Sunday, June 24, 2018

Who Was The Civil War Veteran?

A family story is always a great source of information about an ancestor, or is it?  How much of the story that has been passed down is based on truth?  We know as demonstrated by the game ‘telephone’ that we played as children that the story changes a little each time it is repeated but the main part continues.  Family stories give us a fabulous place to start but you need to be open to finding the little twists or inconsistencies in a story that has been passed down.

I decided to tackle a family story I heard from my grandmother Agnes King Warner when I was about 12-14 years old.

The family story I had been told was about an ancestor who served in the Civil War.  He was about 13-14 years old and wanted to fight in the Civil War.  He had a man from the neighborhood sign for him saying he was old enough to join the Civil War and he enlisted under an assumed name. He was believed to have been a drummer boy or a flag bearer in the Union Army.  My grandmother died when I was 16 years old so I was unable to ask her any further questions when I decided years later to see if the story was true and to determine who this veteran was in our family.  I wasn’t even sure years later if the mystery man was a direct descendant or the brother of a direct descendant.

I continued to wonder over the years about this mystery man.  I asked family members and was able to get a few more pieces of information which I filed away.  Someday I will have to figure this out.  Time passed but this nagged at me. 

First:  I looked at several lines on my grandmother’s side of the family and thought it might be one of her grandfathers.  I know the Civil War began on April 12, 1861 and the enlistment age was 18.  How old were my grandmother’s grandfathers?  Louis King, her paternal grandfather was born in 1843 so he would have been 18 at the start of the Civil War, so, maybe it was him.  My grandmother’s maternal grandfather John Rowan was born in 1846 so he would have been 15 years old.  That’s a little closer to the family story. Definitely more research needed. 

Next:  I wrote letters to several great aunts and cousins to see what they knew and asked other family members. Several thought it was John Rowan who had served in the Civil War.

Research begins:
  • I researched the life of Louis Arthur King because I wanted to rule him out.  (See post Who Was Louis Arthur King)  I couldn’t find any reference to Louis having served in the Civil War.
  • I spoke to Civil War experts. and asked how am I going to be able to find someone who enlisted under an assumed name?  I was assured that if my ancestor ever filed for a pension after the War they would link his name with the assumed name. But if he never applied for a pension I’d be out of luck trying to find him.
  • I began to research the life of John W. Rowan.  I researched his mother Ann Meenan ( see post - A Lot More Questions Than Answers-The Life of Ann Meenan Rowan) and his father William Rowan (Using City Directories to Find William Rowan).  I know that John’s father and infant brother died when he was 4 years old and it was just he and his mother after that.
  • I researched in New York for soldier’s named John W. Rowan that served in the Civil War and found four of them.  All I had were names and what Regiments they served with.  Hard to imagine that there would be 4 John W. Rowans.  UGH!
  • I researched the Regiments that the 4 John W. Rowan’s belonged to.  Three of the units were from upstate New York and one was from Staten Island, New York.  Staten Island is a lot closer to Manhattan so, maybe that’s the right one?  Then I found out that the Staten Island Unit disbanded and was absorbed by one of the upstate New York units.  That narrows my list down to 3 possible John W. Rowans (Company H New York Infantry 150th Regiment, Company A 105th New York Infantry, Company D 145th NY Infantry). To get copies of the Civil War records for a soldier you need to visit Washington, D.C. or pay someone to locate them for you and send them to you.  Ordering 3 sets of records would be expensive.  Can I narrow this down further?
  • I went back to some correspondence I had gotten years ago from relatives and reread it.  The following is an except from a letter my grandmother’s sister Anna King Earle sent to her niece Barbara who in turn shared with me in 2010:

Transcribed:  John Rowan –Sarah A. King’s father fought in the Civil War, joined at 13 under an assumed name-got a man to sign for him, was shot in the leg.  His family moved from New York to Brooklyn in 1896.
  • There was another piece of information that might help me…he was shot in the leg.  Were any of the 3 John W. Rowan’s shot in the leg?  Will that narrow it down for me further?
Online in the New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center under the 150th Regiment Unit Roster I found the following:image

WOW!  John W. Rowan and wounded in action and another name- James Rowan.  The NY 145th Infantry was from Staten Island and absorbed by the 150th Infantry.  I think I’m ready to take a chance and pay the money and get the records for this John W. Rowan.  I am so hoping he is the right one…

I sent for the records and just received them.  Are they the right ones?  I’ll let you know in my next blog post.

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

Sunday, June 17, 2018

A Land Record With a Twist-Daniel and Jemima Benjamin Warner

My paternal grandfather’s family lived on Long Island since the late 1600s and within about a 20-30 mile area on Eastern Long Island in New York State.  Generations living in the same area has made it a lot easier for me to research a variety of records on many family members.  When I visit the area I schedule my limited time in several repositories of records where I search frantically for a variety of names on at least 8 family lines.  I frequently find documents that look promising, grab my copies and don’t usually get time to thoroughly look at them until months later.  This is the case with one such land sale document that I was able to find and get a copy of.  I enjoy looking at the records of land acquisitions and sales.  It shows what my ancestors were doing, where they lived and who their neighbors were.  I always get a chuckle, as in this document, about the references to boundaries being a tree, a hedge or a row of stones, etc.  I located this document from 1847 at the Suffolk County Historical Society in  Riverhead, New York.  It is part of a collection entitled the Ackerly Collection which consists of deeds, etc. that Mr. Ackerly transcribed that were held by family members and had not been recorded at county or town offices.

The population of Riverhead was reported as 2,373 in 1845.  In 1847 and today Baiting Hollow is part of Riverhead Town and about 5-6 miles away from Main Street. According to Seeking the Past, Writings from 1832-1905 Relating to the History of the Town of Riverhead edited by Tom Twomey with a chapter about Riverhead written by R. M. Bayles in 1882 the main occupations for Baiting Hollow were farming and furnishing firewood.  Abundant crops of grain, hay and potatoes were grown in the area.  The Supervisor of Riverhead was Sylvester Miller and Justice of the Peace was Nathan Corwin. 

Daniel and Jemima Benjamin Warner are my paternal 3x great grandparents.  They were born, raised 6 children, died and are buried in Baiting Hollow, New York.  (I believe Daniel’s father James Warner was the first Warner to live in Baiting Hollow.)

So, I located the following document that my 3x great grandparents were mentioned in.  There is also a Nathan Benjamin who I believe was related to Jemima.  I thought at first it may have been her father Nathan Benjamin (several generations were named Nathan Benjamin) but he had died in 1838.  As I reread and transcribed the document I thought, OK, it’s another piece of evidence about the lives of my ancestors but pretty ‘typical’… that is… until I read the last line.  I thought that was very different and very interesting!

Warner Daniel 1847 land transfer
Warner Daniel 1847 land transfer 2
click on image to enlarge

Transcription:  (I added in [ ] a definition to aide in understanding terminology)

This Indenture
made the third day of February in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty seven. Between Joanna Hulse, Nathan Benjamin, Daniel Warner and Jamima his wife, Elkanah David and Sally his wife of the town of Riverhead and John Fanning and Polly his wife of the town of Southampton County of Suffolk and State of New York of the first part and Daniel Benjamin of the town of Riverhead County and State aforesaid of the second part witnesseth that the said party of the first part for and in consideration of the sum of fifty dollars to them in hand paid by the said party of the second part the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged have bargain sold remised and quit claimed [relinquish claim] unto the party of the second part and his heirs and assigns [someone with legal claim] forever ALL of that certain tract of land situate in the town of Riverhead being the west part of the north lot of the Woodhull place so called bounded southerly by the hedge which divides it from the land of Joanna Hulls westerly by the land of Daniel Warner, northerly by the land of Jacob Benjamin and easterly by a certain walnut tree and running a Course equal with the road and Warner’s line containing by estimation two and a half acres be the same more or less also on other trace of Wood land of the Woodhull place so called in Riverhead town lying between Daniel Warner’s land and John Fanning’s wood land bounded westerly by said Daniel Benjamin’s land and eathly by Elkannah Davis’ land containing by estimation one and a half acres be the same more or less together with all and singular the hereditaments [property] and appurtenances [accessories] thereunto belonging or in anywise appertaining and the reversion and reversions remainder and remainders rents issues and profits thereof and also all the estate right title intres claim or demand whatsoever of them the said party of the first part either in law or equity of in and to the above bargained premises and every part and parcel thereof to the said party of the second his heirs and assigns to the sole and only proper use benefit and behoof [benefit] of the said party of the second part his heirs and assigns forever. In witness and whereof the said party of the first part have hereunto set their hands and seals on the day and year first above written.
Sealed, Signed and Delivered
In the presents of
Nathan Corwin.
Nathan Benjamin L. S. [Legal Signature]
Daniel Warner L.S.
Jamima Warner L.S.
Elkanah Davis L.S.
Sally Davis L.S.
John Fanning L.S.
Polly Fanning L.S.
Suffolk County SS: On the ninth day of March one thousand eight hundred and forty seven personally came before me Joanna Hulse, Nathan Benjamin, Daniel Warner and Jemima his wife, Elkanah David & Sally his wife and John Fanning and Polly his wife known to me to be the Individuals described in and severally acknowledged that they had executed the within conveyance and the said Jemima, Sally and Polly on a private examination apart from their husbands acknowledged that they executed the said conveyance freely and with out fear or compulsion of their respective husbands.
Nathan Corwin, Justice of the Peace

Wow!  Nathan Corwin actually talked to the wives, separate of their husbands to be sure they were in agreement with the sale of the property.  I wonder if this was something that was specific to Mr. Corwin?  I have not come across this statement before and have looked at a lot of land transfers.  So often women were even left out of such matters.  I was pleased to see that their husbands included them and that Mr. Corwin made sure that their consent was given freely and so noted.

There were 2 markings I am not sure about in the original image and image.  I am hoping someone will be able to help me with these.  I am thinking is was a shorthand the transcriber used?  Perhaps something like ‘bounded by’ and ‘free’?

Once again I am very thankful for Mr. Ackerly’s foresight in transcribing these documents and for their preservation.  They definitely add to an understanding of my ancestors’ lives and the times they lived in.

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

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Sunday Obituary & Death Certificate for Nettie Emily Coolbaugh Cornell

In a previous post entitled Searching for Nettie Emily Coolbaugh Cornell I researched the life of my maternal great grandmother Nettie.  At the time I had a year of death but no location of her death or a cause of her death at the age of 42.  When I initially searched I had thought she died in Spencer, NY where the family had lived. 

I found the family living in Spencer in 1920 in the US Federal Census and then in the 1925 NY State Census I found the family living in Ithaca without Nettie.  Many Public Member Trees on Ancestry listed Spencer, NY as Nettie’s place of death but I believed otherwise since the 1925 State Census was taken the same year of Nettie’s believed death.  After writing to both Tompkins County (Ithaca) and Tioga County (Spencer) New York and requesting Nettie’s death certificate I was finally successful!  Ithaca is where the family was living when Nettie passed away.


From Nettie’s death certificate I now know that she died at the Ithaca City Hospital (1).  I know the family lived on Floral Avenue (2).  I am guessing that the original handwritten record, most likely a ledger, must have been difficult to read because Nettie’s father is listed as “Fordyce M.” and his name was Portis M.  I know the informant was her husband William Cornell (14).  I know she is buried at Inlet Valley Cemetery (17).  This probably explains why her husband William, who would marry 2 more times, was also buried at Inlet Valley when he was living at the time of his death in Spencer, New York.  Did William buy 2 cemetery plots at the time of Nettie’s death? 

I was perplexed by not finding a ‘Cause of Death’ but rather a ‘Manner of Death-Natural’ (14).  I haven’t seen that before on a death certificate.  OK, so, she died of ‘Natural’ causes but what was her cause of death at 42 years of age?  After further correspondence with Tompkins County Vital Records I was able to determine that Nettie’s cause of death was Acute Nephritis.  Now, I have verified her location and cause of death!

While searching newspapers for Ithaca, New York on I found Nettie’s obituary:image
The Ithaca Journal 21 February 1925, page 5

Transcription:                                                        "Death and Funerals
                                                                                 Mrs. Netta E. Cornell   
Mrs. Netta E. Cornell died last night at 6:15 o’clock and funeral services will be held Monday afternoon at 2 o’clock at the residence, 219 Floral Avenue.  Rev. W. H. Powers will officiate and internment will be in the Inlet Valley Cemetery.

She leaves her husband, William M. Cornell: three daughters-Mrs. Gertrude White of this city, Mrs. Bessie Williams of Interlaken, and Miss Edna Cornell of this city, besides three sons, Harold and Ernest of Ithaca, and Arthur who is in the Untied States Army.  She also leaves her mother, Mrs. Harriet Coolbaugh of Ludlowville and two sisters, Mrs. Amanda Cooper of Ludlowville and Mrs. Flora Burch of Towanda, Pa., besides two brothers, Lewis Coolbaugh of Philadelphia, Pa., and Charles Coolbaugh of Bedford, Ohio."

Remember when searching for obituaries that the name you are searching for may not always come up with a simple ‘search’.  I was searching for “Nettie” and she is listed in the newspaper as “Netta”.  When I just used “Cornell” I received anything in the newspapers connected with Cornell University which is also in Ithaca.  It took me searching through the individual pages of the newspaper starting with the date of Nettie’s death to find this obituary.  But what a fabulous find!  I now have the married names of her aunts, sisters and locations of family members at the time of Nettie’s death.

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

Monday, June 4, 2018

Southern California Genealogy Jamboree 2018-Friday and Saturday

The Southern California Genealogical Society does such an amazing job of pulling this Jamboree off.  This year was the 49th year they have done this.  The speakers were amazing, the venue is great and everything seems to run seamlessly, at least for us the attendees it always seems that way.  BRAVO and Thank-you to all the volunteers that pull this off!!  I know it is a tremendous job that takes hours and hours of planning and so much behind the scene work.  We do appreciate all you do!!

Friday and Saturday were the official Jamboree Days and the theme this year was Unlock Your Lineage.


Between Friday and Saturday I attended another 9 sessions and a workshop.  Here are some of the highlights of what I learned:

Friday began with a Breakfast Banquet and Thomas McEntee’s talk entitled How Do I Know What I Don’t Know?  Fast Tracking Your Genealogy Education.  Thomas started by reminding us that it’s OK to admit that we don’t always have the knowledge when it comes to researching and methodology.  He gave us tips on creating lists of where our knowledge gaps are so we can determine where to go to build our new bank of resources. 

                                                 Thomas MacEntee and myself

Annette Burke Lyttle’s talk was entitled Reconstruct a Life: Chasing Uncle William through the Wilds of Cyberspace.  Annette took us through online research of her Uncle William to determine his occupation in Laramie and how many wives he really had.  She demonstrated the techniques she used for answering her questions by using Wikis, Cyndi’s List, Google, Online Trees, digitized books and newspapers.  I think I prefer learning new techniques when they are demonstrated through the use of a case study.

Lisa Louise Cooke’s talk was entitled Reconstruct Your Ancestor’s World with Google.  Lisa is a great presenter who is very enthusiastic and easy to listen to.  She showed us several places beyond the typical Google search (such as; Google Books, Google Scholar, Google Patents, YouTube and Google Earth Pro) where information can be found about your ancestors that make your stories much richer.  I had heard Lisa’s talk last year about Google and YouTube and added some interesting clips (click on the links) to my post entitled Recording A Family Thanksgiving Tradition which I think made the story a lot more interesting.

Friday afternoon I took a 4 hour workshop with Blaine Bettinger entitled Visual Phasing Workshop.  Blaine walked us through how you can use your sibling’s DNA to reconstruct your Grandparents DNA.  WOW!  Can you imagine that is even possible.  After he walked us through the painstaking manual process for comparing the segments of chromosomes to make this determination he thankfully showed us a computer program that Steven Fox developed that makes this entire process soooo much easier.  The workshop was a pretty intense 4 hours but I was able to keep up, more or less,  and I understood why Blaine felt it was important for us to understand the process.  We all definitely needed a break after that.

with Blaine 2018Myself, Blaine Bettinger and Diane Gould Hall

Craig Roberts Scott’s talk entitled Civil War Medical Records demonstrated his depth of knowledge on the subject.  Craig took us through NARA (National Archives and Records Administration) finding aids for medical records that are often rich in genealogical information.  I had thought that the records I have on my ancestors who fought in the Civil War were complete and now I know I have a whole new untapped source to look at.

Lisa Louise Cooke had a Mini Power Session at the Genealogy Gems booth in the Exhibit Hall where she talked about 4 great apps that can help you with your story telling.  Several of them I will need to try very soon.
Diane, Lisa and I 2018
Diane Gould Hall, Lisa Louise Cooke and myself

I stopped by the Mayflower Society booth in the Exhibit Hall.  I have sent in my application to become a member of the Mayflower Society.  I asked if they knew of anyone who makes period dress for the Pilgrims and they informed me that in 2020 for the 400th Anniversary of the Mayflower the Society may be marching in the Rose Parade.  Sounds exciting!
Mayflower booth 2018

Annette Burke Lyttle’s talk entitled How Research Plans Can Up Your Genealogical Game really made me think about my ‘research plans’.  I have listened to discussions previously on Research Plans and have used them at times but I think you need to hear some topics over again until it really resonates for you.  Annette discussed coming up with that specific research question and how to identify sources that are available that my provide you with answers.  My big take away from this when I am researching in a new area is not to just hit the SEARCH button but to research all the possible sources of information in an area about a topic before I hit the Search button.  I kept thinking about my post on Mary ? King.  I have no idea whether she was born in Germany or in Pennsylvania.  The other problem is what records are even available to search in Pennsylvania in 1814?  Definitely a technique I will try with this question.

Thomas MacEntee’s talk entitled Secrets of the US Federal Census: How did Enumeration Really Work raised some really good questions about our probably number one source of information when we are researching.  Thomas, who is a great speaker, talked about how each of the Census’ had their own quirks, sometimes hidden information and the different ways to access the census data.  I use the census so much that this will really cause me to go back and look at the information in them with new eyes.  This was a great way to end Jamboree.

Some time with friends and fellow bloggers

There were several talks I would have liked to have heard but just not enough time in the day.  I was able to buy and download the talks for a fee.  Another great perk of the conference.  If you were unable to attend but think you’d like to investigate some of the sessions I attended be sure to go to Southern California Genealogy Society website and click on Jamboree and Buy Past Recordings to order yours.

Jamboree 2018
I was very pleased to get my first set of Blogger Beads on Friday night from Elizabeth Swanay O’Neal and the GeneaBloggers Tribe.

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

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Southern California Genealogy Jamboree 2018-Thursday


WOW!!  Three days packed with genealogy learning, connecting with old friends and making new friends.  It is always so amazing to be in an environment were there are over a thousand people who share the same passion you do -all in one place at one time.  The energy level was so high for all three days.  I am so glad to have today to reflect and relax. 

The Southern California Genealogical Society does such an amazing job of pulling this Jamboree off.  This year was the 49th year they have done this.  The speakers were amazing, the venue is great and everything seems to run seamlessly, at least for us the attendees is always seems that way.  BRAVO and Thank-you to all the volunteers that pull this off!!  I know it is a tremendous job that takes hours and hours of planning and so much behind the scene work.  We do appreciate all you do!!

Fellow blogger and good friend Diane Gould Hall and I drove up to Burbank on Wednesday night to avoid much of the LA traffic. 

Thursday was a special additional day where you could take part in one of two special tracks for the day –a course of DNA study entitled Link through DNA or a family history writing day entitled Love Your Family LegendsI choose Love Your Family Legends because I want to be able to write more interesting stories about the information I have learned about my ancestors. 


Here are some of my many great experiences for Thursday:

Jill Morelli’s talk entitled Just Do It! Self-Publishing Your Family History gave some really good information and tips about self-publishing and led me to believe I really can finally get my great grandmother’s over 100 letters from 1880-1910 published (see posts re Carrie’s Letters).

Lisa A. Alzo’s talk entitled Show, Don’t Tell: Creative Non-Fiction Writing for Genealogists discussed tips and techniques about how to share the factual information in more compelling and interesting ways so we can actually feel like we are walking in our ancestors’ shoes.  After this session I happened to see fellow blogger and friend Randy Seaver and told him I feel like I should go back and rewrite all my previous blog posts to make them more interesting…lol.  I can only hope my future posts will be more interesting.

Andrew Lee’s talk entitled Writing Compelling Family Stories took us through the understanding of basic story types, defining the basic story and the writing process. He left us with “A story is more than just a set of facts, a compelling story will transport the reader to the time and place and make him an observer to the events described.”  I think I need to have this as a sticky note posted in my work area to remember whenever I am writing a family story.

Crista and Susan Cowan ‘s talk entitled Writing Fascinating Family History One Story at a Time reminded us of the importance of writing down our own stories.  While we are so involved in telling other’s stories we forget about the importance of telling our own stories.  Mother and daughter team led us in a great fun writing activity where we got started writing our own stories.

Maureen Taylor’s talk entitled Photo Stories: How to Tell the Tales in Your Pictures showed us how to look beyond the person in the photo as we so often forget to do.  Even if you are lucky enough to know the names of the people in the photo there is so much additional information you can learn about their lives by carefully looking at the rest of the photo.  I used a photo my cousin Rebecca had shared with me of her great grandmother Ella Billard Terry riding in a horse and buggy that I will discuss in a future blog post.

Thursday night Diane and I decided to attend a banquet dinner where Diane Southard was the guest speaker.  Her talk entitled Rewriting History with DNA, Two Mindy’s, a Will and Country Music was an interesting tale of paper and DNA research to find answers to long asked questions and new family.

Stay tuned for information about Friday and Saturday’s classes.  If you have never been to Jamboree consider going next year for the 50th Birthday Bash!

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