Sunday, March 1, 2020

More on the Life of Asahel Johnson

Friday marked the 252nd anniversary of the birth of my maternal 5x great grandfather Asahel Johnson. I originally told the story of Asahel in a post entitled Celebrating the Life of Asahel Johnson last year. This year I thought I would honor his birthday with some additional information I have been able to locate that tells more of his life’s story.

In the 1790 US Federal Census (1st US Federal Census) Asahel is listed in Bristol, Hartford County, Connecticut. Also listed are 3 Free White Males under the age of 16, 2 Free White Males 16 and over, and 6 Free White Females. 11 total Household Members.
In the winter of 1795-6 Asahel Johnson and Zenas Cook first came to Sheshequin and made that there base while they explored the area for a location to settle. Asahel decided on the Orwell area, purchasing Towner Hill.

In 1797 Asahel Johnson and 2 others permanently joined the new settlement of Orwell Township, founded one year prior. The town was 6 miles square and was first called Menden.

In the 1800 US Federal Census Asahel is listed as having his home in Ulster, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. The listing includes 2 Free White Males under the age of 10, 1 Free White Male 10-15 years of age, 1 Free White Male aged 16-25, 1 Free White Male aged 26-44, 2 Free White Females under the age of 10, 1 Free White Female age 10-15, 1 Free White Female age 26-44, 9 Members total in the Household.

In the 1810 US Federal Census Asahel is living in Wyasox, Luzerne County, PA. There are listed 1 Free White Male under age 10, 1 Free White Male aged 10-15, 2 Free White Males aged 16-25, 1 Free White Male aged 26-44, 4 Free White Females under age 10, 1 Free White Female aged 10-15, 1 Free White Female aged 16-25, 1 Free White Female aged 26-44, Number of Slaves 12, 24 total Household Members.

Bradford County, PA was founded in 1812-13. In a list of “Residents at County Organization-the taxable inhabitants (all males 21 years and over and females owning property) at the organization of Bradford County as ascertained from assessment rolls, voting lists and other sources” shows Asahel Johnson living in Orwell.

On 10 February 1815 in The Susquehanna Democrat newspaper (Wilkes-Barre, PA) on page 4 reports in a column entitled “LETTERS ON HAND, At Bridegwater Post Office, Susquehanna County, PA” that on 31 December 1814 Asahel Johnson had mail.

On 10 August 1815 there was a Federal-Republican meeting for the towns of Wysox and Towanda. A committee was appointed to call a delegate meeting of the townships and Asahel Johnson was on the committee for Orwell township.

I have been unable, yet, to locate Asahel in the 1820 US Federal Census.

In the 1830 US Federal Census I find 

possibly, Aseal Johnson

right above my 4x great grandfather Joel Johnson in Orwell, Bradford, PA. In this listing there is 1 Free White Male aged 20-29, 1 Free White Male aged 60-69, 1 Free White Female age10-14, 1 Free White Female ages 60-69, 4 Total in Household. I believe this is Asahel.

In the 1840 US Federal Census Asahel is listed as having his home in Orwell, Bradford, Pennsylvania. The listing included 1 Free White Male aged 70-79, 1 Free White Female aged 20-29, 1 Free White Female aged 70-79, 1 Person Employed in Agriculture, 3 Total All Persons in Household.

In the 1850 US Federal Census taken on 20 September for Orwell, Bradford County, Pennsylvania, Asahel is an occupant of the area on 1 June and listed as a Farmer by occupation, 82 years of age, born in CT. Also on the list are his wife Beulah age 80, Mary Johnson age 38, born in PA and Azubah Fletcher age 55, born in Vermont.

I also found the following notation about Asahel “Married Beulah Hitchcock in 1788. The children were, as listed in the Bible of Asahel Johnson and his son Joel: Lydia, Artemus, Simeon, Amanday, Charlotte, Joel (my), Welthy, Julia, Clarissa, Lydia (2nd), Nelson, and Mary.” Oh, to be able to locate that family Bible and see the handwriting of my ancestors.

This information adds so much more to the story of the  life of Asahel Johnson then I previously knew.  I like to go back occasionally and see what else I can find on my ancestors.  New information continues to become available, so the story of their lives continues to grow.  Don’t be discouraged if at first there seems to be only a small bit of information.

If you have any corrections or additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Allegheny College and Timothy Alden

Usually, I post links to my blog posts on Genealogy pages for the area my ancestor lived. I am always hopefully that I will find ‘cousins’ through my post and that they may have additional information about my ancestors that I previously hadn’t known. More pieces of the puzzle that tells about the lives of my ancestors.

Recently, I wrote about my maternal 5x great-grandmother Lois Wilcox Alden. (See post Celebrating the Life of Lois Wilcox Alden). Surprisingly a woman responded to my blog post and gave me new information about Lois’ husband, my maternal 5th great-grandfather, Timothy Alden. (See posts Sunday Obituary-Timothy Alden, Tombstone Tuesday-Timothy Alden and Using County Histories to Find Information-Timothy Alden)

I started by reviewing the research I had to see if I had just missed the information she shared or if this was all new information. Nothing I had previously found related to this new information. What my cousin shared is that “Timothy Alden was the founder of Allegheny College.” Wow! That is very exciting! What can I find out to add to this story?
Allegheny College is perched on a hill overlooking Meadville in Northwestern Pennyslvania. According to the college’s website the college was founded in 1815. At that time of the college’s founding Timothy was 45 years old. Allegheny College is listed as the oldest college in continuous existence under the same name west of the Allegheny Mountains.

On their website Allegheny College states “In 1815, Meadville was still a raw frontier town of about 400 settlers, of whom an unusually large number had come from Massachusetts and Connecticut. They dreamed of a college that might bring the educational opportunities of New England to the frontier. The Rev. Timothy Alden was recruited to take on the task, and two months after his arrival in April 1815, Allegheny was established-with Alden as its first president.  Within half a dozen years, Alden succeeded in attracting sufficient funds to begin building a campus, having traveled throughout the eastern states seeking support for a planned library and classroom building. The need of a building to house a library led to the construction, in the 1820s, of Bentley Hall, today a leading example of early American architecture. Designed by Alden, this handsome structure still crowns the hill on which the campus is located.”

Allegheny College goes on to say that Rev. Timothy Alden was a graduate of Harvard Divinity School. Further research on Harvard Divinity School showed that it dates from 1816 when it was established as “the first non-denominational divinity school in the United States”. Timothy Alden was born in 1770 in Tyringham, Massachusetts and married his wife Lois Wilcox there in 1790. The family moved to Monroe, Bradford County, PA in 1801. My guess is he would have attended Harvard Divinity School before 1801.

In the book entitled “Allegheny College Register of Alumni and Non-graduates, Allegheny College” Centennial Edition 1915 I found the following information on Timothy Alden:

There was also a new preparatory school building built in 1905 on the Allegheny College campus called ‘Alden Hall’.

When thinking about this, I remember that I found nothing in Timothy Alden’s obituary that talks about Allegheny College but then his obituary is one of the more interesting ones I have found that does not talk a lot of his accomplishments but more about his character. I have found him referred to as ‘Captain’ but not as ‘Reverend’ except at Allegheny College. Monroe, PA, where the family is known to have lived, was about 280 miles away. In the early 1800s that would have been a very long distance. Was, perhaps, Rev. Timothy Alden a different family member and not my Capt. Timothy Alden (married to Lois Wilcox) with the same name?

When I looked at the census records for 1830, when Rev. Timothy Alden was President of Allegheny College, I found two Timothy Aldens:

one listed in Mead Township, Crawford County, PA:

one listed in Monroe Township, Bradford County, PA:

To my knowledge Capt. Timothy Alden and Lois Wilcox Alden did not have a son named Timothy either.

This is a wonderful story and I wish they were the same person but right now I think they were probably two different men. I still want to check with the Harvard Divinity College to find out about Timothy Alden.  

Reminder, not all family stories turn out to yield information for your ancestors.  But by posting on The Pennsylvania Genealogy Network on Facebook…I found a new cousin and that’s more important than any story!

If you have any corrections or additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Tombstone Tuesday-Lois Wilcox Alden

Wife of
Timothy Alden
Jan. 10, 1851
Aged 77 Yrs
11 M & 8 D

Lois is buried at the Monroeton Cemetery, Monroeton, Bradford County, PA

You can read more about the life of my maternal 5x great-grandmother at Celebrating the Life of Lois Wilcox Alden.

If you have any corrections or additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,

Sunday, February 9, 2020

San Diego Genealogical Society Presents Laurice Johnson

Laurice Johnson was the presenter at this month’s San Diego Genealogical Society Monthly Meeting. She is a long time researcher and an active member of the Temecula Valley Genealogical Society. Laurice was an informative presenter with many examples.

Laurice’s first presentation was entitled Facebook! And Websites! And Blogs! Oh My!
In this presentation we learned about how helpful Facebook can be with all the many genealogical groups available.  Be careful to protect your privacy by being safe and smart when using Facebook and don't forget to set 'Notifications' for the groups you want to follow on Facebook. We also learned about a website run by Katherine R. Wilson ( that contains lists of genealogical and historical pages available on Facebook. What an amazing site this is! Laurice also talked about Webinars on YouTube, University Archives, Message Boards on Roots Web and Ancestry, BooksUSGenWeb and Blogs. Did you know there are over 23 million ‘genealogy blogs’? Katherine R. Wilson even has lists of country specific research blogs. SDGS members alone author at least 10 ongoing Blogs!

Laurice’s second presentation was entitled Family Search-The Other ‘beast’ of Genealogy Research!
In this presentation Laurice went into details about the immense, free, FamilySearch website and the millions of pages of records to be found there. Not all records there are currently searchable or indexed. Laurice walked us through using the WIKI for searching through the Online Genealogy Records. Records can be located by looking for records available for a particular location. This will let you know where to look for records and another way will allow you to search for the records that are available for a particular location.

  • Previously, I had not been able to locate the Will of my maternal great-grandfather Jacob Hamman. When I searched the Wiki for records in Iowa and then looked for Probate records I first found:

(click on images to enlarge)

  • This led me to Ancestry and an index of Probate records:

  • Then by scanning through the microfilm records I was able to locate the record for Jacob Hamman:

  • YEA! Success! Now, at last, I have the record and I will be able to transcribe the Will at a later date.

There are Research Tools available as well as How-To Videos about using the Wiki. FamilySearch also has “Community” groups where you can post a copy of a document in another language that someone at FamilySearch can translate for you. This will be a tremendous help for me when I finally locate some German records for ancestors.

The “Tree” at FamilySearch is a worldwide tree that anyone can add it. The “Tree” can be changed so be sure to add your sources if you decide to change something and keep your own records apart from the “Tree”.

Reminder-the light bulb at the bottom of the page on FamilySearch is your ‘help’ area.

If you have any corrections or additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Celebrating the Life of Lois Wilcox Alden

Lois Wilcox Alden
my maternal 5th great-grandmother.

Lois was born to Sheffield Wilcox Sr. and Eunice Ross Wilcox on 5 February 1773 in Westerly, Rhode Island. Lois was, I believe the oldest of nine children born to Sheffield and Eunice. Westerly is a town on the southwestern shoreline of Washington County, Rhode Island. English colonists first settled this area in 1661.

The family moved from Westerly to Cooperstown, New York before settling in Monroe township, Pennsylvania in 1798.

On 11 November 1790 a 17 year old Lois Wilcox and a 20 year old Timothy Alden would marry in Tyringham, Berkshire County, Massachusetts before moving to Monroe Township, Bradford County, Pennsylvania in 1801. I wonder what brought Lois to Tyringham?

When the couple came to the area 'Monroe Township' wasn’t even formed yet. The area was a wilderness and they were among the early settlers.

Lois and Timothy would have 7 children, that I know of, between 1792-1810: Adonijah, Sophronia, Louisa (my 4th great-grandmother), Permilla, Philinda, and twins Sylvester William and Sevellon Wells.
Lois would die on 10 January 1851 in Monroe, Bradford County, Pennsylvania at the age of 78. Lois was a daughter, a sister, a wife and a mother. She would have traveled a distance of about 266 miles from her place of birth to her home in Monroe, Pennsylvania. Perhaps a day trip today but by horse and wagon a long way to travel by the time she was 28 years old.

Unfortunately, women of that era left very few records for us to discover and know about them. What I do know is that today is her birthday and I can remember her birth 247 years later! Happy birthday Great-Grandmother Lois!

If you have any corrections or additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,

Saturday, February 1, 2020

San Diego Genealogical Society Presents Warren Bittner

Warren Bittner

On Saturday, January 18th, the San Diego Genealogical Society held it’s Annual Meeting at Marina Village with Warren Bittner as the guest Speaker. F. Warren Bittner is well-known genealogical researcher and lecturer. I have had the privilege of listening to Warren speak on several occasions and find him to be very knowledgeable and entertaining. Each time I learn valuable new information for researching my ancestors.

The first session was entitled Meyer’s Gazetteer: Gateway to Germany.
Meyer’s Gazetteer has the most complete list of German towns anywhere from 1910 and that the FamilySearch Catalog is based on Meyer’s Gazetteer. Warren started out explaining the six levels of jurisdictions in Germany and then explained how to decipher the listings (names of areas, religions, courts, services, etc.) you would encounter when looking at a particular locality. There is a tremendous amount of information contained in the listing for a particular site. Warren also told us about an amazing new website called Search the Meyers Gazetteer that allows us to search Meyer’s Gazetteer and helps us in deciphering the information we find. So many States and Abbreviations to learn. Trying to read the original Meyers Fraktur font

can be very difficult, so, this website will be a tremendous help. While I have German ancestry I still have been unable to locate a region or town they have come from. As soon as I can find an area within Germany I will be heading straight to Meyer’s Gazette.

The second session was entitled German Maps and Territories.
In us beginning to understand Maps of Germany Warren first talked about how Germany’s boundaries have changed over time. Today there are 16 ‘states’ in Germany. He visually showed us these changes using an animated map that he found on YouTube. I found one such map on YouTube at which not only showed boundary changes over the years but also population growth. As Warren pointed out you need to know where your ancestor lived at the particular time period so you will know where to start looking for records. Villages could be under one area in one time period and not with that area at another time period. The following is an example of Europe in 1831 when my ancestor Theodore King is believed to have come to America.

(click on images to enlarge)

The third session was entitled German Marriage Laws and Customs.
Warren started out this session by explaining that “German peasants never enjoyed freedom of choice in marriage decisions.” He used pictures to help explain many of the marriage customs of the German people. Some customs depended on the region you lived in. It was also interesting to learn how many influences controlled who you could marry from the Noblemen, the Church, the Town/Village, not to mention the parents. Warren also talked about the types of marriage records you are likely to find and where you might go to search for those church and civil marriage records.

Warren’s fourth session was entitled The Fisherman Who Wanted to Mary the Executioner’s Daughter: Stories You Missed for German Marriage Resources.
In this final session Warren started off by telling us the story of the Fisherman who wanted to marry the Executioner’s daughter. This story helped us learn about the many groups that could influence who people could marry and the reasons they influenced these decisions. As Warren demonstrated and explained, using actual family research, he has been successful using a wide variety of sources beyond Civil and Church records for information. I was truly amazed at where and how he was able to find information about his ancestors.

I will definitely use the information that Warren presented when doing my own research on my German ancestors. When I hear about many of the customs and learn of the life that my peasant ancestors might have led in Germany I can understand why they may have decided to leave for the promise of a better life in America.

If you have any corrections or additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Tombstone Tuesday–Merritt Howell Jr.

My 4th great-grandfather Merritt Howell, Jr. died in Riverhead, Suffolk County, New York on 4 December 1857 at the age of 74.  (See previous post The Life of Merritt Howell, Jr. and The Will of Merritt Howell, Jr.)  He had outlived his wife and several of his children.

Merritt Howell
Dec. 1, 1857
AE. 74 years 4 days 
(there is an inscription at the bottom that is, unfortunately, very difficult to now read)
Riverhead Cemetery, Riverhead, New York

The photo for FindAGrave, added by Joy Ann Strasser in 2013, shows the writing as much clearer.     It is astonishing to note the deterioration that has occurred in 6 years.

  • I noticed the death date on the stone as 1 December and I have found it listed elsewhere as 4 December.  Hmm...I need Church records and perhaps a Family Bible?
  • After I read Codicil One where Merritt directed “As for the tombstones for myself and my said wife it is my will that my Executor shall pay forty dollars for each and that he shall enclose our graves and that of my deceased child Elenor Ann with a substantial iron fence” I looked again at the photo and realized there was no iron fence.  On the ground I can see what might have been part of a stone base and stone posts and wonder if perhaps an iron fence one day had been connected to that?
  • I hadn’t realized until I was recently researching Merritt that he was buried in the Riverhead Cemetery.  While visiting New York during the Holidays I decided I ‘needed’ to go to the Cemetery and find his grave, as any good Genealogist would need to do, in order to get my own photo and pay my respects.  (Yes, there was already a photo on FindAGrave but I needed my own photo.)
  • My father, step-mother and I set out on a quest to find the grave.  How difficult could that be?  His grave was listed as Grave #1 for the cemetery and my father knew where the original entrance had been.  I drove in to the cemetery and parked.  We fanned out in different directions looking for a stone that said Howell.  We walked and walked only to realize, eventually, that Merritt's grave was right next to the right bumper of the car.  Without realizing it I had parked right next to the Howell plot.
  • I found it very interesting that as I stood there behind his grave and looked up, this is what I saw 

there in the background stood the school (Pulaski Street School) I had worked at for 11 years, right there adjacent to the cemetery!  For most of those years I even had classrooms on the side overlooking the end of the cemetery where my ancestors lay.  You just never know the connections you may have to a specific area.

If you have any corrections or additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,