Sunday, April 29, 2018

Gap filled profile of Isaac Cornell

As we try to fill in the pieces of our ancestors’ lives there are frequently gaps and brick walls.  It’s not so neat and tidy as we get back to the early 1800s and late 1700s, especially if your ancestors moved around and there are several people you find with the same name.  This is definitely the case as I try to research my maternal 3rd great grandfather Isaac Cornell.  UGH but then no one ever said it would be easy.  And for me it’s the pursuit of finding the answers, no matter how difficult the journey, that keeps me going.


I have profiled the life of my maternal 2nd great grandfather Joseph Cornell in posts entitled Civil War-Certificate of Disability for Discharge and Organizing Information Joseph Cornell.  With the information I have on Joseph I thought I would look for information on his father Isaac/Isaiah.  I also enlisted the help of my cousin Wendy because I hadn’t previously found much.  Wendy and I have shared information before and I so enjoy working with her.  We’re good at brainstorming together and we each often find information in different places that the other person hasn’t found.  I think we’re really stumped on this one.

In the mid 1990s while driving from Elmira, NY to Long Island, New York with my mother and son we decided to make a quick stop in Laceyville, Pennsylvania to see what I could find in the cemetery there.  I knew several ancestors had lived there and hoped we could find the cemetery and some additional information.  I decided to stop at the local Post Office and ask for directions to the cemetery.  As I walked up to the Post Office there was a mail carrier named Ellen, heading in to the building.  I asked if she could give me directions to the Lacey St. Cemetery and she said she could.  She asked what name I was looking for.  She said she was interested in genealogy as well and while she worked as a mail carrier she frequently would go through local cemeteries and look for her family and her husband’s family tombstones.  I told her I was looking for the Coolbaugh Family and for Isaac Cornell.  She laughed and said her husband’s great-grandfather was Cyrus S. Cornell (I think I am remembering this correctly) the brother of my Joseph Cornell.  She had no idea where their brother Isaac was buried or who their parents were.  She said her father-in-law had a family bible but she hadn’t been able to get much access to it. I must try to find her again.

Here is what I do know, so far:

1810 Isaac (Jr.) is born in Pennsylvania and his father’s name is Isaac (Sr.) as well.
Isaac (Jr.) married Sally before 1837.  I have Sally listed as Sarah Ranght but not sure where this is from.

Isaac and Sally had 4 sons:  Joseph in 1835, Isaac in 1837, Benjamin in 1839 and Cyrus in 1845.

1850 US Federal Census Isaac 40, Farmer, couldn't read/write; Sally 35; Joseph 15, attends school; Isaac 13, attends school; Benj 11, attends school; Cyrus 5; Isaac 70, no occupation; all born in PA. 

The Isaac that is the head of the household is my 3rd great grandfather and the father of Joseph Cornell, my 2nd great grandfather.  There is an Isaac living with them which I believe is Isaac’s father.  Since Isaac is listed as 40 in 1850 that would make his year of birth as 1810 and Sally as his wife.

23 Aug 1863-“Isaiah Cornell was alive when his son, Joseph Cornell, provided answers to fill out an 'Individual Record of Personal History of Officers and Soldiers Belonging to Regiments from NY In the Service of the United States' form at Carver Hospital on 23 Aug 1863.  Joseph Cornell described his parents' nationality as German on a form he provided information for on 23 Aug 1863.”  I have this note in my records, unfortunately, it was before I knew the importance of citing my sources and cannot locate the original source to see if there is additional information.

Sometimes you just can’t find anything.  Sure wish I had cited my sources early on.  We’ll just have to keep working on this.

A reminder…you never know where that next lead or family connection will come from.  It could be at the local Post Office.

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

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Tombstone Tuesday-Nathan Benjamin II

Baiting Hollow Cemetery, Suffolk County, New York
Benjamin Nathan II gravestone 2
Memory of
Nathan Benjamin
who died May 14, 1805
in the 72 year of his age.
“My flesh shall slumber in the
Till the last trumpets joyful sound
Then burst the chains with sweet
And in my Savior’s image rise.”

Note:  The Epitaph on the gravestone is from a poem entitled Lord, I am Thine.  
The poem, written by Isaac Watts is found in his collection entitled The Psalms of David, 1719 .

Very special thanks to Tracey Lyn for the photo.  Tracey is also a descendant of Nathan.

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

Monday, April 16, 2018

Amanuensis Monday-the Will of Nathan Benjamin II

While researching my 5x great grandfather Nathan Benjamin II (see previous post Nathan Benjamin II) I was able to locate his Will and Probate record at the Probate Court in Riverhead, Suffolk County, New York.  His will was recorded in Will Liber B beginning on page 359
This is Nathan’s Will:
(click on image to enlarge)
Benjamin Nathan 1806 Will

Benjamin Nathan 1806 will page 2
The transcription :
In the name of God Amen, I Nathan Benjamin of River head in the County of Suffolk and State of New York, yeoman, being now aged and some what infirmness in body but of sound mind and memory and calling to mind the mortality of my body do make and ordain this my last will and testament in Manner and form following after my Just debts are paid and funeral charges satisfied.

First of all, I do give and bequeath unto my well beloved wife Jemima Benjamin one equal half of all moveable Estate out Doors & in Door moveables my riding horse and chairs.

Item ,I give and bequeath unto my Eldest son Nathan Benjamin the whole width of my land from a certain bound which I have set up about ten rods Northard of the fence now standing fifty rods north of the dwelling house where my said son Nathan now lives so to go as far south ward as the Crotch of the road or paths to a certain red oak tree which I have marked which piece of land I give to my said son Nathan Benjamin his heirs & assigns forever.

I give and bequeath unto my second son namely Jacob Benjamin my land the whole width from the sound to the bound about 50 rods North of the house of my son Nathan as above clip_image002 with all the Buildings also I give to my son Jacob Benjamin all my salt and fresh meadows in Southampton & else where also I give & bequeath unto my son Jacob Benjamin his heirs and assigns forever all the above mentioned land and Meadows out of which I do order him and my son Jacob Benjamin to pay all my just debts and legis monies.

I do give and bequeath to my youngest son Phineas Benjamin the whole width of my land from the above mentioned bound by the Crotch Of the paths south ward to the land of James Terry which piece of land I give to my clip_image003 son Phineas Benjamin his heirs and assigns forever.

I do give and bequeath unto oldest Daughter Deborah Edwards fifty pounds or one hundred & twenty five dollars.

I do give & bequeath unto David Sweezy’s Children each of them one dollar.

I do give and bequeath unto my youngest Daughter Jemima Benjamin two hundred and fifty Dollars & all the moveables that was hers before & also a home in my house so long as she remains unmarried & also the priviledge of fire wood and the keeping for our cow likewise one equal half of my moveable Estate

Lastly I do nominate Constitute and appoint my well beloved wife Jemima Benjamin and my son Jacob Benjamin Executors of this my last will and testament in witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this second day of June in the year of our Lord Eighteen hundred and three signed, sealed and published and delivered to be the last will and testament of the clip_image004 Nathan Benjamin in presents of Daniel Youngs, Benjamin L’Hommedieu, Joseph Glover
                                                                                            Nathan Benjamin (L.S.)

Follow up:
I always try to transcribe the documents with the language and spelling of the time they were written in.  Sometimes the handwriting is difficult to decipher.  I underlined a word in my transcription that I am not sure of.  I just can’t figure out what is being stated after “to pay all my just debts and _ monies”.  Help is always greatly appreciated.  In the transcription I  have added some spaces, lines and a few commas to make the document a little easier to read.
 image     This symbol is used several times in this will and I have never seen this before.  I have researched and researched and have been unable to determine what it stands for.  I have not seen this before and I did not see it in the will listed before or after Nathan’s in the Will Liber. 

I appreciate the fact that Nathan left something to every member of his immediate family.  That he referred to Jemima as “my well beloved wife”.  I am also pleased that he thought his wife capable enough to be named as an Executor.  I wonder why he also selected Jacob as Executor and not his oldest son Nathan?  Perhaps he was already very busy with his own farm and family.

David Sweezy was Nathan’s son-in-law.  I believe his daughter Mary Bethia had already died, so, Nathan was leaving money to his grandchildren.

I always find the old terms and expressions interesting; like  “Northard” as a direction.  A “rod” is equal to about 5 1/2 yards.   I look at how precise our own property lines are marked today and think of Nathan’s description of his property lines for his son when he states “the whole width of my land from a certain bound which I have set up about ten rods Northard of the fence now standing fifty rods north of the dwelling house where my said son Nathan now lives so to go as far south ward as the Crotch of the road or paths to a certain red oak tree which I have marked”.  I wonder how long that “certain red oak tree” stood there?  The “crotch” or fork of the road.  I remember growing up on a farm and how my grandfather and father always talked about places on the farm as “the north side of the building” or the “west side of the road”.

I have heard ‘Yeoman” referred to as a term meaning a man worked for himself and not as a servant for another man.

I am happy to see that Nathan was able to sign his name as denoted by “L. S.” after his name for ‘Legal Signature’.

Nathan would die less than 2 years after his will was written on 14 May 1805.

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

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Nathan Benjamin II

As my research goes back in time it is sometimes very difficult to find and verify information on some ancestors.  Nathaniel Benjamin is my 5x great-grandfather.  What can I learn about him beyond his name?  I was surprised at what I found.

Nathan was born in 1733. The son of Nathan and Deborah Clark Benjamin. 
                                                                                          (click on map to enlarge)
(section of a Map engraved and published by William Fadden 1779 and in a collection at Stony Brook University Libraries)

1750 According to an article published in the Long Island Forum in 1958 and written by Lillian Hallock “Nathan was one of the pioneers who went into the western part of Southold Town known as the “Great Woods” or “Third Survey”  and there built his house and reared his family.  Then, and many years later, there were no roads that any wagon could travel on-only stone, boats or ponderous ox carts.  He had a large farm and owned the highest cliffs on the Sound shore, nearly half mile wide, from the Sound to the Manor Line, nearly four miles long.”

In 1775 Nathan was a Lieutenant in the American Revolution. 
Nathan married Jemima Aldrich on 13 February 1754/5 in Southold, Suffolk, New York.
Nathan and Jemima’s children were:
    • Nathan Jr. (born 1759/60)  - my 4x great-grandfather
    • Mary Bethia (born 1759/60)
    • Phineas (1762)
    • Jacob (born 1764)
    • Deborah
    • Jemima (born 1779)

From the book entitled The Benjamin Family in America I learned that in 1777 Nathan moved his family to Saybrook and then to Guilford, Connecticut.  Returning to Long Island in 1780.

In the 1790 US Federal Census Nathan is reported to be living in the Township of South Hold, Suffolk County, New York.  He is the Head of Household.  There are in the household-3 Free white persons-Males -aged 16 or over, Free white persons-Females-2, Number of all other free persons-1, Number of household persons-6.

In the 1800 US Federal Census Nathan is reported to be living in the Town of Riverhead, Suffolk County, New York.  Free White Persons - Males - Under 10- 2, Free White Persons - Males -10 thru 15-1, Free White Persons - Males - 26 thru 44-1, Free White Persons - Females - Under 10-2,  Free White Persons - Females - 10 thru 15-2, Free White Persons - Females - 26 thru 44-1, Number of Household Members Under 16-7, Number of Household Members Over 25-2, Number of Household Members-9

Nathan died on May 14, 1805 at the age of 72 and is buried in the Baiting Hollow Congregational Church Cemetery, Riverhead, Suffolk, New York.

I definitely want to learn more about Nathan’s Revolutionary War service.  I will have to see what I can find.

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

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Follow Up-Mary Robin Bentz

In several previous posts (starting with Who Was Mary (Margaret) Robin Bentz?) I have attempted to tell the story of the life of my maternal 2x great-grandmother Mary Robin Bentz.  I have found pieces of information from a variety of sources and by putting those pieces together I was able to learn more about Mary and her life.  Recently, I was able to obtain a copy of her death certificate and find yet additional valuable pieces of information.


From the death certificate I now know that;
  • Mary’s cause of death was listed as “Old Age”.  At 79 years old in today’s terms I certainly wouldn’t look at that as being “Old” but in 1911 I guess it was.  According to Mary’s obituary (see post An Unusual Find for Sunday Obituary-Mary Robin Bentz) she had suffered a stroke about 5 years earlier
  • Mary’s father, Martin Robin, which had been previously unknown is now known.  This is a major find!  I thought it was interesting that Clara (born in Luxembourg and about 4 years old when they immigrated to America) did not know her Grandmother’s maiden name but knew her Grandfather’s name.  Her grandmother’s first name is believed to be Anna Maria.  They were reportedly both born in Prussia.
  • the informant for the information was Mrs. H. Riechling, Mary’s daughter Clara, who according to her obituary she was living with at the time of her death

Now, I guess I have some good information to start searching in Luxembourg and Germany for information on her parents and her marriage to John Bentz.  Maybe I can even connect with some of Mary’s children’s families also.

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

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Don’t Forget Church Records-the Warner Family

On a visit back East several years ago I visited the Suffolk County Historical Society as I frequently do.  At that time I was on a hunt for information that would help me understand some information in my Great-Grandmother Carrie Terry Warner’s letters.  (See post Carrie’s Letters and additional posts labeled Carrie’s Letters ) I knew from Carrie’s Letters that a significant part of of my great grandparents’ lives was built around the church community.  The church they attended was the Baiting Hollow Congregational Church in Baiting Hollow, New York.  I recently came across this pamphlet from 1882 I had gotten a copy of and was reviewing the information in it.  I realized what a wealth of information there was in just a few pages:

(click to images to enlarge)

To begin with there was a history of the Church:
I grew up in the area and knew this church because of Girl Scouts and yearly chicken barbeques, roaming the cemetery with my grandparents, etc. but I had never heard about how the church was started. 

I thought it was interesting to read the ‘Covenant’, or agreement that the members of the Church had.  This helps put the time period and the community into perspective for me.  It helps me understand what their beliefs were and how they valued others in the church community:


I was surprised to read that as part of their ‘Covenant’ they agreed not to use ‘intoxicating liquors as a beverage’.  I know from Carrie’s Letters that she would become part of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.  Now I can see the connection after reading the ‘Covenant’ and understanding the beliefs of this farming community.

In just looking at the names of my Warner ancestors I have learned:
  • My 3x great grandparents Daniel Warner I (1784-1870) and his wife Jemima Benjamin Howell (1791-1870) had been members of the Church.
  • My 2x great uncle Goldsmith Warner (1815-1897) and brother of Daniel II was a member of the Church.
  • My 2x great aunt Susan Warner Cleaves was a member of the church.  (I believe this is the Susan Warner on the list.)
  • My 2x great grandparents Daniel Warner II (1818-1895) was not listed as a member of the Church but his wife Eleanor Howell Warner was a member of the Church.  I wonder why Daniel wasn’t a member?
  • Daniel and Eleanor’s son Allen W. (1842-1927) and his 1st wife Achsah Howell Warner (1841-1846) and second wife Isabella Robinson Howell were members of the Church.
  • Daniel and Eleanor’s son Eugene G. (1864-1952)
  • My great grandfather John Benjamin Warner would have been 20 years old and unmarried at this time, so, I wonder if he joined after he and Carrie Terry Warner were married in 1885?
  • I also wonder about my great grandfather’s other siblings who are not listed as members of the Church?
Knowing more about the Church community and beliefs of the time also helps tell the story of my ancestors’ lives.  Don’t forget when you are searching for information to also look for church records and information.

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