Sunday, April 14, 2019

Kristi Sexton Speaks at the San Diego Genealogical Society

Professional genealogist, Kristi Sexton, was the guest speaker at the San Diego Genealogical Society yesterday. I found Kristi to be a very engaging and informative presenter.

The first of Kristi’s two presentations was entitled Digging for Dirt in the Cemeteries.
  • Kristi named and described some of the many different types of cemeteries we may come across in our research; e.g. Church, Public, Veterans, Memorial, Private, etc.
  • Kristi pointed out the variety of information that we can find on headstones; e.g. dates, religious affiliations, military service, spouses, children, Fraternal organization affiliation, etc. which are all great leads to other records we may not have known about previously.
  • Kristi reminded us that when we are at cemeteries we need to be concerned about the preservation of headstones. She recommended we carry a ‘kit’ with us to carefully clean stones to help preserve them and make taking photos more rewarding so we can see the inscriptions. Her ‘kit’ included a variety of soft brushes, rags and cleaning solution, clippers for the grass that might be in the way and gloves for our hands. She said she also keeps a red, blue and American flag with her which she uses when she knows someone is buried in a particular spot but there is no headstone to mark the spot. Then her flags (blue-male, red-female, American-military service) help denote the spot in her pictures. I will definitely be carrying a ‘kit’ in the future and using the flags. I have taken pictures of stones marked by moss or dirt and the stones are difficult to read. If I had a ‘kit’ with me the photos would be a better quality. I have come across several ancestors whose grave sites are not marked in any way and having a small flag will help mark the spot where they are buried as I document the site with a photo.
  • Kristi demonstrated the Find A Grave website and accompanying app for your personal devices. Looking for an ancestor and recording the FindAGrave Memorial ID# helps us remember where the Memorial is. Verified information can and should be added to Memorials to help tell our ancestors’ life story. We also have the ability to connect family members and add information such as obituaries, etc.
While I have used FindAGrave often there are several features I had not previously used that Kristi talked about, so, I decided to try one of them out. Setting up your own personal ‘Virtual Cemetery’ can be done. I decided to look at my “Warner” ancestral line knowing there were several generations in the same Church Cemetery. I also like the fact that I can list everyone connected with this line, including those buried in other cemeteries and I will have the option, once set up, to sort my cemetery in a variety of ways to help my research.

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Kristi’s second presentation was entitled: Hunting Your Heritage in the Unknown Branches. Her theme for this presentation was Begin-Research-DOCUMENT-and Source!
  • First, determine where you are with those missing or undocumented ancestors. Who is next to work on?
  • Review the information you already have. Try developing a timeline, a map or a spreadsheet to look at the information in a new way.
  • Re-evaluate the information and documents you previously gathered. This is crucial because we don’t always ‘see’ all the information the first time we look at documents. Transcribing documents generally alerts us to information we may have missed or glossed over the first time around.
  • In addition to typical informational documents (census, probate, vital and court records) look for family items, letters, pictures, journals, audio or video information and Family Lore for additional leads that may help you locate some new information.
I will use FindAGrave more often in the future to keep track of where a particular family line is buried to help see the patterns of movement over the years. While I have added several Memorials with headstone pictures I will add more undocumented headstones as I continue to visit cemeteries. There is a small little known private cemetery my parents showed me on a recent visit that I doubt has been listed on FindAGrave. I will work on the documentation for this to help other researchers and possibly find a connection to one of my ancestral lines.

Be sure to check out Kristi’s website One Leaf and her bio at She can be contacted through her website or at .

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

Sunday, April 7, 2019

The Life of Mary “Marie” Jeannette Hammond Hinken

Mary Jeannette is my maternal Great Aunt.  I decided to see what I could find out about her life for my newly discovered cousin Bridgett.  Bridgett actually found me because of a Blog post I did on our common ancestors Henry and Susan Bentz Hammond.  Bridgett is Mary Jeannette’s  great-great-granddaughter.  Mary Jeannette was my maternal grandfather, James Jacob Hammond’s oldest sister.

Here is what I was able to find out:

Mary Jeannette was born 11 June 1898 in Remsen, Plymouth County, Iowa.  Her parents were Henry and Susan “Suza” Bentz Hammond.  Mary Jeannette was the oldest of 6 children (Mary Jennette, Arthur, Margaret, James “Jake”, Michael and Joseph).

In the 1900 US Federal Census I am unable to locate Henry, Susan and Mary.

In the 1905 Iowa State Census Mary is listed as living in Remsen, Plymouth, Iowa with her parents Susie & Henry Hamman and siblings John, Maggie, Jacob and Michael. 

Thursday, March 28th, 1907 in The Remsen News:  “Mrs. Henry Hamman and daughter Mary are visiting with relatives in Alton this week.”

Mary’s mother Susan tragically died of cancer in May 1908 when Mary was a month short of her 10th birthday.  Her father Henry’s mother, Kate Hein Hamman, would die within a month of her mother and 10 days after her own birthday.  What a tough time for a little girl! 

3 June 1909 The Remsen News reported : “Henry Hamman took five of his children to Dubuque, Iowa Tuesday, where they will be placed in a home for orphans.  It is earnestly hoped that they will find a good, kind home.”

In the 1910 US Federal Census I find Mary with siblings Jacob, Arthur, Michael, and Joseph on the other side of the state in Dubuque, Iowa in St. Francis RC Orphanage.  I wonder where Maggie was living?  With family, perhaps?  St. Francis is unable to locate any records from this time to say how long the children where there.  I guess their father was unable to care for 6 children under the age of 11 following the death of his wife.  I know the tragedy in this family must have greatly affected the children.

16 May 1912 The Remsen Bell-Enterprise reported: “Henry Hamman and F. Bausch went to Sioux City Friday evening.  Henry went especially to visit his five children at St. Anthony’s Home.  The children have been there for the past year, and are all flourishing splendidly under excellent care.”  I wonder why the children were moved from Dubuque to Sioux City?  Was it so they could be closer to their father?

In the 1915 Iowa State Census Mary is 16 years old and living in Remsen, Plymouth, Iowa.  She is listed as a housekeeper by occupation and has been employed each month in 1914.  She is listed as not attending school and with a church affiliation of Catholic.

2 April 1918  Mary, age 20 years old, married Benjamin Hinken, age 32, in LeMars, Plymouth, Iowa.   They would have 8 children: Dorothy, Anna, Edward, Marian, Bonnie, Ben Jr., Richard, and Larry.

In the 1920 US Federal Census enumerated on the 30th of January in Remsen, Iowa Mary is listed as a 21 year old housewife with her husband Ben, age 34, and baby daughter Dorothy who was 18 months old.  The family was living in a separate house.

In the 1925 Iowa State Census Mary, Ben and children Dorothy, Ann, Edward and Marian are listed as living in Remsen, Plymouth, Iowa.  What is interesting is that Mary’s youngest brother Joseph, age 17 and attending school,  is also living with them.

In the 1930 US Federal Census enumerated on 3rd of April, Mary is listed as 29 years old, no occupation, with her husband Ben  (age 44) and children Dorothy, Anna, Edward and Marian living on Jackson Street in Remsen, Iowa.   In this census it states that Mary was 19 when she married and Ben was 33 years old.  They rented a home valued at $25.00.

In the 1940 US Federal Census enumerated on 13th of April, Mary is listed as 39 years old, with her husband Ben (age 54) and children Edward, Marian, Bonnie, Ben Jr, Richard and Larry living on Second St SE in Le Mars, Plymouth, Iowa.  Mary’s highest grade completed is listed as 8th grade.

Mary’s husband Ben would die on 12 October 1950 after 32 years of marriage.

Mary would die 19 August 1979 in Le Mars, Plymouth, Iowa.

These are the facts of Mary’s life. I have no pictures and wonder what she was like as a woman, a mother, a wife, a daughter, and a friend?  Did she resemble my grandfather?  What stories did she have to tell about her parents Henry and Susan?  I wish I knew so much more…

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

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Tombstone Tuesday Jemima Aldrich Benjamin

Jemima Aldrich Benjamin is my paternal 5x great-grandmother
Jemima is buried next to her husband Nathan Benjamin II at the Baiting Hollow Cemetery, Suffolk County, New York

Memory of
Jemima Relict of
Nathan Benjamin
who died Jan. 11, 1810
in the 75 year
of her age
Behold, all you that do pass by,
As you are now so once was I,
As I am now, so you must be,
Prepare for death and follow me.

Click on titles of previous posts to read more:  Jemima Aldrich Benjamin and Amanuensis Monday the Will of Jemima Aldrich Benjamin

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

Monday, April 1, 2019

Amanuensis Monday the Will of Jemima Aldrich Benjamin

In my previous blog post Jemima Aldrich Benjamin I told the story, as I know it, of Jemima’s life.  Her Will tells a little more of her story.  Jemima’s husband Nathan Benjamin II passed away 5 years prior to Jemima’s death.  (To learn more about Nathan see blog posts Nathan Benjamin II and  Amanuensis Monday the Will of Nathan Benjamin.)

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This third day of October in the year of Lord one thousand eight hundred and eight I Jemima Benjamin being in a poor State of health but of sound mind and memory calling to mind the mortality of my body and since it has pleased God to favor me with earthy goods I do hereby make and appoint this to be my last will and testament in manner and form as follows

Namely I give unto my daughter Deborah Edwards one half of my wearing Cloaths that are made into garments and one Cow I give unto my daughter Jemima Benjamin my high riding Chair the remainder of my Cows also hogs and all the provisions in the house
I also give unto said daughter Jemima all my money and all my obligations for money also all my household furniture and bedding of every descriptions with Cloath unmade into garments and one Half of my wearing Cloaths also the furniture of my riding chairs my will is that my said daughter Jemima shall pay my funeral Charges and get my tomb stone

furthermore I the said Jemima Benjamin widow of Nathan Benjamin of the town of Riverhead in the County of Suffolk and the State of New York do hereby appoint my said daughter Jemima Benjamin my sole Executrix of this my Last will and Testament and do hereby revoke all other wills & Testaments.
Jemima Benjamin mark L.S.
To which I set my hand and seal
Signed Sealed published & declared to be the last will & testament of Jemima Benjamin In the presents of us William Horton, Jonathon Horton, John Horton
Suffolk County: Be it remembered that on the twenty eighth day of March in the year one thousand eight hundred and ten personally appeared before Nicoll Floyd Surrogate of the said County William Horton of Southold in the County aforesaid who says on oath that he saw Jemima Benjamin Sign and Seal the within Instrument of writing and heard her publish and declare the same as and for her last will and Testament that at the time thereof the said Jemima Benjamin was of sound disposing mind and memory to the best of the knowledge and belief of him the despondent that his name Subscribed as a witness to the said will is of his own proper hand writing and that he saw Jonathon Horton and John Horton Subscribe their names as witnesses thereto at the same time with him in presence of the Testator
Nicoll Floyd

Will Liber C pages 74-75      Suffolk County Probate, Riverhead, Suffolk County, NY      

Notes:  I wonder if Jemima was unable to sign her name due to her 'poor state of health'  since she used a mark? 
Jemima only mentions her daughters in her Will.  Her third daughter Mary ‘Bethia’ Benjamin Sweezey had passed away before her and is not mentioned, nor are her children.

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