missing details. Once again, Salt Lake came to the rescue.

Online searches weren't turning up Jacob's marriage or 1820 census entry. 1850 and later census records showed his wife as Annie or Anny. Other researchers gave "Annie Crousore's" maiden name as 'Ice.' Searches did not turn up a woman by that name. Why? Because Annie Ice didn't exist!

The 1820 census indexes online had the Crousore name creatively misspelled. I knew that the family was in Ohio b 1820 and that a printed version of the index might have a "closer" spelling. It did. Finding the Crousores in Clinton Co., Ohio led to finding Jacob's marriage and that of a sister named Elizabeth - both into a family of Smiths. Smith? Oh no!

Elizabeth married John Smith in 1819. Jacob married Jimima Smith in 1822. Jimima did not ring a bell until I found a land record in Indiana that gave her full name - Ama Jimima! My great-grandmother was Ama Jemima Simmons Crail; her mother was Edith Crousore [daughter of Jacob and Jemima].

Census records that had been interpreted as Annie, Anny, or Anny I. were actually Amie, Amy or Amy J.

I was able to follow Jacob and Amy, along with extended Smith, Reel and Reeder families, from Ohio to several stops in Indiana.

Jacob and Amy seemingly vanished after 1870, no death or burial records could be found in Howard Co., IN where they had settled. Further investigation showed that the couple went to Kansas with their son William. They settled in McPherson Co. where records for Amy ended in 1875 and for Jacob in 1877. William left the county in 1878.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Favorite Ancestors: John Crousore

I can track John Crousore from his home state of Pennsylvania to Indiana. Land records have been a big help. There are two things about John I do not know, the name of his wife and the year of his death. Deeds mentioning John exclude his wife's name. He last appears in the 1850 Howard Co., IN  census. He doesn't show up in county cemetery records. Spouses have been identified for his siblings, you'd think his wife would show up too! Bleah!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Favorite Ancestors: The Crail Boys

Maybe I should say the Crail boys' parents. This has been my most infuriating brick wall. Sylvester, John and Aaron were the sons of James B. and Mary Ann [Jones] Crail. The Crails were in Shelby Co., IN in 1851 and 1854, buying and then selling two town lots in Marietta. Mary shows up in Indy in 1876 as a widow. She lives out her life residing most years with son John.

The two eldest were born in Hamilton [town or county?] Ohio; Aaron in Marion, Ohio. They may have had a brother, George, born in Miami Co., IN.

Marriage? Residence in 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870? James' year and place of death? I have no idea beyond their sons' births. The boys can be tracked from their marriage during the 1850s until their deaths.

Total mystery and frustration! That makes them favorites.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Favorite Ancestors: Catherine O'Neil

Most of what I know about Catherine comes from my mother and uncle, as well as a scattering of records [census, city directories, marriage, death, widow's pension, obit]. She was the last of the family to arrive in the country. Catherine came from County Cork, Ireland, by way of Liverpool, England, and ended up in Indianapolis. Her year of arrival depends on several factors. [1] 1852, if I found the correct passenger arrival, [2] 1851, 1853 or 1854 depending upon the accuracy of the census, [3] 1852, 1853 or 1854 depending on whether she was born in 1833 or 1834.

Mom and Uncle Mutt told me the family celebrated her 100th birthday. Catherine died during the late summer of 1934 and was born in December, so 1833 would have been her year of birth. Catherine's death certificate shows her age as 99, so born in 1834, but 1833 is given as her year of birth. The obit says she was 99. Census records are inconsistent. Catherine was about 5 years older than her husband, so she fibbed about her age.

Being that most of my details about her life come from family, I don't know how accurate the memories are. For certain, she raised 6 young children on her own after husband Aaron Crail died in 1868 and outlived 4 of them.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Favorite Ancestors: John Simmons, Sr.

John Simmons was an English born tavern-keeper in New York City in the years preceding and following the American Revolution. The tavern was located at the corner of Wall and Nassau Streets. John got the nickname of "Wall-Street John." He was reportedly the biggest man in the colony - by weight - topping out at over 400 pounds. John frequently sat outside the tavern greeting customers. Upon his death, part of the door frame had to be removed in order to get John's body out of the tavern. The city hall, across the street, became Federal Hall when NYC became the capital. Washington's inauguration could be viewed from the tavern. The 1st mayor of NYC was sworn in at the tavern. Samuel Fraunces, who operated the tavern where Washington bid farewell to his officers, was John's brother-in-law.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Favorite Ancestors: Hannah Wakeman

Joanna "Hannah" Wakeman Hackleton Whittaker is an absolute favorite and should probably be a candidate for a family black sheep. She was born about 1638 in Hartford, CT. Hannah married Francis Hackleton, by whom she had a son and daughter. Hackleton was away on business when Hannah had an affair with Henry Fraser or Frost. She became pregnant and lost the child, whom Hannah delivered by herself. Hannah was subsequently charged with adultery and murder. She made some rather uncomplimentary comments to the judge and was charged with blasphemy. Mrs. Hackleton was sentenced to death, but the penalty was reduced to a year in jail, 30 lashes and standing on the gallows for an hour with a rope around her neck.

Hannah left her son with her mother and step-father and took her daughter to New York, where she was banished from town for not having a residence permit. Other adventures involved witchcraft accusations.

She was hired by ex-British soldier, Edward Whittaker, to work at his tavern. Hannah's sharp tongue and Edward's temper were a bad mix. The were frequently in court, with Whittaker threatening to throw mother and daughter out into the cold.

Whittaker got Hannah pregnant and, once again the baby died. The court ordered Whittaker to take care of her or else. The couple married [legal or common law?] and had two sons.

Hannah had to be very charismatic, a real beauty or both to survive all of the trials and tribulations!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Favorite Ancestors: Sylvanus & Harriet Simmons

This couple is one of my great mysteries. Sylvanus was farming in Indiana until at least the early 1860s, but became an engineer for a steamboat company later in the decade. He moved back and forth between Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky for 30-odd years.

Sylvanus married in 1845 to Catherine Van Liew. They had two daughters, Sarah A. and Margaret J. This was the family in 1850. By 1860, Sylvanus' household included wife Henrietta and daughters Henrietta and Ada. The ages of all three females were a match for years Catherine, Sarah and Margaret by age. Henrietta also appeared as Harriet in records, no surname was ever given.

Ada Simmons [Edward] Bateman's 1930 death certificate gave her mother's name as Katherine van Loo. Henrietta's obituary stated that she died at the Bateman house.

All evidence points to Herietta, Harriet and Catherine being the same person. Likewise, Sarah and Henrietta were one and the same as were Margaret and Ada.

The question? Why did Catherine Van Liew Simmons become Henrietta/Hariret and why did Sarah become Henrietta and Margaret, Ada?

Maybe the Van Liews didn't approve of the marriage. Still, Sylvanus kept his name, although he was regularly recorded as S. or S.S. Simmons.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Favorite Ancestors: Edmund Lockwood

Edmund qualifies under "misdirected research." For decades it was believed that Edmund's brother, Robert was the chief progenitor of the American Lockwoods. Harriet Woodbury Hodge's book on the descendants of Edmund unraveled the mess created by the earlier Lockwood book.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Favorite Ancestors: Dolly Jennison Simmons

Although I suspected that Dolly Jennison was the mother of James Morris Simmons when I went to research the Simmons clan in Salt Lake, I needed proof. In the Jennison Family book there was a letter Dolly had written to one of her sisters about the family in 1860. The letter named several of the children, including Morris. Eureka! I had the proof I needed and was able to add several generations of Jennisons and their allied family.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Favorite Ancestors: John Faucett

John was born in Augusta Co., VA [later Greenbrier Co.] in 1751. He was taken captive by Indians [probably Shawnee] during the French and Indian War and later traded back for a horse. He served as a "spy and ranger" [scout and guide] in the Ohio, northern Virginia and western Pennsylvania frontier during the Revolution. After the war, John farmed in the Uniontown, PA region. The new lands in Ohio called and John headed west. Son Joseph was born on an Ohio River flatboat in 1798. The Faucetts settled in what became Warren Co., OH. Wanderlust hit John again at age 73. Faucett moved his family [sons, daughters, in-laws] to central Indiana in 1824. Two tracts were purchased, one in Marion and one in Hendricks Co. John lived out his life on the western Marion Co. farmstead, dying at age 86 in 1838. What a life!!!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Favorite Ancestors: Roger Williams

Short and sweet. Reverand Roger Williams opposed the religious intolerance of Massachusetts and fled south to establish the religiously tolerant colony of Providence Plantation, which would join other settlements to become Rhode Island.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Favorite Ancestors: Gulley & Cawby

I discussed the exploits of William Simmons during the War of 1812 a few weeks back. Today I look at two other veterans of that war: Willis Gulley and Martin Cawby. Thanks to Willis's pension, I was able to put together the service of both. Martin's widow filed for a pension, but the paperwork was misfiled.

Both men served in the same Kentucky Regiment. The Regiment was assigned to the campaign that would invade Canada. They marched from Georgetown, KY to Urbana, OH. There word came that the war had ended. The Kentuckians packed up and returned home.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Favorite Ancestors: Thomas Sumter

Returning to the Revolutionary War era. Thomas Land married Anna Sumter. Anna's brother became a renowned partisan hero in the South during the war. General Thomas Sumter, "the Gamecock," was one of the most famous partisan leaders in the Carolinas along with Francis Marion [Swamp Fox] and Andrew Pickens. Sumter and the other guerilla leaders attacked British supply trains and troops then disappeared into the local swamps or other hideouts. The Gamecock often drew the wrath of Nathanael Greene due to his tendency to fight when he wanted, not always when Greene wanted. Still Sumter and the others joined Gen. Greene's troops from time to time in battle against Cornwallis. Sumter served in Congress after the war and died at 98 in 1832.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

December 7th, 1941

A break from the ancestral posts today.

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on the US Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Take time to honor those servicemen and women who lost their lives that morning and those who served at Pearl, in Europe, the Pacific or on the home front during the rest of WWII.

Journalist Tom Brokaw labeled them "The Greatest Generation." Along with naval, air and land forces from our allies, men and women working behind the scenes and on the frontlines in military intelligence, and the partisan fighters in Europe and Asia [especially the Philippines] they defeated Fascism and Imperialism.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Favorite Ancestors: Seth Mahurin?

The Mahurin family was either from Ulster [Northern Ireland] or Scotland. Hugh Mahurin arrived in Massachusetts about 1690-91. One of his sons was Ebenezer. All was well until Ebenezer's son Seth got to thinking too much. Rumor had it that a college professor was at the root of the problem, but I investigated that aspect of the rumor and reached a dead end. Someone supposedly suggested that 'Mahurin' didn't sound American enough - before the country became the USA? Seth proceeded to drop the 'Ma' and adopt Hurin or Huron for his surname. A brother objected because Hurin/Huron was an Indian tribe. So, my branch of the family became Hurin.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Favorite Ancestor: Sarah Douglas

When my quest for the Mayflower link knocked a few families out of the tree, one of the links I hated to loose was the Douglas family. Those Scottish roots rounded out the British Isles heritage [England, Wales, Ireland & Scotland.] Further research into the family of Elizabeth Turner showed that her grandmother was Sarah Douglas, daughter of Scotsman William Douglas Sr. Her brother William had been believed to be my direct ancestor - now he was a collateral ancestor. The Douglas branch remained on the tree!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Favorite Ancestors: William Brewster

Elder Brewster has to be included! My Mayflower ancestor! Part of the inclusion is because of the journey to discover that he was an ancestor. A marriage record was the key. I have discussed that in the Joshua Hempstead diary post a few weeks ago. Elizabeth Dart married John Hazen in 1726. The catch was that Elizabeth was a Dart by marriage, not birth. Elizabeth Turner was Brewster's descendant. I lost a handful of ancestral families in uncovering Elizabeth, but gained another handful!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Favorite Ancestors: Gov. Thomas Prence

Prence was a longtime governor of the Plymouth Colony. For whatever reason, he had an intense dislike for Quakers. So, of course, one of his daughters, Elizabeth, married a Quaker - Arthur Howland, Jr. The Howland family was a thorn in the side of the governor. Papa even had his daughter jailed for not paying church tithes. One happy family!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Favorite Ancestors: Arnold & Greene

My research has led to a great appreciation for the Revolutionary War era. This takes me to two of my favorite cousins:

Nathanael Greene: Quartermaster General of Washington's Army. He was one of Washington's top and favorite generals. Greene was assigned to command the Southern campaign after Horatio Gates was defeated at Camden, SC. [Gates was the choice of Congress; Greene was Washington's choice.]
He kept Cornwallis off his game and managed to keep an army in the field until Yorktown.

Benedict Arnold: He was one of Washington's most courageous and effective generals until he agreed to sell the plans to West Point to the British. His own vanity was his worst enemy. Had Arnold been killed at Saratoga instead of being seriously wounded, he would have been one of America's greatest heroes.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Some of my Favorite Ancestors

My next several posts will deal with favorite ancestors. The selection is based on accomplishments, research issues, unusual stories and the like.

Up first, not one person, but one group: the Quakers

I have several Quaker ancestors. Most arrived and settled in Pennsylvania. From Pennsylvania they migrated to Maryland and then to Virginia. Some became leaders in the Society of Friends, serving as preachers. Others operated inns or owned large tracts of land. Gradually, my director ancestors were excommunicated for having married contrary to discipline. One family settled in Plymouth and faced the prejudice of many of their neighbors.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Getting Started: Probate

Another important research tool is the probate record. This includes a person's will, estate inventory, estate settlement and other records related to a person's passing. Unfortunately, many of our ancestors died intestate [without a will], so look for notification of that as well.

The will, dictated or written by the deceased, should include the following:
                        - date of the will and where written
                        - names of heirs [generally the kids are listed in birth order, but not necessarily] and
                          when they are entitled to their share
                        - frequently the testator will name "my eldest son," etc.
                        - unfortunately, the testator is just as likely to name the eldest son and lump the rest of
                           the offspring as "my other sons" or "my daughters"
                        - bequests to the heirs [wife, children, other relatives] and the division of the property
                        - wife [hopefully her name] and her share of the estate
                        - executor or executrix
                        - codicil [changes made to the will]
The will should have the names of witnesses and the recorder [with date recorded]
The inventory should include all property [real estate & personal estate] with name of people bequeathed or claiming certain property
The estate settlement should include final distribution of the estate [who got what], any documents contesting the will or otherwise related to the settlement

The probate file should help you narrow down the death date of the testator, give you the 1st name of the spouse, names of the children, if any of the kids are minors [upon reaching his/her 18th year, etc.], other family members, ages of kids, if kids are married [daughters' husbands], and numerous other details on the family.

Wills may turn up in unusual places. Benjamin Prall's will was never recorded. It was left with an innkeeper when Benjamin fell ill on a business trip. The innkeeper submitted the will after reading of Benjamin's death. The will and the innkeeper's affidavit were on file at the Hunterdon Co. Historical Society.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Getting Started: Public Land Survey System

As mentioned in yesterday's post, the 13 original colonies used a system of metes and bounds [landmarks] to map out property. States that were carved from the original 13 used the same system. [CT, MA, RI, VT, NH, ME, DE, MD, NY, NJ, PA, GA, VA, WV, TN, KY, NC, SC]

The following states use the PLSS plus a combination of metes and bounds, land grants or other formats: CA, HI, LA, NM, TX,WI, MI, WA, OR, ID, WY & Ohio [Virginia Military District & Connecticut Western Reserve.]

The rest use the PLSS. In this system townships of 36 square miles set up by baselines [E-W] & principal meridians [N-S]. Each township is divided into 36 sections of 1 square mile each. The township is bordered by range [N-S] & township [E-W] lines. Each section is divided into quarter-sections [NE, NW, SE, SW] of 160 acres each. The sections could also be quartered. [see the Wikipedia article or other pages explaining the PLSS for diagrams on how the townships and sections were divided.]

If a settler purchased a tract of land within the PLSS states, the land patent would read as follows:
W1/2NE of Section 20, township 21N, range 15E, 2nd Prime Meridian, State & County where purchased.

The Bureau of Land Management - General Land Office website offers a searchable database for land patents under the PLSS.

Arphax Publishing offers "Family Maps," a series of spiral bound books containing land survey [plat] maps for various counties in 24 states. These maps show the original patentee with the date of purchase. The books are a fantastic resource for locating ancestral property. You can locate the land and visit the site when in the area. Modern-day maps are also included in the book to help you locate crossroads and landmarks. []

Monday, November 28, 2016

Getting Started: Deeds

Sorry readers, I missed a day over the holiday.

Land records are an important source in genealogical research. Deeds will give you a description of the land. The 13 colonies used metes and bounds [beginning at an oak tree 20 yards north of the property line of...] which can be tough to follow, but can give you the names of your ancestor's neighbors. Most of the remaining states used a township grid map. Township, range, section and quarter were the keys here. [An explanation of the grip later this week.] So you may find the following: the NE 1/4 of section 20, township 21N, range 15E of county X, state A. Much easier to locate on the map!

Check both the grantor [seller] and grantee [buyer] indexes for the name of your ancestor, or the family surname.

Record all names from the deed and try to find out how the people are related. Frequently relationships are given [son, in-law, brother, etc.]

In some cases, deeds may be key to probate questions. My ancestor, Cornelius Prall was not named as an heir in his mother's will. A Hunterdon Co., NJ deed resolved the issue. Cornelius' father had arranged for eldest son James to deed Cornelius his share of the family estate prior to his death.

Watch out for Junior, Senior, I, II, III and so on. The eldest John in the family will be Sr. or I until his death. Then the next eldest John becomes Sr. or I. Don't assume that all of the deeds referencing John Sr. refer to the same man, especially if the deeds span 40 or more years. [Unless the grantee is mentioned as a minor, assume he/she is of legal age, generally 18 or 21.

Deeds were not recorded until the land was disposed of by the owner. If your ancestor died in, say 1785 and you find his name under deed indexes 15-20 years later, check them out. The person who bought your family's land in 1770 may not have sold it until 1804 - when it was recorded.

Read the notes in the margins. Paper was at a premium in colonial times and even later. A paper-poor clerk might have recorded a birth or marriage that happened near the date of the deed. That birth or marriage might not be recorded anywhere else! 


Saturday, November 26, 2016

Getting Started: More on Pension Files

A little more on pension files:

Soldier's pension: The vet has survived [1832 for Rev War] long enough to qualify for a pension. His service record will be included along with testimony from others who knew of his service. You may, or may not, find additional genealogical info. The veteran's date and place of birth should be included and his date and place of death [terminating the pension]. You may find marriages, spouses, and children mentioned, but don't count on it.

Invalid pension: Soldier was injured, wounded or sick and received a pension. His medical files and service record should be included. Documents filed by fellow soldiers, physicians, family members testifying as to his infirmity. Identify all of those people as to relationship to the vet!

Widow's pension: The surviving spouse of the veteran qualified for a pension. She had to provide proof of marriage, so look for marriage license or some similar document. Also, names of children, with birth info should be included. Documentation about the soldier [service record, affidavits, death record, etc.] should be included as well.

In any pension file, write down the name of every person mentioned in the documentation and find out how that person was related to the soldier or soldier's widow. Wes he/she a sibling, child, parent, cousin, step-relative, fellow soldier, family physician, spouse, in-law? You might be able to track down your person in the records of one of those folks!  

Friday, November 25, 2016

Getting Started: Military records and pension files

There are a plethora of military records available from the Revolutionary War on to our most recent conflicts. Check leading websites [,, and others] to see what military records are available. is dedicated to military records and is an excellent starting point. The site has a seven day free trial to help your preliminary search.

Rev War: Service records for Continental Line [regular army] soldiers. Pension files [soldiers, invalid, widows] for Line service. Bounty Land Warrants [land offered to veterans in lieu of pay, generally in Ohio for this war.] Your soldier may have done most of his service with a local militia unit, which did not qualify him for a pension. However, if his militia company was temporarily assigned to a Continental Line Regiment, then he qualified for a pension. Consult State Archives for lists of servicemen. Some of these are online. Maryland has a superb online website for its Revolutionary War records. Check local histories for names of soldiers. has information on those soldiers who were at the Valley Forge encampment. Rev War pension files are available on microfilm at the Family History Library in Salt Lake and on Fold3. The Daughters of the American Revolution has a patriot search for veterans that have qualified their female ancestors for membership. Military service and civilian service qualified for the DAR. If an ancestor supplied food or clothing to the Army, served in Congress [US or Provincial] or otherwise leant aid and comfort to the Patriot cause, they qualified for the DAR. You can also search for you patriot on the Sons of the American Revolution site.

Civil War: Service records, enlistments, pension files are available. Some records are available online. Fold3 has pension cards that will give you the file number needed to order the files. The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System is an excellent site for locating your CW veterans. The Grand Army of the Republic and Sons of Veterans of the Civil War organizations may also offer some help. State Archives offer information on soldiers. The Roll of Honor of the Army of the Republic [book series] is worth a look. For Confederate records consult Fold3 and other sites. Check with the Archives of those states that made up the CSA.

War of 1812: Pension files at FHL and Fold3. Check state resources for soldiers' records.

Pre-20th century military records are available at the National Archives in Washington DC. Post-20th century military records are stored in  the NARA branch in St. Louis. Some records were destroyed by fire. and other sites have draft and enlistment records.

If you need a Civil War service or pension file or file from other military service after 1783, I would recommend that you contact a professional genealogist in the DC or St. Louis area. NARA copy fees have sky-rocketed in recent years. If you have the file number and soldier's name [or widow's] a researcher can go to the repository and copy the file for you. Travel, copy fees, hourly rate and postage will still be cheaper than ordering from the NARA. 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Getting Started: Gathering Evidence from Local Histories & Biographies

Local histories and biographies  can be a big asset to your research. The "mug book" is one type of local history. Many of these were celebrating the centennial anniversary of a county. Often prominent families paid to have articles included on their ancestors. Some good info can come out of these books. The better option is a general history of a county or town published by a local historian. These histories can include some choice tidbits on a family such as when they arrived in the area, where they lived, occupation, offices held and many others. If the book is indexed, your search will be easier. Most have been indexed, either by the author or the local genealogical/historical society. In some cases you may find a separate index to several local histories.

Frequently, the local histories are accompanied by a biographical section. The biographies are generally of people of some note in politics, local business, early settlement, military service and so forth.

You may find one of your direct line in the bio of a collateral ancestor [sibling, in-law, cousin, etc.] There might be a brief mention of your individual or you could hit the jackpot with a 3-4 generation look at the family.

As with all sources, double-check the facts.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Getting Started: Gathering Evidence III

Today's topic is using family histories and genealogies. These can be great tools, but can also be a royal pain!

1] Look at the publishing date. The earlier the book was published the more likely that you will find errors. The author[s] were at the mercy of the technology of the time. Writing letters was the method of communication early on and travel to the sources of the material was not convenient for the researcher. Family lore was often given as fact. Family members were overlooked. Sources were limited.

2] Some genealogies were a disaster! Fraudulent genealogies were a problem from about 1880 to 1920 or so. Two of the primary culprits were Gustav Anjou and Horatio Gates Somersby. If you wanted to be related to a famous person with your surname or have connections to European nobility, it could be done with a few creative pieces of "evidence." There are a few webpages dedicated to listing fraudulent genealogies, check them out.

Other family histories were well-meaning, but poorly researched. In the early Lockwood Geneaolgy, nearly all Lockwood descendants were assigned to Robert Lockwood. His brother, Edmund, was all but ignored. Donald Lines Jacobus, an early noted genealogist, debunked the Lockwood work. As it turned out Edmund was the progenitor of the vast majority of the American Lockwoods. Harriet Woodbury Hodge's Some Descendants of Edmund Lockwood corrected errors in the original genealogy.

It was, unfortunately, common for authors to omit children or assign them to the wrong parents.  The researchers were at the mercy of those people who supplied them with information. Wills, deeds, bounty land settlements and other documents that did not specify relationships led researchers to make incorrect assumptions as to how the people named in the documents were related.  Two generations of my Pralls were mixed up for years, until more extensive research uncovered the true relationships. The St. John Genealogy had Samuel St. John as the son of Mathias III. An examination of deeds has led to the belief that Samuel was the son of Mathias II. The origins of the St. Johns in Europe is a whole other issue!

3] More current genealogies should be more reliable and contain information unavailable in the late 19th or early 20th centuries. But, don't bet on it. Rehashing detail from a century old family history can be very common.


1] Check the sources cited in the genealogy and, if possible, consult those sources for accuracy and reliability.

2] Utilize documentation to form your own conclusions about questionable issues. [The St. John item from above, for example.] 

3] Confirm details from earlier genealogies by consulting more recent sources [census, death records, town records, court and probate records] made available since the genealogy was published.

4] If another genealogy is listed as a source, consult the other genealogy for reliability and sources used.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Getting Started: Gathering Evidence II

 A major resource for your research is census records. US Federal Census records are available for 1790 - 1880 & 1900 -1940. Censuses are available for some states [taken every 10 years on the 5 - 1885, 1925, etc.] Non-population schedules are available as well [agricultural, manufacturing, slave] for some years. British and Canadian census records are also available. [British 1841-1901; Canadian 1842, 1848, 1851-1911].

Focusing on the US Federal Census:

The 1790 - 1840 census has limited information: head of household, males and female by age groups and number of slaves. The enumerator listed the number of males or females in each age group as of the date of the census. If the census was to be taken in June and you were born in September, your age is based on your last birthday.

Some professional genealogists have developed a chart to track ages from 1790-1840. Locate one, or design your own. List the members of the household with their birthdates. Across the top, write the census years. Plug in the probable age at each census. Then see if the family fits.

You may find that a few children show up that you don't have, or some missing that you do have. A baby may have been born in 1798 and appears in 1800, but not 1810 - he/she probably died before the 1810 enumeration. A child may have been born in 1802 and died in 1806, thus a no show in the census.

The enumerator may have erred in recording the members of the family. A male who should be 5-10 in 1830, but the record shows a male 10-15 who doesn't belong. Probably a misplaced "tick mark."

You may have to get creative in using the census. If you know your family was in Virginia in 1790 and Illinois in 1840, but not sure about the years in between, look for logical immigration patterns between the two states. VA to KY to IN to IL would be a possibility, as would VA - OH - IL. Search for the name of your head of household in all places, just in case the movement wasn't logical!

1850-1870: Everyone living in the household is listed with age, occupation, place of birth and other information depending on the year. Relationships are not given, so be careful when making assumptions.

1880: Relationships and parents' birthplaces are given for the 1st time. Marital status [single, married, widowed, divorced] is given.

1890: Fire destroyed most of the 1890 enumerations. Check your state[s] to see what survived.

1900-1940: Information varies from year to year. 1900 given month and year of birth. Year of immigration is given in some censuses; number of children born and surviving; number of marriages, age at first marriage are given in various enumerations. 1940 brought several changes and less information.

Beware: Enumerators were at the mercy of the person giving the information, be it the head of household or a neighbor. Ages were fibbed about. [There's no guarantee that the 1900 month and year of birth is right either!] Birthplaces might vary. Nicknames were given for both males and females [William, Bill, Billy, Willie / Nancy, Ann, Anna, Annie, Nan] or middle and given names used interchangeably. [Sarah, Ann & Sally Hall all could have been Sarah Ann Hall.] Children might be working for a neighbor or living with a relative. Don't assume all of the kids belong to both parents. If it's a 2nd marriage for either spouse, the older children may belong the husband or wife and the younger to both. If Papa is 40, Mama is 30 and the oldest kid is 17, chances are Mama is not the birth mother! The enumerator may give the father's surname to all of the kids, even if those from Mama's 1st marriage use their birth father's name.

Worst case scenario - your family gets completely missed by the enumerator.

Check a few families or pages before and after your family to see if any other relatives are living close by. Study naming patterns  for clues.

Perhaps the most important piece of advice....SPELLING! Do not assume that the surname you are looking for is spelled the way you think it is supposed to be spelled. Think creatively. Try to come up with every possible spelling variation you can think of and allow for those you didn't think of.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Getting Started: Gathering Evidence

As you research your family, you will come across a wide variety of resources. These sources will have varying degrees of reliability.

1] Birth records: Birth certificates should be reliable. They are generated soon after the event. Typos or recording errors are possible. Transposed dates, [21 for 12 for example], misspellings [Pratt for Prall], and poor handwriting in earlier records are all possible. If the records are from a church register or town records, the handwriting issue especially applies. When the handwritten records were typed, errors may have occurred as well.

2] Marriage records: Again, these should be reliable. The same errors can apply here that apply to birth records. Marriage bonds, licenses, returns, applications and certificates are among the sources you'll want to look for.

3] Death records: The death certificate is your #1 hoped-for source, but many localities did not require them until the 1880s or later. The name of the deceased, the date and place of death are the three most reliable items here. Although all other information may be correct, it relies on the informant's knowledge of the deceased. The informant could be the spouse, child, sibling or other family member. He/she could also be a neighbor or attending physician.

4] Bible entries: Often the births, deaths and marriages of family members are entered into the family Bible. You may find three or four generations recorded there. Beware of the following:
(a) handwriting - if there are multiple styles of handwriting, then more than one person has made the entries. Dates need confirmation from other sources.
(b) publication date - check the year of publication of the Bible. If the Bible was printed in 1800 and the entries date back to 1720, then someone has copied the dates from another sources. There could be errors!
(c) baptism/christening date vs. birth date - make sure which date is entered. The family may have recorded the dates the children were baptized or christened rather than the date of birth. The former could be a day or two after the birth or a month after the fact. Some baptisms were held off until the parents could get the kids to the nearest church. I have one case where 4-5 of the kids were baptized on the same day. The ranged from about 10 to a few months. Hope that the family has recorded both!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Getting Started: Organizing your information

OK, you have collected an assortment of photos, pension files, birth, marriage and death records, profiles from various genealogies and local histories. What next? Organize!

Here's what I've done, for better or for worse:

1] Family photos [people, gravesites, homes, etc.] have been placed in photo albums [in acid free sleeves]. Some photos are on my computer.

2] Birth, marriage, and death certificates along with obituaries have been placed in a binder.

3] All other information goes into a family folder. I have used colored subject folders.
    (a) Each family gets a folder.
    (b) When the folder gets unmanageable, I assign a folder to each family member that has generated
          enough material to warrant his/her own folder.
    (c) I have also generated folders for material on unrelated family lines.

The main reason for this particular format is that I haven't set aside time to develop a better one! This is what I started with back when I was naïve enough to think I wouldn't find a great deal of info. LOL

Some folks put everything on the computer. Others use standard file folders for each person with even one item of documentation. Extra copies of documentation are made for each person that is mentioned [a marriage record would go into the folders for each spouse.]

If you are looking for organizational ideas, attend a program on the subject or look for a podcast or article online. Otherwise, create your own. Just be sure you are comfortable with whichever format you choose!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Getting Started: Interviews

This topic was not one that I had trouble with. My Mom and her brother were very willing to share stories and info. My Pop generally said that he didn't really know anything about the family, but every now and then I'd share a new find and he would reminisce with helpful details. My 1st cousins,  mostly 10-15 years older than me, were also willing to share stories.

Of course, some of the memories were a bit out of whack and needed to be verified, but overall fairly reliable.

Make a list of questions you want answered.
Have a photo or other document available to get things started with reluctant relatives.
Be polite and patient.
Take good notes!

Check online for suggestions on genealogy interviews.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Getting Started: Family Photos

Once you have your family photo collection in hand, here are some preservation instructions:

1] Identify each person in the photo & the approximate date of the photo. [Exact date is preferable.] You will probably need assistance from other family members.

2] Store the pictures in acid free photo sleeves. Place them in an album or file box by family, person, date, whatever works best.

3] You may also want to scan the photos into your computer or copy them to a disc.

Always be ready for surprises. About 10 years after I got started researching, one of my cousins sent a series of e-mails with family photos asking if I could identify when they were taken or who were some of the people photographed.

The only pics of my paternal grandmother that I had seen were after I was born, when she was in her late 60s & early 70s. As my grandfather died in 1939, I had never seen a picture of him. These pictures dated from about 1911 to the late 1930s. My grandparents' wedding picture, a photo of my grandparents and grandpa's sister & brother-in-law, my great-grandmother and a four generation photo were among the gems.

Using my Pop & family records as resources, I was able to ID & approximate the date on all of the photos. The only mystery remaining is whether the infant in the 4 generation pic is my father or aunt. [Generic wardrobe for infants back then!]

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Getting Started: Software Part II

When selecting the genealogy software you want to use, look at the features offered:

1] Ease of use. Entering data needs to be a smooth process. Select a program that is highly user friendly.

2] Printing options. Decide what types of charts and reports you would like to print out. Pedigree charts, family group sheets, narrative reports, publishing options. Some programs offer a variety of pedigree charts. Most programs offer 4-5 formats for printing reports. Book or website publishing options exist for many programs. Pick one that meets your needs.

3] Source input. Most programs offer simple "fill-in-the-blank" templates for a wide variety of sources. If needed, you can frequently create your own templates for sources not covered.

4] Publishing options. Some of the family tree programs go directly online through the publisher of the program. You will generally have an option to make your tree public or private. Private trees allow you to restrict access to family, friends, fellow researchers, etc. via permission or password. Programs that offer book publishing options may require a bit of creativity to get things set up the way you want. All of the basic pages are available: title page, table of contents, index, and so forth. You can design the chapters by individuals or families. Including charts, photos, documents and maps is also possible.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Getting Started: Genealogy Software

You will, of course, need a genealogy software program in which to enter all of your data. Several programs have been discontinued over the years [Ancestry Family Tree, for example.] Some programs offer a free download with basic input ability; the require you to purchase the full-access version. Others are totally free.

Here are a few programs for you to check out:

My Heritage: Family Tree Builder
Legacy Family Tree
Roots Magic [my personal choice]
Mac Family Tree [for Mac users]
Ancestral Quest
My Family Tree
Wikitree allows you to create a tree on the website. also allows you to create a tree onsite.

Check Cyndi's List or do a "genealogy software" search for reviews or additional info. Also visit each program's home page.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Getting Started: Charts

As you get started on your research, you will need a few basic charts to help you organize:

1) Pedigree chart: These charts come in landscape and portrait formats and 3, 4 or 5 generation formats. The chart has a line for yourself [#1], your parents [#2-3], grandparents [#4-5, 6-7]  & so on.
Lines are provided for the birth, marriage & death date & place for each individual.

2) Family Group Sheet/Record: This document allows you to record the family data for each person in a family. Space is provided for the birth, marriage & death of the parents and children, as well as the spouses of the kids.

3) Research Log: This document allows you to record each source you use and its value.

4) To Do List: Allows you to create a check list of what you've done & need to do.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Getting Started on Your Research I

I thought I'd offer a few suggestions for the novice researcher or old ones for the experienced researcher:

1st - the old standby - start with yourself and work backwards!

1. Check around the house [or your parents' house, etc.] to see what might be on hand. [a] family photos, [b] birth, marriage & death records, [c] newspaper clippings, [d] military discharge papers & similar documents, [e] diaries/journals, [f] letters, [g] hopefully, a relative's genealogy notes

2. Talk to family members about their reminiscences of their lives & the lives of deceased family members. [You may need to draw up a set of specific questions to ask. Be patient! Record or take notes.]

3. If an aunt, cousin, sibling or whoever has compiled a genealogy, contact them to see if they are willing to share the information.

4. Take clear, concise notes as you proceed.

5. Document every piece of information you find - including the "family lore." [Where you got it, date acquired, who gave it to you, & so on.

6. Decide on a system to help you keep the material organized.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Online Family Trees

Online family trees can be a tremendous source of information. They can also be a tremendous source of misinformation.

Unfortunately, far too many trees are totally undocumented or site other undocumented trees as sources.

Others are partially documented, but use the wrong source as documentation. For example, a marriage record may appear as a source for a marriage. That record may have the  correct name of, say, the bride, but a different date, location, and different husband.  Right name, wrong person.

Some trees may be partially and correctly documented, but lacking documentation for several events.

Then there's the golden tree - totally and correctly documented!

For the imperfect trees, utilize the information, but search for records that support the events. Then you can use the information in your own files. If the undocumented details fit your story, explain why you are including the information and why you are convinced it fits. Then keep looking for sources to support your theory.   

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Final Ancestors of Note: V & W

Jan Jansen van Haarlem [1570-75 - aft 1641]: Jan was a Dutch seaman who was captured by Moroccan pirates. He converted to Islam and eventually became Admiral of the Sultan's pirate fleet based at the port of Salee, Morocco. Jan became known as Murat Rais.

Anthony Jansen van Salee [1607-1676]: Son of Murat Reis and [probably] his Moorish wife.  Anthony served under his father as a Moroccan pirate. He and his brother, Abraham, were sent back to The Netherlands. Although Moroccan ships were built and outfitted by the Dutch, van Salee's Islamic faith was looked down upon. Deciding to try America, Anthony married enroute to New Amsterdam and settled there briefly as a farmer. His background led to his banishment. Van Salee then settled at Gravesend.

Rev. Roger Williams [1604-1683]: Williams founded Providence Plantation [Rhode Island]. The colony became a safe haven for people of all faiths. He started the First Baptist Church in America. Later, dissatisfied with the Church, Williams became a Seeker.*

Friday, November 11, 2016

Veterans Day and Family Research

Today is Veterans Day, originally designated to celebrate the "Armistice" and to honor those soldiers who served in "the Great War." The First World War ended on "the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month" in 1918.  A Congressional resolution called for Armistice Day to became an official US holiday IN 1926. An act of Congress made it official in 1938. In 1954 the holiday was changed to Veterans Day, honoring all veterans, not just WWI vets.

From 1971-1977, Veterans Day was moved to  the 4th Monday in October, but returned to Nov. 11 in 1978.

Personally, I have ancestors who served in the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War, the War in the Philippines, WWII and during peacetime.

If you are interested in researching your military ancestors, there are several websites that can be of help. is dedicated to military research and is an excellent place to begin., and all have military records available. Check local archives for state military databases. The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System is an excellent site for finding information on Union and Confederate veterans. The National Archives [] also has military records.

One very important source to consult is the pension file. There is potentially a ton of information to be gleaned from the veterans' and widows' pensions.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

...And Now for the Rest of the Story... [Update on an Alamo Defender]

I learned a few years back that one of my Jennison family fought for Texas Independence. Robert W. Cunningham, son of David Cunningham and Anna Jennison was born in New York, but settled with his family in southern Indiana. Robert's mother was a sister of my Dolly Jennison Simmons.

Robert worked on flatboats carrying goods to New Orleans. He settled there, but decided to move to  Austin's Colony in Texas. Cunningham served with Parrot's Artillery during the Siege of Bexar in December 1835 and then volunteered to serve with Carey's Artillery after the Mexican troops under General Cos left Texas. He was among the 180 to 225 volunteers to die at the Alamo on 6 March 1836.

Based on information gathered to date, Robert was a single man who left behind family in Indiana.

Within the last few days that story has changed drastically! On 23 February 1833, Robert Cunningham married Louisa C. Hunt in Austin [probably San Felipe de Austin], Coahuila y Texas.
Robert and Louisa became parents of a daughter on 13 July 1834. She appeared as Emily and Mary Ellen in various records. When Cunningham joined the other defenders at the Alamo, he left behind a wife and daughter.

Robert's third wedding anniversary [23 February 1836] was marked with the arrival of unwelcome guests - Santa Anna's advanced guard.

Leaving behind a wife and daughter changes the perspective of Robert's decision to join Travis' command at the Alamo. Now he was fighting for the future of his daughter and spouse. His thoughts on the night of March 5th would have been of the 19 month-old child who would grow up without him. He would not be there to see her married or to see his grandchildren. Would Louisa and the baby be safe from the Mexican army after the fall of the Alamo. The defenders knew that the last reinforcements had arrived. The odds of seeing their loved ones again were non-existent.

By dawn of March 6th, Louisa Cunningham was a widow and Mary Ellen would never see her father again. Louisa remarried in 1838 to Basil Gaither Ijams. Mary Ellen would have four step-siblings. In 1851, 17 year-old Mary Ellen married Eli Clapp in Colorado Co., Texas. Eli, 20 years her senior, was a veteran of the Battle of San Jacinto. She had married one of the men who had avenged the death of the father who gave his life for her, her mother, her children and Texas Independence.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Ancestors of Note: N, R, S

Francis & Rebecca [Towne] Nurse [1618-1695/1621-1692]: The Nurses were residents of Salem Village. Shortly after the Nurses and other families expressed dissatisfaction with Rev. Samuel Parris, teenaged daughters of families supporting Parris suddenly became bewitched. The majority of the citizens that were accused of witchcraft by the girls in 1691-92 were opposed to Parris. Among those accused of witchcraft were Rebecca and her sisters Mary [Esty] and Sarah [Cloyce]. Rebecca and Mary were found guilty and hanged.*

Wilhelm Rittenhouse [1644-1708]: Wilhelm was a German-born papermaker who founded the first paper mill in the colonies on Wissahickon Creek near Germantown, PA.*

David Rittenhouse [1732-1796]: Wilhelm's grandson. He was an astronomer, inventor, clockmaker, surveyor, mathematician and Treasurer of Pennsylvania during the American Revolution.

John Simmons Sr. [1730-1795]: Owner of the Simmons Tavern at Wall and Nassau Streets in New York City before and after the Revolution. The 1st mayor of NY City was sworn in at the tavern. His brother-in-law, Gifford Dally was the House Doorkeeper for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd US Congresses. His sister-in-law, Elizabeth Dally was the wife of Samuel Fraunces, who owned Fraunces Tavern, where Gen. Washington gave his farewell address. Fraunces cared for wounded soldiers during the war, spied for Washington and later served as steward for the President's family.*

William Simmons: John's son. William served with the Commander-in-chief's Guard during the Rev War. In 1795, he was appointed a clerk at the US Treasury. He later served in the War Dept. under Adams and Madison. A dispute with the Secretary of War got him fired in 1814. Upon leaving D.C., William scouted the area near Bladensburg and was able to warn off Pres. Madison before he could be captured by the British. He briefly acted as a forward artillery observer before returning to the Capital. Simmons warned of the approaching enemy and convinced an artillery guard to evacuate a cannon to avoid its capture.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Ancestors of Note: Founders

This post covers a handful of colonial founders:

Richard Olmstead [1608-1686]: One of the founder of both Hartford and Norwalk, CT.*

Samuel Wakeman [1603-1641]: One of the founders of Hartford, CT.*

Matthias St.John/Sention Sr. [1601-1669]: One of the founders of Dorchester, MA, Windsor, Wethersfied and Norwalk, CT.*

Matthias St. John/Sention Jr.[1628-1728]: One of the founders of Norwalk, CT.*

Monday, November 7, 2016

Ancestors of Note: M

Samuel Augustus Maverick [1803-1870]: He signed the Texas Declaration of Independence and gave birth to two meanings of "maverick." [1] independent minded; [2] unbranded cattle (Maverick refused to brand his cattle.)

Charles J. McHugh [1887-1954]: Kids during the late teenS and beyond played with the "putt-putt boat," a steam-propelled toy boat. Grandpa McHugh patented the boat in 1916 and 1924.*

Cornelius McHugh [1872-1944]: Mayor of Cedar Falls, IA from 1935-1944.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Ancestors of Note: H, J, L

Thomas Harding [1635-1708]: Quaker, one of the founders of Burlington Co., NJ.*

Henry R. & William L. Jarrell [1845-1868; 1847-1884]: Two brothers who chose different paths during the post Civil War era. Henry Jarrell joined the Reno Gang. The Renos, based in southern Indiana, gained fame as the first train robbers in the US. Henry and two cohorts fled to Illinois, but he wrote of his whereabouts to his girlfriend in Louisville, KY. The girl, being illiterate, had the letter read to her by a friend - within earshot of a Pinkerton agent. Henry and members of the gang were arrested and later taken from the posse by Jackson Co., IN vigilantes, who lynched them. William Jerrell left Indiana for New Mexico Territory, where he married, started a family and went into business. After a local mercantile was held up, Jarrell was appointed a deputy sheriff and sent to apprehend the thief. While in pursuit, he helped foil a stage hold-up and was fatally wounded. He died in San Angelo, Texas.

Frances Latham [1608/9-1677]: Frances was married three times and came to America with her 2nd husband. She was the ancestor of 13 governors and deputy or lieutenant governors and related to six others by marriage. This earned her the nickname "Mother of Governors."*

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Ancestors of Note: D & G

Louis DuBois [1626-1693]: DuBois joined other Walloons in settling the Dutch colony near Esopus and Wildwyck  about 1660. He was one of the founders of Nieu Dorp [Hurley] in 1662 and New Paltz in 1677. The DuBois Fort [fortified house] is one of the centerpieces of Huguenot Street in New Paltz, NY. His sister, Francoise Billiou, settled at Staten Island. Louis gave his consent for his niece, Marie Billiou, to marry Arent Jansen Prall at Kingston in 1670.

Dr. John Greene: Greene was closely associated with Roger Williams at Providence [Rhode Is.], where he became the colony's first physician. He latter settled at Warwick [RI] and was instrumental in getting the village out from under the control of Massachusetts.*

Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene [1742-1786]: A Quaker, Nathanael Greene chose patriotism over faith and joined the Rhode Island militia at the outbreak of the Revolution. He soon found himself in the Continental Army, rising through the ranks. Washington appointed him Quartermaster General. Greene became one of Washington's most trusted generals. The Commander-in-chief wanted Greene appointed to the command of the Southern Department in 1780, but Congress selected their favorite, Horatio Gates. After Gates' disastrous defeat at Camden, SC, Washington's choice was put in command. Greene wore down Cornwallis. Although technically defeated at Guilford Court House, NC, Greene's forces took a heavy toll on the British. After the war, Greene was given a plantation in Georgia, where he died from heatstroke in 1786.

Samuel Gorton [1592/3-1677]: Gorton was a religious dissenter who found refuge in Rhode Island. He believed in a sort of Christian Transcendentalism that garnered quite a following. His followers became known as Gortonists.* 

Friday, November 4, 2016

Ancestors of Note: C

Captain John Cain [1804-1867]: A Virginia native who settled in Indianapolis in 1826. Cain opened the first bookbindery in the city, published the first book in 1832 and opened the first bookstore. He was appointed postmaster by Andrew Jackson and held the position through the Van Buren administration. John spent a few years farming in Kentucky, before returning to Indy. Cain was appointed Indian Agent for the Nez Perce in Washington Territory in 1853. He served in that position until 1858, when replaced by son Andrew. Cain returned to Indianapolis.

Robert W. Cunningham [1804-1836]: Born in NY, Robert settled with his family in southern Indiana. He took to freighting goods on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. After settling briefly in New Orleans. Cunningham then relocated to Texas, taking part in the battle for Bexar [San Antonio] in December 1835. He died on 6 March 1836 along with William B. Travis, Jim Bowie, David Crockett and the other defenders of the Alamo.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Ancestors of Note II

Sir Richard Barnard of Lincolnshire, England [1568-1641]: Barnard was a clergyman. He attended Cambridge and served as vicar at Worksop and Batombe. Sir Richard published several books on theology. Early on he was a Separatist, but broke with the movement and became a staunch opponent of John Robinson and company. His daughter, Mary, married Roger Williams.*

Pierre Billiou [1622-1701]: Billiou was a Walloon [French Protestant]. He sailed for New Netherland in 1661 and became one of the proprietors of Staten Island. His home, built shortly after his arrival, still stands in the Dongan Hills section along Richmond Road. Pierre's wife, Francoise, was the sister of Louis DuBois, who became a prominent settler in Ulster Co., NY*

William Brewster [1565-1644]: Brewster was a leader in the Separatist movement. The Separatists [Pilgrims] left England to settle in Leiden in The Netherlands. In 1620, Brewster and others opted to sail to America. The Mayflower arrived in what was christened the Plymouth Colony. Elder Brewster remained a leader of the Separatist church in Plymouth.*

* direct-line ancestor

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Ancestors of Note: Collateral and Direct

The next few posts will deal with ancestors who achieved some notoriety. A few were worthy of mention in history books. Others are a bit on the infamous side. Most achieved local or regional acclaim of some marginal note.

Chronological order would be the best presentation, but alphabetical is sufficient. So sit back and read about these folks! Enjoy! [hopefully]

William Arnold [1587-1675]: Arnold arrived in Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1635. He became one of the proprietors of Providence Plantation in 1638 and signed the colony's constitution in 1640.*

Benedict Arnold [1615-1678]: Son of William. Followed Roger Williams as president of Providence in 1657. He was appointed governor in 1663 and served in that capacity until his death in 1678, except for six years.

Major General Benedict Arnold [1740/1-1801]: Great-great-grandson of Gov. Arnold. He served with distinction as an officer in the Continental Army at Fort Ticonderoga, Lake Champlain, the failed invasion of Canada and Saratoga. At Saratoga, Arnold disobeyed orders of Gen. Horatio Gates and rallied Continental troops to defeated Burgoyne's British forces. Arnold was seriously wounded in that action. Gates received the credit for the victory. Arnold was made military governor of Philadelphia. He fell into disfavor with prominent Pennsylvanians and married the daughter of a Tory. Gen. Arnold was court martialed and received a reprimand from Gen. Washington. Although offered a field command under Washington, Arnold requested command of West Point. He met with British Major John Andre to turn the important military base over to the enemy. The plan was discovered and Arnold fled to the Brits. Benedict Arnold went from being one of Washington's favorite and most heroic generals to America's most well-known traitor. He served out the war as a British officer and died in London.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Post Halloween Observation on Political Correctness

It's my understanding that we are not supposed to demean ethnic groups by dressing up in ethnic costumes on Halloween. Those of us who are aware of our ethnic heritage could take issue with that concept.

I can claim Dutch, Irish, German, English, Scottish, Welsh, Swiss, Swedish, Scots-Irish, Huguenot, Flemish and a sprinkling of a couple of other ethnicities. Does that mean that if I don lederhosen, wooden shoes or a kilt, I am insulting my ancestors? If I choose to dress as a Quaker am I casting aspersions on my Society of Friends ancestors? If I want to dress as a Leprechaun to honor my McHugh, O'Neil and other Irish families, am I a bad person?

I have never been big on political correctness, so if you have Japanese ancestry and want to wear a kimono on Halloween, that's okay with me. Same goes with being a Viking if you have Nordic roots or putting on buckskins and a feathered head-dress if you have Plains Indian heritage.

If you are of German ancestry and want to dress as a Nazi officer, that's pushing the envelope a bit. Likewise, honoring your Italian ancestors dressed as a gangster is bordering on bad taste.

I guess it's all a matter of using common sense in judging how you dress up and in allowing others to choose how they dress up.

[note on the Hempstead Diary: The Turner connection led to the Mayflower connection.]


Monday, October 31, 2016

The Diary of Joshua Hempstead

On occasion, while conducting genealogical research, you come across a gem of a resource. Such was the case several years ago when I was taking the Salt Lake Institute's Problem Solving course. My goal was three-fold. First, I wanted to prove or disprove a rumored Mayflower connection to my Hazen family. Second, I wanted to pinpoint Mary Hazen's date of birth [I had two possible dates.] Third, I wanted to find a record of Mary's marriage. The first two would be accomplished; and there was a Mayflower connection. The third still remains approximate.

The gem that came to the surface was the Diary of Joshua Hempstead of New London, CT. Joshua Hempstead Jr. was a native of New London, CT and began chronicling the every day events of his life in September of 1711. He wrote of business dealings, travel, local marriages, births and deaths that took place until his death November 1758.

The diary is available on-line. It was published as a book by the New London Co. Historical Society in 1901. It is also available from the LDS Family History Library. []

My encounter with the Hempstead Diary involved the Turner, Dart, Douglas and Keeney families. The Hazen Family in America had John Hazen marrying Elizabeth Dart, daughter of Daniel Dart and Elizabeth Douglas. In reality, the Elizabeth Dart who married John Hazen was the widow of Thomas Dart. Elizabeth was the daughter of Ezekiel Turner and Susanna Keeney.

Hempstead noted the marriage of John and Elizabeth in his diary. May 1726: "Sund 22nd fair...Jno Hazen & Wid Eliz Darte publish." [The couple had published their intent to marry. Said marriage took place in Norwich on the 31st.]

If you have New London ancestry, check out the Hempstead Diary. You may find out details key to your research. 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Obituary Report

Obituaries can be a wonderful source for information on a deceased family member. One huge downside is that detailed obits are becoming extremely expensive to have published in a local newspaper. Many people will opt for a "death notice" instead.

The death notice includes very basic information: name, date of death, address, etc. The notice will generally run 2-3 lines in the obituary section.

The standard obituary can be from a paragraph to a full column in the newspaper. A small town paper is more likely to have the longer, more detailed notice.

What you might find in the obituary notice:
1] headline
2] name of deceased
3] age
4] residence
5] occupation / where employed
6] survivors [perhaps where they lived]
7] funeral details
8] place of birth
9] organizations belonged to
10] time of residence in city
11] other information [hobbies, inventions, military service, etc.]
12] names of parents
13] cause of death
14] a lot of flowery language about the character of the deceased

As mentioned, the small town papers will probably offer more details and #14 above. After reading the obituaries of a few family members, I expected them to be on the list for sainthood!

As in the case of death certificates, the obituary can be dependent upon the person providing the details. My paternal great-great-grandfather's obit was in error concerning the number of siblings and how many survived him. A couple of notices have listed the wrong age. Whether they were typos or misinformation, I don't know.

The obit of gggf John T. Simmons of Sharpsville, Tipton, IN helped debunk a family story. John's son, John W., was supposed to have been a veteran Rough Rider residing in Cuba with his family at the time of his father's death in 1909. J.W. was listed as a resident of P.I. in the obit. The eventually led me to relatives and the accurate story. He had served in the US Army during the Philippine War and was living in the Philippine Islands with his family.

Locating ancestors' obituary notices can be time consuming, but worth it. You do need as much information as possible. Having the full date of death [month/day/year] allows you to start with the next day's paper. Search the next week's worth of obituaries. Generally, the notice will appear within a couple of days. With a weekly newspaper, you need to search the first issue after the death. The notice should appear within a week or two after the death. You may find an obituary page with notices in regular sized type. The notice may appear under a smaller type "Deaths" column.

There is a chance that the family opted not to put an obit in the paper. The more prominent your ancestor, the better the chances that he/she has a detailed obit. That may also apply to an ancestor who was admired within a smaller community.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Hometown DC Miscues

Here are my Marion Co., IN death certificate misfires:

1) Martin Cawby Jr.: 6/14/1898 - age given as 19 [he was 79].
2) Lucinda Cawby: 9/28/1920 - mother's name and parents' birthplaces unknown
3) William M. Prall: "Marshall" is written above the M. [correction]; "better known as Morris" written after name; father's birthplace unknown
4) Catherine Crail: 7/29/1934: name written as Katherine Creal, with corrected name written above; birthdate [12/15/1833] and age at death [99 yrs. 7 mos. 14 days] do not match. [Family remembers celebrating 100th birthday, which would make birthdate correct and age at death one year off.]
5) James Crail: 10/25/1920 - father's birthplace given as Ireland [it was OH]; family would contend that cause of death was in error and "beaten to death" should have been added.
6) Bess Katherine McHugh: 9/20/1952 - K should be C; mother's first name shown as "Mamie," should be "Mima."
7) Mary A. Crail: 8/11/1887 - no spouse's name; married checked [she was widowed]; no date of birth; mother's name not given; father's name T. Jones [no first name given].

When using death certificates, don't expect 100% reliability. The doctor's info should be accurate; the rest is at the mercy of the informant.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Death Certificate miscues

I have a "nice" collection of death certificates, mostly from Marion Co., IN. The others are from other Indiana counties, Illinois and Ohio.

Standard information gleaned from death certificates includes
1) date and place of death
2) date and place of birth
3) name of spouse
4) marital status
5) name and birthplace of parents
6) cause[s] of death; length of treatment; attending physician
7) burial site, funeral home
8) address at time of death
9) informant

Note: A good deal of the information given for the death certificate comes from the informant. The informant is generally the spouse, child or sibling of the decedent. In some cases the person is a neighbor, in-law or even the doctor. The reliability of the details provided is based on the knowledge of the informant.

My non-Marion Co. death certificate omissions/errors:
1) Hugh Prall - 5/6/1907 - Grant Co., IN: father's birthplace given as Scotland [it was PA]; mother's last name not given. Relationship: great-grandfather.
2) Margaret Jane Wolary [Prall] - 1/27/1910 - Grant Co., IN: birthplace given as Virginia [it was OH]; mother's given name unknown. Rel.: great-grandmother
3) Louise McHugh - 9/13/1906 - Chicago, Cook, IL: birthplace of parents unknown; no place on certificate for names of parents; maiden name not given. Rel.: great-grandmother.
4) J.M. Simmons - 5/25/1883 - Carroll Co., IN: initials only; mother's given name only; no birthplace given for parents; no informant given. Rel.: ggggf
5) Thomas Crail - 6/13/1937 - Hamilton Co., OH: father's birthplace given as Ireland [it was OH]; birthplace given as US [it was IN]. Rel.: ggf's brother

Thursday, October 27, 2016

About those death date sources.....

I mentioned sources for death records in my post yesterday. As good as most of the sources are, they are not fallible!

I am still mystified by the conflicting sources involving the death of Rufus Jennison Sr., one of my collateral ancestors. His obituary from 6 August 1864 in the Indianapolis Sentinel gave his death as the 5th of August of that year at age 89.

The Crown Hill Cemetery Day Book and the family monument recorded his death as 6 August 1862!

Rufus was born in 1777, so the age in the obit was off by two years. If the cemetery records were correct, he died at age 85.

Either way, something is off! Did he die in 1862 or 1864? Did his death take place on August 5th or 6th?

Death certificates were not kept in Indiana at the time, so other sources are relatively scarce.

To demonstrate other errors that might occur in death sources, I will rely on family resources over the next few posts.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Death records, obituaries and similar sources

My last few posts have dealt with life expectancy. As I mentioned, there are numerous causes for the termination of life.  When a family consistently reaches into the 70s or 80s, but one family member suddenly passes in his/her 50s, look for the cause.

Death certificates are the ideal source for cause of death. The catch here is that many states or other jurisdictions were not required to keep death records until the 1880s into the early 1900s,

Obituaries are another excellent source. Small town papers generally offer more details in their obits than do larger metropolitan "rags." Unfortunately, many papers only print death notices. Name, date of death and funeral info may be all you get.

Cemetery records might provide cause of death with the burial permit or record. Some cemeteries keep "day books," or other detailed records. Request them, if available!

Diaries and journals are also a possible source. A family member may have kept a personal record. Neighbors or local citizens may have kept journals as well. Some of these chronicled the day to day life of the neighborhood, town, village or city. This would include birth, marriage and death references of people known to the diarist. Many libraries have journals on microfilm or in the manuscript division.

Military records and pension files can be a source for servicemen and women. They may also include deaths of other family members.

Last, but not least, family members may be able to provide the details you need.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Longevity VIII


1. Wilhelm Rittenhouse [1644-1708=64] & Gertruid Pieters: 3 kids. Claus 67, Elizabeth 50, Garrett 69. Avg. 62

2. Garrett [1674-1742] & Mary Schumaker?: 2 kids. William 72, Peter 52. Avg. 62

3. William [1695-1767] & Catherine Howell: 9 kids. Priscilla 48, William 79, Moses 52, Peter 67, Isaac 82, Susanna, Anne, Hannah 64, Lott 76. Avg. 66

4. Isaac [1726-1809] & Susannah Baker: 11 kids. Elijah 37, Rachel 45, Mary 39, Samuel 85, John 50, William 65, Elizabeth 55, Theodosia 37, Sarah 66, Amy 80, Susannah 70. Avg. 57.2

Family avg. 61.8 , direct avg. 68.4

For 12 families the average longevity is about 62 years. For my direct line ancestors it is 68. Of course, I have neglected a few dozen families and direct ancestors. Some families topped their generational averages, others undercut it.

Disease, natural causes, death from childbirth, one hanging and accidents all have factored into the equation. So for what it's worth, my average ancestor lives to be about 68 1/2. That would mean that I should last until about October of 2019; provided, of course, that I'm average. That's the question!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Longevity VII

Staying with the topic for a day or two...


1. Nicholas [1731-1813=82] & Elisabetha: 10 kids. Margaret 62, Nicholas 90, Elizabeth 80+, Catherine 56, Magdaline 37, Mary 61, John 77+, Susanna 76, Christian 88, Jacob 61. Avg. 68.8

2. John [1773-185?] & unknown: 7 kids. Elizabeth 52, Jacob 73, Catherine, Madeline, John C. 72, Polly 80, Stephen 81. Avg. 71.6

3. Jacob [1804-1877/8] & Ama Jemima Smith: 11 kids. John, Julia 40, Sarah, Edith 47, Nancy, William 74, Polly, Jacob, David, Amy, Abigail. Avg. 53.7 [This generation's average is an aberration of sorts. John & Sarah died in their 30s, Nancy & Amy in their 20s and Polly, Jacob and Abigail in their teens. That brings the average way down.]

Family avg. 64.7; direct avg. 69.5


1. Robert & Elizabeth Favour: 2 kids. William 67, Robert 84. Avg. 75.5

2. Robert [1606-15 - 1690] & Grace: 3 kids. Michal 72, Samuel 55, Daughter 1. Avg. 42.7

3. Samuel [1645-1701] & Judith Newcomb: 10 kids. Judith, Mercy 2, Rachel, Samuel 57, William 67, Elizabeth 24, Grace 78, Peter 41, Robert 95, Lydia. Avg. 52

4. Robert [1684-1779] & Dorothy Thomas: 5 kids. Joseph 97, Molly, Elias 35, Samuel 95, Lydia. Avg. 75.7

5. Joseph [1720-1818] & Martha Twiss: 4 kids. Sarah, Anne 65, Peter 66, Daniel 82. Avg. 71

6. Peter [1749/50-1816] & Mehitable Singletary: 12 kids. Lucy 80, Peter 78, Mehitable 89, Orange Twiss 61, Rufus 87, Luther 45, Anna 78, Sylvia 54, Dolly 74, Purley 79, Chloe 76, John. Avg. 73.1

Family avg. 65, Direct avg. 78.5

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Longevity VI and Post #800!!

Wow! 800 posts! I didn't know I had it in me! Hopefully, I can hit 1000 before I run out of ideas.


My longevity topic has run for five posts and nine families. There are many families yet to address. I may add a few more or wrap it up here. We'll see.

Prall:         62  73
McHugh:  65   69
Crail:        53   50
Faucett:    63   72
Simmons: 62   70
Gulley:     78   80
Cawby:     62   71
Wolary:    56   63
Rhodes:    46   56

Avg.        61   67

Boy, I hope my life expectancy is closer to the Gulleys than the McHughs!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Longevity V


1. Henry [1788-1849=61] & Elizabeth Rogers: 9 kids. John 65, Michael 62, Henry 81, Casper 42, William 75, Elizabeth 29, Louisa 58, Rachel 70, Amanda. Avg. 66.5

2. William [1818-1894] & Sarah Hubbard: 5 kids. Elizabeth, Louisa 33, Henry 48, Sarah, Margaret Jane 33. Avg. 44.5

Family avg. 56; direct avg. 63


1. Zachariah [1603-1666=63] & Joanna Arnold: 8 kids. Jeremiah, Malachi 32, Zachariah, Elizabeth, Mary 37, Rebecca 70, John 58, Peleg 64 Avg. 52

2. John [1658-1716] & Waite Waterman: 8 kids. Zachariah 52, Mary/Mercy, John 84, Joseph 44, William 77, Phebe 63, Resolved 36, Waite. Avg. 59.3

3. John [1691-1776] & Catherine Holden: 9 kids. Waite, John 58, Catherine, Charles 57, Mercy 2, Anthony 30, Joseph, Zachariah 26, Holden 43. Avg. 36

4. Holden [1731-1774] & Mary Remington: 1 kid. Holden 58. Avg. 58

5. Holden [1750-1809] & Susannah Wall: 9 kids. Mary 76, Holden 40, Anne 59, Isaac 24, Daniel R. 53, Zachariah 31, Wanton 14, Samuel R. 34, Perry 23. Avg. 37.1

6. Zachariah [1784-1815] & Harriet Cunningham: 1 kid. Ann Bathia 53. Avg. 53

Family avg. 45.9; direct avg. 55.7

Friday, October 21, 2016

Longevity IV


1. Thomas [1715-1783=68] & Mary _______: 4 kids. Thomas [79], John W., Enoch [78], Richard. Avg. 78.5

2. Enoch [1750-1829] & Franky Franklin: 8 kids. Thomas W. [78], sally, betty, George [90], Frances, Willis [85], Elias [50], Nancy. Avg. 75.75

3. Willis [1794-1879] & Betsy Land: 12 kids. Frances Ann, William [74], Lucretia [53], Eliza [84], Nancy [85], Thomas J. [92], Millie, Lucinda [89], Polly [83], Amanda [92], John S. [90], James W. [64]. Avg. 80.6

Family avg. 78.28; Direct line avg. 80


1. John [1732-1819=87] & ????: 7 kids. John, Joseph, David [38], Eleanor [96], Martin Sr. [47], Jacob, Christina [45]. Avg. 55.25

2. Martin Sr. [1777-1824] & Susanna Trisler: 7 kids. John T. [77], Elizabeth, Sarah, David, Susan [42], Martin Jr. [79], Moses. Avg. 66

3. Martin Jr. & Lucinda Gulley: 4 kids. James W. [54], Mary Alice [83], Helen [58], Elizabeth June [69]. Avg. 66

Family avg. 62.42; Direct avg. 70.5 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Longevity III


1. John [1751-1838] 86

2. John [1751-1838] & Eve Fry: 6 kids. Thomas ?, Joseph [74], Cynthia [52], David [82], Sibelina [46], Lydia [96]. Avg. 70

3. Joseph [1797-1871] & Rebecca Hurin: 11 kids. Ann [82], Eliza [86], John F. [79], Benjamin F. [57], Phoebe [64], Bethia [30], Joseph W. [42], Lydia [73], Rebecca [80], Sarah [76], Synthia [6]. Avg. 61.1

4. Benjamin F. [1827-1885] & Nancy Clark: 5 kids. Alpheus [57], James E. [75], Charles E. [72], Mary [70], Leroy [29]. Avg. 60.6

5. Charles E. [1862-1934] & Elizabeth June Cawby: 4 kids. Mayme [74], Edwin [1 mo.], Lester [74], Freda [77]. Avg. 56.25

Avg. lifespan: 62.99; Direct line: 71.9


1. John [54]

2. John [51]

3. John Sr. [1730-1795 =65] & Catherine Dally: 7 kids. William [66], John Jr. [81], James [46], Sarah [29], David [88], Samuel Gifford [50], Catherine [36]. Avg. 56.7

4. John Jr. [1761-1843] & Mary Nelson: 5 kids. John William [76], Samuel [36], Catherine [1], Catherine [8], Elizabeth [36]. Avg. 31.4

5. John William [1781-1857] & Dolly Jennison: 12 kids. James Morris [78], Caroline [78], Samuel, Harriett, Mariah B. [97], John J. [78], Adaline, Amelia [61], David P. [76], Daniel G. [79], Sylvanus [77], Andrew J.  Avg.  78.5

6. James Morris [1804-1883] & Hester Jane Moore: 4 kids. John T. [81], Maria [74], Samuel M. [86], Jacob N. [86]. Avg. 81.75

7. John T. [1828-1909] & Edith Crousore: 11 kids. Calvin, Robert, Roswell [45], Hester Jane [83], Ama Jemima [72],  Child, Child, Emma [67], Samuel M. [56], Charles [75], John W. [36]. Avg. 62

Avg. lifespan: 62.07; Direct line Avg.: 69.75

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Longevity II

1. Daniel [90], John [80]

2. John [1807-1887] & Sarah Hickey: 6 kids. Daniel [70], William [62], James [52], Mary Ann [55], John [54], Charles [32+] Avg. 54.2 (Charles left home at 32 to find gold; declared legally dead in 1914.)

3. James [1846-1898] & Louisa Wagner: 7 kids. Jack [68], William [36], George [66], Mary [1], Frank [57], Charles [66], Josephine [58]. Avg. 50.3

4. Charles [1887-1954] & Bess Crail: 4 kids. George [46], Jack [61], Charles [93], Ruthjane [78]. Avg. 69.5

family avg. 64.75; direct avg. 69


1. James & Mary A. Jones: 3 kids. Sylvester [62], John [70], Aaron [28]. Avg. 53.3

2. Aaron & Catherine O'Neil: 6 kids. James [62], Martha [81], Catherine [41], David [8+]*, John [16+]*, Thomas [70]. Avg. 46.5 - 63.5 (David & John died between censuses, ages given for last record.)

3. James & Mima Simmons: 4 kids. Willie [12], Harry [52], Pansy [92], Bess [61]. Avg.54.25

family avg. 51.35 -54.35; direct avg. 50.3 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


As we study our family histories, one factor that comes into play is age. The longer our ancestors lived, the better the chance we are able to locate records that help us discover their story.

Life expectancy can be a bit confusing. It is an average age for a generation that takes in infant mortality, mothers dying in child birth, soldiers killed in battle, folks surviving to a ripe old age. The life expectancy during earlier times was shorter than more recent times, or was it?

I'll use my records to show the average life expectancy for my ancestors. There may be some gaps, so this won't be an exact science - by a long shot! The time period will be marked by my direct line ancestor's birth and death. Some were elder kids, some were the baby of the family.

1. Jan & Baetje: parents of 9 children. At least six survived to adulthood. The fate of the other 3 is unknown. Arent [1645-1725] lived to be  79.

2. Arent Jansen [1645-1725] & Marie Billiou: 8 children. Pieter [76], Maria [41+], Fransyna [33+], Barentje [less than 1 yr.], Barentje [32+], Sarah [50], Arent [81], Martha 31]: avg. 43+

3. Pieter [1672-1748] & Maria Christopher: 9 or 10 children. Johannes [83], Mary [52+], Aaron [59], Peter [61], Catherine [46+], Cornelius [29], Abraham [69], Antje [69], Isaac [64], Irene [1?]. Mary & Catherine could be one person; Irene may not belong to the family. Avg.: 53.3 [w/Irene]; 59.2 [no Irene]

4. Aaron [1698-1657] & Mary Whittaker: 6 children. James [48], Cornelius [81], Edward [69], Elizabeth [58], Benjamin [59], Jemima [40]. Avg.: 59.2

5. Cornelius [1732-1813] & Rebecca Garrison: 9 children. Garrison [34], Elizabeth [68], John [56], Cornelius [66], Rebecca [63], James [77], Anna [60], Mary [??], Jemima [28]. Avg.: 56.5 (Mary lived long enough to marry.)

6. Cornelius [1768-1834] & Elizabeth Ritttenhouse: Susannah [26], Garrison [1 mo.], Rebekah [23], Elizabeth [c55], Isaac R. [80], Squire [80], Lucretia [c60], John [74], Asher [81]. Avg.: 53.2 (Elizabeth & Lucretia died between census years, so age is an estimate.)

7. Isaac R. [1800-1880] & Ann Bathia Rhodes: 10 children. James [86], Charles W. [69], Cornelius [72], Isaac [88], Anne [63], Harriet C. [86], Bathia [83], George R. [86], Franklin G. [82], Hugh M. [54]. Avg.: 76.9

8. Hugh M. [1852-1907] & Margaret Jane Wolary: 2 children. Cora Edith [84], William Marshall [60]. Avg. 72

9. William M. [1878-1939] & Mayme Faucett: 2 children. Dorothy [72], Hugh [89]. Avg. 80.5

Overall, the average lifespan for generations 2-9 is 61.8 years. For my direct line, 72.7. Guess I'm working on borrowed time! I'm past the family average and 7 years shy of my direct line average!