Monday, July 13, 2009

the death of Jonathan Stone...

In 1856, Sybil Adams applied for a pension based on her father's Revolutionary War service, stating that she is the only surviving daughter and heir of Jonathan & Mary Stone. Sybil states,

"My father lived at TempletonMass. He enlisted and went and left his family consisting of his wife and 3 children in a log house in the Wilderness. I was the oldest and was 7 yrs ... the land was sold ... the children had to be put out and suffered a great deal the youngest was 3 years old when his father was killed."

Jonathan appears to have enlisted at the very beginning, 27 April 1775, signing up for 3 months 12 days. Along with others he signed a receipt for advance pay on 8 Jun 1775. He was a private in Captain Joel Fletcher's Company of Colonel Ephraim Doolittle's Regiment which was at Bunker Hill. The company was at Winter Hill, Charlestown, Massachusetts, in October and December of 1775. By September of 1776 he was in New York at the Battle of Harlem Heights.

Nathan Stone son of Seth Stone who was brother to Jonathan Stone states he has no direct knowledge of the death of Jonathan Stone except that which he has been told by his father and others:

"which was that he was killed on the retreat at the time of the Battle of White Plains at or near a place called Harlem in New York. The news was brought to his wife and friends by a Mr. Fillmore who stated he was shot through both knees by grape shot and he (Fillmore) and others helped him into a barn and left him after [putt]ing some rum into his canteen which was all the assistance he could render."

Nathan's sister Abigail Stone Stratton and Sybil herself give similar accounts of Jonathan's death. There are other bits of genealogical data in this pension file: Jonathan md Mary Gates 29 Oct 1765 in Worcester and they had three children, Sybil, Nabby and Samuel. Sybil was sent to live with Seth Stone's family in West Cambridge until she later married Joel Adams, Nabby married Thomas Grey and Samuel died a few years before the pension application was filed.

Jonathan seems to have been an ordinary sort of fellow, trying to build a life for himself and his young family on the frontier. Along comes the War for Independence and he promptly signs up, whatever his motivation or, probably, combination of motives. The advance pay probably went mostly to his wife and children and off he marched. A few months in camp at the fort on Winter Hill and then eventually to end up shot in the knees at Harlem Heights and the battle of White Plains. On the run from the British what else could his comrades do but leave him with what comfort they could provide in the shelter of a barn, probably difficult for them as well as Jonathan.

And imagine the wife and three young children in the cabin in the wilderness, perhaps months of not knowing. Then along comes the neighbor with the report of his death and life is turned upside down, the land is sold, the children sent off to other homes. Mary Gates Stone is said not to have married again, remaining a widow until her death in Northboro, Worcestor County, Massachusetts, on 2nd December 1839.

The Vital Records of Shrewsbury Massachusetts list Jonathan Stone died 15 Sep 1776, buried at Shrewsbury: Jonathan Stone [Jr] wounded 15 Sep 1776 at the Evacuation of New York, supposed to have died soon after. [Leg broken and captured by the British.]

Reading this pension gave me chills and I will never see a movie or television show about the Revolution (or other early American wars) in the same way nor see the pieces of genealogy information add up to a similar scene without seeing it in my mind and my heart.

Are there bits of your genealogy research that made a profound difference to you?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

eeney meeney miney mo...

... my brain is turning inside out! In 1699, Evert Bancker and his wife Elizabeth Abeel had a son Willem. Sometime after 1710, they had a son Johannes. The two brothers, more than ten years apart in age, married sisters. In 1726, Willem married Annatje Veeder and some years later, Johannes married Annatje's sister Magdalena, both daughters of Gerrit Symonse Veeder and his wife Catrina Otten.

Now, particularly in isolated areas, it is not unusual for a pair of siblings to marry another pair of siblings. The difficulty here is that researchers can't seem to agree on which of these pairs is the father of Thomas Brouwer Bancker born about 1729 (or perhaps a bit later) and married in 1754 to Annatje Mabie and this is one of my direct lines!

Pearson in his First Settlers in Schenectady lists Johannes and Magdalena as Thomas' parents but Howard Banker in The Bancker Genealogy lists his parents as Willem and Annatje. I started to lean towards Willem and Annatjje because Thomas named his first daughter Annatje but then realized duh! his wife was named Annatje so there went that scrap of thought.

The Vader Genealogy (Veeder family) states that Thomas was baptized 8 Dec 1729, in the Bancker Genealogy it is given as born 8 Dec 1729. Confusion between baptismal and birth dates is common in Dutch Colonial research but generally speaking baptismal dates are close to the birth date so Thomas was probably born towards the end of 1729. Now, Willem is certainly old enough to have a son in 1729 and had married Annatje 17 Dec 1726. Johannes on the other hand is perhaps 18 or 19, old enough yes but customarily most men were into their 20's when they had children. The date of his marriage to Magdalena is unknown.

Willem's children are listed with clear birth/baptismal dates and there is a gap that just fits Thomas. Johannes's two known children, Elisabeth and Gerrit, are listed in 1735 and 1737, a big gap from 1729. Willem and Annatje "feel" right but there is absolutely nothing I have found YET (notice the smidge of hopefulness) to truly indicate one or the other. Perhaps someone will find Thomas' baptismal record and it may list parents???

Have you had any knotty problem in your research that made you crazy and gave you headaches? Did you ever get it solved?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

revolutionary thoughts...

... have been obsessing my brain for the last couple of days. A couple of days ago I pulled up a couple of Revolutionary War pensions on for brothers to my direct line, Elijah and Charles Stanton. Both, as I am used to for my New England (paternal) ancestry, spent most of their time well away from their homes for months or years at a time.

But then I went chasing after RW pensions for my early New York (maternal) ancestry primarily in the Mohawk Valley around Schenectady and west of there. For the most part these men were in the State Militia and were called up for mere days or weeks at a time and not too far from home so their pensions are full of detailed listings, such as this one from the pension of Frederick Vedder, who was enrolled as First Sgt in Captain Outhout's company (summarized):

  • September 1779 ordered out to Stone Arabia, three weeks

  • October 1779 marched to Caghnawaga, three weeks

  • 22 May 1780 ordered to Caghnawaga "at the time the family of the Fishers were murdered" for another three weeks

  • 1780 to Fort Hunter for two weeks

  • 1780 "when Canajoharie was destroyed he was at that place to repel the enemy on an expedition of two weeks"

  • 1780 marched to the Fort Clyde, two weeks

  • Oct 1780 an expedition to Ballston, 8 days

  • 1781 stationed at Claus Vielies Pass or the Rifts about four miles west of the City of Schenectady from 1 Aug to 1 Nov, 3 months

  • 1781 summer, expedition to Beaver Dam in pursuit of Tories, 3 days

  • and undated, an expedition from Schenectady to Currysbush

Other pensions for men from this general area are much the same in that they have lengthy lists of assorted short expeditions within the area. What caught my attention though was that not only were these men from my families but the places they fought or protected were also the homes of ancestors, siblings or cousins of my lines.

The Mohawk Valley area of New York State was not a good place to be during the Revolutionary War. Some of those still living there were hidden enemies, Tories who had not declared themselves and left. The area was subject to raids out of Canada by the British and the Indians, often aided by these hidden enemies.

Vedder refers to the murders of the Fisher family, or Visscher family. These are more cousins of my family, there at Caughnawaga (multiple spelling variations on that place!!), the place was later called Fonda, the home of many of my blood.

Not that there weren't other areas of the country equally terrifying but I visualize all these homes and farms and ordinary everyday people living with the possibly of war in their front yard everyday for several years. When you hear someone come up the road, are they friend or enemy or an enemy posing as friend? The sounds in the night are they just the wind or the dog on the porch or are they coming to burn the house down?

Do you ever place your ancestors in history like this? In what I call small history, not the major battles and events but the little stuff?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

another digression ...

Although I have always had a tendency to digress well into collateral lines, the growth of internet records has encouraged this wandering off into unrelated byways. One of these is Helen Fairchild so first allow me to set up the connection to my family. My maternal grandmother Lois Kellogg's maternal grandfather was Edward Payson Willson, a native of Dutchess County, New York, probably named after Edward Payson, an important and well known pastor in the early 1800's.

In his early twenties, E.P., as he was usually known, headed west as many young men did and landed in Leavenworth, Kansas where he began the foundations of Great Western Manufacturing which still exists there today. The first few years he focused on his business, living either at the foundry itself or in boarding houses. Perhaps it was his 30th birthday in 1862 that set his mind to thinking of marriage and family as on 18 October 1863, shortly before his 31st birthday, he married Helen Fairchild.

Helen Fairchild was born 21 August 1837, perhaps in Ulster County, New York. As a girl the family moved west, first to Cincinnati in Hamilton County, Ohio, and then to Leavenworth. I have a reference that there was a deed or other instrument from Edward Payson Willson to Helen five days before their marriage but I have yet to locate the deed itself although I am quite curious as to what it included.

Early in my research on E.P. Willson I found this first marriage and then her 1864 death notice, "Died this morning, July 6th, at 6 o'clock, of consumption, Helen, wife of E.P. Willson and daughter of William Fairchild, Esq." At that point I left it and moved on to other research.

Several years laterI was researching the Willson family's burials there in Leavenworth including obtaining the lot and interment records from the cemetery office, not just the tombstone information. It was here that I learned that the lot was jointly owned with E.P. Willson using the north half and William Fairchild using the south half.

I also discovered that although there were 6 stones in the Willson plot, there were actually 7 burials, the seventh being Helen Julie Willson died 18 June 1864 of "debility" age 9 days. So the mother possibly already weakened by her consumption had delivered the child, possibly too early, and both had soon died.

All this fits in with the usual in family research but then I noticed that in the adjoining Fairchild plot, there were only four headstones but there were nine burials. The stones were for Helen's parents, William and Barbara (Hunt) Fairchild and for her brother DeForrest and his wife Josie. But, who were the other five people buried in that plot? The cemetery records give us Marietta Mildrum age 37 in 1875, Helen Fairchild, age 18 in 1884, William Edmund Pierce, age 19 in 1888, Edwin DeForest Pierce, age 15 in 1889, and Claudius B Pierce, age 73 in 1902.
From here the research took off into the Fairchild family ultimately going back another couple of generations and into Helen's siblings. The last four were fairly easy:

Helen Fairchild was the only daughter of DeForest and Josie (Creter) Fairchild. Obviously named for her aunt Helen Fairchild Willson who had died the year before, she was born 23 Dec 1865 in Leavenworth, dying there of consumption on 31 August 1884.

William Edmund Pierce and Edwin Deforest Pierce were sons of Helen's sister Mary and her husband, Claudius Buchanan Pierce. William died 31 Oct 1888 of spinal miningitis [sic]. Edwin (who had a twin brother Edward), drowned 14 Feb 1889. I have yet to have the opportunity to pursue newspaper research to find out how he drowned.

Claudius B Pierce was husband to Mary Fairchild and father to the two above boys. He died of a fever in 1902 in nearby Kansas City, Missouri. His wife, ten years younger than he, did not die until 1932 and is buried in Alta Mesa, California.

The fifth unmarked burial was a bit more difficult. Helen's father was William Fairchild, whose father was Benjamin. Among Benjamin's other children was a daughter Maria who married Andrew Mildrum. About 1838, they had a daughter Marietta in Hunter, Greene County, New York. This is the Marietta Mildrum who died of consumption 3 Mar 1875 in Leavenworth at the home of her uncle William Fairchild.

Four years later, E.P. Willson married Olive Sinks, sister of Tiffin Sinks who had also come early to Leavenworth to make his fortune. Tiffin was a doctor and pharmacist as well as an investor and civic figure. He never married and is buried in the Willson plot. E.P. and Olive had four children, one being Martha Ann, their oldest, who died in 1872 of "congestion of the spine." She is also buried in the Willson plot, as are E.P. and Olive.

The Willsons had three more children, all surviving into adulthood: Hiram (1874-1948), Lida (my great grandmother, 1877-1959), and Olive (1881-1960). This last married Thomas Logan Rithie and it is their second son, James Logan Ritchie, dying shortly after his first birthday, who fills the final grave in the Willson plot.

Well, this was intended to be more about the Fairchilds but has digressed itself into more of a discussion of the unmarked graves in the two plots .. oh well, that was probably the cause of the original digression anyway. One final small note, Helen Fairchild Willson and her daughter Helen Julie were originally buried at Greenwood Cemetery and were moved to the Mount Muncie plot 23 April 1867.

At least unlike some of my digressions, the Fairchilds left descendents although not poor Helen.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

a lost mystery....

stumbled over again while digging through stuff. One of the many things found in my paternal grandfather's things was a medal presented to his father in 1908 (shown at right). Charles Stanton Adams was born 8 Jun 1870 in Winchester, Middlesex County, Massachusetts. In 1895 he married Grace Estelle Newhall and, in 1896, they had Arthur Stanton Adams, their only child and my grandfather.

Through 1905 he is listed as a clerk but by the 1910 census he had become a proprietor of a grocery store and he and Grace had settled into the home they lived in for the rest of their lives at 7 Mystic Avenue in Winchester. 

The mystery is the medal itself ... what was it given for and what group gave it? 

The inscription on the back is:
Presented to Charles S. Adams By Aberjona Cl.(?) No. 1102 Jan 1908.

Aberjona is the name of a river running through Winchester. I am not certain of the reading of the two letters "Cl" although I am certain the first letter is a C I am not as certain about the second letter, it could be an h or possibly something else.

The other main clue is the design on the bar on the bottom of the ribbon. There is a closeup to the right. These appear to be intertwined letters, a C, W, A, and ???

I thought at first that these might be some sort of lodge initials such BOE for the Brotherhood of Elks or the like. But, this morning while poking around trying to find clues, I found a title pages from the 1895 and 1899 Winchester City Directories so this may be some sort of civic award.

Any clues or suggestions as to where to look would be appreciated !!!!!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Putting flesh on Alonzo's bones...

... by including the events around him, not just his own dates. His pension provided a lot of the impetus for this as the personality that emerged from the many depositions included in the 436 pages of the file were mostly blandly negative.

Although only my 1st cousin 4 times removed, Alonzo has been one of my personal obsessions as noted in my very first post on this blog. From the various depositions, his character is painted as not of much value as a man with hints of alcohol abuse and messing around with women and not much interest in working. 

He was born 20 February of either 1840 or 1841, the information varies, to Captain Martin Ulmer and his wife, Zoa Pease. It is not certain whether his brother Eddie was older or younger than Alonzo but Eddie died as a boy, certainly before 1850 and probably earlier. His sister Virginia was born about 1845 and the little family was probably doing well, living in Thomaston, Maine, where Martin and his family were active in the maritime trades.

But, in August of 1849, Alonzo's father dies and in 1850 Zoa Pease Ulmer household includes only herself, Alonzo and little Virginia. Within the next couple of years, Virginia also dies, and Alonzo is left as her only surviving child. 

Early in 1854, Zoa and Alonzo have traveled to Illinois where her family had settled in Warren and Rock Island Counties in 1837. Zoa's sister Ellen had died in March of 1853 and in May of 1854, Zoa married Ellen's widower and took on the raising of Ellen's five children. 

So here is Alonzo, just 13 or 14 years old, having lost both his siblings and possibly being something of a mama's boy, and he is yanked off from all that is familiar and landed in a housefull of other children that now require much of his mother's attention. Adding to that, his mother adds two daughters to the household, one in 1855 and the other in 1857. Her focus is definitely no longer on Alonzo and his stepfather disliked and distrusted him. He appears to have spent time on one or the other of his maternal uncles' farms, particularly that of his uncle Martin Pease.

He was still in Illinois in 1858 when he witnessed his uncle Martin's father-in-law Robert Pollock's will but by 1861 he had returned to Maine where he enlisted in the 4th Maine Infantry soon after the Civil War broke out. Although he remained a private, he seems to have managed adequately in Company B which included several of his friends and relatives from his boyhood.

Then came July of 1863 and Gettysburg where Alonzo was wounded in the side at Devils Den, apparently a straight forward through and through wound but he was captured and came to in a rebel field hospital, untended for three days. The rebels retreated abandoning the prisoners and Alonzo was hospitalized in Philadelphia for a while where his mother visited him. He was transferred to the 19th Maine to finish out his three years of service. He appears to have then returned to Rockland, Maine, where he enlists in the 9th U S V V for a one year term on the 5th of April, 1865, and marries Adelia Pendleton immediately prior to departing. Several depositions indicate that Alonzo and Adelia never lived together but she enjoyed his reenlistment bonus.

For a few years Alonzo seems to vanish but reappears in November of 1869 when he enlists in the 1st Regiment US Infantry for a term of five years. His enlistment papers state he was residing in Lincoln, Massachusetts, at that time and this may coincide with the statement in a deposition that Alonzo had visited Adelia once to try to get money from her. The Army Register of Enlistments states that Alonzo deserted 30 May 1870 and with one small exception that is the last we hear of Alonzo for years.

Various depositions imply that Alonzo moved around in Nevada, Idaho, Nebraska, Kansas, often working as a cook and a notice that there is a letter for him in the Silver City, Idaho, post office supports this.  He probably visited his mother every so often but not until after his disapproving step father dies in 1884 does he appear to stay mostly in Illinois with his mother. In the 1880's he also starts trying to get a pension.

Alonzo's first wife, Adelia, had died in 1880 in Maine although later uncertainties about the status of their marriage plagued his pension claims. In 1898, he marries Anna Armstrong, a divorcee from Nebraska, and he brings her to Illinois to live with his mother. Their daughter Virginia is born a year later. His mother dies in 1901 and by 1903, Alonzo had entered a soldiers home and he was in and out for the following nine years. There are letters and depositions revealing that he did not want to share his pension with his wife and child even when he was in the soldiers home. In 1912, Alonzo dies and is buried in the Danville National Cemetery. 

Anna dies just five years later, leaving Virginia on her own, not yet 18 years old. Virginia ended up in Nevada by 1942 where, with the surname Clarke, she applies for a social security number. The next bit of information on her is her death, 11 Feb 1989, in Las Vegas, with the name of Virginia Opal Carrupt. Her brief obituary states, "There are no known family survivors."

Thus Alonzo's life tails off into nothing but along the way he must have had hopes and dreams although I would not be surprised if he also felt a bit put upon and unwanted. His initial army years may have been the best part of his life.

Has anyone in your genealogy research obsessed you?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

who are you...

... I really want to know? The photo of the fellow at the right is one of many in a huge box of photographs from a branch of my husband's family. I find this fellow particularly interesting with his somewhat unique hairstyle and facial expression. 

The photographer was located in Spencer, Iowa, so presumably the subject lived in that area. The bulk of the photographs and letters (mostly in German) in the box appear to have been sent between 1880 and 1920 to the Frederick and Augusta Voss family which moved to Cleveland, Ohio, in 1882 from Ritzerow (near Stavenhagen) in Mecklenberg-Schwerin, Prussia. None of the letters nor other photos in the box have any reference to Spencer, Iowa, and I am utterly clueless as to who this young man may be.

Do you have any clues?