Thursday, November 9, 2017

My Cousins Get Together


     There have been some new developments in my Vincent line, and by extension in my Worden line.  The Vincent's are Mom's family and the Worden's are Dad's.  Deciding I'd probably be senile by the time the War of 1812 Pension Application I needed appeared on Fold3, I sent to the National Archives for the application of  the widow of John Vincent.  Namely Mary Clements, who he married in Halfmoon, Saratoga County, NY in 1800, and begot my third great-grandfather Thomas Vincent.  Thomas married Matilda Taylor around 1822 in Saratoga County, moving westwards with her and their young children to Ontario and Cayuga counties in New York about ten years later.  

     There is some debate in online trees as to the father of John Vincent, husband of Mary Clements and father of Thomas, with most coming down on the side of Capt. Jeremiah Vincent of Revolutionary War fame. This is the primary reason I ordered the records, hoping something contained in them would settle the question-- which it has. 

     The records from NARA prove clearly that my fourth-great-grandfather John died during the war, long before 1821 when Capt. Jeremiah made his will and named his son John as executor, thus ruling my John out as the Captain's progeny.  Since this revelation, I've been working to discover who my John's parents might have been without any luck.  His son Thomas died in 1842 in Victory, New York at the early age of 39 leaving not much more than his widow and children, a tombstone, and a few census records and deeds. Since nothing at all has come down in my family about him it's been slow going.

     Part of my research into the lives of Thomas and his father John has involved the family of John's wife Mary Clements because when you run out of sources referencing your subject, it's time to check out the fans, (family and neighbors).  John Vincent's wife Mary  had a brother named Frederick Clements and the probate of his will at least cleared up one mystery.  The 1850 census of Bristol, NY shows Louisa and Emmett Vincent, two children of Thomas Vincent and Matilda Taylor, living with a Jeremiah and Elizabeth Dubois who were both born in Saratoga County.  I'd long wondered how Thomas' children wound up in the Dubois household after their father's death and if this couple, also from Saratoga County, was in some way related.  As luck would have it the Dubois' are mentioned in Frederick Clements' probate records, "Elizabeth, wife of Jeremiah Dubois", being an heir of Frederick Clements-- his daughter!  Louisa and Emmett were living with the daughter of their grandmother's brother, their cousin once removed.  That makes Elizabeth a distant cousin of mine also.

     Elizabeth and Jeremiah Dubois had two children, Mary and Andrew, and looking at various records I found that Andrew had married Mariette Worden.  I knew I had seen the name Mariette Worden before and looking back through my family tree I discovered Mariette was the daughter of Davenport Worden, a brother of my third-great-grandfather Paul Worden, making Mariette also my distant cousin.  I even had the name of her husband Andrew Dubois in my tree, but back when I entered it the name Dubois meant nothing to me.

    As I looked further, I found Mariette Worden aged 14 living with Jeremiah and Elizabeth in the 1865 New York census.  She was enumerated as a servant which made perfect sense as her father Davenport had died of consumption in 1860.  No doubt her mother, who never remarried, found it difficult to support her four children by herself.  Also in the Dubois household in 1865 was their son Andrew, aged 34!  The 1870 census shows Andrew and Mariette Dubois living with his parents with a daughter born in 1868.  They must have married when Mariette was around 17 unless the marriage was rushed...ahem.

     None of this prurient speculation puts me any closer to finding who John Vincent's parents were, but it's interesting how the branches of my tree do twist around.  At least they were my cousins, not each others.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Matilda Taylor's Death Certificate Or-- What Do I Do Now?


     My third-great-grandmother Matilda Taylor's parents are a mystery.  Matilda was born in Saratoga County, New York in November of 1802, quite possibly at Half Moon.  If she'd been born a few hundred miles east of that spot I probably wouldn't be wondering about this.  The New England states kept wonderful vital records. New York?  Not so much.  At the moment I'm leaning toward John B. Taylor and his wife Rebecca as Matilda's parents, but I have no definite proof.  I know John B. lived in Half Moon where Matilda's husband Thomas Vincent was born, and I know a gentleman named John B. Taylor was a witness for Jeremiah Vincent, probably a relative of Thomas', when he applied for his Revolutionary War pension; he's also in the right age group.  That's about it, except for Matilda naming her firstborn son John Taylor Vincent.  That's a pretty good clue though diminished a bit by the fact that Matilda's husband Thomas also had a father named John.

     After searching high and low for the names of the Taylors in cemetery listings, wills, obituaries, etc.... I finally had to admit I was down to my last option, the New York Department of Health with whom I have a love/hate relationship...(mostly hate).  Matilda died in 1890 so there was a good chance she had a death certificate.  Compliance with the law requiring the reporting of deaths was sporadic at best in the late 1880's and 90's, but upon checking the newly online indexes, I discovered Matilda did indeed have a certificate.  Rather than send to Albany for the certificate and wait a year or so for their diligent (ha) employees to mail it to me, I wrote directly to Monroe County, where Matilda died.  In a little over a week an envelope from Westfall Road arrived in my mailbox.  I excitedly ripped it open and beheld...NOT the names of my 4th great-grands, just a long line of "Not Known", over and over.  Marital Status-- Not Known, Residence-- Not Known, Undertaker-- Not Known, Father's Name and Birthplace-- Not Known, Mother's Name and Birthplace-- ditto.  

     I don't know if the very early death forms didn't ask for that sort of information or if it just wasn't filled in.  Now I wondered if the state certificate might hold more information?  After poking around the net, I found this at a FamilySearch wiki, "Starting in June 1880, New York required that village, town, and city registrars record deaths. Copies of these deaths were then filed with the State Department of Health."  That seems to indicate New York has only a copy of Monroe County's record.

     It wasn't a complete loss however, the certificate did say that Matilda passed away from apoplexy, (a stroke), and that she is buried in Beaver Dams, New York with her second husband Rockwell Rood.  Which I sort of expected, she couldn't have been buried in the cemetery in Brockport where her oldest son, with whom she lived in her later years, was buried since it didn't exist when Matilda died and it was doubtful this son from her second marriage would have buried her next to Thomas Vincent in Victory, New York.  No, she rests next to Rockwell and their youngest son Alonzo who died in 1880, in the community where they spent their married years.  Which I suppose is fitting.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Daughter Who Wasn't There


     Looking at the 1920 Federal Census, for my 3rd great-uncle Benjamin Franklin Rood of my Vincent line, I noticed something quite odd.  A granddaughter had suddenly appeared in his household?  How peculiar; I knew his son and only child George Armstrong Rood never married, so from whence a grandchild?  Her name was Mae E. Johnson and she was 15 years old in 1920.  George too was living with his widowed father that year, in Sweden, NY and in pretty much every other census until both parent's deaths.  Bachelor George being Mae's father didn't make sense, though several online trees claimed that he was.  But why was her surname different than his?  An out of wedlock birth?

     I decided I needed to look at every census available for the Benjamin Rood family though I had already seen most of them.  Benjamin is not a direct line ancestor and I hadn't spent a great deal of time on him, after all, his only child George left no descendants... or did he?  The Rood's were residents of New York State which conducted a census of it's own every ten years on the 5's.  For example, Federal Census 1870, NYS Census 1875.  For some reason, New York did not do a census in 1885 and we all know what happened to the 1890 census.  That leaves a big gap in the records.  However, New York did take a census in the odd ball year of 1892--it's almost like they knew.  Without that 1892, it would have meant twenty years between censuses.  I'd viewed all the censuses for Benjamin except the 1892, so I took a look.  

     Holy Cow!  George was not an only child, Benjamin Rood and his wife Helen Burpee had a daughter!  Maryan ( Maryann, Marian?) C. Rood!  Age 12 in 1892!  She was born right after the census was taken in 1880 and appears in no other census with her parents.  I had no idea she even existed.  She had to be the parent of Mae E. Johnson.  Those of you with no state censuses to fall back on have probably run into this sort of thing before, but it was a surprise to me.

     Mae was born around 1905, so I checked the 1905 census and found her at age 1 with her parents John Johnson from Canada and Clarice Johnson from the USA.  Looking at the 1910 census there Mae was again,  bless her heart, six years old and living with John Johnson and his wife Clara.  Clara or Clarice could well be what the middle initial C in 1892 stood for.  Looking at the New York, County Marriages database at Ancestry, I found eighteen year old Mae Johnson's marriage to Louis J. Court, a man twice her age.  Her parents?  John Johnson and Clara Rood. I very nearly missed her, and Mae too.  I found a marriage record for Mae's mother in 1923 in the same Ancestry database, here she is going by the name Clarice M. Rood and gives her father's name as B F Rood and her mother as Helen Burpee, which fits exactly.  Don't you love the abandon with which our ancestors altered their names?  This marriage record also told me that Clarice and John Johnson divorced a mere week before Clarice turned around and married a man named Richard Grannon!  

     And those trees on Ancestry were blaming poor George.  Who's the scandalous one now?

Monday, September 4, 2017

A Witch In The Family


     Upstate New York is cold, last night the mercury fell to 43 degrees!  For weeks store aisles have been festooned with skeletons, pumpkins, and giant spiders.  Now, with this Halloween like chill in the air, my thoughts turn to my 8th great-grandmother Winifred King -- aka Mrs. Joseph Benham -- aka, "The Witch of Wallingford".  I've been doing a bit of reading lately about the witch trials in Connecticut, where Winifred was tried, and those in neighboring Salem, Massachusetts whose witchcraft hysteria is far more famous than Connecticut's.  Still trying to fathom how such a tragedy could have occurred.

     Winifred was born in Boston, Massachusetts around 1635 to a woman named Mary Williams King who after the death of her husband John King, married a man named Hale.  The year 1680 found Mary Hale again widowed, supporting herself by running a boarding house as well as an early version of an infirmary from her home in that city, taking in ailing individuals and attempting to cure them.  For their care, she charged 20 shillings per week for three weeks, and 10 shillings per week after that.  Mary ran afoul of the local Puritans when in 1681, a young boarder named Michael Smith accused her of poisoning him in a witchy way after his romance with her granddaughter Johanna Benham, a daughter of Winifred, ended.  After his death, Mary was arrested and tried, but acquitted.  Mary Hale was actually accused on two separate occasions of witchcraft, but not to be outdone, her daughter Winifred, by then a resident of Connecticut, would be accused thrice.  Yes, thrice, the last time along with her thirteen year old daughter Winfred Jr.  After their last acquittal in 1697 the two Winifreds wisely fled the puritanical Puritans in Connecticut and moved to a better address on New York's Staten Island.

      My line from Winifred comes through her thirteenth child James Benham who married Esther Preston, and thence through James and Esther's son Samuel Benham.  James remained in Wallingford after his mother departed for New York and Samuel was born there in 1711.  After Samuel's marriage to Phebe Andrews in 1736, he and Phebe moved to New Hartford, Connecticut where their son Jehial Simon Benham was born in 1751.  It was also there that Jehial would marry Lydia Cadwell and their daughter Phebe Benham would be born.  Winifred would have been little Phebe's great-great-grandmother, I wonder if  Phebe ever knew she was descended from an accused witch?  I wonder if Phebe's husband Abijah Moore Jr. whom she married in 1803 knew, or would have cared?  The last witch trial in America took place in 1715 in Annapolis, but superstitions have a way of lingering.  Later, Phebe and Abijah were among the first settlers of Wolcott, New York, making their home on New Hartford Street, named for their town in Connecticut.  It was in Wolcott their last child and only daughter Harriet Moore was born in 1812.  Hattie, as she was known, grew up in Wolcott, marrying Russell Galloway there in 1829.

     Hattie and Russell's son George, was born in 1838 in Butler, New York, just south of Wolcott.  Interestingly enough, George's wife Clarissa Foster was the child of Asahel Foster whose hometown was New Salem, Massachusetts, founded by former residents of Salem.  George and Clarissa's son, Russell Carlton Galloway, married Hattie Vincent in 1884; their daughter Grace was my grandmother.  You can believe me when I tell you it's confusing having two men named Russell Galloway, two generations apart, both married to women called Hattie.  It gets even more interesting when you throw George Galloway's third wife Hattie Foster, the sister of his first wife Clarissa, into the mix and end up with three Hattie Galloways.

     I'd love to know when Winifred's story was lost in the family.  I certainly never heard it.  I'd wanted a witch for a long time before I finally found Winifred, and now I want another. (OK, I know they weren't really witches.) The New Salem connection of Asahel Foster is fascinating to me because that place was settled by families from the literal "Witch City".  They really call it that.  Today.  Still.  Look at the official Police badge below:

      My curiosity about the trials and wish for another "witch" in the family has inspired me to learn more about my early colonial ancestors and add their details to my online tree.  Today there must be hundreds of thousands of descendants of those unfortunate individuals who were caught up in the New England witchcraft scare of the 1600's.  Surely I have at least one more in my family. I'm also hopeful that adding to my Ancestry tree will drum up some letters from cousins, it's been ages since anyone contacted me there and I seldom receive a reply from those I write to.  Perhaps the coming of this foul weather will motivate researchers to retreat to the warmth of their computer screens and send me some email already.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Announcement From FGS On 1812 Pensions!

     Today the Federation of Genealogical Societies announced the resumption of work on the War of 1812 pension applications so many have been eagerly awaiting.  The following is from their blog:  

A security incident at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) facility in St. Louis led to a work stoppage of digitization projects for security review. This incident was unrelated to the Preserve the Pensions project in Washington D.C., however, our project was impacted.  The Federal bureaucracy is a slow-moving beast, as many of us have experienced outside of genealogy.   The completed review led to new security and project protocols. These protocols imposed new cost, space, and completion date constraints on the project. Neither conservation nor digitization could resume without a renegotiated project plan. These negotiations were difficult and time-consuming...

     So why on earth could that not have been shared with the public?  Regardless, things are looking up and hopefully I will be able to read my 4th great-grandfather's file before too much longer.  Below is a link to the announcement on the FGS blog--

Monday, July 31, 2017

Tombstone Tuesday/ I Wonder About Annie


     For a long time, I was unsure what to make of the child called Annie.  I saw her tombstone in St. Anne's Cemetery in Palmyra, New York right next to my 2nd great-uncle James White and his wife Mary Ford so I assumed she must have been their daughter.  On her small stone was engraved simply, "Annie 1890-1893".  I found no record of her baptism in St. Anne's records, only her burial in 1893 which matched the date on her stone.  The burial record gave her father's name as James White, so that's that.  Except... in the census of 1900, which asked women if they had children, how many, and how many of them were still living, Mary told the census taker she never had any children.  So was Annie adopted?  A niece or other relative?

     Mary, a native of County Laois, Ireland would have been 37 at the time of Annie's birth and James 41.  That's rather late to begin a family and there were no other children born to this marriage, but then again James and Mary didn't wed until 1887.  Today it occurred to me I had never located this family in the New York State census taken in 1892 when Annie would have been two years old.  Palmyra was a small town, it took only eight pages to enumerate it's residents that year, so I went page by page after an Ancestry search failed to turn them up.  Still nothing.  Ancestry wouldn't allow me to search by county, so I switched to Family Search which would.  They weren't listed anywhere in Wayne County, where Palmyra is located, so I tried Ontario, the next county over.  There they were!  James White, Mary White, and Anna M. White aged two living in the town of Phelps. 

     So little Annie was with James and Mary at the age of two-- she must be theirs I thought, and named for her grandmother, Anna Ryan White.  I recalled the census of 1910 also asked women about their children so I checked that one next.  This time Mary, now living in Palmyra, told the enumerator she had one child who was still living.  What?  All I can imagine is that Mary was so undone by her only child's death she couldn't bear to talk about it, certainly not to a stranger who came to her door asking intrusive questions.  I looked at the New York State Death Index, now coming online at Internet Archive, and found "Anna M. White" died 24 September 1893 in Palmyra.

     All the evidence points to James and Mary being Annie's parents.  The next time I'm able to look at church registers in Phelps I will look for her baptism there; since she isn't in St. Anne's baptismal records I think it's probable she was born in Phelps.  And I won't be at all surprised when I read that her parents were James White and Mary Ford.


Friday, July 14, 2017

Willie T. Revisited

     Two years ago I wrote a blog about my search for my 1st cousin 3X removed, John Sheehan, who left home one day in 1875 and was never seen nor heard from again.  I promised an update if I ever tracked John down or alternatively, if I discovered what had caused the unrelated death of his nephew William Thomas Sheehan seventy six years later at the age of only 52.  Well, neither of those things have come to pass.  John is still among the missing and it's clear now that I'm not going to get a cause of death for William unless I order his certificate from the state of California.  I've located a death notice for William, but he passed away in Los Angeles and those big city newspapers didn't devote much print to lengthy obituaries unless the deceased was famous in some way.

     So why am I writing an update?  Because I found something even better than a cause of death for William, I found a photograph!  OK, Ancestry found it I guess and sent me one of those little leaves, but I'm still excited.  It's so rare that I come across photographs.

William Thomas Sheehan (1899-1951
     William was 20 years old when this photo was taken.  The document it was attached to was his application for a Citizen Seaman's Protection Certificate which he filed in September of 1919.  The certificates functioned like  passports for seamen and were issued at all Great Lake and ocean ports by the collector of customs.

     This may have been William's first trip, the spaces provided for listing departures and arrivals is blank on his form, but there is a ship called the Pearl Shell noted on the application. Also included in the file is a notarized, handwritten affidavit from William's mother Lillian Putnam Sheehan giving his date and place of birth.  I found a reference to William's ship in a book online called International Marine Engineering, Vol. 23 that indicated the ship was an oil tanker that was part of the Merchant Marine fleet and had been taken over by the US government.  That would explain the 1920 census which says William was a machinist who worked for the government.

   Below is what is written on the back of the photo and I admit I'm stumped.  I get the "Citz" in pencil that must be an abbreviation of citizen, but the rest?  Any suggestions what it may mean would be appreciated.